Iranian activists and dissidents condemn son of last Shah for visiting Israel

Iranian activists and dissidents condemn son of last Shah for visiting Israel
Reza Pahlavi's Monday visit to Israel angered Iranians - whether with or against the Iranian government - who heavily condemned the Pahlavi monarchy and the Israeli government.
3 min read
18 April, 2023
Reza Pahlavi (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu (C) and Israeli Minister of Intelligence, Gila Gamliel (L) on 17 April 2023. [Getty]

A visit to Israel by Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran's last Shah, and his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised criticism and spurred mockery among a wide range of Iranians with diverse political viewpoints.

Pahlavi has lived in the US since his father fled into exile in January 1979, and his dictatorship was toppled a month later in Iran. Since September 2022, when nationwide anti-establishment protests rocked Iran, Pahlavi has embarked on a vast PR campaign seeking support to reestablish the monarchy in Iran. 

Pahlavi, who by his supporters is addressed as "The Prince", has dramatically increased his presence in lobbies of power in the US and Europe in recent months, and his visit to Israel was planned to bring together the enemies of the Iranian authorities. 

However, this visit angered Iranian dissidents who fought against the theocracy ruling Iran after the 1979 revolution.

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Ali Afshari, a prominent student activist of the 1990s and a former political prisoner, lambasted Pahlavi for saying he would travel to Israel to convey "friendship from the Iranian people" to Israel.

"Reza Pahlavi can only carry a message of friendship from himself, and at best, his supporters to Israel. He is not a representative of the Iranian people! Therefore, the self-proclaimed person cannot claim to be people's spokesman," Afshari said

"Accepting an invitation by the most extremist government in the history of Israel is not an honour but is a disgrace," he added.

Other Iranian dissidents reminded Pahlavi of human rights violations when his father, Mohammad Reza and grandfather Reza Khan ruled Iran with an iron fist from 1925 to 1979.

The Norway-based Iranian journalist and human rights activist Diako Muradyaliabady denounced Pahlavi's visit to Israel to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

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"Would you please, on your way to Israel, also visit Iran's Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Loristan, Baluchistan, Turkmen Sahra and Ahwaz to pay tribute to the victims of the massacres carried out by Reza Khan and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi? Maybe this would awaken your conscience," he wrote on Twitter. 

Meanwhile, supporters of Iran's current authoritarian government also criticised the visit.

Amir Hossein Sabeti, a member of the paramilitary Basij forces, ridiculed Israel for inviting Pahlavi, who was dubbed as "the most senior Iranian figure" ever, to visit Israel.

"Israeli Intelligence Minister said: 'Reza Pahlavi is the most senior Iranian figure who has visited Israel'. This is a very correct comment! The level of this visit has hit such a low importance that Pahlavi is the most important figure going to Israel. This figure has nothing but genetic relations with a king who was ousted 45 years ago," wrote Sabeti.