To average Israelis, the problem with the Iran deal is 'politics, not people'

America Abroad
Levinsky Market

A view of Tel Aviv's Levinsky Market.

Avishai Teicher via PikiWiki - Israel Free Image Collection Project

Levinsky market spreads throughout a small collection of colorful, aromatic streets in Tel Aviv, where signs written in curvy Farsi script advertise spices, rice and beans. Vendors and restaurant owners here are among the 100,000 Israelis who trace their roots to Iran. In early August, the sun beats the asphalt as a record heatwave broils both Israel and Iran. 

Furniture salesman Shlomi Levi, 29, seeks relief from the heat with fresh-squeezed, cold pomegranate juice.

“I don't think that you can make peace with people who say that they want to destroy Israel,” he says. “All the time, the Iranian president says Israel should be killed, Israel should be wiped off the map. How can you an agreement with people who say such a thing?”

Shlomi is half Iranian, and he says living in Israel gives him a perspective that Obama lacks. 

“I think President Obama is a very naïve man. He doesn't know all the people in the Iran, their culture. We live in the Middle East. We know their culture; we know how they act. We know how they deceive people. ... He doesn't know it; he lives in a bubble,” he says.

Israelis also live in a sort-of bubble — they can’t visit Iran, and Iranians can’t visit Israel. But Shlomi says he met Iranians while traveling in Thailand and they got along great, even speaking Persian together.

“I don't have nothing against Iranian people; I think they're OK. The problem is with the regime in Iran, not with the people,” he says.

Riva Fass, too, says the problem is with politics, not people. She’s eating lunch in the Levinsky market with her daughter, who is preparing to study abroad in the United States. Riva says she’s frustrated by Netanyahu’s warnings that the Iran deal will endanger Israel.

“I don't believe that the Iranians want to start war with us,” she says. Instead, Riva is more worried that Israel and the United States seem to be drifting apart over the Iran deal. 

She says she’s not sure what will happen to Israel over the next 10 years. 

“[If it will be] safer, I'm not sure. But it will survive,” she says. “But we have to be prepared.” 

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