Israel and Iran are known to be at odds with each other; however, Iran’s national football team received unusual support during their game with Spain.
A group of Israelis of Iranian origin gathered to cheer on the team. There are over 350,000 Jews of Iranian descent living in Israel and despite the political enmity between the two Middle Eastern countries, Israelis of Iranian origin felt great fondness for their former compatriots and their national team.
Some 20 people were clapping and singing for the national team. It was not only the older generation who was born in Iran and came to Israel in the 1960s who was cheering but even the younger generations who were born in Israel.
Tzion Hasid, 84, a prominent member of Israel's Iranian community and a Jerusalem building contractor said, "I came from Iran to the land of Israel, the land of our dreams, but not even for one moment in over 60 years have we forgotten our (old) country," Hasid was quoted as saying by Reuters.
He went on to say that he still has feelings of respect for all Iranians. “We want peace with them and we hope that even next year, our (Israel's) leaders and theirs will meet and make peace for the benefit of both our people,” Reuters reported.
Many Iranians emigrated in the 1920s, 1950s and 60s to Israel and some came after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, according to Pierre Lavi, 53, a Jerusalem author and publisher.
Iran is set to play against Portugal on June 25 in Group B.