Published on Raw Story, by Agence France-Presse, April 12, 2012.
From a tiny studio in a rundown district of southern Tel Aviv, a group of Iranian-Israelis beam non-stop music and news in a bid to reach out to their former fellow countrymen.
As the war of words between the leaders of the Jewish state and theIslamic Republic heats up over Iran’s contested nuclear programme, Farsi-language web broadcaster, Radio RadisIN, is trying to set a different agenda.
Based in a small shopping centre in Tel Aviv’s outskirts, RadisIN was set up three years ago to encourage a sense of unity among the estimated 300,000 Israelis of Iranian descent.
But it also has another, perhaps more important raison d’etre: to send news and views from Israel directly to Iranians living in the Islamic Republic and around the world.
“Our goal is for Iranians to really know what is happening here in Israel, and also at home,” broadcaster Kami Itzhakyan told AFP. “The Tehran regime hides the truth from them.”
Born in Iran, Itzhakyan immigrated to Israel 25 years ago and today is one of the station’s 35 presenters and journalists, who provide a 24-hour diet of popular and classical Iranian music, cultural programmes, and political news and analysis.
“In Iran, all of the news which is broadcast is a lie. There is no truth in it,” he says. “I want our listeners in Iran to know the real truth.”
RadisIN, a contraction of “radio” and “Iran,” broadcasts on the Internet mainly because the Iranian regime is not able to interfere with the US-owned Intelsat Galaxy 15 satellite through which its programmes are transmitted.
The programmes are also rebroadcast by several free cable and satellite stations, the station says.
The result? A growing audience. Although they have no idea of how many people they reach, they have callers ringing in from around the globe, most of them from the United States, France, Germany and of course, Israel.
And from time-to-time, a listener may dare to ring in “from somewhere in Iran” … //
… “There’s a sense of war in Iran, people fear that war is very, very close. Some people are going to the supermarkets and stocking up on supplies which they are keeping at home in case of war,” he says.
In the meantime, as speculation grows that Israel is poised to mount a lightening strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, RadisIN is sticking to business as usual, despite attempts by the Iranian regime to shut them down.
“They tried to block us, and got into our website and damaged it,” says Shai.
“The regime knows that a station like RadisIN, which was set up by people in Israel, is much more dangerous to it than if it were set up by a government body.
“They don’t want my voice — along with another 35 or so other broadcasters who speak heart-to-heart with the Iranian people — to be heard,” he said.
“But it’s important for the Iranian people that it is.” (full text).