Israeli radio show captivates Iranians (Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2009)In his Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reserved special wrath for "Zionist radio" that he said tried to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic. Such attention from Iran's supreme leader was music to the ears of Menashe Amir, a bespectacled Iranian-born Israeli who has been broadcasting in Persian from Jerusalem for the past five decades."We're listened to in Iran and considered very credible and effective," Mr. Amir says with pride. "We're close to the Iranian people, we know what they want, and we have
our sources that give us detailed news about everything that's going on in Iran."
The spread of the Internet and satellite television in Iran over the past decade seemed to eclipse the prominence of Mr. Amir's old-fashioned shortwave broadcasts on Kol Israel, Israel's public radio. But now, as the Web in Iran is either blocked or dramatically slowed and satellite-TV channels are jammed by the government amid spreading unrest, Mr. Amir has suddenly become relevant again.
"Today we have many more listeners inside the country because Iranians are thirsty for any information" about the unrest, the 69-year-old Mr. Amir says. He estimates the Iranian audience for Kol Israel's 85-minute daily show in Persian is between two million and six million people. Independent audience numbers, for obvious reasons, are impossible to come by.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson