They live in the United States, love Iran and refer to Israel as the Motherland. They are Iranian-American Jews, about 50,000 immigrants and their children, most living in Los Angeles. And they are pained by what they have seen recently in the Middle East: Israel fighting in Lebanon against a Shiite Muslim militia backed by Iran; an Iranian president who has called the Holocaust a myth and Israel a “disgraceful stain” on Muslim countries; and Iran’s fervency in continuing a nuclear program. “I am not torn,” said Farzaneh, a 44-year-old Encino mother of three who asked that her last name not be used because she fears retribution against her family in Iran. And in the past year tensions have escalated even further as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” He claimed the Holocaust did not occur. And he said the road to peace begins with the obliteration of Israel. However, scholars see a cause for optimism in Iran. “The overwhelming majority of youths disapprove of this regime,” said Eliz Sanasarian, a University of Southern California political science professor and author of “Religious Minorities in Iran.” “You cannot have this kind of a regime going for another 10 years with this group of young people growing up.” Dariush Fakheri, who was in graduate school in New Mexico when the revolution began, can’t return to Iran until there is a change. “I’m on the list. I’m one of those people who are not welcome in Iran,” said Fakheri, editor-in-chief of the Iranian Jewish Chronicle and co-founder of an Iranian-Jewish cultural center in Tarzana. “I am an American citizen by choice. I pledge to the flag of America,” he said. “Iran has some nostalgic value for me, and that’s it. That is about it. I like the music. I like the food. I like to read the poetry. But that is about it.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818)713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.“There is a definite distinction between Israel and Iran. I feel connected to Iran culturally. That is where I was born and picked up good, rich, ancient culture. But what Iran’s regime has been doing for the last 20 years, I have nothing to identify with.” For half of the 20th century, Iran was a hospitable place for Jews. They had been there for 2,700 years, longer than Jews had remained in any one country. After Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi came to power in 1941, Jews began to prosper. He gave them their best treatment since the 5th century B.C., when ruler Cyrus the Great freed Jews from captivity in Babylon and allowed them to return to Israel. But then came the Islamic revolution. The shah was deposed in 1979, and an estimated 70,000 Jews left. Still, almost 30 years after the revolution, Iranian-American Jews temper what they say about Iran, lest more caustic words cause retaliation against the 20,000 Jews remaining in Iran.