Ask Raymond Khaneshan about the nuclear deal, and he says he’s totally for it.
“I think the Iran deal is good for people of Iran, and also it’s good for people in the United States,” he says.
Khaneshan is the owner of Shaherzad Restaurant on Westwood Boulevard. He’s an Iranian Christian who’s been living in the US for the past 35 years. While he’s normally out front with customers, this week Khaneshan is head chef in the kitchen.
Today he’s cooking a ground beef kebab marinated with onion and saffron — a typical Iranian dish served with different rices. Khaneshan says if the deal goes through, spices like saffron could be half the price they are now. As a local businessman this is good news for his kitchen.
“I personally am going to gain because I get a lot of Persian dried goods. Once the sanctions [are] lifted, all those items are going to come here and not be as expensive,” he says.
Because of trade sanctions, Khaneshan says distributors ship things like saffron, rosewater, pomegranate and molasses to Dubai where they’re repackaged and then sent here to Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood, also known as "Tehrangeles." It gets expensive. The nuclear deal won’t end all sanctions, but Khaneshan is hopeful that this is just the beginning of improved relations.
Down the street from Sheharzad, Yossi Samimi feels very differently. He says the pending deal is a nightmare.
“I think the President Obama is extremely naïve. His negotiators were extremely naive. This is not a deal,” he says.
Yossi is in the men’s formalwear business, and business is good. But unlike Khaneshan, Yossi’s feelings about the Iran deal have nothing to do with that. As an Iranian Jew, his concern lies with his family in Israel.
“Israel is [an] ally of United States, and unfortunately it seems like the present government of [the] US is throwing the friends under the bus and rewarding the enemy,” he says.
Yossi is afraid the Iranian government will use the deal to become a dangerous power in the region.
“It feels painful. It feels sad. They are right now torturing people in the jails. They are hanging people. Tens almost every day. It's a brutal regime,” he says.
A regime Yossi feels the US government should not be negotiating with.