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Freed Hiker’s Jewish Background Is Revealed

Josh Fattal, one of the American hikers freed by Iran, has a Jewish father who once lived in Israel.

The reports are coming out now with the release of Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had been accused of espionage, from an Iranian prison last week.

Fattal’s father, Jacob, emigrated from Iraq to Israel in 1951, and after serving in the Israeli army moved to the United States. Jacob Fattal’s siblings still live in Israel.

The senior Fattal had stayed out of the media spotlight during the two-year ordeal, allowing his wife and another son to give media interviews, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported. The family also rejected offers of several Jewish organizations to intervene, according to the newspaper.

Josh Fattal had visited Israel several times, including a short trip prior to his hiking trip in Iraq.

Fattal and Bauer, as well as Bauer’s girlfriend, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in 2009 as they were hiking near the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq; Iran said they crossed into Iranian territory. Shourd was released a year ago.

Josh Fattal has returned home to suburban Philadelphia. JTA had refrained from reporting on his capture until his release for fear of connecting him to something Jewish during his captivity in Iran.

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