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Jewish Journal

J-Street and NIAC: An Unholy Alliance

by Karmel Melamed

December 6, 2009 | 9:13 pm

As a young child I had the very unique opportunity of being raised by my wise Iranian Jewish great-grandmother who lived a full life of more than a century. Perhaps the most powerful lesson she taught me was “if you ever want to know what kind of person someone really is, see who they are friends with first”. This simple message has resonated with me to this very day and immediately came to mind when I recently discovered the very disturbing association between the new supposed “pro-Israel” group called “J-Street” and the supposed pro-Iranian regime non-profit group the “National Iranian American Council” (NIAC).

Writer Lenny Ben David in his recent Jerusalem Post piece has done a wonderful job in researching and exposing the financial and ideological links between J-Street and NIAC. Ben David states;

“Why should a National Iranian American Council board member give at least $10,000 to J Street PAC? Perhaps it is because of the very close relationship between the two organizations. In June the directors of both organizations coauthored an article in the Huffington Post, ‘How diplomacy with Iran can Work,’ arguing against imposing new tough sanctions on Iran. The two organizations have worked in lockstep over the last year to torpedo congressional action against Iran. Why would a supposedly pro-Israel, pro-peace organization work so hard to block legislation that would undermine the Iranian ayatollah regime? Ostensibly, any step to hinder Iran’s nuclear development and aid to Hamas and Hizbullah would be a step toward regional peace. Deterring Iran through sanctions would lessen the need for military action against Iran.”

For many of us Iranian American journalists who are quite familiar with NIAC and its leader Trita Parsi, both, for years has been openly advocating positions in the U.S. news media and in political circles that have generally been favorable to the Iranian government. For example, Parsi for last seven years has been openly calling for U.S. sanctions against Iran to lifted and for more diplomatic pressure to be placed on Israel visa vie the Iran situation. In 2006, when I covered the California state bill AB-221 (requiring for divestment of state employee pension funds from companies doing business in Iran) not surprising NIAC was the only Iranian group in the U.S. opposed to the legislation! Parsi never returned my calls for comment on why his group was so opposed to a bill that held companies accountable for working with Iran’s regime while the Iranian government was pursuing nuclear weapons and had a heinous human rights record. In fact, NIAC has been the only Iranian American group opposed to all of the Iranian divestment bills in states across the nation. I would say that a vast majority of Iranians Americans living in the U.S. oppose the current regime in Iran and have been at the forefront of pushing for tougher diplomatic, economic and some even military action against their former homeland. Parsi, who holds Iranian and Swedish passports and lives in the United States as a resident alien, is clearly in the minority of Iranians living in the U.S. who do not want pressure applied to the regime in Tehran.

Now I am not one to accuse NIAC of being the “unofficial lobby” of the Iranian government in Washington D.C. But the fact of the matter is that Arizona based Iranian American journalist Hassan Daioleslam first publicly asserted in his 2007 article that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Iranian government. Parsi subsequently sued Daioleslam for defamation and as a result of that lawsuit there has been disclosures of NIAC documents which will set the record straight as to NIAC’s true activities vis-à-vis the Iranian government. According to a recent Washington Times article, the defamation lawsuit which Parsi filed may ultimately lead to trouble for NIAC if documents uncovered from the discovery phase of the civil suit yields information that the organization was indeed using its influence to lobby for policies favorable to the Iranian regime in violation of federal law.

In light of NIAC’s obviously pro-Iranian government positions, what troubles me the most about J-Street is the fact that their alleged “pro-Israel” organization has had such close financial and ideological ties. Just as Ben David has so perfectly stated, I too am left asking why would any pro-Israel group would have close ties with individuals like Parsi and groups like NIAC who have been so vehemently opposed to sanctions against Iran? Wouldn’t imposing sanctions against Iran’s government that has been seeking to annihilation be a pro-Israel type of thing to do? Why would a supposed “pro-Israel” group like J-Street have alliances with NIAC that has been opposed to current bills in Congress calling for a tighter economic crack down on Iran and its terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas? Indeed J-Street through the political positions it has taken regarding Israel and from its close associations with groups like NIAC, has proven to be

no friend of Israel

. For those who still support J-Street, they need to look more closely at this wolf in sheep’s clothing that associates itself with Israel’s foes such as NIAC.

Lastly, what disturbs me the most about Parsi is the fact that even though he publicly condemned the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Iran following the June elections this year, since the late 1990s’ he had been singing the praises of the regime in Tehran and its alleged former “reformist” president Mohammad Khatami. But now that Western populations have witnessed the disgusting and inhuman behavior of the regime in Iran (which Khatami has always been a part of and always endorsed), Parsi has quickly changed his tune to fit the larger public sentiment. How fickle! By the way…for those who still think may Khatami and the reformists in Iran are supposedly “benevolent”, I recommend they read my piece on the Iranian reformist leaders that will shed light on their evil reign of terror in Iran.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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