Saturday, November 14, 2009

J Street And Soros And NIAC (Oh My!)

It now seems that there is more to NIAC (National Iranian American Council) than the question of its role as an unregistered lobbyist group.

Following in the wake of Eli Lake's exclusive comes Ben Smith of Politico with further revelations:

According to the documents, George Soros's Open Society Policy Center pays the annual salary of the NIAC staffer who heads the Campaign for a New Policy on Iran, according to an email among NIAC officials. And the minutes of a series of meetings including NIAC and other coalition members offer a glimpse of the strategy and tactics involved in the push for a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, from an attempt to undermine the appointment of Dennis Ross as Iran envoy to a planned "Send Hillary to Iran" campaign.

The minutes include almost almost no mention of a human rights agenda inside Iran, which has more recently been on NIAC's agenda. Participants in the discussions include NIAC as well as the liberal Jewish group J Street, anti-war groups like Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee, and the business lobby that opposes Iran sanctions, USA*Engage.

...The memos focus largely on winning congressional action on Iran, but also fret at one point that clumsy Congressional action could get in the way of the administration's engagement policy.

However, "we can't cede Congress to AIPAC entirely," says a late January set of minutes. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing.

Jennifer Rubin notes several points of interest from what Smith writes, including that:

...we see once again the presence of Morton Halperin. He is both on J Street’s advisory board and a senior adviser to Soros’s Open Society Institute. He was recently fingered as the actual author of a letter by Richard Goldstone defending his infamous report and opposing a congressional resolution condemning the report. He too is part of the cabal to get Dennis Ross. And NIAC sought a White House meeting for Halperin and NIAC officials. Again, all one big happy family.

It seems as though the issue as to whether J Street is “pro-Israel” has been superseded by another. Now we must ask: is it pro-mullah?

Oddly enough, Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, anticipated the J Street-NIAC connection before Smith uncovered it:

Another aspect of this story to keep an eye on is the possible connection between NIAC and J Street. Parsi spoke at J Street's recent convention here in Washington. And J Street, astonishingly for an organization that claims (however laughably) to be pro-Israel, agrees with NIAC that the U.S. should lift its sanctions on Iran.

We've also observed that J Street receives money from as well as from several individuals connected to organizations Palestinian and Iranian issue advocacy. NIAC is one of these organizations.

Perhaps the emails that NIAC has had to produce in its lawsuit will shed some additional light on whether or to what extent these groups are linked.

And so they have.

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