On Tuesday, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) again held an event on Capitol Hill to advocate against sanctions on Iran; never mind Iran’s nuclear developments, state sponsorship of terrorism, or incitement. Their panel included fierce partisans and even a member of a consulting firm close to the Rafsanjani camp, each talking about why sanctions are bad, and how the United States needs to try even harder to convince Iran to unclench its fist.
While NIAC claims to be the largest Iranian American advocacy organization in the United States, its own internal audits suggest the organization recognizes this may not be true. And while NIAC says it advocates for Iranian American empowerment, most of its activities appear geared more toward breaking down any biting sanctions directed at the Islamic Republic.
The question about what motivates NIAC is fair: There is a major discrepancy between the organization’s public face and its private actions. The organization has not always been honest: While it promoted the fiction of a 2003 Grand Bargain offer by Iran, internal emails released in the course of the discovery phase of its lawsuit show the Iranian ambassador at the United Nations dismissing the Iranian provenance of the offer in the weeks and months before NIAC promoted the offer as genuine in order to play partisan games in Washington.
Now, thanks to Google’s ever-expanding crawling of the internet, there is a new resource that sheds new light into the motivation of Trita Parsi, the organization’s leader:
While studying in Sweden, Parsi sometimes spelled his first name Terita, and used to participate actively in chat groups. Parsi’s contributions provide interesting insights into the future NIAC leader’s views about Iran, its alleged enemies, and his antipathy toward any assimilation of the Iranian community in America.
Here Trita is, for example, condemning the American melting pot and arguing instead that Iranians in America must resist assimilation. Why Parsi believes that celebration of cultural identity and the embrace of what America stands for are diametrically opposed is beyond me.
And, while I have differences with some of Iran analyst Ken Timmerman’s work, Trita’s approach to it is noxious. Here he writes to Timmerman, complaining of Timmerman’s advocacy for a tougher European stance against the Islamic Republic’s support of terrorism:
It is quite clear that your intentions are the security of U.S. and Israeli lives- not Iranians. It is just unbelievable that an American thinks Iranians are so stupid that they would buy your crap. You are claiming to safeguard Iranian lives but at the same time you are supporting the d’Amato bill that will cause immense suffering for ordinary Iranians in Iran. Your organisation is nothing else but a facade, a facade to make it seem as if Iranians support the U.S. and Israel’s stance towards the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran]. By your name, I suspect that you are a Jew. Now I don’t know if that is the case, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if that would be the case. It is not unusual that Israelis run their business under the safety of an American flag.
If supporting sanctions meant to undercut Iran’s nuclear program makes one guilty of dual loyalty, then perhaps Parsi believes most of the Congress during the Clinton administration were guilty. Then again, the reason for Parsi’s frustration was he did not–and perhaps still does not—believe the Islamic Republic harbors any nuclear ambitions:
There is no proof what so ever for Iran’s nuclear ambition. the IAEA just cleared Iran’s nuclear programme for the third time this decade last week. You have been reading too much AIPAC propaganda!
AIPAC propaganda? In Parsi’s world view, that organization must have its tentacles everywhere. Certainly, it seems NIAC’s founder harbors quite conspiratorial views about why the United States (and the larger world) maintains concerns about Iran’s ambitions.
Trita Parsi’s feeling toward Iran becomes clear, however, in another posting:
More than 1 million people died in an unjust war, but they still died for Iran. They died for You and me. They died for the fact that another beautiful Iranian child could be born and be called Shirin or Darius. We should never forget this, especially we Iranians outside Iran. Our brothers and sisters did not die for us so we could marry an American and call our child Betty-Sue or Joey, they did not die so we could speak English to our children. WE OWE IRAN OUR LIVES, once you realize that you exist BECAUSE of your nation you will also realize that if YOU leave your nation YOUR own children wont really be alive since they dont wont have a nation, they wont have a past and hence THEY WONT HAVE A FUTURE. There is no substitute for Iran! There is a reason why all my letters end with ZENDE BAD IRAN!
“Zende bad Iran,” of course, is Persian for “Long live Iran.” What Trita Parsi appears not to understand—but most Iranian Americans do realize—is that appreciation for and an embrace of Iranian culture does not mean loyalty to the Islamic Republic which, in the scheme of Iranian history, is an anomaly rather than the apex of Iranian political and cultural evolution.
It has been some time since Parsi was a student, and perhaps he wishes to dismiss his university-era rants as a mistake of youth. Nevertheless, he has never disassociated himself from such views. It may be time for the lawmakers Parsi seeks to influence to ask when or even if he changed his mind regarding the value of the United States, its melting pot, the danger of Iran’s nuclear program, and whether or not he still embraces the same conspiracy theories he once promoted in his internet ramblings.