The Conference of Presidents organized a Common Call by American spiritual leaders from all nine main denominations, which urges rabbis to deliver anti-Iran sermons this High Holiday season. One of the interesting elements of the Call is the announcement of a UN rally on September 24th to coincide with Mahmoud Ahmedinehad’s speech to the General Assembly. The protest is being organized by a new coalition called Stand for Freedom in Iran. The group has a website which announces these political demands:
- Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the press
- Immediate cessation of human rights abuses, the release of demonstrators from prisons and protection for minority communities
- Prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan and the many other victims engaged in the recent protests
- Full compliance and cooperation by Iran with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Security Council resolutions including an end to all uranium enrichment in Iran
- End to incitement to genocide and support for terrorism
These sound like entirely reasonable demands and at first glance it appears that Stand for Freedom is nothing more than a pro-reformist group advocating Iranian democracy. The list does not refer to regime change or the danger of Islamist extremism. It does not warn that Iran seeks a nuclear holocaust against Israel as do many pro-Israel groups (including the Conference itself). But this is most assuredly a group which does NOT support a reformed Iranian regime. Rather, it supports, to the extent it has any clearly defined agenda, far more radical goals.
As with all things related to Iran or Israel, you have to delve a little deeper to discover who the sponsoring organizations are:
Progressive American Iranian Committee
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
NAACP – New York Conference
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
American Federation of Teachers
UJA-Federation of New York
National Interagency Taskforce on Iran
What’s interesting about this list is the fairly mainstream (but solidly pro-Israel) groups like the UJA Federation and JCRC alongside labor unions and civil rights/minority organizations. The Iranian group, according to the leader of a national Iranian-American organization I consulted, is a hawkish neo-con group that favors regime change and a secular Iran. One of the other Iranian groups is a front for the People’s Mujahadeen, an anti-regime radical sect that is listed by the U.S. Treasury as a terrorist organization. All of this is a deliberate strategy of the Conference and the Israeli foreign ministry to transform the Iran-Israel conflict in the minds of Americans from a messy distant bilateral confrontation between two extreme Middle Eastern countries into a multilateral campaign by gay rights, feminists, labor activists and minorities opposed to Iran’s extreme Islamist regime. It’s a fairly clever strategy though quite transparent on deeper inspection.
Finally, a word about the last group on the list. The Conference of Presidents, perhaps knowing of its ideologically partisan pro-Israel reputation has disguised its involvement behind the newly minted National Interagency Taskforce on Iran. It is essentially a front for the Conference, though it may actually be composed of some agencies and organizations affiliated with it, for all I know.
Those with a memory of last year’s anti-Iran demonstration at the UN will recall that the Conference and its director, Malcolm Hoenlein invited Sarah Palin, in the midst of a presidential election campaign, to keynote that event. Democrats and liberal Jews raised such a stink that Hoenlein attempted to salvage the event by inviting Hillary Clinton. But she wisely demurred and Hoenlein then withdrew Palin’s invitation as well. This year, the Conference is wisely attempting a different, but no less suspect, organizing strategy.
Among the partnering organizations are the usual hardline pro-Israel advocacy groups including StandWithUs, the ADL, American Jewish Committee, Republican Jewish Coalition, Young Israel, National Jewish Democratic Council, the David Project, and ZOA.
Therefore, Stand With Freedom, both the group and the event, are a bought and paid for creation of the Conference of Presidents which, in turn, is doing the bidding of the Israeli government in ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime. The ultimate goal, as I’ve written consistently here, is to lay the groundwork for a potential Israeli attack on Iran.
So my main warning about this event and its sponsoring group is that it is a front in Israel’s effort to demonize Iran and turn it into a potential target for military action. To any supporting group that is now involved in the scheduled rally or considers becoming involved, know what you’re getting yourself into. Caveat emptor.