If you follow this blog, you’ll know that the Seattle Jewish federation is hosting an anti-Iran event on October 21st, Facing the Iranian Threat, organized by the Israeli consul general in San Francisco and featuring the military correspondent of the hawkish neocon Jerusalem Post and the deputy director of Aipac. In response to such clearly partisan Iran-bashing, I’ve decided to organize a conference of Iranian-American and American Jewish scholars and analysts which will offer a more pragmatic approach and emphasize the role of diplomatic engagement, which is the official U.S. policy towards Iran.
Yesterday, I asked the editor of the JTNews to allow me to write an op ed, which I’ve done twice before, expressing some of my concerns regarding the federation conference based on the past statements of the speakers and the groups for which they work. My intent was also to point out that the Jewish community has a far more diverse set of views on Iran than will be represented on the federation panel.
The editor refused saying that discussions with unnamed individuals convinced him that the event would be fair and balanced and that there was no need to present my view in the pages of JTNews. There were a few extraordinary passages filled with wishful thinking in his reply. Among them was this one:
“…It [the federation event] is intended to present information about Iran, the history, probably from 1979 to today that has led to the stalemate between Iran and most of the West…”
An Israeli consul general with no specific professional or academic expertise on Iran, a reporter with expertise in Israeli military affairs, and an Aipac Congressional lobbyist can present a historical overview of modern Iranian affairs? Given that the editor actually believes what he’s written, it only reinforces how insular the organized American Jewish community can be on subjects related to Israel. Indeed this fact is further suggested by the frightening results of the American Jewish Committee poll which claims that 56% of Jews approve of the U.S. attacking Iran and 66% approve of Israel attacking Iran.
This example of Jewish communal censorship shows the leadership is circling the wagons around a consensus devised in Tel Aviv and embraced by Israel’s Diaspora advocates. Here is part of my reply to JTNews’ editor:
Under the guise of editorial discretion, you have closed off the pages of the local community newspaper to any view which dissents from the alleged consensus on Iran. I find such censorship to be deeply disappointing since it is clear to me or any reasonable person based on both the text describing the federation event on your website and the records of the group’s whose representatives are speaking, that they have a highly partisan agenda that advocates the Israeli line on Iran: “crippling sanctions” possibly followed by military attack if sanctions don’t work.
I also notified him that I planned on writing my critique of the federation event and offering it as an ad in the pages of the newspaper. We will see whether the community is too frightened even to take my money in return for a bit of paid speech.
All this will take money and I once again renew my calls for contributions to defray the costs of this ad and the counter-conference I’m organizing in December here in Seattle. The speakers are lined up for that event along with the venue and will be announced shortly. But it will take considerable funds to pay for expenses. I hope you will step up to the plate and donate what you can by clicking the Paypal button above.