The Iran Lobby Buys a Friendly Face for Despotism

216_largeBy Stephen Schwartz:

The funding of a significant pro-Iran lobby that funnels money to American universities was disclosed to the wider public for the first time during the U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel’s successful nomination as secretary of defense.  By far the largest grantor is the Alavi Foundation, now under federal investigation, which has given Harvard University $345,000 over nine years ending in 2011.  Other institutions in the U.S. and Canada have also benefited from Iranian largesse.

Hagel, who represented Nebraska as a Republican U.S. Senator from 1997 to 2009, has long advocated a soft line toward the brutal theocratic regime, as exemplified by his call in 2007 for “direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”

He has participated in at least one Middle East Studies event organized by Tehran’s tenured apologists and subsidized by the Iranian regime.  As described by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, Hagel addressed a March 2007 conference at Rutgers University co-sponsored by the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the shadowy group that, as pointed out by the WSJ‘s Stephens and others, helped pay for the Rutgers AIC event: the Alavi Foundation.

He has participated in at least one Middle East Studies event organized by Tehran’s tenured apologists and subsidized by the Iranian regime.  As described by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, Hagel addressed a March 2007 conference at Rutgers University co-sponsored by the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the shadowy group that, as pointed out by the WSJ‘s Stephens and others, helped pay for the Rutgers AIC event: the Alavi Foundation.

Alavi is an arm of the Tehran government that has granted substantial sums to American and Canadian universities.  Its 2010 Form 990, filed in compliance with its nonprofit status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, listed assets of $39,082,555.  Alavi’s “Direct Charitable Activities” were limited to four, all school-related: “Farsi Schools in Various Universities and Schools,” “Information Education Centers,” “Publication and Book Distribution,” and “Interest Free Loans to Education Centers.”  Its total grant outlay for that year was $2,148,630.  The 2007 Form 990 from Alavi included a line for Rutgers, indicating that Alavi’s investment in the Rutgers CMES and, presumably, the event with AIC and Hagel, was $72,500.
Read more at American Thinker

Stephen Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.  He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

 

Please Call Your U.S. Senators: Register your Opposition To Chuck Hagel As Our Next Secretary Of Defense

*** ACT FOR AMERICA TIME-SENSITIVE LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT ***

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 31st, the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense. If the Committee approves the nomination, the full Senate will then cast a vote on this matter.

ACT! for America opposes the nomination of Mr. Hagel to this highly important position within the U.S. Government.

We feel there are a host of reasons why his appointment would be dangerous to the
security of our nation. Our level of concern led us recently to express our
opposition directly to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee via
a formal letter.

Now, we need the voice of the American people—the Senate’s constituency—to be heard on this issue. Every U.S. Senator needs to understand the level of opposition that exists to Mr. Hagel’s nomination—and some compelling reasons for that opposition.

We offer below only some of Mr. Hagel’s actions and statements over the years that deeply concern us.

Soft on Iran

Mr. Hagel consistently has been soft on the Iranian regime, repeatedly voting against Iran sanctions, and in 2005 even proposing that Iran play a role in the shaping of the new Iraqi government. At a time when the Iranian regime is blatantly flaunting its efforts to bolster its nuclear weapon capabilities, this approach by our nation’s Secretary of Defense is not only short-sighted, but also extremely dangerous.

Favors Dialogue with Terrorist Regimes and Groups

In 2009, Mr. Hagel stated his belief that the U.S. should negotiate with the regime of Bashir Al Assad of Syria. He has said the same about our nation’s approach to Hezbollah and Hamas. Further, in 2009, Mr. Hagel sent a letter to the President stating that Israel must begin open negotiations with Hamas.

Hostile Toward Israel

There are numerous examples of Mr. Hagel’s hostility toward Israel and the Jewish-American community. He has stated that the “Jewish Lobby” is a problem on Middle East issues, and in 1999 he was the only member of the U.S. Senate not to sign a letter condemning growing anti-Semitism in Russia. As yet another example of his views on Israel, in 2006, when Hezbollah entered Israel, killed two Israeli soldiers, and fired thousands of rockets on Northern Israel, only one Senator—Chuck Hagel—publicly admonished Israel for defending itself.

Supports Abolishment of Nuclear Weapons

At a globally dangerous period, Mr. Hagel endorses Global Zero, a movement that seeks the abolition of nuclear weapons. In fact, according to a recent AP article by Robert Burns, Chuck Hagel “would be the first to enter the Pentagon as a public advocate for sharply reducing the number of U.S. nuclear weapons—possibly without equivalent cuts by Russia.

These are but a few examples of his disconcerting approach to national security and defense-related issues, but even with these few examples—need we say more?

Our nation simply cannot afford an administration official who has this nonsensical
approach to our efforts around some of the most dangerous parts of the world.
The only way to have any chance of stopping it is to speak out.

** Important and Time-Sensitive Action Item **

Please take a moment today and tomorrow to call your two U.S. Senators.

Politely, but firmly, let them know that you are a constituent and that you are very
much opposed to the nomination of Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense.

NOTE: If you need help locating your legislators, visit our Contact Congress page by clicking HERE. Type in your zip code where indicated to locate your U.S. Senators. Once located, click on your Senator and you can then see his/her contact information, including the phone number of the Washington, DC office.

If you know the name of your U.S. Senators, you also can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be patched through to those particular offices.

Again, please make your calls NOW and forward this action request to everyone you know who shares your concern. As a constituent, your voice and opinion is tremendously powerful. You CAN make a difference.

See also:

Military leaders oppose Hagel nomination (centerforsecuritypolicy.org)

An Open Letter of Appeal to U.S. Senators: Chuck Hagel is a Global Security Risk! (facebook.com) Letter you can copy and email to your senators

Chuck Hagel as a ‘Teachable Moment’

Chuck HagelCenter for Security Policy

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama dodged a politically perilous “bullet” when he declined to nominate Susan Rice as the next Secretary of State.  Had he done so, the President would have provided his critics a high-profile platform for exposing and critiquing his administration’s conduct with respect to Benghazigate and the larger, dangerous practice of “engaging” Islamists, of which it was a particularly dismal example. Yet, President Obama is reportedly intent on creating what may prove to be a similar “teachable moment” by nominating former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense.  Sen. Hagel has been an outspoken champion of controversial and even radical policies firmly embraced by Mr. Obama during his first administration.  Worse yet, they are likely to be priorities for his second term now that the President has, as he put it in his overheard side-bar with Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev last March, “more flexibility.” In the event Barack Obama actually taps the former Nebraska senator, he will be inviting the sort of national debate that has long been needed, but generally missing, about his administration’s positions in several areas vital to U.S. security.  As there is no evident daylight between Sen. Hagel’s views and those of this president, the opportunity must be seized to expose both.  Consider several topics that cry out for such high-profile, critical examination:

  • A Pentagon chief who favors U.S. disarmament?  As Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon has reported, Sen. Hagel believes that, “The Defense Department, I think, in many ways has been bloated. So I think the Pentagonneeds to be pared down.”  Do Republican senators want a former colleague to give political cover to President Obama’s insistence that the United States use reductions in defense spending as a source of half the revenue given up pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011 – even though the Pentagon receives only twenty-percent of federal expenditures?  Do they want thus to be implicated in the inevitable, attendant dismantling of the sort of freedom-protecting presence the American military has had around the globe since the end of World War II, its ability to project power and its vital modernization programs? [While Mr. Hagel has correctly observed that "defense is not a jobs program," he - like President Obama - seems indifferent to a harsh reality:  Such draconian cuts in defense expenditures will have an adverse impact on employment.  In fact, an estimated one million jobs in the defense sector will shortly be lost as a result of the now-imminent, so-called "sequestration" round of budget reductions.  Do Republican senators share this indifference?]
  • Sen. Hagel has been defeatist about Iraq and Afghanistan.  And he seems much given to what the late Jeane Kirkpatrick called the “blame-America-first” syndrome with comments like: “Our policies are a source of significant friction not only in the region, but in the wider international community. Our purpose and power are questioned.”  A Hagel nomination would be a perfect opportunity to repudiate such sentiments and disassociate Republicans from them.
  • Of particular concern is Senator Hagel’s enthusiasm for U.S. disarmament in the nuclear arena.  His advocacy of a “world without nuclear weapons” affords a vehicle for challenging the President’s like-minded efforts to bring about the only thing that is remotely achievable – if unimaginably irresponsible: a world without U.S. nuclear weapons.  As Mr. Obama is determined not to upgrade our arsenal or to test realistically its aging weapons or tomaintain the strategic “Triad” at present levels, despite growing nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran to China and Russia, every effort must bemade to challenge and counteract such recklessness.  Again, a Hagel nomination is a good and very visible place to start.
  • Speaking of Iran, Mr. Hagel has long been an enthusiastic proponent of direct negotiations with the mullahs, professing, “Engagement is not surrender. It’s not appeasement. [Rather it is] an opportunity to better understand [others].” He has long opposed military action and meaningful economic sanctions.  He appears, in short, confident that we can live with a nuclear Iran.  Do Senate Republicans agree?  If not, are they willing to challenge a president who, despite his rhetoric to the contrary, seems to share that confidence – and oppose a Pentagon nominee who clearly would work to foreclose whatever options remain for precluding such a nightmare?
  • Last for the present purpose, but hardly least, there is the problem of Senator Hagel’s longstanding hostility towards Israel, A FACT RECOGNIZED EVEN BY IRAN’S STATE MEDIA.  He favors engaging its enemies, including terrorist groups like Hamas.  While in the Senate, Mr. Hagel declined to condemn Hezbollah.  His anti-Israel and pro-Islamist views have earned him accolades from the Muslim Brotherhood front known as the Council on American Islamic Relations.

To be sure, Sen. Hagel’s enmity towards the Jewish State tracks with that of President Obama.  The question is:  Do Republican Senators, and for that matter Democratic ones, who disagree wish to intensify the undermining of Israel in this administration by elevating someone with these credentials to the job of Secretary of Defense? It is deeply regrettable that the last campaign – which was a perfect opportunity for a teachable moment with the American electorate about the dangers posed theObama presidency to U.S. security interests – was not used for that purpose.  The next best thing may be a nomination fight over Mr. Obama’s choice as Secretary of Defense of a man who so aggressively embraces the worst of his policy proclivities.