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Published on January 27th, 2011 | by Ali Gharib

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RJC, EMET, Eric Cantor to host ‘Iranium’ on the Hill

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While following up on my review, with my colleague Eli Clifton, of the new Clarion Fund film “Iranium,” I stumbled upon an invite for a Capitol Hill screening of the film.

The showing of the movie in the Rayburn House Office Building will be hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and a right-wing D.C. Israel lobby group called the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). The RJC invite makes it a point to give “special thanks to Majority Leader Eric Cantor [R-VA] for making this event possible.”

It’s EMET’s involvement that piqued my interest. EMET — whose acronym, emet, is the Hebrew word for ‘truth’ — has a bit of a history with Clarion involving an exposed lie from EMET president Sarah Stern.

Stern, a right-wing activist who has worked for the American Jewish Committee and the Zionist Organization of America, brags in her EMET bio about her efforts on the Hill — behind the backs of the Israeli and U.S. administrations — to spike the Oslo peace process of the 1990s.

In Sept. 2008, Stern hired flak Ari Morgenstern to help EMET promote the movie “Obsession” during its distribution to tens of millions of ‘swing-state’ homes during the 2008 election. Morgenstern gave an interview to me at the time, describing himself as an EMET spokesperson.

Five days later, EMET pulled out of the “Obsession” distribution project — a $17 million effort we now know was likely funded by major Chicago Republican donor Barre Seid. Stern told JTA at the time that she was hoodwinked by Clarion, and that she’d never talked to Morgenstern.

But she was lying. JTA‘s Eric Fingerhut got the goods (with my emphasis):

[T]he communications strategists for the project, Baron Communications LLC and 30 Point Strategies, shared e-mails and phone records that showed Stern had at least four telephone conversations earlier in the week with Morgenstern. In addition, they produced an e-mail from Sept. 22 which showed Stern approving of a press release and other materials announcing EMET’s participation. Another e-mail a day later from Stern included a lengthy note backing the project’s mission and the sign-off “Soldier On!”

But Stern hadn’t run the project by EMET’s board, so she pulled out.

I was a bit surprised, then, to see two months ago that Stern landed on Clarion’s new hawkish advisory board, which has some overlap with her shop.

Daniel Pipes and CSP chief and “Iranium” star Frank Gaffney are listed on both the EMET and Clarion advisory boards. James Woolsey, who never saw a neocon project he didn’t want to hitch his wagon to, and Iran hawk Kenneth Timmerman, both sit on EMET’s board and are featured prominently in “Iranium.”

Other hardliners among the EMET advisors include CSP fellow and JPost editor Caroline Glick; Hudson and Ariel Center‘s Meyrav Wurmser, the wife of Cheney advisor David and founder of MEMRI; Heritage‘s Ariel Cohen; Gal Luft, a so-called greenocon whose colleague Anne Korin appears in “Iranium”; and a host of other right-wingers.

In fact, there are two fundraising videos on EMET’s website where Stern is praised by Steven Emerson, Gaffney, Pipes, Heritage’s Cohen, Hudson‘s Tevi Troy, and Lori Palatnik, who, along with her husband, works for the ultra-orthodox, Israel-based evangelist group Aish Hatorah, which is intimately tied to Clarion.

Another troubling place where Stern gets support from is the House Foreign Affairs Committee, whose hawkish new chairperson, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), has a long-established relationship with Stern. On an EMET page, Ros-Lehtinen commends Stern’s services:

I am writing in strong support of Sarah Stern, who has worked with my office on matters of legislative importance…. I have known Sarah for many years and find her to be passionate and knowledgeable…

Three of the top-listed EMET advisors are ex-Israeli diplomats associated with the Likud. These are the very figures with whom Stern worked on Capitol Hill to spike Oslo. From a piece on IPS written by myself, Eli and Jim, at the time of the “Obsession” controversy (with my emphasis and added links):

Also among the top names of listed advisers to EMET are three Israeli diplomats. Two of them, Ambassadors Yossi Ben Aharon and Yoram Ettinger, were among the three Israeli ambassadors whom then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin referred to as “the Three Musketeers” when they lobbied Washington in opposition to the Oslo accords. Indeed, Stern began her career at the behest of three unnamed Israeli diplomats who were based in Washington under Rabin’s predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir, according to EMET’s website.

Ettinger was at one time the chairman of special projects and is still listed as a contributing expert at the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, a hard-line Likudist Israeli think tank that opposes the peace process.

Ben Aharon was the director general – effectively the chief of staff – of Shamir’s office.

The third Israeli [diplomat], Lenny Ben-David, was appointed by Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as the deputy chief of mission – second in command – at the Israeli embassy in Washington from 1997 until 2000. Ben-David had also held senior positions at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for 25 years and is now a consultant and lobbyist.

Just like Clarion, where the producers and writer/director of the “Iranium” film are from the Israeli religious right, here we have, again, the Israeli right pushing policy on Washington.

There are few other ways to accurately describe it: This is the Israeli right directly pushing on Capitol Hill for an escalation with Iran, even pressing for an attack on the Islamic Republic.

These are the people we are supposed to trust about bombing Iran.

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About the Author

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Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



3 Responses to RJC, EMET, Eric Cantor to host ‘Iranium’ on the Hill

  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    You read this and you realize just how important the 2012 election will be (and 2016, too).

  2. avatar Majid Shahbaz says:

    The events sweeping the Arab world and most importantly in Egypt will probably suck enough oxygen out of the lungs of the Neocons to start relaxing a bit on their ‘Iranian existantial threat’ gambit for a while.
    As Juddah Grunstein put it yesterday in WPR; “The region resembles a thin crust of dry earth slapped down over a flowing current of molten lava.” and “we still don’t know if what comes next will be either democratic or Islamist, But it seems like a safe bet that it will be anti- American.” By extension therefore, anti- Israel.

    The showing of the movie “Iranium” in the Rayburn House, with a bucket of free popcorn will only add to more heartburn.

  3. avatar Ryan says:

    Cantor is a Republican [R-VA].

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