Ron Kampeas at JTA:
Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel — three prominent Jewish activists who have joined with other prominent people in a bid to remove a group with a blood-soaked history from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The names on the growing list of influential American advocates to de-list the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK — known in English as the National Council of Resistance of Iran — suggest an effort to give the bid a pro-Israel imprimatur.
On the record, the people involved insist there is no Israel element to what they say is a humanitarian endeavor to remove the movement’s followers from danger.
“I don’t see any Israel issue at all,” Dershowitz told JTA in an interview, instead casting it in terms of Hillel’s dictum, “If I am only for myself, who am I?”
Off the record, however, figures close to the campaign use another ancient Middle Eastern dictum to describe the involvement of supporters of Israel: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
A source close to the effort to bring pro-Israel voices into the initiative cited reports that Israel has allied with the MEK, which reportedly maintains agents in Iran and in the past has published details of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
The organized pro-Israel community, however, has been reluctant to sign on. One official at a pro-Israel group said pushing to de-list MEK without a full review could undercut efforts to keep groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah on the list.
“They’re listed as a terrorist group, and until the U.S. government says otherwise, we’re not going to deal with them,” said the official, whose group otherwise counsels a tough posture against the Iranian regime.
The MEK, an Iranian exile group that some accuse of being a cult, has maintained a presence in Iraq since 1986, when Saddam Hussein welcomed it as a useful thorn in the side of his deadly enemy. From its border encampment, Camp Ashraf, it conducted operations against the theocracy in Iran. The MEK claims to have ended military activities in 2001.
Kampeas adds that the effort to delist MEK is joined by John Bolton, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Mukasey and Tom Ridge. For more background on the MEK, and the effort to get them off the State Department terrorist list, see this June, 2010 Mondo post where contributor Kamran saw this coming from a mile away.