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‘NBC’ likens Iran boycott to anti-apartheid struggle

on 21 Comments

You have to read this NBC News article (by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem) about the group United Against Nuclear Iran. It’s pretty informative about the group’s efforts, yet disturbing in that typical MSM way–hardly any challenge of UANI’s narrative, barely a word from opponents of the sanctions, and, of course, not a single word about how ordinary Iranians are suffering under the sanctions regime so vigorously pressed by the likes of UANI.

But the part that is just brimming with irony is the discussion of how this group, manned by the Israel lobby’s close friends and counting on its advisory board a former head of the Mossad, has parallels to the anti-apartheid struggle–

The public shaming is a familiar strategy — with a twist. Activists demonstrated and demanded U.S. pension funds and university endowments divest stock in South African companies during the dying days of apartheid in the 1980s and ‘90s.

and how it pressured Caterpillar to stop supplying Iran. You can’t make this stuff up:

“UANI also says it forced Caterpillar, the huge U.S.-based construction company, to stop supplying equipment to Iran. After a letter-writing campaign failed, UANI bought a billboard opposite the company’s headquarters in Peoria, Ill., showing a piece of earth-moving equipment alongside a photo of Ahmadinejad and the words, “Today’s work, tomorrow’s nuclear Iran.” As soon as the company halted the sales in February 2010, the billboard came down.

“At the time, Caterpillar said it did not have extensive business dealings with Iran, and that it couldn’t control sales in the secondary market. But it did bar non-U.S. subsidiaries from accepting orders that it knew were destined from Iran.


For years activists who are working against apartheid have sought to shame Caterpillar for its sale of bulldozers to Israel, including the bulldozer that crushed Rachel Corrie to death in 2003. Has NBC ever published a fulsome piece on their human-rights campaign? Somehow I doubt it.

Austin Branion

Austin Branion is an activist and perennial student of Arabic living in the DC area. Follow him on Twitter at @austiniyaat.

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21 Responses

  1. lysias on October 19, 2012, 11:34 am

    Somewhat off topic (but not really,) I discover in the book that I’m currently reading, Joseph J. Trento’s Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network, further evidence that Israel’s nuclear weapons were developed with U.S. government complicity at the highest levels:

    The Reagan-Bush policy [of winking at Pakistan’s development of nuclear weapons] violated both American law and international nonproliferation treaties. But this type of violation was not unprecedented: the United States had allowed covert aid to Israel to help with their nuclear-weapons program in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson had given James Angleton permission to assist Israel in further developing its nuclear-weapons program.

    Author Trento gives his source for that last statement in a footnote:

    From a series of interviews with James Jesus Angleton, 1977-1986.

    That’s from pages 317-318 of Trento’s book.

    For the U.S. to be so concerned about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, which may not even exist, is massively hypocritical.

    • Theo on October 19, 2012, 1:24 pm


      Please do not forget, we are the good guys!!
      Our own CIA stealing uran and giving it to Israel and all consequent help with their project was to help our best friends. We are good to our friends.
      On the other hand, what do those mullahs think, can they insult us by developing their own nuclear program without our permission?
      It is just an excuse for a war, just as the attack on our ship Maine in Havanna or the Tomkin incident was. Both were just simple lies, they never happened.

      • lysias on October 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

        Trento goes on to say, later in that same paragraph, that the Israelis aided India to develop its own nuclear-weapons program, or at least that the Saudis believed that they did:

        The Saudis calimed that Israel had directly aided India in developing its [nuclear-weapons] program and had thus created a dangerous imbalance in the region. Allowing Pakistan to develop a weapon, but not to deploy it, seems like a workable compromise and, the Saudis argued, the only solution.

        If the Saudis were right about this — and it is hard to believe that they were mistaken — Israel, besides developing its own nuclear weapons in violation of the nonproliferation regime, was also a nuclear proliferator. (Well, we already knew that Israel was a nuclear proliferator with respect to apartheid South Africa.) And, by proliferating to India, Israel created a nuclear imbalance in South Asia that led Pakistan to develop its own nukes. Thus, Israeli proliferation created a nuclear-arms race.

        Please tell me what would be so dangerous about Iran also acquiring nuclear weapons.

      • Theo on October 20, 2012, 9:07 am

        In the view of israeli zionists that would put a lid on the idea of Erez Israel, because they would be balanced by a power with the same ability.
        It doesn´t make a difference if you have 150 nuclear bombs, as Israel supposedly has, or just one or two, because with just one Israel could be totally destroyed, the rest is just an overkill. You can destroy a city or nation only once.
        This is the reason why Israel wants us to stop any irani nuclear activity and are ready to spill a lot of blood to do it. Mostly iranian and american blood, as they like us to do the dirty work for them. See Iraq.
        Our politicians took the 30 pieces of silver and will support anything that comes from Tel Aviv or their agents in the USA, AIPAC, etc.

        In my opinion a nuclear armed Iran would stop all this little wars in the ME and would bring stability to the region, however not to our taste, as we, the USA, will not have so much to say after that.
        Are we willing to curtail our influance in the ME? I seriously doubt it, so get ready for the next round of hostilities.

  2. on October 19, 2012, 12:22 pm

    thanks for the link to the article. Iran indeed has a vile, repressive regime.

    people can not be liberal or progressive without understanding that Iran’s regime is backward.

    • thetumta on October 19, 2012, 8:47 pm

      More backward than Saudi, Bahrain or Jordan? The Jewish community in Teheran doesn’t think so, they’re free to leave with great monetary incentives but they stay. Perhaps it’s because they have guaranteed representation in the Iranian Parliament? A “vile, repressive regime” in comparison to Bloomberg’s white-shirted thugs in NYC? Certainly no worse. Probably not as bad, Israeli. Progressive, I don’t think so? Some other smell.

      • Abdul-Rahman on October 19, 2012, 10:49 pm

        The Iranian Jewish community has sent a strong rejection towards Zionist plots to get them to leave their homeland (in this case Iran); and as you noted the Iranian Jews have often been offered big monetary incentives to leave Iran but for the most part they have always rejected and freely chosen to stay in Iran. And Iranian Jews will tell you they are treated completely equal in Iran and are not discriminated against; as Iranian people have no problem with Jews only with Zionists who threaten their country over their peaceful nuclear energy program (that was started with US governmental help back during the Shah’s reign, see Henry Kissinger’s funny statements on this lol) while Israel continues to sit with estimates of over 200+ illegal nuclear warheads fully outside the control of the IAEA or the NPT Treaty.

      • on October 20, 2012, 4:56 pm

        well Abdul-Rahman, other than noting that the overwhelming majority of Iranian Jews have left the country since the vile, hostile and repressive Khomeini came to power, you’ve got a really great point about how much the Iranian Jews (and most other non-Shia citizens) of Iran are completely free and not-at-all discriminated against………….

        thanks for keeping it real, buddy.

      • on October 20, 2012, 3:18 pm

        no, not at all more backward than the Gulf States.

        however, you’re hilariously wrong to compare iran’s theocratic repression to the policing and governance of NYC… that’s just off-the-charts ludicrous.

    • piotr on October 19, 2012, 9:47 pm

      Iran compared to US allies in the region?

      Actually, I am not sure if Iran is much more repressive (or more repressive) than Israel.

      • on October 20, 2012, 3:20 pm

        Iran is infinitely more repressive of Iranian citizens than is Israel to israeli citizens.

        If you want to compare Iran’s treatment of its citizens to the ill-treatment Israel gives to those it governs under military occupation, that’s a decent idea, but that’s sorta a donkey of a different color.

      • Inanna on October 20, 2012, 9:44 pm

        The hasbara is strong in this one.

    • Inanna on October 20, 2012, 12:34 am

      By backward, you mean savages, right? Thanks Pam Geller. And you call yourself ‘more progressive’?

      • on October 20, 2012, 3:22 pm

        no, by backward I mean resistant to modern notions of human rights, religious freedom, political freedom and sexual equality, Inanea

      • Inanna on October 20, 2012, 9:42 pm

        That’s just more dog-whistles, more progressive. You’re doing a great job with them.

  3. Jeff Klein on October 19, 2012, 12:50 pm

    The Iran boycott campaign was hatched in Israel by Benjamin Netanyahu (who had been in the US during the 1980’s) as a conscious echo of the Anti-South African Apartheid campaign — and was promoted at the start by his friend Mitt Romney.

  4. seafoid on October 19, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Turning progressiveness around 180% degrees to support pointless Israeli warmongering. How many Israelis will die needlessly? Barak thinks 500 would be reasonable.

  5. Bill in Maryland on October 19, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Thanks Austin for highlighting this amazing double standard, by NBC and by Caterpillar both. Caterpillar caved in to UANI after they were shamed by a billboard, but will not budge in response to the Rachel Corrie Foundation and criticism from human rights and Palestinian justice advocates. We clearly need to raise the level of shame associated with support for home demolition, maintenance of Jim Crow, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of I/P.

    • thetumta on October 19, 2012, 8:59 pm
      They budged today! If you piled on with the shorts today, their stock price would be lower. Just saying. They have more down days ahead and you can help. On bad days, short their stock for the day. You might make a little money.
      P.S. A Palestine short Fund?

  6. monsieur Dov Eis on October 21, 2012, 7:42 pm

    quote: “”At the time, Caterpillar said it did not have extensive business dealings with Iran, and that it couldn’t control sales in the secondary market. But it did bar non-U.S. subsidiaries from accepting orders that it knew were destined from Iran.”

    “But it did bar non-U.S. subsidiaries from accepting orders that it knew were DESTINED FROM Iran?!”

    — How much logic or intelligence can you expect from someone who speaks of something being “destined FROM” somewhere…?

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