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‘New York Times’ profile of group bent on sanctioning Iran fails to mention Israel connections

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Dennis Ross, a major pro-Israel figure, helped to found United Against Nuclear Iran
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The New York Times recently profiled United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a hawkish group bent on monitoring Iranian commerce at sea and promoting sanctions against the country. Missing from Rick Gladstone’s piece, though, is any mention of Israel. It’s a glaring omission given the fact that the group has connections to Israel lobby groups and receives funding from organizations with a focus on Judaism and Israel.

The group was founded in 2008 by high-level officials like former Bush administration official Mark Wallace, the current CEO, and former Obama administration officials like the late Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross, who has handled the Israel file in a number of presidential administrations.

Other members of UANI’s board include Meir Dagan, the former Mossad director who made waves for his opposition to a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran but is also pro-sanctions; Alan Solow, a former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiations; former Homeland Security Advisor and MEK supporter Fran Townsend; and more. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the Tehran Bureau in 2008, it’s a “coalition of bipartisan hawks, from neoconservative hardliners to liberal interventionists.”

And while the organization puts most of its energy into sanctioning Iran, they also wouldn’t mind U.S. military attacks on the country, despite their spokesman saying in 2008 that the group’s “aim is not to beat the drums of war.” In 2011, in the aftermath of the alleged (and hyped-up) Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., UANI said that President Obama should “make it clear that Iran will face consequences for its actions, including military retaliation for attacks on Americans.”

UANI pushes for a “maritime blockade” of Iran, as the New York Times profile notes. Unmentioned by the Times’ Gladstone is that a “maritime blockade” is considered an act of war under international law.

Gladstone also reported that “the group relies on private donations and fund-raising to operate, according to its Web site. The group’s officials declined to identify the donors but said its annual budget was about $1.5 million.” The UANI has always been cagey about its funding, declining to discuss details of their money with The Forward in 2008.

But tax records I reviewed reveal that UANI gets a portion of their funding from organizations with a focus on Israel and Judaism. While the funding I discovered doesn’t amount to $1.5 million, it’s still a window into who their donors are.

In fiscal year 2010, the latest year I reviewed, UANI received $50,000 from the United Jewish Communities of Metrowest New Jersey, which also funds an array of Jewish and Israel-focused groups like Birthright and Hillel. UANI also received $25,000 from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland that year. That same Cleveland organization gave UANI $50,000 in both 2008 and 2009. While the Jewish Federation of Cleveland has also given some money to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, most of their money goes to Jewish and Israel-related groups.

In fiscal year 2009, UANI garnered $10,000 from the Herbert Bearman Foundation for its “Unclenched Fist” advertisement, the group’s first national television ad campaign. The ad called for “economic pressure on the Iranian regime” to “keep them from building a nuclear arsenal.” U.S. and Israeli intelligence have maintained that while Iran is enriching uranium–a right they have under international law–there is no evidence they have decided to build a nuclear weapon. You can watch the misleading Bearman-funded ad here:

The Herbert Bearman Foundation also gave money that year to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations ($3,410); the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces ($7,500); the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies ($5,000); and many other Jewish groups.

Lastly, UANI received $100,000 from the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago in fiscal year 2009, and $15,000 that year from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Other UANI-Israel lobby connections are easy to discover. In April, UANI and The Israel Project organized an event together on “Iranian nuclear proliferation.” In 2011, UANI partnered with Iran 180, a group launched by the New York Jewish Community Relations Council, as the Electronic Intifada’s Benjamin Doherty pointed out last year. Iran 180 and UANI, along with New York City Public Advocate (and current mayoral candidate) Bill de Blasio, coalesced around pressuring automobile companies to stop doing business with Iran.

The group is also close to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Last year, The Forward’s Nathan Guttman reported that “UANI has strong ties to the Jewish community and is supported by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.” The Jewish group’s website also feature an ad for UANI prominently. 

But the Times’ Gladstone did not mention any of these Israel lobby connections. By doing so, the “paper of record” didn’t provide the full picture about the hawkish group–and did a disservice to their readers.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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13 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka on June 28, 2013, 10:00 am

    “‘New York Times’ profile of group bent on sanctioning Iran fails to mention Israel connections”

    Well, if the New York Times revealed the extent to which israel and its supporters here in the US were driving US policy, then people in the US might as why israel and its supporters here in the US were driving US policy. Since the New York Times is basically the club newletter of those supporters, its silence is not surprising.

  2. ziusudra on June 28, 2013, 11:26 am

    Just what astronomical number of shekles could it be that Zionopolis receives annually? Could they survive with less, could they survive with none?
    The day will come when even US/Israelis tire of it.
    The day will come when big brother no longer needs Zionistan as a frontier
    vassal entity in the ME keeping the lid on 350 mill Muslims for them.

  3. Sumud on June 28, 2013, 11:28 am

    A counter group called “United Against Nuclear Israel” needs to be formed that rents billboard space all over the country outlining details of Israel’s undisclosed nuclear program, the immense hypocrisy in their warmongering re: the non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the number of US laws the US violates in giving billions of dollar$ annually to the nuclear rogue state of Israel.

    This one is a no-brainer. This is how you stop the US from being induced to attack Iran on Israel’s behalf. Undisclosed nuclear weapons/lack of NNPT membership is one of Israel’s achilles heels.

  4. Little_Shih_Tzu on June 28, 2013, 12:33 pm

    Wherever Dennis goes, diasater [for the US national interest] follows.

    How-in-the-name-of-Allah does this person continue to maintain credibility with the MSM? He’s on a level with Pipes, Geller, Spencer, Bridgette Gabriel, et. al. yet this guy never fails to conmand tons of fawning and uncritical press coverage.

  5. US Citizen on June 28, 2013, 1:16 pm

    @Sumud-EXCELLANT IDEA! Let’s do it. We can give that tool Dennis Ross a run for his money, 30 years as a ‘negotiator’ and what does he have to show for it?

    Let’s take it a step further. When an AIPAC endorsed candidate runs just spell out for the people in that district all the money we give to Israel that could be spend here at home. People understand dollars and cents. Make AIPAC and the people who run on a pro-Israel ticket defend giving 10 millions dollars a day to a ‘vibrant democracy’ when our own are going without. Spell it out for them and shame these AIPACers, Neocons, Israeli hawks, and anyone else of their ilk. It’s long overdue.

  6. Les on June 28, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Let us appreciate Israeli born Shamai Leibowitz’s 20 month jailing for going public that Congresswoman Jane Harmon shared classified information with Israel. He considers Snowden to be a hero.

    • radkelt on June 30, 2013, 12:07 am

      Les, we’re grateful for the reminder, especially given the Snowden, Manning
      accusations of being traitors.

  7. Nevada Ned on June 28, 2013, 5:48 pm

    UANI ought to register as an agent of a foreign power.

  8. ritzl on June 28, 2013, 11:42 pm

    HarryLaw pointed this out the other day. I think it’s relevant in that the ante is being upped (and given voice), and people should know who’s upping it.

    Former Israeli ambassador to the US Dan Gillerman says North Korea should be wiped off the map as an example to Iran. (My description of content.)

  9. Nevada Ned on June 30, 2013, 10:08 pm

    The US has launched an economic blockade against Iran, and the pubic reason is because Iran is developing nuclear weapons. This is easy to refute: according to US intelligence agencies, Iran has no nuclear weapons and no program for developing nuclear weapons.

    So much for the public reason. But what is the real reason? Iran used to be a US oil colony, under the Shah (installed by the CIA in 1953), but is now a former colony, having had an anti-US revolution in 1979.

    Similar US campaigns were successful against Nicaragua in the 1980’s and against Chile in 1973.

    As it happens, the US has been carrying out an economic blockade of Cuba since 1960. The US goal is to wreck the Cuban economy, and prevent Cuba from becoming a good example of a country that got rid of capitalism and adopted socialism instead.
    For details on the US economic war against Cuba, see the book review by Daniel Kovalik in this weekend’s Counterpunch .

  10. Rudolph on July 2, 2013, 7:26 pm

    The following, written by an historian of the UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, cannot be emphasized enough:
    “Hard liners in Iran reject the status quo of American supremacy in the region….While in this conflict the United States remains largely the good guy, it has not always been the perfect guy. Both Bush administrations dismissed Iranian goodwill gestures and refused to accept any dialogue that addressed Iran’s legitimate security concerns. The United States supported Saddam Hussein and his Arab bankrollers in a bloody war against the Islamic Republic that killed several hundred thousand Iranian soldiers. The mantra of regime change remains a frequent slogan in many quarters in Washington. Unfortunately, Iran’s response to these trespasses has invariably been to use the tools of the terrorist: an exploding car bomb on a crowded street or a plot to kill a diplomat in a popular Washington restaurant….Iran’s quest for nuclear technology has heightened the stakes and the tension but it has not been a catalyst for the conflict.”

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