Harvard Hires an Anti-Semitic Apologist for the Islamic Republic

Harvard University’s Kennedy School recently gave a semester-long journalism fellowship to one Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian blogger committed to defending the regime in Tehran—who is also fond of looking for signs of malignant Jewish influence. To add insult to injury, the Kennedy School is falsely billing Derakhshan as a dissident. Sohrab Ahmari explains:

Derakhshan has spent years viciously assailing real dissidents, and he has a long record of public statements in support of the [Iranian] regime, its leadership and security apparatus, and its conspiratorial and anti-Semitic worldview.

Start with the anti-Semitism. In December 2015, amid the popular frenzy over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Derakhshan took to his English-language Twitter account to note that the villain of the movie was identified as the “supreme leader,” which is also the title of Iran’s ruling theocrat. Wrote Derakhshan [about the film’s director]: “A supreme leader in the new Star Wars? What is the very pro-Israel J.J. Abrams hinting at?”

The tweet played on the canard, rampant among Iranian Islamists, that Jews use Hollywood influence to plant pro-Israel and anti-Iran messages in the minds of global audiences. In the real world, there is no evidence that J.J. Abrams is “very pro-Israel”—other than his Jewish last name, of course. . . .

Then there are the odes, published on his blog, to the Iranian regime. In June 2007, Derakhshan declared that “I’m proud to be Iranian, not because of Cyrus [the Great], but because of Khomeini, a true anti-colonial leader who created the only true postcolonial state in the world, [the] Islamic Republic of Iran.” That would be Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, who executed thousands of secular dissidents, issued a death fatwa against the British novelist Salman Rushdie, and transformed Iran into an Islamist totalitarian state. Derakhshan has similarly warm feelings for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S.-designated Iranian terror army that, among other things, has been spearheading the slaughter in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad. . . .

Most egregiously, Derakhshan has accused prominent Iranian dissidents and thinkers of spying for the U.S.—while the regime imprisoned these figures.

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The Democrats’ Anti-Semitism Problem Involves More Than Appearances

Jan. 22 2019

Last week, the Democratic National Committee formally broke with the national Women’s March over its organizers’ anti-Semitism and close associations with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Also last week, however, the Democratic leadership gave a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to the freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar—a supporter of boycotts of Israel who recently defended her 2012 pronouncement that “Israel has hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.” Abe Greenwald comments:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee oversees House bills and investigations pertaining to U.S. foreign policy, and it has the power to cut American arms and technology shipments to allies. So, while the Democrats are distancing themselves from anti-Semitic activists who organize a march every now and then, they’re raising up anti-Semites to positions of power in the federal government. . . .

There is no cosmetic fix for the anti-Semitism that’s infusing the activist left and creeping into the Democratic party. It runs to the ideological core of intersectionality—the left’s latest religion. By the lights of intersectionality, Jews are too powerful and too white to be the targets of bigotry. So an anti-Semite is perfectly suitable as an ally against some other form of prejudice—against, say, blacks or women. And when anti-Semitism appears on the left, progressives are ready to explain it away with an assortment of convenient nuances and contextual considerations: it’s not anti-Semitism, it’s anti-Zionism; consider the good work the person has done fighting for other groups; we don’t have to embrace everything someone says to appreciate the good in him, etc.

These new congressional Democrats [including Omar and her fellow anti-Israel congresswoman Rashida Tlaib] were celebrated far and wide when they were elected. They’re young, outspoken, and many are female. But that just makes them extraordinarily effective ambassadors for a poisonous ideology.

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