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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.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Harvard, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs

Toward an Iran Policy That Looks at the Big Picture

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech outlining a new U.S. approach to the Islamic Republic. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz explain why it constitutes an important and much-needed rejection of past errors:

For too long, a peculiar consensus has suggested that it is possible to isolate the nuclear issue from all other areas of contention and resolve it in a satisfactory manner. The subsidiary [assumption] embedded in this logic is that despite the bluster of Iran’s rulers, it is governed by cautious men, who if offered sufficient incentives and soothing language would respond with pragmatism. No one embraced this notion more ardently than the former secretary of state, John Kerry, who crafted an accord whose deficiencies are apparent to all but the most hardened partisans. . . .

A regime as dangerous as the Iranian one requires no less than a comprehensive strategy to counter it. This means exploiting all of its vulnerabilities, increasing the costs of its foreign adventures, draining its economy, and aiding our allies. Most importantly, the United States must find a way of connecting itself to domestic opposition that continuously haunts the mullahs.

Washington should no longer settle for an arms-control agreement that paves Iran’s path to a bomb but rather a restrictive accord that ends its nuclear aspirations. The United States should not implore its allies to share the Middle East with Iran, as Barack Obama did, but partner with them in defeating the clerical imperialists. And most importantly, the United States should never forget that its most indispensable ally is the Iranian people.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Mike Pompeo, U.S. Foreign policy