In a recent report titled: "The pro-Tehran lobby and its anti-Israeli crusade", I explained how Trita Parsi and NIAC present their lobby as a crusade against Israel and AIPAC. The Jewish state is depicted as "the spoiler of Iran-US friendship, the sole force behind the sanctions against Iran, and the bullying force that dictates US policy. Iran, a victim of Israel, seeks its legitimate place in the region and ....."
Recently, a new series of NIAC's internal documents were released during a defamation lawsuit brought against me. One of these documents is an astonishing email written by NIAC's community director Babak Talebi in which he illustrates the depth of deception and public opinion manipulation to pale the Iranian regime's ant-Semitism. This email by itself is a vindication of all allegations about NIAC's pro-Tehran lobby enterprise.
The issue: Ahmadinejad's controversial declaration against Israel
On October 26, 2005, Ahmadinejad' made a speech to the"World Without Zionism"conference in Tehran and according to IRNA, the regime's news agency, he declared that "Israel must be wiped off the map".(1) The story was picked up by Western news agencies and quickly made headlines around the world. On October 30, The New York Times published a full transcript of the speech in which Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying: "Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map."
Immediately, pro-Tehran advocates who present Iran as a victim of Israel launched a campaign to claim that Ahmadinejad's declaration was intentionally mistranslated by hawkish groups in US to demonize Iran and pave the road for a military invasion of the country. Trita Parsi wrote in his book that “Ahmadinejad’s statement has generally been mistranslated to read, “Wipe Israel off the map.” Ahmadinejad never used the word “Israel” but rather the “occupying regime of Jerusalem,” which is a reference to the Israeli regime and not necessarily to the country.” (See the report)
Useless to say that translation was made by the Iranian regime itself and Ahmadinejad has clarified time after time that he meant Israel and not the regime as he repeatedly asked the Jews to find a new country in Alaska or Europe.
This email is an exchange among NIAC's West coast board members who discuss the negative impact of Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli declarations. Talebi explains that they should not solely insist on mistranslation argument because day after day Ahmadinejad repeats the same thing and shows his hatred of Israel. Therefore, the public opinion and US politicians do not buy this argument.
Talebi suggests a genuine way to reframe the issue and coax the public: "as we discussed in the Seminar, in order to frame your issue successfully, you have to “go fishing with the bait that the fish likes, not the bait that you like” In other words, Talebi is trying tofind an argument that the public opinion (fish) could bite and gets trapped in the net. The emails needs no comment:
"Mitra is 100% correct that this (AN declaration to wipe Israel off the map) was a mistranslation – whether in the official Iranian press, or intentionally on the part of the US media is a point that can (and is) argued… but what is important for today is to realize that it is now (almost) set-in-stone and the fact is that every time Ahmadinejad speaks he only confirms the mis-translation by repeating similar lines. The point is that for both the US public AND the US media, the interpretation of this utterance is ‘believable’ and it would require a HUGE political force to change that mindset – and EVEN IF accomplished, it would not challenge or change the perception of Ahmadinejad as anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic.
So – a far more effective response with an actual chance at success and at stemming the possibility of this type of mentality leading to conflict is to ‘frame’ the issue in a different manner. Arguing that Ahmadinejad is irrelevant to actual Iranian foreign policy is one such example. Arguing thatEVEN IFIran had an ‘intent’ to harm Israel it does not have the capacity or political will to do so. Etc.
As we discussed in the Seminar, in order to frame your issue successfully, you have to “go fishing with the bait that the fish likes, not the bait that you like”. Another words, arguments that convince us that Iran will not attack Israel (ie it has not attacked anyone in 150 years, Iranians love Jews, its just empty rhetoric) would not necessarily work with the audience we are trying to convince."
1- "Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map", IRIB News, October 26, 2005.