Our Community Must Not Be Divided at this Critical Moment

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement:

Our community has been divided and weakened for too long. Sometimes it is because we disagree amongst ourselves. And sometimes it is because people outside our community who do not care about the fate of Iran, the Iranian people or indeed us Iranian-Americans, exaggerate our differences to keep our community divided and powerless. A recent opinion piece by Eli Lake, a longtime critic of NIAC who helped sell the American people on going to war with Iraq and who advocates for an interventionist US policy towards Iran, is the latest such example. Lake’s latest hit piece, where he attacks NIAC through the words of Dr. Shirin Ebadi to advance his own dangerous agenda for Iran, comes at a time when unity in our community is needed more than ever.

As we speak, Donald Trump is installing John Bolton in the White House – a man who has openly called for over a decade for the U.S. to bomb Iran. Trump has fired his advisors who argued against killing the Iran deal and is replacing them with pro-war advocates like CIA Director Mike Pompeo – who wants to turn Iran into Syria. Meanwhile, our families continue to be banned from America because of Trump’s hateful policies.

NIAC proudly stands by our longstanding policies as decided by our membership. We are proud of our work to secure the nuclear agreement that forestalls the twin disasters of a nuclear-armed Iran and war with Iran. We are proud to be on the front lines of the effort to overturn President Trump’s disastrous Muslim ban. And of course, we have always and will always proudly support the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations and desire for a government that respects all of its citizens’ human rights. To sustainably achieve that goal, change has to be peaceful and led by the people in Iran. Iranian Americans certainly don’t agree on everything, but the vast majority of us do not support violence, couched in the language of regime change.

We have immense respect for Dr. Shirin Ebadi and for everyone who truly favors a peaceful pathway for the Iranian people to secure their dignity, representation, and human rights. While we may disagree about the role that the United States can productively play in that process, particularly under this current Administration, we also recognize that Dr. Ebadi was on the front lines fighting for human rights when she was in Iran. We will not be dragged into disparaging someone who has been so committed to that noble cause. A sustainable democracy is one in which people of differing opinions can debate and dialogue with mutual respect. In that spirit, NIAC extends an open invitation to Dr. Ebadi to join us for a robust discussion.

We reject those who would exploit human rights or a human rights defender to serve a pro-war agenda. We will not allow them turn our community against one another at this critical moment. We will not relent in our commitment to uniting Iranian Americans as a powerful voice for peace, human rights, and a brighter future for America and Iran.

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