NIAC Statement on Iranian Retaliation Against Israel

Washington, DC – Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement on reports indicating Iran is undertaking retaliatory strikes following Israel’s bombing of its diplomatic compound in Damascus, Syria: We are deeply concerned that Iranian retaliatory strikes following Israel’s April 1 attack on its diplomatic compound in Damascus will move the region even further from the path to peace and security. The launch of a significant attack on Israeli territory from Iran is without recent precedent and, unless there is a serious effort towards deconfliction, may confirm that Iran, Israel and the United States are in the midst of the regional war that so many have feared.  We call on the Biden Administration to exercise the United States’ considerable diplomatic leverage to restrain Israel and Iran to ensure this conflict does not spiral further out of control. Far too many innocents have already suffered in the war that began October 7, and the cycle of violence and inhumanity must be broken. Preventing a regional war must be the top imperative and this may mean that Joe Biden must finally say “no” to Israel and Netanyahu. Biden’s bearhug approach towards Israel has completely failed and has put

Judge Sides with Bank of America Against Discrimination Lawsuit

San Diego, California – The Southern District Court of California issued a sweeping ruling in favor of Bank of America in the ground-breaking class action lawsuit that alleged the bank had discriminated against Iranian Americans in its efforts to comply with U.S. sanctions on Iran. While this ruling is deeply disappointing to the more than 15,000 individuals of Iranian heritage who were directly impacted by Bank of America’s widespread closures, the fight to ensure equitable banking access for our community is not over. Following the ruling, there is increased onus on the U.S. government to alter policies to prevent the widespread closure of accounts on the basis of national heritage. Nia v. Bank of America was initiated in 2022 on behalf of Mohammed Farshad Abdollah Nia, whose Bank of America account was closed despite his efforts to confirm his current residency in the United States. U.S. sanctions on Iran prevent American financial institutions from servicing an individual that is “ordinarily resident in Iran,” though this vague term has been interpreted broadly by banks, including Bank of America. As a result, many thousands of members of our community have had their accounts closed with little to no warning by both Bank

Israeli Attack Kills Senior Iranian Officials in Damascus, Deepening Regional Tensions

On Monday, Israeli warplanes destroyed a building in Damascus that was reportedly part of the Iranian Embassy compound in Syria, killing seven including three senior Iranian military officers. This is a major provocation that has raised questions as to whether Israel is seeking to draw the U.S. into a direct military conflict with Iran as the devastating war in Gaza nears six months. It is also yet another reminder that only a permanent ceasefire that halts the killing in Gaza can seriously reduce the risks of a disastrous regional war between the U.S. and Iran. What Transpired Israeli officials confirmed to The New York Times that it was responsible for the attack, though they disputed that the target was a protected diplomatic building. Gen. Mohamad Reza Zahedi, the top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps official in the Levant, was the most senior figure targeted. Killed alongside Zahedi were two other generals and four officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. Israeli forces have alleged that the senior Iranian military figures were meeting with representatives from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has stated that the building struck was a consulate building that also housed the Iranian ambassador’s residence, though the ambassador –

It’s Official: Iranian Americans to Finally be Counted in U.S. Census

After decades of research, education and advocacy by NIAC and many others, the next Census in 2030 will officially include Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) as a category option, with “Iranian” included as a subcategory, among others. For the 2030 Census and additional government surveys, the addition of a MENA category will finally address the significant gaps in research and policymaking on subjects like socioeconomic conditions, civic engagement, and health disparities relevant to the Iranian-American and other MENA communities. How did we get here? During the 1997 revision of the policy establishing official racial and ethnic categories, suggestions to include a MENA category were initially rejected by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), citing research that indicated MENA individuals had identified with the White category. However, significant research and organizing from MENA communities like ours has since supported the incorporation of a MENA category.  Driven by the research indicating these changes, the Census Bureau tested a MENA category in 2015, leading to their official recommendation in 2017 for the category to be included in the 2020 Census. This recommendation was, however, overruled by President Trump who ordered that it be walked back. Upon assuming office in 2021, President

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