Tuesday, September 27th | 2 Tishri 5783

September 27, 2019 9:36 am

New York Times Iran Story Relies on Analyst Tied to BDS-Backing Rockefeller Fund

avatar by Ira Stoll


The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A recent New York Times article about Iran quotes a bunch of government officials — and also someone who works at a small, little-known nonprofit group.

The Times reports:

Some analysts believe the oil sanctions and other penalties imposed by the Trump administration are what set Tehran on its current course of confrontation with the United States and its partners in the Persian Gulf region.

The administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign “has not only failed to secure a better deal with Iran on its nuclear activities and problematic Iranian regional behavior, but actually created problems that did not previously exist,” said Andrew Miller, a former State Department official who is deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy.

The Times doesn’t explain to readers what this “Project on Middle East Democracy” is or who funds it. The organization’s website says the group was formally established in 2006. Its most recent readily-available tax return, filed in 2017, reports 13 employees and total revenue of $1,642,238.

Online records show the group received $845,000 from 2012 to 2019 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a charity that has been well documented by NGO Monitor, Bloomberg News and The Algemeiner itself as funding an array of efforts both to boycott Israel and to promote a nuclear deal that provided Iran with sanctions relief over the objections of Israel’s government.

For the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Project on Middle East Democracy, getting quoted in the New York Times article is a win. It’s not so clear, though, that it’s a win for Times readers to hear from an “analyst” funded by boycott-Israel-but-trade-with-Iran advocacy Rockefeller money, especially when that funding is not disclosed. Whenever there’s a pro-Israel or anti-Iran policy move in Washington, the Times is quick to describe it as transactional, a “return on investment” for pro-Israel campaign contributors. Yet on the anti-Israel or pro-Iran front, the Times is remarkably incurious about the money trail. As usual with the Times writing about Israel, it’s a double standard.

An argument’s ultimate test, in the end, is less the source of its funding than its logical strength. By that measure, the claim by the Times-quoted Miller that “penalties imposed by the Trump administration are what set Tehran on its current course of confrontation with the United States” is laughable. As a different Times news article conceded this week, “Since its inception, the Islamic Republic has made rejecting the United States a subject of street performance, from the chants of ‘Death to America’ at Friday prayers to the branding of the country as the ‘Great Satan.’” That regime’s “inception,” in 1979, long predated the Trump administration.

Furthermore, Miller’s complaint that Trump’s pressure on Iran has “failed to secure a better deal” is premature. The story isn’t over yet. The Iranians are already showing signs of caving. The president of Iran said recently that his government was prepared to “go beyond” the nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Iran, the US, and other parties. And perhaps for Israel and the US, even no deal is a better deal than a bad deal.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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