• 26 July 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 1 Comments
  • Iranian American activism, Israel, Let's Talk Iran, Uncategorized

Lessons from the Jewish-American Community

The AIPAC membership is only a fraction the size of the membership for the other top two lobbying organizations in the U.S., those being the AARP and NRA. How has AIPAC has been able to reach such a level of influence? How do Jewish-American organizations interact and balance cooperation and competition? How does the community handle internal disputes? Find out the answers to these questions and more from former executive director of American Israeli Public Affairs Commitee (AIPAC), Tom Dine.  Currently, Tom serves as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Israel Policy Forum and will be participating as a panelist in NIAC’s 2012 Leadership Conference this fall.

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Posted By Lily Samimi

    One Response to “Lessons from the Jewish-American Community”

  1. Fiorangela says:

    Mr. Dine said, and the moderator concurred, that “Jews and Iranians are brainy people; they deal in ideas . . .”

    If NIAC is scouting AIPAC with a view to imitating their ‘best practices,’ please take this critique to heart:

    We unhyphenated Americans resent having our noses rubbed in “Jewish intelligence” and “Jews as idea people.”

    For one thing, the concept betrays a racist perspective on the part of its proponents. Such statements rest on the warrant that Jews — and Iranians — are somehow inherently more intellectually endowed than the rest of us above- average-Lake-Woebegoners.

    The reality is far different, far more information-rich therefore useful; and not that hard to unearth: both Jews and Iranians are diaspora communities in the United States. Jews migrated to the United States in waves — the Seventh Day Adventist website has tracked those waves. The largest waves of Jews were voluntary migrations from culturally advanced societies where Jews took advantage of the indigenous educational opportunities. Common sense dictates that the proportion of wealthy and educated Jews who migrated to US was far greater than those Jews who were poorly educated and impoverished — the former group had access to wherewithal and connections that made migration possible and successful; the latter did not. Moreover, statistics reveal that relatively few of more highly educated German Jews died in Europe’s wars; the vast majority of Jewish deaths were from Jewish peasant populations.

    My understanding is that most Iranian Americans came to the US after the 1979 revolution. Again, it is common sense to recognize that the proportion of college-educated and financially secure Iranians who fled to, or were trapped in, or decided to migrate to the US far outweighs the number of rural shepherds from Keng or Qashqai tribesmen or Bakhtiari nomads who migrated to Los Angeles.

    Both groups, Jewish-Americans and Iranian-Americans, would do well to express a little humility, and a little — make that a LOT — of gratitude to the countries they left behind that provided them with an education and enabled to succeed in the USA, and a bit of humility and gratitude to the American people for their efforts at building the infrastructure, institutions, and attitudes that supported immigrants as they climbed the ladder to their “superior” “brainy” achievements.

    We unbrainy Americans are not that dumb that we haven’t noticed that we’ve never gotten a thank you note but only a “gimme more” from Israel. If NIAC thinks that imitating Israel’s advocates in that regard is going to win them friends, they should think again. Join the rest of us in the pool at Lake Woebegone.

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