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“Betrayal” is not a word to be used lightly. Yet when it comes to people who are knowingly in bed with an enemy of both the United States and Israel, the word fits like a glove.

The word also comes to mind when reading a recent report in The Washington Free Beacon regarding a clandestine meeting at the family estate of John D. Rockefeller in Westchester County, which was attended by groups seeking to resuscitate the moribund Iran nuclear deal.

Present at the gathering were representatives of J Street, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. These groups receive support from both political extremes, from George Soros on the far-left to Charles Koch on the far-right.

The following is from a confidential letter by Dylan Williams of J Street that the Free Beacon was able to obtain: “I’m writing to suggest that this group convene virtually next week to brainstorm and hopefully find consensus on the elements of legislation to support the Iranian people that we could propose to diplomacy-oriented lawmakers. Given the usual need to be discrete [sic], the charged nature of the topic and the outrageous threats against several members of this group, please do keep this initiative close-hold.”

Williams’ letter then outlines the groups’ strategy: They “plan to pursue a dual-track legislative agenda, where they would find a way through legislation to give pro-deal Democrats cover by supporting Iranian women and Iranian human rights, without in any way challenging the revival of a nuclear deal, while at the same time building a coalition of members of the House and Senate willing to write a very public letter to the president urging him to keep the door to diplomacy open on the nuclear file.”

This plan is the essence of duplicity. It seeks to promote the interests of a regime that has brutally slaughtered over 500 of its people, including at least 58 children, and arrested approximately 15,000 courageous dissidents. Four of those dissidents have been hanged from cranes in public executions.

It is impossible to separate these atrocities from the regime that commits them. The reason the protestors are risking their lives is to overthrow the theocracy they despise. The organizations that signed on to the plan Williams described, in contrast, seek to empower it through negotiations and extremely lucrative potential signing bonuses.

This would empower the Iranian regime in its war on its own people and enable it to continue its nuclear program and malign activities not only in the Middle East but right under our noses in Latin America. The regime has even attempted to kidnap and assassinate former American officials on our own soil, such as John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Brian Hook.

In a Feb. 7 policy paper issued by the highly regarded Center for Human Rights in Iran—a group of Iranian expatriates in Norway—the organization recommended that the U.S. “suspend negotiations to restore the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal].”

The writers stated, “The nuclear deal with Iran cannot be isolated from the atrocities being committed by the Iranian authorities. While efforts at nuclear nonproliferation are important, a revived JCPOA in its current form would deliver significantly increased oil revenues to the Islamic Republic and access to frozen assets, which will increase the repressive capacity of the state. The Islamic Republic should not be bolstered when it is gunning down hundreds of young women and men in order to crush peaceful dissent.”

It is striking that J Street, which calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace”—though a J Street activist told me this is shortened to “pro-peace” in private—has jumped into bed with NIAC. Even if J Street feels that giving up all of the disputed territories to the Palestinians would bring peace—a highly debatable proposition—how can it argue that an Iranian regime that wantonly murders its own young people is willing to live in peace with Israel or anyone else?

At the moment, NIAC is finally being discredited on Capitol Hill, with many realizing it is a sophisticated lobbying arm for the mullahs’ theocracy. While NIAC hides behind crocodile tears for the murdered dissidents, it simultaneously empowers the regime that is killing them.

The dissidents themselves have stated this in no uncertain terms. The most popular social media platform in Iran is 1500tasvir, meaning “1,500 images,” a reference to the 1,500 protestors mowed down by the regime during protests in 2019. The platform is exponentially growing in popularity and has over a million followers on Instagram.

NIAC and anyone associated with it are banned from the platform.

Why? When recently asked by a reporter from Al-Arabiya, 1500tasvir replied, “The answer is simple. The Islamic Republic is our killer and enemy and NIAC is also part of the Islamic Republic.”

Clearly NIAC and its allies’ attitude towards Iran’s dissidents can be summed up in a single word: “Betrayal.”

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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