Refuting Silvertein’s Accusations And Efforts To Silence Meir Javedanfar

31 Dec

Richard Silverstein

On Thursday 27th of December Richard Silverstein, the owner of Tikkun Olam website wrote a long piece. It included much name calling and accusations against me. I am writing to refute the accusations.

Accusation:

Meir Javedanfar has “meager credentials” and that he attended an “undistinguished provincial school”

Response:

According to the complete University Guide, Lancaster is in the top ten university in the UK.

Accusation:

“He has published in few, if any peer-reviewed academic publications”.

Response:

I am not an academic. I am a Middle East analyst who specializes in Iran and Israel affairs. I teach as an adjunct lecturer at Herzliya. My job nor my employees require me to publish academic papers. All my articles for Al Monitor, The Guardian, The Diplomat and op-eds for The Times of Israel are reviewed by editors.

Accusation:

“The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran is full of conspiratorial theories that paint Iran in the worst possible light and pose the nuclear threat in the most extreme terms.”

Response:

The book is footnoted and written in an academic style. It does not look favorably upon president Ahmadinejad’s policies and performance. It also looks at Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence on Iran nuclear program were either from IAEA reports, interviews with officials such as former IAEA deputy head Olli Heinonen and newspaper articles from reputable publications. It does not paint Iran regime as suicidal nor does it advocate war. It actually says that living with a nuclear Iran maybe one option to consider. Silverstein does not mention that. He also only includes one review of the book. He does not include another review which reviews the book positively and says that “the authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar, have the distinction of being two of the best-informed observers you’ve never heard of.”

Accusation:

Falsely inferring affiliation with Columbia University’s School of International Studies by virtue of his membership in the Gulf 2000 Project

Response:

There is no false affiliation. A simple look at the Columbia University Gulf 2000 site under “About Gulf 2000” gives us the answer: “The Gulf/2000 Project is sponsored by the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York City.”

Accusation:

“Javedanfar typically exaggerates his bona fides”.

Response:

I have contributed to Gulf 2000 for the last 5 years and am proud it. Saying that I am a member is my right and my privilege and not an exaggeration.

Accusation:

Speaking for Israeli foreign ministry and attending 2007 Israel Project Conference makes me “right wing” and on the payroll of the Israeli government

Response:

The Israeli foreign Ministry as well as numerous other foreign ministries have asked me to speak at different events as an outside expert. I do not work for any government. I have spoken at events for more than 5 Jewish organizations including J street to whom I am very close as well as The Israel Project, ADL and others.

Accusation:

Worked with conservative PJM Media website

Response:

I left because my opinions were not in line with theirs.

Accusation:

Javedanfar has no strongly held views or discernible political orientation. His most distinct political standing is that he is anti Iranian regime

Response:

I try to be bipartisan and objective and am proud of it. I believe Iran regime to be a dictatorship. I am against all dictatorships.

Accusation:

He favors the harshest possible sanctions

Response:

I do not. I have maintained that sanctions should not impact sale of medicine and food to the people of Iran. I am also against war with Iran and have called for limited enrichment on Iranian soil as part of a step by step package so that war is avoided.

Accusation:

“he’s too smart to allow himself to be pigeon-holed. To do so would limit his value to his sponsors.”

Response:

I am proud of my efforts to look at policies as they are, and not because they are advocated by a particular party. I do not have any “sponsors”, this is a baseless accusation by Silverstein.

Accusation:

“falsely attributing a quotation from the New York Times to an IAEA report about Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons’ ambitions”. Silverstein quotes Nima Shirazi, a full time cinema usher who blogs in his spare time to say that I am lying and that the IAEA report does not say anything about Iran working on a nuclear trigger.

Response:

The New York times evidence which I linked to in my Guardian article is from the findings of the May 24 2011 IAEA report

Page 7, clause 35 of the IAEA report says:

“Iran is asked to clarify activities regarding “Neutron generator and associated diagnostics: experiments involving the explosive compression of uranium deuteride to produce a short burst of neutrons”.

These are parts of process involved in making a nuclear trigger and are directly referred to in the report.

Accusation:

In reality, Javedanfar–who, despite his claims to the contrary, has few if any contacts inside Iran–is not an authentic Iranian representative.  

Response:

I have never claimed to be an “authentic Iranian representative” nor does Silverstein show any evidence for this accusation.

I have never claimed to nor have I had any contacts with the Iranian regime. I believe it’s a regime that has brutally killed tens of thousands of its own citizens and abused human rights on a grand scale. I do not wish to have anything to do with the regime or its officials.

Accusation:

Javedanfar is not an “authentic Iranian representative.  Leaders of the Iranian-American community with whom I’ve consulted have scoffed at this notion.  They consider him, at best, an opportunist, and not a very convincing one at that.”

Response:

The US – Iranian community does not have any authentic representatives. There is not a single group which represents the community. I would like Mr Silverstein to name these individuals so that we can see on what basis they call themselves “authentic Iranian representatives”? He also says that they are upset because of my position and achievements in Washington DC.

As well as accusations and name calling, Richard Silverstein has taken it upon himself to try to force my out of my job. On his facebook page (right) he says: Richard Silverstein-132832

“I’ve urged liberal think tanks like Center for American Progress, and media outlets like AI Monitor, TalkingheadsTV, the Atlantic, and the Guardian not to taken in. But alas, they haven’t bothered to check his meager credentials & been hoodwinked.”

I am no longer living under the rule of the Iranian regime. I will not be silenced or forced out of a job because of self-declared  accusations of Richard Silverstein (which I have refuted) or wishes of a few unelected self entitled “authentic representatives of the Iranian people”.

14 Responses to “Refuting Silvertein’s Accusations And Efforts To Silence Meir Javedanfar”

  1. Anonymous December 31, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    I support you Meir. Inshallah you continue with what you do best. 🙂

  2. Anonymous December 31, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Dear Meir,
    As you know well the agents of the regime appear in any form and shape, their main task is to drive a wedge among the opposition to the regime and discredit the one’s who act as the voice of the voiceless
    I hope Richard Silverstein would sleep well at night, I don’t know how any person would be happy to muddy the water so the Islamic Regime could benefit,
    Homayoun Mobasseri
    Proud Member of Iranian American Community

  3. Homayoun Mobasseri December 31, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    As you know well the agents of the regime appear in any form and shape, their main task is to drive a wedge among the opposition to the regime and discredit the one’s who act as the voice of the voiceless
    I hope Richard Silverstein would sleep well at night, I don’t know how any person would be happy to muddy the water so the Islamic Regime could benefit,
    Homayoun Mobasseri
    Proud Member of Iranian American Community

  4. Janiel Melamed December 31, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Great Response, Very Lawyer style !

  5. Ali Kimiai December 31, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    Sanctions no matter how tough would not bring the regime down, presently all sort of Chinese products are being shipped to Iran which some of them we can not even find in Walmart. Islamic Regime is a threat to Humanity and poor Iranians who had to tolerate this mad nightmare for past 33 years. They need to be death with, rather bold and decisive.
    I am with Mir and wish all a Happy New Year.

  6. Tom December 31, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    What? your feelings got hurt that you were called on your patently silly stances on Iran? you’re a disgrace to Iranians.

    Keep supporting the genocidal regime of Israel which resoundly despised by the whole world.

  7. Anonymous December 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I admire your work Meir!!! Thank you for your precious information!

  8. Pooya December 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Dear Mr. Javedanfar:

    Thank you for your extraordinary work and analysis. As far as Iranian perceptions of Israel are concerned, your voice is unique in offering a real-world picture to the Iranian community. For so long, Islamic Republic’s propoganda has (directly or otherwise) formed Iranian perceptions of Israel. So much has Israel been demonized by the IR propoganda over time, that even many educated Iranians fail to reach a realistic undrestanding of Israel, in Iran or outside of it. Thank you for being a light in this tunnel.

    A good example of your important role in educating Iranians about Israel was your appearance in BBC Persian’s Pargar. It was an enlihgtening appearance. You were essentially debating someone with very shallow undrestanding of Israel, whose information hardly exceeded those that have become a fashionable anti-Israeli writ of passage in parts of humanities academia in many European and American universities. Your presence and insight seriously challenged that shallow narrative.

    After enrolling in American or European universities, many of politically-concious Iranian students get absorbed into the anti-Israeli culture prevalent on campuses, with little opportunity for critical examination of the issues involved. I have no problem with students having positions critical of Israel, so long as they reach that position through a critical examination of both sides of the argument. Based on my exprience and observations, I doubt this is the case as to many Iranian students. Many simply adopt anti-Israeli attitudes to reaffirm their pre-existing conceptions of Israel planted in them by years of one-sided and anti-semitic IR propoganda.

    Reasonable commentators such as you could open a new way for young Iranians to re-think their undrestanding of Israel, at a time when intellectual re-examination and discovery is more common than ever among Iranians. Thanks.

  9. Pooya December 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    One more point: I will not address the claim by the accuser that you are not “authentically Iranian” — he has not documented how this accusation applies to you, and, as such, I do not find that comment worthy of any substantive response. However, I do want to raise a general question: is being “authentically Iranian” a requirement (or even a positive factor) in one’s analysis of Iranian affairs? In my opinion: not only is that charge (of not being “authentically Iranian”) a pure ad homimem attack on Meir Javdanfar and not on the merits of his analysis or arguments, but also, even as an ad homimen attack, it is simply wrong. True: being Iranian, or “authentically Iranian” (whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean), often brings some added insight to one’s analysis. But: (1) that insight could, to a large degree, be alternatively absorbed by education and focus on Iranian issues and affairs (after all, Mr. Javedanfar is writing about mainstream geopolitical and strategic issues pretaining to Iran, not elements of national Iranian identity or psyche); and (2) being an “authentic Iranian” often carries with it a baggage of biases based on nationality or simmilar factors, which are inappropriate for an analyst.
    Las word: “Authentic or not,” Meir’s work should be criticized or praised on its merits and not on some bizzare, ambiguous, and meaningless attacks on his character.

  10. any1 December 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    The people who are behind Richard Silverstein’s attack are Trita Parsi of NIAC and his crew. They support such acts against many other experts as well, basically against anyone who does not agree with them.

  11. Anonymous January 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Silverstein clearly states that by “inauthentic” he means Javedanfar has no sources inside Iran.
    That Javedanfar does not address this and sidesteps it is pathetic (almost as pathetic as his ad-hominem against “cinema usher” Shirazi).

    Oh, and nobody elected Javedanfar either.

  12. George January 1, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Let me respond to Javedanfar’s argument. I do not believe you will post this, but I try anyway.

    1. Lancaster University is among the top 10 in what field? It is the academic departments that are ranked. We rank Harvard’s Physics, Chicago’s Economics, etc. Just because there is a department in a university with good reputation (if Lancaster has good reputation), it does not mean that department is strong. Harvard has engineering too, but no one takes that as a top engineering school, just because it is at Harvard. So, what is the ranking of your department at Lancaster?

    2. What qualifies you as a specialist on Iran? Your education is not on Iran. You left Iran when you were too young, and you have never carried out a comprehensive academic research, nor have you ever been a reporter, for example, with long experience in that area, such as Robert Fisk, or Stephen Kinzer. So, what are your qualifications?

    3. Ollie Heinonen is the worst person to refer to. He has a long history of bias against Iran. If it were up to him, Iranians would not even have the right to breadth, let alone having a nuclear program. Too many people have pointed this out. He is a member of United Against a Nuclear Iran. consisting of pro-Israel, neocons, right-wing nuts. Does this make him objective?

    4. Your two responses about Gulf 2000 are too absurd to even contemplate a response.

    5. Yeah, and every one of those Jewish organization is fiercely anti-Iran!

    6. The crucial question is not why you left PAJAMA, but why did you join it in the first place. PAJAMA is a right-wing group. So, either you were also right wing, or were an opportunist. Either way, Richard’s point is correct.

    7. What is the relation between being bipartisan and your view of Iran’s regime? Clearly, you do not even know what bipartisanship means.

    8. Richard is right. Everything that I have read from you or heard you confirms Richard’s point. Give us one single example in which you were not pro-harsh policies. You are opposed to sanctioning medicine and food? Big deal. Sanctions are breaking the back of Iranian people and you are opposed to sanctioning medicine? Limited enrichment? Why? What provision of NPT allows limited enrichment? It is either all or none. At least read NPT first.

    9. You have no case about your fabrication. Nima Shirazi caught you beautifully.

    10.You left Iran and moved to Israel. You have appeared on VOA and BBC, taking harsh positions against the Iranian regime. Given Iran’s political situation, who in his right mind would be willing to be your contact, official or otherwise? And, Richard meant authentic not official. Only a suicidal person would be willing to be your contact.

    11. In what way you are a leader of Iranian -American community? You are not even a leader of Iranian-Israeli community. Trust me, I know you are not.

    12. Richard is not trying to take your job away. He only states a fact: The sorry state of punditry in the U.S., where you can be a specialist on Iran.

  13. Naftali January 2, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    It’s a waste of your time to even deal with that idiot. What are his credentials for pontificating about the Middle East? No worries, you are in good company, he blasts everyone who does not agree with him, including Pulitzer winning journalists. We Israelis call him a shmuck.

  14. Sassan K. Darian January 2, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    What a hateful and ignorant diatribe by a hateful bigot. This Silverstein character is a joke and demonstrated this with his ignorant rant. He is obviously an appeaser of the terrorist regime of the Islamic Republic and stands against freedom and human dignity. No wonder, such an imbecile has gone on PressTV in the past. The mouthpiece of the terror regime of the Islamic Republic.

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