Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Who Are the Billionaires Attacking Obama’s Iran Diplomacy?

A new investigation has shed light on the billionaire donors behind The Israel Project, a hawkish “pro-Israel” advocacy group.

Print Friendly

LobeLog

Since taking the helm of The Israel Project two and a half years ago, former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block has turned the pro-Israel advocacy group into one of the shrillest opponents of diplomacy with Iran. But, according to documents obtained by The Nation, two of the groups’ billionaire underwriters may have their own anti-Obama impetuses, beyond simply a right-wing objection to striking a nuclear accord with Israel’s arch-foe.

Block’s pushes to denigrate and even kill talks with Iran come a dime a dozen. Just two weeks ago, ahead of Obama’s State of the Union Address, Block emailed a list of reporters with a list of “FACTS AND TALKING POINTS” (his caps) claiming Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez’s proposed sanctions bill against Iran was “NOT new sanctions legislation.” My colleague Ali Gharib addressed Block’s misleading “FACTS,” pointing out that the first words of the legislation explained its purpose as, “To expand sanctions imposed with respect to Iran and to impose additional sanctions with respect to Iran.” Block’s misrepresentation of the legislation is particularly ironic because he accused the administration of peddling “false,” “misleading” and “ridiculous” information about the sanctions bill. Obama would go on to promise a veto if the bill reached his desk.

TIP’s growing hostility to Obama’s ongoing negotiations with Iran also came to the fore three weeks ago, when Obama reportedly suggested “donors” were behind some of the attempts to sabotage talks with sanctions. Block went apoplectic, telling the Washington Post’s far-right columnist Jennifer Rubin, “It’s a vile suggestion and one that will only damages [sic] the President’s personal credibility and his position.”

So who are the major donors behind TIP, an organization who, under Block’s leadership, has emerged as an attack dog against the White House’s Iran-policy?

A document (viewable here) acquired by The Nation lists TIP’s major donors from October 2012 to September 2013, revealing that just two billionaire hedge funders provided over one-third of the group’s total revenue. The two funders with the outsize roles were GOP megadonor Paul Singer and Hillary Clinton booster Richard Perry. Each contributed $1 million, making them TIP’s two largest donors.

Perry, the media-shy owner of Barneys and manager of the Perry Capital hedge fund, runs in the Clintons’ New York City and Hamptons social circles. He gives to the Clinton Foundation and, along with his wife, makes no secret of his support for Hillary Clinton’s future political aspirations.

A 2007 New York Times profile of Richard and his wife, Lisa Perry, describes two large portrait photographs of Hillary Clinton adorning the hallways of their penthouse apartment. In Tablet magazine profile two years ago, Lisa Perry explains that she lost interest in politics because she “really wanted Hillary to be president.” Despite that disappointment, she contributed to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, though her husband, who had contributed in 2008, gave no money.

But even Hillary Clinton, who has her own complicated history with Obama, has refrained from joining in on the calls for new sanctions against Iran. A day after Obama’s State of the Union Address, Clinton that introducing additional sanctions would be a “serious strategic error.”

TIP’s other million-dollar-donor in the period covered by the documents, the GOP megadonor Paul Singer, was no doubt disappointed himself by Obama’s election victories. But if Singer’s other policy-oriented giving is any indication, he’s also majorly committed to pursuing confrontation with Iran. Singer sits on the board of the neoconservative Republican Jewish Coalition and contributed to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank whose members have advocated for “crippling sanctions” and bombing Iran.

Singer has also lent his support to the American Enterprise Institute, the brain trust of the George W. Bush White House, whose scholars advocated for the invasion of Iraq and perpetually decry Iran diplomacy in tandem with calls for more hawkish measures.

A disappointed Clinton donor and GOP/neoconservative patron might believe Block’s claims to be fighting the “war of ideas” to defend Israel against the Obama administration’s attempts to solve the nuclear crisis peacefully. But if they’re hoping to bring Jewish-Americans along to TIP’s “war,” they may face higher hurdles: a November poll of American Jewish voters found that 84-percent supported the outlines of an agreement along the lines the Obama administration is reportedly pursuing.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Block attempted to orchestrate a campaign against me and my colleagues at the Center for American Progress back in 2011. Block’s business partner, Lanny Davis, repudiated Block’s smears and the affair culminated in the Truman National Security Project expelling Block for his “mischaracterization” and “character attacks.”)

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a stalwart advocate of Pentagon spending now based at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says he would have voted for the Iraq War even if he had known the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs were false.


Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and nominated by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Although better known for his domestic platform promoting “limited” government, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed strong sympathies for projecting U.S. military power abroad.


James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of Congress’s staunchest foreign policy hawks and a “pro-Israel” hardliner.


A self-styled terrorism “expert” who claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden strengthened Al Qaeda, former right-wing Lebanese militia member Walid Phares wildly claims that the Obama administration gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the green light” to sideline secular Egyptians.


Weekly Standard editor and PNAC cofounder Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist and Washington political operative.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

Spurred by anti-internationalist sentiment among conservative Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, the US is headed for a new confrontation with the UN over who decides how much the US should pay for peacekeeping.


Print Friendly

Decent developments in the Trump administration indicate that the neoconservatives, at one point on the margins of Washington’s new power alignments, are now on the ascendent?


Print Friendly

As the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president approaches, it seems that his version of an “America-first” foreign policy is in effect a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.


Print Friendly

Hopeful that Donald Trump may actually be their kind of guy, neoconservatives are full of praise for the cruise-missile strike against Syria and are pressing for more.


Print Friendly

Steve Bannon’s removal from the NSC’s Principals Committee doesn’t mean that he’s gone from the White House or no longer exerts a powerful influence on Trump. His office is still located very close to the Oval Office, and there’s nothing to indicate that his dark and messianic worldview has changed.


Print Friendly

Promoting sanctions that could undermine the Iran nuclear deal, pushing security assistance for Israel, combatting BDS, and more.


Print Friendly

Contrary to some wishful thinking following the Trump administration’s decision to “put Iran on notice” and seemingly restore U.S.-Saudi ties, there are little signs of apprehension in Tehran.


RightWeb
share