Right-Wing Group Bankrolls Legal Defense for Dutch Islam Basher
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Through its journal, the Middle East Quarterly, The Middle East Forum had its own connection to Daioleslam’s attacks on NIAC.
Emails that emerged in the discovery phase of the lawsuit show Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and frequent advocate of regime change in Iran, advising Daioleslam on how best to criticize NIAC and Parsi. NIAC provided the emails to The American Independent.
Rubin encouraged Daioleslam’s efforts, promising to forward Daioleslam’s work to “people that work on the Hill.”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing as carefully as possible,” wrote Rubin. “People are reading your stuff.”
Rubin also repeatedly suggested that Daioleslam use more “understated” rhetoric. “Never use pejorative terms for the Iranian government and avoid adjectives and adverbs, especially those that might be negative,” Rubin advised. “You have such a strong set of facts, this way the facts will speak for themselves and no one can accuse you of being biased.”
In December 2008, Rubin asked Daioleslam to submit an article to Middle East Quarterly, where Rubin served as an editor. Rubin described the proposed story as “a long, summary piece” that would run under the proposed headline: “Does NIAC lobby for the Islamic Republic?”
Rubin urged Daioleslam to “[h]ighlight how NIAC describes itself (a civil rights advocacy organization for Iranian Americans) but note how many of its fights have nothing to do with its stated purpose but rather parallel the trends of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy positions.”
He concluded by advising Daioleslam, “Before we publish, we will run it past one of our lawyers to make sure that it is written in a way that adheres to libel laws in the United States but, as you know, libel laws in the United States usually allow you to say what you need to say.”
Rubin did not respond to inquiries about the email exchange.
Daioleslam confirmed to The American Independent that the article was never published.
“I reiterate my deepest gratitude toward MEF and Sidley Austin for supporting my legal defense. Every American and anyone who seeks peace and democracy should be grateful to them as their support helped me and others to confront NIAC’s bullying and we were able to continue writing and show the deception behind NIAC’s lobby,” said Daioleslam in an email. “This lawsuit is a victory for peace lovers and real progressives whose criticism of American foreign policy do not turn them into advocates of Tehran rulers.”
Neither the Middle East Forum nor the Legal Project responded to requests for comment.
The Legal Project’s activities extend beyond providing assistance in legal cases. The project developed a Continuing Legal Education course for attorneys called, “Suing The Messenger: The Misuse of Law to Suppress Free Speech Regarding Terrorism, Radical Islam and Related Topics.”
The Project also supports the implementation of state and federal anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation to protect bloggers and “anyone who has ever posted something on an internet forum” from costly lawsuits, according to the Project’s website.
The Middle East Forum’s tax disclosures show that the Legal Project incurred $209,278 in expenses in the 2008 tax year. Tax disclosures haven’t listed the Legal Project’s expenses in subsequent tax years.
The Legal Project’s work is funded in part by a number of nonprofit foundations through contributions to the Middle East Forum. An examination of tax documents reveals that two of those foundations, the Bradley Foundation and Koret Foundation, specified the Legal Project as a recipient of certain grants to the Middle East Forum.