70 top think-tank scholars sign letter to support Foundation for Defense of Democracies


(JTA) — Seventy top U.S. think-tank scholars have signed an open letter of support for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has been blacklisted by Iran.

The organization and its executive director Mark Dubowitz last week were added to the Islamic Republic’s sanctions list, accused of being involved in “designing, imposing and intensifying the impacts of economic terrorism against Iran,” meaning the Trump administration’s economic sanctions against the country, according to a statement issue by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry statement also said it would consider legitimate “any further legal measures that the other administrative, judicial or security institutions and organizations may take in order to counter, prosecute or punish” FDD or Dubowitz or their “collaborators and accomplices.”

The open letter in support of FDD and Dubowitz was published on Friday.

It read, in part: “As members of the public policy and NGO community of which FDD is a part, we take strong exception to sanctioning a research organization because of a difference of political views, whether by Iran or other governments. We also condemn the suggestion that Iran’s security institutions might ‘punish’ FDD personnel. This is a further example of a troubling trend whereby governments attempt to stifle and intimidate independent researchers.”

Among the signers of the letter are: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center;  Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League;  David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee;  Malcolm Hoenlein, outgoing executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations;  Martin Indyk, executive vice president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; Aaron Keyak, former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council  and co- founder of Bluelight Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm; David Makovsky, the Ziegler distinguished fellow and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Project on the Middle East Peace Process; Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch; and Dan Shapiro, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.

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