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Iran's New Proxy: American Universities

Some faculty members at Rutgers recently called for the genocide of Jews.

Estudiantes y activistas propalestinos se reúnen en un campamento mientras se manifiestan en la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA) el 25 de abril de 2024, en Los Ángeles, California. Los campus universitarios de todo Estados Unidos se prepararon para nuevas protestas de estudiantes propalestinos, prolongando una semana de enfrentamientos cada vez más violentos con la policía, detenciones masivas y acusaciones de antisemitismo.

(Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

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"Iran, you make us proud" and "Yemen, Yemen make us proud, turn another ship around," were among the chants by the pro-Hamas college students and the paid activists who organized them on U.S. campuses. They declared a "student intifada," conducted a Hamas-inspired "Day of Rage," bowed down to Allah and called for "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."

Meanwhile, Iran and the mouthpieces of its Islamist regime were paying extremely close attention. According to Tehran University Professor Foad Izadi, who is American-educated and considered one of Iran's main experts on the U.S. and a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime:

"...the demonstrations [on U.S. campuses] are important. What we in the Islamic Republic should do is... We are watching the demonstrations, and we like what we see, but it should not end with this...These protestors are our people and will support Iran in an Iran-U.S. confrontation; Iran can repeat in the U.S. what it did in Lebanon but on a grander scale because the 'Hizbullah -style' groups in the U.S. are 'much larger' than in Lebanon."

Izadi was educated at the University of Houston and received his doctorate from Louisiana State University before returning to Iran. In the West, he falsely poses as a peace activist, as a board member of the radical organization World Beyond War which calls itself "a global movement to end all wars."

Izadi urged the Iranian government to engage "on an operational level" with protesting students in the U.S. to try to "recruit connections and build networks" among them, adding

"Personally, I think that the potential to repeat in the U.S. what Iran did in Lebanon is much higher. Our Hizbullah-style groups in America are much larger than what we have in Lebanon. America is the Great Satan and our enemy, but we have hope in these areas."

Hezbollah in Lebanon is also paying extremely close attention. In a May 3 interview, Hezbollah's Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem praised the pro-Hamas protests on American campuses.

"We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world – in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists. The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on the U.S. elections. They will have an impact on the American position. Even if Biden says that he will not be influenced by this, he will whether he likes it or not. We will see him taking actions because of the protesters' influence on him."

Qassem – who appeared almost taken aback at the eagerness of students on US campuses to join Hamas in its call for the genocide of Jews – was hopeful about the ability of America's students to help Hezbollah destroy Israel by turning the U.S. against its ally.

"Where do the members of Congress come from? From among the people. If the people's perspective changes... There were never such level [of protests] in America... This would mean embarking on a new stage, and maybe one of these days, America will no longer support Israel to such an extent. Without support, Israel is nothing. We would not have to work hard in order to destroy Israel. Without support, it will be destroyed."

The Iranian regime – the patron and sponsor of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis -- has been working on just such an outcome since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Now, Iran and others appear to be actively seeking to turn American youth against the US by infiltrating American campuses.

The New York Post wrote as early as 2009:

"The deep-pocketed Alavi Foundation has aggressively given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Columbia University and Rutgers University for Middle Eastern and Persian studies programs that employ professors sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship...

"In one of the biggest handouts, the controversial charity donated $100,000 to Columbia University after the Ivy League school agreed to host Iranian leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the foundation's 2007 tax filings obtained by The Post."

"We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation," Adam Kaufmann, investigations chief at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office told the Post at the time.

The Alavi Foundation, according to its website, has indeed funded many of the universities where protests were taking place. The universities include those of the Ivy league, such as Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Rutgers, as well as UCLA and many others.

"This is all about Iran laundering their policies through academe," said Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "And the ivory tower is prostituting itself for money."

According to Influence Watch, the Alavi Foundation has been investigated by the US government since 2003, and has funded several other institutions apart from American universities:

"It donated $50 million from its founding through 2014, including to non-Muslim groups such as the Clinton Foundation, to which it sent $30,000; Action Against Hunger, to which it sent $500,000; New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund, to which it sent $100,000; Harvard University, which received over $600,000; and the Catholic University of America, which received $375,000."

In 2020, the Education Department asked Harvard University to disclose more information about donations it received from the Alavi Foundation.

In 2016, Harvard employed Ali Akbar Alikhani – who had warned about "the Jewish threat" -- from Tehran University's Faculty of World Studies, which is reportedly closely tied to the Iranian regime, as a visiting scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern studies. At Harvard, he claimed to be a "professor of peace," centered on a project about "peaceful coexistence in Islam."

In November 2023, the U.S. House Committee of Education and the Workforce launched an investigation into former Iranian official Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who is a Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University.

"Higher education has bowed down to the radical left and enemies of America for far too long, and the mere fact that a former member of the Iranian regime is given a platform at Princeton is proof," said House Rep. Lisa McClain.

Mousavian served as Iran's ambassador to Germany from 1990-1997, during which time the Islamic Republic assassinated Iranian dissidents living in Germany. He remains employed at Princeton, while continuing to have close ties to the Iranian regime. According to Alliance Against Islamic Regime of Iran Apologists:

"During his time at Princeton, Mousavian has continued to support the Iran regime's hostile foreign interests. During a 2016 interview, Iran's then-foreign minister Javad Zarif told state television that he 'worked closely with [Mousavian] for many years,' adding that the professor 'is some[one] who is completely tied to the regime' and is 'currently working hard' for it."

Mousavian, who attended the funeral of the deceased arch-terrorist Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Qassem Soleimani in Tehran in 2020, also appeared in an Iranian TV tribute to him.

"Individuals who are aligned with malignant regimes continue to permeate America's postsecondary education system," said U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, who chairs the Education and the Workforce Committee.

"Seyed Hossein Mousavian's refuge at Princeton for 15 years is a textbook example. These individuals pose a grave threat to America's national security posture, and they are left to fester without any intervening action or diligent oversight efforts. It's time for some much-needed sunlight to expose the blatant corruption and influence peddling that has become far too commonplace."

Similarly, Oberlin College, employed Iran's former UN ambassador, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who reportedly covered up the mass murder of 5,000 Iranian political prisoners in 1988 when he was the regime's ambassador to the UN. While at Oberlin, he called himself the "professor of peace." Mahallati taught at Columbia in the 1990s, where he was found guilty of sexually harassing a female student. Oberlin suspended him only in December 2023 after a three-year campaign by Iranian dissidents in the US. He taught students support for Hamas. According to the Alliance Against Islamic Regime of Iran Apologists.

"We demanded Mahallati's immediate termination after an Amnesty International report identified him as a chief conspirator in the Iran regime's attempts to hide the 1988 massacre of an estimated 5,000 political prisoners. In late September, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights revealed that it was investigating a complaint that Mahallati taught students 'support for Hamas and terrorism' as part of a larger probe into anti-Semitism on Oberlin's campus."

The list of Iranian professors working on behalf of Iran's regime continues to grow. Hooshang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council (AIC), has admitted that the lobbying organization was created by the Islamic Republic of Iran to work for its interests in the US. Amirahmadi continues to enjoy a successful academic career at Rutgers University, where he is Distinguished Service professor, former director of the Rutgers' Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the founder of the Rutgers Center for Iranian Research and Analysis, on which he served as director for many years. Rutgers describes him as:

"Acclaimed for his contributions to improving United States-Iran relations through promoting world peace and humanistic studies... and founder of the American Iranian Council, a nonprofit research organization devoted to improving dialogue and understanding between the peoples of Iran and the United States."

"The problem of terrorism is a true myth. Iran has not been involved in any terrorist organization. Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas are terrorist organizations," Amirahmadi claimed in 2008. Between 2005 and 2007 alone, the Alavi Foundation donated $351,600 to the Rutgers Persian-language program, according to a spokesman for Rutgers. Students there may literally have been indoctrinated to love Hamas for at least a decade and a half. Some faculty members at Rutgers recently called for the genocide of Jews.

In addition, at least five US universities -- Virginia Tech University, the University of Washington, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette -- have allegedly been cooperating with Iranian entities that are sanctioned by the US and the European Union, including the Iranian Aerospace Research Institute, Iran University of Science and Technology, and the Sharif University of Technology.

Iran can only be rejoicing at the moral and educational collapse they have helped create on American university campuses, which are grooming America's future teachers, judges and political leaders. Now, however, these campuses appear to be incubating America's future terrorists and creating a national security threat.

©Gatestone Institute