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Published on February 7th, 2011 | by Ali Gharib

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Is “Iranium” settler propaganda or partisan shot? Or both?

At the Heritage Foundation screening of the ‘bomb Iran’ scare documentary released by the Clarion Fund, writer and director Alex Traiman rambled extemporaneously about why the U.S. needs to “do something” about Iran.

Traiman, an ideological settler in the West Bank, told the crowd he made “Iranium” (which Eli and I reviewed) to “sound an alarm” about Iran.

“People told us: perhaps you’re telling this message a little too strongly,” he said.

“I’d rather the alarm go off on this screen and in this room today than to have air raid sirens going off in an American city or Israel or Saudi Arabia or wherever else.”

After the public Q and A, I asked Traiman about whether he lives in the ideological West Bank settlement of Beit El (he does) and chatted with him about his movie.

“I think it’s all right for a documentary to have a view point,” he told me, casting doubt on the sincerity of a statement he’d made during the presentation that a documentary was meant to further public discourse (with admitted alarmism?).

Since Traiman more or less admitted that his movie is a piece of propaganda unconcerned with accuracy, it’s worth asking about the motivation behind such a deliberately tendentious effort.

Eli Clifton and I wrote in our review of “Iranium” that the film is clearly aimed at making a case for escalating measures against Iran, especially the military option. We also noted that the movie took a lot of political shots at Democrats and featured neoconservative pundits associated with Republican-leaning publications, institutions, and policies.

Like the film itself, Traiman took some unjustified shots at U.S. President Barack Obama’s positions during the “Iranium” screening at Heritage.

Traiman said (with my emphasis):

We’ve gotta show support for the right side of this debate, which is the Iranians, the Iranians that risked their lives in June 2009 to fight for freedom of speech, to fight for free elections, to fight for democracy. We’ve got to support them. If we would come out with simple statements — in June 2009, if we would have said we support the Iranian people’s rights to free and fair elections, and their rights to protest in the streets, we might have already gotten through these problems.

Compare that to this June 20, 2009, statement from Obama (my emphasis again):

We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

Right, so we don’t need to engage in hypotheticals. What do you reckon Traiman’s recommendation will be if the tack of releasing statements doesn’t work (which it already didn’t)?

The shot against Obama’s treatment of the June 2009 crisis is patently obvious here, especially when one compares Traiman’s statement at the same briefing about the unfolding events in Egypt:

[D]evelopments in each country are unique. We have to understand that while we’ve pushed very strongly for democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, demcoracy is not always the end-all be-all. In the Middle East, these are countries that are not accustomed to democracy…

I’m guessing here, judging from the example Traiman gives of the U.S. “push[ing] very strongly for democracy in Iraq,” that this mode of operation — not his hesitancy on Egypt — is what he has in mind for Iran. You might call it the Iraq option.

I guess “Iranium” can be both settler propaganda and a partisan shot.

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One Response to Is “Iranium” settler propaganda or partisan shot? Or both?

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  1. avatar scott says:

    Funny thing about the Iranians, the nuke program is popular. What happens if/when the Iranian regime falls/changes and they continue to pursue the nuke program? What if they openly declare their intention to produce nuclear weapons–I think this is popularly supported as well.


About the Author

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Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



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