The Jewish Billionaire Behind a New Christian Anti-Iran Group

by Eli Clifton

Yesterday, a new organization’s “promoted” (read: sponsored) tweet popped up on my timeline. It came from The Philos Project, a group dedicated to promoting “Christian engagement in the Middle East.” The tweet read: “Iran is known to sponsor #terrorism. Iran wants a nuclear bomb. What could possible go wrong? #StopIran.” A quick glance at the website reveals a heavy emphasis on rehashing fear-mongering clichés about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

A column published the day before Netanyahu’s speech before Congress by the group’s executive director, Robert Nicholson, warned that “Iran wants to take over the Middle East” because “they remember empire – and they want it back.” And “Iranian leaders see themselves as bringing about the end of history” because “Iran is prepared to kill and maim its way across the Middle East in order to achieve military hegemony over its foes.”

Even odder, Dan Senor, former chief spokesman for the ill-fated Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, sits on the group’s board. Since leaving government, Senor, in addition to making money at Paul Singer’s Elliott Management hedge fund firm, has focused a lot on Israel advocacy through writing and promoting his book, “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” and co-founding (along with Bill Kristol) the Foreign Policy Initiative, the lineal descendant of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which did so much to promote the Iraq invasion (and indirectly to create the CPA).

So who is behind The Philos Project? It isn’t registered as a legal entity of any sort in New York State. Someone must be paying the bills, but who? The domain name, which was registered last May, offers the first clue. A woman named “Michele Packman” is listed as the “registrant name.”

Googling her name reveals that Packman is the director of operations and human resources at Singer’s family office. A little more research reveals that the Paul E. Singer Foundation is described as a “core funder “ of the Philos Project on the website of the Jewish Funders Network International Conference, an event scheduled to be held later this month in Tel Aviv.

Singer, a director at the Republican Jewish Coalition, is a huge donor to various groups that promote a hawkish line on Iran policy. Between 2008 and 2011, he contributed $3.6 million to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hard-line neoconservative think tank whose scholars have variously advocated for “crippling sanctions,” “economic warfare,” and bombing Iran. The hedge fund mogul has also supported the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank whose scholars, including Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka, led the charge into Iraq and have been no less aggressive in regard to Iran. In addition, Singer has supported the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs—he was listed in the group’s “Chairman’s Circle” as recently as 2012. The group’s current director, Michael Makovsky, recently compared President Obama to Neville Chamberlain. Singer has also served on the board of Commentary magazine, the publication that has more-or-less defined hard-line neoconservative orthodoxy since the late 1960s.

The Philos Project might be a clever example of astroturfing, attempting to portray itself as speaking for persecuted Christians while simultaneously promoting the aggressively pro-Israel agenda of a Jewish billionaire. If that was the intent, Singer and his employees should have been more careful in covering their tracks. If nothing else, the Philos Project stands as an object lesson in the eagerness with which neoconservatives try to create the perception that their views are shared by a vast, diverse constituency, which in this case is warning Christians about the imperial designs of Iran and the dangers of a nuclear deal between it and the P5+1.

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Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.

SHOW 10 COMMENTS

10 Comments

  1. These so-called Christian Zionists really are dumb as dirt. Haven’t they ever heard of the Jewish youths in Israel who spit on Christian priests wearing the crucifix? Haven’t they ever read what the Talmud says about Jesus and Mary? The Koran has pretty stories about Mary, while the Talmud calls her a whore.

  2. This Paul Singer is an interesting guy. He terrorizes Argentina with his Financial Terrorism (bit.ly/1zmFt9C) and now this comes out about him leading the anti-Iranian campaign via Christian Fundamentalists. Both of these seemingly un-connected “fields of operation” are tied together.

  3. Iran is no threat to peace. They haven’t attacked other nations for over 300 years. The USA has been independent 200 some years and has started so many wars. Israel has attacked so many of its neighbors especially Lebanon. They took land away from the Palestinians and the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel is the only nuclear armed nation in the ME. The USA has the most WMD’s in the world.

  4. Iran is a signatory to NPT – Israel is not. Iran had not attacked any country in 500 years. Israel did several times in just 60 years. Iran does not have a single bomb. Israel does have 300 bombs. Iran is not an occupying power. Israel occupied Palestine. Iran does not control American Congress. Israel destroyed the morality of American Congress. Iran is not taking any aid from America. Israel has so far stolen 200 billion dollars. Iran does not get any American Hi-tech weaponry from America. Israel does. Majority of the UN states do not see Iran the way Israel or America sees. And the majority of the world do not see Israel as the way America sees. These are stark differences between good and evil.

  5. I call upon christians around the World to unite together and fight Terorism in all means.Let those who are able to support ,support.

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