National Review On-Line

April 24, 2003,9:50 a.m.


Iranians in exileget it together.

By PooyaDayanim

Monday night, NRO's MichaelLedeen, the most vocal advocate of the pro-democracy movement inIran, received a hero's welcome as he spoke to an audience of IranianAmericans based in Los Angeles about what they need to do bringdemocracy to their homeland and liberate Iran from the terror mastersthat rule over that ancient land.

Ledeen spoke in very clear terms: The Islamicregime is on its way out and the Iranians in exile must help pushthem out of power. Iranians must learn good old American values suchas self-reliance and self-determination and not rely on foreignpowers to do their job for them. America as a bastion of freedom anddemocracy is and will be on the side of the freedom-loving Iranianpeople, but Iranians need to act and not wait for the president togive them a sign. And most importantly, Iranians must "unite" tobring down the regime and argue about who will rule Iran later.

Ledeen's straight talk enthralled the audiencewho had come to hear him speak. The presence of a pro-democracyadvocate such as Ledeen in a city dubbed "Tehrangeles" due to thelarge number of Iranians that live there is a rarity. Most dissidentIranian activists and all of the Iranian satellite-based televisionand radio program directors are based in Los Angeles and have nevermet their supporters in the administration, in Congress, think tanks,and in the media who are based in Washington. It is now time for thisto change.

The Islamic regime has not learned a thingabout what happened to Baghdad. The regime continues to be theleading sponsor of terrorism. The regime continues to oppose peace inthe Middle East. The regime is on its way to developing nuclearweapons. As the regime continues to meddle in the affairs of othercountries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, the Bushadministration will have no choice but to deal with this regime andgive genuine support to the pro-democracy advocates.

It is now time for Iranian pro-democracyactivists and directors of the exiled-based Iranian media to meettheir American supporters. The Iranian pro-democracy movement mustrealize that it has the support of the American people and the Bushadministration as it attempts to rid the world of this evilregime.

Last Sunday, the Iranian Jewish Public AffairsCommittee hosted a meeting between Ledeen and some of the mostprominent members of the Iranian media in exile. It was a much-neededmeeting. Although all of the attendees were appreciative of Ledeen'ssupport for the pro-democracy movement and Ledeen was supportive oftheir struggle — they had never met before.

In the months ahead, the Iranian Americancommunity will play host to many American supporters of thepro-democracy movement in Iran. They will all receive a hero'swelcome from the Iranian-American community eager to rid the worldand the Iranian people of the Iranian regime. And all of them willwonder why it has taken so long to get together.

Pooya Dayanim is the president of the IranianJewish Public Affairs Committee. The opinions expressed in thisarticle are his own.