Pro-Israel Lobby Group’s Iran Petition Features Lots of Questionable Names
Friday, December 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm
Earlier today, the Israel Project — a pro-Israel organization that endorses tough measures against Iran’s nuclear program — sent out a release announcing substantial support for placing sanctions on Iran. A petition issued by the Israel Project to be sent to “every ambassador to the U.S., all UN member states, the president of the World Bank, human rights leaders, governors, members of Congress and the Pope” urged “severe sanctions as a means to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program.” And that petition had attracted a deep reservoir of support — 90,000 signatories, the group announced:
Our petition now has more than 90,000 supporters, which you can see by clicking here and here. We are asking you again, before it is too late, to do all you can to stop this imminent threat and avoid war.
But clicking through that link to take a closer look at those signatories raises substantial questions about their authenticity. For instance, signatories 84,854 through 85,071 are all named “Vince Vince” — although the Israel Project claims that all those different Vince Vinces are from different states. Well, sort of. Some of them are from states listed by recognizable acronyms like MN or AZ or PA. Others, however, are from the great states of GU and AA and XX.
Nor does the curious reader even have to examine the list that far down. Signatory number five is listed as Comfylovely ……. — and no, those aren’t ellipses I’ve placed in for dramatic effect; that’s Comfylovely’s listed last name — from the proud city of Davao in the historic state of XX.
That’s not even the most disturbing part of the signatories. The Israel Project lists the following as enthusiastic supporters of sanctioning Iran: Viagra Kaufen Viagra Kaufen, London, N.Y. (signatory #84,570); Porn Sex Video from London, N.Y. (signatory #62,751-62,756); Stupidwhiteman V, who declined to list an address (signatory #83,780); and Xbox 360 accessories — that’s a first and last name — from New York, N.Y. (signatory #90,046).
When I called Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the Israel Project’s founder and president, she told me that the group “emailed people who support our issues” and asked them to sign; those people then recruited contacts and colleagues to do the same. Asked if the Project took any measures to verify that the names on the petition were genuine, Mizrahi replied, “They’re activists and they go through a secure thing. We have 140,000 activists who work with us, so yes. A lot of them have similar names, because they’re related.”
But when I read Mizrahi some of the dirtier signatories listed on her petition, she replied, “Oh yuck,” and said, “I didn’t personally go through all of them, but they go through the system, so if they got in like that with that kind of email name, that’s pretty horrible.” She elaborated, “It’s not like we called every person and verified ‘are you the person.’ But we emailed it through our usual activists.” Asked what this suggests about the Israel Project’s vetting procedures, she replied, “It suggests this is America and that in any country, there are always some people who are inappropriate.”
Mizrahi subsequently emailed and called me to say that the Israel Project “accidentally posted the wrong file” and is in the process of replacing it with the correct one. A bright spot for the organization? Mizrahi added that the petition itself has yet to be physically released to elected officials and religious leaders — the press release announcing the petition’s large volume of signatories was sent first. She thanked TWI for alerting her to the error.
Rachel Rose Hartman and Hannah Dreier provided research assistance for this post.
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