Politico to go: Why Does Steve Israel accept donations from a man linked to Iran?


You can tell much about a politician from the donations he accepts. Where I live, my representative in Congress is Steve Israel. He is also the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Mr. Israel accepts money from at least one donor who should make people wonder about his support for his eponymous ancestral nation.

The donor’s name is Parviz Lavi and according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Israel has received $6,500 from Lavi since 2006. Donating to your favorite candidate is fine, but in March 1998, Lavi was arrested by federal agents (and pleaded guilty) for conspiring to illegally smuggle fighter jet engines and their parts to Iran.

Owner of the Hicksville-based Omega Turbine Corporation, Lavi had been under investigation since 1991 by customs agents.

According to court papers, Lavi had been wiretapped since 1992 discussing various schemes to sell the F-14 engines and their parts to Iran by shipping them first to associates in Holland. At one point, Lavi discussed paying between $125,000 and $150,000 for six of the TF-30 jet engines, the court papers said.

The engine is used only on U.S. and Iranian F-14 fighters. The U.S. government sold 80 of the F-14s to the shah’s government before the revolution in Iran in 1979 but since then has barred the export of military equipment to Iran.” (“Man Held In Plot To Sell F-14 Parts,” Newsday, March 4, 1998)

The New York Times corroborated the Newsday story and took it even further. “Undercover agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and businessmen involved in the arms trade who were cooperating with the Government agreed to sell him what he wanted: 500 metal vanes, or blades, for the powerful TF-30 engines on the F-14s. The sale price was $25,000, but the authorities said the value of the parts to Iran’s military was inestimable.”(“L.I. Man Is Seized in Scheme To Smuggle Jet Parts to Iran,” NY Times, March 5, 1998)

After being indicted later that month, Lavi and some of his associates pleaded guilty to the charges. According to an April 1998 Virginian-Pilot article, “A former employee of the alleged mastermind of a plot to smuggle F-14 jet parts to Iran pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to helping negotiate the purchase and sale of the parts. In his plea agreement, Tony Zar agreed to testify against his old friend, Parviz Lavi — charged with heading a conspiracy to purchase and ship the American-built parts — and others allegedly involved in the scheme.

“Zar, also known as Mehrdad Zar, 38, told agents he knew of at least two shipments of jet parts sent to Iran after he began working at Lavi’s Long Island company, Omega Industries International, in 1992,” the Virginian-Pilot article stated.

Congressman Israel claims to be a huge supporter of the state of Israel and other Jewish causes. His deeds however, do not back up his words. While he has signed letters with other Congressman, not once has he stood up publicly to President Obama to criticize the administration’s anti-Israel policies. When the President was trying to legitimize the anti-Israel group J Street, Steve Israel obeyed orders and lent his name to the organization so they could recruit more people to its convention.

Now we learn that Congressman Israel is taking campaign donations from a man who was convicted of selling arms to a terrorist-supporting regime whose goal is to destroy the Jewish State. It’s time for Israel to get beyond campaign mode and decide what side he is on. Would he support sympathizers of terrorist states, or does he support the right of the Jewish State of Israel to exist in peace? His words say one thing, but his actions say another.

Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the political blog “The Lid” (www.jeffdunetz.com). Jeff lives on Long Island.