by Shorts

Dear Family and Friends,

The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the new organization that I have been the Executive Director of and helping to build since August, was publicly launched late yesterday. PAAIA’s launch was also covered in an article in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post.

As many of you know, I truly and passionately believe in the importance of this cause and am convinced that PAAIA represents a uniquely promising opportunity for us to make a meaningful and positive difference for all Iranian Americans and our children.

However, doing so will simply not be possible without your help. To represent a true voice for our community and for us to be taken seriously in policy and political circles, we must build a national grassroots organization with a broad membership base of thousands, if not tens of thousands.

To that end, I invite you to take some time to visit and review PAAIA’s website (, to reach out to me with any comments or questions you may have, to spread the word about PAAIA, and to become a member of PAAIA and help recruit other members. Please be reminded that while we appreciate larger donations, PAAIA’s membership dues start at the nominal amount of $75 ($25 for students and senior citizens).

I am extremely pleased and proud of PAAIA’s progress to date in laying the foundation for an effective and influential voice for the Iranian American community. Yet, the path we have embarked upon to fully empower our community will undoubtedly be long and challenging. We at PAAIA are confident that with your support and involvement we will succeed in building an organization that truly represents and benefits Iranian Americans and that our community will take pride in. I sincerely hope to be able to count on your active involvement and support in this endeavor.

Very Best,


Babak Hoghooghi
Executive Director
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA -
Washington, D.C.


more from Shorts

Aref Arab vs Persian nonsense

by Anonymouse on

Yes the main reason you're not contaminated with this nonsense is because you're raised in a diverse community.  This BS is nothing but shortcomings by individuals (be it Iranians or Arabs) who want to blame it on others.

If someone is comfortable in his/her skin there should be no reason to want something bad for someone else who you know nothing about.  We are all humans and have the same feelings.  Some of us humans are bigots which causes all the hardships in this world.

As far as issues in our own country (of origin) being so divisive, well you can't bring unity by taking position against another division or ignore both divisions alltogether and hide your head under the snow. 

Iranians are really not divided on Mullahs ruling Iran, whether they live inside or outside Iran. They want them gone but it takes time and we have to do it ourselves.  It just so happens that with the presidency of George Bush this idea of regime change (which he was so adamatlty against during his 2000 campaign) is floating around and is confusing the Paris Hilton Iranians :-)

There should be no division on whether or not there should be a foreign war waged against Iran to get rid of the Iranian regime.  This very idea is the same hatred they have against Arabs except it is ok if blonde invadors attack Iran?

I saw Kite Runner and will blog about it.  That movie is a good example of how this kind of nonsense can get out of hand if left to the passage of time. 



by Aref (not verified) on

Thank you for pointing out the Washington Post Article. I can see where you are coming from on some of the points you are making. I definitely fall under the 80% rather 20% myself and still find the whole Persian vs. Arab thing a bit amusing (Could be b/c I grew up in pretty diverse community with some Arab American friends).

I found the part of article about the relevancy of ethnic group not taking a real position on issue affecting their country of origin as very interesting. I believe this is something that has been alluded to in this blog and it is absolutely a fair point to make. At same time, I tend to understand their point that this is still a very divisive and heated issue within the community.

Found the following analysis from Brookings Institute about different ethnic communities in the U.S.: Getting Uncle Sam's Ear: Will Ethnic Lobbies Cramp America's Foreign Policy Style


It was done in 2002 so it may be a bit outdated. However, I think it makes some good points. Thought the part about Chinese Americans seemed interesting.


Aref please read the Washington Post article

by Anonymouse on

Aref, did you read the article in the blog?  You sound reasonable.

Please read this article that they posted from Washington Post.

The reporter is clueless and they are not helping her learn more either. Just muddy the waters so that she doesn't figure anything out.  Like Mullahs are really stinky and we don't like them either, wink, wink!

Here's one quote:

"As a result, Iranians who had long viewed themselves as respected, assimilated Americans began to feel the heat of hostility." 

Really? Since 1979 when did Americans "respected" us as "assimilated Americans"?? and we felt the heat of hostility just now, since 2001?!  Before that for a long long time we had that kind of a view? I was here during Shah and can tell you no one even knew where Iran was or what it was.

The article/interview goes on to say:

"They were immigrants from the Middle East who wanted to defend their Persian roots without denigrating Arab Americans." 

Again with this we are not Arab BS? Is it ever going to get us anywhere? If anything, they'll tell us wait in line!

Some more "reflections"!

"Iranian Americans began to realize they needed someone to speak up for them. They were chief executives and had doctoral degrees, they belonged to professional associations and Persian new year committees, but they had little political clout and no organized lobby or friends in Congress, as do Cuban Americans and Indian Americans. Today, more than 20 percent of adult Iranian Americans have advanced university degrees, but the most senior elected Iranian American official is the mayor of Beverly Hills, Calif."

First of all, CEOs and PhDs and the ones who are in Persian new year committees need political clout?! Is this a joke or the reporter and the interviewee have this perception of Iranians who represent by their own account only "20% of adult Iranian Americans"? Who is going to represent the remaining 80%?!  Lastly, what kind of "clout" are Cubans and Indians having? Cuban cigars are banned and Indians can't participate in Green Card lottery.

The whole article is really silly and yet it is being presented as a badge or honor. 

Again, good luck to them and I wish them the best. I just think this is shallow and not realizing what we already have and this Washington Post article proves it.


I like NIAC too

by Anonymoush (not verified) on

I think by supporting NIAC we can go much further in US politics and get more of a recognition rather than to branch out and make a 100 different groups! You want to be lobbyists but nowhere in your website did I see any indication of the political issues facing Iran now.
A few of my friends contacted me about 4 months ago and each one wanted to start their own online magazine/political website/Iranian-American website and each asked me if I would help them out. I told them about which is already in place, has all kinds of readers and contributors and they can use instead.
I guess everybody thinks they can manage everything better, what is it with people and huge egos? what's wrong with supporting a good idea that's already there? Is it only about seeing our own names in the spotlight?

Sorry dear, good luck to you, but as a contributor, I would prefer backing up the one I know more about. I am comfortable with NIAC's political views and progress. They've been recognized and interviewed on many occasions and they're getting my money too.


Valid Points

by Aref (not verified) on

All valid points! There is no doubt that the question of Iran is on minds of our policy makers and Iranian Americans alike. I applaud efforts of organizations (including NIAC) who are taking positions on policy towards Iran. They are getting involved and representing the views of their constituency/members. This is the American way and I think it is actually helpful to the policy deliberation process. All I was saying is that they don’t represent my views. But Like I said I respect what they are doing and I respect your views and did not mean to demean them in anyway.

Being born and raised in the states, I have hard enough time choosing between Democrats and Republicans, let alone differences between old Iranian political affiliations (I think Obama said it best when he mentioned that neither the Dems nor the GOP have all the right answers). Like most of us who visit, I am also very proud of my Iranian heritage and I think having a new organization with a focus on image and community building can be a positive development for all Iranian Americans regardless of our differing political ideologies and views towards Iran. I do agree that it is very hard task given current circumstances but as an example, I think its great that they are working on having profiles and presenting the stories of Iranian Americans and Iranian culture to the American public. Also, I know Iranian Americans are highly successful but I think it is also important to remember the Japanese American experience and what happened to them during WWII.

Anyhow those are just some of my thoughts and they come with the caveat that I could be absolutely wrong on many of the above points. So please do not take them too seriously.


I like NIAC

by Anonymouse on

As soon as someone achieves something, others think they can do it better so they sprout.  Good luck to them.  I wouldn't be surprised if one day we'll have another group who is going to lobby for Persian-Americans ;-) and then another one who is going to lobby for "just" Americans!


Misinterpreting NIAC

by Mersedeh on

I think it is really unfortunate that when we are faced with diverse opinion or thinking or a different version of what we were "sure" was the truth, we can not resist the urge to jump to "conspiracy-theory" instead of staying on the painful road of analysis. 

Unlike this new group [PAAIA],  NIAC never claimed to be a lobbying group.  NIAC's mission since it's inception has been to serve as a tool for discourse, education and increased involvement IN WHICHEVER DIRECTION that involvement may be, with the ideology that ANY CIVIL INVOLVEMENT/STANCE IS BETTER THAN NONE AT ALL. 

Now, where NIAC started to get attacked and the "conspiracy-theory" began is when it allowed its website to serve as a tool by the Iranian community through which they could voice THEIR individual opinions and NIAC then announced the result of that participation, which to the shock and disbelief of many, proved that the majority of Iranians living in the US were not in favor of US military attack on Iran or Reza Pahlavi, etc... 

Now, if I am a monarchist Iranian, I can react to this by either accepting that I am in the minority, or I can choose to think that the participants and supporters/active users/members of NIAC tend to be of a completely different mindset than myself, but I am still in the majority despite these results and all is well.....(both of these options leave NIAC with clean hands) or I can be really bad-been and just fall back on the old-school, cowardly tactic of ..."ahan!...I know what you guys are really up to!...I have absolutely no proof, but don't think you can fool me!...I've got it all figure out."  Unfortunately, this last option, just doesn't move us forward.  It causes all these angry outbursts and fighting and at the end we are left right where we started....nowhere!

We all love Iran.  We all share that much in common.  I think we should just remember that and REMIND OURSELVES of that when we judge eachother and that may help us be a bit more balanced and less emotional in our evaluations and judgements of one another.


Aref and Babak

by Anonymouse on

I think you are being naive.  Do you think by distancing yourself from IRI you get any special recognition? Do you think American people are going to accept you as some race or nation all by itself just because you call yourself Iranian-American?

More importantly, if you're going to represent "just" Iranian-American interests, what are we lacking here?  Is it racism? We have everything.  The only thing we don't have is dialogue with our motherland which is currently run by IRI.

If you want to be a tafte joda bafte, then call yourself Anti-IRI organization.

If your organization is about putting more "pressure" on IRI, more than what US is already doing, then it is really funny!



by Aref (not verified) on

I respect what NIAC is trying to do and I think they have done good job in promoting their goals. However, I do not agree with their foreign policy perspective, which seems to be tilted towards the normalization of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. As such they do not represent my views as an Iranian American in Washington or elsewhere. I think we can all agree that there is no unanimous consensus within the Iranian American community on what US Foreign policy should be towards Iran (just read some of blogs on As such it seems that PAAIA is taking the approach of focusing its mission on Iranian Americans hear in the U.S. and trying project a positive image for the community. I think that is positive step.


Why not NIAC?

by Mersedeh on

Dear Babak,

I think the point that the first (Anonymous) user left is a valid one.  WHY ANOTHER GROUP?  and WHY NOT NIAC?  I took you up on your invitation to visit your website and although I did not go through all the content, I must admit, it looked an aweful lot like an inspiration from NIAC (which by the way is wonderful!). 

I have no doubt that you are a talented, commited and driven individual with some very specific objectives for your newly found group and I wish you all the success in the world.  There are certainly enough Iranians around who are inactive, so having more individuals and groups trying to stir social and civil awareness and engagement is always a positive. 

However, as a new organization of this type, born in 2008, you have a tough act to follow and some big shoes to fill.  NIAC has beeen around since 2002 and has firmly established itself both within the Iranian community as well as in the broader American political and media forums.  They also should serve you as a good example of the type of personal and abusive attacks you may expect to receive simply for daring to enter into this territory which you will understandably share with many mentally and emotionally unstable compatriats.

My point is this:  When you expect, ask or campaign for financial or intellectual support from your community, your community in return will expect you to justify to them why YOU are deserving of their support [support which they may have otherwise given to the "other" organization(s) who precede you both in time, experience, networks, etc.... ]

Do you feel that your organization can clearly DISTINGUISH itself and its mission from that of a group such as NIAC?  If the answer is yes, then power to you....but if the answer is no, then perhaps the biggest lesson here for all of us Iranians is to learn to "collaborate" instead of "create", at least when it involves projects inspired by the love of our damaged 'collective' spirit and not be blinded by the strength of our 'individual talents'.

Best of luck! 


Very impressive

by Ari (not verified) on

I had known from some of your executive board members that this was coming. Your web-site is very professionally done, with all of the relevant information.

From what I see as your mission, PAAIA is basically involved in building a positive image of the Iranian American community in the United States and help support their endeavors here. It is not involved in political issues (i.e. the U.S.-Iran conflict) etc..

As such when you point out that one of your differentiators is that you can lobby; I am curious to know lobby for what purpose if not political reasons?

Clarification would be much appreciated.

Thank you much


Good job but.....

by Anonymo (not verified) on


why another group? Why not join other exsisting groups? Like NIAC. I know there are always differences of opinions but but creating ever more groups we never accomplish anything.

I guess this is an Iranian thing. We want to have
our own group and name etc. Every two, three Iranians get together and form a group of their own. I don't think we can afford that. I can name 10 groups already with overlaping agandas and these are the groups that have survived not to name tens of others that just vanished!

Anyhow, I wish you the best in your endeavors!