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Neocon Watch

Meet the Resnicks


Ever wonder about those tens of millions of dollars that go to fund the network of shrill neo-con think-tanks pushing for ever more sanctions on Iran? Just good Americans concerned about US national security and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran? Patriotic citizens passionately engaged over the dangers Israel might face should Iran be given an inch of maneuver room in the world's economic system?

Or corrupt American oligarchs who use their billions to gin up fear and paranoia so that they can make ever-more billions off of US sanctions?

Meet the Resnicks, mega-wealthy California "limousine liberals" -- and rabid neo-cons who lavishly fund the most extremist pro-war policy institutes, who sit on the boards of the most powerful anti-Iran think tanks, and who make billions from Iranian suffering under miserable US sanctions.

Mondoweiss has the story of the Resnicks and their ill-gotten billions, but here are a few of the most important points:
Economic sanctions against Iran were renewed and intensified under every single president after Carter, and all the while America’s domestic pistachio farming exploded. In the past thirty years it has grown from a couple of hobby farmers to an industry generating close to $1 billion. And the Resnicks have a near monopoly on the trade. Today, Resnicks’ Paramount Farming is the country’s largest grower, processor and marketer of pistachios, controlling something like 60 percent of the industry. Pistachios are very important to the Resnicks, bringing in at least 20% of their agricultural revenue.

Economic sanctions are what have allowed the Resnicks to create their pistachio empire, which would suffer a severe blow if relations with Iran were ever normalized. Iran’s pistachios are considered to be superior to America’s, so much so that Israelis still buy Iranian pistachios shipped in through Turkey. Surely the Resnicks would never be able to compete with Iran on the pistachio free market.

And so the Resnicks did what any smart and ruthless American would do: they made common cause with oil companies, Islamophobes, neocons and Likudniks, and began funneling money to think tanks and political advocacy groups that take a hardline approach with Iran. Economic sanctions, sabotage, vilification—all these things worked in the Resnicks’ interest. Bombing some of Iran’s pistachio fields wouldn’t be so bad, either…
Mondoweiss goes on to point out that the Resnicks have given generously to the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy (WINEP) -- "AIPAC's Think Tank" -- which has never seen a sanction it did not love or a war it did not push for -- as long as it served WINEP's own twisted view of what is good for Israel. They have also contributed millions to the equally pro-war and pro-sanctions American Friends of IDC and the viscerally anti-Iran American Jewish Committee.

Unfortunately most Israelis don't have much say over the enemies that their "friends" make in their name -- but sadly they are the ones who face the dangers of these foolishly aggressive policies.

Sanctions always benefit a few guilty at the expense of the innocent masses. Usually it is the rulers of the countries under sanctions, who can blame sanctions for their own economic mis-rule and corruption. Sometimes it is corrupt businesses in bed with the target country leadership. And sometimes it is people like the Resnicks.
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