National Iranian-American Council (NIAC)
Opponents of diplomacy and
proponents of war in small minority
Washington DC - Iranian
Americans overwhelmingly support dialogue and diplomacy between the United
States and Iran,
a scientific poll conducted by the University of California Berkeley shows.
Support for military strikes against Iran is minimal in the community. This
stands in stark contrast to sentiments in the Iraqi-American community, who
tended to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted last year - prior to the publication of the National
Intelligence Estimate - by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the
University of California Berkeley.
While decision-makers in Washington are often courted by Iranian groups favoring
war and covert regime change, the poll shows that a silent majority in the
community prefer diplomacy. Over 66 percent of the Iranian Americans polled in
California favor dialogue and negotiations between the US and Iran.
Even in Los Angeles, widely believed to be a stronghold for the community's most
hard-line elements, between 61 and 65 percent of the Iranian American
respondents favor engagement.
The numbers are even higher outside of the Los Angeles area. Proponents of
dialogue constitute 70 percent of the Iranian-American population in the San
Francisco Bay Area, 78percent in San Diego, and 76percent in the Sacramento
The poll also outlines differences between the various religious groups within
the Iranian-American community, showing that there is ultimately far more unity
In each religious sub-group - Muslims, Jews, Bahais, Christians and Zoroastrians
- a majority favor negotiations, with support being the strongest among Muslims
and Bahais (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). In the Zoroastrian
community, support for talks stands at 60 percent; 56 percent in the Christian
community and 51 percent in the Jewish community.
General discomfort with the direction of US foreign policy is reflected in the
low approval ratings for both Republicans and Democrats. Only 22 percent of the
Iranian-American community has favorable views of President George W. Bush,
while Democrats in Congress enjoy the support of 44 percent of Iranian Americans
and Republicans 21 percent.
The community is divided on the issue of whether Iran constitutes a threat to
the US and Iran's own neighbors. 38 percent of the respondents agree that the
Iranian government is the largest state sponsor of terrorism while 53 percent
In regards to the US, 60 percent of the respondents do not view Iran as a threat
to the US while 35 percent do.
The community does, however, by and large view the Iranian nuclear program with
great suspicion. Only 25 percent believe that the nuclear program is for solely
peaceful purposes while 59 percent believe that Iran is seeking to build nuclear
The poll also shows that respondents who rely on Persian language satellite TV
for their news tend to be more hardline in their outlook. However, only 2
percent of the Iranian-American community relies on these satellite TVs,
according to the poll. This is noteworthy mindful of the fact that 64 percent of
the respondents reside in Los Angeles, which is home to many of these Persian
language satellite broadcasts.
The project is the first scientific poll measuring the political orientation of
Iranian Americans in California, according to the project's director Dariush
Zahedi of the Institute of Government Studies at Berkeley.
"Up to now, there have been no valid and reliable surveys of the attitudes of
Iranian Americans with regard to US policy on the Middle East and Iran," says
Zahedi. "This seems long overdue, particularly in California, and particularly
in light of the Bush administration's policies," said Zahedi.
California is home to the highest concentration of Iranian Americans in the
nation, with over half of the total population residing in the state, according
to US census figures. While the census reports that there are 330,000 Iranian
Americans living in the US, academic institutions such as Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and Iranian American organizations such as NIAC,
estimate that the figure is closer to one million due to systemic errors in the
"It is quite significant that the vast majority of the Iranian-American
community support diplomacy even though their voice often has been overshadowed
by that of the pro-war minority," said Dr. Trita Parsi, president of the
National Iranian American Council.
"It shows that by and large, the community is moderate, opposed to war and eager
to support constructive rather than reactive measures," Parsi concluded.
is a Washington, DC-based 501 c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization
dedicated to promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic life.
NIAC is funded by donations from the Iranian-American community as well as
grants from the Pluralism Fund, the Kenbe Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and
the National Endowment for Democracy, among others. For more information about
the organization, please visit
www.niacouncil.org, email us at
send a fax to (202) 386-6409.
... Payvand News - 01/31/08 ... --
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