Avi Jorisch Lectures on Nuclear Situation in Iran

Avi Jorisch, an expert on Iran and its nuclear situation, spoke to a packed room of students on Wednesday, September 25. By questioning and interacting with students, Jorisch discussed why students should care about Iran, and how anybody can make a difference.

Jorisch founded the Red Cell Intelligence Group, a consulting and training firm that focuses on anti-terrorism, serves as a Senior Fellow for counter-terrorism at the American Foreign Policy Council and is on the advisory board of United Against a Nuclear Iran. Senior Albert Naim and sophomore Adam Basciano brought Jorisch to campus hoping to learn about Iran’s potential nuclear threat.

“We found that our friends were quite apathetic and sometimes unaware when it came to the Iranian nuclear threat,” Naim said. “We created the Israel Committee of the Blue Diamond Society, [whose] main objective is to foster political discussion and raise awareness among students. We realized that nuclear proliferation was a serious topic that needed to be addressed outside of the [political science] department, so we decided to bring Avi Jorisch to campus because of his expertise in the subject.”

Jorisch began his talk by exploring how students could be affected by the possibility of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

“It’s not only that they would potentially share nuclear knowledge with groups like Hamas, but if Iran gets the bomb, so will everyone else,” Jorisch said. “It’s the domino effect.”

He went on to explain that there are five ways to go after a nation: economic sanctions, diplomatic actions, military action, cyber-warfare and public diplomacy. When Jorisch decided to go after Iran, he chose to direct his attention to their economic links with international community.

“I found out that there are 30 Iranian banks,” Jorisch said. “I wanted to figure out which ones are illicit.” Jorisch went to various international organizations, such as the United Nations, to look at which banks were blacklisted, eventually discovering that all 30 had been blacklisted for money laundering at one point or another. He then looked into what banks they were doing business with.

“I mapped nested accounts around the world,” Jorisch said. “Some of the biggest banks in the world were doing business with Iran.I wanted to stop them, so I linked the banks doing business with the Iranians with banks doing business with America.”

Jorisch then went to Congress, and eventually President Barack Obama signed a bill that required U.S. banks to know within two degrees with whom they are doing business, and prohibited them from doing

business with Iran. The move has helped to an extent.

“Most international banks around the globe have stepped away from doing business with Iran because they don’t want to lose access to the U.S.,” Jorisch said. “Others have too good of a market [in Iran] to step away.”

Through his talk, Jorisch hoped to convey that anybody can make a difference. “Each and every one of you truly has the power to make policy impact,” Jorisch said. “In terms of time, get involved

physically. Make political donations to organizations you care about. Get involved with the issues you care about, learn how to manipulate the system in a positive sense and network, network, network.”

According to Naim, students had positive reactions to Jorisch’s talk. “I was glad to see that the auditorium was filled with non-IR and non-PoliSci majors,” Naim said. “It illustrated that students were actually interested in the topic and came because they wanted to learn more about Iran, and not because they were academically pressured.”

Overall, Naim hopes that the talk raised awareness. “We were hoping that Avi would sensitize the Colgate community about the Iranian threat and what to do about it,” Naim said. “If half the audience walked out of the room more aware and concerned about Iran acquiring the bomb, then Avi, Adam and I have succeeded.”

Contact Stacey Stein at [email protected].