From GOP Operative to Anti-Semitic Iranian Stooge
His political career was brief and uneventful. But on Tehran’s propaganda channel, this self-proclaimed pastor’s rants about Zionist conspiracies are a big deal.
A former Republican operative and fringe U.S. Senate candidate has found himself a new role—as a gay-hating, anti-Semite on Iranian state TV.
Texan Mark Dankof has parlayed his failed, largely forgotten 2000 run for the U.S. Senate as a third-party candidate from Delaware into a cushy gig bashing Jews and the American government on Press TV. His claim to on-air legitimacy is a political bid made from the far, far-right Constitution Party, and promptly forgotten by all in Delaware immediately thereafter.
But Dankof is well regarded in Tehran, making frequent regular appearances on the state-run television outlet. In June, for example, Dankof made a splash by thanking Jews for bringing gay marriage to America.
This Daily Beast reporter would like to take credit on behalf of co-religionists like Evan Wolfson, Robbie Kaplan, and Edith Windsor. Except Dankof’s congrats were laced with anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“It should not be ignored that the victories for abortion on demand and LGBT rights are reflective of the disproportionate influence of Jewish power, money, and activism in the United States,” Dankof said on his Iranian fame platform. “The key Jewish role played in the mainstreaming of abortion, LGBT, and pornography in the United States may be documented in Google search.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin “is a key ingredient in destroying this global threat,” he added.
Dankof also accused Jews of perpetrating the Sept. 11 attacks. In an interview with Press TV flagged by the Anti-Defamation League, Dankof said “Zionists” perpetrated the attacks and added that an investigation “is not going to happen because the people who perpetrated [9/11] are the same people who control the news media and have a disproportionate influence in American foreign policy through various think tanks and so forth, that are aligned with the nation of Israel.”
In fewer words: Jews.
“Israel had the motive, they had the means, they had the opportunity, they had the money, they had the resources, they had the inside contacts and they had the people in the American media and the American government to cover it up for them after the fact,” he added.
In another interview with an Iranian radio show, Dankof called Charlie Hebdo a Jewish project after the attacks in Paris this January, and then proudly posted the transcript of his interview on his blog.
“Who has a vested interest in blaspheming both Christianity and Islam as part of a world-wide ideological and political game plan?” Dankof said. “Clearly, it is the global Zionist network which desires to assert the Talmudic doctrine of Jewish racial supremacy on a global basis, and to convince comatose Westerners that their primary enemy in the world is Islam, and not the Zionist hijacking of their own banking system, culture, government, media, and educational establishments.”
When asked about conspiracy theories alleging Mossad’s complicity in the attacks, Dankof didn’t disappoint. “While I cannot absolutely prove it, I agree with Ron Paul and Paul Craig Roberts that the Charlie Hebdo affair has all the earmarks of a False Flag operation conducted by the Israeli Mossad, the British MI6, and the American CIA,” he said, looping U.S. intelligence agencies into the blame game.
And in 2013, he used his theological background to slam the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a “synagogue of Satan.”
“Joe ‘I am a Zionist’ Biden will pinch hit for El Presidente as the main podium attraction for the Synagogue of Satan’s pep rally for an American-Israeli pogram [sic] of mass murder directed at the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI),” he wrote on his blog, Mark Dankof’s America.
(It’s not immediately clear if by pogram Dankof meant “program” or “pogrom.”)
His PR campaign for the Iranian regime also included calling Ayatollah Khamenei’s second open letter to Western youth “one of the two most important articles I have read in 2015” for a news agency whose stated purpose is “defending the Islamic Revolution against negative media propaganda campaign.”
Dankof’s latest cause celebre is the $4.4 million compensation package offered to each of the 53 American hostages held in Tehran, publicized online by Press TV and American white supremacist David Duke. The real culprits in the whole affair, he maintained, were not his Tehran-based sponsors—but the U.S., because of the CIA-backed coup of Mohammed Mossadegh more than two decades prior.
“The fact is that Operation Ajax set in motion the tragic series of events in the 25 years that followed it that led to… the November 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran,” he said, adding that American veterans and POWs, meanwhile, receive “far less compensation from their governments than they were entitled to.”
“I’m not interested, respectfully, in responding to your questions, but I’ll send several links to stories of possible interest to you,” Dankof wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “If you run a story, I’d appreciate your posting links to these in the interest of fairness and letting your readers evaluate me accordingly.”
The suggested links included ones to his interview about the ayatollah’s second letter, and to another interview reiterating his views on Jews and the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a follow-up email, Dankof alleged that he “received $700 for all of my appearances for Press TV.”
“I forgot to mention this. It’s slightly less than what John Hagee gets for fronting for Israel,” he added. “I believe the Wall Street Journal estimates his Empire to be worth $150 million. :-)”
(Press TV offered a Daily Beast contributor $150 for an appearance on their channel in 2008. But the contributor wasn’t ideologically aligned with Iranian propaganda—and nor was he a “former U.S. Senate candidate.”)
Dankof did not say what other sources of employment he has.
While public records show Dankof was the minister of a church in San Antonio, the church’s domain name has now expired. Dankof’s LinkedIn says he’s expecting a graduate degree from the Westminster Theological Seminary in 2016.
Previously, Dankof billed himself as a Republican operative—“Formerly the 36th District Chairman of the Republican Party in King County/Seattle and later an elected delegate to Texas State Republican Conventions in 1994 and 1996”—federal elections data shows he’s stingy with his contributions. The only contribution on record for him is for Pat Buchanan in 1995: A grand total of $250.
Dankof ran for office on the Constitution Party ticket. Its beliefs include the theocratic notion that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, and should return to those foundations. And on the ultra right, where the Constitution Party draws a fair amount of its support, distrust of the federal government can sometimes transform into outright anti-Americanism and an openness toward America’s enemies. Press TV has a habit of giving these fringe beliefs a platform, especially when they line up with Tehran’s agenda.
The good news for Dankof, though, is that his pundit career is more successful than his political ambitions ever had a chance of being. Dankof ran for Senate not in Texas but in Delaware, and on the Constitution Party ticket. He came in fourth place, with 1,044 votes—less than 1 percent.
The total money he raised for his 2000 Delaware Senate race? $0.00