Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
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Tag: Barack Obama

IRAN NUCLEAR ARCHIVE “BOMBSHELL” CONFIRMS OBAMA’S DEAL WAS FOUNDED ON A LIE

Prelude to a Showdown?: Noah Rothman, Commentary, May 2, 2018— On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revealed the results of an audacious intelligence operation that resulted in the seizure of thousands of documents related to the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

When Will the World Admit the Truth About Iran’s Nuclear Program?: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, May 2, 2018 —Even for the storied Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, the night-time raid on a top-secret underground nuclear archive in Tehran in late January is incredible.

The Iran Deal Is a Lie: Bret Stephens, New York Times, May 1, 2018 — “The sanctions lifting will only occur as Iran takes the steps agreed, including addressing possible military dimensions.”

The Short And Ugly History Of The Disastrous Iran Deal: David Harsanyi, The Federalist, May 1, 2018— On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented documents to the world that prove Iran lied for years about its peaceful intentions.

On Topic Links

Lag Ba’Omer: Guide for the Perplexed, 2018: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, May 2, 2018

Europe Wants Unity on Iran but Undermines Trump on Jerusalem: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, May 2, 2018

Mossad Agents Snuck Nuclear Files out of Iran with Authorities ‘On Their Tails’: Times of Israel, May 2, 2018

Most Iranians Couldn’t Care Less About the Palestinians or Israel: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, May 2, 2018

 

PRELUDE TO A SHOWDOWN?

Noah Rothman

Commentary, May 2, 2018

 

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revealed the results of an audacious intelligence operation that resulted in the seizure of thousands of documents related to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Since then, the revelations about the bomb program that the Islamic Republic preserved, presumably for future use, have been met with furious spin by supporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aka the nuclear deal. They’ve contended that there is nothing to see here, but they are all missing the bigger picture. And it is a sobering one.

Supporters of the 2015 nuclear agreement have alleged that information revealed by an operation involving 100 Mossad agents or assets, in which 55,000 printed pages and 183 compact discs revealing the Iranian bomb program in granular detail were spirited out of a civilian warehouse in Tehran, is no big deal. Middlebury Institute of International Studies lecturer Jeffrey Lewis called the way in which Netanyahu revealed this intelligence coup a “dog and pony show” that exposed only information already disclosed to the IAEA. NIAC chief Trita Parsi said Israel had essentially raided and plundered the IAEA, not a secret Iranian storehouse. This was all “well-known pre-Iran deal history,” according to Barack Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes. Former spokesman for Obama’s national security council, Tommy Vietor, even accused the U.S. and Israel of “cooking up intel” to justify the abrogation of the JCPOA.

This all amounts to a strenuous exercise in missing the point. The documents, which cover a time span that ends prior to the adoption of the nuclear accords in 2015, might not reveal violations of the nuclear deal (by definition), but they are by no means old news. The specificity revealed by those documents, including the metallurgy work and kiloton yields sought by the regime were new to the West, and details of the nuclear test sites that Iran considered and prepared were news to Western observers. But the bombshell was not the information contained within these documents. The very fact that they exist was the bombshell, as was the fact that they were being housed in a facility designed to keep them secret from international inspectors (to the modest extent that a verifiable inspections regime exists as part of the JCPOA). Former Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly assured the public and lawmakers that all of Iran’s past nuclear-weapons work would have to be disclosed to an international monitoring regime as part of the nuclear accords–or there would be no deal. Now we are told that the very fact that Iran has violated the spirit if not the letter of the accords is also the very reason that they are so vital.

Again, though, to focus on the intelligence Netanyahu revealed is to lose the plot. The exposure of an exceedingly complex operation that revealed these documents to the world is by itself an alarming development. According to the Israeli officials with whom Axios reporter Barak Ravid spoke, the Iranian nuclear archive was transferred to its covert home in February of 2016 explicitly to hide the military dimensions of its nuclear program from inspectors. The Israeli operation that uncovered that warehouse, which was known only to a small circle of Iranian officials, took years to prepare and involved hundreds of agents and informants. Exposing this operation has compromised all of those irreplaceable human assets and sacrificed a lot of invaluable collection capability. No government does that without performing a cost/benefit analysis. Either Israel concluded that making this operation public was worth the concrete policy objective that would be achieved by the reveal, or Netanyahu’s government determined that the value of its assets in Tehran was going to depreciate soon anyway as a result of events. And events are becoming rather ominous.

In as many months, Israel has executed three airstrikes on Iranian targets inside Syria. In February, Israel claimed to have shot down an Iranian drone originating in Syria that penetrated its airspace. In response to that incursion, the Israeli military targeted and destroyed four Iranian positions and an Iranian-operated command-and-control center from which the drone originated. One Israeli aircraft was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during that operation. In early April, Israel executed an airstrike on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps post in Syria in which Iranian soldiers and Hezbollah were killed. And just days ago, Israel attacked two Iranian-linked bases inside Syria killing dozens of Iranian and Syrian fighters and igniting ammunition that resulted in several massive explosions. The tempo of Israeli operations is increasing and Americans sources say observers have every reason to fear the accelerating trend.

U.S. officials reportedly told NBC News that, within the last two weeks, Iran has stepped up deliveries of small arms and surface-to-air missiles to Syria as part of Tehran’s effort to “shore up Iranian ground forces and to strike at Israel.” The conspicuous reinforcement of Iranian soldiers, support staff, and weapons stockpiles might have led Israel to draw the gravest of conclusions. “The three U.S. officials said Israel now seems to be preparing for military action and is seeking U.S. help and support,” NBC News revealed.

The arguments among political factions within the United States regarding the Iran nuclear deal and various presidential legacies are peripheral to what may be the more immediate issue: the prospect of imminent hostilities between Israel and Iran, to say nothing of Tehran’s proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. Seen in that light, Netanyahu’s decision to reveal the most eye-opening feat of spycraft in a generation is anything but a “nothing-burger.”

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WHEN WILL THE WORLD ADMIT THE TRUTH

ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM?

Vivian Bercovici

National Post, May 2, 2018

 

Even for the storied Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, the night-time raid on a top-secret underground nuclear archive in Tehran in late January is incredible. Within hours, this facility was breached and 55,000 hard-copy original files as well as an additional 183 CDs loaded with documents were removed and secreted back to Israel that same night. A half ton of material.

In an exceptional live broadcast on Israeli television Monday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the media in English, ensuring maximum global reach for what was billed in advance as a dramatic revelation about Iran. Whereas Israelis were expecting to hear that the country is on the cusp of all-out war with Iran (operating from its proxy base in neighbouring Syria), what transpired was no less grave. “Iran lied. Big time,” declared Netanyahu. For the next 15 minutes or so he delivered a careful exposé of Iranian deception, over decades, regarding its nuclear weapons aspirations, capabilities and concrete plans to achieve these goals.

In December of 2015, president Barack Obama celebrated his brilliance in — as he put it — “negotiating” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with key Western allies and Iran — putatively an agreement to monitor and contain Iran’s race to develop a devastating nuclear arsenal. The primary target for these weapons: Israel. Really, though, the JCPOA was a capitulation, writ large in neon. Not a single element of this “Agreement” reflected any meaningful negotiation, no matter how much time the parties spent in discussion. From the outset, president Obama, inexplicably, caved to Iranian demands that economic sanctions be dropped as a precondition to any negotiations.

According to a senior military source who was close to the American-Israeli tensions throughout this period, the U.S. was convinced — baselessly — that it had no leverage with which to pressure the Iranians. Certainly, after lifting the highly effective sanctions at the outset and squandering the only real leverage it had, that misguided belief became a fact. Why such a generous precondition was ever considered, never mind acceded to, is incomprehensible.

Netanyahu’s sobering presentation, complete with slides, documented Iranian duplicitousness, in detail, over a 20-year period, naming names and specifying incriminating program details unassailably proven by the captured documents. It’s interesting to note that the staunchest advocates and architects of the JCPOA — president Obama, former secretary of state John Kerry and former national security adviser Susan Rice — have been anything but silent since leaving office about their “legacy” accomplishment. But they didn’t have a word to say in the day after Israel’s report. Angela Merkel, a staunch Obama ally in this caper, has also been noticeably quiet, apparently distracted by her own domestic political challenges.

Into the breach steps French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been working overtime in recent weeks to convince President Donald Trump, and the world, that the JCPOA may be sub-optimal but it is still worth saving. May 12 is the date on which President Trump will announce America’s intention — to continue to honour the detail or withdraw — and Macron made no bones about his views on that when addressing the U.S. Congress last week. “A deal,” he intoned, “must be honoured.” To renege would not only destabilize the world order, he said, but would set a terrible precedent in international relations. Indeed. As would knowingly lying about every aspect of one’s past behaviours and intentions when entering into said deal — which was and is the Iranian modus operandi. To not see this glaringly obvious truth is inexplicable.

Europeans, of course, have a regrettable history of self-delusions on urgent matters of national security, as they proved in the years leading up to the Second World War. Israel cannot afford the luxury of self-deception and wilful blindness. Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence who is widely respected for his informed, non-partisan analysis regarding regional security matters, characterized the Israeli evidence as irrefutably establishing Iranian duplicitousness, past and present. The notion that a regime so entrenched in lies has suddenly modified its behaviour and abandoned a fundamental military goal is simply not realistic…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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THE IRAN DEAL IS A LIE

Bret Stephens

New York Times, May 1, 2018

“The sanctions lifting will only occur as Iran takes the steps agreed, including addressing possible military dimensions.” That was State Department spokesman John Kirby in June 2015, speaking just as negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal were wrapping up. But Tehran did not “take the steps agreed.” The deal was founded on a lie.

Two lies, actually. The first was Iran’s declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency, prior to the implementation of the deal, of the full extent of its past nuclear work. This was essential, both as a test of Tehran’s sincerity and as a benchmark for understanding just how close it was to being able to assemble and deliver a nuclear warhead. The second lie was the Obama administration’s promise that it was serious about getting answers from Tehran. In a moment of candor, then-Secretary of State John Kerry admitted “we are not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another” — but then he promised Congress that Iran would provide the accounting.

That was when the White House still feared that Congress might block the deal. When it failed to do so, thanks to a Democratic filibuster, the administration contented itself with a make-believe process in which Iran pretended to make a full declaration and the rest of the world pretended to believe it. “Iran’s answers and explanations for many of the I.A.E.A.’s concerns were, at best, partial, but over all, obfuscating and stonewalling,” David Albright and his colleagues at the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security wrote in December 2015. “Needed access to sites was either denied or tightly controlled as to preclude adequate inspections.”

So much, then, for all the palaver about the deal providing an unprecedented level of transparency for monitoring Iranian compliance. So much, also, for the notion that Iran has honored its end of the bargain. It didn’t. This should render the agreement null and void. That’s the significance of Benjamin Netanyahu’s show and tell on Monday of what appears to be a gigantic cache of pilfered Iranian documents detailing Tehran’s nuclear work. The deal’s defenders have dismissed the Israeli prime minister’s presentation as a bunch of old news — just further proof that Iran once had a robust covert program to build a bomb. They also insist Iran has complied with the terms of the agreement since it came into force in January 2016.

Yet it’s difficult to imagine that the I.A.E.A. can now square Iran’s 2015 declaration with what the Israelis have uncovered. Iran’s mendacity is no longer the informed supposition of proliferation experts such as Mr. Albright. It is — assuming the documents are authentic, as the U.S. has confirmed — a matter of fact that the I.A.E.A. chose to ignore when it gave Iran a free pass under political pressure to move to implement the deal. If the agency cares for its own credibility as a nuclear watchdog, it should decide that Iran’s past declaration was false and that Iran’s retention of the documents obtained by Israel, with all the nuclear know-how they contain, put it in likely breach of the agreement.

As for Iran’s current compliance, of course it’s complying. The deal gave Iran the best of all worlds. It weakened U.N. restrictions on its right to develop, test and field ballistic missiles — a critical component for a nuclear weapons capability that the Iranians haven’t fully mastered. It lifted restrictions on Iran’s oil exports and eased other sanctions, pumping billions of dollars into a previously moribund economy. And it allows Iran to produce all the nuclear fuel it wants come the end of the next decade.

Yes, Iran is permanently enjoined from building a nuclear weapon, even after the limitations on uranium enrichment expire. But why believe this regime will be faithful to the deal at its end when it was faithless to it at its beginning? Netanyahu’s revelations were plainly timed to influence Donald Trump’s decision, expected later this month, on whether to stay in the Iran deal. Trump is under pressure from the French, British and Germans to stay in it, on the view that, if nothing else, the agreement has kept Iran from racing toward a bomb.

But the deal now in place allows Iran to amble toward a bomb, even as it uses the financial benefits of the agreement to fund (in the face of domestic upheaval and at a steep cost to its own economy) its militancy in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and especially in Syria. And Iran’s own nuclear history suggests the country’s leaders have always been cautious in the face of credible American threats, which is one reason they shelved much of their nuclear program in 2003 after the U.S. invaded Iraq. “When the Iranians fear American power, they either back down or they stall,” says Mark Dubowitz, an expert on Iran sanctions at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “When they don’t fear American power, they push forward. With Trump, the question is: Are they going to feel American power, or American mush?”

I opposed the Iran deal, but immediately after it came into effect, I believed that we should honor it scrupulously and enforce it unsparingly. Monday’s news is that Iran didn’t honor its end of the bargain and neither need the United States now. Punitive sanctions combined with a credible threat of military force should follow.

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THE SHORT AND UGLY HISTORY OF THE DISASTROUS IRAN DEAL

David Harsanyi

The Federalist, May 1, 2018

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented documents to the world that prove Iran lied for years about its peaceful intentions. Netanyahu claims that in 2017 the Iranians moved “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons” to a secret location, and that a few weeks ago Mossad agents procured a half ton of that material and smuggled it out of the country. The United States has reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the documents.

The Iran deal, it’s worth remembering,  is likely the only international accord the United States has entered into where it offered extensive concessions to a nation that continued to destabilize its interests, kill its soldiers, and threaten its allies. In return, we asked for nothing other than a promise that Iran uphold its preexisting obligations. The Islamic state, we shouldn’t forget, was already a signee to the non-proliferation agreements when the Obama administration saved its economy and reinvigorated its military.

It’s also worth remembering what we’ve given up for this deal. From the start there was almost nothing Obama wouldn’t do to save it. To pass it, the administration created (then bragged about) a media echo chamber that smeared the opposition at home. Obama accused those who opposed the accord of being in “common cause” with Islamists, offering the ludicrous false choice: his way or war. Some of the nastiest attacks were reserved for fellow Democrats like Chuck Schumer, whose tepid pushback triggered Obama flunkies to accuse of him of harboring dual loyalty.

Then there was the constant subjugation of American interests to placate the Iranians. First, Obama made “common cause” with Russia and Syria. It seems increasingly plausible, in fact, that the president was hamstrung in Syria because he wanted to avoid upsetting the Iranians and Russians. Vladimir Putin, the man who helped Iran create its nuclear program, was a fan of the deal. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was also an admirer, confident that Iran would continue its “just causes” after the deal was wrapped up. What could he possibly mean?

The Iran deal remained Obama’s predominant concern during his second term, even as Tehran grappled with a contracting economy and inflation brought on, in part, by international sanctions that had been set up over a decade. Despite its natural resources, Iran’s economy still struggles. One can imagine what it would look like with another two years of sanctions. Later we learned that Obama’s machinations were worse than we imagined. In his January 2016 speech announcing the lifting of sanctions, Obama claimed that as a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture” the United States would release a number of Iranian-born “civilians” who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.”

Far from mere “civilians,” the administration was releasing Iranian spies whom the Justice Department had tagged as threats to national security. Of the 14 civilians, one was a top Hezbollah operative named Ali Fayad, who had not only been indicted in U.S. courts for planning to kill U.S. government employees but whom agents believed reported to Putin as a key supplier of weapons to Syria and Iraq. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for “conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware.” Another, Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, was charged with illegally conspiring to procure “thousands of parts with nuclear applications.” Now imagine Donald Trump making a similar deal with Russia. On top of that, Obama administration was “slow-walking” investigations against Iranian spies here in the United States and efforts to extradite suspects. It also, according to Josh Meyer’s source-heavy reporting that has never been factually refuted, neutralized efforts to stop Hezbollah from funding its operations through criminal enterprises in the United States.

When the Iranians released American hostages in early 2016, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry claimed it was due to “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks.” In actuality, the Obama administration secretly airlifted more than $1.7 billion worth of cash as ransom to obtain the release of four Americans so as not to derail the Iranian deal. Because all of it was above-board and absolutely not a ransom payment, it was sent on wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies on an unmarked cargo plane…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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On Topic Links

Lag Ba’Omer: Guide for the Perplexed, 2018: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, May 2, 2018—Lag Ba’Omer (ל”ג בעומר) is celebrated on the 33rd day following the first day of Passover (in Jewish numerology: ל=30, ג=3).  It commemorates the victory of Shimon Bar-Kokhbah over the occupying military force of the Roman Empire; the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai (a key supporter of the Bar Kokhbah revolt), who commanded his disciples to rejoice on his memorial days; and the end of the plague, which took the lives of 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples (who were, allegedly, engaged in bad-mouthing each other, which is one of the worst offenses according to Judaism).

Europe Wants Unity on Iran but Undermines Trump on Jerusalem: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, May 2, 2018—As French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel beat a path for the White House in back-to-back visits this week, the media coverage of U.S. – European Union relations is focused on efforts to convince President Donald Trump to keep faith with his predecessor Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Mossad Agents Snuck Nuclear Files out of Iran with Authorities ‘On Their Tails’: Times of Israel, May 2, 2018—Agents of Israel’s spy agency Mossad smuggled hundreds of kilograms of paper and digital files on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program out of the Islamic Republic with Iranian agents “on their tails,” Hadashot television news reported Tuesday night, based on briefings by Israeli officials.

Most Iranians Couldn’t Care Less About the Palestinians or Israel: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, May 2, 2018—Three years ago, the then Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had also served as ambassador to Iran, told members of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies something they had heard from other foreign diplomats. “You Israelis are obsessed with Iran,” he said. “For Iranians, you and the Palestinians are a marginal concern.”

 

ON IRAN PROTESTS & JERUSALEM TRUMP HAD COURAGE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH, UNLIKE OBAMA AND WEST’S “PROGRESSIVES”

Jerusalem and Now Iran: Is Donald Trump Turning Into a Morally Serious President?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Ha’aretz, Jan. 02, 2018— In the summer of 2009, as the forces of the Iranian government brutally repressed mass demonstrations protesting a stolen election, the United States sent the people of Iran an unmistakable message.

If 'Canada's Back,' Like Trudeau Says, We Should be Supporting Iran's Protesters: Kaveh Shahrooz, National Post, Jan. 3, 2018— “Canada’s back,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likes to say in progressive international circles. 

Hungry for Regional Hegemony, Iran Takes a Bite Out of Hamas: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Jan. 4, 2018— One week of popular protests in Iran has brought into stark focus the country's deep internal divisions…

How Iran Became the Dominant Power in the Middle East: Prof. Benjamin Miller, BESA, Jan. 4, 2018— Iran has emerged as the winner of the so-called “Arab Spring,” a state of affairs some lay at the feet of the Obama administration.

 

On Topic Links

 

Iran’s Protests are Fading, but Iranians Are Still Angry: Amanda Erickson, Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2018

The Uprising in Iran: ‘This is What Revolution Looks Like’: Terry Glavin, Maclean’s, Jan. 1, 2017

What Washington Can Do to Support Iran’s Protesters: Richard Goldberg and Jamie Fly, New York Post, Jan. 2, 2018 Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans.

Protests in Iran: Social Challenges vs. Foreign Policy Ambitions: Dr. Doron Itzchakov, BESA, Jan. 3, 2018

 

 

 

JERUSALEM AND NOW IRAN: IS DONALD TRUMP

TURNING INTO A MORALLY SERIOUS PRESIDENT?

Jonathan S. Tobin

Ha’aretz, Jan. 02, 2018

 

In the summer of 2009, as the forces of the Iranian government brutally repressed mass demonstrations protesting a stolen election, the United States sent the people of Iran an unmistakable message. The man regarded as an international beacon of hope offered them no encouragement. President Barack Obama’s initial silence, and then continued restraint, in his remarks about what was going on, was a significant milestone along the road to the Iran nuclear deal he would later sign. It told Iranians they were on their own with respect to any international effort to secure their freedom.

 

But now, more than eight years later, as a new wave of protests spreads throughout Iran, those suffering under the theocratic rule of the ayatollahs are getting a very different message from the United States. President Donald Trump’s tweets reminded the ayatollahs that "the world is watching" as they sought to put down the protests against their regime’s tyranny, corruption and support for terror. Trump let Iranian dissidents know the world is with them and turned up the pressure on Tehran – just at the moment when he wants to start a conversation about renegotiating the nuclear deal, so as to remove the sunset clauses that make the regime’s acquisition of a bomb inevitable.

 

Yet, as was the case with Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, many on the left, as well as others on the right, who are still appalled by the Trump presidency, are not prepared to give him credit even when he is obviously in the right. In their view, Trump’s inappropriate behavior and statements rob him of any moral legitimacy, therefore nullifying the impact of anything that he does or says that they would approve of if someone else had done it.

 

But the contrast with Obama is instructive, not only in terms of the debate over Iran, but because it also undermines the narrative which portrays the Trump administration as patently illegitimate. As was the case with Jerusalem, it is Trump who had the courage and the will to state an important truth about Iran, while it was Obama who failed that great moral test.

 

That contradicts the assumptions of both the "resistance" on the left and the conservative "Never Trump" faction. This ought to force even the president’s sternest critics to reassess their belief that Trump’s administration cannot be taken seriously, especially when so much of the arguments against him are premised on the notion that his character is such that he must be opposed under any and all circumstances.

 

Rather than see the contrast between the two successive administrations as one of stark choices between good and evil, Trump’s ability to do the right thing on Iran while Obama conspicuously failed, means his administration should be judged, as all governments must be, in shades of grey rather than in terms of moral absolutes.

 

The attempt, principally by Obama administration alumni, to claim that the best course for the West on Iran is to be silent about the protests, is unpersuasive. As in other efforts to deal with tyrannies, such as that of the former Soviet Union, outside pressure aimed at bolstering internal dissent is a critical factor in undermining support for any such authoritarian government. Moreover, Obama’s diffident posture toward the 2009 protests gives us a clear example of how Western democracies encouraged the theocrats to believe they can murder with impunity and not face any international consequences.

 

Obama believed that the objective of obtaining a nuclear accord with Iran justified any concession. But that choice and others, such as the reports that he discouraged federal authorities from pursuing efforts to curtail Hezbollah’s drug-running operations in order to further appease Tehran, weakened his negotiating position, as well as undermining other Western interests. It also made it easier for the regime to convince Iranians they had no choice but to meekly accept the continued rule of a government that used the wealth it acquired from the pact to enrich regime entities, while doing little to help its people.

 

By contrast, Trump’s truth-telling sets the record straight in a way that ought to alter the debate not only about Iran, but on other foreign policy issues too. His critics generally dismiss the president as ignorant or foolish. But it is difficult to see how either former Obama officials or European governments (who have been conspicuously silent on recent events in Iran) are in any better position to preach to Trump about morality.

 

The implications for Israel and those who care about it from this discussion are clear. Trump’s more favorable attitude toward Israel, as well as his willingness to hold the Palestinians accountable for their rejectionism and support for terror, does not erase his other shortcomings. Yet, as with his reversal of a decades-long policy that denied the truth about Jerusalem, Trump’s ability to say what needed to be said about Iran, and in a way that Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t, needs to be acknowledged. It should be seen as a significant measure of how his administration should be judged going forward as it tackles the ongoing challenges relating to the Mideast peace process and terrorism.

 

Disgust with some of what Trump says and tweets is understandable. But we have no choice but to judge leaders by their choices, rather than our assumptions about their character and intentions. After the Jerusalem stand and the Iran protests, it’s getting increasingly difficult to pretend that the moral dichotomy between Obama and Trump is as clear-cut as the president’s detractors claim it to be. Hard as it may be for the "resistance" and the Never Trumpers to accept, it may be that it is possible that Donald Trump is turning out to be a morally serious president.

                                                                                   

 

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IF 'CANADA'S BACK,' LIKE TRUDEAU SAYS,

WE SHOULD BE SUPPORTING IRAN'S PROTESTERS

Kaveh Shahrooz

National Post, Jan. 3, 2018

 

“Canada’s back,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likes to say in progressive international circles.  But since the outbreak of the growing protests that have rocked Iran, Canada has been nowhere to be found. The protests, which began in the religious city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, have been raging across the country for nearly a week and, to date, have claimed nearly 20 lives. The protesters’ demands were initially about economic justice, but have quickly transformed into a rejection of Iran’s theocratic structure and the Iranian government’s military adventurism in Syria and Yemen.  

 

In the face of this, Canada’s Global Affairs department released a statement that indicated Canada is “encouraged” by the protesters’ exercise of their rights, and stated that Canada will continue to monitor the situation. This statement — tepidly recognizing the protests without endorsing their message, and emphasizing the protesters’ rights to free expression without giving any offence to Iran’s rulers — was the diplomatic equivalent of hedging Canada’s bets.

 

As of the time of this writing, neither Trudeau nor Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland have weighed in. Domestically, this is in contrast to a strong statement of support by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. And, internationally, it is inconsistent with the very strong statements by President Donald Trump and members of his administration. Why, then, is Canada hesitating to offer support to the protesters? The answer, likely, lies in the prime minister’s commitment to reverse Stephen Harper’s decision to cut off diplomatic relations with Iran and close the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. 

 

It is probable that Trudeau believes supporting the protesters will make it harder for him to deliver on his promise. Such failure may, in turn, entail political costs, as Iranian-Canadians are becoming an electoral force in at least two Greater Toronto Area ridings. The Liberals may believe that segments of the Iranian-Canadian community, some of whom legitimately suffer due to lack of access to consular services in Canada and some with financial ties to the Iranian government, will punish them in the next election if they don’t make good on their commitment.

 

But the prime minister should break his silence on Iran. The reason for that is simple: It is because doing so is the morally right thing to do. The cause championed by the brave protesters in Iran’s streets is just. They are calling for an end to a theocracy that has produced nothing for Iranians except economic stagnation, repression, mass executions, and gender and religious apartheid. Does Canada’s feminist prime minister wish to be on the side of a government that treats women as second-class citizens? Can he pay lip service to diversity and inclusion on the one hand, and keep silent in the face of a government that treats its Baha’i religious community as non-persons? In short, in the clash between a theocratic regime that murders its citizens (and Canadian citizens, as it did in 2003 with Zahra Kazemi) and young protesters calling for democracy, which side does Trudeau wish to be on?

 

Re-engaging the Iranian government may be a sincere Liberal government commitment, but it surely isn’t worth sullying Canada’s reputation as a force for justice and human rights in the world. And if the prime minister decides that he wants to express solidarity with the protesters, there are several concrete steps he can take. First, he ought to make a powerful statement that supports the protesters and their demands. The importance of such a statement cannot be overstated. Given the bellicose language of the Trump administration, the Iranian government would love nothing more than to paint the protesters as saboteurs doing America’s bidding. Given that Trudeau is the anti-Trump, the PM’s support of the protest would considerably weaken the Iranian government’s rhetoric. 

 

Second, Canada ought to make clear to Iranian authorities that any violation of the protesters’ rights would lead to significant consequences. For example, Iran ought to understand that in the face of a serious crackdown, re-engagement should no longer be on the table. In addition, now that Canada has its own version of the Magnitsky Act (a law that freezes assets and limits travel for government officials who engage in human rights abuses abroad), Iranian officials ought to be warned that they could end up on its list if they illegally silence protesters.   In addition, Canada should exert its influence to get other countries to stand with the protesters. Each year, Canada leads a resolution at the UN General Assembly that condemns Iran’s human rights abuses. We have the experience, know-how, and moral authority to lead on this issue, too.

 

Finally, Canada should take serious aim at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military and economic juggernaut responsible for so much domestic repression and regional conflict. It is now time to sanction the IRGC using a bill (S-219) that has so far stalled in the Senate thanks to Liberal-affiliated Senators. The prime minister ought to make the sanctioning of the IRGC a priority.   Iran’s protesters are taking tremendous risks these days to secure freedom and democracy. They need Canada’s support and solidarity. We should provide it.                   

 

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HUNGRY FOR REGIONAL HEGEMONY, IRAN TAKES A BITE OUT OF HAMAS

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Jan. 4, 2018

 

One week of popular protests in Iran has brought into stark focus the country's deep internal divisions, along with widespread resentment towards the mullahs, which have remained relatively dormant since regime forces brutally quashed the Green Revolution in 2009. What started last Thursday in the city of Mashhad as a small economic rally—with participants primarily venting frustration over the lack of trickle-down effect from some $100 billion in sanctions relief granted to Tehran in the 2015 nuclear deal—has morphed into nationwide, deadly demonstrations against the rulership of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

 

Across Iran chants of "death to the dictator" have become common refrain as pictures of the ayatollah are set on fire. Among the many grievances being aired is anger over the Islamic Republic's deep military, and thus financial, involvement in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, in addition to support for Lebanese-based Hezbollah. Somewhat less pronounced is the regime's bankrolling of the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, although protesters have reportedly recited slogans such as 'Let go of Palestine' and 'Forget Palestine' while invoking the Gaza Strip in particular.

 

In this respect, relations between Shiite Iran and Sunni Hamas have thawed since the former froze ties with Gaza's rulers after they refused to support the Assad government at the onset of the Syrian war. Now, Tehran's renewed funding of Hamas is part and parcel of the Islamic Republic's attempt to increase its regional influence and, on the micro level, its presence along Israel's borders. The latter entails accelerating Hezbollah's militarization in Lebanon and establishing a permanent presence in Syria, including the entrenchment of Shiite proxies in the Golan Heights.

 

According to Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser (ret.), former director general of the Israeli Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy, Iran's growing involvement in Gaza is based on a convergence of interests. "On the one hand, Hamas has become weaker as it lost the ability to rely on its usual supporters, while its effort to forge unity with the Palestinian Authority appears to have failed. "On the other hand," he explained to The Media Line, "the Iranians want to increase the strength of the 'resistance' axis that opposes Israel and promotes radical Islamic ideology and Hamas can be a useful ally in this cause."

 

Brig. Gen. (res.) Eli Ben Meir, who served as the IDF's chief intelligence officer, agrees that Iran is making inroads in the Strip to fill the vacuum created by Hamas' isolation, but also in response to developments in the north. "There is a potential for escalation in Syria," he told The Media Line, "as Israel has repeatedly talked about enforcing its red lines [and reportedly carried out multiple strikes against Iranian assets to uphold them]. So Tehran is sending a message that such action can be met with a response from Gaza." In fact, there has been a marked uptick in rocket attacks against Israel emanating from the Palestinian enclave since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital. However, in the wake of last week's apparent targeting of a ceremony honoring an IDF soldier whose remains are being held by Hamas, multiple Israeli officials have publicly accused Tehran of deliberately raising tensions.

 

For his part, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman released a video in which he slammed the Islamic Republic for working to "destroy" Gaza while "hurting Israel as much as possible." Intelligence Minister Israel Katz referred to the Strip as a "ticking time bomb" caused by a "direct Iranian intervention," with Tehran allegedly having supplied some of the mortars fired at southern Israeli towns. Former defense chief Moshe Ya'alon warned that Iran, empowered by military successes throughout the region, is likely to shift some of its attention towards subverting Israel.

 

On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot revealed that Tehran has increased its funding to Hamas and Islamic Jihad from an estimated $70 million to $100 million annually in order to exert more influence over Gaza. Nevertheless, he described as "irresponsible" those calling for a stronger response to attacks, while confirming that the IDF is "carrying out various covert and open efforts including [the] promotion of restraining factors." Indeed, there appears to be disagreement within the Israeli political and military establishments over how to deal with the growing threat from Gaza, where the Jewish state has fought three wars over the past decade. "There are three main courses of action that Israel can take," Ben Meir explained to The Media Line. "The first is a full-scale operation that involves throwing Hamas out of the Strip. The second is conducting low-intensity warfare, a tit-for-tat approach—such as responding to rocket fire with airstrikes—in order to contain the situation. And the third option is finding a way to dramatically change the severe civilian economic conditions."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

Contents

HOW IRAN BECAME THE DOMINANT POWER IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Prof. Benjamin Miller

BESA, Jan. 4, 2018

 

Iran has emerged as the winner of the so-called “Arab Spring,” a state of affairs some lay at the feet of the Obama administration. When the US administration (together with five other powers) signed a nuclear accord with Tehran to curb its nuclear program, it did not insist on a halt to Iran’s assorted aggressions in the Middle East. But Obama is not entirely to blame for Iran’s success. In each of the four Arab countries in which Tehran has made incursions, its rivals inadvertently played a key role in strengthening the Iranian position through the trans-border Shiite connection.

 

In other words, interventions by other foreign powers unintentionally strengthened the pro-Iranian Shiite group in each of the countries in question. In some cases (though not all), the outcome was influenced by nationalist opposition to foreign interference. In all four cases, however, the interventions reinforced a regional transnational sectarian connection that is enabling the fulfillment of Iranian aspirations to become the dominant force in the Middle East.

 

How have the other intervening powers helped Iran win the Middle East game (at least for now)? In the case of Iraq, another enemy of the Islamic Republic accidentally brought about Iranian dominance in a country that used to be a major rival. In this instance it was the US that played the key role. Following their 2003 occupation of Iraq, the Americans tried to democratize the country. But elections in an ethnically and religiously fragmented state like Iraq mean that the largest ethnic or sectarian group is going to win.

 

The Shiites are the majority group in a polarized Iraq, and some of their leaders are allies of the Iranian Shiite regime. This trans-border connection has guaranteed significant Iranian influence in Iraq. Thus, the US invasion and democratization project in Iraq brought to power forces allied with its main enemy in the region – even if the alliance with Tehran is not welcomed by all Iraqis, including some Shiites.

 

The (next) case of an external intervention that resulted in growing Iranian influence is the Russian involvement in Syria. In this instance, the intervening power is not an enemy of Iran’s – at the moment. It was one for a very long time, however, and the future of the alliance is uncertain. At any rate, the Russian bombing in 2015 was the decisive factor that ultimately brought about the victory of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. This is the case even though Tehran, Hezbollah, and other Iranian-led Shiite militias had been fighting alongside the regime since well before the Russian bombing started.

 

As in the other cases, the support of Iran and its Shiite allies for the Alawite regime in Damascus is based at least partly on a common sectarian affiliation, as the Alawites are considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Assad regime’s dependence on the Iranian/Shiite militias’ support seems to guarantee that Tehran will remain a major influence in Syria.

 

While the Russian bombing provided the coup de grâce, the Iranians and their allies continue to provide the ground forces necessary to preserve the regime. Israel is worried that the regime’s debt to Iran will translate into a continuous Iranian/Hezbollah military presence in Syria near the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Recent Russian statements seem to indicate Moscow’s acceptance of such a military presence. This forward military deployment of Iran and its allies creates the potential for escalation, whether intended or inadvertent…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Iran’s Protests are Fading, but Iranians Are Still Angry: Amanda Erickson, Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2018—For just a moment around the new year, Iran seemed poised for something big. What started as a couple of scattered protests on Dec. 8 over the cost of eggs quickly erupted into a countrywide movement. Iranians took to the streets in nearly every province, calling for an end to corruption, a better economy and a less-oppressive government.

The Uprising in Iran: ‘This is What Revolution Looks Like’: Terry Glavin, Maclean’s, Jan. 1, 2017—The Iranian uprising that began last Thursday in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, was initially reported as an isolated protest over food prices and unemployment. By Sunday, the entire country was heaving in convulsions.

What Washington Can Do to Support Iran’s Protesters: Richard Goldberg and Jamie Fly, New York Post, Jan. 2, 2018 Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans. —Even before the widespread anticlerical protests in Iran, President Trump made clear what he thinks of the regime. In recent days, he has even gone so far as to support those Iranians protesting the regime, in stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s desperate attempt in 2009 to curry favor with their oppressors.

Protests in Iran: Social Challenges vs. Foreign Policy Ambitions: Dr. Doron Itzchakov, BESA, Jan. 3, 2018—The social protests currently taking place in Iran arise from the gap between the Islamic leadership’s ambition for regional hegemony and ordinary people’s desire for a lower cost of living and an improved standard of living – expectations stemming from promises made by President Hassan Rouhani during his first term in office and reinforced by the July 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) and the attendant release of Iranian assets worldwide.

 

 

 

                                                              

 

 

IRANIANS, CHANTING “DEATH TO HEZBOLLAH! NO TO GAZA…”, DENOUNCE MULLAHS’ CORRUPTION & FOREIGN ADVENTURISM

Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink: Mark Dubowitz, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 1, 2017— Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans.

The Iranian Explosion of Truth: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018— If the Iranian regime is unable to brutally stomp out the countrywide protests raging through the country…

Demonstrations in Iran Reflect the Strength of US Alliances: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 2, 2018— Sometimes relatively minor events reflect facts of global importance.

Assad May Have Retaken the Syrian Golan, but Iran is Pulling the Strings: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Dec. 31, 2017— The evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from the Beit Jinn area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights over the weekend puts Israel in an old-new position on the border.

 

On Topic Links

 

Support the Iranian People: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2017

What to Make of Latest Protests in Iran?: Lawrence A. Franklin, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 2, 2018

Iran Ignores Israel’s Warnings: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Dec. 28, 2017

Iran and the New Land Corridor: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Dec. 19, 2017

 

 

 

IRAN’S THEOCRACY IS ON THE BRINK

Mark Dubowitz

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 1, 2017

 

Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans. It has done so again with the protests engulfing its major cities. The demonstrations began over economic grievances and quickly transformed into a rejection of theocracy. The slogans must have unsettled the mullahs: “Death to Khamenei!” “Death to Rouhani!” “We will die to get our Iran back!” Imperialism has not revived the regime’s legitimacy, as the protesting Persians pointedly reject expending their meager resources on Arab wars: “Death to Hezbollah!” “No to Gaza, not Lebanon! Our life only for Iran!”

 

However the events on the streets unfold, their most immediate casualty will be the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and its false claim of pragmatic governance. In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of 2009, which rocked the foundations of the Islamic Republic, a sinister argument gradually pervaded Western salons and chancelleries. The convulsions of that summer, the claim went, were over no more than electoral irregularity. With the election of the so-called moderate Mr. Rouhani in 2013, the system rebalanced itself. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies supposedly learned some hard lessons on the need to yield to popular mandates. Iranians want gradual change, we have been told, and believe that the system’s own constitutional provisions and plebiscites can be used to nudge it toward moderation.

 

Then, last week, Iranians took to the streets. Every decade of the Islamist regime’s rule has seen one of its political factions lose its legitimacy through national uprisings. In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic waged a determined civil war against liberals and secularists who sought to redeem the revolution’s pledge of a democratic order. The student riots of 1999 ended the reformist interlude and Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, which had promised that the expansion of civil society and elections would harmonize faith and freedom. The reformists lingered as discredited enablers of a repressive regime, but no one believed in their promises of change from within. The hard-liners offered their own national compact, one that privileged economic justice over political emancipation. But the tumultuous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad produced only corruption and bellicosity.

 

Then came Mr. Rouhani and his centrist disciples with their pledge to revive the economy, primarily through foreign investment. Mr. Rouhani needed a nuclear agreement to lift debilitating sanctions and stimulate commerce. The Obama administration was happy to deliver, and Iran received tens of billions of dollars in financial dividends, including $1.7 billion in paper currency. Instead of channeling that wealth into productive uses, Ayatollah Khamenei, the clerical establishment and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps consumed much of it on foreign adventurism and corruption. Mr. Rouhani made a crucial mistake: overpromising and underdelivering on both economic and political reforms. His modest experiment in centrist rule has come crashing down, taking with it his injunction that all must trust the system. The regime is at an impasse. It has no more political actors—no establishment saviors—to offer its restless constituents.

 

As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

 

In the coming weeks, many in the commentariat will advise the Trump administration to remain silent and stay on the sidelines, as the Obama administration did in 2009. They will recommend that it is best to let the Iranian drama play itself out. If American officials weigh in, the argument goes, the regime would brand its detractors as agents of a foreign power. Such stale prescriptions miss the point that Iranians are looking toward America to support their struggle. Democratic dissidents always do so. In that regard, Iranians are no different from non-Muslim dissidents from the former Soviet Union to communist China, who have struggled against tyranny and ardently welcomed American and European support.

 

Barack Obama has been rightly castigated for his silence during the Green Revolution. President Trump is right not to follow his predecessor’s discredited path. The White House should continue issuing condemnations daily, including through Persian-language media outlets, and follow up with sanctions targeting corruption and human-rights abuses. Congress should rediscover its once-bipartisan determination to hold the regime accountable for its crimes and push America’s European allies to overcome their mercantile greed and support Iranians striving to be free from theocracy.

 

The Islamic Republic is a relic of a century that yielded multiple ideological regimes claiming to have mastered the forces of history. By now most of them are history. Mr. Trump entered office with an understanding of the Islamic Republic’s profound threat to American security. The most consequential legacy of his presidency may be a Middle East free of its most powerful unsavory regime.

 

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THE IRANIAN EXPLOSION OF TRUTH

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018

 

If the Iranian regime is unable to brutally stomp out the countrywide protests raging through the country, and if the protesters achieve their goal of bringing down the regime, they will go down in history as the saviors of millions of people not just in Iran but throughout the world. Given the earth shattering potential of the protests it is extraordinary to see the liberal media in the US and Europe struggle to downplay their significance.

 

Aside from a lukewarm statement on Twitter from British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, as of Monday morning – five days into the protests – no senior European official had spoken in favor of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians marching throughout their country demanding freedom. In the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests. They have insisted that President Donald Trump should stop openly supporting the protesters and so adopt former president Barack Obama’s policy of effectively siding with the Iranian regime against the Iranian people who seek its overthrow.

 

These talking points have been pushed out into the media echo chamber by Obama’s former deputy national security adviser and strategic communications chief Ben Rhodes, his former national security adviser Susan Rice and former secretary of state John Kerry. Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon stated them outright in an op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday. Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests. In Gordon’s view, no matter how big their beef with the regime, the protesters hate the US more. And they really hate Trump. Gordon wrote, “Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.”

 

Just as Obama’s surrogates have repeated Gordon’s claims, so the Obama-supporting liberal media have gone out of their way to diminish the importance of the protests in their coverage of them and use Obama’s surrogates as their “expert” analysts to explain what is happening (or rather, distort what is happening) to their audiences. Obama administration officials have been so outspoken in their defense of the Iranian regime because they rightly view the prospect that the protesters will succeed in overthrowing the regime as a mortal threat to their legacy.

 

Obama’s foreign policy rested on the assumption that the US was a colonialist, aggressive and immoral superpower. By their telling, the Iranians – like the Cubans and the Russians – were right to oppose the US due to its legacy of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This anti-American worldview informed the Obama administration’s conviction that it was incumbent on the US to make amends for its previous decades of foreign policy.

 

Hence, Obama traveled the globe in 2009 and 2010 apologizing for the policies of his predecessors. Hence, Obama believed that the US had no moral right to stand with the Iranian people against the regime in the 2009 Green Revolution. As he saw it, anyone who stood with the US was no better than an Uncle Tom. Truly authentic foreign regimes were be definition anti-American. Since the Green Revolutionaries were begging for his support, by definition, they didn’t deserve it.

 

Since the current wave on anti-regime protests began last Thursday, the liberal media have parroted the Obama alumni’s talking points because they feel that their war against Trump requires them to embrace Obama’s legacy just as they embraced his talking points and policies for eight years. After all, if Obama is not entirely infallible, then Trump cannot be entirely fallible. And if Trump may be partially right and Obama partially wrong, then their dispute may be a substantive rather than existential one. And so, the New York Times’ coverage of the most significant story in the world has deliberately distorted and downplayed events on the ground in Iran.

 

The protests are potentially so important because the Iranian regime is so dangerous. Thanks to Obama, the regime is on a glide path to a nuclear arsenal. Its proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq possess sophisticated armaments most militaries can only dream of. Its tentacles spread throughout the globe. The longer the Iranian regime remains in power, the greater the likelihood humanity will soon face a global conflagration that will dwarf World War II. Nothing any single state does against Iran’s proxies will end Iran’s continued ability to cause mayhem and death on multiple fronts. Every day the Iranian regime remains in place, it will use its power to continue its direct and indirect wars against its enemies in the Middle East and throughout the world.

 

Gordon argued that Trump’s pro-Israel and pro-Saudi policies since taking office have made him less credible with the Iranian people. All you have to do to understand that this is nonsense is listen to what the protesters are chanting. They insist that they want their country’s money spent at home, on them. They do not want their money used to underwrite Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and Hamas’s regime in Gaza. In other words, they don’t want to make war with Israel – or, presumably Saudi Arabia. Their criticism is on point.

 

In 2016, flush with cash from Obama’s nuclear deal, Iran quadrupled its support of Hezbollah from $200 million to $800m. per year. In 2012 Iran cut off its funding to Hamas in retaliation for Hamas’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood against Iran’s Syrian proxy President Bashar Assad. In the wake of Obama’s nuclear deal, Iran became Hamas’s largest financier. Last August, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said that Iran is Hamas’s “largest backer financially and militarily.”

 

The $100 billion in sanctions relief Iran received in the wake of the nuclear deal enabled the regime to give hundreds of millions of additional dollars each year to its proxy militias and armies in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. It is self-evident that if the protesters get their way and the ayatollahs are overthrown, that money would stop flowing to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Instead, that money, and billions more, would be spent developing Iran.

 

There are many ways that the nations of the world can help the protesters in Iran. The US and Iran’s other targets can expose the financial corruption in the Islamic Republic, including the bank account information of everyone from Supreme Dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei down to local Basij commanders. They can broadcast anti-regime information into Iran through multiple platforms outside the regime’s control. They can bypass the regime and unblock Twitter, Facebook, Telegraph and other social media platforms…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

Contents

DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRAN REFLECT THE STRENGTH OF US ALLIANCES

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Jan. 2, 2018

 

Sometimes relatively minor events reflect facts of global importance. The chants in Mashhad and Tehran, “No to Palestine,” “No to Gaza and Lebanon – Only Iran is Worth Dying For” to protest the regime’s dissipation of resources on battlefields a thousand kilometers and more from Iran’s borders, rather than allocating them to the hard-pressed citizens back home, are among them. These demonstrations underscore a major overlooked truth in the global balance of power: namely, that the US is the only power to have many allies whose strategic importance to the US is matched by mutual economic benefits.

 

All other challengers are saddled with allies that do nothing but drain their treasuries. Hence the demonstrations and slogans in Iran. Tehran is trying to project power abroad at the cost of arousing domestic opposition, a dangerous prospect. Non-democratic states, even when powerful, are not supple enough to absorb such opposition. Compare Iran to the US in this regard. The US was engaged in $3.6 trillion of trade in 2014, or just over one-fifth of its GNP. Thirteen of its twenty biggest trading partners are states formally allied to the US as part of the NATO alliance (Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and others), or those that have in recent years become strong informal allies, such as India and Vietnam. The latter was even a warring enemy in the past. Significantly, the three largest trading partners of the US in the Middle East are Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Iranian-led alliance perceives these three countries as its deadliest foes.

 

Trade between the US and its allies dwarfs trade between Iran and its allies – over $3 trillion compared to $73 billion for Iran. Even more significant, however, is the relative economic importance of such trade to the economy of the US and its allies compared to Iran and its allies. Whereas trade between the US and its allies represents over half the total trade between the US and the world, Iran’s $12.3 billion trade with its allies (overwhelmingly with Iraq) represents less than 20% of its total trade with the world.  (It is important to note that not all agree with the Carnegie report of $12 billion in trade between Iran and Iraq; the figure might be much smaller).

 

For Iran, Syria and Yemen are battlegrounds that drain resources with little or no offsetting economic benefits. The $300 million trade between Iran and Syria, mostly to Iran’s benefit, hardly offsets the costs of subsidizing the regime. Actual figures are impossible to get, but the CIA in 2012 reported an $11 billion surplus at the outset for Syria, which during the first year of the civil war was reduced by slightly over $2 billion to finance the Assad regime. By extrapolation, one can infer that after the fifth year, Iran began stepping in to prop up the regime. Such a sum is more than Iran spends on its own public health system. And this does not include the costs of direct Iranian involvement or subsidies to Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias, and Afghani mercenaries.

 

Tehran’s economic predicament in Yemen is even more one-sided. There are no figures on Iranian-Yemeni trade because they have been so insignificant. Today they are probably nonexistent. The relationship repeats itself in the case of China and Russia. China’s only staunch allies, North Korea and Pakistan, drain Chinese resources with little economic advantage accruing to the greater power. China, unlike Iran, is a major leader in international trade and economic growth, which allows it to bear the costs of subsidizing these states. It also does not bear the costs of actual warfare…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ASSAD MAY HAVE RETAKEN THE SYRIAN GOLAN,

BUT IRAN IS PULLING THE STRINGS

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, Dec. 31, 2017

 

The evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from the Beit Jinn area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights over the weekend puts Israel in an old-new position on the border. Assad’s army is once again at the fences, just like it was from 1967 to 2011. In the southern Golan, a few pockets of resistance remain from supporters of the Islamic State group, or as they are known locally, the Khalid Ibn Walid Army. But beyond that, the Syrians have almost completely retaken control of the border with Israel. Only a few moderate forces remain south of Kuneitra that would maintain some relative cooperation with Israel or keep the Shiite or Sunni extremists at bay.

 

The actual evacuation took place quietly, and the buses carrying nearly all the rebels and their supporters have already made their way from the slopes of Mount Hermon to the last bastion belonging to the (relatively) moderate opposition, in the Idlib area. This seemingly familiar presence — an army of Syrian regulars, disciplined and beholden to regulations, that understands the Damascus regime’s need to keep things quiet — ostensibly heralds stability. But that’s only on the surface. Over the last several years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been forced to give up a foothold and then some to Iraqi Shiite militias, Hezbollah and, most importantly, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. His regime was saved by their intervention and he literally owes them his life, physically as well as politically. Assad will be forced to give the Shiite crescent a foothold in the border area, and may even do so happily.

 

Hezbollah’s presence on the border is nothing new. The town of Khader on the side of the Hermon has become known in recent years as a redoubt of support for Assad, encircled by Sunni rebels. Hezbollah managed to build a military infrastructure in the town to carry out attacks against Israel, as evidenced by the assassination of its operatives while carrying out these activities. Chief among them were Jihad Mughniyeh and the Iranian general killed in 2015, and, of course Samir Kuntar, the terrorist who served time in Israeli prison for killing a Nahariya family and was released in a deal with Hezbollah in 2008. Kuntar was killed near Damascus in 2015, reportedly assassinated by Israel amid attempts to set up a structure near Khader for attacking Israel.

 

Iranian Revolutionary Guards will be much less careful than Assad’s forces about keeping things quiet on the border. It’s possible they will actively try to destabilize the situation along the frontier — in order to keep war from erupting in Lebanon, among other reasons. Israel has warned time and again that it will not allow Iranian forces near the border, and the Russian-American ceasefire is supposed to keep them at bay. However, Washington and Moscow might not consider Hezbollah fighters in Syrian uniforms — or IRGC advisers who come to “visit” forward positions, including a Syrian post on the Hermon — as a classical “Iranian presence.” Indeed, Hezbollah or IRGC fighters may very well be present in Syrian positions on the Hermon right now.

 

In 2018, Assad will need more help than ever from Iran and Hezbollah to stabilize his regime, and may become an Iranian-Shiite puppet. He doesn’t have much to be excited about. The Sunni enemies of his regime, who make up the majority in the country, are still hostile. Syria is bankrupt as a country, with hundreds of thousands dead, millions injured and a destroyed infrastructure. But he does have one significant thing going for him: He survived the Arab Spring. That’s something not a lot of current leaders in the Arab world can say. And survival is the name of the game for everybody.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Support the Iranian People: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2017—At the University of Tehran, students gather and declare: “We are ashamed of our officials who do not feel our pain.” In Qom, thousands throng the streets shouting: “We don’t want Islamic Republic, we don’t want it, we don’t want it!”

What to Make of Latest Protests in Iran?: Lawrence A. Franklin, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 2, 2018—For the past several days, Iranians have demonstrated against a government that has not delivered on promised economic improvement and against a regime whose ruling clerical class they despise.

Iran Ignores Israel’s Warnings: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Dec. 28, 2017—Iran continues to dispatch commanders and fighters from the Shiite Foreign Legion stationed in Syria to southern Lebanon.

Iran and the New Land Corridor: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Dec. 19, 2017—In the early 620s CE, just before the Arab/Muslim invasions of the Middle East, the Sasanian Shah, Khosrow II, besieged Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium, with his large armies. His forces had already occupied Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and other former Byzantine lands. This was a momentous event in world history, as the Iranians had not reached the Mediterranean Sea since the end of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC.

 

 

                                                              

 

 

TRUMP’S COURAGEOUS & LONG-OVERDUE JERUSALEM DECLARATION WAS A HIGHLIGHT OF 2017

2017 Brought a Few Signs of Hope in an Otherwise Brutal and Dreary Year: Terry Glavin, National Post, Dec. 27, 2017— When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts.

The Conflict Over Jerusalem Is All Obama’s Fault: Alan Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

Discretion in Dealing with Europe’s Populist Parties: Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017 — Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country.

13 of the Biggest Health Breakthroughs in Israel in 2017: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017— 1: An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize.

 

On Topic Links

 

The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017

 

 

2017 BROUGHT A FEW SIGNS OF HOPE

IN AN OTHERWISE BRUTAL AND DREARY YEAR

Terry Glavin

National Post, Dec. 27, 2017

 

When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts. About 200,000 Christians fled, and most of them ended up in displaced persons’ camps in Iraqi Kurdistan or in makeshift refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. In Mosul, St. Paul’s Cathedral remained standing, but it was turned into a jail.

 

In one of the few hopeful moments of 2017 — an otherwise brutal and dreary year — a Christmas Eve mass was celebrated for the first time in four years at St. Paul’s. Local Muslims joined the Chaldean Catholic congregants in the service. Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako delivered a homily on interfaith peace and toleration.

 

By last October, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition which includes 850 Canadian Forces personnel, had routed the Islamic State from its last major strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Now, Christians are beginning to trickle back to the ash heaps where their churches once stood in Mosul, and to all their ancient parishes in the surrounding towns and villages. That’s one useful thing the civilized world managed to accomplish in 2017. There’s not much else to crow about.

 

Syria remains a nightmare of human desolation. With half the population displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Khomeinist Iran continue to arm and bankroll the criminal regime of Baathist mass murderer Bashar Assad, who goes on dropping bombs on civilians while a peace-talks parody continues in Geneva.

 

The United Nations continues to prove its bloated uselessness, perhaps nowhere more obscenely than in Yemen, which is currently in the throes of the worst outbreak of cholera in human history: nearly a million people are now infected. Another eight million people are on the verge of starvation. More than 10,000 people have been killed by bullets and bombs in a Saudi-Khomeinist proxy war that erupted in Yemen two years ago, and yet it took a tournament of backroom arm-twisting competitions last September just to get the UN Human Rights Council to agree to look into the disaster. Meanwhile, at the UN General Assembly, the thing everyone has been setting their hair on fire over lately is the Trump administration’s pledge to make good on a Clinton-era promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which just happens to be the capital of Israel.

 

And while Chaldean and Assyrian Christians were putting on a brave face for Christmas in Iraq this year, Xi Jinping’s police state was marking the holidays in its own way in Beijing. On Boxing Day, the satirist Wu Gan, famous for his flamboyant street protests against corrupt officials and the Communist Party’s abuse of power, was sentenced to an eight-year jail term on charges of subversion. Amnesty International’s Patrick Poon points out that Beijing has established a tradition of sentencing human rights activists while foreign journalists, diplomats and international observers are distracted by the holidays.

 

On Boxing Day last year, human rights champion Dhen Yunfei was dragged before a court on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for organizing a memorial tribute to the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. It was on Christmas Day in 2009 that Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for his part in composing a pro-democracy manifesto. Liu died last July of multiple organ failure due to a liver cancer that prison authorities claimed they didn’t know about until just weeks before he succumbed. At the time, Reporters Without Borders’ Secretary-General Christophe Deloire disputed the official story: “We can clearly state that Liu Xiaobo was murdered by the lack of care,” he said.

 

A low point in Canada’s year on the “world stage” in 2017: at exactly the moment Liu died under heavy guard in a hospital in the northeast city of Shenyang, Governor-General David Johnston was hamming it up and smiling for the cameras while shaking hands with Xi Jinping at a formal dinner in Beijing. Another low point: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s obsequious pleadings for “free trade” favours during his visits in Beijing last month, tarted up in the usual pretty lies about “strengthening the middle class” and “growing the Canadian economy” and “regular, frank dialogue on human rights issues like good governance, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.” Upbraided for his impudence, Trudeau was instructed to mind his own business and was sent on his way.

 

Another one: In his address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in September, Trudeau said nothing about the crisis in Yemen, or about China’s increasingly totalitarian thuggery and its perfection of artificial-intelligence thought control and its persecution of Uyghur Muslims, Christians, feminists and human rights lawyers, or about Myanmar’s bloody ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Instead, Trudeau enumerated Canada’s long and dismal history of trespasses upon the dignity and the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples. In another context, that would be all well and good. But the point of it at the UN General Assembly was to say nothing to cause any of the UN’s 193 voting member states to take offence and hold a grudge and fail to cast a vote for Canada in the contest with Ireland and Norway for a useless non-voting chair around the UN’s disgraced Security Council table for the 2021-22 term. It is in this fashion that the liberal world order recedes into barbarism and imbecility…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                                   

 

Contents

THE CONFLICT OVER JERUSALEM IS ALL OBAMA’S FAULT

Alan Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017

 

The US acted properly in vetoing a misguided UN Security Council resolution designed to undo President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. First, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the United Nations to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot recognize. If Turkey, for example, were to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine,” there is nothing the UN could or would do. (Of course, most UN members would applaud such a move.)

 

Second, the resolution fails to recognize that it was the December 2016 Security Council resolution — the one engineered by lame duck President Barack Obama — that changed the status of Jerusalem and complicated the efforts to achieve a compromise peace. Before that benighted resolution, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were widely recognized as part of Israel — or at worst, as disputed territory.

 

Everyone knew that any peace agreement would inevitably recognize that these historically Jewish areas were an indigenous part of Israel. They were certainly not illegally occupied by Israel, any more than Bethlehem was illegally occupied by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Both Jerusalem and Bethlehem had originally been deemed part of an international zone by the United Nations when it divided the British mandate into two states for two people — a decision accepted by the Jews and rejected by all the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs in the area. Jordan then attacked Israel and illegally occupied the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, prohibiting any Jewish access to these holy areas, as well as to the university and hospital. Jordan also illegally occupied Bethlehem.

 

In 1967, Jordan illegally attacked Israel. Jordan shelled civilian areas of Jerusalem. Israel responded and liberated the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, thereby opening these sites to everyone.

 

That has been the status quo for the last half century, until Obama engineered the notorious December 2016 Security Council resolution that declared the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to be illegally occupied by Israel, thus changing the status quo. This unwarranted change — long opposed by United States administrations — made a negotiated peace more difficult, because it handed the Jewish holy places over to the Palestinians without getting any concessions in return, thus requiring that Israel “buy” them back in any negotiation. As the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority once told me, “If we have the Wall, we will demand much to return it to Israel, because we know Israel will give much to get it.”

 

By declaring this disputed territory illegally occupied by Israel, the Security Council enabled the Palestinian Authority to hold the sites hostage during any negotiation. That vote changed the status quo more than the declaration by President Trump. The Trump declaration restored some balance that was taken away by the Obama-inspired Security Council resolution of a year ago.

 

Why did Obama change the status quo to the disadvantage of Israel? Congress did not want the change. The American people did not support the change. Many in the Obama administration opposed it. Even some members of the Security Council who voted for the resolution did not want the change. Obama did it as lame duck revenge against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he hated. His motive was personal, not patriotic. His decision was bad for America, for peace and for America’s ally, Israel. He never would have done it except as a lame duck with no political accountability and no checks and balances.

 

Before that Security Council resolution changed the status quo, I did not support a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem by an American president, outside the context of a peace process. But once that resolution was passed and the status quo changed, I strongly supported President Trump’s decision to restore balance.

 

President Trump has been criticized for vetoing a resolution that has the support of every other Security Council member. That has been true of many anti-Israel Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The United States often stands alone with Israel against the world, and the United States and Israel have been right. The bias of the international community against the nation state of the Jewish people has been long-standing and evident, especially at the United Nations. Abba Eban made the point years ago when he quipped that if Algeria presented a resolution that the earth was flat and Israel flattened it, the vote would be 128 in favor, 3 opposed and 62 abstentions. Recall the infamous UN General Assembly resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. It received overwhelming support from the tyrannical nations of the world, which constitute a permanent majority of the United Nations, and was rescinded only after the United States issued threats if it were to remain on the books.

 

This entire brouhaha about Jerusalem — including the staged tactical violence by Palestinians — is entirely the fault of a single vengeful individual who put personal pique over American policy: Barack Obama.          

                                                                       

 

Contents

DISCRETION IN DEALING WITH EUROPE’S POPULIST PARTIES

Isi Leibler

Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017

 

Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country. There are many, including a substantial number of Jews, who, recalling the 1930s, now feel an ominous sense of déjà vu. They regard these populist parties as incubators for anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Muslim sentiment. The reality is that, until recently, these parties in France, Austria, Germany and Hungary included a considerable number of neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionists. Any Jewish cooperation with such groups would have been an unthinkable desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims.

 

Today the situation has changed dramatically. The main source of support for these populists has come from those who consider the flood of Muslim migrants to be detrimental to the quality of their lives, with a massive increase in crime and social chaos that threatens their entire social order. In addition, there is the increased threat of both imported and homebred terrorists, from which no European city or province is immune.

 

Some of the voters for these nationalist parties are pro-Jewish and support Israel as a bastion of the free world. Over the past decade, they have begun purging their ranks of anti-Semites and publicly state that they intend to eradicate all anti-Jewish elements. Needless to say, that does not preclude fascists or Nazis voting for them. In the same way, the fact that racists and fascists may support Trump does not mean that his administration is fascist. Nor have far-left anti-Semites or communists taken control of the Democratic Party by voting for it.

 

The recent election of a right-wing government in Austria highlights the situation. It is noteworthy that Austria failed to prosecute Nazi war criminals, has an unenviable record of anti-Semitism and until recently claimed to be victims of the Nazis, denying any involvement in the Holocaust. The populist right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), a partner in the new coalition, was formed in 1956 by a former SS officer. Until the departure of Jorg Haider in 2005, no self-respecting Jew or democrat would contemplate associating with this party, which openly praised Nazis and was unequivocally anti-Semitic.

 

In April 2005, Heinz-Christian Strache was elected leader, dramatically transforming the party by focusing on the concept of Heimat (homeland) – its anti-immigration and social welfare platform. In last year’s presidential election, the FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, won the first round with 35%, and nearly won the runoff election with close to 50% of the vote. When Strache’s party became a partner in the new government headed by Sebastian Kurz, the local community comprising 10,000 Jews and international Jewish communities condemned the party as fascist and racist and called for a boycott. The local Jewish community also objected to the FPO’s anti-immigration platform, despite the fact that the majority of Muslim “refugees” harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs.

 

Israel found itself in a dilemma: It traditionally supports Diaspora communities facing anti-Semitism but this case is complex because the new Austrian chancellor backs Israel and pledged that his coalition would combat anti-Semitism. Israel decided to maintain relations and direct contact with Kurz and his government but instructed officials to avoid interaction with FPO ministers, including the head of the party, restricting them to liaising with the professionals working in the FPO-controlled ministries.

 

I have fought against anti-Semitism throughout my entire public life without distinguishing between Left and Right. However, I believe that, despite the FPO’s dubious past, Israel is acting against its best interests by boycotting it. Today, the FPO is essentially a nationalist anti-immigration party which claims that hordes of radical Muslims are making Austrians feel like aliens in their own country. Strache represents a new generation. With the broadening of FPO support, he seeks to distance the party and purge it of the anti-Semites and fascists and concentrate on becoming a popular anti-immigration party. In fact, Strache openly courts Jews and Israel.

 

The government program published by the FPO and Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party rejects “political Islam” which can “lead to radicalization, anti-Semitism, violence, and terrorism.” It proclaims that combating anti-Semitism in Austria is one of the government’s principal objectives and that Nazism was “one of the greatest tragedies in world history.” The country that, until recently, claimed to be a victim of Nazism, now vows to commemorate those who underwent “terrible suffering and misery” arising from the Anschluss, Austria’s 1938 annexation into Nazi Germany. The new government also explicitly commits itself “to Israel as a Jewish state” – a major departure from previous Austrian policy – and calls for a “peaceful solution in the Middle East, with special consideration for Israel’s security interests.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

Contents

 

13 OF THE BIGGEST HEALTH BREAKTHROUGHS IN ISRAEL IN 2017

Nicky Blackburn

Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017

 

1: Compound kills energy generating system of cancer. An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize. When cancer cells leave the primary tumor and spread to other organs, they reprogram their energy-generating system in order to survive in harsh conditions with a shortage of nutrients like glucose.

 

Prof. Uri Nir of Bar-Ilan University identified an enzyme called FerT in the energy-generating mitochondria of metastatic cancer cells – an enzyme normally only found in sperm cells (which need to function outside the body they came from). When he targeted FerT in lab mice, the malignant cells soon died. Using advanced chemical and robotic approaches, Nir’s lab team developed a synthetic compound, E260, which can be administered orally or by injection, causing a complete collapse of the entire mitochondria “power station.” “We have treated mice with metastatic cancer and this compound completely cured them with no adverse or toxic affect that we can see,” reported Nir, adding that normal cells were not affected. Phase 1 clinical trials are planned over the next 18 months.

 

2: Personal menu to help avoid diabetes. In 2015, two researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel released a groundbreaking study showing that specific foods and food combinations affect each individual’s blood-sugar level differently. That discovery was incorporated into a made-in-Israel app, DayTwo, which helps pre-diabetics and diabetics who are not insulin dependent choose dishes that can best balance their individual blood-sugar levels. The algorithm predicts blood-glucose response to thousands of foods based on gut microbiome information and other personal parameters. High blood sugar is linked to energy dips, excessive hunger and weight gain as well as increased risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

 

To use the app, which went on sale in the US in 2017, users need to answer a questionnaire about their medical history, physical characteristics, lifestyle and diet. A stool-sample kit is then FedExed to the user, who sends it on to DayTwo’s lab. There the microbiome DNA is sequenced and the data is plugged into an advanced machine-learning algorithm. In about six to eight weeks, users receive a microbiome report and a six-month plan of personalized meal recommendations to help balance blood sugar.

 

3: World’s first bone implants. In August and December, doctors at Emek Medical Center in Afula performed rare bone implants – one on a man missing part of his arm bone and the second on a man missing five centimeters of his shinbone, both as the result of car accidents. Normally, the human body cannot restore bone segments, but revolutionary tissue-engineering technology developed by Haifa-based Bonus BioGroup enables growing semi-solid live bone tissue from the patient’s own fat cells.

 

The tissue is then injected back into the patient’s body in the expectation that the missing bone fragment will be regenerated in around six weeks without any danger of implant rejection or the complications of traditional bone transplants. “This surgery is truly science fiction; it changes the entire game in orthopedics,” said Dr. Nimrod Rozen, head of orthopedics at Emek, who carried out the experimental procedure. In the future, the Bonus BioGroup regeneration technology could be used for a variety of bone-loss conditions, including bone cancer, for which there is currently no solution…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy New Year & Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017—The list you’ve all been waiting for. While there were a myriad of other bona fide anti-Israel resolutions, reports and statements produced in 2017 by U.N. agencies and officials, I regret that I could only include ten.

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017—Israelis are recognized leaders in any number of fields including technology, medical research, innovation and humanitarian aid.

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017—It has certainly been an interesting 2017 in the Israeli Hi-Tech world, here is a rundown of 5 highlights, in case you missed them.

                                                              

 

 

TRUMP AND HALEY’S PRO-ISRAEL STANCE, DESPITE LEFTIST & U.N. BACKLASH, REFLECTS REALISM & MORAL CONVICTION

Nikki Haley’s Right: Time to Start ‘Taking Names’ at the U.N.: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, Dec. 21, 2017— United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent threat — that the United States would be “taking names” of those who vote against it in the U.N. General Assembly — summed up everything liberals and the foreign-policy establishment hate about the Trump administration.

Moving Jerusalem From Heaven to Earth: Donna Robinson Divine and Asaf Romirowsky, Ynet, Dec. 18, 2017 — Heaven and earth are said to meet on Jerusalem’s sacred esplanade where the city’s most famous resident is called God.

Identifying the Enemy: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 21, 2017— Former US president Barack Obama’s last speech at the United Nations in September 2016 expressed deep disappointment with conflict around the world.

Dining with Bahrainis at a Jerusalem Mall: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 14, 2017— It was a surreal experience on the first night of Hanukkah. I was invited to a dinner with interfaith visitors from the kingdom of Bahrain.

 

On Topic Links

 

Vote Shows Israel Making Little Headway at United Nations: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 22, 2017

Europe's Governments Fail the Jews – Again: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 20, 2017

The Secret Backstory of How Obama Let Hezbollah off the Hook: Josh Meyer, Politico, Dec., 2017

Tokyo Support Rally for Israel (Video): Youtube, July 31, 2014

 

 

 

NIKKI HALEY’S RIGHT: TIME TO START ‘TAKING NAMES’ AT THE U.N.

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review, Dec. 21, 2017

 

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent threat — that the United States would be “taking names” of those who vote against it in the U.N. General Assembly — summed up everything liberals and the foreign-policy establishment hate about the Trump administration. That President Trump subsequently embraced Haley’s idea in a tweet, and threatened to cut off aid to those who thumb their nose at their American benefactor in U.N. votes, only made it worse. To those who remember President Obama’s devotion to multilateralism and support for international institutions, Haley’s and Trump’s statements reek of arrogance and contempt for world opinion.

But there are two things wrong with the liberal huffing and puffing. The first is that the administration’s threats are bound to be immensely popular even among Americans who aren’t Trump fans. The second is that it is high time that someone reminded the inhabitants of the U.N. that while the U.S. may be considered the dull child in the classroom in their realm, the balance of power in the real world is very different, even on issues where Trump has supposedly isolated the U.S., such as Jerusalem and the Arab–Israeli conflict.

 

Haley’s threat came in a letter sent to U.N. member countries in which she urged them not to support a General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. for Trump’s statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On Monday, Haley exercised America’s right to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution when a similar resolution received the approval of every other member except the U.S. Encouraged by the 14–1 vote, the Palestinian Authority and its allies will stage another vote in the GA today, which will undoubtedly pass by a huge majority, although (unlike a Security Council measure) it will have only symbolic significance.

 

But Haley isn’t taking the attempt to isolate the U.S. lying down. As she did in her eloquent defense of the American position before the Security Council, the ambassador said not only that Trump had done the right thing when recognizing Israel’s rights in Jerusalem, but also that other nations had no business telling the U.S. where to put any of its embassies.

 

Trump and Haley aren’t the first American leaders to ponder the irony of the U.S. distributing billions in foreign aid over the years to countries that have no compunction about condemning the U.S. every chance they get. Foreign aid takes a minuscule percentage of the federal budget and is, in many instances, both altruistic and very much in the interest of the United States. However, it remains unpopular. That is especially true when recipients not only lack gratitude for American largesse but actively resent their indebtedness to Washington.

 

Trump’s predecessor encouraged this attitude, since he often seemed more inclined to apologize for America’s sins, and to deprecate the presumption that it could teach the world a thing or two about freedom, than to make demands on international organizations. Career diplomats may loathe language they think makes the U.S. appear to be a bully. But one needn’t embrace Trump’s “America First” mantra — though the foreign-policy doctrine published under that name is more realist than isolationist — to understand that the U.S. has every right to call aid recipients and allies to account when they cross the line into unfair attacks on Washington.

 

Trump’s and Haley’s threats are appropriate, but they won’t be easy to carry out. Some of the nations who will cross the U.S. today in the Jerusalem vote are precisely those that even Trump wants to keep supporting. Egypt, which receives approximately $1.5 billion per year from the United States, sponsored the GA Jerusalem resolution. But since its military government is vital to efforts to resist Islamist terror, undermining it with an aid cut would be foolish.

 

But the disconnect between U.N. votes and real-world concerns is precisely why it is equally foolish to think that Trump’s Jerusalem decision has isolated the U.S., as the president’s domestic and foreign critics contend. Though the 14–1 Security Council vote and what will happen in the General Assembly make it appear as if the U.S. is standing alone with Israel, outside of international forums, it is actually the authors of these resolutions — the Palestinians — who are isolated…

 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

 

Contents

MOVING JERUSALEM FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH

Donna Robinson Divine and Asaf Romirowsky

Ynet, Dec. 18, 2017

 

Heaven and earth are said to meet on Jerusalem’s sacred esplanade where the city’s most famous resident is called God. But theological principles travel well beyond the splendor of these precincts turning ordinary struggles for power into battles between good and evil sanctified as much by ritual as by death.

 

If failing to remember its holiness is unusual, as the Psalmist says, forgetting the Jerusalem inhabited by ordinary people who work, attend school, open and close businesses is normal. As Israel’s national capital, the site of its parliament and most government offices, Jerusalem has become the symbolic battleground for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even though the sacred texts of Islam and Judaism could just as easily render the site a force for shared celebration and peace as for war. For notwithstanding the current chorus of political and religious leaders denying the legitimacy of Jewish claims and thereby casting doubt on their own canonical sources, Jerusalem’s sanctity for Islam derives from the special status first accorded it by Jews.

 

Into this mix stepped President Donald Trump, who announced the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with instructions to move the embassy from Tel Aviv into this most contested of holy cities. It is a long overdue move. A mark of sovereignty is the capacity to designate a capital city. Israel deserves nothing less. Nor does it adversely affect the so-called peace process. Nothing the President did with his declaration of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital precludes the realization of any of the principles of the Oslo Accords and the expected discussions concerning the possibility of part of Jerusalem becoming the capital of a Palestinian state should it ever be established.

 

Whatever the president's motivations, the timing of the declaration has some important consequences. First, it dismantles the UN Resolution (2334) passed in the last months of President Barack Obama's second term, which declared even the construction around Jewish holy sites, like the Wall, a violation of International Law. By contrast to proclamations issued by UNESCO, ignoring Jerusalem’s Jewish heritage—passed without opposition from European countries like France and Spain—President Trump’s declaration restores some balance to recognizing the reality of Israel as a Jewish state. Second, the American policy comes at a time when many of the Arab states are more concerned with Iran than with Israel and with a turmoil they are desperate to contain in a world no longer as beholden to their oil and natural gas as in the past.

 

Third, Trump is saying something profound about the so-called peace process that most pundits and even experts are unwilling to recognize or have forgotten. No American or foreign initiative has ever moved Palestinians and Israelis into a peace process. From the very moment of Israel's founding, there have been many efforts to bridge the gaps or forge a plan to bring the parties together. Only after the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) suffered defeats in Jordan and Lebanon, and then was marginalized in the 1980s by the Iran-Iraq War, did it embrace the idea of a political process. And even then, it was difficult to give up the idea of a resistance allowing, if not encouraging, violence against Israel or against what it termed its occupation of Palestinian lands.

 

Whether or not Arafat actually wanted to rule out the possibility of confronting Israel, he, in fact, called for jihad on a visit to South Africa less than a year after signing the Oslo Accords. Resistance was expected to strengthen international deference to Palestinian demands as a political settlement was pursued. That strategy played out in the second intifada, as Palestinian militants received stipends from other Middle Eastern countries willing and able to pay for the violence. But funds in the region are now tight and channeled to militants waging other battles in other lands. When the Palestinian plight is no longer the major source of Middle Eastern violence, it is also not a regional priority.

 

Finally, unlike the diplomatic activity set in motion by President Obama, this declaration signals that time may not be on the Palestinian side. The Obama administration tried to aid Palestinians by establishing preconditions that met their demands even before negotiations began. Indulgence of Palestinian hopes to reverse history and shrink Israel’s borders are no longer on offer from President Trump. And with the global shift of energy resources, such deference is no longer necessary.

 

There may be broad international encouragement for Palestinian leaders to stew in their rage against this declaration and the American policies it implies, but anger is not a strategy that can advance the Palestinian cause. Most importantly, this declaration moves Jerusalem from heaven to earth. If Jerusalem is a symbol and myth of spirituality and grandeur, no political power has a right to claim it. President Trump has recognized the real Jerusalem that is firmly planted on the ground, the one that Israelis—Jews, Christians, and Muslims—live in and with.         

                                                                       

 

Contents

IDENTIFYING THE ENEMY

David M. Weinberg

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 21, 2017

 

Former US president Barack Obama’s last speech at the United Nations in September 2016 expressed deep disappointment with conflict around the world. He seemed baffled by the stubborn refusal of the world to reform itself in his exalted image. All he could do was exhort lamely for “global brotherhood.”

 

How can there still be “deep fault lines in the international order,” Obama wondered aloud, with “societies filled with uncertainty, and unease, and strife? Hasn’t the very identity of man “made up of the flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world” served as a shining and irresistible example of blended global peace? How can it be that after eight years of his “visionary” leadership, Obama asked, people everywhere weren’t marching to the tune of his self-declared superior “moral imagination”? It is indeed a “paradox,” Obama declared.

 

After all, hadn’t he won the Nobel Peace Prize early in his tenure? Shouldn’t that have been enough for everybody else to follow suit and sing kumbaya, including the lions and the lambs? Alas, missing from Obama’s UN address – indeed from his entire presidency – was willingness to project power. In Obama’s view, there are no hard enemies. And if there were bad guys out there, Obama made it clear that under his watch America wasn’t really willing to confront the adversaries.

 

In fact, the words “enemy, “threat” and “adversary” did not appear even once in Obama’s 5,600-word address. They were not part of his lexicon, nor were concepts like “victory” for the West or “beating” the bad guys. He wouldn’t even name foes, like “radical Islam” or “Islamist terrorism.” And of course, Obama was ashamed of America’s “overbearing” record of decisive global leadership. Even in that final UN speech, he was apologizing for American megawealth, “soulless capitalism,” “unaccountable mercantilist policies,” insufficient foreign assistance, and “strongman” pushing of its liberal democratic preferences.

 

So it has fallen to the next US president to redirect US policy, based on less wayward beliefs and on more hard-nosed reassertion of Western interests. President Donald Trump has begun to do just that, this week unveiling a new National Security Strategy that triggers the process of rehabilitating US foreign and defense policy in the post-Obama era. It starts by naming America’s adversaries.

 

Trump’s blueprint warns of a treacherous world in which the US faces rising threats from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from explicitly labeled “rogue governments” like North Korea and Iran, and from other “jihadi extremist” elements. This is Step One in bringing America back to global leadership: Identifying the enemy. Trump’s 68-page document and accompanying speech also dare to hint at the tools of power that America is prepared to employ in order to secure a safe world for Americans. This explicitly includes “preventive war” (i.e., perhaps a preemptive strike on North Korea or Iran) and the rebuilding of America’s armed forces and its nuclear arsenal.

 

Obama eviscerated the US military and deemphasized nuclear weapons as a key to American defense. Trump is rebuilding the US armed forces and calls nuclear weapons “the foundation of our strategy to preserve peace and stability by deterring aggression against the US.” Even if you discount for Trump’s braggadocio, the security document is still a robust statement of American strategic realism; a necessary corrective to Obama-era enfeeblement and self-flagellation. There are enemies out there and the US has to lead in confronting them. In one fell swoop, Trump dismissed Obama’s blind faith in multilateralism and international organizations. He also formally rejected isolationism as the correct path for America, as well as hard-to-implement neo-con democracy promotion as a guiding principle for American policy. There are, of course, contradictions between Trump’s newly articulated defense worldview and his first-year record, so it remains to be seen whether the doctrine amounts to much.

 

Trump wants to promote American power and influence, but his pay-as-you-go version of alliances complicates Washington’s relations with its partners. He wants to be tough on Iran, but his talk of rolling-back Iranian hegemonic advances hasn’t yet amounted to much. Trump also has been as reticent as Obama to confront Vladimir Putin. The strategy paper’s description of the challenge posed by Russia seems at odds with Trump’s own refusal to criticize Putin for the latter’s seizure of Crimea, takeover of Syria, efforts to destabilize Ukraine, support for Iran, violations of a key nuclear treaty with the US, and meddling in US domestic politics.

 

Here in Israel, Trump’s strategy paper generated headlines for one sentence which unambiguously debunks what is known as “linkage theory” – the argument that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of the broader region’s instability. “For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region,” the blueprint reads. “Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.”

 

Well, hallelujah. Finally a bit of realism from Washington, after a decade or more of unfriendly diplomatic orthodoxy that laid the primary responsibility on Israel for Mideast turmoil! It is the same realism tinged with a modicum of moral conviction that was on display last week when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He slapped down Palestinian denialism and effectively punished the Palestinian Authority for its rejectionism. He brushed aside Palestinian and radical Islamic threats of cataclysmic violence. By refusing to hold US policy hostage to threats and to the inability of the Palestinians to compromise, Trump is setting the stage for a more realistic Mideast diplomatic process.

                                                           

                                                                       

 

Contents

DINING WITH BAHRAINIS AT A JERUSALEM MALL

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, Dec. 14, 2017

 

It was a surreal experience on the first night of Hanukkah. I was invited to a dinner with interfaith visitors from the kingdom of Bahrain. The delegation from this Gulf state was hosted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC). Like many other Arab countries, Bahrain has no diplomatic relations with Israel and until recently it had boycotted Israel.  

 

On the way to the restaurant at the Jerusalem Mamilla Mall the Bahraini delegation passed the mall’s Chabad’s candle lighting festival. So many people attend these festivities that the visitors were almost prevented from passing through. I was told that several delegates danced together with the Chabad representatives and bystanders.  The Bahraini delegation included Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians. A Syrian Orthodox priest told me that the originators of his church were Jews. The gathering started with Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles lighting the first candle of Hanukkah. He then passed the shamash, the lighting candle, to several Bahrainis who each touched the burning candle with it to participate in the lighting.

 

This unofficial delegation visited religious and other sites in Israel. It was only able to come because the authorities of the Arab Kingdom did not oppose the visit. The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, had invited Rabbi Marvin Hier who heads the SWC and Rabbi Cooper in February this year to visit him at the island’s capital, Manama. That meeting was not kept secret and even reported on local TV. Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, son of the Bahraini king came with a large delegation to the headquarters of the SWC in Los Angeles in September 2017. They also visited the SWC’s Museum of Tolerance and participated in a dinner attended by hundreds of interfaith leaders. When the Israeli national hymn Hatikvah was played, the prince and the delegation stood.

 

During that visit a declaration by the Bahraini king about religious freedom was released. It said: "Every individual has the freedom to practice their religion, providing they do no harm to others, respect the laws of the land, and accept responsibility, spiritually and materially, for their choices." Rabbi Hier said that the King of Bahrain now opposes the Arab states' boycott of Israel. The king also intends to allow citizens from his kingdom to visit Israel freely. There are still some Jews living in Manama, where there is a synagogue. According to a secret US cable published by Wikileaks, the King had mentioned to an American official that Bahrain had contacts with Israeli intelligence…

 

During the dinner I sat next to a Buddhist monk from Thailand who lives in Bahrain. He had been a monk for 17 years. He is the head of the local community of Thai Buddhists — which has some members from Sri Lanka — and has 2.000 followers. He didn't partake in the dinner because he never eats after lunchtime. A Hindu gentleman opposite me also didn't eat. He told me that he fasts for more than 24 hours, every 15 days. He is the sales and marketing manager of a Bahraini trading company. He explained that he starts every day with 2 hours of prayer. In Israel he visited a temple close to Ariel where there is a small Hindu community.

 

Next to him sat the priest of his temple in Bahrain. He said that he doesn’t fast and called the fasting man a “devotee.” In Israeli terminology this probably translates as ‘ultra-orthodox.” The priest also mentioned that out of the 350,000 Indians of various religions living in Bahrain, about 100,000 are Hindus. There are about 7 or 8 Hindu temples in the country. On a festive day his temple could be visited during the day by up to 15,000 people. The man sitting next to him, a business man, was the chairman of the temple.

 

On my other side sat an American-born universalist living in a village in Mid Java, Indonesia. He said that he considers himself a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian. He added that it was difficult to also be a Jew. We agreed that unless one was born into this faith, a lot of education was required to become a Jew.  Next to him sat the leader of the Bahraini delegation, Betsy Mathieson. She heads an organization, "Sharing the Humble Bahraini Way of Life."  It wasn't exactly like in the time of the Maccabees, but I considered this dinner a small miracle taking place on the first day of Hanukkah.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Vote Shows Israel Making Little Headway at United Nations: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 22, 2017—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy doctrine is based on a simple idea: Israel’s position in international organizations will improve as its bilateral relations with individual countries gets better.

Europe's Governments Fail the Jews – Again: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 20, 2017—The resolution at the UN Security Council, in which Egypt asked not to move the embassies to Jerusalem, as the United States  pledged to do two weeks ago, ended with 14 votes for the resolution against 1 – the US veto. For the first time in a year, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resoluton aimed precisely at Israel.

The Secret Backstory of How Obama Let Hezbollah off the Hook: Josh Meyer, Politico, Dec., 2017—In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

Tokyo Support Rally for Israel (Video): Youtube, July 31, 2014— July 31, 2014, rally support for Israel was held  Israel embassy in Japan front. In Tokyo.

 

 

 

 

                                                              

 

 

TRUMP’S RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL & COMMITMENT TO MOVE EMBASSY OVERTURNS DECADES OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY

Trump and Jerusalem: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017— Israelis’ gratitude to President Donald Trump for his twin decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and to commit to moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv was on display throughout the capital.

Trump’s Speech Recognizing Jerusalem: What It Says and What It Doesn’t Say: Nadav Shragai, JCPA, Dec. 7, 2017— The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel overturns American policy dating back 70 years and entails several immediate results, some of them declarative and some also practical:

It Took Trump to Expose the Stupidity of Denying Jerusalem's Reality: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Dec. 7, 2017 — Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.

Why Trump Is Right in Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital: Alan M. Dershowitz, The Hill, Dec. 7, 2017— Days away from the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry boasted about the success of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)…

 

On Topic Links

 

Jerusalem’s Old City Lit Up with American and Israeli Flags: Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2017

Netanyahu Says More Countries to Follow Trump Lead on Jerusalem: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 7, 2017

A Momentous Day: Jewish Leaders and Israel Advocates Respond to Trump Announcement on Jerusalem: Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 7, 2017

                                               

TRUMP AND JERUSALEM

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017

 

Israelis’ gratitude to President Donald Trump for his twin decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and to commit to moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv was on display throughout the capital. The Old City’s Ottoman-era walls were lit up on Wednesday night with red, white and blue lights. And the American flag was flying from posts along the streets of Jerusalem.

 

Trump’s decision finally righted a historic injustice on a number levels. Most fundamentally, it recognized the historical ties of the Jewish people to the city of Jerusalem that stretch back over 3,000 years. But it also put an end to the absurdity of relating to Jerusalem as though it were a corpus separatum – a separate body – as stipulated in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Seventy years ago, before the Palestinians and the Arab nations rejected outright the idea that the land that now makes up Israel could be shared between Jews and Muslims, the nations of the world envisioned a Jerusalem under international control. Sites holy to Islam, Christianity and Judaism would be respected and developed and members of all faiths would be given access and be allowed to worship freely.

 

Much has changed since. The Arab nations’ failed attempt to snuff out the Jewish state at its inception left Jordan in control of eastern Jerusalem. For 19 years between 1948 and 1967 Jews were banned from the Temple Mount. Synagogues and other Jewish sites in the Jewish Quarter were left in ruins. In a miraculous turn of events in 1967, a second attempt by the combined armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, supported by eight additional Arab countries, to destroy Israel resulted in their resounding defeat and left Israel in control of a united Jerusalem.

 

For the first time in recent history Jerusalem became a free city that protected the religious rights of all faiths, as envisioned by the UN. The capital of Israel, the city has flourished as a home to a diverse population – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Yet, the world – including the US – continued to relate to Jerusalem as though it were 1947. Finally, a US president has given official recognition to the reality on the ground. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem has seen first-hand how Jerusalem has thrived as Israel’s capital – not just for Jews but for Arabs as well. It is a bustling city where hi-tech exists alongside historical sites resonant with meaning for the three great monotheistic faiths.

 

All of Israel’s major state institutions are in Jerusalem: the Knesset, the Supreme Court and almost all of the government ministries. The international community’s failure to recognize and appreciate the transformation of Jerusalem under Israeli control and to honor Israel’s choice of capital was a long-standing injustice finally righted by US President Donald Trump.

 

Trump’s many detractors say that the decision was a bad one because it will spark unrest and discord among radical Muslims who have provided ample proof of their propensity to use violence to register complaints and get what they want. We sympathize with those who seek peace and wish to avoid unnecessary confrontations. But we also believe Americans should not compromise their own beliefs and values out of a desire to appease those who have a long history of using terrorism to further their interests.

 

Appeasing extremists never works for a number of reasons. First, because it only leads to more extremism by proving that bullying tactics work and providing an incentive for more violence. Also, it tends to distract attention from the real issue: that there are many Muslim extremists who refuse to reconcile themselves to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East within any borders no matter what its capital. Why else would Palestinians and other Muslims be opposed to international recognition of parts of Jerusalem that will remain part of Israel in any conceivable peace deal?

 

Though the Jewish people does not need international recognition for proof of its historic ties to the city of Jerusalem, we are nevertheless grateful to the US president for having the courage to stand up for what is right.                                                               

Contents

TRUMP’S SPEECH RECOGNIZING JERUSALEM:

WHAT IT SAYS AND WHAT IT DOESN’T SAY

Nadav Shragai

JCPA, Dec. 7, 2017

 

The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel overturns American policy dating back 70 years and entails several immediate results, some of them declarative and some also practical:

 

Burial of the UN Resolution to Internationalize Jerusalem: Trump put paid to the notion of “internationalization,” which the United States had not officially renounced since November 29, 1947. That same day, of course, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 on dividing the Land of Israel between the Jews and the Arabs. The partition resolution stated, among other things, that: “The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.”

 

According to the United Nations, the boundaries of Jerusalem then also encompassed the city of Bethlehem, and the internationalization of the city was to be in place for 10 years. However, it was never implemented. The outcomes of the Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence and the division of Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan turned internationalization into a dead letter.

 

Until the “recognition speech,” the United States had never officially renounced internationalization while giving most of the emphasis in its policy to repeated statements that Jerusalem’s status would be determined in negotiations between the sides. Now that Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, internationalization has become, from the U.S. standpoint, irrelevant history.

 

Plans for Dividing the City – In Deep-Freeze: Trump’s speech puts into deep-freeze the audacious plans for a division of the city, which were on the negotiating table during the tenures of Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Barak and Olmert were prepared to divide Jerusalem, and two U.S. administrations, that of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, were intensely involved in mediating between the sides and encouraging them to adopt such a plan in the hope of achieving peace. The countries of the European Union also took part in the negotiations on dividing Jerusalem at different stages. In the wake of Trump’s speech and his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the chances that during his tenure such plans will again be broached are low.

 

Jerusalem – No Longer “Occupied Territory”: During the 50 years that the city has been unified, the U.S. administration has sometimes defined parts of Jerusalem as “occupied territory,” while at other moments it eschewed that language. For example, Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state, avoided the term. In President Carter’s administration, however, the State Department made frequent reference to the notion, calling the eastern part of the city “occupied Palestinian territory.” It now appears that for the Trump administration, following Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Jerusalem is no longer “occupied Palestinian territory.”  

 

A Single Territorial Unit without Sacrosanct Borders: Until Trump’s speech, the United States did not recognize either west or east Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even though presidents, secretaries of state, and American diplomats were regularly hosted in the western part of the city.

 

Trump’s speech did not distinguish between west and east. He referred to Jerusalem with all its parts as a single unit. At the same time, the speech made clear that the United States does not necessarily regard the current borders as sacrosanct, or as the president himself put it: “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”

 

Formal Recognition of the Reality of “One Jerusalem”: Trump again mentioned the Jewish people’s historical bond to Jerusalem, while also emphasizing his awareness of the current reality in the city. One of the consequences of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is, then, concomitant recognition of the facts that Israel has created in the areas that it added to Jerusalem in 1967. In those areas – north, south, and east of the Green Line – more than 200,000 people now live (about 40 percent of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem). Facts have been created as well in the vicinity of the Old City where thousands of Jews reside, mainly in the Jewish Quarter.

 

The alley of the Western Wall has become a huge plaza. After many years, Jews can now visit the Temple Mount. The U.S. president now, in effect, recognizes all these places, along with the network of infrastructures, national parks, and governmental and national institutions that have been built in the added parts of Jerusalem – including on Mount Scopus, where Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University were re-established after 1967. In Atarot to the north, the Atarot Airport was put to use (and later closed). Numerous archaeological digs have been conducted in all parts of the city, and Jerusalem’s glorious past through the ages has been revealed. All of this – along with, of course, the older reality in the western part of the city, where the government offices, the Knesset, the president’s residence, and the Supreme Court  are located – the United States now recognizes as part of “Jerusalem, capital of Israel.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

IT TOOK TRUMP TO EXPOSE THE STUPIDITY

OF DENYING JERUSALEM'S REALITY

Vivian Bercovici

National Post, Dec. 7, 2017

 

Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.” And with that simple, clear statement Wednesday, President Donald Trump exposed the fallacy of what has long been the go-to canard of international diplomacy on the question of the capital of the state of Israel. No other country has ever had its designated capital rebuffed. By whatever metric — political, historical or religious — the international refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has always been baseless.

 

Zion, the ancient place that is Jerusalem, is mentioned 850 times in the Torah. Throughout millennia of dispersal and exile, Jews have prayed to and kept a consistent presence and population in Jerusalem. Archaeological finds and ancient texts corroborate this fact. Yes, Jerusalem is important to all three Abrahamic religions, but even Islamic leaders agree that Jerusalem, unmentioned in the Quran, is the third most significant site for Islam, after Mecca and Medina.

 

The Western Wall of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, is located inside the ancient walled city of Jerusalem. Now part of “East Jerusalem,” the Old City was controlled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, and Jews were prohibited any access. After being attacked by Jordan and Arab allies in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel recaptured its ancient capital and the West Bank, thus beginning the “occupation.”

 

Since then, all three religions have enjoyed access to their holy sites in Jerusalem. Yet Arab and Palestinian leaders still demand Jerusalem be denied to the Jews as their capital. When Palestinians murdered two Israeli policemen patrolling the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount this summer, Israel installed metal detectors to screen visitors. So PA President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of trying to take over the Muslim holy site, Palestinians rioted, and Israel relented.

 

What has all this modern political history got to do with recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Absolutely nothing. Because none of it changes that all historic and religious evidence is clear that Jerusalem is fundamentally central to Judaism, that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and so it is of the Jewish State. Even Trump stated Wednesday that the final outcome of the status of East Jerusalem must still be negotiated. But it is nonetheless absurd to suggest, as some countries and NGOs have, that there is no legitimate Jewish connection to the ancient city of Jerusalem.

 

Through a secular lens, the evidence is just as clear. Jerusalem was designated the capital of the state of Israel in 1948. From 1950, Israel’s major government institutions, including the Knesset, government offices and the Supreme Court have been located in “West Jerusalem.” West Jerusalem is indisputably a part of Israeli territory and recognized as such by the United Nations and the international community. So on what basis does any country refuse to locate an embassy in West Jerusalem? There is no less logic or validity, in terms of respecting international law, to locating an embassy in West Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv, where these embassies now sit.

 

Any U.S. president before Trump, or any other country’s leaders, could have located an embassy in West Jerusalem and recognized that part of the city as the capital of the State of Israel. Yet most governments have robotically acquiesced to the illogic promoted by the Palestinians and Arab leaders that to recognize Jerusalem as the capital would be to pre-judge the outcome of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. That’s poppycock. And it took Donald Trump, of all people, to expose that big fat lie. How does recognizing a fact predetermine the outcome of anything? It doesn’t.

 

By Wednesday afternoon, both the Czech Republic and the Philippines were talking about moving their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Still other countries, including Canada and France, were quick to issue statements restating their same boilerplate reasons for not doing so. They don’t, or won’t understand that their purported justifications for maintaining this position have nothing to do with logic, fact, international law, or political or religious reality.

 

With their lie finally called out by the Trump White House, Palestinian leaders are now threatening days of rage and violence in protest. Speaking with the National Post Wednesday after Trump’s announcement, Naftali Bennett, a minister in Israel’s security cabinet, noted that no nation should surrender its diplomacy to violent threats. “Countries must act based on what’s right, not have their actions dictated by the threats of terrorists and extremists,” he said.

 

The Jerusalem issue is one of Israeli politics’ rare points of consensus and leaders across the spectrum (with the exception of the Knesset’s United Arab List party) have been praising Trump’s resolve in honouring a commitment he had made, and righting what, in their eyes, is a terrible wrong. Since its founding, Israel has been attacked and lived surrounded by neighbours pledged to its annihilation. But its existence is a fact that is not going away, and Jerusalem’s paramount place in Israel is non-negotiable. “The announcement by the president is welcome, but natural,” said Bennett, “We have patience and believe that, in due course, all countries will recognize Jerusalem as our capital.”

                                                                       

 

Contents

WHY TRUMP IS RIGHT IN RECOGNIZING

JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL'S CAPITAL

Alan M. Dershowitz

The Hill, Dec. 7, 2017

 

President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a perfect response to President Obama's benighted decision to change American policy by engineering the United Nations Security Council Resolution declaring Judaism's holiest places in Jerusalem to be occupied territory and a "flagrant violation under international law." It was President Obama who changed the status quo and made peace more difficult, by handing the Palestinians enormous leverage in future negotiations and disincentivizing them from making a compromised peace.

 

It had long been American foreign policy to veto any one-sided Security Council resolutions that declared Judaism's holiest places to be illegally occupied. Obama's decision to change that policy was not based on American interests or in the interests of peace. It was done out of personal revenge against Prime Minister Netanyahu and an act of pique by the outgoing president. It was also designed improperly to tie the hands of President-elect Trump. President Trump is doing the right thing by telling the United Nations that the United States now rejects the one-sided U.N. Security Council Resolution.

 

So if there is any change to the status quo, let the blame lie where it should be: at the hands of President Obama for his cowardly decision to wait until he was a lame-duck president to get even with Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Trump deserves praise for restoring balance in negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians. It was President Obama who made peace more difficult. It was President Trump who made it more feasible again.

 

The outrageously one-sided Security Council Resolution declared that "any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem," have "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law." This means, among other things, that Israel's decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall — Judaism's holiest site — constitutes a "flagrant violation of international law." This resolution was, therefore, not limited to settlements in the West Bank, as the Obama administration later claimed in a bait-and-switch. The resolution applied equally to the very heart of Israel.

 

Before June 4, 1967, Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall. They were forbidden to attend classes at the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus, which had been opened in 1925 and was supported by Albert Einstein. Jews could not seek medical care at the Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, which had treated Jews and Arabs alike since 1918. Jews could not live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, where their forebears had built homes and synagogues for thousands of years. These Judenrein prohibitions were enacted by Jordan, which had captured by military force these Jewish areas during Israel's War of Independence, in 1948, and had illegally occupied the entire West Bank, which the United Nations had set aside for an Arab state. When the Jordanian government occupied these historic Jewish sites, they destroyed all the remnants of Judaism, including synagogues, schools and cemeteries, whose headstones they used for urinals. Between 1948 and 1967, the United Nations did not offer a single resolution condemning this Jordanian occupation and cultural devastation.

 

When Israel retook these areas in a defensive war that Jordan started by shelling civilian homes in West Jerusalem, and opened them up as places where Jews could pray, study, receive medical treatment and live, the United States took the official position that it would not recognize Israel's legitimate claims to Jewish Jerusalem. It stated that the status of Jerusalem, including these newly liberated areas, would be left open to final negotiations and that the status quo would remain in place. That is the official rationale for why the United States refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem, including West Jerusalem, as part of Israel. That is why the United States refused to allow an American citizen born in any part of Jerusalem to put the words "Jerusalem, Israel" on his or her passport as their place of birth…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Jerusalem’s Old City Lit Up with American and Israeli Flags: Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2017—In anticipation and in honor of President Trump’s upcoming announcement on Jerusalem, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem have been lit up with American and Israeli flags.

Netanyahu Says More Countries to Follow Trump Lead on Jerusalem: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 7, 2017—Israeli officials downplayed threats of a diplomatic backlash in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital, saying other countries were eager to follow suit and international ties would not be affected.

A Momentous Day: Jewish Leaders and Israel Advocates Respond to Trump Announcement on Jerusalem: Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 7, 2017—A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.

IRANIAN THREAT TO ISRAEL’S “RED LINES” HANDLED WITH DIPLOMACY AND DETERRENCE

The Axis of Moderation vs. the Axis of Resistance in the Middle East: Najat AlSaied, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 1, 2017— The dispute between the Arab states, often known as the Axis of Moderation, and the officially designated terrorist regime in Iran often known as the Axis of Resistance, is no longer just a political disagreement but a threat to the national security of Arab countries.

Can Israeli Diplomacy Pull its Weight Against Russia, Iran and Syria?: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Nov. 16, 2017— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent shockwaves through Jerusalem on Tuesday when for the first time he publicly rebuffed Israel’s demand that Iran not be permitted to gain a permanent military foothold in Syria.

With Iran on Its Doorstep, Israel Quietly Readies Game-Changing Air Power: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Nov. 21, 2017— Iran has big plans to create a military outpost in Syria, right on Israel’s doorstep.

New Evidence of the Iran Deal's Failures: A.J. Caschetta, Middle East Forum, Nov. 28, 2017— Days away from the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry boasted about the success of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)…

 

On Topic Links

 

Wrestling Inquiry: Did Iranian Lose Match to Avoid Israeli?: Washington Times, Dec. 1, 2017

War With Iran’s Proxies Looming, Israel’s US Envoy Warns: Times of Israel, Dec. 5, 2017

Trump Follows Obama’s Lead and Gives Iran Just What it Wants: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 14, 2017

Hezbollah and the Yemeni Missiles: Uzi Rubin, BESA, Nov. 29, 2017

                                               

 

 

THE AXIS OF MODERATION VS.

THE AXIS OF RESISTANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Najat AlSaied

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 1, 2017

 

The dispute between the Arab states, often known as the Axis of Moderation, and the officially designated terrorist regime in Iran often known as the Axis of Resistance, is no longer just a political disagreement but a threat to the national security of Arab countries.

 

While the Arab states seem pro-statehood and work with other states, Iran and the Axis of resistance seems not to. Even though Iran calls itself Republic, it has a militia mentality and rarely deals with states. In general, rather than dealing with governments, it instead establishes militias, as it has in Lebanon and Yemen. Even in Iraq, where the government is considered its ally, Iran has established more than 15 militias. Qatar, by supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Syria under the Assad regime, seem to have the same mentality as Iran. If you trace the Axis of Resistance, all of them appear to have adopted the concept of supporting militias and extremist groups under the slogan of "resistance."

 

The Iranian regime's long history has now culminated in Saudi Arabia being targeted by Iranian missiles located in Yemen. They are coordinated in Lebanon by the Hezbollah militia, who train the Houthis in Yemen. It is important to understand that these violations and proxy wars carried out by the Iranian regime not only threaten the Arab Gulf states but also pose a threat to a regional and international security.

 

The Axis of Resistance is led by Iran, and includes Syria, Qatar, Hezbollah, Hamas, Arab Shiites loyal to Wilayat al-Faqih ("The Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist") in Iran and Arab nationalists. Its slogans consist of fighting imperialism, empowering the (supposedly) vulnerable — mainly Muslim Shiites — and furthering "Arab nationalism," which usually manifests itself in support for Palestinians against Israelis. The expansionist objectives of the Axis of Resistance — in its drive to build a "Shiite Crescent" from Iran to the Mediterranean, are clear, compared to the objectives of the Axis of Moderation, which have not announced any specific aims, except to denounce Iran's interference in the Arab countries' affairs.

 

The Axis of Moderation comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab Gulf countries, except for Qatar. The great mistake that the Axis of Moderation has made in confronting the Iranian regime — to try to curb its export of its "Revolution" — has been to fall into the trap of propagating sectarianism. While Iran portrayed itself as the defender of all the Shiites in the world, Saudi Arabia, as a result, acted as the defender of all the Sunnis in the Muslim world — accordingly, sectarianism was propagated. This polarization, however, has only furthered the interests of the Iranian regime, whose chief objective seems to be to continue igniting this division in an apparent policy of divide and conquer. Instead of the members of the Axis of Moderation confronting Iran politically or militarily, they challenged it on religious and sectarian grounds, such as publishing countless books against Shiites that describe them as the enemies of Islam and labelling all Shiites as subordinate to Iran, as if all Shiites were Iran's puppets, which not all of them are. This divisiveness has brought extremism and terrorism to the region, and has only harmed everyone.

 

Now the Axis of Moderation has become shrewder in its confrontation with the Iran and has employed a greater number of experts in Iranian affairs. The Axis of Moderation, especially Saudi Arabia, has realized that it cannot face down the threat of Iran without radical internal reforms. Saudi Arabia's complaints against Iran's interference and spreading extremism cannot sound credible if extremism is being practiced inside Saudi Arabia. These internal reforms, and liberalizing the society, are important internally: they will boost the economy by creating an attractive investment environment, especially for foreign investors. As importantly, reforms will stop any adversary from saying that Saudi Arabia is a state supporter of terrorism or a land that exports terrorists.

 

The most obvious changes are Saudi Arabia's internal reforms that cover "social openness" in the form of concerts and festivals, coordinated by an entertainment body, and the country's attempts to undermine clerical control, both by arresting extremists and establishing a committee at the Islamic University in Medina to codify the interpretation of Quranic verses that call for extremism, especially against other religions. Saudi Arabia has also clamped down on corruption by arresting suspected businessmen, princes and former ministers. The kingdom has also raised the status of women by giving them more of their human rights, such as the recent lifting of the ban on women driving. In another important change, Saudi Arabia will also allow women to be clerics to confront all the patriarchal interpretations of verses in Quran related to women…

[To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents

CAN ISRAELI DIPLOMACY PULL ITS WEIGHT AGAINST

RUSSIA, IRAN AND SYRIA?

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Nov. 16, 2017

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent shockwaves through Jerusalem on Tuesday when for the first time he publicly rebuffed Israel’s demand that Iran not be permitted to gain a permanent military foothold in Syria.

 

While discussing the recent ceasefire agreement for southern Syria brokered by Moscow, the United States and Jordan, Lavrov contended that it did not include a Russian commitment—contrary to American assurances—to prevent Iranian-backed fighters from operating in the Syrian Golan Heights close to the Israeli border. He further stressed that Russia had never promised to limit Tehran’s influence in Syria, which he described as legitimate. “No one mentioned Iran or pro-Iranian forces,” Lavrov told reporters in reference to the formulation of the truce. “If we talk about pro-Iranian forces, somebody might be tempted to call the entire Syrian army pro-Iranian, and then what—it should surrender? In my opinion, it is wishful thinking.”

 

Israel has long pressed Moscow, the leading player in the conflict since militarily intervening on behalf of the Assad regime in September 2015, to create a buffer zone of up to 50 km in the Syrian Golan Heights in which Shi'ite proxies supported by Tehran would be banned. While a joint American-Russian statement announcing the deal called for “the reduction and ultimate elimination of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the [border region],” Jerusalem fears that such will only apply to radical Sunni rebels battling regime forces, as, in principle, Assad does not consider Iranian-backed troops as “foreign” given their role in effectively saving the Syrian leader.

 

News of the ceasefire deal came after the BBC published satellite photos purportedly showing the construction of an Iranian military base in Al-Kiswah, located just 14 kilometers south of Damascus. Israel has repeatedly conducted air strikes in both Lebanese and Syrian air space targeting such installations as well as arms convoys destined for Hezbollah, some confirmed by Jerusalem and others reported by foreign media. This comes on the backdrop of recent confrontations in which the Syrian army targeted Israeli warplanes conducting cross-border missions, and late last month fired five rockets into Israel in what Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described as a deliberate act carried out by a Hezbollah cell at the directive of the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. In response, the Israeli army struck three Syrian artillery positions, bringing into stark focus the fact that forces loyal to Iran and President Bashar Assad—who according to Liberman green-lighted the missile barrage—remain entrenched along the border.

 

Accordingly, Jerusalem finds itself on a potential collision course with Moscow, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated in the wake of Lavrov’s comments that the Jewish state will continue to act militarily in Syria when necessary in order to uphold its security. “[Iran] want[s] to create a permanent air, land and sea military presence, with the declared intent of using Syria as a base from which to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu affirmed. “We are not going to agree to that.… Israel will work to stop this.”

 

According to Danny Ayalon, Israel's former deputy foreign minister, the most important consideration is not whether Israel has a seat at the negotiating table but, rather, that it is able to defend its red lines. "Israel is certainly a major player and is treated as such," he explained to The Media Line, "and the fact that it was not pulled into the Syrian chaos is a testimony to the very responsible leadership by the prime minister, due to the country's deterrent capability as well as its close coordination with Russia." "However, when it comes to a demilitarized zone along the Syrian border," he continued, "it is a must because any modicum of stability there requires that Israel's interests be taken into account and this was specifically and strongly conveyed to our best friend in Washington and our new friend in Moscow."

 

In this respect, it is no coincidence that a high-ranking delegation from the US National Security Council arrived in Israel this week to discuss Jerusalem's concerns over the truce deal. Daniel Shek, a former Israeli Ambassador to France agrees that "Israel's positions were partially taken into account in Syria, but that deal leaves Jerusalem in a position where it will have to be vigilant and cautious over a long period of time." On the other hand," he elaborated to The Media Line, "the whole Syrian situation is still so unsettled that Israel should probably wait and see what the end result is."…

[To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents

WITH IRAN ON ITS DOORSTEP, ISRAEL QUIETLY

READIES GAME-CHANGING AIR POWER

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Nov. 21, 2017

 

Iran has big plans to create a military outpost in Syria, right on Israel’s doorstep. From there, the Islamic Republic could threaten and attack Israel in the future. Israel is currently employing two tools to try and prevent this from happening: diplomacy and deterrence. Diplomatically, Jerusalem is reaching out to global powers and the international community, informing them of the consequences of Iran’s actions in a bid to create pressure on Tehran. To achieve deterrence, Israel is making clear to Iran and its agents that it has no intention of allowing them to proceed with their plans.

 

But what can Israel do if these prevention efforts fail, as they might? In such a scenario, Israel would have to fall back on military action. Some of that action would likely involve Israel’s new aerial strike capabilities. These recently developed capabilities might well surpass any display of air power seen in military history thus far. They are based on an ability to use precise intelligence, combined with precision-guided weaponry, to destroy up to several thousand targets in just a matter of hours. This is a tool that the Israel Air Force, together with the Military Intelligence Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), has been developing quietly over recent years. It is a game-changing capability that significantly boosts Israeli deterrence against its enemies. It also boosts actual war fighting capabilities, should these be called upon.

 

In recent weeks and months, there have been indications that Iran is testing the waters in Syria. It is seeing how far it can go, and how far it can push Israel’s red lines. In November, a Western intelligence source shared satellite imagery with the showing a new Iranian base being built south of Damascus. The facility can house hundreds of personnel and vehicles. It is a mere 50 kilometers from Syria’s border with Israel, and represents the tip of the iceberg of Iran’s plans for Syria. This month, during a visit to London, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the BBC in an interview that the Iranians “want to bring their air force there, right next to Israel, they want to bring Shi’ite and Iranian divisions right next to Israel. They want to bring submarines. So we will not let that happen, we will resist it.”

 

Israel’s Kan News broadcaster also recently reported Iranian plans to set up a division in Syria made up of 5,000 soldiers, air force bases containing Iranian fighter jets, and Iranian naval bases on the Syrian coastline. Iran has already deployed to Syria thousands of Shiite militia members recruited from across the Middle East. They have been armed and trained by the Iranian Republican Guards Corps and the elite overseas Iranian Quds Force. The Iranians also run militia units made up of Syrian recruits. The Commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Solemani, was recently photographed in eastern Syria with members of one such militia, the al-Baqr Battalion. The Iranians also helped build up other Syrian military forces, like the 313 Battalion.

 

At the same time, Iran appears to have stepped up efforts to create missile factories on Syrian soil, which it can use to arm its chief Shiite proxy, Hezbollah. One of these factories was reportedly struck by Israel last month. As ISIS crumbles and the remainder of the Syrian Sunni rebels face defeat in Syria, Iran, which runs Assad’s ground war, will be free to shift the focus of its Syrian presence towards Israel. Israel is prepared to deal with this threat militarily if necessary, though the intelligence challenge would be considerable. Many of the targets in question would not be clear-cut Iranian military entities, but rather proxies and militias attempting to disguise themselves or embedded into the local environment. Still, Israel’s intelligence capabilities should be up to the job of detecting and monitoring the targets and passing them on to the air force.

 

So far, Israel has used its precision strike capabilities for pinpoint attacks on targets that are part of the Hezbollah–Iran weapons program. But these same strike capabilities can be activated on a grand scale. The same air power can also be directed against the Assad regime, which the Iranian axis has fought for years to rescue and preserve. In theory, Israel could inform Iran that its treasured Assad regime would be in jeopardy if Israel’s red lines are crossed in Syria.

 

Needless to say, any major escalation in Syria would almost certainly draw in Hezbollah in Lebanon as well, as the two fronts are interlinked. The Syrian-Lebanese border has become more of an imaginary line on a map than a real international boundary, as Hezbollah moves weapons and fighters across it on a regular basis. Any escalation on the Syrian front could easily activate the Lebanese front. The stakes in Syria are very high, and Israel remains committed to the objective of preventing conflict on its northern fronts. So far, it has succeeded in this goal. Russia has thus far appeared to help restrain its radical allies in Syria, but its role in any potential escalation remains unclear. But should Iran ignore all of Israel’s warnings, Israel’s new air power will likely prove decisive to the outcome of military action in this arena.

 

                                                                       

Contents

NEW EVIDENCE OF THE IRAN DEAL'S FAILURES

A.J. Caschetta

Middle East Forum, Nov. 28, 2017

 

Days away from the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry boasted about the success of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on putatively "preventing" Iran's nuclear capability. "In reaching and implementing this deal," Kerry said, "we took a major security threat off the table without firing a single shot."

 

On the contrary, anyone who examines the JCPOA closely and honestly will come to the conclusion that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the mullahs got just about everything they wanted, while the U.S. got a dubious promise of good behavior that expires after 10 years.

 

It has long been known that what Michael Doran called "Obama's Secret Iran Strategy" required the administration to exaggerate the "spirit of reform" in Iran and to keep details about the agreement secret from both Congress and the American public. Recently, however, two seemingly unrelated events demonstrated just how duplicitous the Obama administration was with the American public over its dealings with the Islamic Republic.

 

The first event occurred on October 31, at the "World Without Terrorism" convention held in Iran. At a press conference, Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), reminded the world that Iran's ballistic missiles, though limited to a range of 2,000 km, are still sufficient to target U.S. bases in the region, saying, "Even though we have the capability to increase this range, in the meantime this range is enough for us, because the Americans are sufficiently situated within a 2,000 km radius around Iran. We will respond to them if they attack us."

 

One could argue quite sensibly that Iran should never have been permitted to retain any offensive missile program. However, that's not what happened. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), in the early stages of negotiations, prior to the "Interim Agreement" of December 10, 2013, the U.S. team acquiesced to Iranian demands that missiles be excluded from the JCPOA. Then, in either a "secret," undisclosed part of the JCPOA or in an unwritten agreement, Iran agreed to a 2,000-km range limit on its ballistic missiles. MEMRI reads Jafari's statement as serving both "a message of reassurance for Europe, which is beyond the 2,000-km range" while simultaneously signaling a threat to Israel, which is well within the range.

 

The second event shedding a ghastly light on Obama's rapprochement with Iran came just hours after Jafari's statement, on November 1, when the CIA declassified and released more of what the U.S. Navy SEALs took from Osama bin Laden's dingy lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan after they killed him on May 2, 2011. Among the 470,000 documents was a 19-page file written by one of bin Laden's lieutenants demonstrating the considerable cooperation between Iran and Al-Qaeda. According to NBC News, two U.S. intelligence officials described the document as "evidence of Iran's support of al Qaeda's war with the United States."

 

A newly declassified document recovered from Bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad shows "evidence of Iran's support of al Qaeda's war with the United States," according to U.S. intelligence officials. This support included "money and arms," and it confirms the cozy relationship between Iran and Al-Qaeda hinted at by the 9/11 Commission Report. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the document shows that "There have been relationships, there are connections. There have been times the Iranians have worked alongside Al-Qaeda."

 

Those who recall that Al-Qaeda and Iranian proxy Hezbollah cooperated in the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia will not be surprised to learn that Iran provided Al-Qaeda "training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf," according to the 19-page file. Of course, these files were not news to the Obama administration. Michael Rubin points out that "Obama and his CIA heads Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, John Brennan, and acting head Mike Morell released only what upheld and affirmed Obama's tenuous theories about Iran." While President Obama was busy concocting the fiction that "moderates" in the Iranian regime were worthy of our trust, he knew full well that he was offering concessions to co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks…

[To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Wrestling Inquiry: Did Iranian Lose Match to Avoid Israeli?: Washington Times, Dec. 1, 2017—Wrestling’s governing body is investigating whether an Iranian threw a match to avoid facing an Israeli. United World Wrestling announced Friday that it is looking into irregularities surrounding a first-round match between Ali Reza Karimi of Iran and Alikhan Zhabrailov of Russia at the recent U-23 World Championships in Poland.

War With Iran’s Proxies Looming, Israel’s US Envoy Warns: Times of Israel, Dec. 5, 2017—Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said Monday that his country is closer to a full-blown military conflict along its northern border than people think.

Trump Follows Obama’s Lead and Gives Iran Just What it Wants: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 14, 2017—President Trump’s decision to reevaluate the nuclear deal was a step forward for the West’s efforts to contain Iran, but the White House took two steps back with its new deal with Russia over Syria.

Hezbollah and the Yemeni Missiles: Uzi Rubin, BESA, Nov. 29, 2017—In a CNN interview on November 6, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Jubair asserted that “Lebanon has declared war” on his country. This accusation was made following the launch of a ballistic missile from Yemen towards Riyadh International Airport (it was shot down harmlessly by Saudi Arabia’s Patriot defense system).

TRUMP DECERTIFIED, BUT STOPPED SHORT OF WITHDRAWING FROM FAULTY IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

How Trump Can Improve the Iran Deal: Mark Dubowitz & David Albright, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 25, 2017 — Powerful voices at home and abroad are pressuring President Trump to give his blessing to his predecessor’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Donald Trump Takes a Hostage: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Oct. 13, 2017— Negotiators warn never to take a hostage you can’t shoot.

Trump's Tough Talk on Iran Fails to Mask His Inaction: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, Oct. 13, 2017— For anyone baffled by President Barack Obama's humiliating outreach to Iran in his second term, President Donald Trump's speech Friday was cathartic.

Stopping Iran Is up to Israel Now: Efraim Inbar, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017— Western hopes that Iran will moderate and "engage" with the international community following the faulty 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) have been gradually replaced with apprehension.

 

On Topic Links

 

Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy: White House, Oct. 13, 2017

With New Iran Strategy, Trump Rips Page out of Netanyahu’s Playbook: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Oct. 15, 2017

After Iran Announcement, Trump Punts to Congress: Sean Savage, JNS, Oct. 15, 2017

Trump’s ‘Calm Before the Storm’ is a Message to North Korea and Iran: Alan Dershowitz, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2017

 

                            

 

HOW TRUMP CAN IMPROVE THE IRAN DEAL

Mark Dubowitz & David Albright

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 25, 2017

 

Powerful voices at home and abroad are pressuring President Trump to give his blessing to his predecessor’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Mr. Trump has repeatedly pledged to renegotiate the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or scrap it altogether. There is a way for him to highlight the agreement’s egregious deficiencies while showing his determination to improve the deal or leave it. We call this strategy “decertify, waive, slap and fix.”

 

The president should follow through on his commitments by refusing to certify the JCPOA under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. That law requires Mr. Trump to certify every 90 days that Iran is fully implementing the nuclear deal and hasn’t significantly advanced its nuclear-weapons program. Additionally he must certify whether the suspension of sanctions remains vital to U.S. national-security interests and proportionate to Iran’s efforts to terminate its illicit nuclear programs. The next 90-day deadline is Oct. 15…

 

The JCPOA is a prelude to a Middle Eastern version of the North Korean mess. It gives the clerical regime sunset-expiring restrictions, advanced centrifuges, intercontinental ballistic missiles, the ability to frustrate U.N. inspectors’ access to military sites where Tehran has conducted secret nuclear-weapons and uranium-enrichment work in the past, and tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, with hundreds of billions to follow. The Iranians will continue to run amok in the Middle East, using foreign cash to pay for their imperialism.

 

The president should refuse to certify for another reason: The nuclear deal’s fundamentally flawed architecture—not just how it is enforced—makes it too dangerous to continue. By patiently following the deal the Islamic Republic can gain nuclear weapons, as well as a nuclear-capable arsenal of missiles giving it regional hegemony and the ability to threaten the United States. It also will have a powerful economy immunized against sanctions pressure by the time the JCPOA restrictions expire. Allowing this is not in the “vital national security interests of the United States.”

 

Decertifying doesn’t mean breaking the deal. That happens only if the U.S. reimposes sanctions that have been lifted or suspended under the JCPOA. On Sept. 14, as required by the JCPOA, the president again waived nuclear-related sanctions, this time on Iran’s central bank and oil exports. He accompanied this “waive” with a “slap” imposing new sanctions on companies and individuals connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program and recent cyberattacks. An engineering company working with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was also targeted.

 

These sanctions, which are fully compliant with the JCPOA, are a decent start. But Mr. Trump must do more. He should designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, as Congress has required he do by Oct. 31. He should also instruct the Treasury to blacklist companies with Revolutionary Guard and military ownership, which represent about 20% of the total market capitalization of the Tehran Stock Exchange. He should redesignate Iran Air (which is buying planes from Boeing and Airbus) as a terrorist entity for airlifting weapons and fighters to Syria. All these measures are consistent with the JCPOA.

 

We propose the president “fix” U.S. policy by making it clear he does not accept the Iran deal’s dangerous flaws. He should insist on conditions making permanent the current restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the testing of advanced centrifuges and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, as well as the buying and transferring of conventional weaponry. He must insist on unfettered access for U.N. weapons inspectors to Iranian military sites.

 

Congress should do its part to help fix the deal. Reinstating the JCPOA sanctions after decertification would ruin the “decertify, waive, slap and fix” approach. To persuade Republicans, who are the most likely to vote to reinstate JCPOA sanctions that have been waived or lifted, the administration needs to demonstrate a comprehensive strategy to fix the deal and use all instruments of American power to neutralize and roll back Iranian aggression. Democrats should help fix the deal or explain to Americans why a brutally repressive and aggressive Iranian regime should have a North Korean-style glide path to dozens of nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

 

The Europeans are already responding to Mr. Trump’s threats to walk away from the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he’s willing to consider supplementing the agreement to address the sunset provisions and missiles. European leaders who want to preserve the accord are now working on a U.S.-EU consensus on ways to fix it. They should outline conditions under which trans-Atlantic sanctions would be reinstated if Iran doesn’t play ball. Otherwise, they can watch Mr. Trump exit the deal and use the considerable financial power of the U.S. to force European banks and companies to choose between America’s $19 trillion market and Iran’s $400 billion one.

 

Decertification is the critical first step of a strategy to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from becoming a nuclear state. The famously blunt Mr. Trump must send an unambiguous message to Tehran’s clerics: His administration will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, nor can it abide by the agreement as it stands. But the strategy doesn’t depend on Iranian acquiescence. It gives the Europeans a chance to come on board to fix the deal in order to save it. If they don’t, the consequences could be severe.

 

                                                                       

Contents

DONALD TRUMP TAKES A HOSTAGE                                                                           

Bret Stephens

New York Times, Oct. 13, 2017

 

Negotiators warn never to take a hostage you can’t shoot. By announcing Friday that the administration would not certify that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was in the national interest, Donald Trump has taken a hostage.

The hostage is the deal itself. Contrary to belief, decertification neither violates nor cancels the agreement. It does not betray our commitments to our allies and it does not abrogate our obligations to the Iranians. It’s an act of domestic politics between two branches of the United States government.

 

But it’s also a psychological step, a brash signal that Trump is prepared to see the deal fail and accept the consequences, including war, if he can’t negotiate a better one. Since Iran insists it won’t budge, it sets Washington and Tehran on a path of confrontation that can be averted only if one side or the other blinks. Decertification is Trump saying: We won’t blink.

 

On Thursday, a well-placed source who advises the administration on Iran policy and supports decertification listed for me all the ways things could go wrong. There’s personnel risk, starting with the volatility of the man at the top. There’s escalatory risk, as the United States, its forces thinly stretched in the Middle East, become vulnerable to attack by Iran’s terrorist proxies. Think of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 and the humiliating American withdrawal in its wake.

 

There’s diplomatic risk, as Iran traps Western diplomats in a process of never-ending negotiations designed to go nowhere — all the while turning the Islamic Republic into a reputable member of the international community and the United States into the global pariah. Above all, there’s the risk that Iran will call Trump’s bluff, much as Bashar al-Assad called President Obama’s when he failed to enforce his chemical red line in 2013. A superpower repeatedly exposed as a paper tiger by lesser, if more willful, adversaries will not maintain its pre-eminence for long.

 

So what’s the case for supporting decertification? The architects of the nuclear deal make three dubious claims on its behalf. They say it concerns Iran’s nuclear dossier alone, and does not prevent us from thwarting Tehran’s regional bids in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza or the Gulf. They claim the deal is working because Iran is abiding by its terms, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And they add that since the agreement permanently enjoins the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States maintains the military option to stop them from doing so.

 

Yet Iran’s regional behavior has become worse since the nuclear deal came into effect, not least because it provided the regime with a huge new income stream — $10 billion in cash and gold in 2016 alone, plus more than $100 billion in additional sanctions relief — to fund its work. Tehran also operates on the assumption, well justified during the Obama years, that the United States would not risk the nuclear deal for the sake of rolling back Iranian gains in Syria and elsewhere.

 

As for the point that the Iranians are generally (if not quite entirely) honoring their end of the bargain — why shouldn’t they? “Iran doesn’t want a bomb today,” one senior Israeli official told me. “It wants a bomb tomorrow.” That is, it wants a robust nuclear base that puts it within a screw’s twist of a sizable nuclear arsenal without the economic and security risks of actual possession. And if it does choose to go for a bomb once the agreement has run its course, our military options will be slight. If we couldn’t prevent Pakistan or North Korea from going nuclear in the 1990s, why should we think we’ll be able to stop Iran in the nick of time?

 

My critics will claim that a distant prospect of a nuclear Iran is still vastly preferable to an exit from the deal that allows Iran to bring its centrifuges out of storage and start spinning its way to a bomb once again, this time without the monitoring of United Nations inspectors. Maybe. But Iran still wants the economic benefits of the deal — benefits Washington alone can bestow through waivers, permits, relief from secondary sanctions and control over dollar transactions. The American Goliath needn’t be helpless against a Middle Eastern state with a gross domestic product only slightly larger than that of metropolitan Atlanta.

 

We are living through a nuclear nightmare on the Korean Peninsula after more than two decades of optimistic diplomacy. That’s a fate we ought to do everything possible to avoid with Iran. As Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies points out, “decertification isn’t a sufficient condition to break the paralysis of our Iran policy, but it is a necessary one.” Even if the rest of the difficult enterprise rests in the hands of — God help us — President Trump.

 

Contents

TRUMP'S TOUGH TALK ON IRAN FAILS TO MASK HIS INACTION                                                  

Eli Lake

Bloomberg, Oct. 13, 2017

 

For anyone baffled by President Barack Obama's humiliating outreach to Iran in his second term, President Donald Trump's speech Friday was cathartic. He spoke plainly about Iran's "rogue regime," which seized power by revolution and "forced its people to submit to fanatical rule." The nation’s Revolutionary Guard will be designated as supporting terrorism and sanctioned. Trump seeks to assure us that he will never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. 

 

As I reported last week that he would, Trump stopped short of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. He is not pushing Congress to re-impose the crippling sanctions Obama lifted, which would void the nuclear bargain. Instead he is urging Congress to rewrite the 2015 law that requires his certification of the deal every 90 days to spell out the terms of a better nuclear accord with Iran and the consequences for Iran if they violate those terms. While Trump said he reserves the right to withdraw from the deal at a later date if his efforts to improve it fail, his decertification amounts to a rebuke, but not a rejection of Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.

 

But like Obama, Trump fails to address the greatest threat the rogue regime poses: its expansion in Syria and Iraq. Senior administration officials who briefed reporters Friday acknowledged that there is no policy for now to begin trying to drive Iran and its proxies out of Syrian territory it has taken over. These officials said a Syria-specific policy was coming where these issues would be addressed.

 

U.S. officials have also told me that at the moment there is no plan for countering Iranian influence among Shiite allies in Baghdad. This policy is also under review for Iraq, but for now U.S. forces will continue to train and equip the Iraqi military as Iran continues to train and equip the Shiite militias that have done much of the fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq. In some ways Trump's decisions to date have exacerbated Iranian expansion, particularly in Syria. As the Washington Post reported in July, Trump cut off a CIA program to support rebels in Syria who were fighting the regime. U.S. intelligence officials tell me Trump's decision was sudden, and it is still unclear whether another ally will take over the agency's support for the anti-regime rebels.

 

A deal the U.S. helped to broker this summer also contributes to Iranian interference. Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me Friday, "Far more detrimental than the covert program issue is the de-escalation agreement because it has allowed Iran's proxies to focus on the center of the country in the Euphrates River valley without having to contest the southwest part of Syria where the de-escalation agreement applies."

 

It's possible that a new Syrian policy for the Trump administration will commit more U.S. forces and allies to begin to push back Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq as the war against the Islamic State dies down. But to date, Trump has resisted such policies. Senior administration officials on Friday told reporters that the strategy for now is to prepare to push back against Iranian expansion in Iraq and Syria over time. But time is not on the side of America and its allies. Iran's Revolutionary Guard is close to establishing a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut, giving groups like Hezbollah and other militias access to advanced weapons they can aim at Israel and Jordan. Sanctions are a good first step. But Trump needs to do more, and quickly.

 

 

Contents

STOPPING IRAN IS UP TO ISRAEL NOW

Efraim Inbar

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017

 

Western hopes that Iran will moderate and "engage" with the international community following the faulty 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) have been gradually replaced with apprehension. More voices in the international community are joining Israel in expressing growing concern about Iran's policies. While Iran seems to be abide by the JCPOA, it resists expanding the scope of inspections, continues its nuclear research and development (for example upgrading centrifuges) and continues to make progress on its long-range missile program. Recently it conducted a test of a missile designed to carry nuclear warheads.

 

Moreover, Iran's involvement in the region attests to its hegemonic plans, defying the notion, propagated by its propagandists, that it is a status quo power acting defensively. Rather, Iran is following its Persian imperial instincts that are reinforced by Muslim jihadist impulses. It already controls four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa; its Shi'ite militias and proxies are fighting in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and engaging in ethnic cleansing; and it is on the verge of solidifying the Shi'ite corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Israel tries to capitalize on the new widespread global apprehension about Iran and a new American president who is not committed to the JCPOA to bring about the cancellation of the 2015 nuclear accord or its renegotiation, and the reinstating of the sanctions regime. Yet, these goals are difficult to attain and not useful in preventing a nuclear Iran.

 

The international community, including the US, has little appetite to confront Iran. The belligerent tone of President Donald Trump might be pleasant to Israeli ears, but we should not forget that he has not yet dismantled the North Korean nuclear arsenal. Understanding very well the Western reluctance to take military action, Iran is emulating the North Korean scenario. Many states, Germany for example, were eager to renew business relations with Iran after the removal of the sanctions regime and to turn a blind eye to Iranian purchases of dual-use equipment.

 

The world seems to prefer to wait until the agreement expires in 10 years or so without worrying about what will happen after. Iran signed the deal to gain legitimacy for its nuclear program without giving up the plan to go nuclear in the near future. Iran, with its thousands of years of history, is patient, seeing the agreement as only a short delay on the road to achieving its ambitions.

 

Israel cannot rely on the international community to stop Iran's nuclearization. Unilateral cancellation of the nuclear agreement will only energize the Iranian nuclear program. Even if attempts to convince Iran to renegotiate the deal are successful, the Iranian talent for bargaining will prolong the negotiations for years, gaining it additional time to enhance its nuclear program. Similarly, putting in place a tough economic sanctions regime requires years of diplomatic struggle. Neither Russia nor China have a great interest in helping the US neutralize the trouble potential of an anti-American Iran. Moreover, the effectiveness of economic sanctions is limited. Past sanctions were useful in bringing Iran back to the negotiating table, but not in changing its policy.

 

The claim that a tougher deal could have been achieved in 2015 and therefore renegotiations could elicit a better one for the West is not credible. The JCPOA, with its loopholes, was the only agreement the Iranians were ready to sign when it became clear that the US under president Barack Obama would anyway be unwilling to use the military option. Despite the anti-Iranian rhetoric, the US under President Donald Trump seems to lack the strategic acumen needed to stop Iran from attaining regional hegemony. As a matter of fact, its Middle Eastern policies suit Iran. Trump continued the obsession with Islamic State (an anti-Iranian force) and is going along with the Russian and Iranian plans in Syria. The US prefers the integrity of Iraq, an Iranian satellite, rather than supporting a Kurdish state that Iran opposes. The US did not side clearly with Saudi Arabia in isolating a Qatar that courts Iran. A nuclear Iran will be even more difficult to restrain.

 

Nothing in the world can convince Iran to give up the nuclear dream. Only the use of force can stop Iran from fulfilling its ambitions. Israel is on its own in this. Nobody will deal with an Iran that is going nuclear. Therefore, Israel must prepare its military for a strike against the main components of Iran's nuclear infrastructure. This will not be easily achieved, but with determination and creativity it is feasible. A successful attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure would change the regional power equation and reverse Iranian advances. Most states would be happy for Israel to do the dirty work, and judging from past Israeli strikes on the Iraqi and Syrian reactors, would hardly create any difficulties for Israel on this account. It is true that Iran has ways to retaliate and exact costs from Israel. However, these would be easier to bear than the cost of allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy: White House, Oct. 13, 2017—History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes. For this reason, upon taking office, I've ordered a complete strategic review of our policy toward the rogue regime in Iran. That review is now complete.

With New Iran Strategy, Trump Rips Page out of Netanyahu’s Playbook: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Oct. 15, 2017—When US President Donald Trump outlined his new strategy to counter Iran in a major policy speech Friday, he said that his views were formed “after extensive consultations with our allies,” but he could really only have been talking about Israel and some Gulf states.

After Iran Announcement, Trump Punts to Congress: Sean Savage, JNS, Oct. 15, 2017—President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will decertify the Iranian nuclear deal as part of a new and tougher approach towards the Islamic Republic. The move brings a new level of challenges and uncertainty in handling one of the most complex international agreements in recent years.

Trump’s ‘Calm Before the Storm’ is a Message to North Korea and Iran: Alan Dershowitz, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2017—Reporters continue scratching their heads about what President Trump meant when he spoke of the “calm before the storm” recently as he was hosting a dinner for military commanders and their spouses.

 

 

 

TRUMP’S SUPPORT PROVIDES ISRAEL WITH UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY

Israel Must Now Be Proactive: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017— The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Words and Silence Matter: Trump vs. Obama: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017 — U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas.

To Die for Estonia?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 1, 2017 — So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all?

The Flaws of "Oslo" Are the Same as the Flaws of Oslo: Neil Rogachevsky, Mosaic, May 17, 2017 — Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017

Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017

Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017

 

 

 

ISRAEL MUST NOW BE PROACTIVE

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017

 

The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. Trump’s visit to the Middle East region consolidated our status. We are in a remarkably good position. After years of relentless bias and harassment from the international community, led by our purported ally, the United States, we are now blessed with an American president who publicly expresses his love and support for, and alliance with, the Jewish state.

 

Those who dismiss as mere posturing Trump’s presence at the Western Wall, his very sensitive remarks at Yad Vashem and his warm and supportive speech at the Israel Museum simply fail to appreciate the profound political implication of his remarks. To that must be added his call on the Sunni states to confront Iranian terror and combat extremism, explicitly including anti-Semitism, within their ranks. Not to mention the revolutionary U.S. campaign to confront the anti-Israel obsession at the U.N. All of this represents a significant reversal of the tide in our favor.

 

In this context, one should also consider the dramatic success of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in developing economic and diplomatic links with Russia, India, China, Japan, and now Africa. To this can be added the incredible, almost overt relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states. One must be blind not to appreciate that these significant improvements in our international status have largely been achieved as a combined result of the deft diplomacy of Netanyahu and the new Trump administration policy.

 

In fact, today, we have an extraordinary, unique window of opportunity. But it requires us to take the initiative and display our willingness to cooperate with Trump’s peace initiatives on condition that our security is not compromised. Netanyahu must show leadership and initiate steps and not merely respond to pressures. He should be prepared to implement a temporary freeze on construction in areas outside the settlement blocs that will always remain part of Israel. He should undertake to continue to strive toward enhancing the quality of life in the autonomous Palestinian areas and offer additional humanitarian assistance.

 

But this offer can only be made in the context of reciprocity. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must cease the incitement and end the disgraceful encouragement of killers, including the PA’s rewarding of their families with huge pensions amounting to over 300 million dollars annually for their crimes. He must also recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease demanding the “right of return” to Israel of Arab refugees and their descendants which would amount to the dissolution of the Jewish state. A solution to dealing with Hamas will also need to be considered.

 

Until this happens, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate borders or even contemplate a Palestinian state. Despite his assurances about supporting peace, there is little likelihood of the duplicitous Abbas agreeing to any of these basic prerequisites. Should that be the case, we should call for an end to the phony peace process and, in conjunction with the U.S. and possibly even the Saudis, seek to create a working relationship with those living under Palestinian autonomy — if necessary, bypassing the current leadership. This will not eliminate terror but our security will be vastly enhanced if we have the support of the Americans.

 

Our main objective must be to promote the truth and cease providing cover for terrorist leaders who speak to the West with forked tongues endorsing peace, yet continue to incite their followers. If we can do this in tandem with the Americans, in due course we may resolve other issues, such as the formal annexation of the settlement blocs, recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and ensuring that Trump honors his undertaking to help the IDF retain its qualitative edge despite the arms buildup provided to the Saudis.

 

All of this is dependent on Trump not being persuaded like his predecessors that the easiest way to retain stability is to maintain a fake peace process, perpetuating the deplorable lie that this conflict is a struggle by two peoples over real estate. The cause of the conflict is the intransigence of the Palestinian leaders and their brainwashed citizens whose objective is not a two-state solution, but a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. To minimize the likelihood of this happening, Netanyahu must act now and demonstrate his willingness to explore any opportunity for peace…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

 

Contents                

WORDS AND SILENCE MATTER: TRUMP VS. OBAMA

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017

 

U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas. This is even more the case because of the damage a variety of statements — and lack of them — by his predecessor Barack Obama and the previous U.S administration have caused Israel.

 

There is much criticism in the U.S of President Trump and his unpredictability. It comes mainly from those who wanted and expected his opponent Hillary Clinton to win the election. The attacks on the current president however do not diminish the importance of his words in Israel. The current President’s  statements are all the more important as — contrary to the case with his predecessor — one “gets what one sees” with Trump.

 

Obama’s distorted, overly positive view of the Muslim world was already apparent early in his presidency. In his first trip abroad in 2009 he travelled to the non-democratic state of Egypt where he was received by President Husni Mubarak. The 2008 report of Freedom House ranked Egypt as a non-free country with a rating of 5.5 on a scale from 1 as best to 7 as worst. The report stated: “Egypt received a downward trend arrow due to its suppression of journalists’ freedom of expression, repression of opposition groups, and the passage of constitutional amendments that hinder the judiciary’s ability to balance against executive excess.”

 

On that trip Obama intentionally bypassed U.S ally Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The American president did not berate the undemocratic character of the Egyptian regime. Instead in his 2009 Cairo speech Obama apologized for Western “colonialism.” His sympathy did not help U.S. ally Mubarak during the Arab spring, when Obama stabbed him in the back and pressured him to make concessions. Obama hypocritically argued that his criticism of Netanyahu gave him credibility when defending the Jewish state in the world arena. But the Obama administration also regularly criticized Israel for "settlement building" as well as other issues and this stands in sharp contrast to Obama’s avoidance of linking terrorist acts to Islam. Nor did he mention the wide support for undemocratic behavior in the Muslim world.

 

Obama admitted that he refrained from using the words “Islamic terror” in describing Middle East extremism. The Obama administration referred to terror attacks by Muslims as “lone wolf attacks” and refused to use the term “radical Islam.” The terms “Islam” and “jihad,” “Islamic extremism,” radical Islamic terrorism,” and “radical Islam” were banned from US Security documents.

 

The U.S has for a long time been Israel’s main ally. If a U.S administration is repeatedly so critical of Israel while remaining silent about the criminal behavior of its enemies, this can be interpreted as a signal to other countries. It has a negative multiplier effect. The Europeans were most probably encouraged by Obama’s biased attitude to go beyond just criticizing Israel. Their labelling of goods from the territories while not doing the same for other similar areas in the world is an example. When Trump had already been elected as President, Obama let Israel down in yet another signal of encouragement to its enemies. The U.S abstained on Security Council resolution 2334 demanding an end to Israeli settlements. Trump had asked him to veto the resolution.

 

One would have expected international media to analyze these matters in some detail after the Trump Middle East visit. If one checks Google on this subject many reports focus on a comparison of the notes the two presidents wrote at Yad Vashem. This marginal subject became the first significant topic in a lengthy article in the Washington Post. It was titled “The huge contrast between Obama’s and Trump’s visits to Israel’s Holocaust memorial.”

 

Trump did not mention the two state ‘solution’ in his speeches. Why should a U.S president preclude the outcome of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? Or promise the creation of a second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan? Under Palestinian Authority leadership this state would be another corrupt Arab entity with substantial chances of failing. Yet another logical reason not to mention the two state ‘solution’ is that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip. Nor did Trump mention "settlements." There was no reason to do so. The central topic in Trump’s speeches in the Middle East focused on the fight against terror. It is worth noting that Trump did mention to the Palestinians that they should stop glorifying terrorist murderers of civilians, which sometimes also include Americans.

 

During his visit to Europe Trump continued to set the record straight. He reprimanded NATO leaders in Brussels, saying that 23 out of 28 did not meet their financial commitments to the organization. He said: “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.” This was a euphemism for saying that they are parasites relying on the U.S. The EU and several European states have been arrogantly telling Israel for many years how it should run its internal affairs. The idea that EU leaders are being told to own up to their commitments is considered unpleasant by many European leaders. From an Israeli viewpoint it is very positive that Trump told them off on their failures.

 

After Trump’s visit many European leaders may be nostalgic for Obama, who was partly responsible for letting the Middle East chaos develop and the diminishment of U.S standing in the world. Yet as Alan Dershowitz said about his fellow Harvard law graduate Barack Obama: He will be remembered as “one of the worst presidents in the foreign policy arena,’ who created a ‘terrible conflict’ for people who share other tenets of his ideology.”                              

 

Contents   

                       

TO DIE FOR ESTONIA?

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, June 1, 2017

 

So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all? What’s the big deal? Didn’t he affirm a general commitment to NATO during his visit? Hadn’t he earlier sent his vice president and secretaries of state and defense to pledge allegiance to Article 5? And anyway, who believes that the United States would really go to war with Russia — and risk nuclear annihilation — over Estonia?

 

Ah, but that’s precisely the point. It is because deterrence is so delicate, so problematic, so literally unbelievable that it is not to be trifled with. And why for an American president to gratuitously undermine what little credibility deterrence already has, by ostentatiously refusing to recommit to Article 5, is so shocking. Deterrence is inherently a barely believable bluff. Even at the height of the Cold War, when highly resolute presidents, such as Eisenhower and Kennedy, threatened Russia with “massive retaliation” (i.e., all-out nuclear war), would we really have sacrificed New York for Berlin? No one knew for sure. Not Eisenhower, not Kennedy, not Khrushchev, not anyone. Yet that very uncertainty was enough to stay the hand of any aggressor and keep the peace of the world for 70 years, the longest period without war between the Great Powers in modern history.

 

Deterrence does not depend on 100 percent certainty that the other guy will go to war if you cross a red line. Given the stakes, merely a chance of that happening can be enough. For 70 years, it was enough. Leaders therefore do everything they can to bolster it. Install tripwires, for example. During the Cold War, we stationed troops in Germany to face the massive tank armies of Soviet Russia. Today we have 28,000 troops in South Korea, 12,000 near the demilitarized zone. Why? Not to repel invasion. They couldn’t. They’re not strong enough. To put it very coldly, they’re there to die. They’re a deliberate message to the enemy that if you invade our ally, you will have to kill a lot of Americans first. Which will galvanize us into full-scale war against you.

 

Tripwires are risky, dangerous and cynical. Yet we resort to them because parchment promises are problematic and tripwires imply automaticity. We do what we can to strengthen deterrence. Rhetorically as well. Which is why presidents from Truman on have regularly and powerfully reaffirmed our deterrent pledge to NATO. Until Trump. His omission was all the more damaging because of his personal history. This is a man chronically disdainful of NATO. He campaigned on its obsolescence. His inaugural address denounced American allies as cunning parasites living off American wealth and generosity. One of Trump’s top outside advisers, Newt Gingrich, says that “Estonia is in the suburbs of St. Petersburg,” as if Russian designs on the Baltic states are not at all unreasonable.

 

Moreover, Trump devoted much of his Brussels speech, the highlight of his first presidential trip to NATO, to berating the allies for not paying their fair share. Nothing particularly wrong with that, or new — half a century ago Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield was so offended by NATO free riding that he called for major reductions of U.S. troops in Europe. That’s an American perennial. But if you’re going to berate, at least reassure as well. Especially given rising Russian threats and aggression. Especially given that Trump’s speech was teed up precisely for such reassurance. An administration official had spread the word that he would use the speech to endorse Article 5. And it was delivered at a ceremony honoring the first and only invocation of Article 5 — ironically enough, by the allies in support of America after 9/11. And yet Trump deliberately, defiantly refused to simply say it: America will always honor its commitment under Article 5.

 

It’s not that, had Trump said the magic words, everyone would have 100 percent confidence we would strike back if Russia were to infiltrate little green men into Estonia, as it did in Crimea. But Trump’s refusal to utter those words does lower whatever probability Vladimir Putin might attach to America responding with any seriousness to Russian aggression against a NATO ally. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday (without mentioning his name) that after Trump’s visit it is clear that Europe can no longer rely on others. It’s not that yesterday Europe could fully rely — and today it cannot rely at all. It’s simply that the American deterrent has been weakened. And deterrence weakened is an invitation to instability, miscalculation, provocation and worse.                                                

 

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THE FLAWS OF "OSLO" ARE THE SAME AS THE FLAWS OF OSLO

Neil Rogachevsky

Mosaic, May 17, 2017

 

Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. The agreement signed on September 13, 1993 established the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the official representative body of the Palestinian people and permitted its chairman, Yasir Arafat, to return to the West Bank after his extended isolation in Tunisia. Committing Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a final-status agreement, the so-called Oslo Accords opened the era of the peace process.

 

It is worth recalling the buoyant atmosphere that characterized not only that particular moment on the South Lawn but, more generally, the period in world history in which it occurred. Most dramatically, the cold war with the Soviet Union had ended in a triumph for the United States and its form of liberal democracy. If this was not quite the “end of history,” as a major public-policy essay had conjectured, the fall of the mighty Soviet empire raised similarly exuberant expectations for other arenas of conflict. Why, after all, couldn’t Israelis and Palestinians make peace?

 

To some, all the elements were in place. The Palestinians, it was averred, were willing to come to the table, and Israel was open, forward-looking, and “hopeful.” Its Labor-party leadership—not only the war hero Rabin but also Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak—had set aside any remaining illusions of permanent occupation. Having marginalized the “territorial maximalists,” Israelis were prepared to make the painful compromises for peace—a dynamic that President Bill Clinton, a friend of Israel, could help push along.

 

As even ardent supporters of the ensuing peace process will admit, things did not—to put it mildly—go according to plan, and the final-status agreement never came about. Today, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s (quite possibly fleeting) enthusiasm for the project, even the beginning of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority seems highly unlikely. The optimism that greeted the apparent breakthrough of 1993, however understandable in light of the cultural atmosphere of the time, in retrospect seems downright delusional. Yet many Westerners, Jewish and gentile alike, still look back at the Oslo years as a kind of golden age, one that shines only the brighter in contrast to the allegedly dark present.

 

Was Oslo a golden age? Those inclined to that belief now have the gift of a cleverly constructed drama that supports, and flatters, their view. Written by the New York playwright J.T. Rogers, Oslo tells the backstory of the Norwegian-brokered talks between informal envoys of the Israeli foreign ministry and the PLO over a ten-month period in 1992-93. Nearly three hours long, the play is heavy on dialogue and mostly lacking in the bells and whistles of many major New York productions. Nevertheless, by any non-Hamilton standard the play has been a hit, having moved from its debut last year at a small off-Broadway venue to the much bigger Lincoln Center Theater. On the evening I saw it, the crowd, more Upper West Side than Upper Midwest, gave the performers a rapturous standing ovation.

 

One might attribute this fervor at least in part to our own, highly fractious times, in which political, not to say partisan, drama is ripe for a comeback. But Oslo, which has been nominated for a 2017 Tony Award, is also an effective piece of indoctrination, mirroring, to a subtle but powerful degree, the dominant political mentality that helped produce the disastrous Oslo Accords themselves. Aside from the iconic Rabin-Arafat handshake, the whole story of the Oslo negotiations is not especially well known, and Rogers deserves credit for telling it with relative fidelity. The events are seen from the perspective of three Norwegian diplomats: Terje Rød-Larsen and his wife Mona Juul, and Jan Egeland. Thanks to a shared zeal, whose motive is never examined, the three navigate all manner of obstacles in order to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in secret negotiations at a country house south of Oslo, where the play is largely set.

 

Indeed, the play quite artfully stresses the single most astonishing fact about the Oslo talks: not only were they secret, but, on the Israeli side, they were at first completely unauthorized. At the time, Israelis were forbidden by law from having direct contact with PLO officials. It was Yossi Beilin, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, who unilaterally decided that flouting the law was justified by the end he sought. In December 1992, Beilin asked Yair Hirschfeld, a University of Haifa economist, to meet in London with the PLO’s finance minister, Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala. In January and early February, at further meetings in Norway, Hirschfeld and another economist, Ron Pundak, began drafting with the PLO team a document offering an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian administration in the West Bank, and direct negotiations regarding a final-status accord.

 

Prodded along by the committed and good-humored Norwegians, the play shows us, the participants found their mutual mistrust and hatred giving way to grudging respect and then a kind of friendship. The other side was humanized, which in turn led to recognition of its grievances and rights—grievances and rights that the Palestinian side, particularly, is portrayed in the play as having been more justified in holding on to. Eventually, higher-level Israelis—Uri Savir of the foreign ministry and Joel Singer, a lawyer and confidant of Prime Minister Rabin—replaced the economists in an effort to hammer out a final draft according to which, in exchange for the aforementioned concessions, the PLO would renounce violence and recognize the state of Israel…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017 —On Thursday, US President Donald Trump bowed to the foreign policy establishment and betrayed his voters. He signed a presidential waiver postponing the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for yet another six months.

Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017—Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in U.S.-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.”

Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017—London, Manchester, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Kabul, Baghdad, the global carnage continues.

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017—When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRAN, EMPOWERED BY NUCLEAR DEAL, SEEKS DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL & M.E. HEGEMONY

 

 

What North Korea Should Teach Us About Iran: Alan Dershowitz, Washington Examiner, Apr. 19, 2017 — We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran Is a Bigger Threat Than Syria and North Korea Combined: Michael Oren, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 14, 2017 — The U.S. has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities.

It’s Time to Ramp Up the Pressure on Iran — It’s More Fragile Than We Think: Reuel Gerecht & Ray Takeyh, National Post, Apr. 11, 2017 — A consensus has developed in Washington for some “push back” against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Next Stop for Iran: Bahrain: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2017 — Ever since the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka “the Iran Deal”) was agreed to in the summer of 2015, Iran has become empowered both militarily and economically.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tillerson: An 'Unchecked Iran' Could Follow Same Path as North Korea: Jerusalem Post, Apr. 20, 2017

Is Iran Pushing the Envelope on Its Nuclear Deal?: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Apr. 18, 2017

It’s Time to Name and Sanction Iran’s Terrorists: John Bolton, New York Post, Apr. 16, 2017

Trump Turns the Screws on Iran's Mullahs: Reza Shafiee, American Thinker, Apr. 18, 2017

 

WHAT NORTH KOREA SHOULD TEACH US ABOUT IRAN                                                

Alan Dershowitz                                                  

Washington Examiner, Apr. 19, 2017

 

We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited. The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we must stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores. Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the "Big Satan" (United States) or the "Little Satan" (Israel).

 

The late "moderate" leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they "would kill as many as five million Jews," and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be "a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world." He concluded that "it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality." Recall that the Iranian mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of "child soldiers" in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a "suicide regime" armed with nuclear weapons.

 

The deal signed by Iran in 2015 postpones Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal, but it doesn't prevent it, despite Iran's unequivocal statement in the preamble to the agreement that "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons." Recall that North Korea provided similar assurances to the Clinton administration back in 1994, only to break them several years later — with no real consequences. The Iranian mullahs apparently regard their reaffirmation as merely hortatory and not legally binding. The body of the agreement itself — the portion Iran believes is legally binding — does not preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons after a certain time, variously estimated as between 10 to 15 years from the signing of the agreement. Nor does it prevent Iran from perfecting its delivery systems, including nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

 

If we are not to make the same mistake with Iran that we made with North Korea, we must do something now, before Iran secures a weapon, to deter the mullahs from becoming a nuclear power, over which we would have little or no leverage. Congress should now enact legislation declaring that Iran's reaffirmation that it will never "develop or acquire nuclear weapons" is an integral part of the agreement and represents the policy of the United States. It is too late to change the words of the deal, but it is not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with all of its provisions, even those in the preamble.

 

In order to ensure that the entirety of the agreement is carried out, including that reaffirmation, Congress should adopt the proposal made by Thomas L. Friedman on July 22, 2015 and by myself on Sept. 5, 2013. To quote Friedman: "Congress should pass a resolution authorizing this and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapons state … Iran must know now that the U.S. president is authorized to destroy – without warning or negotiation – any attempt by Tehran to build a bomb."

 

I put it similarly: Congress should authorize the president "to take military action against Iran's nuclear weapon's program if it were to cross the red lines …" The benefits of enacting such legislation are clear: The law would underline the centrality to the deal of Iran's reaffirmation never to acquire nuclear weapons, and would provide both a deterrent against Iran violating its reaffirmation and an enforcement authorization in the event it does.

 

A law based on these two elements — adopting Iran's reaffirmation as the official American policy and authorizing a preventive military strike if Iran tried to obtain nuclear weapons — may be an alternative we can live with. But without such an alternative, the deal as currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with, as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea. So let us learn from our mistake and not repeat it with Iran

 

                                                                           

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IRAN IS A BIGGER THREAT THAN SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA COMBINED

Michael Oren                                                                

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 14, 2017

 

The U.S. has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities. Two of those regimes—Syria and North Korea—brazenly violated the agreements, provoking game-changing responses from President Trump. But the third agreement—with Iran—is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn’t even have to break it. Honoring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.

 

The framework agreements with North Korea and Syria, concluded respectively in 1994 and 2013, were similar in many ways. Both recognized that the regimes already possessed weapons of mass destruction or at least the means to produce them. Both assumed that the regimes would surrender their arsenals under an international treaty and open their facilities to inspectors. And both believed that these repressive states, if properly engaged, could be brought into the community of nations.

 

All those assumptions were wrong. After withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pyongyang tested five atomic weapons and developed intercontinental missiles capable of carrying them. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, less than a year after signing the framework, reverted to gassing his own people. Bolstered by the inaction of the U.S. and backed by other powers, North Korea and Syria broke their commitments with impunity.

 

Or so it seemed. By ordering a Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base, and a U.S. Navy strike force to patrol near North Korea’s coast, the Trump administration has upheld the frameworks and placed their violators on notice. This reassertion of power is welcomed by all of America’s allies, Israel among them. But for us, the most dangerous agreement of all is the one that may never need military enforcement. For us, the existential threat looms in a decade, when the agreement with Iran expires.

 

Like the frameworks with North Korea and Syria, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015 assumed that Iran would fulfill its obligations and open its facilities to inspectors. The JCPOA assumed that Iran would moderate its behavior and join the international community. Yet unlike its North Korean and Syrian allies, Iran was the largest state sponsor of terror and openly vowed to destroy another state—Israel. Unlike them, Iran systematically lied about its unconventional weapons program for 30 years. And unlike Damascus and Pyongyang, which are permanently barred from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Tehran can look forward to building them swiftly and legitimately in the late 2020s, once the JCPOA expires.

 

This, for Israel and our neighboring Sunni states, is the appalling flaw of the JCPOA. The regime most committed to our destruction has been granted a free pass to develop military nuclear capabilities. Iran could follow the Syrian and North Korean examples and cheat. Or, while enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it can adhere to the agreement and deactivate parts of its nuclear facilities rather than dismantle them. It can develop new technologies for producing atomic bombs while testing intercontinental ballistic missiles. It can continue massacring Syrians, Iraqis and Yemenis, and bankrolling Hamas and Hezbollah. The JCPOA enables Iran to do all that merely by complying.

 

A nuclear-armed Iran would be as dangerous as “50 North Koreas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. in 2013, and Iran is certainly many times more dangerous than Syria. Yet Iran alone has been granted immunity for butchering civilians and threatening genocide. Iran alone has been guaranteed a future nuclear capability. And the Iranian regime—which brutally crushed a popular uprising in 2009—has amassed a million-man force to suppress any future opposition. Rather than moderating, the current regime promises to be more radical yet in another 10 years.

 

How can the U.S. and its allies pre-empt catastrophe? Many steps are possible, but they begin with penalizing Iran for the conventions it already violates, such as U.N. restrictions on missile development. The remaining American sanctions on Iran must stay staunchly in place and Congress must pass further punitive legislation. Above all, a strong link must be established between the JCPOA and Iran’s support for terror, its pledges to annihilate Israel and overthrow pro-American Arab governments, and its complicity in massacres. As long as the ayatollahs oppress their own population and export their tyranny abroad, no restrictions on their nuclear program can ever be allowed to expire. In responding forcibly to North Korean and Syrian outrages, President Trump has made a major step toward restoring America’s deterrence power. His determination to redress the flaws in the JCPOA and to stand up to Iran will greatly accelerate that process. The U.S., Israel and the world will all be safer.                                  

 

 

Contents                                                                                

IT’S TIME TO RAMP UP THE PRESSURE ON IRAN —                                                          

IT’S MORE FRAGILE THAN WE THINK                                                                         

Reuel Gerecht & Ray Takeyh                                                                                         

National Post, Apr. 11, 2017

 

A consensus has developed in Washington for some “push back” against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Democrats and Republicans would be well-advised to learn from the Cold War: don’t compromise the battle on the ground for fear of compromising arms control. We should contain and roll back Iran and its growing army of proxy militias. We should target the clerical regime’s Achilles’ heel — popular disgust with theocracy. Human rights ought to be a priority for American Iran policy.

 

The Green Revolt, which erupted in Iran in 2009 after a disputed presidential election, may be a faded memory for many in Washington, but it continues to haunt Iran. Contrary to the accepted wisdom of the Obama administration, the disturbances of that summer posed a serious threat to the Islamist order. In a speech in 2013, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted that the Green Movement brought the regime to the “edge of the cliff.” Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has similarly described the post-election period as a “greater danger for the system and the Islamic revolution” than the Iran-Iraq War. “We went to the brink of overthrow in this sedition,” Jafari stated. The regime’s security services proved unreliable. Dissension spread even within the guards. Khamenei had to dismiss several commanders.

The ruling elite, which had perfected the strategy of staging large pro-regime demonstrations, dared not bring its supporters out for more than six months. Every commemoration day became an occasion for protest.

 

The Green Movement has altered the relationship between state and society. The Islamic Republic of Iran was never a routine authoritarian regime as it offered the people a voice through controlled elections. The possibility of reform through the ballot box offered a safety valve to the ruling elite. Enterprising intellectuals and activists clung to the hope for peaceful electoral change, even after the regime crushed the Second of Khordad Movement, imprisoning, torturing and exiling many of those who’d made a cheerful, mildly reformist cleric, Mohammad Khatami, president in 1997. But the repression that followed the 2009 election trashed the regime’s remaining legitimacy, brutalizing beyond repair the “loyal opposition” — the first- and second-generation revolutionaries who had cherished the promise of a less authoritarian Islamic state.

 

The regime’s survival is now dependent on unsteady security services and the power of patronage, which ebbs and flows with the price of oil. Iran’s continuing stage-managed elections and colourless apparatchiks, including President Hassan Rouhani, a founding father of the feared intelligence ministry who mimics reformist slogans, have failed to convince much less inspire. Today, the Islamist regime resembles the Soviet Union of the 1970s — an exhausted entity incapable of reforming itself while drowning in corruption and bent on costly imperialism.

 

If Washington were serious about doing to Iran what it helped to do to the U.S.S.R, it would seek to weaken the theocracy by pressing it on all fronts. A crippling sanctions regime that punishes the regime for its human-rights abuses is a necessity. Such a move would not just impose penalties on Tehran for violating international norms but send a signal to the Iranian people that the United States stands behind their aspirations. American officials should insist on the release of all those languishing in prison since the Green Revolt. This list must include the leaders of that movement, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been confined to house arrest despite reports of poor health. Barack Obama never once spoke about these men. Donald Trump should not make the same mistake.

 

The Trump administration should also focus the bully pulpit on those who’ve fallen victim to the crackdown that occurred after the nuclear deal was signed. Obama completely ignored these people, too, who were imprisoned to demonstrate that the atomic accord wasn’t going to lead to greater openness and reform. Ever fearful of interfering in Muslim lands, seemingly ashamed of American support to the shah and exclusively focused on nuclear diplomacy, Obama refused to view Iranian dissidents with the same respect the United States once gave to those who’d opposed the Soviet Union.

 

The United States actually has the high ground against the mullahs. Our resources dwarf theirs. Our self-doubt is nothing compared with the insecurity that Khamenei has to suppress with the Revolutionary Guards. It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire.

 

This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat. And they will have to keep their eye on the home front, anxiously awaiting another popular rebellion. Many in Washington in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was far from the dustbin. We would do well not to believe that the mullahs have a more secure dispensation.         

 

 

Contents

Eric R. Mandel                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2017

 

Ever since the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka “the Iran Deal”) was agreed to in the summer of 2015, Iran has become empowered both militarily and economically. Tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia, the Popular Mobilization Units, have been trained and are controlled by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah. They are the vanguard of a Shi’ite jihad stretching from Tehran to the shores of the Mediterranean, while simultaneously ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Sunnis without a whimper from the United Nations.

 

Now that Iran and Hezbollah are well on their way to claiming Syria and Iraq as trophies, they may goose-step their way toward their next targets. Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war has tied up the Saudis while allowing Iran to focus on its next likely target, Bahrain. Bahrain may be the next epicenter in the war for Islamic supremacy, the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict. Iran has made no secret of the fact that it wants to overthrow the Sunni Al Khalifa Bahrainian dynasty, which rules a majority Shi’ite population in what Iran considers one of its provinces. Just two years after the Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979, he tried to foment a coup in Bahrain.

 

Here is a glimpse into some of Iran’s recent nefarious activity in Bahrain: As The Washington Post reported, “[The] U.S. increasingly sees Iran’s hand in the arming of Bahraini militants.” According to the Post, US and European officials said raids have revealed “game-changer” weapons, and “an elaborate training program, orchestrated by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to school Bahraini militants in the techniques of advanced bomb making and guerrilla warfare.” In 2016 Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the overseas Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Quds Force), threatened Bahrain with a “bloody intifada.” According to the Washington Institute’s Matthew Levitt and Michael Knights, there is a “growing network of bomb making facilities and weapons stores,” part of a coordinated “destabilization campaign” by Iran in Bahrain.

 

Shi’ite militias and underground cells trained in Iran and Iraq are producing highly advanced weapons. Iran’s fingerprints are all over the imported weapons; the military explosive C-4 could only have come only from Iran. This month Bahrain arrested 14 people trained by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who were allegedly planning assassinations.

 

Lets be clear: Bahrain is not an exemplar of human rights, and represses its majority Shi’ite populace. But in the name of shared interests, American administrations of both parties have relied on Bahrainian territory for American security interests. So why is Bahrain so vital to American national security interests? The answer is the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet, tasked with security of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

 

Up to 20% of the world’s fossil fuels transit these waters and only America’s Fifth Fleet is capable of the indispensible mission of protecting free passage for shipping. The Straits of Hormuz are just a few miles wide, connecting the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. Every ship transiting the straits is in easy target range of Iranian missiles, endangering the worldwide economy.

 

If Iran takes over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, a key American ally, will be exposed and vulnerable. It would destabilize the region and dramatically increase the risks for American forces. The King Fahd Causeway connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and was used by the Saudis to help quell the Bahrainian Shi’ite uprising during the Arab Winter. If Iran overtakes Bahrain, it could easily be used by Iran to threaten or overrun Sunni Arab oil fields and incite a Shi’ite uprising in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Shi’ites live near some of the most vital Saudi oil fields and could easily become a fifth column within the kingdom.

 

The presence of Iran casts an ominous shadow on the whole Gulf, where Oman has already acquiesced to Iranian extortion. Oman fears Iran, which lies just across the straits and for decades has been compelled for its survival to be Iran’s ally in the Gulf. Oman has allowed Iran to use its territory to threaten shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, and may build with Iran both a gas pipeline and a causeway to connect the nations.

 

According to the official Iranian Press TV in 2014, “the responsibility for seizing vessels trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf has been officially given to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy, according to Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy.” Fadavi told the country’s quasi- official Fars news agency, “The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk…in combat against Iran.” For the past few years Iranian speedboats controlled by the IRGC have been harassing American naval vessels.

 

Now that US President Donald Trump has dipped his toe into the treacherous water of Iranian hegemony with his strike in Syria, will he also realize it is also the time to act decisively the next time the Iranian navy endangers American vessels in the international waters of the Persian Gulf?

 

The world is waiting to see whether his attack against the use of chemical weapons was a “one and done,” or is America beginning to reassert its authority for its national interest that was so carelessly abandoned by president Obama, Susan Rice and John Kerry.

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Tillerson: An 'Unchecked Iran' Could Follow Same Path as North Korea: Jerusalem Post, Apr. 20, 2017 —US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" to destabilize countries in the Middle East and of undermining US interests in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. "An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Tillerson told reporters a day after announcing a review of US policy towards Iran, including sanctions against Tehran.

Is Iran Pushing the Envelope on Its Nuclear Deal?: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Apr. 18, 2017 —Top Iranian officials are boasting that the nuclear deal enabled the country to make progress in developing advanced centrifuges, and broad production of some advanced models has already begun in the year since the deal was implemented, per Iranian media.

It’s Time to Name and Sanction Iran’s Terrorists: John Bolton, New York Post, Apr. 16, 2017—When US Tomahawk missiles struck Syria’s Shayrat air base in retaliation for the Assad regime’s barbaric chemical-weapons attack on rebel-held territory, Pentagon officials stressed their efforts to avoid hitting Russian military personnel located nearby. What the briefers didn’t say was that units from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were also present at Shayrat, having been buttressing Bashar al-Assad long before significant Russian involvement.

Trump Turns the Screws on Iran's Mullahs: Reza Shafiee, American Thinker, Apr. 18, 2017—The Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s prison system “for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates,” on April 15. It may seem a tiny step in the way of stopping Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against its own citizens but it certainly is significant as a change. It also deals a major blow to the perpetrators.