Tag: Canada-Iran Relations

IRAN PRESSURED BY ANTI-REGIME PROTESTS, ECONOMIC CRISIS, & RENEWED U.S. SANCTIONS

Iran Protests Raise Hopes of Regime Collapse as Sanctions Set to go in Effect: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, July 3, 2018 — The Iranian regime appears to be in a panic as the Trump administration tightens the screws on the country’s economy…

Iran’s Regime Faces Widespread Economic and Political Unrest: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 27, 2018 — Since June 24, 2018, protests have been taking place in several main cities in Iran.

Canada Comes to Its Senses on Iran: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, June 13, 2018— I have never been mistaken for a fan of Justin Trudeau, nor will I ever be so mistaken.

Iran’s Quds Day: Ideology or Interests?: Doron Itzchakov, Algemeiner, June 28, 2018 — On June 8, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its annual “Quds Day” to express the nation’s support for the Palestinian struggle.

On Topic Links

Inside the Iran Protests: An IPT Exclusive Video Report: Steven Emerson, IPT News, July 2, 2018

State Department’s Brian Hook: Pompeo Presented Iran With “12 Demands To Become A Normal Country”: Real Clear Politics, July 2, 2018

Iran’s Hardliners Support Rouhani’s Push Back Against the United States: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, July 5, 2018

Why Turkey Will Not Be Another Iran: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 2, 2018

 

IRAN PROTESTS RAISE HOPES OF REGIME

COLLAPSE AS SANCTIONS SET TO GO IN EFFECT                                        

Ariel Ben Solomon

JNS, July 3, 2018

 

The Iranian regime appears to be in a panic as the Trump administration tightens the screws on the country’s economy with the United States telling countries to stop all oil imports from Iran starting on Nov. 4. In the meantime, the United States is asking the Gulf states to boost  their oil production to make up for the Iranian shortfall. The question is if this, and other economic sanctions and pressure, will be enough to increase the protests inside of Iran?

Dr. Harold Rhode, a former adviser on Islamic affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense and now a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute think tank, told JNS in an interview that from the perspective of the Iranian people, the radical regime is reacting to the protests from a position of fear. “The protesters have confidence because they inherently sense that the regime is weak,” commented Rhode, adding that as long as the regime is perceived to be strong, the protesters will be more careful and reserved.

Protests have criticized the Iran regime and its foreign policy of imperialist expansion in the region, which they say is happening against the interests of its own citizens. Regarding the significance of protests in Tehran’s Baazar, Rhode said that keeping control of the central market is a key indicator of the power of the regime to control the rallies.

In an article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Iranian negotiating behavior, Rhode stated: “It is only when Iranians become convinced that either their rulers lack the resolve to do what is necessary to remain in power or that a stronger power will protect them against their current tyrannical rulers that they will speak out and try to overthrow leaders.”

The former Pentagon official sees the pressure and sanctions strategy of U.S. President Donald Trump—one that has been pushed for years by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Obama administration—as having a chance of succeeding and leading to regime change.

Asked if the new sanctions will be effective, Rhode responded that “all of these companies have a choice to make: to trade with Iran or the U.S.” He continued, saying, “large multinationals that have done business in Iran, such as German’s Siemens or other oil companies, will have to decide if they want to continue to have access to the U.S. banking system.”

As a result of the recent U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the new pressure campaign initiated by the Trump administration, reports keep coming in about how deals worked out during the Obama administration are falling apart. For example, in early June, Boeing said it would not be delivering any aircraft to Iran after having signed a pair of large contracts with Iranian airlines, AFP reported.

Raz Zimmt, an Iran expert at the Israeli think tank INSS, told JNS that the recent protests in the Tehran Baazar is the latest link in the wave of protests that have gripped Iran in recent months. The key factor, he said, is “if other sectors of the population join the protests.”

However, Zimmt also warns against observers who are overly optimistic about the possibility of the regime falling, mentioning the limitations that the protest movement faces. “Most of the demonstrators, including the merchants at the bazaar, focus on improving the economic situation against the background of the worsening crisis and not toppling the regime. Second, with the exception of the truck drivers’ strike that broke out last month, the rest of the protests are limited geographically and occur sporadically. They lack a unified leadership.” And thirdly, he added, the “new” urban middle class, which led the 2009 riots, remains “outside the wave of protests.” Therefore, “the protest currently affects mainly the status of President Hassan Rouhani and the government and poses no real threat to the stability of the regime,” asserted Zimmt.

As the economic crisis deepens in the coming months as a result of the resumption of economic sanctions, the regime will have two choices, according to the Iran expert: “To agree to a compromise with the Trump government, even at the price of making significant concessions on issues that the regime considers essential, such as its long-range nuclear or missile program.” Or, he concluded, the regime could increase its “resistance economy” and willingness to increase internal repression, if necessary, “in an attempt to gain time in the hope that by the time sanctions make a significant effect, the U.S. administration will be replaced by a more convenient administration.”

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IRAN’S REGIME FACES WIDESPREAD ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL UNREST

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

JCPA, June 27, 2018

Since June 24, 2018, protests have been taking place in several main cities in Iran. This time, the protesters were mainly comprised of traders from the Bazaar in Tehran and other commercial locations throughout Iran. The bazzaris initially protested the sharp and fast fall in the value of the Iranian currency, the rial, in dollar terms, the freeze in Iran’s economic activity, and the rising cost of imported goods.

The decline of the Iranian economy gathered speed, and it is expected to suffer even more due to President Trump’s May 8, 2018, announcement that the United States was pulling out of the nuclear deal, the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the notice of several large international corporations that they intend to stop doing business with Iran and/or not sign any new contracts.

The main protest centered on the huge Grand Bazaar in Tehran, where the merchants closed their stores and marched toward the Parliament (Majlis) building to protest against the government’s economic policies. The metro station serving the Bazaar was closed because of the protest. Closing stores and halting trade happened in several other large cities, including Tabriz, Mashhad, Arak, Kermanshah, and Isfahan. Additionally, in the free trade zone on the island of Gheshm at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, merchants closed their stores and joined the strike.

The social networks were flooded with hashtags from bazaaris calling for more people to join the national strike #اعتصابات_سراسری).). The hashtag ( #ساعت_6 ) widely appeared. It gave the time to start demonstrating at 6:00 PM, when people should swarm into the streets. It was presented in different variations, with clear symbols and slogans of the opponents of the regime. Demonstrators chanting “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to Palestine” (#مرگ_بر_فلسطین), in defiance of Iran’s foreign adventures at the expense of the Iranian people, were uploaded to social network accounts. At the same time, Iranian virtual platforms also dealt with unemployment, economic hardships, and the ongoing water crisis that has hit different areas in the country.

Conspicuously, the conservative media outlets, which usually don’t cover anti-government protests, have been following the traders’ protests. Apparently, it is so they can taunt the government and its economic failings. The secretary-general of the traders’ guild of the Tehran Bazaar, Ahmad Karimi Isfahani, pointed an accusing finger at the government and said, “We expect President Rouhani and his government to admit that the steps they have taken connected with anything to do with the Iranian economy were a mistake” and that the protest began due to a lack of economic stability, the deepening economic crisis, and the apathy of the government toward the population and the traders.

The Iranian security forces, and primarily the units for dispersing protests, were deployed in the streets of Tehran in order to contain the events, but until June 26, they generally refrained from using force to disperse the demonstrators and relied on teargas grenades.

The government, for its part, acted to bring down the value of the dollar as compared with local currency and to deal with foreign currency offenders. The governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Bank of Iran, Valiollah Seyf, announced that Iran would open a “parallel/secondary market” for trading in foreign currencies at fixed rates (42,000 rials = 1 U.S. dollar) to help the private sector import goods valued in dollars and prevent wild currency rates being set by uncertified brokers.6 In April, President Rouhani first imposed this rate to prevent any further fall in the value of the rial but without any success, and the dollar rate reached 85,000 rials or more.

During the current crisis, President Rouhani instructed authorities to reveal the names of those importers who have received foreign currency at subsidized rates but sold their merchandises at free-market prices. Rouhani blamed U.S. sanctions for the crisis at a gathering in Tehran on June 26, 1018, and insisted that there is no shortage of currency and goods in the market. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani, said that profiteer groups (mainly in the mobile phone market) and currency smugglers would be monitored. Judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, lambasted those who are “disrupting the economy” by funneling their huge assets into foreign currency, threatening they will be designated as “corrupted on earth (punishable by death).” Amoli urged the police to identify those who disrupt the market, saying they commit “treason against the system and the nation.” The Majlis‘ National Security and Foreign Policy Committee discussed the recent economic fluctuation during its latest meeting on June 25, 2018.

The Iranian media has dealt with the economic crisis in depth, as well as the solutions offered by the government. Essentially, much of the criticism was directed at President Rouhani who, “to the surprise of the public,” chose to spend his vacation at the luxury Tochal mountain resort in north Tehran in the middle of an economic crisis, while the traders and public opinion are waiting for a solution to the economic problems and price rises. Even the president’s western-style apparel has been subject to criticism. For example, he was seen wearing Western-brand apparel – an Under Armour sweatshirt and a Puma hat.

Economic stabilization in Iran is not yet visible on the horizon. The protest of the bazaar traders is just one example of the many different demonstrations that have taken place throughout Iran in recent times (truck drivers, teachers, laborers, and protests about pollution and the lack of water). This process was accelerated when President Trump decided to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, and all the immediate ramifications of this upon the Iranian economy occurred. The regime’s recent steps toward what Khamenei termed in 2017 the “Year of Economy of Resistance” or “resistive economy” to circumvent sanctions are likely to have a negative effect on the citizens of Iran with more bans on imported goods.

At the same time, the protest by the traders at the bazaar – the beating heart of Iran’s economy, at least in the past – is unique and a warning light for the Iranian regime. The bazaar protest originally was not against the Islamic government. It was focused upon Iran’s growing and genuine economic hardships due to the sanctions on the country that are already affecting it. The protest is authentic, and it reflects the difficulties of the traders at the bazaar (mainly those who buy in dollars) and the Iranian citizen, who finds it hard to buy goods due to rising prices. At the same time, the protest did not occur in a vacuum, and it adds to the general feeling of discontent – not only at the economic level – with the Islamic regime (and not only against the government as the conservatives try to portray)…

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

 

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CANADA COMES TO ITS SENSES ON IRAN

Sohrab Ahmari

Commentary, June 13, 2018

I have never been mistaken for a fan of Justin Trudeau, nor will I ever be so mistaken. On the whole, I agree with Ben Shapiro’s assessment of the Canadian prime minister (“Justin Trudeau is what would happen if the song ‘Imagine’ took human form…”). Trudeau’s commitment to full-spectrum progressivism, combined with his vanity and moral preening, make him one of the least serious figures ever to lead a major Western power. Even so, I found myself cheering Trudeau’s Liberal government on Wednesday after it backed a resolution in the House of Commons to “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions” with the Iranian regime.

The resolution also designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity under Canadian criminal law, condemned the mullahs for their “ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world,” and denounced Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for “calling for genocide against the Jewish people.” Liberal support for the resolution marked a striking about-face. Trudeau had campaigned for restoring Ottowa’s ties with Tehran, severed in 2012 by the previous, Conservative government. “I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission” in Tehran, Trudeau told an interviewer in June 2015, just as Barack Obama was concluding his nuclear diplomacy with the mullahs. “I’m fairly certain that there are ways to re-engage.”

It turns out that even Trudeau-led Canadian Liberals have their limits when it comes to dealing with the Islamic Republic. As the Canadian broadcaster CBC reported, Ottawa dispatched two diplomatic missions in 2017 to explore a rapprochement. But there were two stumbling blocks. The Iranians insisted that Tehran should be removed from Canada’s list of terror-sponsoring nations, and the Canadians were determined to free various hostages held by the regime. The Iranians were apparently immovable on the matter of the hostages–that’s how they roll–and the Canadians were, in turn, unwilling to deny the basic truth about Iran’s role in sponsoring international terror.

Passage of the resolution doesn’t mean Canada is rethinking its support for Obama’s nuclear deal. But it underscores Iran’s growing isolation, as a new generation of Western leaders comes to learn that there are no “moderates” and “hard-liners” in Tehran–only tyrants and terrorists.

 

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IRAN’S QUDS DAY: IDEOLOGY OR INTERESTS?

Doron Itzchakov

Algemeiner, June 28, 2018

On June 8, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its annual “Quds Day” to express the nation’s support for the Palestinian struggle. Iran invests a great deal of effort into commemorating this event and mobilizes its citizens to flood the streets in solidarity with the Palestinians. But is the hostility toward Israel on display on Quds Day a reflection of pure ideology, or is it a product of Tehran’s desire to elevate its status as regional hegemon and leader of the Muslim world?

Quds Day (Ruz-e Jehani-ye Quds), which is marked in Iran annually on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, broadcasts the Iranian government’s uncompromising rejection of Israel’s existence. As in previous years, many Iranian citizens both within the country and abroad took part in demonstrations, which included hate speeches by senior Iranian officials who called for the destruction of Israel, and the burning of US, Israeli, and even Saudi Arabian flags.

The decision to mark Quds Day, adopted by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini not long after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, was aimed at highlighting the approach of the revolutionary regime toward the Palestinian struggle. That approach was to challenge the ruling hegemony of the US and Western countries (the “arrogant powers”), and call for the unification of the Muslim world against their influence.

To determine the source of the Islamic Republic’s hostility towards Israel, it is useful to examine the historical context. The Islamic revolution, which was a culmination of Khomeini’s opposition to the Shah, occurred during a crisis in modern Islam. In Khomeini’s view, Iran’s precarious situation stemmed from the control of an autocratic monarch who had chosen to disengage from Islam. This had led to an unprecedented dependence on the US and the West, and Iran’s close ties with Israel at the time were part and parcel of that relationship.

It is difficult to determine exactly how Khomeini became aware of the ties between monarchist Iran and Israel, as the Shah’s regime made every effort to blur them for both internal and external reasons. However, Khomeini made much use of them in his preaching. In the introduction to his book Velayat-e Faqih Hokumat-e Eslami, he focused on identifying the enemies of Islam. This document, which over time became something of a constitution in the revolutionary political system, presented the Jews as enemies of Islam and placed Israel at the center of the axis of resistance for the Islamic Republic.

The expansion of ties between Iran and Israel in the 1960s, especially in the security, commerce, and agriculture fields, infuriated Khomeini. In his Ashura Day speech in June 1963, he described three circles with a common center that were barriers to Iran’s development.

In the outer circle, he placed the massacre in which Hussein bin Ali and his supporters were killed by Yazid ibn Mu’awiya and his army in the Battle of Karbala in the seventh century, which led to a fracture in the community of believers. In the middle circle, he placed the Shah’s declaration of the principles of the “White Revolution,” aimed at deepening the separation between religion and state. And in the innermost circle, he placed the connection between Iran and Israel, which in his opinion symbolized the disconnection of the ruler from the will of the people.

On June 5, 1963, Khomeini was arrested and imprisoned in Tehran, but the authorities allowed him to return to the city of Qom. A month later, he delivered another speech in which he attacked Israel’s involvement in a land reform initiative and the military cooperation between the two countries. In November 1964, Khomeini was exiled from Iran, but 15 years in exile did not diminish his influence. Upon his return, he established the Islamic Republic of Iran in February 1979, shut down Iran-Israel relations, and brought an end to the extensive bilateral network of contacts that the two countries had built over three decades.

Khomeini’s resolute opposition to Israel’s presence in the region became, over time, a model for those who sought to prove their loyalty to the man and his path. After his death in June 1989, his statements regarding Israel gained power. Despite differences of opinion, the various factions of the government presented a unified anti-Israel front…

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

Contents

On Topic Links

Inside the Iran Protests: An IPT Exclusive Video Report: Steven Emerson, IPT News, July 2, 2018—Anti-government protests throughout Iran are heating up, with security forces reportedly killing four protesters Saturday night.

State Department’s Brian Hook: Pompeo Presented Iran With “12 Demands To Become A Normal Country”: Real Clear Politics, July 2, 2018—State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook holds a news briefing to discuss diplomatic efforts with Iran.

Iran’s Hardliners Support Rouhani’s Push Back Against the United States: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, July 5, 2018—In light of the internal crisis in Iran created by chronic financial mismanagement and pending U.S. sanctions, the internal tension between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani intensified.

Why Turkey Will Not Be Another Iran: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 2, 2018—Is Turkey going to be another Iran? With President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest electoral victory the question is making the rounds in Western political circles. Despite the fact that Sunday’s election gives Erdogan immense new powers, my short answer to the question is a firm: no!

 

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.

 

 

 

                                                              

 

 

WHILE TURKEY’S RAPPROCHEMENT WITH ISRAEL TAINTED BY ANTISEMITISM, “DEAL” IGNORES IRAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD & REGIONAL AMBITION

Backstage at Turkey's Shotgun Wedding with Israel: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, June 14, 2016— There is every indication that Turkey and Israel are not far away from normalizing their troubled diplomatic relations.

Erdogan, the AKP and Antisemitism: Dr. Simon A. Waldman, ISGAP, June 1, 2016 — Turkey’s 15-20,000 Jewish community is on high alert.

Canadian’s Arrest Shows Why We Must Press Iran on Human Rights: Marina Nemat, Globe & Mail, June 10, 2016— Homa Hoodfar, a professor at Concordia University and a Canadian-Iranian, has been arrested in Iran.

Done Deal?: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, May 23, 2016— All administrations are short-sighted.

 

On Topic Links

 

Hamas Still Finds Harbor in Turkey: Jonathan Schanzer, Weekly Standard, June 8, 2016

Europe’s Turkey Dilemma: Migration vs. Democracy: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016

Iran’s Anger Over Ontario Court Ruling Threatens Liberal Attempts to Mend Diplomatic Ties: Stewart Bell, National Post, June 14, 2016

Iran’s Chess Board: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2016

 

 

 

BACKSTAGE AT TURKEY'S SHOTGUN WEDDING WITH ISRAEL                                                                          

Burak Bekdil                                                                                                       

Gatestone Institute, June 14, 2016

 

There is every indication that Turkey and Israel are not far away from normalizing their troubled diplomatic relations. According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, for instance, the former allies are "one or two meetings" away from normalization. If, however, Ankara and Jerusalem finally shake hands after six years of cold war, it will be because Turkey feels increasingly isolated internationally, not because it feels any genuine friendship for the Jewish nation.

 

In all probability, the "peace" between Turkey and Israel will look like the definition of peace in Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary: "In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting" — despite the backdrop for peace looking incredibly (but mischievously) convenient. On May 29, a Jewish wedding ceremony was held in a historical synagogue in the northwestern province of Edirne for the first time in 41 years. A few months before that, in December, the Jewish year 5776 went down in history possibly as the first time in which a public Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony was held in Muslim Turkey in a state-sponsored event. All that is nice — but can be misleading.

 

There are two major problems that will probably block a genuine normalization. One is Hamas, and the other is the seemingly irreversible anti-Semitism which most Turks devour. In a powerful article from this month, Jonathan Schanzer forcefully reminded the world that although Saleh Arouri, a senior Hamas military leader, was expelled from his safe base in Istanbul, "… many other senior Hamas officials remain there. And their ejection from Turkey appears to be at the heart of Israel's demands as rapprochement talks near completion."

 

Schanzer says that there are ten Hamas figures currently believed to be enjoying refuge in Turkey, and he names half a dozen or so Hamas militants there, including Mahmoud Attoun, who was found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of a 29-year-old Israeli. Also enjoying safe haven in Turkey are three members of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades. Schanzer adds that, "There are a handful more that can be easily identified in the Arabic and Turkish press, and nearly all of them maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter, where they regularly post updates on their lives in Turkey."

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed more than once that Hamas is not a terrorist group but a legitimate political party. He has held innumerable meetings with senior Hamas officials including Khaled Mashaal, head of its political bureau. In addition, Erdogan came up with the idea that Zionism should be declared a "crime against humanity."

 

Anti-Semitism, as mentioned, is the other problem. Erdogan deliberately spread anti-Semitic sentiments to an already xenophobic society until he decided to go (relatively) silent when he recently realized that Turkey's cold war with Israel was not sustainable. This does not mean that his or Turkish society's views regarding Jews have changed. Earlier this year, for instance, one of Erdogan's chief advisors appeared in pro-government media to attack political rivals as "raising soldiers for the Jews." This sentiment is not confined to government big guns.

 

The first Jewish wedding at Edirne synagogue after 41 years was, no doubt, a merry event, both for the Turkish Jewish couple and politically, but it failed to mask the ugly side of the coin. Unlike a normal Turkish wedding (or, say, a Jewish wedding in the U.S.), unusually tight security measures were taken in the neighborhood around the synagogue, including the closure of roads leading to the synagogue and security searches of the wedding guests. The guests had to go through a metal detector at the door of the synagogue. Road closures and a metal detector for a wedding?!

 

There was more. Turks happily expressed their feelings in social media to "celebrate" the Jewish wedding. "One of my biggest dreams is to kill a Jew," wrote one Twitter user. "[Hitler] did not do it in vain," wrote another. The Hitler series went on with "He was a great man," "Where are you Hitler?" and "We are all Hitler." This is the backstage scene in the country where a Jewish couple happily married at a synagogue for the first time in 41 years — the same country supposedly to "normalize" its ties with Israel.

 

Contents                                                                                               

                                          

               ERDOGAN, THE AKP AND ANTISEMITISM

Dr. Simon A. Waldman                            

                         ISGAP, June 1, 2016

 

Turkey’s 15-20,000 Jewish community is on high alert. Just a few months ago Sky News broke a story that Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, was planning attacks specifically against Turkey’s Jews. Inevitably, security was heightened, schools were closed and community events were postponed. The alert points to the precarious situation of Turkey’s declining Jewish population. It also begs the question of the position of Turkey’s domineering President Recip Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the party which he co-founded, led and still wields incontestable influence.

 

The position of the Jewish community since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 has been hazardous at best. During the late 1920s and 1930s Jews were victim to the “citizen speak Turkish campaign”,[in] an effort on the part of the authorities to create national linguistic cohesion. Ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, including Jews, were harassed in the streets, at times assaulted, while being told to “speak Turkish” by authorities and fellow citizens alike. The campaign was a contributing factor to the decline of Ladino, the Judaic-Spanish vernacular spoken by Turkish Jews for centuries but now just a handful of people.

 

During the 1930s Nazi propaganda entered Turkish shores. In Thrace, a region in the European side of Turkey, many Jews faced violent attacks and antisemitic propaganda… During World War II, Jews along with other non-Muslim minorities were hit with the Capital Gains Tax (Varlik Vergisi). Jews were often forced to pay as much as 10 times the tax rate. Failure to pay meant being sent to a work camp. The policy virtually wiped away the wealth of many Jews, Turkifying (arguably Islamifying) the country’s economy… Many Jews chose to leave and rebuild their lives in the newly found state of Israel after 1948.

 

However, the above incidents took place under the People’s Republican Party, the secularists who currently sit in opposition to Erdogan and the AKP. What about incidents during the AKP’s period in office, since 2002 until present? In 2003, while the AKP was in power, Neve Shalom along with another synagogue (as well as the British Consulate and HSBC) were bombed by a Turkish faction of al-Qaeda. 57 people were killed, hundreds were injured. Neve Shalom was also the site of a 1986 gun attack by the Palestinian Abu Nidal Organisation which slaughtered 22 worshipers.

 

Erdogan’s personal antagonism towards Israel is well known. He famously walked out on a speech given by Shimon Peres at Davos in 2009, accusing that the then Israeli President “knows well how to kill” while his wife called Peres a “liar.” There was also the ill-fated Mavi Marmara incident when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish Gaza bound vessel, killing nine Turkish citizens. The response was more firebrand rhetoric on the part of Erdogan and the AKP in front of large anti-Israeli gatherings across Turkey’s cities. He mockingly repeated the Jewish commandment “thou shall not kill” to cheering crowds in condemnation of Israel’s actions. Meanwhile, Turkish television, increasingly beholden to the whims of the government, broadcasted the Valley of the Wolves which contained antisemitic motifs while viewers watched the hero’s quest to avenge the Turkish deaths.

 

Although one may stress the point that antipathy towards Israel is not the same as antisemitism, Erdogan straddles a fine line. Erdogan has openly stated that he does not approve of negative attitudes towards the Jews of Turkey who he considers citizens. However, this would appear in contradiction to his call for Turkey’s Jews to condemn Israel in the wake of the 2014 operations against Hamas. In other words, Erdogan linked Turkey’s Jews with Israel, putting the community on the firing line by a Turkish public who often make no distinction between Israel and Turkey’s Jewish population. Worryingly, in May 2014, Erdogan raised eyebrows after calling a demonstrator, during protests after a mining disaster, a “spawn of Israel”.

 

In understanding anti-Jewish attitudes among Erdogan and the AKP, its Islamic origins need to be stressed. Many founders of the AKP were from the Welfare Party, which derived from the Milli Gorus (National Outlook) movement which came into the fore during the 1970s. An important aspect of the Milli Gorus is a unique Turkish form of antisemitism that borrows elements of traditional antisemitic conspiracies. It blames the demise of the Islamic caliphate of the Ottoman Empire on the Donmes (followers of the “false” messiah Shabbtai Zvi during the seventeenth century) who they claim established the secular republic of Turkey at the expense of Islam… Meanwhile, international Zionism continues to exercise shadowy power and manipulate Turkish politics and the monetary system.

 

The movement saw power when Necmettin Erbakan of the Islamic Welfare Party become Prime Minister in 1996 and lasted until he was ousted in a military intervention. Erbakan reportedly commented that Jews are the cause of all mischief while his party disseminated material claiming all kinds of conspiracies linked to international Zionism. Erbakan has also been quoted as commenting that the Crusades were organized by Zionists and that the world is created by one center, namely “the racist, imperialist Zionism” and that the US dollar is Zionist money.

 

Today there are still plenty of examples of such discourse including publishing houses that produced Turkish translations of Mein Kampf and the proven forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which were best sellers in Turkey from 2005 onwards while the AKP was in its first term as well as other publications alleging Jewish conspiracies. This is why AKP deputies have fallen into conspiratorial antisemitic gibes. The then Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, for example, claimed that Jews were behind the Gezi Park Protests of 2013. Erdogan himself said that Jewish capital was behind the New York Times after the prestigious daily criticised his rule. One of Erdogan’s chief advisors was even so brazen as to attack government rivals for “raising soldiers for the Jews”. 

 

Antisemitism has been and continues to be an immense problem in Turkey. Once home to over 100,000 Jews, it has reduced to a mere 15-20,000. And Jews continue to leave. Erdogan and the AKP have done little to reverse this phenomenon. If anything their comments, worldview and rhetoric have helped to fuel it.

 

Contents                                                                                                                                                                          

CANADIAN’S ARREST SHOWS WHY WE                                                            

MUST PRESS IRAN ON HUMAN RIGHTS                                                                                          

Marina Nemat                                                                                                      

Globe & Mail, June 10, 2016

 

Homa Hoodfar, a professor at Concordia University and a Canadian-Iranian, has been arrested in Iran. She was conducting research. Her passport and other documents were confiscated in March, shortly before she was supposed to return to Canada. She was interrogated and released on bail. Now, she’s in Evin prison.

 

My school friend, Shahnoosh Behzadi, was executed in Evin in 1981 and is buried in a mass grave. She was 15. I was 16 when I was arrested in 1982 and taken to Evin prison. I was taken into a room and tied to a bare wooden bed, lying down on my stomach. Two men stood over me. One of them took off my socks and my shoes and lashed the soles of my feet with a length of cable, which was as thick as a garden hose and made of heavy rubber. With every strike of the lash, it felt like my nervous system exploded. If the devil appeared, I would have sold my soul to get out of that room. They gave me documents to sign, and I signed everything. Later, one of my interrogators raped me after forcing me to “marry” him.

 

Today, Iran’s prisons are as brutal as in the 1980s. In 2003, Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist was killed under torture in Evin. However, recently, when dealing with dual nationals, Iranian officials are usually more careful with physical torture. Dual nationals are used as hostages to trade for favours with the West, so they are usually not visibly “damaged.” Iranian authorities have shown that they have no regard for human life and dignity, but they do care about money and power, so it’s to their advantage that hostages survive. The same is not true for Iranian prisoners who have no trading value; most are brutally tortured, physically and psychologically.

 

Since Hassan Rouhani became the Iranian President, various governments and politicians around the world have rejoiced that Iran now has a “moderate” leader. No doubt, Mr. Rouhani’s language is much milder than that of his predecessor, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, who was very vocal in his hatred of the West. After him, Mr. Rouhani, who uses mild, diplomatic language, felt like an angel. But the number of executions has climbed under his watch. Writers, bloggers and journalists were still arrested and put in prison. None of the members of the Baha’i faith who were put behind bars only because of their beliefs were released and more were arrested. The laws of Iran, which value the testimony of a woman as half of a man’s, and that of a Christian or a Jew as half of a Muslim’s, remained the same. The West negotiated with Iran, and a nuclear deal was achieved. But the United States and other Western countries decided to overlook Iran’s terrible human rights record.

 

For a while during the reign of Mr. Rouhani, women received some superficial freedoms: the hijab laws relaxed a little, and women who wore makeup and tight clothing were not arrested as frequently by morality police. However, for the past few months, Iranian women have been under fire again. It looks like the government of Mr. Rouhani wants to make sure that Iranians understand that the nuclear deal doesn’t mean more freedoms. A few weeks ago, a few Iranian models, beautiful girls who had dared post their hijab-less photos on Facebook, were arrested and forced to confess to their “immorality.” They had to repent from their “sins.”

 

Homa Hoodfar is a new hostage of a horrific, brutal system that has been torturing, killing and raping for more than 35 years. We need to speak out not only about her but also about all the other prisoners and hostages of the regime. No, I’m not asking for the West to attack Iran. War doesn’t fix anything in the long run. However, let’s speak out and name and shame the torturers. Trade with Iran is lucrative. But let’s set parameters and stick to them when it comes to relations and trade, or the hostage taking, killing, torture and rape will continue bloodier than ever before, and we will become accomplices.

 

Contents           

 

             

DONE DEAL?                                                                                                              

Reuel Marc Gerecht                                

Weekly Standard, May 23, 2016

 

All administrations are short-sighted. Even the brightest, most reflective people can develop acute tunnel vision when they join the paper-pushing, crisis-a-minute senior ranks of the National Security Council and the State Department. When the president becomes obsessed with one issue, as Barack Obama was with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he and his advisers are less likely to appreciate the possible unintended consequences of their actions.

 

Of course, with a president at odds with so much of American foreign policy since World War II, it is tricky separating unintended from desired consequences. Given how many bright people in Washington supported the nuclear agreement who aren't blind to Iran's nefarious behavior and don't want to handcuff Washington in the Middle East, though, it's possible the president, like so many others, failed to see how the agreement would circumscribe American action.

 

But it's certainly clear now that if the next president intends to restore American primacy abroad, or just return some capacity to coerce adversaries in the Middle East, he or she will have to be prepared to watch the Iranians walk away from the nuclear agreement. Downing the Islamic State is probably impossible so long as Washington is held hostage by the accord. As unpleasant as it may be to accept, there is now only one presidential candidate who could abandon Obama's defining foreign accomplishment, challenge the Islamic Republic's regional ambitions, and destroy the caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

 

Though President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are quick to deny it, the nuclear accord has already become a straitjacket on policy. Just look at the administration's dithering awkwardness in responding to Russian plans to sell the clerical regime advanced fighter/fighter-bomber aircraft, which violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 and make a mockery of the timelines for legal conventional arms sales that were on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.

 

And look at the minor sanctions thrown at Tehran for its most recent ballistic-missile tests, which challenge the credibility of the agreement's time-limited restraints on the mullahs' atomic ambitions. There had been a blanket prohibition on nuclear-capable missile research under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929: "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology." That wording was changed in Resolution 2231, which implemented the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: "Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.  .  ." Kerry and Ambassador Stephen Mull, the lead coordinator on implementing the agreement, were either daydreaming or fibbing when they told Congress that Resolution 2231 clearly restricted Tehran's lawful capacity to launch long-range ballistic missiles. The White House tried to spin its response to the tests—minor sanctions against individuals and companies in easily replaced procurement networks—as a serious punishment for Iran's continuing missile development, which the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has declared off-limits to U.N. oversight.

 

Then consider the White House's assiduous ambivalence about extending the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, which underpins the more punishing 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act and expires at the end of this year. Extension doesn't mean enforcement: It would allow the president to threaten "snapback" sanctions against Iran's energy sector, in particular the critical upstream foreign investments in the oil and natural-gas industries. The administration has urged Congress to hold off, obviously worried that an extension could seriously upset the mullahs. But it's been hinting it will support renewal later in the hopes of siphoning Democratic support from the bipartisan effort for extension, which would allow Congress to pass new sanctions against the clerical regime for its continuing ballistic-missile development, human-rights violations, and support to terrorists. If the administration is so reticent now about showing just a bit of muscle, there is little reason to believe that as the agreement progresses Obama will be any more inclined to play tough against Tehran. In the end, he may choose to veto an extension, so as not to legislatively arm his successor, who may not share his hope that commerce will moderate the mullahs.

 

Perhaps most tellingly, look at the restrained Washington rhetoric around the Islamic Republic's actions in Syria. The president and his aides are harsher towards Vladimir Putin than they are towards Khamenei, even though Iran's contributions, both military and financial, to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's survival have been greater than Russia's. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian Sunnis have been slaughtered in the last five years and millions have been made homeless, displaced, and pushed towards Europe, and it's the clerical regime, not Russia, that has been the primary enabler of this horror show.

 

If the deal stands beyond Obama's presidency, there will be no meaningful pushback by the United States and Europe against Assad. Any serious military effort to aid the Syrian opposition would perforce target Iranians and Russians, who have become the linchpins of Assad's military power. Putin's recent decision to withdraw some of his forces doesn't really change this calculation. Russian aircraft are still bombing Syrian targets, and Moscow has kept naval and air bases in Syria, so any planes or helicopters withdrawn can quickly be sent back. If the United States decided to check the Assad-Iran-Russia axis, especially by giving military backing to the creation of a safe haven in Syria (once, perhaps still, Clinton's preferred Syrian strategy), it would challenge Iran's insistence on the survival of the Shiite Alawite regime.

 

Washington would also come into conflict with Tehran if the United States gathered and led a large Sunni Arab force in Iraq capable of pushing back against the Islamic State. The rise of the Wahhabi Sunni jihadist group has made Iraqi Shiite Arabs, who have had a long, tense, and sometimes bitter relationship with Shiite Iranians, much more dependent on Tehran. Iran has a strategic interest in preventing Iraqi stability and any Sunni-Shiite political settlement there…                                                                                                       

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

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

Hamas Still Finds Harbor in Turkey: Jonathan Schanzer, Weekly Standard, June 8, 2016—Turkey is one or two meetings away from normalizing ties with Israel, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the media Tuesday. Ties between the two countries have been frosty since 2010, when Ankara sponsored a flotilla to the Gaza Strip, a territory held by the terrorist organization Hamas, in a bid to break the Israeli-led international blockade. Israeli commandos boarded one of the ships, leading to a confrontation that resulted in ten deaths.

Europe’s Turkey Dilemma: Migration vs. Democracy: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016—The Middle East refugee crisis and Turkey’s slide toward authoritarianism have put the European Union in front of a moral dilemma…

Iran’s Anger Over Ontario Court Ruling Threatens Liberal Attempts to Mend Diplomatic Ties: Stewart Bell, National Post, June 14, 2016 —An Ontario court decision that holds Iran financially accountable to victims of the terrorist groups it sponsors is threatening to complicate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempts to mend diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic.

Iran’s Chess Board: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2016—Strategic thinking has always been Israel’s Achilles’ heel. As a small state bereft of regional ambitions, so long as regional realities remained more or less static, Israel had little reason to be concerned about the great game of the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

CANADA’S COURAGEOUS CUTTING OF IRANIAN TIES: MORAL LEADERSHIP SORELY LACKING ELSEWHERE

Articles:

Canada’s Moral Leadership

Canada's Move to Cut Ties with Iran

Canada’s Decision To Cut Iran Ties Sent Right Message

Good Riddance To Iranian Diplomats

 

On Topic Links
Top Ten Iranian Insults to Canada

Treat Iran like North Korea

Split With Iran Stokes Diaspora’s Fear, Draws Israel’s Praise

Canada's Last Iran Ambassador: Cutting Off Tehran A Mistake

What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?

Canada Pursuing British, Israeli Policies: Iran

_______________________________________________________________________

 


CANADA’S MORAL LEADERSHIP

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, September 9, 2012

 

President Shimon Peres was right to laud Canada as a “moral role model” for the nations of the world. Commenting on Ottawa’s Friday decision to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, Peres said, “Canada has proven once again that morals come before pragmatism, (and that) policy must reflect principles and values … I thank Canada for taking a stance based on the highest morals and hope that other nations will see Canada as a moral role model. The diplomatic isolation of Iran is an important step for the security and stability of the entire world.”

 

The Canadian decision was not surprising for those who have followed the brave new path in global affairs carved out by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird. Under their leadership, Canada has become arguably the most pro-Israel country in the world. They have led a conceptual revolution in how Canadians think about the world, and that includes a deep understanding of and appreciation for Israel’s security dilemmas.

 

From being the first world leader to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority in 2006 when it was taken over by Hamas, to speaking out against growing global anti-Semitism, Harper has embraced Israel as no Canadian leader did before him. He blamed Hezbollah for the war and civilian deaths in Lebanon during the summer war of 2006, and rejected widespread calls for an immediate ceasefire. He led the boycott of the Durban II conference. He blocked a G-8 statement that would have called for a return to Israel’s 1967 borders, despite pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama and the Europeans.

 

Harper, Baird and colleagues also have consistently stood up for Israel, often as a lone voice, in the G-20, the U.N. Human Rights Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the U.N. General Assembly. Over the three years that it sat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada stood alone in defense of Israel — eight times casting the only “no” vote against unfair condemnations of Israel. Last fall, Canada changed its votes in favor of Israel on seven resolutions at the U.N., and signed new agreements for military, defense and intelligence cooperation with Israel.

 

Defence Minister Peter MacKay told then Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.” McKay’s cabinet colleague Peter Kent stated that “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada.”

 

Speaking to the Herzliya Conference earlier this year, John Baird said plainly that “Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada. You have no better friend in the world than Canada, no stronger ally who will stand up for you. We won’t stand behind you; we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. Canada will not remain silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory or people.”

 

Harper and Baird also have explicitly adopted Natan Sharansky’s 3-D rubric for definition of the “new anti-Semitism.” They have slammed the “constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and de-legitimization” of Israel. Baird: “Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so. We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.”

 

After Canada lost its bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Harper suggested that the country’s stalwart defense of Israel was a contributing factor. For the prime minister, however, it was a small price to pay. Admitting that there is a diplomatic price to be paid for such moral probity, Harper said that he remains undeterred.

 

“The easy thing to do,” he told the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Ottawa in 2010, “is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker’. [But] Canada will take a stand [in support of Israel], whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are, in the longer term, a threat to all of us.”

 

As long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the U.N. or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take a stand, whatever the cost.”

 

Israelis feel very much isolated in today’s world community, which often appears to be increasingly hypocritical, cynical and indifferent to Israel’s existential dilemmas….Canada’s bold words and actions give us Israelis hope that there are indeed many decent people, some of them in positions of power, who will not bow to demonization or to the Orwellian twisting of history and language that often pertains to Israel these days. And they will stand in defense of Israel. (Top)

___________________________________________________________

CANADA'S MOVE TO CUT TIES WITH IRAN

Irwin Cotler

Jerusalem Post, September 9, 2012

 

The Canadian government’s decision to close its embassy in Iran and expel Iranian diplomats from Canada is as important for the reasons underlying the decision as for the decision itself. In a word, Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger to international peace and security. The Iranian threat is fourfold.

 

Iran is in standing violation of international law prohibiting nuclear weaponization; Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention; Iran is a leading state-sponsor of international terrorism; and finally, Iran is engaged in the massive domestic repression of the rights of its own people.

 

Certainly three other considerations underpinned the Canadian decision: Iran’s complicity in Syria’s atrocities; Iran’s complicity in assaults upon diplomats from Central Asia to Central America; and the intimidation of Canadian-Iranians living in Canada. The decision highlights – and indeed calls for – a set of initiatives to combat these Iranian threats, including:

 

• Listing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity under Canadian law – something the federal government has yet to do;

 

• Enhancing sanctions for Iran’s defiance of international law in its nuclear weaponization program;

 

• Sanctioning major human rights violators in the Iranian political and juridical leadership for their criminal violations of the human rights of the Iranian people; and

 

• Undertaking mandated legal remedies under international law to hold the Iranian leadership accountable for its state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, which has intensified dramatically of late.

 

In this last regard, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has, yet again, issued a statement condemning the recent “offensive and inflammatory statements” of the Iranian leadership. Curiously, while the statement also cited international law as the authority for the condemnation – that “in accordance with the United Nations Charter, all members must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” – it failed to appreciate that international law requires juridical action to sanction such incitement, not just issue mere statements of disapproval….

 

What is missing in statements expressing disapproval of Iran’s words and actions – including those from the EU, US, Canada, France, Germany and others – is a commitment to action. And let me be clear up front: action in this regard need not be military; indeed, the remedy is juridical.

 

In a word, the Genocide Convention – framed in 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust – prohibits the crime of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” Incitement itself is the crime, whether or not genocide follows. The objective is to prevent genocides before they occur, by sounding the alarm on this type of state-sanctioned incendiary incitement that has in the past led us down the road to horrific tragedy and atrocity, as it did in Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur.

 

The Iranian regime’s criminal incitement has been long documented. An all-party report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Canadian Parliament found that “Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention.” Yet not one state party to the convention has undertaken any of its mandated responsibilities to prevent and punish such incitement – an appalling example of the international community as bystander that reminds us also that genocide occurred not only because of cultures of hate, but because of crimes of indifference.

 

Closing our embassy will not stop this incendiary incitement. Neither will it sanction it; that is something that can only happen by exercising the required juridical remedies provided in international law.

 

Such remedies include: Initiating an inter-state complaint against Iran – which is a state party to the Genocide Convention – before the International Court of Justice, for its standing violation of the convention; referring this genocidal incitement to the UN Security Council for accountability and sanction; calling upon the UN secretary-general to refer the situation to the Security Council as one that threatens international peace and security, pursuant to Article 99 of the UN Charter; and requesting that the Security Council itself refer the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who can indict Iranian leaders as it has others.

 

Simply put, this panoply of juridical remedies – which have brought about the indictment of seemingly immune dictatorial leaders – should be added to the existing political, diplomatic and economic initiatives invoked to sanction Iran’s nuclear weaponization program, where such state-sanctioned incitement to genocide is the terrifying and vilifying context in which Iran’s nuclear weaponization is being accelerated….
 

[Irwin Cotler is chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran and International chairman of the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of United Against a Nuclear Iran and co-chairman of the Global Iranian Political Prisoner Advocacy Project. He has written extensively on Iran.] (Top)

_______________________________________________

CANADA’S DECISION TO CUT
TIES WITH IRAN SENT THE RIGHT MESSAGE

Vivian Bercovici

Toronto Star, September 10, 2012

 

Canada’s recent decision to close its embassy in Tehran and call home its diplomatic corps stationed there has been decried by critics, among them, Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, writing in the Saturday Star.

 

To critical pundits, the closure of our embassy in Tehran and the expulsion of Iranian diplomats in Ottawa was intemperate and inopportune, a meaningless provocation. Canada, they suggest, should have continued to participate in the “international discussion” to influence Iran to be more accepting of oversight of its nuclear program — which is widely believed to be flourishing and military in nature.

 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a showman with a tenuous grasp on reality and historical fact, has spearheaded the Holocaust denial movement since taking office seven years ago and has a habit of lacing his fiery rhetoric with the sort of language that is evocative of former German chancellor Adolf Hitler.

 

He refers to “Zionists” — a political term used to describe those of the Jewish faith who live in the nation-state known as Israel — as “the most detested people in all humanity” and “an insult to all humanity.” The “Zionist regime and Zionism are a cancerous tumour” which “will soon be destroyed.”…

 

His raison d’être is the destruction of Israel. He regularly pledges his nation to achieving this goal. For years, he has refused to co-operate with international agencies that oversee nuclear development. He is not known for his co-operative and reasonable diplomatic style….

 

Media reports indicate that for almost a year Canadian diplomatic staff based in Tehran have been prevented from fulfilling simple tasks. They do not have the necessary access to the Iranian government that one would expect. Canadians have been and continue to be egregiously mistreated in what passes for the judicial system in Iran.

 

Our minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, made the bold decision that appeasing such a regime is not advisable. Baird chose the path of principle, one that too many leaders forego. He has concluded that dialogue with a madman with his finger on the button may not be terribly effective.

 

A mere nine months ago, the heavily fortified British Embassy in Tehran was stormed by “students.” Iran officially explained this incident as the handiwork of “a few” extremists. Interestingly, neither the military nor the police intervened to stop the “extremists.” Civil liberties are very carefully controlled in Iran, as we saw in the brutal suppression of civil rights demonstrations there in 2009. It is difficult to believe that a small band of rogue extremists storming the heavily guarded U.K. embassy could not be managed by the Iranian authorities.

 

The British, a stiff upper-lip crowd, recalled their diplomats and shuttered up the office. Why? Well, one can assume that the British Foreign Office, one of the most highly regarded shops in the world, determined the environment to be too dangerous, unpredictable and felt it could not guarantee the safety of its staff. Perhaps principle played a part in their decision as well….

 

Make no mistake. If Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, there will be other countries to follow. The destruction of the state of Israel may not disturb Baird’s critics, but I expect they would be apoplectic if Dubai, Kuwait or the U.A.E. — easy targets for Ahmadinejad — were threatened. After all, they have oil. Kudos to Foreign Minister Baird for emulating Churchill and not Chamberlain. (Top)     (Vivian Bercovici is a Toronto lawyer.)

__________________________________________________________

GOOD RIDDANCE TO IRANIAN DIPLOMATS

David Frum

National Post, Sep 8, 2012

 

Why now? On Friday, Canada severed its last remaining diplomatic relations with Iran, withdrawing all Canadian representatives from Tehran and expelling all remaining Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

 

Relations between the two countries have been bad since the 2003 detention, torture, rape and murder of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi. The Harper government has supported economic sanctions against Iran and spoken out vigorously against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

 

But this final step, what explains it? The official reasons are studiously vague.

 

Traveling in Vladivostock, Russia, Foreign Minister John Baird gave this statement to reporters:

 

“Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today. Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Tehran.… There’s just a long list of reasons why we’re coming to this decision.”…

 

Canada has led the way to forcing the isolation of Iran – and a new round of sanctions may soon be coming, this time targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The risk is real that when the Iranian regime is pressed, it will lash out at anyone within its reach. Iran does not respect Canadian passports or the new citizenship rights of Iranian-Canadians, not in 2003 and not now. An Iranian-Canadian, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, has been sentenced to death in Iran on charges of espionage. Hamid’s brother Alborz died in Iranian police custody in 2010. The regime scooped up the two brothers when they visited their sick mother in Iran and refused to allow the Canadian government contact with these prisoners.

 

Nor will the Iranian embassy in Ottawa be much missed. Iranian embassies in other countries have a long history of acting as bases of espionage and terrorism against their host nations. Iran has carried out assassinations inside Germany (the Mykonos restaurant killings of 1992), France (the murder of former Iranian prime minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and his secretary in 1991) and the United States (the slaying of a prominent Iranian-born critic in 1980).

 

The U.S. government accused Iran of attempting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington just this past year. Iran instigated (happily unsuccessfully) attempts to kill British author Salman Rushdie in the 1980s, and it is implicated in terror attacks against Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia this year.

 

Argentina froze diplomatic relations with Iran in 1994, after a pair of terrorist attacks first on the Israeli embassy in 1992 and then against Buenos Aires’ Jewish community centre, the latter a crime that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds more.

 

At the Huffington Post, David Harris has described efforts by Iran’s Ottawa embassy to insert extremist literature into the curricula of Canadian Islamic schools. “Iranian embassy sympathizers and collaborators shaped and influenced a weekend Iranian language and culture course offered by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), on the premises of the board’s publicly-funded Lady Evelyn Alternative School. The course was attended mainly by children of Iranian background. The school describes itself as ‘a nurturing environment’ and prides itself on its ‘diverse, multicultural population.’

 

“Several of the course’s Farsi language textbooks … feature prominent photographs of Ayatollah Khomeini, one showing Khomeini giving a grandfatherly cuddle to a young boy.… A Grade 3 Iranian text used on site at Lady Evelyn glorifies child soldiery and suicide-martyrdom operations.… Meanwhile, a cartoon with racist overtones depicts hunched, ogre-like brown-faced Israeli soldiers — dead-ringers for the common Islamist description of Jews as ‘sons of apes’ — menacing with bayonets a diminutive, light-skinned Palestinian child.”

 

There’s the Iranian diplomatic service in action. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. (Top)

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David M. Weinberg: Canada’s Moral Leadership

President Shimon Peres was right to laud Canada as a “moral role model” for the nations of the world. Commenting on Ottawa’s Friday decision to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, Peres said, “Canada has proven once again that morals come before pragmatism, (and that) policy must reflect principles and values … I thank Canada for taking a stance based on the highest morals and hope that other nations will see Canada as a moral role model. The diplomatic isolation of Iran is an important step for the security and stability of the entire world.”

 

The Canadian decision was not surprising for those who have followed the brave new path in global affairs carved out by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird. Under their leadership, Canada has become arguably the most pro-Israel country in the world. They have led a conceptual revolution in how Canadians think about the world, and that includes a deep understanding of and appreciation for Israel’s security dilemmas.

 

From being the first world leader to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority in 2006 when it was taken over by Hamas, to speaking out against growing global anti-Semitism, Harper has embraced Israel as no Canadian leader did before him. He blamed Hezbollah for the war and civilian deaths in Lebanon during the summer war of 2006, and rejected widespread calls for an immediate ceasefire. He led the boycott of the Durban II conference. He blocked a G-8 statement that would have called for a return to Israel’s 1967 borders, despite pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama and the Europeans.

 

Harper, Baird and colleagues also have consistently stood up for Israel, often as a lone voice, in the G-20, the U.N. Human Rights Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the U.N. General Assembly. Over the three years that it sat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada stood alone in defense of Israel — eight times casting the only “no” vote against unfair condemnations of Israel. Last fall, Canada changed its votes in favor of Israel on seven resolutions at the U.N., and signed new agreements for military, defense and intelligence cooperation with Israel.

 

Defence Minister Peter MacKay told then Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.” McKay’s cabinet colleague Peter Kent stated that “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada.”

 

Speaking to the Herzliya Conference earlier this year, John Baird said plainly that “Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada. You have no better friend in the world than Canada, no stronger ally who will stand up for you. We won’t stand behind you; we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. Canada will not remain silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory or people.”

 

Ottawa stands with Israel, he said, because it was a Canadian tradition “to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient,” and because Israel embodies values that Canada holds dear and respects. “Israel is a beacon of light in a region that craves freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

 

Baird told the Israeli press in February that “My grandfather went to war in 1942 — the big struggle of his generation was fascism and then communism. The great struggle of my generation, of our generation, is terrorism. Too often Israel is on the front line of that struggle, and it is tremendously important that we take a principled stand and support our friend and ally.”

 

Harper and Baird also have explicitly adopted Natan Sharansky’s 3-D rubric for definition of the “new anti-Semitism.” They have slammed the “constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization” of Israel. Baird: “Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so. We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.”

 

After Canada lost its bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Harper suggested that the country’s stalwart defense of Israel was a contributing factor. For the prime minister, however, it was a small price to pay. Admitting that there is a diplomatic price to be paid for such moral probity, Harper said that he remains undeterred.

 

“The easy thing to do,” he told the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Ottawa in 2010, “is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker’. [But] Canada will take a stand [in support of Israel], whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are, in the longer term, a threat to all of us.”

 

“As long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the U.N. or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take a stand, whatever the cost.”

 

Harper speaks often about the lessons of the Holocaust and refers to Israel in almost prophetic terms. “Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition, but an undertaking,” Harper has said. “The same threats exist today … Memory requires a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.” He adds,“The persistence of the Jewish homeland is a sign of hope and a symbol of our faith in humanity’s future, in the power of good over evil.”

Israelis feel very much isolated in today’s world community, which often appears to be increasingly hypocritical, cynical and indifferent to Israel’s existential dilemmas.

 

This is a world in which the president of Iran vows to erase Israel, tells the world that the Holocaust never happened, and is building a nuclear weapon. Yet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives applause when he speaks from the U.N. rostrum, gets unashamedly invited to speak at Columbia University, and basks in the glow of 120 world leaders including the U.N. Secretary General at a Non-Aligned conference in Tehran.

 

Canada’s bold words and actions give us Israelis hope that there are indeed many decent people, some of them in positions of power, who will not bow to demonization or to the Orwellian twisting of history and language that often pertains to Israel these days. And they will stand in defense of Israel.