Tag: Green Movement

POST-ZIONIST MEDIA & BDS DEMONIZE ISRAEL BY PROMOTING “LETHAL” PALESTINIAN NARRATIVES

The Failures of Journalism in the 21st Century: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, May 15, 2016 — Towards the end of 2000, a professional failure of epic proportions took place among Western journalists.

The Accelerating Erosion of the Post-Zionist Hebrew Media: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Aug. 31, 2016 Haaretz, Israel’s oldest Hebrew daily newspaper, was established in 1918 by a group of left-leaning businessmen.

Greens Should Follow Germany's Lead And Reject Israel Boycotts: Benjamin Weinthal, Huffington Post, Sept. 20, 2016 — While Iran's regime continues to expand its nuclear facilities and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's war has caused a half million deaths, the Green parties in North America are bizarrely preoccupied with boycotting the Jewish state.

Attention Norway: Stick to Polar Bears, Disregard BDS: Judith Bergman, Israel Hayom, Sept. 2, 2016  — One of the world’s northernmost inhabited places is Longyearbyen, a small town of about 2,000 people in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

 

On Topic Links

 

Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism Creates Caliphater BDS: Definitions: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, Sept. 23, 2016

Newsweek Middle East Editor Goes on Anti-Semitic Twitter Rant: Tower, Sept. 14, 2016

California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016

Telling Our Positive Story Against BDS: Jon Haber, Algemeiner, Sept. 25, 2016

 

THE FAILURES OF JOURNALISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Richard Landes                                                              

Augean Stables, May 15, 2016

 

Towards the end of 2000, a professional failure of epic proportions took place among Western journalists. This failure began among Middle East correspondents reporting on the conflict, which broke out anew in late September 2000, between Israel and her Arab (triumphalist) neighbors. In this phase of “lethal journalism” Western reporters, almost as a pack, systematically reported Palestinian accusations against Israel – lethal narratives – as if they were eminently credible, indeed as if they actually happened, in other words as news. These reports had their desired effect in the conflict, supporting the “underdog” and “leveling the playing field,” prolonging the war, protecting the Palestinians from Israeli efforts to prevent their terror attacks, and severely damaging Israel’s global image.

 

The impact, however, went far beyond what these reporters imagined. They had an electric effect on Muslims the world over, including the West. Given overwhelming proof – the Western media reported it – of the victimization of Muslims in Palestine, many a triumphalist Muslim awoke to the siren call of Jihad. Demonstrations in the West made ample room for a newly aggressive Muslim Street, and recruiting for Jihad made great headway in the heart of the enemy. In particular, Europe’s largely unassimilated Muslim population radicalized significantly.

 

Indeed, lethal journalists, in their cognitive disorientation, didn’t realize that, in purveying Palestinian propaganda as news, they greatly amplified not Palestinian “nationalist” efforts to get their “self-determination,” but instead they mainstreamed Jihadi war propaganda that targeted their own societies as much as Israeli – all kufar to be either converted, dhimmified, or eliminated. In so acting, they engaged in an unprecedented form of war journalism, not the traditional patriotic version of lying for your own side, but own-goal war journalism, where the journalists lied for their side’s enemies.

 

Why did they do this? A close look at the lethal journalism at work against Israel reveals a striking underlying pattern: not only did it report often false accusations against Israel that incited outrage and hatred, but it did not report (or played down) often true stories about the Palestinians – their terrorism, their mistreatment of their own people, and their genocidal incitement to hatred of the Jews.

 

Here was pattern of compliance with Palestinian “Media Protocols” that essentially demanded that journalists report the conflict as a black and white morality tale: Israelis were always the aggressors and Palestinians always the victims, resisting the occupation. This obedience to the demands of Palestinian Jihadis in fact replicated itself in the broader journalistic coverage of global Jihadi efforts. In this sense, both the lethal, own-goal war journalism of the journalists reporting from the Middle East, and the disastrous misreporting on triumphalist Islam in the West, constitute what can best be described as Dhimmi journalism, that is, journalism that follows the rules of the dhimma: do not offend Muslims and attack those who do offend Muslims. Of all the things that help us understand why the West has fared so badly in countering Jihadi cogwar in the 21st century, this across the boards failure of the Western MSNM, stands at the head of the list.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Prof. Landes, a CIJR Academic Fellow, delivered the keynote address                                   

at CIJR’s Dateline Middle East Student Magazine launch, Sept. 26, 2016

           

 

Contents                                                                                                                                   

                                                                         

THE ACCELERATING EROSION OF                                                                      

THE POST-ZIONIST HEBREW MEDIA                                                                                                        

Isi Leibler                                                                                                                       

Candidly Speaking, Aug. 31, 2016

 

Haaretz, Israel’s oldest Hebrew daily newspaper, was established in 1918 by a group of left-leaning businessmen. In 1937, Salman Schocken bought the newspaper and it was edited by his son Gershom until his death in 1990.  Although its circulation was never high when compared to the tabloids Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth, it has for many years been regarded as the most influential intellectual newspaper in Israel with its readership including leading political and economic elites. It was considered a liberal newspaper although its economic section was conservative, and it published many outstanding feature articles.

 

After Gershom died, his son Amos assumed the role of chairman, CEO and publisher. In August 2006, 25% of the shares of Haaretz were sold to the German publisher M. DuMont Schauberg, whose father was a Nazi party member and whose publishing enterprises promoted Nazi ideology. Although he passionately denies being post-Zionist, Amos imposed his radical left-wing ideology onto the newspaper which has now been transformed into a vehicle that provides much of the anti-Israeli sentiment and even anti-Semitic lies and distortions that are a boon to our adversaries.

 

It is difficult to comprehend the depths to which this once highly regarded newspaper has descended. There are still a number of level-headed commentators, such as Ari Shavit and Shlomo Avineri, and occasional “fig leaf” conservative columns contributed by Moshe Arens and Israel Harel. But the opinion section is overwhelmingly dominated by delusional anti-Zionists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who promote the idea that Israel was born in sin. Levy repeatedly reiterates that Israel is one of the world’s most brutal and tyrannical regimes in existence today and repeatedly accuses the Jewish state of being an apartheid state. Even publisher Schocken wrote a column titled “Only international pressure will end Israel apartheid.”

 

These demonic views of their own country would be more appropriate for publication in the Palestinian media than in an Israeli newspaper. Furthermore, even the reporting became as opinionated as op-ed articles, frequently totally distorting news events and placing Israel in the worst possible light. The reporting has also become selective in its news coverage, a prime example being the suppressed coverage of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s alleged corruption, in order not to create problems for the Gaza disengagement.

 

If Haaretz was restricted to an Israeli audience, its impact would be minimal as it has a small circulation and few Israelis are influenced by what it publishes. The real problem is the English language edition and its internet site, which is monitored by diplomats and reproduced by the global media. It serves to demonize and delegitimize Israel to countless internet readers throughout the world who are under the illusion that they are reading a reputable liberal Israeli newspaper. Pro-Israel Diaspora activists who would normally have protested the bias and even the anti-Semitic slant of anti-Israeli media outlets, have been confronted by editors who defended their approach on the grounds that it reflected the editorial policies of a respected daily Israeli newspaper.

 

The damage is incalculable. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that in recent years, the newspaper has caused more harm to the image of Israel than the combined efforts of our adversaries. Nothing demonstrates this more than the front-page headlines in 2009 based upon unsubstantiated evidence from the discredited Breaking the Silence group which first promoted the lie that Israeli soldiers were committing war crimes. After successive days in which Haaretz highlighted this blood libel, the IDF chief military advocate general released a report describing the accusations as “categorically false.” Instead of apologizing and expressing remorse, Haaretz responded sarcastically, suggesting that while the report showed the IDF to be “pure as snow,” implying that the accusers —fighters and commanders from some of its best combat units — were a bunch of liars and exaggerators.

 

Despite the unequivocal repudiation of these false allegations, the damage was done. The global media enthusiastically highlighted the news from the “influential” Israeli newspaper. This paved the way for subsequent allegations of Israeli war crimes, culminating in the now discredited Goldstone report, which remains a central feature of the defamation leveled against us by our adversaries. In this context, it should be mentioned that the recently appointed editor of the English edition, Noa Landau, is the life partner of Avner Gvaryahu, one of the most vocal and vicious activist leaders of Breaking the Silence.

 

Another notable example was the 2014 Haaretz Conference held in New York, where in deference to Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat, who addressed the conference, the Israeli flag was removed from the podium. The situation has continued to deteriorate, with more readers canceling subscriptions, even including many prominent left-wing supporters who can no longer tolerate the ever increasing anti-Israel hysteria that fills the pages of the paper. Irit Linur, a liberal columnist for the weekend edition, wrote to Schocken, “I feel that the State of Israel fundamentally revolts you. … I don’t want to subscribe to a newspaper that tries in every way to make me ashamed of my Zionism, my patriotism and my intelligence — three qualities that are most precious to me.”…

 

The harshest blow came from liberal American journalist icon Jeffrey Goldberg, who is regarded as the principal media source used by U.S. President Barack Obama in relation to Israel and Jewish affairs. Goldberg erupted after two American Jewish historians published an article in Haaretz accusing the U.N. of establishing a Jewish racist state that is today an extension of Western colonialism. They proudly announced that they would never set foot in any synagogue that supported Israel. Goldberg also responded to a recent Levy op-ed titled “Yes, Israel is an evil state” – which described Israel as an entity based on “pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake”. He announced that he was canceling his subscription, tweeting that “when neo-Nazis are emailing me links to Haaretz op-eds declaring Israel to be evil, I’m going to take a break.” He also noted that “I can read anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli things like this on other websites. There really no need for an Israeli website like this.”…                                                                                               

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

                                                                                   

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GREENS SHOULD FOLLOW GERMANY'S                                                                     

LEAD AND REJECT ISRAEL BOYCOTTS                                                                    

Benjamin Weinthal                                                                                                      

Huffington Post, Sept. 20, 2016

 

While Iran's regime continues to expand its nuclear facilities and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's war has caused a half million deaths, the Green parties in North America are bizarrely preoccupied with boycotting the Jewish state. The parties' counterpart in Germany is, however, a vehement opponent of the anti-Semitic boycott movement. The German Greens should serve as a model for Canadian and U.S. Greens to revise their anti-Israel positions.

 

Last month, the Green Party of Canada became the country's first party to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) targeting Israel. BDS claims to seek concessions from Israel to advance the cause of Palestinian statehood. The movement is actually against peace because it seeks to dismantle Israel and to impose a one-state solution, rather than two states for two peoples. While Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May personally rejects BDS as polarizing, she was overridden on the issue by voting delegates at her party's annual convention.

 

It is a topsy-turvy world when a political group devoted to protecting the environment prioritizes BDS over opposing Iran's nuclear aims — which have the potential to devastate humanity and the environment — and the Assad regime — which, along with its sponsors Iran, Russia and Hezbollah — has engaged in a scorched-earth policy in Syria. Iran's Lake Urmia is drying up, Tehran is beset by major air pollution and one of its nuclear facilities — Bushehr — lies on an earthquake-prone area.

 

Yet the Canadian Greens debated only two foreign policy resolutions at their convention, and both pertained to Israel. In addition to BDS, the other unsuccessfully called on the Canada Revenue Agency to remove the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, an organization at the forefront of protecting the natural environment in Israel for the benefit of all residents.

Across the border in the United States, Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, defended her support for BDS during an August CNN town hall discussion. Stein mirrors her Canadian counterparts in their apparent lack of concern regarding, for example, the Islamic State's genocidal acts toward Middle East Christians and Yazidis.

 

Fortunately, BDS remains controversial to many on the left in both the United States and Canada. Polling done within Canada's Green Party following the convention revealed that 44 per cent of the respondents believe that the party's anti-Israel boycott policy should be repealed entirely, while 28.1 per cent believe that it should "not [be] tied to one actor or one movement" — such as Israel. More broadly, in a statement largely ignored by the print media, the former democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders linked BDS to modern anti-Semitism. When asked if he agreed with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that BDS can be equated with anti-Semitism, Sanders told MSNBC: "I think there is some of that, absolutely."

 

The most powerful and influential Green Party is in Germany. The German Greens served as a coalition partner to the Social Democrats in the federal government from 1998 to 2005. The party is represented in state governments across the Federal Republic. In Baden-Württemberg, where a Green Party politician is the governor, party spokeswoman Eva Muszar said in June: "We Greens reject a boycott of Israel, as well as BDS. The BDS campaign aggressively calls for a boycott of Israeli goods and organizations, and is collectively directed against Jewish Israelis and uses anti-Semitic prejudices."

 

Just this month, the national teachers' union in Germany, with its nearly 281,000 members, termed BDS anti-Semitic. Moreover, the BDS campaign deceptively listed Greenpeace Germany on a petition as a supporter, prompting the NGO to demand that the BDS campaign immediately remove its name from the document. All of this may reflect the fact that Germans have a greater than usual consciousness about where boycotts of Jews lead. After all, the first phase of the Hitler movement was a nation-wide boycott of Jewish businesses. But aside from any historical sensitivities, the opposition of the Green Party — and of other left-of-centre parties in the Federal Republic — to BDS is premised on the notion that the boycott movement is discriminatory, harmful to many Palestinians employed by Israeli companies, and destructive to hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

 

Another reason to be suspicious of the BDS movement is for its links to terrorism, which has been a recurring theme in the media and in policy debates. One of Austria's largest banks, BAWAG, pulled the plug on the account of the pro-BDS Austrian-Arab Culture Center (OKAZ) in June. OKAZ had sponsored a lecture with Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been designated by Canada and the EU as a terrorist organization. Khaled helped hijack TWA Flight 840 in 1969. A year later, she participated in the hijacking of EL AL Flight 219.

 

Bret Stephens recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal of a disturbing finding: In the case of several American organizations that were designated, shut down or held civilly liable for providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas, a significant contingent of their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign. French and German banks have closed BDS accounts in their countries. France has the most robust anti-BDS law in Europe. France's 2003 Lellouche law has been applied to punish Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions activists for singling out Israel based on national origin…If Green parties wish to enter the mainstream, they should replicate the forward-thinking policies of the German Greens and their rejection of BDS. BDS is a dead-end street filled with potholes of terrorism and discrimination.

 

Contents           

ATTENTION NORWAY: STICK TO POLAR BEARS, DISREGARD BDS

Judith Bergman

Israel Hayom, Sept. 2, 2016  

 

One of the world’s northernmost inhabited places is Longyearbyen, a small town of about 2,000 people in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is a place of indescribable beauty, filled with an untouched arctic wilderness that will leave you in constant awe, simply grateful to be alive to witness such staggering wonders: untouched arctic landscapes, blueish glaciers and frozen tundra, which is home to an arctic wildlife that includes polar bears. Indeed, the most dangerous neighbors a human being can come across in Svalbard are polar bears, which is why it is prohibited to venture outside Longyearbyen without a weapon. Longyearbyen’s residents come from all over the world and the place feels as far removed from any kind of international politics as you could possibly imagine.

 

Ever since my husband and I visited this place, we have spoken about going back, and my husband has even taken to reading Svalbardposten — the world’s northernmost newspaper. It was during the perusal of this usually apolitical source of news — it is not uncommon for nine out of 10 headlines to include polar bears in some form or other — that my husband jumped from his chair, pointing to the computer screen in horror. I looked at the headline, which said, “Boycott Israel!”

 

So there it was: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had made its way to the northernmost inhabited place on earth. The text was a letter to the editor, written last summer by a local priest, Leif Magne Helgesen, in which he was peddling the most outlandish claims, including that Israel is “a military regime” and encouraging his fellow Longyearbyen residents to boycott Israel. The priest had spent his summer vacation in a Palestinian-Arab village and had returned a full-fledged BDS warrior, ready to go against Israel, which he continued throughout his lengthy diatribe to describe as a “regime.”

 

There is something deeply ironic, tragicomically so, about a priest who does his business in the northernmost spot on earth, surrounded only by the Creator’s beauty and the occasional scare from a polar bear, isolated from the rest of the world and certainly from the issues of the Middle East, venting his antisemitic fury and rage at a country that could not possibly be further removed from him than Israel. It is also telling that this man is, of all things, a priest.

 

Unfortunately, it should not surprise us. Svalbard belongs to Norway, which according to a recent report by watchdog group NGO Monitor, has recently joined Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands in contributing funds to an organization funding NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s website, 5 million Norwegian kroner (over $600,000) was allocated to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (HR/IHL) Secretariat in the second half of 2016. According to the NGO Monitor report, the “HR/IHL Secretariat is an intermediary that distributes funds to nongovernmental organizations … active in BDS … campaigns and other forms of demonization against Israel. It is managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm, based in Sweden.”

 

Also according to the report, “80% of the HR/IHL Secretariat’s distributions are allocated to core NGO funding. NGO Monitor research shows that out of 24 core recipients, 13 support BDS, receiving $5.78 million (more than half) out of an operating budget of $10.38 million over the course of four years. Some grantees have also promoted antisemitic rhetoric and have apparent links to the PFLP terrorist organization. Core group members receiving funding include BADIL, Al-Haq, Addameer and MIFTAH, all vehemently anti-Israel NGOs at the forefront of BDS campaigns.”

 

How surprising is it, then, that a Norwegian citizen, even in such a remote and apolitical place such as Longyearbyen, joins the BDS bandwagon? It is not surprising at all. Official Norway, naturally, denies all wrongdoing. This was the response of the Norwegian Embassy in Israel to the findings of NGO Monitor: “We do not find their characterizations to be representative of the work that these organizations are doing. Norway does not tolerate hate speech, efforts to delegitimize Israel, or anti-Semitism and have close dialogue with all our partners to make sure this is understood. … Norway does not provide financial support to organizations whose main goal is to promote the BDS campaign.” How lovely it would be if Norwegians could just stick to looking out for polar bears instead of pathetically attempting to meddle in Israel’s business and then not even having the backbone to admit it.

 

 

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism Creates Caliphater BDS: Definitions: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, Sept. 23, 2016—The following is a set of definitions I will be using in a talk I’m giving on Sunday. They are, I think, critical terms in understanding what has happened in the 21st century, and why we’re losing a war of the minds with triumphalist imperialist zealots. I will post the talk after I deliver it.

Newsweek Middle East Editor Goes on Anti-Semitic Twitter Rant: Tower, Sept. 14, 2016—An editor of Newsweek Middle East launched into a Twitter tirade invoking several anti-Semitic tropes late last week, including that Jews are greedy and are not descended from biblical Hebrews, and therefore have no historical connection to Israel.

California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016—California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that prevents companies that boycott or discriminate against any sovereign state, including Israel, from doing business with the state.

Telling Our Positive Story Against BDS: Jon Haber, Algemeiner, Sept. 25, 2016—Anyone involved with organized pro-Israel politics has likely gotten caught up in heated discussions over how to set a narrative and get activists to stick with it during the course of a campaign. Themes, messaging calendars and lists of talking points are several of the devices that have been proposed, and sometimes implemented, to get our side to settle on and consistently tell the same story.

 

 

 

 

 

WITH ELECTIONs APPROACHING, NEW PRESSURES ON IRAN, WHICH “WANTS THE BOMB” — REVOLUTIONARY GUARD A NEW FOCUS

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

Effectively Confronting Tehran: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Jan. 8, 2013—As Americans seek to find an alternative to the stark and unappetizing choice of either accepting a rabid Iranian leadership that wields nuclear weapons or preemptively bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, one analyst offers a credible third path. Interestingly, it’s inspired by a long-ago policy toward a different foe — the Reagan administration’s ways of handling the Soviet Union — yet this unlikely model offers a useful prototype.

 

Don’t Be Fooled: Iran Wants The Bomb: Ahmad Hashemi, Times of Israel, Jan. 17, 2013—While at the Iranian foreign ministry, I served as interpreter for visiting dignitaries, diplomats and officials. I paid close attention to public proclamations and official statements. And I was present at inner-circle conversations in which a number of high-profile Iranian officials made no secret of their intention to go atomic.

 

Iran Faces a Rough 2013: Alireza Nader, Real Clear World, Jan. 3, 2013—For Iran, 2013 could be one of the most challenging years-both at home and in relations with the outside world-since the 1979 revolution. The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even an Israeli and/or U.S. military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Iranian Policy Toward Direct Nuclear Talks with the U.S.: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, January 17, 2013—The question of engagement with the United States has, to varying degrees, been a domestic issue in Iran since the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution. It has emerged in recent years in connection to important events and junctures, particularly with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. In Iran, just as in the United States, this issue serves as a tool in political struggles between the different camps and is raised when it furthers some political purpose or other. Download as PDF.

 

 

The Next Chernobyl?: Khosrow B. Semnani & Gary M. Sandquist, New York Times, Jan. 2, 2013

Iranian Support for Palestinian Terrorist Organizations: Meir Amit Terrorism Information Centre,  Jan. 7, 2013

The Tehran Terror Trail: Editorial, New York Daily News, Jan. 13, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

EFFECTIVELY CONFRONTING TEHRAN

Daniel Pipes

National Review, January 8, 2013

 

As Americans seek to find an alternative to the stark and unappetizing choice of either accepting a rabid Iranian leadership that wields nuclear weapons or preemptively bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, one analyst offers a credible third path. Interestingly, it’s inspired by a long-ago policy toward a different foe — the Reagan administration’s ways of handling the Soviet Union — yet this unlikely model offers a useful prototype.
 

Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. district judge and legal adviser to the State Department, now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues in the forthcoming Taking On Iran: Strength, Diplomacy and the Iranian Threat that since the fall of the shah during the Carter administration, Washington “has responded to Iranian aggression with ineffective sanctions and empty warnings and condemnations.”

 

Not since 1988, he notes, has the U.S. government focused on the Iranian military force that specifically protects the country’s Islamic order and most often attacks abroad, variously called the “Pasdaran” or “Sepah” in Persian, the “Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps” (IRGC) in English. This roughly 125,000-strong elite force, created in 1980, has an outsized role in Iran’s political and economic life. It possesses its own army, navy, and air-force units, it controls ballistic missile programs, and it shares control over the country’s nuclear program. It runs the Basij, which enforces strict Islamic mores on the Iranian public. Its military forces are more important than the regular armed forces. Its Quds Force of about 15,000 agents spreads the Khomeini revolution abroad via infiltration and assassination. Its graduates staff key positions in the Iranian government.

 

The IRGC has played a lead role attacking Americans, their allies, and their interests, especially when one includes the IRGC’s many documented surrogates and partners, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muqtada al-Sadr movement, even the Taliban and al-Qaeda. IRGC accomplishments include the 1983 Marine barracks and U.S. embassy bombings in Lebanon, the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Jewish targets in Argentina, the 1996 Khobar barracks bombing in Saudi Arabia, the 2011 attempt to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and the provisioning of Hamas with missiles for its 2012 war with Israel (weapons that are already being re-provisioned).

 

In all, IRGC attacks have caused the deaths of more than 1,000 American soldiers and of many more members of other armed forces and non-combatants. The U.S. government has condemned the IRGC as a state sponsor of terrorism and designated it as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. Sofaer advocates a supple two-pronged approach to Tehran: “Confront IRGC aggression directly and negotiate with Iran.”

 

Confrontation means Washington exploits “the full range of options available to curb the IRGC short of preventive attacks on nuclear sites.” He argues that U.S. forces have the right to and should target factories and storage facilities for arms, facilities associated with the IRGC (bases, ports, trucks, planes, ships), arms shipments about to be exported, and IRGC units. Sofaer’s goal is not only to curb IRGC violence but also to “undermine IRGC credibility and influence, and help convince Iran to negotiate in earnest” over its nuclear-weapons program.

 

Negotiation means talking to Tehran about outstanding issues rather than trying to punish it with aloofness. Sofaer quotes James Dobbins, a former special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, as expressing this view: “It is time to apply to Iran the policies which won the Cold War, liberated the Warsaw Pact, and reunited Europe: détente and containment, communication whenever possible, and confrontation whenever necessary. We spoke to Stalin’s Russia. We spoke to Mao’s China. In both cases, greater mutual exposure changed their system, not ours. It’s time to speak to Iran, unconditionally, and comprehensively.” More broadly, along with Chester A. Crocker, another former American diplomat, Sofaer sees diplomacy as “the engine that converts raw energy and tangible power into meaningful political results.”

 

Confronting and negotiating in tandem, Sofaer expects, will put great pressure on Tehran to improve its behaviour generally (e.g., regarding terrorism) and possibly lead it to shut down the nuclear program, while leaving available a pre-emptive strike on the table “if all else fails.” Former secretary of state George P. Shultz, in his foreword to Taking on Iran, calls Sofaer’s idea “an alternative that should have been implemented long ago.” Indeed, the time is well overdue to respond to IRGC atrocities with the language of force, the only language that Iranian leaders understand — and this might have the additional benefit of avoiding greater hostilities.

 

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

DON’T BE FOOLED: IRAN WANTS THE BOMB

Ahmad Hashemi

Times of Israel, Jan. 17, 2013

 

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili recently said his country has agreed to resume talks on its nuclear program later this month. At the same time, the IAEA and the international community, particularly the European countries, have stepped up efforts to revitalize the futile negotiating process. During my four and a half years as an employee of the Iranian foreign ministry, I learned beyond doubt, that my country’s participation in talks is purely a stalling tactic….

 

It was almost a decade ago that the People’s Mujahedin, Iran’s leftist opposition in exile, first revealed the clandestine nuclear activities carried out by the regime, providing the exact addresses of some of the facilities, and letting the world know about the Islamic theocracy’s true ambitions for acquiring nuclear bombs. Since then, Iran has attended dozens of negotiating rounds merely to convince naïve politicians and dewy-eyed peaceniks that it is telling the truth. Within this context, Tehran maintains that it is trying to use diplomatic means to prove that Iran is merely working to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in order to meet increasing domestic energy demand as it runs out of fuel. Iran likewise exploits the matter at home, whipping up populist nationalism with leftist-style demagoguery that depicts its nuclear program as a cardinal matter of national pride.

 

But a lie remains a lie, whether it is repeated ceaselessly in international forums or broadcast all day to the Iranian masses. While at the Iranian foreign ministry, I served as interpreter for visiting dignitaries, diplomats and officials. I paid close attention to public proclamations and official statements. And I was present at inner-circle conversations in which a number of high-profile Iranian officials made no secret of their intention to go atomic. I personally witnessed the following examples:

 

In April 2005, after organizing several meetings in his office at the Discernment Council headquarters, I was invited to a meeting at the home of Mohsen Rezai, the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council and a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) during the Iran-Iraq war. I was invited in my capacity as a founding member of of the short-lived Islamic Association for Students and Academicians (IASA, which was dissolved the next year), together with Ruhollah Solgi, the IASA secretary general. (Today, Solgi is the governor of Aran va Bidgol County in the Isfahan region.) We were asked to come and exchange views on the overall situation on the upcoming presidential election campaign in which Mr. Rezai was preparing to run as a presidential nominee.

 

Rezai’s home was located in the Shahrak Shahid Daghayeghi Complex at the outskirts of the Lavizan forests in northeast Tehran. We went to a spacious, concrete villa on the last block of the fenced in and tightly patrolled neighbourhood, which provides housing primarily for IRGC officers and other high-profile officials. When we arrived, Rezai was busy meeting various military and political figures, including generals from the IRGC. At this private meeting in his house, while castigating former reformist president Khatami for his compromising approach towards the West, Mohsen Rezai strongly advocated the idea of acquiring nuclear bombs for “deterrent purposes.” He referred to such a weapon as a “holy Islamic bomb” needed to defy the bullying approach of global arrogance. Mentioning that even Khomeini approved of acquiring an atomic bomb to safeguard the interests of Islam during Iran-Iraq war, he argued that everything is allowed for the sake of Islam, including using WMDs and the mass killing of civilians.

 

In early 2012, Ali Bagheri, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was meeting his Indian counterpart at a dinner reception at India’s embassy in Tehran. While we waited for the Indian official, who had been delayed in traffic, to arrive, I heard the Iranian foreign ministry’s director for Europe and America, Ahmad Sobhani, ask Mr. Bagheri about the Supreme Leader’s latest views on the 5+1 negotiations. Bagheri replied that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remained adamant and increasingly convinced that “we should expedite our efforts and diversify our secret facilities to achieve our goal before it is too late.”

 

In early February 2012, I was present at a confidential meeting at which Iran’s deputy head of the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation was negotiating with the North Korean ambassador in order to obtain nuclear technology for Iran in exchange for financial support. In my foreign ministry position, I interpreted at meetings between my country and international chemical weapons inspectors. The Iranian side, known as the Escort Team, included officials from the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Intelligence, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Industry. They met with representatives from the Hague-based chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as Inspection Team.

 

I was present throughout these encounters, which included a Pre-Inspection Briefing prepared for the visitors by Iran, on-site visits at chemical production plants, and summation deliberations and conclusions….I interpreted as the Iranian defense officials misinformed and deceived the inspectors. With such a history of producing weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical weapons, why should anyone believe that Iran is not intent on producing an atomic bomb?

 

All previous meetings between Iran and the 5+1 failed because Iran was never serious about curbing its nuclear programs. After seven years, the West and particularly the Obama administration are still hopeful that they can achieve progress through negotiations. Tehran may have slowed down tactically, but undoubtedly, as the former commander of Iran’s revolutionary guards Mohsen Rezai once said, “Iran’s long-term policy and strategic vision is to acquire a holy Islamic atomic bomb.”

 

Using a well-known concept in Shiite jurisprudence known as the expedient or altruistic lie, Iranian officials are perfectly willing to lie when it comes to their intentions and programs. The enlightened nations would do well to understand the religious underpinnings of Iranian diplomats’ big lies in contrast with European negotiators. Once the extent of the deception is understood, the question should be not whether Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful but rather when and how the program can be safely terminated.

 

Ahmad Hashemi, was born in Qom, Iran. He has a Master’s Degree in American Studies from the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s School of International Relations. In January 2008, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an English, Turkish, Arabic interpreter. Active in the 2009 pro-democracy Green Movement protests  he was forced to flee Iran and currently is seeking political asylum in Turkey. 

 

 

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IRAN FACES A ROUGH 2013

Alireza Nader

Real Clear World, Jan. 3, 201

 

For Iran, 2013 could be one of the most challenging years-both at home and in relations with the outside world-since the 1979 revolution. The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even an Israeli and/or U.S. military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program.

 

But the world's only modern theocracy also must deal with twin domestic challenges– deepening malaise among the young and increasing tensions among the political elite. Both could be important factors in the presidential election scheduled for June 14, which will feature a new slate of candidates since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will have served the two-term limit. Home-grown problems could outweigh the regime's foreign policy woes.

 

Iran and the world's major powers have all indicated an interest in a new round of diplomatic talks in 2013 to end the long standoff over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. The gap is still enormous, however, after three rounds in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow in 2012. The big question is whether Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is truly interested in making a deal-and on terms that will also satisfy the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

 

Khamenei is not easily swayed by pressure. He has survived imprisonment and lived through the revolution, assassination attempts, the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, popular uprisings, and decades of sanctions. He views Iran's uranium enrichment program not only as a natural and legal right, but also a measure of Tehran's success against the United States. In 2012, he often publicly talked about the U.S. "decline" in the Middle East, reflected in part by the fall of three pro-American rulers with other U.S. allies wobbling. Tehran also spins the so-called Arab Spring as an "Islamic awakening" modeled on its own Islamic revolution.

 

Despite what he says publicly, however, Khamenei is also savvy enough to know that the same political changes represent new challenges for his regime as well. Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tehran's most important Arab ally, is under siege from a protest movement that turned into a surprisingly powerful military campaign. The spillover impacts Lebanon's Hezbollah, which also faces its own unique problems. And other regional powers, most notably Turkey, are increasingly questioning Iran's geopolitical aspirations.

 

Iran begins 2013 with growing economic woes that may be an important calculation in Khamenei's decision. He needs tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues to maintain a vast and often loyal network that has maintained his rule as Iran's ultimate leader for the past 23 years. But the world's toughest sanctions, soaring inflation, and the plummeting value of Iran's currency produced the perfect economic storm in 2012. And Tehran's economic crisis will not end any time soon.

 

Iran's oil exports declined by as much as one-half in 2012, a factor that could produce additional pressure from key Khamenei constituents, including the Bazaar merchant class and the powerful Revolutionary Guards. But chronic mismanagement is the chief cause of Iran's economic problems. After his 2005 election, President Ahmadinejad eliminated economic planning agencies such as the Management and Planning Organization. He also sidelined skilled technocrats who were not politically loyal to him. He fuelled inflation by injecting massive cash into the economy and reducing subsidies. During his presidency, imports of goods from Asia and Europe skyrocketed, contributing to the closure or bankruptcy of hundreds of Iranian factories. The list goes on and on.

 

Corruption across the regime has contributed to the economic crisis. In 2012, the Islamic Republic was perceived as one of the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International. It ranked 133rd-tied with Russia, Kazakhstan, Honduras and Guyana-out of the 176 countries and territories that were ranked.

 

The Revolutionary Guards, which control large parts of the economy, are also reportedly corrupt. The most powerful military organization in Iran has charitable foundations that are tax-exempt and largely free of government scrutiny. The Guards have also been linked to illicit smuggling and narcotics trafficking. Some veteran officers have reportedly amassed significant wealth.

 

The economy is now the Islamic Republic's Achilles Heel. Iran has been successful in educating millions of Iranians and rebuilding its infrastructure after the Iran-Iraq War. But it has not reached the potential of a country with one of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas and a well-educated and resourceful population.

 

The Islamic Republic begins 2013 with anxiety among both the public and the government over the impending presidential election. The 2009 election produced the deepest political schism since the revolution, with millions turning out in massive popular protests across the country to challenge the official outcome. It gave birth to the opposition Green Movement and created an enduring crisis of legitimacy for the Supreme Leader.

 

The 2013 election may be more tightly scripted than any earlier presidential race to prevent serious debates or competition….In December 2012, the Iranian parliament passed legislation requiring all candidates to have the endorsement of more than 100 of the regime's "experts" and to be between the ages of 40 and 75. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who has long been Khamenei's main political rival and a focus of hardline ire, is now 78 years old and ran again in 2005 against Ahmadinejad, but lost. He is now excluded from running again….

 

The spectrum of rivals reflects the unprecedented divisions. All were among the early revolutionaries who ousted the shah and hung together for more than a decade. Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who had Khamenei's full endorsement just four years ago, is now perceived as a threat to the Supreme Leader's hold on power. But the most important challenge to the regime may still come from the Green Movement. Its symbolic leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are under house arrest but they remain a potent threat to Khamenei's rule, perhaps even more than an Israeli military strike or U.S. sanctions.

 

Alireza Nader is a senior policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and a lecturer on Iranian politics at the George Washington University.

 

 

 

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The Next Chernobyl?: Khosrow B. Semnani & Gary M. Sandquist, New York Times, Jan. 2, 2013—A Chernobyl-type nuclear meltdown in Bushehr [Iran] would not only inflict severe damage in southern Iran, but also in the six oil and gas-rich Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, the capitals of those states are closer to Bushehr than Tehran. Nuclear radiation in the air and water would disrupt the Strait of Hormuz shipping, the world’s most important oil choke point. Oil prices would skyrocket. The world economy would face a hurricane.

 

Iranian Support for Palestinian Terrorist Organizations: Meir Amit Terrorism Information Centre,  Jan. 7, 2013—The military capabilities of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were revealed in Operation Pillar of Defense. Those capabilities were the product of massive Iranian support constructed around an arsenal of many thousands of rockets, both standard and manufactured by the terrorist organizations themselves (using Iranian technical knowhow).

 

Iranian Policy Toward Direct Nuclear Talks with the U.S.: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, January 17, 2013—The question of engagement with the United States has, to varying degrees, been a domestic issue in Iran since the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution. It has emerged in recent years in connection to important events and junctures, particularly with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. In Iran, just as in the United States, this issue serves as a tool in political struggles between the different camps and is raised when it furthers some political purpose or other. Download as PDF.

 

The Tehran Terror Trail: Editorial, New York Daily News, Jan. 13, 2013—The temperature is spiking in the warm war between the U.S. and Iran. President Obama’s national security team, which has a history of trying to engage the mullahtocracy, must recognize the limits of talk.

 

 

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