Tag: John Kerry



Obama’s Final, Most Shameful, Legacy Moment: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2016— “When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.”

Obama’s Last-Minute Backstab Against Israel: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, Dec. 28, 2016 — Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively.

UN, Obama Further Radicalize Palestinians: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 29, 2016— Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal…

The Resilience of Israel: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 29, 2016— Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States…


On Topic Links


Obama and Trump are Engaged in a $3 Billion Game of Chicken Over Israel: Jake Novak, CNBC, Dec. 27, 2016

Can Trump Construct a New World Order?: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Dec. 18, 2016

A New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking: Arik Elman, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2016

How Obama Cracked Jewish Solidarity: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Jan. 3, 2017





                                                Charles Krauthammer

                                                   Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2016


“When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” — Barack Obama, AIPAC conference, March 4, 2012.


The audience — overwhelmingly Jewish, passionately pro-Israel and supremely gullible — applauded wildly. Four years later — his last election behind him, with a month to go in office and with no need to fool Jew or gentile again — Obama took the measure of Israel’s back and slid a knife into it. People don’t quite understand the damage done to Israel by the U.S. abstention that permitted passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel over settlements. The administration pretends this is nothing but a restatement of long-standing U.S. opposition to settlements.


Nonsense. For the past 35 years, every administration, including a reelection-seeking Obama himself in 2011, has protected Israel with the U.S. veto because such a Security Council resolution gives immense legal ammunition to every boycotter, anti-Semite and zealous European prosecutor to penalize and punish Israelis. An ordinary Israeli who lives or works in the Old City of Jerusalem becomes an international pariah, a potential outlaw. To say nothing of the soldiers of Israel’s citizen army. “Every pilot and every officer and every soldier,” said a confidant of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, “we are waiting for him at The Hague,” i.e. the International Criminal Court.


Moreover, the resolution undermines the very foundation of a half-century of American Middle East policy. What becomes of “land for peace” if the territories that Israel was to have traded for peace are, in advance, declared to be Palestinian land to which Israel has no claim? The peace parameters enunciated so ostentatiously by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday are nearly identical to the Clinton parameters that Yasser Arafat was offered and rejected in 2000 and that Abbas was offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Abbas, too, walked away.


Kerry mentioned none of this because it undermines his blame-Israel narrative. Yet Palestinian rejectionism works. The Security Council just declared the territories legally Palestinian — without the Palestinians having to concede anything, let alone peace. What incentive do the Palestinians have to negotiate when they can get the terms — and territory — they seek handed to them for free if they hold out long enough? The administration claims a kind of passive innocence on the text of the resolution, as if it had come upon it at the last moment. We are to believe that the ostensible sponsors — New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and a Venezuela that cannot provide its own people with toilet paper, let alone food — had for months been sweating the details of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem.


Nothing new here, protests deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes: “When we see the facts on the ground, again, deep into the West Bank beyond the separation barrier, we feel compelled to speak up against those actions.” This is a deception. Everyone knows that remote outposts are not the issue. Under any peace, they will be swept away. Even right-wing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in one of these West Bank settlements, has stated publicly that “I even agree to vacate my settlement if there really will be a two-state solution.” Where’s the obstacle to peace?


A second category of settlement is the close-in blocs that border 1967 Israel. Here, too, we know in advance how these will be disposed of: They’ll become Israeli territory and, in exchange, Israel will swap over some of its land to a Palestinian state. Where’s the obstacle to peace here?


It’s the third category of “settlement” that is the most contentious and that Security Council Resolution 2334 explicitly condemns: East Jerusalem. This is not just scandalous; it’s absurd. America acquiesces to a declaration that, as a matter of international law, the Jewish state has no claim on the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, indeed the entire Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. They belong to Palestine. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in all of Judaism. That it should be declared foreign to the Jewish people is as if the Security Council declared Mecca and Medina to be territory to which Islam has no claim. Such is the Orwellian universe Israel inhabits.


At the very least, Obama should have insisted that any reference to East Jerusalem be dropped from the resolution or face a U.S. veto. Why did he not? It’s incomprehensible — except as a parting shot of personal revenge on Benjamin Netanyahu. Or perhaps as a revelation of a deep-seated antipathy to Israel that simply awaited a safe political interval for public expression. Another legacy moment for Barack Obama. And his most shameful.           




Clifford D. May                                                                                                     

Washington Times, Dec. 28, 2016


Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, P.I.J. spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong. Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will be a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas’ “appreciation.”


Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama, who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the UN, an organization that exhibits passivity when it comes to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, the conflict in Yemen, failing states — the list goes on and on.


The UN does, however, expend considerable energy railing against the world’s only Jewish state, a tiny democratic nation on the front lines of the war against radical Islam, a war the West is fighting in only the most desultory fashion. This year alone, the UN General Assembly passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel, compared to one against Iran and none against Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela and China. With assistance from President Obama, who instructed his ambassador not to veto Resolution 2334, the Security Council has now piled on as well.


For decades, Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it would be “unwise” to give the Security Council the responsibility “to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Those words were spoken by Susan Rice, Obama’s first ambassador to the UN when, following his instructions in 2011, she blocked a similar resolution. But back then Obama still had one more presidential election to win so antagonizing Israel’s supporters may have seemed ill-advised. Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps Obama sincerely believes that a two-state solution could be achieved if only Israel would withdraw from the “occupied territories.” If so, he’s ignoring both history and experience. Start with the fact that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders first rejected a two-state solution back in 1948 — almost a generation before Israelis took possession of the West Bank and Gaza.


Those lands fell to Israel as a consequence of the 1967 war, one of several attempts by Israel’s neighbours to drive the despised Jews into the sea. It was from Jordan and Egypt respectively that Israel took those territories. Palestinians had never governed them. But that led to a bright idea: Why not trade land for peace with the Palestinians? With President Bill Clinton serving as honest broker, specific offers were put on the table in 2000 and then again in 2001. Another offer was proffered in 2008. Palestinian leaders turned them down. They made no counteroffers.


In 2005, an experiment was conducted: Israelis withdrew from one of the occupied territories. Within two years, Hamas was firmly in charge of Gaza, from which it began launching missiles at Israeli villages. Israelis learned a lesson. The “international community” did not. On the contrary, President Obama and the UN Security Council have just told the Israelis that they envision a land-for-peace deal that omits the peace part. Meanwhile, on the West Bank, only thanks to Israel’s military and intelligence presence (read: occupation) does Fatah maintain its hold on power. Mahmoud Abbas, who leads both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, is no wild-eyed jihadi. But, he, too, refuses to acknowledge the right of Jews to self-determination in any part of their ancient homeland.


Resolution 2334 demands nothing of Palestinians. Its definition of “occupied territory” is extreme, including even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Conquered in 1949 by Jordan’s Arab Legion, it was then “cleansed” of Jews. Synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed. Jewish holy places were desecrated. The UN, of course, did nothing. Look at the map: across North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Pakistan, there is only one state not ruled by Muslims, only one in which minorities — ethnic, religious, sexual — are guaranteed basic human rights. The dream of P.I.J, Hamas, the Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic revolutionaries is to destroy that exceptional state, to incorporate it into a new empire — an empire that, over time, is to expand well beyond the region.


Obama has now encouraged that dream. That will be his legacy. And he still has a few weeks left to do more damage. I wouldn’t put it past him. The day before the UN vote, President-elect Trump stated what President Obama once claimed to believe, that “peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.” After the vote, he added: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”


His nominee for ambassador, David Friedman, has proposed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That would be an appropriate response to this latest provocation. Among the additional measures Mr. Trump will consider: dramatically reducing American funding for the UN. Like other transnational progressives, Obama regards the UN as a proto-global government. Mr. Trump, an anti-globalist, does not. It will be useful for him to emphasize that so long as he’s in the White House, America’s sovereignty will not be surrendered to transnational organizations, America’s tax dollars will not be squandered on transnational organizations, America’s enemies will not be rewarded and America’s allies will be abused no longer.   






Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 29, 2016


Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, Palestinian leaders are now threatening to step up their diplomatic warfare against Israel — a move that is sure to sabotage any future effort to revive the moribund peace process. Other Palestinians, meanwhile, view the resolution as license to escalate "resistance" attacks on Israel. By "resistance," of course, they mean terror attacks against Israel. The UNSC resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand.


Meanwhile, the Palestinians are not wasting any time by waiting for the international community to act against Israel on their behalf. Rather, they are thinking of ways of taking advantage of the UNSC vote to promote their campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, especially in the international arena. One thing is certain: Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies are not planning to return to the negotiating table with Israel. In fact, they are more belligerent, confrontational and defiant than ever.


In the days following the UNSC vote, the voices emerging from Ramallah and the Gaza Strip clearly indicate that Palestinians have put themselves on a collision course with Israel. This bodes badly for any peace process. Earlier this week, Abbas convened the PLO Executive Committee — a decision-making body dominated by his loyalists — to discuss the implications of the new resolution. The declared purpose of the meeting: to discuss the decisions and strategy that the Palestinian leadership needs to take in the aftermath of the resolution.


The decisions announced following the PLO meeting are a clear sign of the new approach that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have endorsed. The Palestinian leaders have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations, with Israel. They see the UNSC resolution, particularly the US abstention, as a charge sheet against Israel that is to be leveraged in their diplomatic effort to force Israel to its knees.


The PLO decisions include, among other things, an appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an "immediate judicial investigation into Israeli colonial settlements on the land of the independent State of Palestine." Another decision envisages asking Switzerland to convene a meeting to look into ways of forcing Israel to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949, defines "humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone."


The appeal to the ICC and Switzerland is part of Abbas's strategy to "internationalize" the conflict with Israel, by involving as many parties as possible. In this context, Abbas is hoping that the UNSC resolution will ensure the "success" of the upcoming French-initiated Middle East peace conference, which is slated to convene in Paris next month. For Abbas, the conference is another tool to isolate Israel in the international community, and depict it as a country that rejects peace with its Arab neighbors.


In addition, Abbas and his lieutenants in Ramallah are now seeking to exploit the UNSC resolution to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel: "The PLO Executive Committee renews its call to the world countries for a comprehensive and full boycott of Israeli colonialist settlements in all fields, as well as all companies working in or dealing with these settlements." One of Abbas's close associates, Mohamed Shtayyeh, hinted that the UNSC resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it. He said that this is the time to "bolster the popular resistance" against Israel. "Popular resistance" is code for throwing stones and petrol bombs and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.


The UNSC resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem, or any other part of Israel. Sheikh Ekrimah Sabri, a leading Palestinian Islamic cleric and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was quick to declare that the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem, belongs only to Muslims. Referring to the wall by its Islamic name, Sheikh Sabri announced: "The Al-Buraq Wall is the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Muslims cannot give it up."


While Abbas and his Palestinian Authority consider the UNSC resolution a license to proceed with their diplomatic warfare to delegitimize and isolate Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two groups that seek the elimination of Israel, are also celebrating. The two Gaza-based groups see the resolution as another step toward achieving their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. Leaders and spokesmen of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were among the first Palestinians to heap praise on the UNSC members who voted in favor of the resolution. They are also openly stating that the resolution authorizes them to step up the "resistance" against Israel in order to "liberate all of Palestine."…

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




                                                Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                           

National Review, Dec. 29, 2016


Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor. Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise…


Obama has long been at odds with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over objections from the Obama administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last year about the existential dangers of the Obama-brokered Iran deal and the likelihood of a new Middle East nuclear-proliferation race. Obama then doubled down on his irritation with Netanyahu through petty slights, such as making him wait during White House visits. In 2014, an official in the Obama administration anonymously said Netanyahu, a combat veteran, was a “coward” on Iran.


At a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, in 2011, Obama, in a hot-mic slip, trashed Netanyahu. He whined to French president Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.” In contrast, Obama bragged about his “special” relationship with autocratic Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Never mind that Erdogan seems to want to reconstruct Turkey as a modern Islamist version of the Ottoman Empire, or that he is anti-democratic while Israel is a consensual society of laws. The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare.


The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare. Half a million have died amid the moonscape ruins of Syria. A once-stable Iraq was overrun by the Islamic State. The Arab Spring, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the coup of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to regain control of Egypt, and the bombing of Libya all have left North Africa in turmoil. Iran has been empowered by the U.S.-brokered deal and will still become nuclear…


Yet in all this mess, somehow Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades. How? The answer is a combination of unintended consequences, deft diplomacy, political upheavals in Europe and the United States, and Israel’s own democratic traditions. Huge natural gas and oil finds off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights have radically changed Israel’s energy and financial positions. Israel no longer needs to import costly fossil fuels and may soon be an exporter of gas and oil to needy customers in Europe and the Middle East. (America recently became the world’s greatest producer of carbon energy and also no longer is dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports, resulting in less political influence by Arab nations.) Israel is creating its own version of Silicon Valley at Beersheba, which is now a global hub of cybersecurity research.


The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel. Rich Persian Gulf states see Obama as hostile both to Israel and to themselves, while he appeases the common enemy of majority-Shiite Iran.

Democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami. After a “leading from behind” U.S withdrawal from the Middle East, many Arab nations now see Israel more as a powerful ally against Iran than as an old existential enemy. They also see Israel as a country that has likewise been snubbed by America.


The idea of an Arab-Israeli understanding is surreal, but it is developing from shared fears of being targets of Iranian bombing and American indifference. Many of Israel’s neighbors are threatened by either ISIS or al-Qaeda nihilists. Those deadly dangers remind the world that democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami.


Changing Western politics are empowering Israel as well. More than 2 million migrants — for the most part, young males from the war-torn Middle East — have terrified Europe, especially after a series of radical Islamic-terrorist killings. Suddenly, Europe is far more worried about Israel’s neighbors than about lecturing Israel itself.


Pushback against the Obama administration extends to its foreign policy. President-elect Donald Trump may be more pro-Israel than any recent U.S. president. And he may be the first U.S. leader to move the American embassy to Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem. For all the chaos and dangers abroad, the map of global energy, Western politics, and Middle Eastern alliances has been radically redrawn. At the center is a far stronger Israel that has more opportunities than at any other time in its history. It will have an even brighter future after Obama has left office.



On Topic Links


Obama and Trump are Engaged in a $3 Billion Game of Chicken Over Israel: Jake Novak, CNBC, Dec. 27, 2016—President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump are engaged in a $3 billion game of chicken. It started last week when the United Nations began considering a deeply one-sided resolution calling on Israel to end all Jewish settlement building in disputed areas of the West Bank and even East Jerusalem without a single word calling on Palestinians to end violent attacks on civilians or do anything else.

Can Trump Construct a New World Order?: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Dec. 18, 2016—US President-Elect Donald Trump lacks foreign policy experience, and during the election campaign did not proffer any comprehensive outlook on global affairs. He offered bits and pieces of ideas (building a wall along the Mexican border, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, disparaging NATO, and demanding that allies raise their defense expenditures). Overall, he expressed isolationist sentiments alongside inconsistent and unpredictable thoughts. In any case, his focus is likely to be on domestic affairs.

A New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking: Arik Elman, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2016—Some of my friends — even intelligent friends — say that, however unpleasant, a Borat-esque “running of the Jew” must now be enacted, because we need a reminder that the two-state solution is the only way to be rid of the Palestinian problem, as we can’t absorb Palestinians into our state, can’t rule them and can’t deport them.

How Obama Cracked Jewish Solidarity: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Jan. 3, 2017—Fifty years from now Barack Obama will be known to most Americans as, quite simply, the first African-American president of the United States. Aside from this he will have precious little to distinguish himself other than in the notable electoral deterioration of the Democratic Party under his tenure.













A Crystal Ball on 2017: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2016— Alas, my crystal ball has been working well in recent years, accurately anticipating the troubles before Israel.

Responding to Obama’s Malicious Betrayal of Israel: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Dec. 29, 2016— As predicted, on the eve of his retirement President Barack Obama betrayed Israel.

The Main Antisemitic Incidents of 2016: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2016 — It has become a tradition that at year’s end the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes a selection of the year’s major antisemitic incidents.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Religious Freedom: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Religion and Ethics, Dec. 19, 2016— Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago.


On Topic Links


12 Reasons the US Should Never Have allowed UN Resolution 2334: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 29, 2016

Israel Sees 27,000 New Immigrants in 2016, Slight Dip From Previous Year: JNS, Dec. 29, 2016

Meet The Winners: Our Pick For 2016’s Coolest Israeli Startups: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 29, 2016

Campus Antisemitism: The Year in Review: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016



 A CRYSTAL BALL ON 2017              

David M. Weinberg                       

Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2016


Alas, my crystal ball has been working well in recent years, accurately anticipating the troubles before Israel. Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama: Two years ago, I impeccably predicted in these pages that Obama would cut a grand nuclear deal with the Iranians at Israel's expense. One year ago, I forecast that Obama would sandbag Israel with a "December surprise" — a hostile U.N. Security Council resolution in the seam zone between the Nov. 8 presidential election and the Jan. 20 inauguration of a new president. I also guessed correctly that Obama would never mention the words Islam and terrorism in the same sentence; not even once, right down to the dying days of his sad eight-year tenure.


Looking ahead, I sense that Obama will continue to ride on Israel's case. He is young, angry, petulant and unrepentant, and a true believer in Palestinian and Iranian rights and in his own prodigious powers. The presidency of the United States was just a stepping stone, in his view, toward real global clout. Obama will remain a thorn in Israel's behind, and surely in the side of his successor too. Watch for a series of revelatory Obama interviews with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which Obama will undiplomatically pour out his wrath on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and further delegitimize Israel, while repeatedly referencing the "legacy of Shimon Peres" as cover for his contempt.


Incoming President Donald Trump: I was wrong to dismiss Trump's candidacy for president as hopeless, but right to suggest that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was a realistic possibility. Now it will happen. I don't think that the Trump administration will sanction Israeli annexations in Judea and Samaria, but it can quietly green-light renewed Israeli building in the greater Jerusalem envelope, including E1, along the lines of the "Bush letter" understandings of 2004.


Equally important, Trump will reject the Obama administration's obsessive and false narratives about Israeli settlement construction being illegal, massive, and the main obstacle to peace. And he will acknowledge the plain reality that the status quo in Judea and Samaria is the least-worst option in the medium term. On another front, I doubt that Trump will throw the U.N. out of New York or cut its funding, despite Republican threats to do so. As the late, great Ed Koch once said of the U.N.: Every city needs a cesspool.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: I was wrong in predicting last year that Abbas would finally resign from his dictatorial perch in the Palestinian Authority. But I am confident in calculating that even if he does so this coming year, the Palestinian Authority won't collapse. That's because there is no precedent in business or international affairs of anybody just walking away from a $3 billion enterprise. More than 200,000 Palestinian families in the West Bank — a million people — are dependent on PA salaries and pension plans, paid by the international community and essentially buttressed by Israeli bayonets.


The PA's autocratic rule is the default and preferred paradigm for much of the Palestinian political elite (and for Israel). This gives the lie to the PA's threats to dissolve itself. Such threats are simply not credible. One more thing should be kept in mind: It is only ongoing invasive and pervasive security activity by the IDF that keeps the Palestinian Authority alive. Without this, there isn't a shred of a doubt that the PA would fall to Hamas rule within a matter of weeks. And then Jerusalem and Israel's Gush Dan heartland would be under assault from the strategic heights of Judea and Samaria. This is a reality that all those who still hanker for rapid establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state prefer to ignore.


Russian President Vladimir Putin: My analysis of the situation in Syria going back two years remains prescient. While Russia and Iran share an interest in stabilizing the Assad regime, Putin has no reason to provide cover for Iranian and Hezbollah operations against Israel. Thus careful Israeli maneuvering, for which Netanyahu deserves credit, has driven enough of a wedge between Russia and Iran to preserve Israel's freedom to operate against terrorist operations over our northern border.


The big question ahead is this: As Trump moves towards a strategic entente with Putin (with China as their common adversary), can Trump peel the Russians away from Iran, and secure Putin's cooperation in checking Iran's hegemonic troublemaking across the Middle East? I'm betting on this. Perhaps Putin will win the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing "stability" to Syria. After all, Obama won the prize for doing nothing at all.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: He will overcome all the pesky, petty investigations into his finances. Challenges to his Likud leadership by Gideon Sa'ar and Moshe Ya'alon will come to naught. His governing coalition will hold firm too. However, Netanyahu will find it increasingly difficult to square the circle diplomatically, even with Trump in the White House. It will be hard to strengthen Israel's hold on Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, and assert Israel's rights on the Temple Mount while fending off lawfare in the International Criminal Court and other forums. Unless and until Netanyahu adopts a real discourse of Israeli rights in Judea and Samaria (historic, religious and national), and doesn't just talk about its security needs, Israel will continue to lose ground internationally…

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




Isi Leibler                                                                                                   

Candidly Speaking, Dec. 29, 2016


As predicted, on the eve of his retirement President Barack Obama betrayed Israel. The former long-standing congregant of the paranoid anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright who has a penchant for supporting to the Moslem Brotherhood, broke with forty years of U.S. bipartisan policy of protecting the Jewish state from the wolves at the United Nations.


His action as a lame duck president was a last ditch effort aimed at undermining his successor’s intended policies, realizing that it is virtually impossible to rescind a Security Council resolution. At the end of his eight years in office he exhibited an unprecedented abuse of power knowing that in his last month he would be unaccountable, despite the fact that his vindictive initiative was totally opposed by Congress, the American people and even by many members of his own party.


European countries represented on the Security Council voted in favor of this abominable resolution 2334 which was essentially drafted and orchestrated by the US and ultimately initiated by New Zealand, a Western country whose foreign policy is largely determined by the extent that it promotes export of lamb. Its co-sponsors were the rogue state of Venezuela, as well as Malaysia and Senegal.


The resolution, passed during the week that Aleppo was conquered by President Assad in the midst of brutal torture and massacres of thousands of innocent civilians, highlights the duplicity and hypocrisy of the United Nations, a body dominated by anti-Israeli and rogue states with democracies groveling in an effort to appease the dominant Muslim nations. It will serve as an instrument for Israel’s adversaries to further promote boycott, divestment and sanctions and the International Criminal Court will be encouraged to define Israel as a criminal state.


It officially nullifies the disastrous Oslo Accords, negates UN Resolution 242 and repudiates the concept of defensible borders. It paves the way for criminalizing all settlers, including those in the major blocs that will always remain part of Israel and even Jews resident in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. It actually defines the Old City of Jerusalem and the Kotel (Western Wall) as occupied Palestinian territory.


In this context the Palestinians will demand that any future negotiations accept these bizarre territorial definitions as opening benchmarks – a status that no Israeli government would ever contemplate accepting. The UN Resolution has effectively negated the concept of direct negotiations, thus ensuring that a peaceful solution to the conflict is more remote than ever.


In this poisonous anti-Israeli international climate, we should not be influenced by the pessimistic prophets of doom in our midst. We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength. Despite the many initial concerns, we should thank the Almighty that the American people elected Donald Trump as president. Were we now faced with a Clinton Democratic Administration, which in all likelihood would retain Obama’s policies, we would be confronting a real nightmare.


In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully. He described the UN “just as a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time” and stressed that after January 20th “things at the UN will be different”. In the wake of his selection of pro-Israeli David Friedman as ambassador to Israel he appointed another pro-Israeli from his team, Jason Greenblatt as his point man for Middle East negotiations. He also demonstratively refused to grant an audience to retiring UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.


In light of these developments most of the mainstream Jewish leadership who were in denial for over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame. They remained silent as Obama treated Israel diplomatically as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the Ayatollah. They continued voting for him and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America who has now been more than vindicated.


Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias. The disgusting behavior of liberal mainstream leaders exploiting their positions to promote a partisan bias against Trump, including accusations of anti-Semitism against him and his co-workers before and during the elections, now stands out as being utterly unethical and outrageous.


After the elections the Anti-Defamation League, the religious Conservative and Reform leaders all issued statements conveying their anguish and even mourning the results. Some of these publicly supported the election to the Democratic Party leadership of the Muslim extreme left-wing anti-Israeli congressman Keith Ellison whilst bitterly protesting Trump’s appointment of a pro-Israeli ambassador. Others even protested that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would harm the peace process. The climax was the almost comic but bizarre boycott by major liberal mainstream Jewish organizations of a Hanukah celebration hosted by the Presidents’ Conference at the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington because it was being held in a Trump-owned hotel.


But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This U.N. resolution was not just about settlements. It was to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for anti-Semitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise. The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions and Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem including the Western Wall…

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





Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2016


It has become a tradition that at year’s end the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes a selection of the year’s major antisemitic incidents. When the list was started in 2010 it was two pages long. By last year it had tripled to six pages. Concerning 2016 there are two new aspects. The first is that a widely accepted definition of antisemitism has been in existence since May, namely that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).


Its acceptance required the approval of its 31 democratic member countries. The second aspect is that the perhaps largest antisemitic incident this year did not even mention Jews: in 2016, UNESCO accepted a resolution which refers to the Temple Mount exclusively as Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aksa Mosque. In so doing, it dissociated Jews (and Christians) from Jerusalem. This year it will be difficult for the SWC executives to do their work in view of the many major antisemitic incidents to choose from. A few suggestions thus may be helpful. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) coalition should be high on the list. Its platform falsely claims that Israel is an “apartheid state” which perpetrates genocide against the Palestinians.


Another prime candidate for the SWC list is Jeremy Corbyn, the extreme left-wing leader of the British Labour Party. Under his leadership antisemitism in the party has greatly expanded. Corbyn has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and for so many months refused to distance himself from that statement that when he finally did, it was meaningless. Corbyn promoted his strategy adviser Seumas Milne, who is a Hamas proponent. He also gave notorious antisemitic slur producer Ken Livingstone an important position in the party. The latter was later suspended because of antisemitic remarks about Hitler supporting Zionism. When the antisemitism in the party became clear, he chose an unqualified investigator who produced a highly unprofessional report on the issue. Corbyn’s acts do not fit the IHRA definition. This shows that the definition in relation to anti-Israel antisemitism is far too concise and should be complemented by a more detailed definition of this type of antisemitism…


The Muslim world is a prime supplier of antisemitic recidivists. One of these is the Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan. One statement from 2016 which qualifies him is “I don’t approve of what Hitler did, and neither do I approve of what Israel has done,” according to a translation by AFP. “When it’s a question of so many people dying, it’s inappropriate to ask who was the more barbarous.” In view of Hungarian antisemitism at least one candidate from that country should make the list. Perhaps it should be the Hungarian government for awarding antisemitic Magyar Hirlap columnist and conservative party Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer the “Hungarian Middle Cross,” the third highest decoration of achievement the government bestows.


No annual list of antisemitic slurs can be complete without including candidates from the Scandinavian hotbeds of hypocrisy and antisemitism, Norway and Sweden. The third largest Norwegian town, Trondheim, is now in the running as candidate for Europe’s capital of the anti-Israeli version of antisemitism for deciding to boycott products from the settlements. SWC circles informed me that Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström barely escaped the list of major antisemitic incidents last year. This year she should definitely be on the list for her comments calling for an investigation into whether Israel is guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the most recent wave of terrorism. The leader of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, explicitly called her an antisemite during a rally in Stockholm.


The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is also an annually returning antisemitic phenomenon. Seventy Jews wrote a letter to The New York Review of Books supporting only a targeted boycott of all goods and services from all Israeli settlements as well as investments there. They would be a representative candidate of the BDS list because of their double standards, which are a core element of antisemitism. The above selection may be somewhat helpful to the SWC executives. The problem is that it only contains a small part of the many candidates for this year’s list.                                



                  HANUKKAH: THE FESTIVAL OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM                                                 

                                            Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Religion and Ethics, Dec. 19, 2016


Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago. Tragically that fight is no less important today – and not only for Jews, but for people of all faiths. The Jewish story is simple enough. In around 165 BCE Antiochus IV, ruler of the Syrian branch of the Alexandrian empire, began to impose Greek culture on the Jews of the land of Israel. Funds were diverted from the Temple to public games and drama competitions.


A statue of Zeus was erected in Jerusalem. Jewish religious rituals such as circumcision and the observance of the Sabbath were banned. Those who kept them were persecuted. It was one of the great crises in Jewish history. There was a real possibility that Judaism, the world's first monotheism, would be eclipsed. A group of Jewish pietists rose in rebellion. Led by a priest, Mattathias of Modi'in, and his son, Judah the Maccabee, they began the fight for liberty. Outnumbered, they suffered heavy initial casualties, but within three years they had secured a momentous victory. Jerusalem was restored to Jewish hands. The Temple was rededicated. The celebrations lasted for eight days.


Hanukkah – which means "rededication" – was established as a festival to perpetuate the memory of those days. Almost twenty-two centuries have passed since then, yet today religious liberty, enshrined as article 18 in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is at risk in many parts of the world. Christians are being persecuted throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. In Mosul, Iraq's second city, Christians have been kidnapped, tortured, crucified and beheaded. Over the last two years, the Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been driven out, and the Yazidis, members of an ancient religious sect, have been threatened with genocide.


Over the past year in Nigeria, Boko Haram has captured Christian children and sold them as slaves. In Madagali, Christian men have been taken and beheaded, and the women forcibly converted to Islam and taken by the terrorists as wives. Nor has Boko Haram limited itself to persecuting Christians; it has targeted the Muslim establishment as well. Sectarian religious violence in the Central African Republic has led to the destruction of almost all of its mosques. In Burma, more than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims and 100,000 Kachin Christians have been forced to flee.


The 2016 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom speaks concludes that "serious and sustained assault" on religious freedom is a major factor behind the rolling series of worldwide "humanitarian crises." Countries where this crisis is acute include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Vietnam. In Syria alone, where some of the worst crimes against humanity are taking place, 6.6 million people are internally displaced while 4.8 million have become refugees elsewhere…

Is there a way forward? More than half a century ago the Oxford philosopher John Plamenatz noted that religious freedom was born in Europe in the seventeenth century after a devastating series of religious wars. All it took was a single shift, from the belief that, "Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should honour the one true faith," to the belief that, "Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should be free to honour his or her own faith."


This meant that people of all faiths were guaranteed that whichever religion was dominant, he or she would still be free to obey their own call of conscience. Hence Plamenatz's striking conclusion: "Liberty of conscience was born, not of indifference, not of scepticism, not of mere open-mindedness, but of faith." The very fact that my religion is important to me allows me to understand that your quite different religion is no less important to you. It took much bloodshed before people were prepared to acknowledge this simple truth, which is why we must never forget the lessons of the past if we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Hanukkah reminds us that people will fight for religious freedom, and the attempt to deprive them of it will always end in failure.


The symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah we light for eight days in memory of the Temple candelabrum, purified and rededicated by the Maccabees all those centuries ago. Faith is like a flame. Properly tended, it gives light and warmth, but let loose, it can burn and destroy. We need, in the twenty-first century, a global Hanukkah: a festival of freedom for all the world's faiths. For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world.


                     CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters:


Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach!



On Topic Links


12 Reasons the US Should Never Have allowed UN Resolution 2334: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 29, 2016—What follows is part of an open letter I sent to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power following the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334:

Israel Sees 27,000 New Immigrants in 2016, Slight Dip From Previous Year: JNS, Dec. 29, 2016— Israel saw approximately 27,000 new immigrants arrive this year, with newcomers from Russia and Brazil rising significantly but overall immigrations down from 31,000 in 2015, according to newly released year-end figures from the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption.

Meet The Winners: Our Pick For 2016’s Coolest Israeli Startups: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 29, 2016—2016 was another remarkable year for Israeli innovation, with the Startup Nation showing no signs of slowing its breakneck pace. The startup ecosystem has made global headlines with a host of new cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to better our lives, and even change them for good.

Campus Antisemitism: The Year in Review: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016—This has been an extraordinarily eventful year in the campaign against campus antisemitism, especially from our perspective at the Louis D. Brandeis Center. On the one hand, Jewish students face a worsening climate. This year, an AMCHA Initiative study showed a 45% increase in campus antisemitism during the first half of 2016 as compared with the first half of 2015.













PM Netanyahu's Statement in Response to US Secretary of State Kerry's Speech: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 28, 2016 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 28 December 2016), issued the following statement in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech:

John Kerry's Meaningless Speech and Tragic Missed Opportunity: Alan Dershowitz, Fox News, Dec. 28, 2016 — What if the Secretary of State gave a policy speech and no one listened?

Joining the Jackals: The Case Against U.N. Resolution 2334 – Open Letter to Amb. Samantha Power: Hillel C.  Neuer, UNWatch, Dec. 29, 2016— Dear Ambassador Power…

The Obama Administration Fires a Dangerous Parting Shot: Editorial, Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016 — President Obama’s decision to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents.


On Topic Links


Full Text of John Kerry’s Speech on Middle East Peace, December 28, 2016: Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2016

Donald Trump Tweets Support for Israel Ahead of Kerry Speech on Middle East: Ruth Eglash & Carol Morello, Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2016

Israeli Ambassador: We’ll Give Trump Proof Obama Drove UN Vote (Video): Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2016

Obama Despises Israel Because He Despises the West: Ben Shapiro, National Review, Dec. 28, 2016



                                        Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 28, 2016  


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 28 December 2016), issued the following statement in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech:


"Before why I explain why this speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis, I want to say that Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people. We're grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades. Our alliance is based on shared values, shared interests, a sense of shared destiny and a partnership that has endured differences of opinions between our two governments over the best way to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.


But now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry – a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week. In a speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century. What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.


Hundreds of suicide bombings…tens of thousands of rockets, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters are not throwaway lines in a speech; they're the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies, policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world. I don't seek applause; I seek the security, and peace, and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state. The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and we're not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage.


Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel's hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one, from its very first day. We've prayed for peace, we've worked for it every day since then. And thousands of Israeli families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them; there are many, many others.


No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt; this is how we made peace with Jordan; it's the only way we'll make peace with the Palestinians. That has always been Israel's policy; that has always been America's policy. Here's what President Obama himself said at the UN in 2011. He said: 'Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.'


That's what President Obama said, and he was right. And until last week this was repeated over and over again as American policy. Secretary Kerry said that the United States cannot vote against its own policy. But that's exactly what it did at the UN, and that's why Israel opposed last week's Security Council resolution, because it effectively calls the Western Wall 'occupied Palestinian Territory,' because it encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel – that's what it effectively does, and because it reflects a radical shift in US policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues – those issues that we always agreed, the US and Israel, have to be negotiated directly, face to face without preconditions.


That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again, despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years, and despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done and ultimately, to repeal it.


Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama Administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days. I wish I could be comforted by the promise that the US says we will not bring any more resolutions to the UN. That's what they said about the previous resolution. We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. We'll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive, it's all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There's plenty more; it's the tip of the iceberg…

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





                       Alan Dershowitz                                                                                                    

                  Fox News, Dec. 28, 2016


What if the Secretary of State gave a policy speech and no one listened? Because Secretary Kerry’s speech Wednesday came after the U.S.'s abstention on the Security Council vote, nobody in Israel will pay any attention to anything he said. Had the speech come before the abstention, there would have been some possibility of it influencing the debate within Israel. But following the U.S. abstention, Kerry has lost all credibility with Israelis across the political spectrum. This is why his speech wasn’t even aired live on Israeli TV.


The speech itself was as one-sided as the abstention. It failed to mention the repeated offers from Israel to end the occupation and settlements, and to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza: Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton-Barak proposals in 2000-2001: and Abbas’ failure to respond to the Olmert offer in 2008. To fail to mention these important points is to demonstrate the bias of the speaker. Kerry also discussed the Palestinian refugee, without even mentioning the equal member of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries.


Finally Kerry, seemed to confirm that in his view any changes from the pre-1967 lines would not be recognized without mutual agreement. This means that the prayer plaza at the Western Wall, the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem are now all illegally occupied. This is, of course, a non-starter for Israelis. It is also wrong as a matter of history and law. Jordan captured these historically Jewish areas in 1948 when all the surrounding Arab countries attacked the new Jewish nation in an attempt to destroy it. When Jordan attacked Israel again in 1967, Israel recaptured these Jewish areas and allowed Jews to return to them. That is not an illegal occupation. It is a liberation.


By failing to distinguish between settlement expansion deep into the West Bank and reclaiming historical Jewish areas in the heart of Jerusalem, Kerry made the same fundamental error that the Security Council resolution made. His one-sidedness was also evident in his failure to press the Palestinian leadership to accept Netanyahu’s open offer to begin negotiations immediately with no pre-conditions. Instead, he seemed to justify the Palestinian unwillingness to enter into negotiations now.


Kerry’s pessimism about the two-state solution poses the danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The existing settlements — even if expanded — do not pose any danger to the two-state solution, if the Palestinians really want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state. A contiguous Palestinian state is certainly possible even if all the existing settlements were to remain. Israel proved that in Gaza when it dismantled every single Jewish settlement and evacuated every single Jew from the Gaza strip.


It is simply a historical geographical and logical error to assume that continuing settlement building — whether one agrees with it or not, and I do not — dooms the two-state solution. To the contrary, settlement expansion is the consequence of Palestinian refusal to accept repeated offers from Israeli governments to end the occupation and settlements in exchange for peace. The primary barrier to the two-state solution remains the Palestinian unwillingness to accept the U.N. resolution of 1947 calling for two states for two peoples — the Jewish people and the Arab people. Kerry did not sufficiently address this issue. This means explicit recognition by Palestinians to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.


The most important point Kerry made on Wednesday is that the Obama administration will not unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, without an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He also implied that U.S. will not push for any additional Security Council resolutions. Kerry’s speech is therefore just that: a speech with little substance and no importance. It will be quickly forgotten along with the many other one-sided condemnations of Israel that litter the historical record.


Kerry could have done a real service to peace if he had pressed the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiation table as hard as he pressed the Israeli leadership to end settlement expansions. But his one-sided presentation did not move the peace process forward. Let us hope it does not set us back too far. What a missed opportunity and a tragedy that could have been easily avoided by a more balanced approach both at the Security Council and in the Kerry speech.                                  







Hillel C.  Neuer

UNWatch, Dec. 29, 2016


Dear Ambassador Power, I write in response to your abstention on Friday which allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel, and in response to the substantial explanation of vote that you delivered. With even further U.N. measures still possible before President Obama leaves office on January 20th, I urge you and the Administration—where you play an influential role as a member of the President’s Cabinet, and as one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors—to reconsider your approach.


Your speech on Friday had much to applaud. As you have vigorously done for three years, your remarks exposed in compelling detail the U.N. double standard applied to the Jewish state, which, you rightly said, “not only hurts Israel, it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations itself.” As you noted last year on the 40th anniversary of the infamous Zionism is Racism resolution, at the U.N. “rarely a day goes by without some effort to delegitimize Israel.” On that occasion, you called for everyone to “relentlessly fight back” against this “ignorance and hatred.”


Your vote on Friday, however, makes a dramatic break with all of this. While it is perfectly legitimate to disagree with Israel about settlements, allowing Resolution 2334 to pass was morally wrong and strategically damaging. As set forth below, we believe the U.S. decision to acquiesce in the adoption of this lopsided resolution reverses decades of past practice, sets back the cause of peace, and harms the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans…


Immediate and compelling evidence demonstrates that the Administration has failed to achieve its objective, which you articulated as promoting the two-state solution. Secretary Kerry’s speech yesterday failed to acknowledge the telling fact that Israel’s mainstream society, including leading supporters of the two-state solution, have sharply rejected the U.N. resolution, and criticized the U.S. role in its advancement and adoption.


Consider: Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition and chairman of the Labor Party—whom you recently recognized for being “so principled on behalf of peace”—called for Resolution 2334 to be annulled, saying it caused “severe damage.” Similarly, his colleague, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who led efforts to achieve a two-state solution at the Annapolis Conference, and who welcomed the 2008 Security Council resolution endorsing that summit, said by contrast that Friday’s U.S.-backed resolution “harms the interests of Israel,” “harms Jerusalem,” and threatens to haul Israeli officers to the International Criminal Court.


Yair Lapid, chair of the Yesh Atid opposition party, who has endorsed the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for peace talks, and who opposes the proposed Knesset bill to legalize outposts which you cited on Friday, called the U.N. resolution “dangerous”, “unfair, and “an act of hypocrisy.” Ehud Barak, who as prime minister went to Camp David in 2000 and extended an unprecedented and far-reaching peace offer to the Palestinians, called this resolution a “humiliating blow to Israel.” Amos Yadlin, head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, the country’s most influential think tank, and another prominent supporter of the two-state solution, said that the resolution was “extremely problematic for Israel and the peace process alike,” and he accused President Obama of committing “a severe anti-Israeli move” which “harmed the United States’ staunchest ally in the Middle East.”


To be sure, all of these left-leaning figures faulted or admonished Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to head off the blow. Yet neither President Obama, Secretary Kerry or anyone else in your Administration has yet addressed the astonishing fact that their closest Israeli political allies and interlocutors in promoting the peace process have uniformly denounced an action which you claim will advance their position…


By contrast, are you not troubled that among the first to endorse the resolution were the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad? “Hamas commends the countries that voiced their opposition to the Israeli occupation’s aggressive settlement policy aimed against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas praised “the important about-face in the international position in favor of the Palestinian people.” Iran-backed Islamic Jihad welcomed the U.S.-backed resolution, saying, “It’s plain to see the world opinion is against Israel and its policies,” and “now Israel can be isolated and boycotted, as well as prosecuted in the international arena for all its crimes.”


12 Reasons Why the U.S. Should Have Vetoed U.N. Resolution 2334: To understand why, by contrast, so many supporters of Israeli-Palestinian peace oppose what you did on Friday, I urge you and the Administration to consider the following 12 points.


1. Resolution 2334 Encourages Palestinian Rejectionism, Undermines Negotiations: The resolution dangerously disincentivizes Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. Instead, Resolution 2334 will for the foreseeable future encourage them to await being handed the same or more by international fiat. This will feed into the Palestinian strategy of preferring to deal with international institutions over bilateral talks with Israel. Contrary to its stated objective, therefore, the resolution will only push negotiations further away.


In this regard, we recall that in 2011, your predecessor Susan Rice vetoed a similar resolution on the grounds that it risked “hardening the positions of both sides,” and “could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations.” She said it was “unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Though your speech claims that circumstances have now changed, many will see the only meaningful difference as the fact that the current transition period allows a president to make unpopular decisions at no political cost.


2. Resolution Fuels Palestinian Targeting of Israelis with BDS & International Prosecutions

Secretary of State John Kerry pledged this month to oppose any “biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.” And though he likewise said on Friday after the vote that he is proud of “defending Israel against any efforts to undermine its security or legitimacy in international fora,” and “steadfastly opposing boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting the State of Israel,” the fact is that these are precisely the efforts empowered by Resolution 2334.


Friday’s text not only provides the first Security Council endorsement of the scandalous 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, which denied Israel’s right to defend itself from Gaza rockets, but it implicitly encourages the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move forward in its preliminary examination of whether Israeli officials have engaged in the “war crime” of settlement building, and provides the same impetus to prosecutions in national courts that claim universal jurisdiction. If Tzipi Livni was already being served with UK arrest warrants before, Resolution 2334 will only aggravate anti-Israel lawfare. The U.S. should never have lent its hand to a campaign designed to delegitimize Israeli civil and military leaders as criminals…

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



         THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FIRES A DANGEROUS PARTING SHOT                                                         


Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016


President Obama’s decision to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents. The United States vetoed past resolutions on the grounds that they unreasonably singled out Jewish communities in occupied territories as an obstacle to Middle East peace, and that U.N. action was more likely to impede than advance negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.


The measure, approved 14 to 0 by the Security Council Friday, is subject to the same criticism: It will encourage Palestinians to pursue more international sanctions against Israel rather than seriously consider the concessions necessary for statehood, and it will give a boost to the international boycott and divestment movement against the Jewish state, which has become a rallying cause for anti-Zionists. At the same time, it will almost certainly not stop Israeli construction in the West Bank, much less in East Jerusalem, where Jewish housing was also deemed by the resolution to be “a flagrant violation under international law.”


By abstaining, the administration did not explicitly support that position, which has not been U.S. policy since the Carter administration. In explaining the vote, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power pointed out that the council was sanctioning Israel even while failing to take action to stop a potential genocide in South Sudan or the slaughter in Aleppo, Syria. Yet in failing to veto the measure, the Obama administration set itself apart both from previous administrations and from the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who spoke out strongly against the resolution.


A lame-duck White House may feel a radical change in policy is justified by Israel’s shift to the right under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Israel’s governing coalition is supporting legislation that would legalize dozens of settlements that Israel itself defines as illegal, because they were constructed on private Palestinian property. Mr. Netanyahu supported a partial settlement freeze for 10 months in 2009 and 2010 at Mr. Obama’s behest, but has since allowed construction, including in some areas deep in the West Bank.


Nevertheless, settlements do not explain the administration’s repeated failures to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to negotiate seriously even during the settlement freeze, and it refused to accept a framework for negotiations painstakingly drawn up by Secretary of State John F. Kerry in 2014. In past negotiations, both sides have acknowledged that any deal will involve the annexation by Israel of settlements near its borders, where most of the current construction takes place — something the U.N. resolution, which was pressed by the Palestinians, did not acknowledge or take into account.


Israeli officials charged that the abstention represented a vindictive parting shot by Mr. Obama at Mr. Netanyahu, with whom he has feuded more bitterly than he did with most U.S. adversaries. The vote could also be seen as an attempt to preempt Mr. Trump, who appears ready to shift U.S. policy to the opposite extreme after naming a militant advocate of the settlements as his ambassador to Israel. Whatever the motivation, Mr. Obama’s gesture is likely to do more harm than good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Urim Sameach!




On Topic Links


Full Text of John Kerry’s Speech on Middle East Peace, December 28, 2016: Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2016 — In address as he nears end of term, secretary of state says Washington ‘cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away’

Donald Trump Tweets Support for Israel Ahead of Kerry Speech on Middle East: Ruth Eglash & Carol Morello, Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2016 —President-elect Donald Trump tweeted messages Wednesday showing his support for Israel and accusing President Obama of making inflammatory statements and damaging relations between Israel and the United States.

Israeli Ambassador: We’ll Give Trump Proof Obama Drove UN Vote (Video): Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2016—Israel’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the country will present President-elect Donald Trump with “evidence” that the Obama administration orchestrated an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

Obama Despises Israel Because He Despises the West: Ben Shapiro, National Review, Dec. 28, 2016—Barack Obama has done his best for nearly eight years to undermine the state of Israel. He’s signed a treaty that enshrines an Iranian path to a nuclear weapon while funding their global terrorist activities to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.











Palestinian Statehood: An Idea Whose Time Has Passed: Stephen M. Flatow, Algemeiner, Dec. 8, 2016— John Kerry and J Street are worried — because they see their cherished dream of a Palestinian state slipping away.

President Trump and the Art of the ‘Ultimate’ Israel-Palestine Peace Deal: Elliott Abrams & Uri Sadot, Foreign Policy, Dec. 4, 2016 — Donald Trump described an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as “the ultimate deal.”

Abbas' Fatah Victory: Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom, Dec. 4, 2016 — Anyone who expected to see dramatic headlines from the discussions of the Seventh Conference of the Fatah Movement, which met last week in Ramallah, met with disappointment.

The Palestinian Jihads Against Israel: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 13, 2016— The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, which is currently celebrating the 29th anniversary of its founding, misses no opportunity to broadcast its stated reason for being: to wage jihad (holy war) in order to achieve its goal of destroying Israel.


On Topic Links


Israel's Prime Minister Welcomes Trump Presidency: Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes, Dec. 11, 2016

Abbas in a Race Against Time to Choose Successor: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, Nov. 24, 2016

Settlement Bill Marks a Revolutionary Moment in Israeli History: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2016

The UN's Palestine Language: A.J. Caschetta, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 30, 2016




Stephen M. Flatow                                                       

Algemeiner, Dec. 8, 2016


John Kerry and J Street are worried — because they see their cherished dream of a Palestinian state slipping away. Kerry’s criticism of Israel at the Saban Forum on December 4 attracted a lot of attention. But the transcript of his remarks reveals an important moment that the media overlooked. Just as he was about to denounce Israel’s policies, Kerry suddenly turned to the audience and said:


“By the way, just let me ask a question. Raise your hands. I mean, I know some of you may not want to acknowledge it, but how many of you believe in a two-state solution, believe two states is critical? Okay, it’s the vast majority of people here. How many of you don’t — are willing to say so? There’s one hand up, one, two — maybe a few of you don’t want to say.”


Kerry is clearly worried that public support for Palestinian statehood is slipping away. And he’s not the only one. Last week, J Street sent a letter to its supporters in which it complained that the Republican Party left Palestinian statehood out of its platform this year, and that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee reportedly left the issue out of a talking points sheet that it recently distributed.


Here’s another reason for Kerry and J Street to worry. Speaking at the Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem — also on December 4, Israeli MK Michael Oren said that the election of Donald Trump “spells the end of the two-state solution.” Oren is not some extremist. He is the widely respected former Israeli ambassador to the US, a representative of the moderate Kulanu Party, and himself a supporter of Palestinian statehood (with certain limitations).


It’s time to read the writing on the wall: Palestinian statehood is an idea whose time has passed. But it’s not as if creating a Palestinian state is some kind of cherished principle that has been recognized and supported by everybody since time immemorial. In fact, it’s a very recent proposal, and it has always been fraught with problems. There have been 12 US presidents since 1948. Only two (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) advocated creating a Palestinian state.


I’m not including those who advocated Palestinian statehood after they left office, namely Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. When presidents are in office, they need to deal with the real world, which is why a bad idea like creating a Palestinian state has never come to fruition. Once presidents no longer have to deal with real-world consequences, they feel free to advocate any irresponsible policy that suits their post-presidential convenience.


There have been 12 different Israeli prime ministers since the Jewish state was established in 1948. Only two of them (Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert) advocated creating a Palestinian state. I’m not including Benjamin Netanyahu, because his concept of a fully demilitarized “Palestine” that accepts Israel as a Jewish state is so far removed from what the Palestinians and their supporters demand, that his position is really only hypothetical.


There have always been two arguments in favor of creating a Palestinian state. Neither of them has withstood the test of time. The first was that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Arabs had given up their goal of destroying Israel and had forsaken terrorism. According to this argument, they had changed their ways, so they could be trusted with their own state in Israel’s backyard.


This argument faced two major tests, and failed both times. President George H.W. Bush accepted this argument shortly after his election in 1988, and recognized Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Eighteen months later, when a major PLO faction tried to attack Israeli beachgoers in Tel Aviv and the nearby US embassy, Bush realized he had been wrong and ended his relationship with Arafat. Then the US recognized Arafat and the PLO a second time, after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. That blew up when Arafat tried to smuggle 50 tons of weapons into Gaza on the Karine A in 2002.


The second argument for a Palestinian state was what became known as the “demographic time bomb” — the claim that because of the high Arab birthrate, Israel would need to agree to a Palestinian state or will become an apartheid-like ruler over the Palestinians. Yitzhak Rabin resolved that problem. In 1995, he withdrew Israel’s forces from the cities where 98 percent of the Palestinians reside. Now they are residents of the Palestinian Authority, and they vote in Palestinian elections. They will never be Israeli citizens, will never vote in Israeli elections and will never threaten Israel’s Jewish demographic majority.


So Arafat settled the first debate, and Rabin settled the second. It is now plain as day that the Palestinians have not given up terrorism or forsaken their goal of destroying Israel, and would use a Palestinian state to advance that goal. There may be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in our generation; not all international conflicts have solutions. One thing has now become clear: a Palestinian state next to Israel is not the solution.                                      



PRESIDENT TRUMP AND THE ART OF THE                                                       

‘ULTIMATE’ ISRAEL-PALESTINE PEACE DEAL                                                                            

Elliott Abrams & Uri Sadot                                                                                           

Foreign Policy, Dec. 4, 2016


Donald Trump described an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as “the ultimate deal.” As his administration takes shape and begins to look at the problems it will inherit from President Obama, it would do well to avoid the mistakes of the outgoing administration that doomed its attempt at Middle East peacemaking. Even Obama supporters should use this moment to reflect on a key question: Why have eight years of intensive diplomacy led to little or no results at all?


Obama’s policy was set on his second full day in office, Jan. 22, 2009, with the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East peace. That decision ushered in a strategy heavily focused on Israeli settlements rather than on encouraging practical steps to improve the security and livelihood of the people it supposedly endeavored to help. The administration immediately demanded an absolute freeze on Israeli housing construction not only in the entire West Bank, including in the major blocks that Israel will obviously keep in any peace agreement, but also in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.


This was a precondition for peace negotiations, Mitchell and Obama said, because settlements were gobbling up land and closing the window for a future negotiation that would partition territory between Israel and a future Palestinian state. The strategy, however, was blind to both the facts and their implications on the ground. Since no Israeli government will agree to stop Jews from building homes in their capital, and with the Palestinian leadership reluctant to negotiate even under these far-reaching terms, peace talks never got off the ground in Obama’s first term. What did the administration learn from all of this? Not much. A repeated effort led by Secretary of State John Kerry four years later — driven by similar logic — predictably ended once again in failure.


Developments that have had massive influence on Israeli public opinion, like the deteriorating prospects for peace in Gaza despite removal of all Israeli settlements there, were viewed from the White House and the State Department as irrelevant. Instead, the Obama administration focused on the construction of homes as the primary threat to a negotiated peace. Just two months ago, a State Department spokesman said “Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution.”


As we approach the 50th anniversary of the “occupation” the State Department keeps calling unsustainable, it is past time to reexamine basic assumptions that have guided the U.S. pursuit of a peace agreement over the past eight years. A series of American administrations have dedicated endless efforts to reach that two-state solution — Bill Clinton did it, as did George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, and likewise Barack Obama and John Kerry. None acted as if they believed the two-state solution was dead or dying, despite comments like Kerry’s in 2013 that in a year or two hopes of a settlement would be “over.” Nor does the State Department today, despite its warnings of impending doom.


The bright side is that despite all that doomsday rhetoric, and despite Obama’s failure to secure his goal of a long-term freeze of settlement construction, not much has changed in the status quo during his two terms. A careful look into the numbers shows that neither the population balance between Jews and Palestinians, nor the options for partition in the West Bank have materially changed.


Here is the breakdown on what changed during Obama’s term in office. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, outside the five major block townships, a total of 6,818 housing units were approved for construction in West Bank settlements between January 2009 and June 2016. That would suggest a population increase of up to 34,000 people, assuming five people per unit. A separate analysis of voter registration data between February 2009 and March 2015 shows an increase of approximately 20,000 residents in the 70 settlements that are outside the major blocks, averaging about 4 percent growth per year.


While it is difficult to get an exact picture of population growth in the West Bank settlements, the ranges are clear. Israeli population in the settlements is growing, but at a rate that reflects mostly births in families already there, and not in-migration of new settlers.


Meanwhile, the Palestinian population is also growing. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Palestinian population of the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem, has increased from 2.1 million in mid-2009 to 2.5 million in mid-2016, thus growing at close to 3 percent a year. That means that in comparative terms, the demographic balance between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank has changed very little since Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu’s entry to office. Considering all that data, the working assumptions guiding Obama’s policy — as well as the administration’s alarmist predictions — were simply and flatly wrong…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link           





ABBAS' FATAH VICTORY                    

Prof. Eyal Zisser

Israel Hayom, Dec. 4, 2016


Anyone who expected to see dramatic headlines from the discussions of the Seventh Conference of the Fatah Movement, which met last week in Ramallah, met with disappointment. The headline actually came from head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, who assessed that 2017 would see escalation and instability in Judea and Samaria, mostly due to the battle to succeed PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is already 81 years old.


The fact that the news came from Tel Aviv and not from Ramallah illustrates that the Palestinians' fate is, again, not in their own hand and that the Palestinian national movement is backtracking to where it started, a tool in the hands of the various Arab countries, who dictated what it would decide upon and do. Then, like today, others have their fingers in the Palestinian pie. These include Egypt, which supports Abbas' rival Mohammed Dahlan as heir to the Palestinian throne after Abbas. Jordan, which prevented many of the conference delegates from arriving through its territory, and Qatar and Turkey, as well as Iran in the background, all of whom want to see Hamas in power throughout the PA. We can't forget Israel, under whose auspices the PA exists, and under whose watchful eyes the Ramallah conference took place.


At last week's conference, Abbas was elected for another five-year term. The institutions that would choose his successor were also elected: 21 members of the Fatah Central Committee and 51 members of its Supreme Committee. Only about 1,400 delegates took part in the conference, compared to the 2,600 who attended the conference seven years ago, which means that hundreds of participants would might have bolstered Abbas' rival and guaranteed that he was elected as his successor were kept away…


Ahead of the conference, Dahlan declared that he had no intention of running for PA president and that he supported Marwan Barghouti, who is imprisoned in Israel, as the next Palestinian leader. But at the same time, he put together an alternative conference to take place in Egypt and promote him as successor to Abbas.


Hamas' situation isn't much better. In April, the movement is slated to elect a new leader, but it's doubtful that he will be able to improve Hamas' relations with Egypt, which has effectively imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip, and bring about the economic and security stability that will ensure that Hamas remains in power in Gaza. It seems that the Palestinians are still refraining from the tough decisions their situation demands, and cannot unite around a legitimate, effective leadership and start out on a new path, which would be tough for the Palestinians to swallow, as any concession or compromise always is.


And on the sidelines, one interesting announcement did come out of the conference discussions when Abbas said that thanks to the Oslo Accords, which met with resistance among some Palestinian sectors, some 600,000 Palestinians had "returned" to Judea and Samaria. That declaration comes after candidate for the throne Dahlan said back in the days of the Second Intifada that thanks to the Oslo Accords and the founding of the PA, the number of Israelis wounded and killed had risen from a few in the First Intifada to over 1,000 in the Second Intifada. This was due to suicide bombers deployed by terrorist infrastructures that were operating unhindered in Palestinian cities governed by the PA. Israel should take note of both statements.







THE PALESTINIAN JIHADS AGAINST ISRAEL                                                            

Khaled Abu Toameh

                      Gatestone Institute, Dec. 13, 2016


The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, which is currently celebrating the 29th anniversary of its founding, misses no opportunity to broadcast its stated reason for being: to wage jihad (holy war) in order to achieve its goal of destroying Israel. Those who allege that Hamas is moving toward pragmatism and moderation might take note.


Last week, tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of the Gaza Strip to participate in rallies marking the anniversary of the founding of Hamas. As in previous years, the rallies were held under the motto of jihad and "armed resistance" until the liberation of all Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Another message that emerged loud and clear from the rallies: Hamas will never recognize Israel's right to exist.


This year's rallies once again also served as a reminder of the enormous popularity that Hamas continues to enjoy among Palestinians — not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank, where supporters of the Islamist movement celebrated the occasion, but on a smaller scale and with a lower profile, out of fear of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli security forces. Khalil Al-Haya, a senior Hamas official, outlined in a speech before his supporters in the Gaza Strip his movement's strategy, namely to pursue the fight until the elimination of Israel. "We will not recognize Israel because it will inevitably go away," he declared.


"And we will not backtrack on the option of armed struggle until the liberation of all Palestine. Since its establishment, Hamas has been — and will remain — a Palestinian Islamic national and resistance movement whose goal is to liberate Palestine and confront the Israeli project. The liberation of the Gaza Strip is just the first step toward the liberation of Palestine — all Palestine. There is no future for the Israeli entity on our homeland."


When Hamas leaders talk about the "liberation" of the Gaza Strip, they are referring to the total unilateral Israeli disengagement from that area in 2005. Hamas and many Palestinians have never viewed the full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a gesture on the part of Israel. Nor have they ever considered the disengagement as a sign that Israel is no longer interested in controlling the lives of nearly two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.


On the contrary, Hamas and many Palestinians continue to see the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip as a sign of weakness. In fact, this disengagement is why Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006, when it took credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip through suicide bombings and rockets. Back then, this abandonment of land by Israel drove the Palestinian vote for Hamas. It also explains why many Palestinians continue to support Hamas — because they still believe that violence is the way to defeat Israel.


Many Palestinians see Israeli concessions, gestures and unilateral moves as proof of capitulation, rather than positive signs testifying to Israel's peaceful intentions. These "concessions for peace" by Israel further increases Palestinians' appetite for launching armed attacks against Israel. Today, many Palestinians are convinced that they can achieve more through stabbings, vehicular rammings and shooting attacks than sitting with Israel at the negotiating table.


The Qatar-based Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, seized the anniversary as an opportunity once again to remind everyone of his movement's real goals. Speaking on the Al-Jazeera TV network, which serves as a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood organization (Hamas is an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood), Mashaal said: "We are moving forward with our resistance to achieve our national project… We are looking forward to liberating Palestine and cleansing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and protecting it from division and demolition. We also seek the return of the refugees to their homeland and the liberation of our prisoners from Israeli jails."


When he talks about "cleansing" Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Hamas leader is referring to Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have been exploiting these visits to incite their people against Israel. They claim that Jewish visitors are "desecrating" the holy site and should not be allowed to set foot there. These words mirror those used by President Mahmoud Abbas, who said that Palestinians will not allow Jews to "defile with their filthy feet" the Al-Aqsa Mosque (although no Jew has entered the mosque itself).


Mashaal, who in the past few years has been living as royalty in Qatar (the country that is the main patron of Muslim Brotherhood), went on to emphasize that Hamas has "not changed its strategy of liberating Palestine." He also said that, "Military work remains the backbone of liberation." Hamas, he added, "Continues to believe in the full liberation of Palestine and that jihad and resistance are the only means to expel the occupation and liberate Palestine and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque." According to Mashaal, Hamas continues to look toward Arab and Islamic countries, including Iran, for the military, financial and political support to achieve its goal of destroying Israel.


Hamas's armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, boasted on this occasion that 22 of its men have been killed since the beginning of 2016, while preparing for the next war with Israel. Most of the Hamas men were killed when the tunnels in which they were working in collapsed. Hamas continues to build new tunnels and renovate those that were destroyed during the last war with Israel in 2014. Hamas says it wants to use these tunnels in the future to infiltrate Israel and kill or kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers.


Ironically, while Hamas pursues its round-the-clock efforts to prepare for war against Israel, its leaders do not hesitate to depict themselves as victims, and warn of supposed Israeli plans to launch a "new aggression" against Palestinians. Hamas believes that Israel does not have the right to defend itself against rockets and terror attacks. It even considers Israel's self-defense as an "act of terror." Take, for example, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum's recent assessment. Lashing out at U.S. aid to Israel, Barhoum said that the American military and financial aid to Israel constitutes "official support for terrorism."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link




On Topic Links


Israel's Prime Minister Welcomes Trump Presidency: Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes, Dec. 11, 2016 —Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells 60 Minutes Israel has never been in a better place; part of his optimism relates to the election of Trump

Abbas in a Race Against Time to Choose Successor: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, Nov. 24, 2016—Time is not on the side of 81-year-old Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. His state of health is not the best, he has heart problems, and soon he will need medical treatment in Jordan after having already undergone a cardiac catheterization. His age is what it is, and his body is letting him know.

Settlement Bill Marks a Revolutionary Moment in Israeli History: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2016—A bill that could be the first step toward annexation of Area C of the West Bank, and which would overturn almost 40 years of judicial rulings on private Palestinian property rights, was approved by a Knesset vote of 58:51 on its first reading Wednesday night.

The UN's Palestine Language: A.J. Caschetta, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 30, 2016—US President-elect Donald Trump won the White House promising to reform our dysfunctional government. But will he also stand up to the even more dysfunctional United Nations?




One Year After the Iran Nuclear Deal: Yousef Al Otaiba, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 3, 2016— Saturday marked one year since the framework agreement for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the nuclear deal with Iran—was announced.

Tear Down Iran’s Anti-Democracy Wall: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 17, 2016— Is there anything new to say about bringing about a democratic political and social order in Iran?

Another Obama Administration Betrayal on Iran: Abraham Cooper & Harold Brackman, Algemeiner, Apr. 4, 2016— We have just finished celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim.

A World Unmoored: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Apr. 25, 2016— Why is John Kerry eager to provide Iran with more economic benefits by publicly declaring the Iranians may actually deserve more relief?


On Topic Links


John Kerry Confronts Concerns of Arab States After Iran Nuclear Deal: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Apr. 7, 2016

The Iran Nuclear Deal Keeps Changing: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, Apr. 1, 2016

Prisoner of the Ayatollahs: Washington Post, Apr. 14, 2016

Imaginary Iran: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Mar. 31, 2016




Yousef Al Otaiba

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 3, 2016


Saturday marked one year since the framework agreement for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the nuclear deal with Iran—was announced. At the time, President Obama said this agreement would make “the world safer.” And perhaps it has, but only in the short term and only when it comes to Iran’s nuclear-weapons proliferation.


Sadly, behind all the talk of change, the Iran we have long known—hostile, expansionist, violent—is alive and well, and as dangerous as ever. We wish it were otherwise. In the United Arab Emirates, we are seeking ways to coexist with Iran. Perhaps no country has more to gain from normalized relations with Tehran. Reducing tensions across the less than 100-mile-wide Arabian Gulf could help restore full trade ties, energy cooperation and cultural exchanges, and start a process to resolve a 45-year territorial dispute. Since the nuclear deal, however, Iran has only doubled down on its posturing and provocations. In October, November and again in early March, Iran conducted ballistic-missile tests in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.


In December, Iran fired rockets dangerously close to a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, just weeks before it detained a group of American sailors. In February, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan visited Moscow for talks to purchase more than $8 billion in Russian fighter jets, planes and helicopters. In Yemen, where peace talks now hold some real promise, Iran’s disruptive interference only grows worse. Last week, the French navy seized a large cache of weapons on its way from Iran to support the Houthis in their rebellion against the U.N.-backed legitimate Yemeni government. In late February, the Australian navy intercepted a ship off the coast of Oman with thousands of AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. And last month, a senior Iranian military official said Tehran was ready to send military “advisers” to assist the Houthis.


The interference doesn’t stop there. Since the beginning of the year, Tehran and its proxies have increased their efforts to provide armor-piercing explosive devices to Shiite cells in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. A former Iranian general and close adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for Iran to annex all of Bahrain. And in Syria, Iran continues to deploy Hezbollah militias and its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard to prop up Syria’s Bashar Assad.


These are all clear reminders that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism—a persistent threat not only to the region but to the U.S. as well. “Death to America” has always been more than an ugly catchphrase; it has been Iranian policy. Iran has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks against Americans: from the Marine barracks in Beirut to Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. During the Afghanistan war, Iran paid Taliban fighters $1,000 for each American they killed. In Iraq, Iran supplied the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that killed or maimed thousands of U.S. soldiers. And in recent weeks seven Iranian hackers were indicted in a U.S. federal court for a cyberattack against U.S. banks and critical infrastructure.


As Henry Kissinger once said, Iran can be either a country or a cause. Today “Iran the cause” is showing little of the same kind of pragmatism and moderation in its regional policies and behavior as it did in the nuclear talks. Last week, Mr. Khamenei insisted ballistic missiles were key to the Islamic Republic’s future. “Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” he said. It is now clear that one year since the framework for the deal was agreed upon, Iran sees it as an opportunity to increase hostilities in the region. But instead of accepting this as an unfortunate reality, the international community must intensify its actions to check Iran’s strategic ambitions.


It is time to shine a bright light on Iran’s hostile acts across the region. At the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh later this month, the U.S., the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman should reach an agreement on a common mechanism to monitor, expose and curb Iran’s aggression. This should include specific measures to block its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah units in Syria and Lebanon, and Iranian-linked terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.


If the carrots of engagement aren’t working, we must not be afraid to bring back the sticks. Recent half measures against Iran’s violations of the ballistic-missile ban are not enough. If the aggression continues, the U.S. and the global community should make clear that Iran will face the full range of sanctions and other steps still available under U.N. resolutions and in the nuclear deal itself. Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region must stop. Until it does, our hope for a new Iran should not cloud the reality that the old Iran is very much still with us—as dangerous and as disruptive as ever.




Benjamin Weinthal

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 17, 2016


Is there anything new to say about bringing about a democratic political and social order in Iran? A lively panel titled “Anti-democratic Regimes: Confrontation or Coexistence?” at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Forum on Wednesday offered fresh insights into a post-nuclear deal world in the Islamic Republic. “Do we want regime change in Iran?” Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, asked rhetorically. His answer: “How can we not want regime change in Iran. Of course, we want it.”


Abrams described Iran as a “vicious, repressive regime,” and there is no shortage of new evidence to bolster his case. Iran’s clerical regime is the world leader in juvenile executions. Just last week, gay flight attendants for Air France objected to working on the newly started Paris-Tehran route because of the Islamic Republic’s lethal homophobia. According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks cable, Iran had executed 4,000 to 6,000 gays and lesbians since the country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told Reuters this month that “[President Hassan] Rouhani doesn’t seem at all interested to push for it, fight the battle and improve the human rights situation. And that’s a problem because we’re now into the third year of his term.”


Back to a reorganization of Iranian society, Abrams said: “The confrontation part was missing” with Iran’s regime during the Green Movement in 2009 when Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran to oppose a fundamentally corrupt election. US President Barack Obama ignored the pleas from Iranian democrats to stand with them. In contrast to Reagan’s democracy expansion program in the Iron Curtain countries and Russia, Obama was never in the business of promoting democracy into all walks of Iranian life. Hence, Abrams said, Obama missed his Ronald Reagan moment, when he called on former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in Berlin.


“Words give you leverage” and can “undermine a regime’s political legitimacy,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where this writer is a fellow. He added that the US can “use nonnuclear sanctions to go after Iran for domestic repression, missile tests and terrorism.” The be-all and end-all of Iran’s system is an anti-democratic theocracy whose preservation is ruled by, as Dubowitz said, the “dedicated revolutionaries” Rouhani and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.


The rift between Iran’s regime, which stunts individual growth, and a restive young society has not vanished since 2009. “There is something that I believe in 100 percent and that is that democracy will come to Iran because Iran has the potential for it,” Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, told Iran Wire on Wednesday. A window into the courtyard of that potential was on display when the Iranian marathon runner Akbar Naghdi draped himself in an American flag earlier this month to protest Iran’s refusal to grant visas to 10 American athletes. Naghdi said he did so as a “signal of friendship.”


Since the closure of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations in July, Khamenei has intensified his efforts to block Western influences into Iranian society. The closure of American- style fast food franchises is one of the more salient examples. “If sanctions are not paired with strong initiatives to empower Iranian civil society, then they don’t serve the purpose of weakening the regime to the point of bringing about real social and political change. Sanctions alone without initiatives designed to empower Iranian civil society only serve the purpose of weakening the regime to the point of negotiation,” Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, a Canadian- Iranian intellectual and human rights expert based in Toronto, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.


“The international community abandoned and ignored the people of Iran and also us activists defending the voices of Iranians. Iranians watched as the economy in their country fell apart while no international body or organization was helping them to at least gain access to technology so they may empower themselves or gain independence,” she added. The key take away from many veteran expert Iran observers is not to let opponents of a democratic Iran off the hook. If past is prologue in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a new democratic upheaval might just be around the corner.                                                                 





                                          Abraham Cooper & Harold Brackman

                                                    Algemeiner, Apr. 4, 2016


We have just finished celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the one day in the Jewish calendar where merrymaking and drinking are sanctioned to the point where you can’t tell the difference between the bad guy (Haman) and the good guy (Mordechai). But even with the ISIS Belgium attacks still reverberating across the globe, we’re left wondering if the spirit of Purim hasn’t infected the White House.


How else can we explain two parallel headlines emanating from Washington? First, in an unprecedented indictment, the US Justice Department is prosecuting aliens working for a foreign government who disrupted key web sites of the New York Stock Exchange — Capital One, AT&T and PNC. They also targeted a dam (yes a dam!) in upstate New York. Hundreds of thousands of customers were inconvenienced, and the financial institutions were damaged to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. It’s unknown for what nefarious purposes the dam was targeted.


Guess who did it? Seven Iranian hackers, ostensibly working for two Iranian “companies” — but probably working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  The indictment described the attacks as “systematic,” “widespread,” and the cause of “potential havoc.”


Headline #2: After a summer of promises to the US Congress from the highest levels of the Obama administration that Iranian sanctions relief under its deal with Tehran would be only “nuclear-related” and not extend to Iranian activities related to terrorism and human rights abuses, the Administration is now reportedly poised to dismantle the sanctions regime by allowing Tehran’s mullahs access to the US dollar.


Treasury Secretary Jack Lew swore in July 2015 testimony that, under no circumstances, would Iran be given access to “the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” Adam Szubin, the chief of the Treasury Department’s sanctions enforcement office, declared that Iran would not be allowed to “dollarize” foreign payments. But now, the mullahs are impatient over the pace of the vast sanctions relief they were given, to say nothing of their $100 billion-plus windfall — so these solemn commitments of Obama officials are being thrown in the waste basket already full of mendacious testimony and empty promises about the nuclear deal.


Apparently, we are about to witness another bonanza for the Iranians. It will be the end of any effective sanctions for years and maybe decades. There will be nothing left with which to effectively pressure Tehran short of war. Moreover, according to Jack Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz, sanctions experts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, once this policy is implemented, the negative consequences for the global financial system and the US dollar are potentially “devastating”: letting Iran access to US dollars would signal to the world that we’ve vetted the Iran’s financial system. Global watchdogs who monitor money laundering and terror financing, like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), would slowly begin to stand down.


Signs of the continuing frivolous spirit of Purim abound, as word has also leaked that the Obama administration has agreed to pay Tehran hundreds of millions of dollars plus more than a billion dollars in interest for President Jimmy Carter’s failure to deliver on a massive arms deal. This, after Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah in 1979 and held US hostages after ransacking our embassy! What’s next? Compensating Haman’s descendants for his execution after the evil Persian Foreign Minister attempted genocide of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire more than 2,000 years ago failed?


One can only hope that the next president of the United States will stay out of Middle East Bazaars. Because the last president to do so got taken to the cleaners by the Ayatollah Khamenei. And it looks like we and our Middle East allies will be paying a hefty price for that folly for many Purims to come.




A WORLD UNMOORED                                                                                                      

Lee Smith                                                                                                                           

Weekly Standard, Apr. 25, 2016


Why is John Kerry eager to provide Iran with more economic benefits by publicly declaring the Iranians may actually deserve more relief? Why did the secretary of state tell Charlie Rose that the United States and Iran want the same thing when it comes to ending the war in Syria? Why does America’s top diplomat give Iran a pass on its ballistic missile tests, even though they violate U.N. Security Council resolutions? Why? Because Kerry hearts Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister.


It's hardly a secret that Kerry has a man crush on his Iranian counterpart. Even the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intimated as much last week when he described the White House's waltz with the clerical regime in Tehran: "There are some people who are invested in this and have developed relationships and I think are trying to bend this in a way that will benefit Iran," said Sen. Bob Corker.


Democrats as well as Republicans say the White House misled them on the Iran deal. The administration said it would not allow Iran access to the U.S. banking system, but top officials are now saying that Iran may be allowed to exploit a loophole having to do with offshore banking to access the dollar that way. Permitting Iran to make dollar transactions, said Rep. Brad Sherman, "is clearly not required" by the nuclear deal. "This will set bad precedent," the Democratic congressman from California told the Associated Press, "and it will not be the last time the Iranians and/or their business partners receive additional relief."


Meanwhile the Obama White House refuses to say that ballistic missile tests are in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to the dismay of allies, U.S. lawmakers, and even administration officials. According to the Washington Free Beacon, there are voices in the administration who want "to use harsher language against Iran," but "they're being overruled by others who are defending Russia and Iran's interpretation." That sounds a lot like John Kerry.


Kerry reportedly speaks to Zarif on the phone regularly. In the first two weeks of this year, the AP has reported, the two spoke at least 11 times. That's a good thing, says Kerry, because it means there's now a channel open to discuss issues between the two countries—like when Iran kidnaps American sailors, lays siege to the diplomatic missions of U.S. allies, or launches ballistic missile tests. That is, the purpose of the newly opened channel with Iran is to facilitate America's ability to complain when the clerical regime acts up.


Why Kerry boasts of this dubious achievement is partly a function of his vanity. The secretary of state seems to believe that diplomacy is the practice of mawkishly ingratiating himself with counterparts. The pictures of Kerry laughing with Zarif as well as his opposite number in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov, are evidence of something gone wrong in Washington policy-making circles. The opposite of glad-handing the Iranian and Russian foreign ministers is not war but a measure of propriety and dignity. After all, the Iranians threaten America's chief Middle Eastern ally, Israel, with genocide, while the Russians are trying to drag another U.S. partner, Turkey, into conflict. America's leading diplomat praises Zarif and Lavrov on a talk show for their "helpfulness" on Syria, when he should show contempt and revulsion for representatives of two governments that are assisting Bashar al-Assad in an atrocity-filled war on his own people.


Kerry is off the reservation, but it's the president who is giving Iran concession after concession. This makes Kerry Obama's ideal point man—the former senator from Massachusetts tells himself he's doing diplomacy while Obama lets critics at home and abroad stick Kerry with the charge of appeasement. But it's not really appeasement—it's an Obama reeducation program. He's correcting American foreign policy by changing what he's called a mindset "characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy."


As Obama recently told the Atlantic, a "very proud" foreign policy moment of his presidency was his decision not to order strikes against Assad in August 2013 for using chemical weapons, crossing Obama's own red line. Obama believes he freed himself from what he calls the "Washington playbook," which comes "out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses."


The issue, as Obama saw it, wasn't just the Iraq war but the kind of American thinking that led to the war. Decades of American thinking were wrong, maybe a whole century was wrong. Obama offers a different kind of thinking: Publicly insulting American allies is honorable. The only way to avoid war is to consort with a state sponsor of terror. Peace and security is the result of giving tens of billions of dollars to a regime that is making war across the Middle East. It's a travesty. The purpose of America's post-WWII foreign policy was to clarify a complicated and often dangerous world for the leaders of a large republic responsible for the life, liberty, and prosperity of its citizens by ensuring a degree of stability abroad. These are our allies, it said, and these our adversaries, for we know them by their actions and affections. Did it sometimes lack nuance? Yes, because it wasn't meant to be a work of art but a guide to making life and death decisions.


The "playbook" Obama disparages provided Kerry with what was surely his finest moment as secretary of state. When the Syrian despot tested not only an American president's promise but the moral content of the international order, America had to act, Kerry said, and lead. "History," said Kerry in a stirring speech on August 30, 2013, explaining why it was necessary to strike Assad, "would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency."


Obama hadn't let his secretary of state know that he wasn't going to strike Assad, making a fool of Kerry. But Kerry's incoherence since then, his efforts on behalf of Zarif and Lavrov, his romance with monsters are evidence of something much more ruinous. In dismantling the global order backed by American power and leadership, Obama has left the world, including his secretary of state, unmoored.




On Topic



John Kerry Confronts Concerns of Arab States After Iran Nuclear Deal: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Apr. 7, 2016—A year after he struck the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry finds himself confronting a new challenge from Tehran: While it is observing the nuclear agreement to the letter, its missile launches, arms shipments to Yemen and involvement in Syria have, if anything, accelerated.

The Iran Nuclear Deal Keeps Changing: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, Apr. 1, 2016—Like most of Washington, I was under the impression that the nuclear negotiations with Iran ended in July. There was the press conference in Vienna, the U.N. resolution that lifted the sanctions on Iran and the fight in Congress that followed. That turns out to have been wrong.

Prisoner of the Ayatollahs: Wall Street Journal, Apr. 14, 2016—It’s been nearly two years since Hassan Rouhani vowed to free the two leaders of Iran’s pro-democracy movement. Such promises were at the heart of the Iranian president’s “moderation” pitch, yet today both opposition leaders remain under house arrest without charge.

Imaginary Iran: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Mar. 31, 2016—Never before in recent history has the United States faced a country that has so persistently sought to kill Americans or attack Americans only to avoid consequences after every outrage.












Europe Mislabels Israel: Eugene Kontorovich, New York Times, Nov. 13, 2015: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2015 — This week the European Commission announced guidelines suggesting that Israeli products from areas that came under its control in 1967 be labeled “Israeli Settlement” products and not “Made in Israel” as they have been until now.

Who is Being Delusional?: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2015 — On Tuesday night, Channel 10 broadcast an interview with PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas admitted publicly for the first time that he rejected the peace plan then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008.

Inconvenient Truths About the Middle East Peace Process: Aaron David Miller, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23, 2015— John Kerry is off to the Middle East again. His itinerary

might surprise you, though.

Trump Plans to Force Peace Talks – a la Obama?: Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2015 — Ahead of his trip to Israel this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed in an interview…


On Topic Links


2 State Solution?: Dry Bones Blog, Nov. 18, 2015

German Parliament President: We Reject Settlement Labeling, Understand Israel's Anger: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015

European Hypocrisy: Why Single Israel Out?: Ofir Haivry, Ynet, Nov. 11, 2015  

Last Tango in Paris: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2015



EUROPE MISLABELS ISRAEL                      

                      Eugene Kontorovich                              

New York Times, Nov. 13, 2015


[Last month] the European Commission announced guidelines suggesting that Israeli products from areas that came under its control in 1967 be labeled “Israeli Settlement” products and not “Made in Israel” as they have been until now. The policy carves out a special legal rule for Israel, not only contradicting the European Union’s own official positions on these issues, but also going against rulings of European national courts, and violating basic tenets of the World Trade Organization.


Faced with criticism from both the right and the left in Israel and the United States, the European Union claims its action is merely “technical,” rather than politically motivated or punitive. Yet this is belied by the fact that the measure comes in response to explicitly political demands for labeling by some member states’ foreign ministers, as well as anti-Israel NGOs.


In fact, the labeling controversy must be viewed as just one step in a broader, purposeful and gradual escalation of anti-Israel measures by the European Union. Two years ago, the commission promulgated a regulation that barred spending money on Israeli academic, scientific or cultural projects in the West Bank or Golan Heights. Then the union began refusing to allow imports of certain Israeli agricultural products. Last year, 15 European states issued warnings, alerting people to unspecified legal dangers of interacting with Israeli settlements. These steps, while supposedly motivated by what the European Union sees as Israel’s occupation of territory, have been applied only to Israel, and not to other countries regarded as occupiers in international law, such as Morocco or Turkey.


Having warned about settlement products, the European Union is now labeling them. Diplomats in Brussels and NGOs have made clear that more coercive measures will follow. In this context, labeling is important not in its immediate economic effects but as a highly visible step in a conscious process of building a legal ghetto around Israel, within which a special set of rules applies.


What has largely escaped notice is that the labeling policy violates the European Union’s own express policy on such issues. The commission primarily justifies labeling as a necessary tool to provide consumers with the information that it does not regard the territories “as part of Israel.” However, European Union and national authorities that have addressed the issue have clearly ruled that special labeling is not required in such situations — neither for consumer protection nor to reflect the European Union’s view of the underlying sovereign status of territories.

Continue reading the main story


Thus the European Union allows Morocco — which has extensive trade ties with Europe, but has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and populated it heavily with settlers — to export products from its occupied territory labeled “Made in Morocco.” When challenged, the commission formally declared that labeling such goods as “made in” Morocco is not misleading, and is consistent with European trade agreements.


Also, European courts have considered the consumer protection rationale specifically in the context of Israeli products, and rejected it. Just last year, the British Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving Ahava beauty products produced in the West Bank, that “there was no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled” by a “Made in Israel” label. The court held that such labeling was not deceptive as a matter of both British and European Union law.


The problem is not that the European Union fails to live up to its standards in some cases, like that of Morocco. Rather, in these other cases the union explicitly denies the existence of these standards. Such inconsistency is not just hypocrisy. It is a legal violation in its own right. The European Union’s foundational treaties require regulatory “consistency.” And discrimination against trading partners represents a core violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other treaties of the World Trade Organization, as the law professor Avi Bell and I have shown in detail in a recent paper. The union’s labeling guidelines are manifestly discriminatory, as they apply only to Israel.


The World Trade Organization treaties establish the legal framework for international commerce. Under the W.T.O.’s nondiscrimination requirement, it is impermissible to apply trade rules and restrictions to some member countries and not to others. And the W.T.O.’s protections apply not just to a country’s sovereign territory, but also to areas of its “international responsibility,” such as occupied territories. The United States, with international approval, received the benefit of its international trade treaties even in territories it occupied in World War II, as well as in the Panama Canal Zone, where it made no claim of sovereignty. There is nothing novel about a country’s receiving full trade rights for nonsovereign areas under its administration.


The United States has a great deal riding on the integrity of the international trading system. But the European Union labeling threatens to establish a precedent that would allow politicization of the system, undermining United States economic interests in broad and unpredictable ways. Thus it is not surprising that earlier this year, the United States passed a law opposing such European Union measures against Israel. Making special rules for Israel has the undesired effect of reducing Israel’s incentives to take international law seriously: If the goal posts can be moved, there is less reason to play the game. As a putative role model for international law, the European Union’s greatest weapon is its probity and consistency. By damaging that, it harms its ability to set the global agenda.       







           Caroline B. Glick

                                            Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2015


On Tuesday night, Channel 10 broadcast an interview with PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas admitted publicly for the first time that he rejected the peace plan then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008. Olmert’s plan called for Israel to withdraw from the entire Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, and from 93.7 percent of Judea and Samaria. Olmert also offered sovereign Israeli territory to the Palestinians to compensate for the areas Israel would retain in Judea and Samaria. Abbas said his rejection was unequivocal. “I didn’t agree. I rejected it out of hand.”


For years, the story of Abbas’s rejection of Olmert’s 2008 offer has been underplayed. Many commentators have insisted Abbas didn’t really reject it, but just failed to respond. But now the truth is clear. Abbas is not interested either in peace or in Palestinian statehood. Abbas’s many apologists in the Israeli Left insist that he didn’t reject the plan on its merits. Rather, they argue, Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer because, by the time Olmert made it, he was involved in criminal investigations that forced him to resign from office eight months later.


Hogwash, says former AP reporter Mark Lavie. Following the interview’s broadcast, Lavie countered that if Abbas were truly interested in establishing an independent Palestinian state, he wouldn’t have cared about the political fortunes of the Israeli prime minister. He would have taken the offer and run, knowing that, as Olmert said, the likelihood that he’d get a similar offer in the next 50 years was nonexistent.


The most notable reaction to Abbas’s admission was the reaction that never came. The Israeli Left had no reaction to his interview. Abbas is the hero of the Left. He is their partner. He is their moderate. He is their man of peace. Abbas is the Palestinian leader to whom every leftist politician worth his snuff, from opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog to the Meretz Knesset faction make regular pilgrimages to prove their devotion to peace.


Their man in Ramallah received the most radical offer ever to see the light of day. And rather than accept it, he rejected it out of hand and refused to meet with Olmert ever again, and he openly admits it. The Left’s non-response is not surprising. Abbas’s decision to end all speculation about whether or not he is a man of peace is merely the latest blow reality has cast on their two-state formula.


The Left’s policy of land for peace failed more than 15 years ago when Abbas’s boss, Yasser Arafat, preferred war to peace and initiated the worst campaign of terrorism that Israel had ever experienced. Yet for the last 15 years, the Israeli “peace camp” has never wavered in its view that, despite it all, Israel must rid itself of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Rather it members has grown angrier and angrier at their own people for abandoning them and less and less willing to agree that there is anything – including Israeli statehood itself – that is more important than giving up Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.


The Left’s reactionary position was on full display last Thursday at the annual “peace conference” hosted by the far left Haaretz newspaper. Last year, the conference’s audience attacked Bayit Yehudi Party leader Naftali Bennett both verbally and physically when he presented his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. This year it was Tourism Minister Yariv Levin’s turn to be assaulted.


Levin was subjected to constant catcalls from the audience, whose members called him “Goebbels” for arguing that the two-state formula has no chance of bringing peace and that the time has come to consider other options.


But Levin’s claims were simply common sense. This week the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion published its most recent survey. The results were no surprise. Indeed, they were more or less consistent with historical survey results. According to the PCPO data, 63 percent of Palestinians oppose holding peace talks with Israel. 58 percent think Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office ended in 2009, should resign. A majority of Palestinians support a new assault or “intifada” against Israel and 42 percent of Palestinians support the use of terrorism against Israel.


Also this week, ahead of the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday The Jerusalem Post published a new poll of Israeli public opinion. According to the data, 46 percent of Israelis support a policy of separating from the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian state. 35 percent of Israelis support applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. For Israelis under 45, the numbers are reversed.

Today a majority of Likud Knesset members and all members of the Bayit Yehudi’s Knesset faction oppose Palestinian statehood and support applying Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria. Rather than deal with the fact that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis support their two-state model, the Left has decided to ignore both.


The Haaretz conference last week hosted a panel discussing whether the two state paradigm remains viable. In his remarks, Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami, who served as foreign minister in 2000 during the failed Camp David peace summit, explained that given the Israeli and Palestinian publics’ rejection of the two-state formula, (but especially the Israeli rejection of it), the UN Security Council determine Israel’s final borders. In other words, from Ben-Ami’s perspective, withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is more important than maintaining Israel’s independence and governing in accordance with the will of the people.

When the panel’s moderator expressed concern that the mass expulsion of Israelis from their communities in Judea and Samaria which the two-state formula requires would cause a civil war within Israeli society, Ben-Ami just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t delude myself. I never deluded myself that this would be a boy scout trip,” he said. “You can’t do this through consensus….Consensus is the great enemy of leadership.” Ben-Ami continued, “War unites, peace divides…A leader who wants to make peace will always have a split nation behind him.”

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







Aaron David Miller                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23, 2015


John Kerry is off to the Middle East again. His itinerary might surprise you, though. The secretary isn’t going to the region to coordinate strategy with Vladimir Putin, François Hollande, or meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (his deputy is already in Baghdad); or to deal with the putative political transition in Syria. No, instead the trip will focus on Israelis and Palestinians, in addition to a stop in the UAE where he’ll presumably talk Syria.


Having spent most of my professional life chasing after and believing in Arab-Israeli peace–particularly Israeli-Palestinian peace–I can understand the addictive power of the problem for U.S. presidents and secretaries of state. And this secretary of state, more than any of those for whom I worked, really believes not only in the importance of the issue but also in his own capacity to somehow solve it. Touching base with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might make some sense, particularly consulting with the Israelis on Syria and Russia.


But as Mr. Kerry makes yet another foray into the world of the never-ending peace process, here are some inconvenient and politically incorrect truths worth bearing in mind.


First, if there is any key to stability in the angry, broken, dysfunctional Middle East, it certainly isn’t a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Yes, a resolution now would certainly boost U.S. credibility and take an important issue off the table. But given the region-wide melt down – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen in varying forms of chaos and dysfunction; a rising Iran, and  the threat from ISIS — it’s no longer credible to argue that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a priority or that it’s even possible now.  A two-state solution may well be the least-worst outcome. But with all the other failing states  in the region, it’s worth considering why the U.S. would want to risk a failed or weak Palestinian one.


Second, even if that two-state solution were theoretically possible sometime, it isn’t now. Rarely has any peace process been as unready for prime time as this one is at the moment. President Barack Obama has repeatedly acknowledged this. Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Abbas is ready to pay the price on any of the big issues like Jerusalem or refugees.


Mr. Abbas can’t rein in Hamas and silence all of the guns of Palestine. And he can’t control the Palestinians who are killing Israelis with knives, guns and cars — many of whom are from areas of Jerusalem that Israel has controlled since 1967. And not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Netanyahu really isn’t interested in helping to deliver Palestinian statehood, let alone becoming its father.


Third, much of the interest in dealing with the peace process is coming from Washington. And clearly, it would be a good thing if Mr. Kerry could help tamp down the current wave of violence. Perhaps Mr. Netanyahu could take some interim steps and Mr. Kerry might build on them. That might interest Mr. Abbas, who has used the violence to warn that the status quo isn’t sustainable even as he fears that it could undermine his control and benefit Hamas.


The bitter truth here is that the Obama administration cares too much about this issue and the parties themselves too little. What’s missing is the kind of local ownership that would make Israelis and Palestinians invest in a   serious negotiating process and a solution because they want and need it.  John Kerry can’t do that for them.


If the Obama administration wants to keep its hand in the issue, tamp down the violence and try to manage the conflict in hopes for keeping a political solution alive, terrific. But it shouldn’t start believing its own talking points. The Middle East is on fire. And there are much more important things to do.                     





TRUMP PLANS TO FORCE PEACE TALKS – A LA OBAMA?                                                                 

Ari Yashar                                                                                                                   

Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2015


Ahead of his trip to Israel this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed in an interview Thursday that forcing peace talks on Israel will head his priorities if elected – and that the onus for the lack of peace lies on the Jewish state, not the Palestinian Authority (PA). "I have a real question as to whether or not both sides want to make it," Trump told The Associated Press, clarifying that he has more concerns regarding "one side in particular."


"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal – whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal." Trump's focus on Israel may strike some as ironic, given that the state is currently embroiled in an Arab terror wave that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has actively encouraged, recently calling the murder of Jews "peaceful."


The real estate guru promised: "if I win, I'll let you know six months from the time I take office" whether or not a peace deal is possible. "I think if I get elected, that would be something I'd really like to do," said Trump without specifying how he would achieve an elusive peace deal. "Because so much death, so much turmoil, so much hatred – that would be to me a great achievement. As a single achievement, that would be a really great achievement."


Trump's gung ho approach to starting up peace talks may raise concerns, given how they echo US President Barack Obama's insistence on addressing the issue. US Secretary of State John Kerry forced through nine-month-long talks starting in late 2013, that the PA torpedoed in April 2014 when it signed a unity deal with Hamas. The talks were accompanied by an upswing in terror attacks.


Trump said he would meet early with top regional leaders, visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "sometime after Christmas, probably." "You know, I'm going to be probably going over there pretty soon and I want to see him, I want to see other people, I want to get some ideas on it," said Trump, who claimed he was a "big, big fan" of Israel. According to the businessman, the only way to solve the Israel-Palestinian issue is "if you had a real dealmaker, somebody that knew what he or she is doing. I'll be able to tell in one sit-down meeting with the real leaders."


While avoiding specifics about whether the PA's demands are legitimate, Trump called Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria a "huge sticking point" in talks. Asked if his goal is a two-state solution, by which Israel would be divided to create a "Palestine," he said, "well, I'm not going to even say that." But he expressed his enthusiasm at the prospect of making a peace deal, saying, "if you can make that deal, you can make any deal. It's probably the toughest deal to make."


Regarding the prospect of peace, In late October PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said all of Israel is "the occupation," showing his intentions to conquer the entire state, and last month he revealed for the first time that he rejected the offer of a Palestinian state back in 2008. Abbas, whose term in office officially ended in January 2009, gave credence in June to calls by Jewish nationalists arguing that a Palestinian state should be set up in Jordan, when he called Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs "one people living in two states."




On Topic


2 State Solution?: Dry Bones Blog, Nov. 18, 2015

German Parliament President: We Reject Settlement Labeling, Understand Israel's Anger: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015 —Germany opposes the “unwise” European Commission decision to label products from the West Bank, Golan and Jerusalem, Bundestag President Prof. Norbert Lammert said Wednesday.

European Hypocrisy: Why Single Israel Out?: Ofir Haivry, Ynet, Nov. 11, 2015 —The public debate in Israel over the European Union's initiative to label Israeli products manufactured beyond the Green Line usually avoids addressing the most troubling aspect of the initiative: The fact that of all the regions in the world subject to a certain sovereignty conflict, the EU has only chosen to label products originating in the area of conflict related to the Jewish state.

Last Tango in Paris: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2015—By the time he arrived for his fifth wedding in 1975, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had murdered tens of thousands of his citizens, including scores of generals, politicians and judges, besides expelling more than 50,000 Asians and thus leading his economy to ruin.










We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


16 Reasons Nuke Deal is an Iranian Victory and a Western Catastrophe: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 14, 2015 — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday unsurprisingly hailed the nuclear agreement struck with US-led world powers, and derided the “failed” efforts of the “warmongering Zionists.” His delight, Iran’s delight, is readily understandable.

Nowhere, No-Time Supervision: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, July 14, 2015  —Ahead of the accord reached between the P5+1 and Iran Tuesday, The New York Times reported that it was expected to be a "political agreement," not a "legally binding treaty." ‎

Iran Deal Fails on All Fronts: Lindsey Graham, USA Today, July 14, 2015— Three perspectives must be taken into account to judge this deal: how it affects the United States, our allies in Israel and the Sunni Arab states. The agreement fails on each front.

Six Strikes Against the Nuclear Deal with Iran: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, July 15, 2015 — There are (at least) six significant and immediate bad results from the agreement reached yesterday between the Western powers and Iran.

The World’s Surrender on Iran Will Doom Syria First: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, July 15, 2015 — Last week—and please forgive me for the graphic nature of this metaphor—Russian President Vladimir Putin pulled down his pants and urinated over the graves of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys exterminated by Serb forces in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.


On Topic Links


How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program: Daniel Pipes, National Review, July 16, 2015

The Deal with Iran: How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons: Alex Joffe, Times of Israel, July 14, 2015

Preemptive Strike on Iran Legally Dicier Once UN Lifts Sanctions: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2015

Our Death-to-America Nuclear Negotiating Partners: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2015




AND A WESTERN CATASTROPHE                                                                                                                 

David Horovitz                                                                                                                             

Times of Israel, July 14, 2015


Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday unsurprisingly hailed the nuclear agreement struck with US-led world powers, and derided the “failed” efforts of the “warmongering Zionists.” His delight, Iran’s delight, is readily understandable. The agreement legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, allows it to retain core nuclear facilities, permits it to continue research in areas that will dramatically speed its breakout to the bomb should it choose to flout the deal, but also enables it to wait out those restrictions and proceed to become a nuclear threshold state with full international legitimacy. Here’s how.


1. Was the Iranian regime required, as a condition for this deal, to disclose the previous military dimensions of its nuclear program — to come clean on its violations — in order both to ensure effective inspections of all relevant facilities and to shatter the Iranian-dispelled myth that it has never breached its non-proliferation obligations? No. … Rather than exposing Iran’s violations, the new deal solemnly asserts that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Iran has failed to honor “remains the cornerstone” of ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The deal provides for a mechanism “to address past and present issues of concern relating to its nuclear programme,” but Iran has managed to dodge such efforts for years, and the deal inspires little hope of change in that area, blithely anticipating “closing the issue” in the next few months.


2. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt all uranium enrichment, including thousands of centrifuges spinning at its main Natanz enrichment facility? No. The deal specifically legitimizes enrichment under certain eroding limitations. 3. Has the Iranian regime been required to shut down and dismantle its Arak heavy water reactor and plutonium production plant? No. It will convert, not dismantle the facility, under a highly complex process. Even if it honors this clause, its commitment to “no additional heavy water reactors or accumulation of heavy water in Iran” will expire after 15 years.


4. Has the Iranian regime been required to shut down and dismantle the underground uranium enrichment facility it built secretly at Fordo? No. (Convert, not dismantle.) 5. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt its ongoing missile development? No.


6. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt research and development of the faster centrifuges that will enable it to break out to the bomb far more rapidly than is currently the case? No. The deal specifically legitimizes ongoing R&D under certain eroding limitations. It specifically provides, for instance, that Iran will commence testing of the fast “IR-8 on single centrifuge machines and its intermediate cascades” as soon as the deal goes into effect, and will “commence testing of up to 30 IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges after eight and a half years.”


7. Has the Iranian regime been required to submit to “anywhere, anytime” inspections of any and all facilities suspected of engaging in rogue nuclear-related activity? No. Instead, the deal describes at considerable length a very protracted process of advance warning and “consultation” to resolve concerns. 8. Has the international community established procedures setting out how it will respond to different classes of Iranian violations, to ensure that the international community can act with sufficient speed and efficiency to thwart a breakout to the bomb? No.


9. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt its arming, financing and training of the Hezbollah terrorist army in south Lebanon? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.) 10. Has the Iranian regime been required to surrender for trial the members of its leadership placed on an Interpol watch list for their alleged involvement in the bombing, by a Hezbollah suicide bomber, of the AMIA Jewish community center offices in Buenos Aires in 1994 that resulted in the deaths of 85 people? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)


11. Has the Iranian regime undertaken to close its 80 estimated “cultural centers” in South America from which it allegedly fosters terrorist networks? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.) 12. Has the Iranian leadership agreed to stop inciting hatred among its people against Israel and the United States and to stop its relentless calls for the annihilation of Israel? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)


13. Has the Iranian regime agreed to halt executions, currently running at an average of some three a day, the highest rate for 20 years? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.) 14. Does the nuclear deal shatter the painstakingly constructed sanctions regime that forced Iran to the negotiating table? Yes.


15. Will the deal usher in a new era of global commercial interaction with Iran, reviving the Iranian economy and releasing financial resources that Iran will use to bolster its military forces and terrorist networks? Yes. 16. Does the nuclear deal further cement Iran’s repressive and ideologically rapacious regime in power? Yes. No wonder Iran and its allies are celebrating. Nobody else should be.     




NOWHERE, NO-TIME SUPERVISION                                                                                        

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, July 14, 2015


Ahead of the accord reached between the P5+1 and Iran Tuesday, The New York Times reported that it was expected to be a "political agreement," not a "legally binding treaty." ‎Furthermore, Israeli sources said the two sides would "announce understandings" and ‎present a 100-page document, but not "sign" anything. It will take months ‎of additional negotiations to develop the relevant implementation documents.


All of which is meant to obfuscate the details, Israeli officials fear, and cloud the matter ‎enough to confuse or bamboozle Congress. It will also allow the Iranians to (correctly) ‎claim that they never truly "signed away" their nuclear capacities. In the meantime, U.N. ‎and other international mechanisms to lift sanctions on Iran will go into high gear.‎


However, the root corruption of the agreement is that Iran gets to keep its nuclear ‎facilities, and there will be no truly intrusive international supervision of what goes on ‎deep inside them.‎ The accord leaves Iran with all its nuclear development facilities intact, including the ‎Fordo underground center, instead of dismantling them. This allows the Iranians to ‎continue refining their nuclear skills. Even at low levels of enrichment (3.5% and 5%, which are not useful for a bomb) this provides a framework with which Tehran ‎can bypass Western restrictions and hoodwink Western inspectors.‎


After all, Iran has clandestinely crossed every "red line" set by the West over the past ‎‎20 years — putting nuclear plants online, building heavy-water facilities, refining ‎uranium, working on explosive triggers and warheads, and generally breaching all of its ‎obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — and has gotten away with it. It ‎has lied, formally and repeatedly, to the international community about its nuclear ‎efforts.‎


So any deal that scales back sanctions and allows Iran to keep operating its advanced ‎nuclear development facilities even at a low level is a fatal bargain. So warned Simon ‎Henderson of the Washington Institute and Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director ‎general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as long as two years ago. ‎U.S. President Obama's response to this was to promise that he would accept nothing ‎less than a Western right to conduct "anywhere, anytime" international inspections of ‎Iran's most secret nuclear and military facilities. ‎


Indeed, veteran investigators have testified in front of Congress literally dozens of ‎times that anywhere-anytime access is a minimum prerequisite to a verifiable deal. ‎Alas, Obama has now backed down from that. It's an American collapse.‎ Under the terms of the accord, it seems that IAEA inspectors will ‎have to "coordinate" their visits to suspect Iranian sites, "in consultation between Iran ‎and the world powers." Worse still, Iran will have the right to deny and challenge U.N. ‎requests to send inspectors to suspicious sites. In these cases, an arbitration board ‎composed of Iran and the powers would decide on the issue. ‎


They call this "managed access," which is a euphemism for nowhere, no-time ‎inspections.‎ This means that Iran will continue to play the negotiation game over every Western ‎inspection request. With lawyers and more lawyers, diplomats and more diplomats. Lots of ‎hotels and endless discussions.‎ In other words, Iran will be able to delay and delay access to true military or ‎nuclear sites, just as it has done with the Parchin military base, where it is suspected ‎to have experimented with nuclear weapons production. ‎Only now, under the accord and after at least three years of requests (and after a ‎major Iranian cleanup effort, documented by Western satellite photos) will Iran finally ‎‎"grant" access to Parchin. Sometime soon. Yay. What a great victory for Obama and nuclear containment of Iran.






Lindsey Graham           

USA Today, July 14, 2015


Three perspectives must be taken into account to judge this deal: how it affects the United States, our allies in Israel and the Sunni Arab states. The agreement fails on each front. As Americans, we did not achieve our initial goal, which President Obama and I both shared, of dismantling and rolling back the Iranians' ability to build a nuclear bomb. Instead, we have ensured that with the mere passage of time, Iran will become a nuclear nation.


There is no requirement that Iran change its behavior before restrictions on its nuclear program are lifted, and the deal does not require the Iranians to dismantle all their nuclear infrastructure. They will be allowed to continue research on advanced centrifuges. "Anytime, anywhere" inspections of Iranian military facilities were dropped, and I am skeptical that Iran will be required to fully disclose all its past nuclear work. Worst of all, Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, will receive more than $100 billion in sanctions relief in short order. We know from Iran's track record that this won't be used for roads and bridges, but to fund Hamas and Hezbollah and further entrench Bashar Assad in Syria.


In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the agreement a "mistake of historic proportions." This may prove to be an understatement. This deal puts our close ally Israel in a box. Israelis understand we are giving their chief antagonist — the very people who hate Israel the most — the capability to develop a nuclear weapon. At the end of the day, I fear this could be a death sentence for the State of Israel.


Finally, Sunni Arab nations are going to feel threatened by this deal and are going to try to get a nuke of their own. Iran already controls four Arab capitals. With more money, Iran's destabilizing influence will only grow. Restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile systems are beyond the scope of the agreement. This alone guarantees a nuclear arms race in the region as Iran's rivals seek the means to protect themselves. This agreement is far worse than I ever imagined it could be. Over time, it will prove to be a nightmare for our own national security, the region as a whole, and eventually the world at large.                    




SIX STRIKES AGAINST THE NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN                                                          

Prof. Efraim Inbar                                                                                                       

BESA, July 15, 2015


There are (at least) six significant and immediate bad results from the agreement reached yesterday between the Western powers and Iran. 1. America the weak: The way in which the negotiations were conducted underscored the weakness of the US. The Obama administration was willing to offer almost unlimited concessions to the skillful Iranian negotiators, ignoring all its own deadlines and red lines. It is clear that President Obama was desperate for a deal in order to leave office with a ”legacy.” While Washington congratulates itself on a “successful” result, what counts is the perceptions of the countries in the region. Alas, all countries in the region can only conclude that America is indeed weak. America has capitulated to Iran.


2. Nuclear legitimacy: Instead of insisting on the dismantling of all uranium enrichment facilities in Iran, as was accomplished in Libya, the US actually accorded international legitimacy to a large-scale Iranian… nuclear infrastructure, including thousands of centrifuges. The deal leaves almost intact all central components of the Iranian nuclear program. US Secretary of State John Kerry has in fact admitted that Iran might be just three months away from a nuclear bomb within the framework of the nuclear agreement. In doing so, the US has totally ignored UN Security Council Resolution 1696 of July 2006, which demanded that Iran suspend enrichment activities, as well as American demands for the dismantlement of the nuclear facilities.


3. Proliferation: This agreement is a stimulus for nuclear proliferation. Indeed, Saudi Arabia has announced its desire for “the same type of infrastructure” that has been allowed to Iran. It is to be expected that countries such as Egypt and Turkey will emulate Saudi Arabia. These states share Iranian ambitions for a leadership role in the region and it is highly unlikely they will refrain from acquiring capabilities that match Iran’s. Actually, the regional nuclear race has already begun and a multi-polar nuclear Middle East is on the way. This is a strategic nightmare. An American attempt to provide a nuclear umbrella (“extended deterrence”) to the Gulf States in order to forestall nuclear proliferation already has failed. Saudi King Salman refused to attend the US-Gulf State summit. This reflects disappointment with what Washington had to offer, and signals Saudi intentions to try to take care of itself on its own.


4.  Force projection and terrorism: The international sanctions regime against Iran already has eroded. States and businesses already are lining-up to capitalize on the economic opportunities emerging in the Iranian market. The unfreezing of Iranian bank accounts and the projected increase in oil production will enrich the coffers of the Iranian regime with more than $100 billion. This will allow the diversion of many resources to an Iranian arms build-up, and will buttress Tehran’s aspiration to project force far beyond its borders. Moreover, the cash influx enhances Iranian capability for supporting proxies, such as the Shiite-controlled government in Iraq, Assad’s regime in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Huties in Yemen. The Iranian capacity for subversion and for exporting terror will be greatly magnified.


5. Balance of power: The American decision to accept Iran as a nuclear-threshold state, and Obama’s statements in favor of a “responsible Iranian role” in the region, accompanied by an inflated American threat perception of ISIS – signal a most significant change in American Middle East foreign policy. This accord marks an end to Iran’s regional isolation. Instead, America seems to be siding with the Shiites against Sunnis. This move changes dramatically the regional balance of power, instilling even greater uncertainty in regional politics.


The naïve American belief that Iran can become a “normal” state – will backfire. While cautious, Iran is nevertheless a “revisionist” power trying to undermine the status quo. It does not hide its hegemonic aspirations. Its subversive activities in Shiite Bahrain and the Shiite eastern province of Saudi Arabia (where most of the oil is), and in other Gulf countries, might create an unbearable situation for the West. Eventually, Iran might even attain its declared goal of putting an end to the American presence in the Persian Gulf.


6. Conflict with Israel: American policy is now on a collision course with Israel. The consensus in Israel is that Obama signed a very bad deal, which is dangerous for the Middle East and well beyond it. Israelis, as well as most Middle Easterners, do not buy the promise of a moderate Iran. They know better. Israelis take seriously the calls of the Iranian mobs “Death to America. Death to Israel.” Thus an Israeli military strike on Iran has become more likely, and in the near future – before the US puts the brakes on military supplies to the Israeli army.                                            





Ben Cohen

Algemeiner, July 15, 2015


Last week—and please forgive me for the graphic nature of this metaphor—Russian President Vladimir Putin pulled down his pants and urinated over the graves of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys exterminated by Serb forces in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.


Twenty years after Bosnia was torn apart by the genocide committed by both Serb and Croatian forces, the Russians—who were the main backers of the regime of the late tyrant of Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic—are still playing the insidious role of denying the most monstrous crime to take place in Europe since the Second World War. In vetoing a joint American-British resolution to commemorate the slaughter at Srebrenica with the legal status of a genocide, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin grunted that what was tabled at the U.N. Security Council was “not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated.” Predictably, his words drew a furious response: “After 20 years, Russia showed that it backed the crime instead of justice,” declared Munira Subasic, the head of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association…


Halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, it’s time to admit the bitter truth. We’ve failed. We’ve failed to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. We’ve failed to deliver a decisive message to the world’s tyrants that they can no longer get away with murder. If anything, we’ve actually encouraged them to believe that the more violent and intransigent they are, the greater the chances of them receiving deferential treatment. Look at North Korea. Or Qatar. Or any other despicable regime that denies those who live there the right to speak and vote without fear of intimidation or arrest.


Look, most of all, at Iran, and at the deal that was reached Tuesday in the talks over Tehran’s nuclear program in Vienna. The litany of losers arising from this deal is by now familiar: the United States of America, which in the name of enhancing its own security is fatally compromising it; Israel, which now faces its most serious existential threat since the Yom Kippur War of 1973; and the Arab states, many of whom will now be racing towards their own nuclear program. But the biggest and most immediate losers are those who are too often forgotten: the Syrian people locked in a diabolical civil war that puts the horror of Bosnia into the shade and credibly rivals Pol Pot’s massacres in Cambodia when it comes to atrocities. And the reason? Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, who is a tool of the Iranian regime.


Well over 200,000 civilians have been killed during the four-year conflict. More than 4 million refugees have fled the country, living in makeshift camps in countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon—all of them becoming increasingly inhospitable to a massive population influx that has created an enormous financial burden. Inside Syria, close to 8 million people have been displaced from their homes. When you remember that the pre-war population of Syria was 22 million, you come to the staggering realization that more than half of its people have lost their homes and livelihoods. No wonder they are calling this the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.


And where is the West, with its Responsibility to Protect doctrine? In the Syrian case, we appear to have inverted it; rather than weakening the Assad regime, we are in fact strengthening it. And the necessary battle against the barbaric forces of Islamic State doesn’t mean we aren’t also obliged to confront Assad, who launched this ghastly war in the first place.


How, though, does Assad himself see the situation? Some clue as to his vision was provided in a recent interview published on the Russian Sputnik website, conducted by the French parliamentarian Jean-Frederic Poisson—who sounds, if you’ll allow me the pun, like a rather fishy character who talks about the “stability in Syria” that the preservation of Assad’s rule would bring. In his comments to Monsieur Poisson, “Assad criticized Western governments for meddling in regional countries’ internal affairs, ‘failing to listen to the voices of nations,’ and displaying ‘double standards’ in the fight against terrorism.” All tropes, you will notice, that his Iranian paymasters were raising at the nuclear negotiations in Vienna…

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





On Topic                                                                                        


How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program: Daniel Pipes, National Review, July 16, 2015 —The Vienna deal has been signed and likely will soon be ratified, which raises the question: Will any government intervene militarily to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup?

The Deal with Iran: How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons: Alex Joffe, Times of Israel, July 14, 2015—It is always perilous to predict what future historians will say. But regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, it is likely historians will observe the remarkable fact that at the moment of its greatest weakness, Iran's enemies suddenly reversed course.

Preemptive Strike on Iran Legally Dicier Once UN Lifts Sanctions: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2015—Israel probably has until around mid-December to preemptively strike Iran’s nuclear program before it gets even harder to justify legally than Tuesday’s deal has already made it.

Our Death-to-America Nuclear Negotiating Partners: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2015—On Thursday, Western diplomats in Vienna missed another deadline in the years-long Iranian nuclear negotiations. The latest snag is Iran’s demand for immediate sanctions relief and the lifting of a United Nations arms embargo. The next day in Tehran, the regime issued other demands—namely, that the U.S. and Israel cease to exist.






We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.



Nuclear Talks With Iran to Miss Second Deadline in Seven Days: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015 — World powers and Iran will not meet a self-imposed deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement scheduled for July 7, and will extend their interim agreement until July 10.

The U.S. Response to Iran’s Cheating is a Worrying Omen: Washington Post, July 6, 2015— If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise.

Iran Deal: Bleak Prospects for Serious Breakthrough: Jagdish N. Singh, Jewish Press, July 6, 2015 — Although the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany and Iran have agreed to extend the deadline to July 7, prospects of any real breakthrough in the matter are bleak .

Obama Wants a Bad Iran Deal at Any Price: Noah Beck, Algemeiner, July 6, 2015 — Much has been written about just how bad the proposed Iranian nuclear deal has gotten.


On Topic Links


Iran Wants U.N. Arms Embargo Lifted: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2015

On-Going Debate Over Iran’s Newly Produced LEU Hexafluoride: David Albright and Andrea Stricker, ISIS Nuclear Iran, July 3, 2015

The Fundamental Flaws of the Emerging Nuclear Deal: Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, June 19, 2015

On Iran, Worry About the Deal, Not the Deadline: Dennis Ross, Politico, July 6, 2014

Iran Nuclear Talks Complicated by Dispute Over Missiles and Arms: David Blair, Telegraph, July 6, 2015




NUCLEAR TALKS WITH IRAN TO MISS SECOND DEADLINE IN SEVEN DAYS                                                    

Michael Wilner

Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015


World powers and Iran will not meet a self-imposed deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement scheduled for July 7, and will extend their interim agreement until July 10. Negotiations are at their most "difficult" and "real" phase, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told press gathered outside the Palais Coburg in Austria's capital. The diplomatic effort has now been under way for two years. "We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline," she said.


US Secretary of State John Kerry's senior advisor for strategic communications, Marie Harf, said that negotiators are "frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock." But they also are committed to concluding the process during this negotiating round, she added. "We also know that difficult decisions won't get any easier with time," Harf said. "We are taking these negotiations day to day."


Mogherini characterized the talks as "difficult" and "tense." All parties agree that the negotiations are in their final stage, if not in their final hours. Departing the Coburg, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told Russian media that eight issues critical to a deal were still not finalized as negotiators entered their second deadline in seven days. Most foreign ministers would be leaving Vienna, but would return shortly, he said. "There is only one big problem in terms of sanctions," Lavrov said. "It is the problem of a weapons embargo."


The US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany had hoped to seal a comprehensive deal by June 30. Missing that deadline, they extended their effort to July 7. They seek to cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, after toiling with the prospect of a nuclear Iran for over a decade. Tehran wants that relief immediately.






Washington Post, July 6, 2015


If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented; it will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.


Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging. The United States and its allies will have to be aggressive in countering the inevitable Iranian attempts to test the accord and willing to insist on consequences even if it means straining relations with friendly governments or imposing costs on Western companies.


That’s why a recent controversy over Iran’s compliance with the interim accord now governing its nuclear work is troubling. The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, but required that amounts over a specified ceiling be converted into an oxide powder that cannot easily be further enriched. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran met the requirement for the total size of its stockpile on June 30, but it did so by converting some of its enriched uranium into a different oxide form, apparently because of problems with a plant set up to carry out the powder conversion.


Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense — and heatedly attack the institute as well as a report in the New York Times.


This points to two dangers in the implementation of any longterm deal. One is “a U.S. willingness to legally reinterpret the deal when Iran cannot do what it said it would do, in order to justify that non-performance,” institute President David Albright and his colleague Andrea Stricker wrote. In other words, overlooking Iranian cheating is easier than confronting it.


This weakness is matched by a White House proclivity to respond to questions about Iran’s performance by attacking those who raise them. Mr. Albright, a physicist with a long record of providing non-partisan expert analysis of nuclear proliferation issues, said on the Foreign Policy Web site that he had been unfairly labeled as an adversary of the Iran deal and that campaign-style “war room” tactics are being used by the White House to fend off legitimate questions.


In the case of the oxide conversion, the discrepancy may be less important than the administration’s warped reaction. A final accord will require Iran to ship most of its uranium stockpile out of the country, or reverse its enrichment. But there surely will be other instances of Iranian non-compliance. If the deal is to serve U.S. interests, the Obama administration and its successors will have to respond to them more firmly and less defensively.





Jagdish N. Singh                   

Jewish Press, July 6, 2015


Although the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany and Iran have agreed to extend the deadline to July 7, prospects of any real breakthrough in the matter are bleak .


Knowledgeable sources say signs are ominous with seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two main parties in the dialogue, Washington and Tehran. American President Barack Obama has declared he would sign an agreement only after being assured it would prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. A major hitch is over including the inspection of Tehran’s military sites “anytime, anywhere– no bureaucratic committees, no moving the ball, no sites off limits.” Besides, Washington (and close allies) insist Tehran reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 7.6 tons.   According to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran’s stockpile of the fuel, which can be used to fuel a reactor or processed further for weapons, has grown to eight tons.


Washington argues no future risk can be allowed in regard to the alleged Iranian nuclear weapon program. Both of Iran’s now-declared facilities for processing uranium into fuel have the potential to power a reactor or manufacture a bomb and were developed under military cover, later to be to transferred to civilian authorities. Tehran is very unlikely to oblige Washington in this matter. In Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final word. He has reiterated he is opposed to any long-term freeze on Iran’s nuclear research and development, the full disclosure of past nuclear work, or inspections of military sites.


The sources say it would be hard for President Obama, even if he wished, to accommodate Tehran on such fundamental propositions. He has been under the scrutiny of the powerful US Senate. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  Bob Corker  has recently written a letter accusing him of a  “breathtaking” retreat from their ( P5+1)  “original goals and statements” in the nuclear talks with Iran. The letter laments the negotiators “have moved” from a trying to strike a 20-year agreement, to a 10-year one and seem ready to let Tehran proceed with its ballistic missile program and research and development for advanced nuclear centrifuges.


The components necessary to achieving a good deal should include: anywhere, anytime inspections, including military sites; strict limits on centrifuge R&D; disclosure of Iran’s past atomic military work ; phased suspension of sanctions based upon Iran’s compliance with its obligations under a futuristic deal; and the creation of an effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically in the event of any violations.


Unfortunately, the  P5+1 seem prepared to accept a deal that does not include full disclosure of Iran’s past atomic research . They have promised to provide Iran with advanced nuclear technology. Their currently reported  draft promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. On its part, the Obama administration has deviated a lot from its original path in the matter. Initially, it demanded a “full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.” But now it is permitting Iran to continue enriching uranium with 5060 centrifuges. Initially, the administration insisted that Iran shut down Fordow but now over 1,000 centrifuges are to remain in this underground facility largely impenetrable to attack.


It would not be wise to rule out Iran’s atomic weapons designs in future. American Secretary of State John Kerry recently claimed that Washington has had “absolute knowledge” of Iran’s past atomic weapons work. The Secretary asserted, “It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped.”  But it is impossible to design   an effective verification system that could measure breakout time or ensure atomic weapons “activities have been stopped.” Former Director of the CIA Michael Hayden has refuted even the Kerry claim that Washington has had perfect knowledge of the Iranian nuclear program. Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano is on record having said, “We don’t know what they did in the past.”


The impending agreement allows Iran to conduct R&D on advanced centrifuges. Tehran would be able to install them after the expiration of “the sunset clause” and the breakout period may shrink to zero. Iran could reestablish Fordow as a uranium enrichment centrifuge plant with a capacity far in excess of its current capacity. It is a fortified facility built into a mountainside impervious to military attack. The sunset clause has to be replaced to satisfy Iran’s program is strictly for peaceful purposes. After  10 years there should be a vote to see if restrictions should be extended for another 10 years so as not to leave the world with “an even more insecure and heightened situation… in terms of a greatly reduced Iranian breakout timeline, and more advanced centrifuges spinning and capable of creating weapon-grade uranium…within shorter periods of time.”


The sources suggest economic sanctions may continue. Last winter, Tehran was facing a balance of payments crisis, and its economy was on the brink. The sanctions may rather be increased to give Iran the choice: “Face the heat or dismantle your nuclear program.”


Sources claim that with sanctions in place, Tehran has so far been ‘insensible. ’ Without them, it might be “insane.” The infusion of funds Tehran will receive from an emerging deal may bolster its support for terrorism in the region, particularly Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and embolden it to crush human rights at home.  Iran would receive around $ 30-50 simply for signing an agreement. The subsequent release of frozen funds and increased oil sales would leave Iran with more than $100 billion over the next year. Iran spends approximately $ 200 million per year on Hezbollah and up to $ 15 billion per year to support the authoritarian Assad regime in Syria. With more funds at its disposal, the Khomeninist regime would invest more in such activities.


The impending deal is likely to embolden Tehran to ignore the plight also of the Americans jailed in Iran. Iran currently holds three Americans known to be alive: Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, was imprisoned by Iran in 2014 and charged with espionage;, Saeed Abedini; and Amir Hekmati. The prisoners are held in Evin prison, one of Iran’s most notorious jails. Another American, retired FBI agent, Bob Levinson, went missing in Iran eight years ago. Levinson’s whereabouts remains unknown.





OBAMA WANTS A BAD IRAN DEAL AT ANY PRICE                                                                                

Noah Beck

Algemeiner, July 6, 2015


Much has been written about just how bad the proposed Iranian nuclear deal has gotten. This outcome is hardly surprising after Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, bravely published Ally, his memoir detailing Obama’s hostility towards Israel. But even without Ambassador Michael Oren’s personal testimony, there is overwhelming evidence that – on the issue most important to global security and Israel’s very existence – Obama has been, at best, reckless and, at worst, treasonous.


Obama’s administration has shown a breathtaking readiness to cover for a wide range of abuses and violations by the same Iranian regime that seeks international acceptance of its nuclear activities. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz recently noted that theState Department was illegally delaying the publication of a report on Iranian human rights violations, which was due last February, to avoid adversely affecting the talks with Iran on its nuclear program.


According to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank, Iran has violated the current interim nuclear deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). The president of the institute, David Albright, noted that “When it became clear Iran could not meet its commitment to convert the LEU into uranium dioxide, the United States revised its criteria for Iran meetings its obligations.” Such leniency on a crucial compliance issue suggests that the world powers negotiating with Iran (the “P5+1”) will ignore or explain away Iranian violations of any future agreement over its nuclear program.


In another breach of the JPOA, Iran continues trying to acquire nuclear-related materials – some of which would be prohibited under the emerging deal. Reuters reported last May that the Czech government had uncovered an Iranian attempt to purchase a shipment of compressors from a U.S.-owned company based in Prague. These parts can be used to extract enriched uranium directly from the centrifuge cascades. In April, the British Government reportedly informed a UN panel about an illicit Iranian nuclear procurement network involving two firms under sanctions for suspected links to Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran fed uranium hexafluoride gas into an advanced centrifuge, yet another violation of the JPOA. In April 2014, Reuters reported that Iran’s oil exports were well above the monthly 1 million barrel-per-day limit imposed by the JPOA. If the P5+1 countenanced all of these Iranian violations of the JPOA, why would they be any more forceful when an even stronger Iran violates a permanent nuclear accord?


The news outlet Al-Monitor reported that the U.S. State Department is three years late in applying certain sanctions on Iran. The report provides more proof that the State Department is intentionally delaying sanctions on Iran in its quest to close a nuclear deal. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration has pressured the CIA so that its analysts are now in an “impossible position regarding analysis of Iran’s nuclear program.”


Not only has the Obama administration ignored Iranian violations, it has also disregarded evidence that sanctions relief will only support Iran’s most dangerous policies. Under Iran’s “moderate” President Rouhani, spending on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the entity tasked with spreading Iranian influence abroad while suppressing dissent at home, has increased by 48%. Iran spends approximately $200 million per year on Hezbollah and up to $15 billion per year to support the Assad regime in Syria. (Apparently the Obama administration sees no contradiction in calling for Assad’s ouster while helping Iran to fund him by removing sanctions.) Former Senior Advisor on Iran at the State Department, Ray Takeyh, has warned that the “massive financial gains from [a sanctions-lifting nuclear] deal would enable [Iran’s] imperial surge.”  Iran is now the main power broker in four Arab countries (Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria). So how much more powerful and aggressive will Iran become when sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars flow into its economy?


Obama has also disregarded his own former Iran and nonproliferation experts, who last month signed on to a letter warning that the emerging Iran deal may “fall short of the administration’s own standard.” Signatories include the White House’s former chief weapons of mass destruction advisor, Gary Samore, the Department of State’s former principal nonproliferation advisor, Robert Einhorn, the former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, the former special advisor on the Persian Gulf, Dennis Ross, and other notable officials and analysts. The letter asserts that the emerging deal will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and outlines the elements of a good deal. These include unlimited inspections, including military sites; strict limits on centrifuge R&D; disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear military work; phased sanctions-lifting that is tied to Iran’s compliance with the deal; and the creation of an effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically in the event of an Iranian violation.


Iran’s breakout time under the emerging deal would be far less than the Obama administration’s estimate of one year, according to one proliferation expert and the former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.


In pursuit of this bad deal, Obama has not only covered for Iranian violations and ignored Iran’s continued ballistic missile developments, it has actually offered the Iranian regime nuclear technology. On what basis does Obama so trust a regime that, for decades, has been one of the most dangerous on the planet, and an arch foe of the U.S. and its closest Mideast allies? In another shocking example of that misplaced trust, the U.S. is sharing a base in Iraq with Iranian-backed Shiite militias, who have killed American soldiers in the past, despite concerns that doing so puts American soldiers at risk by allowing the militias to spy on U.S. operations at the base.


The overwhelming evidence all points to the same troubling question: in the nuclear faceoff between Iran and the West, whose side is Obama on? He may get his “legacy deal,” but it will include nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, an Iranian regime much more able to support terrorism and hegemonic policies, and the far greater prospect of nuclear terrorism and/or doomsday in the world’s most unstable region.


Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis





On Topic                                                                                        


Iran Wants U.N. Arms Embargo Lifted: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2015—Iran is pushing for a United Nations arms embargo to be completely lifted as part of the international community’s moves to improve relations with Tehran in the wake of an emerging nuclear agreement, a senior Iranian diplomat said Monday.

On-Going Debate Over Iran’s Newly Produced LEU Hexafluoride: David Albright and Andrea Stricker, ISIS Nuclear Iran, July 3, 2015 —The controversy over the status of Iran’s newly produced low enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride under the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) initially surprised us at ISIS.

The Fundamental Flaws of the Emerging Nuclear Deal: Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, June 19, 2015—Under the emerging Iran nuclear agreement, there is an inherent asymmetry between an expanding Iranian nuclear program and diminishing economic leverage.

On Iran, Worry About the Deal, Not the Deadline: Dennis Ross, Politico, July 6, 2014—Just as June 30 turned out not to be a true deadline for the Iranian nuclear talks, it would be wise to treat July 7 — the extended deadline — much the same way.

Iran Nuclear Talks Complicated by Dispute Over Missiles and Arms: David Blair, Telegraph, July 6, 2015 —Iran’s foreign minister met his counterparts from six world powers on Monday, but the drive for a nuclear deal was complicated by a dispute over United Nations restrictions on missile technology and arms sales.





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Israel Gears Up to Battle Iran Deal in Congress: Times of Israel, July 6, 2015 — Israel is preparing for the next phase of its fierce opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, by lobbying US Congressmen and women to block the emerging comprehensive agreement once it is finalized and goes to lawmakers for approval.

Strategies for Israel After Failed American Diplomacy: Louis René Beres, Arutz Sheva, July 2, 2015— Unsurprisingly, the Obama strategy of concessionary nuclear negotiations with Iran has failed.

Obama Needs to Walk Away From an Awful Deal With Iran: Kevin McCarthy, Washington Post, July 1, 2015 — When former advisers to President Obama contribute to an open, bipartisan letter outlining their collective concerns that the nuclear deal the administration is negotiating with Iran would fall very short of its own standard of a “good” agreement, something is wrong.

Why Is Obama Abandoning 70 Years of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy?: Matthew Kroenig, Tablet, June 15, 2015 — As the June 30 deadline for striking a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran looms, discussions quickly get bogged down in debates about numbers and types of centrifuges, schedules for sanctions relief, and procedures for international inspections.


On Topic Links


The World Stayed Silent – Iran Short Film Series #7 (Video): Youtube, June 30, 2015

U.N. Nuclear Chief Is Optimistic About Iranian Cooperation on Review: Michael R. Gordon & David E. Sanger, New York Times, July 4, 2015

Iran’s Toxic Deal is Not a Legacy Obama Should Leave: Andrew Bowen, Al-Arabiya, July 5, 2014

U.S. and Iran: the Unbearable Awkwardness of Defending Your Enemy: Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, July 5, 2015




Times of Israel, July 6, 2015


Israel is preparing for the next phase of its fierce opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, by lobbying US Congressmen and women to block the emerging comprehensive agreement once it is finalized and goes to lawmakers for approval. But some in Jerusalem fear it is a lost cause given the belief that the potential economic benefits from resuming business with Iran could significantly outweigh political considerations.


The US-led P5+1 world powers and Tehran are currently in the midst of negotiations to hammer out a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and remove crippling sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic. On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that the powers and Iran had drawn up a draft document on the pace and timing of sanctions relief, advancing on one of the most contentious issues at their negotiations.


Israel reacted furiously to the development, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning on Sunday that the six world powers were dangerously caving to the Islamic Republic’s every demand. “It seems that the nuclear talks in Iran have yielded a collapse, not a breakthrough,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “The major powers’ concessions are growing.”


On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that while “genuine progress” had been made and the sides “have never been closer, at this point, this negotiation could go either way. If the hard choices get made in the next couple of days, and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week.” Speaking from talks in Vienna, Kerry added: “But if they are not made, we will not.”


Assuming the final accord is submitted to Congress by July 9, US lawmakers will have a 30-day review period for any agreement during which sanctions on Iran cannot be waived. Should the deal fail to pass, President Barack Obama will have the right to veto, a power he has vowed to use. To overcome the veto, the deal will need to be rejected in a second round of voting by two thirds of Congress and the Senate.


Israel, according to a report in Ynet late Sunday, intends to use diplomatic pressure to have the deal quashed in the first round in Congress but is also gearing up to double down should that effort fail and Obama uses his presidential veto, to have the deal blocked in the next round. Sources in Jerusalem assess that the deal will likely be approved in the initial stage, with Congress fearing that any delay could harm US industry, as the other world powers rush to resume business with Iran, the Ynet report said. Others believe not all is lost and the deal can be defeated, with the right diplomatic work on Israel’s part.


France has already been gearing up for the resumption of its substantial economic dealings with Iran, under the assumption that a nuclear agreement with Tehran is likely in the near future. Around 100 French companies are reportedly planning to participate in a delegation to Tehran in September to review business opportunities in the Islamic republic. Other countries are likely to follow, assuming a deal is reached.






Louis René Beres                             

Arutz Sheva, July 2, 2015


Unsurprisingly, the Obama strategy of concessionary nuclear negotiations with Iran has failed. Now, above all, Israel will need to reassess certain core assumptions of its national defense planning. Amid palpably expanding regional disorder, the prime minister and his security advisors will need to determine if Tehran can be expected to act "rationally" in vital matters of strategic deterrence. Among other obligations, therefore, Jerusalem must accurately predict whether the Iranians will consistently value their country's physical survival more highly than any other objective, or whether, at least in some readily identifiable circumstances, they might act according to presumptively sacred doctrines of Shiite theology.


For Israel, going forward, there can be no more indispensable planning task than working through this far-reaching prediction. Simultaneously, Jerusalem will need to evaluate certain steadily growing risks from potentially non-rational terrorist groups, especially Hezbollah and ISIS. These corollary assessments will also have to account for a still-broader regional pattern of sectarian fragmentation, and, conceivably, for an almost-primal chaos. This starkly incendiary pattern could even include unexpected alignments between traditionally enemy states.


To wit, we now already witness possibly strengthening Israeli ties with Saudi Arabia contra ISIS, and, with Egypt, against Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas. To some extent, reflecting constantly changing configurations of regional power, these unusual partnerships may proceed openly and unhidden…


Undoubtedly, Israeli planning imperatives will become more complicated. Soon, in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, there must also be demonstrated a more serious intellectual regard for a third logical possibility. This more opaque prospect concerns the specially bewildering threat of enemy madness, a disorienting hazard that could be exhibited at both national and sub-national (terrorist proxy) levels. Significantly, too, enemy madness could present as a threat from individual states, acting together with certain other states, or from such recognizable  sub-state/sub-national adversaries as ISIS or Hezbollah.


Conceptually,  in all world politics, madness must be distinguished from both rationality and irrationality. Madness, in contrast to these other two decisional dispositions, would signify abandoning any and all consistent rank-orderings of national security preferences. Madness, it follows, could prove to be the most concerning adversarial stance for Israel to confront.


An authentically mad Iranian national leadership, that is, one with a no-longer determinable ordering of preferences, would be more-or-less unpredictable. For Israel, having to face an expectedly mad nuclear adversary in Tehran, could represent the unambiguously worst case scenario. Arguably, however, such a conspicuously fearful narrative, along with its multiple terror-group impediments to Israeli nuclear deterrence, is implausible. Still, it is conceivable. In any event, Israel will have no choice in determining the mindset of its enemies. This is true whether these many foes are authoritative national leaders in Tehran, or sub-national terrorist decision-makers in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen. or elsewhere. Obviously, whether enemy decision makers will turn out to be rational, irrational, or mad must lie beyond any source of earthly power of persuasion in Israel. Nonetheless, appropriate predictions will need to be made and acted upon.


Back in 2012,  Meir Dagan, speaking to CBS interviewer Leslie Stahl, stated reassuringly: "The regime in Iran is a very rational one." Then, however, the former Mossad chief was suggesting only that the Iranian regime was not mad; that it could be expected to prudently consider all pertinent decisional consequences. This suggests that Dagan's particular notion of  Iranian rationality resembled the above meaning of irrationality. The Tehran regime, meant Dagan, should simply be expected to weigh the anticipated costs and benefits of all policy alternatives, and to array its expressed preferences within a predictably consistent rank-ordering. There had been no suggestion, by Dagan, that Iranian leaders would necessarily and consistently value national survival more highly than any other preference, or combination of preferences. In other words, Dagan's definition of Iranian rationality fell considerably short of the meaning used here.


Going forward, Israel must protect itself against a prospectively nuclear Iran by refining an appropriate strategy of nuclear deterrence. Among other things, this increasingly complex strategy will need to include interlocking plans for active missile defenses, a willingness to become purposefully "less ambiguous" about certain Israeli nuclear forces and doctrine, and a suitably recognizable policy for expanded sea-basing (submarines) of nuclear forces. But the successful deterrence of an already-nuclear Iranian regime should not be taken for granted. At a minimum, the resultant balance-of-terror might not adequately resemble those once-stable postures of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that had once existed between the Soviet Union and the United States…

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





OBAMA NEEDS TO WALK AWAY FROM AN AWFUL DEAL WITH IRAN                                         

Kevin McCarthy                     

Washington Post, July 1, 2015


When former advisers to President Obama contribute to an open, bipartisan letter outlining their collective concerns that the nuclear deal the administration is negotiating with Iran would fall very short of its own standard of a “good” agreement, something is wrong. And they aren’t the only ones who are nervous. Now that the deadline for the negotiations has passed, Obama should ignore the rhetoric that his legacy depends on an agreement and be prepared to reject a bad deal.


Decades ago, Ronald Reagan was faced with a similar dilemma in talks with the Soviet Union at Reykjavik, Iceland. Despite knowing that any agreement with the Russians would earn broad praise, Reagan walked away, only to come back to the table later and secure a better deal. Reagan understood that peace without freedom is meaningless and that knowing when to walk away from the negotiation table is just as important as knowing when to sit down.


Recent reports on the status of nuclear negotiations, combined with statements from senior Obama administration officials, give serious cause for three main areas of concern. These include the administration’s apparent willingness to allow Iran to keep its past military nuclear work secret, the potential lifting of sanctions not tied to Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. negotiators’ apparent lack of insistence on vigorous inspections as part of an eventual deal. All three reflect this administration’s unbridled quest for an agreement. But all three would guarantee a bad deal.


Only two months ago, Secretary of State John F. Kerry told PBS that the Iranian regime would absolutely have to account for potential previous nuclear weaponization activities if there’s going to be a deal. Iran’s suspected past work toward military-grade weapons undermines claims that it is pursuing a peaceful, civilian nuclear program. There is no way to accurately gauge the status of Iran’s nuclear capability without knowing what it has been hiding all these years. Considering that the history of Iran’s nuclear program is replete with efforts to obfuscate and deceive, the onus is on Iran to prove that it has nothing to hide. That hasn’t happened — but we must insist on it.


But U.S. negotiators aren’t insisting. Kerry said recently that “we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another.” These wild vacillations only spur congressional concern over the direction of the negotiations. In regard to the second concern, Obama remarked in April that U.S. sanctions on Iran over its support for terrorism, human rights abuses and its ballistic missile program will continue to be fully enforced under a final deal. Now, according to the Associated Press, the White House is attempting to redefine all sanctions as nuclear-related so they can be lifted after a final deal is struck. What’s changed other than the administration’s increasing desperation to get a deal?


This is gravely concerning to those of us in Congress who define these sanctions as addressing a wide range of Iran’s nefarious acts. They should be lifted only if the Iranians address all of these activities. Promising Iran relief from sanctions that aren’t related to its nuclear program would remove all leverage to enforce Iranian compliance and punish the regime for abhorrent human rights abuses and global acts of terrorism.


Sanctions are what brought Iran to the table in the first place. Iran’s crude oil exports have nearly halved in three years, Iranian banks have been barred from the international financial system and extensive nuclear proliferation, missile and other arms-related sanctions have hampered Iran’s quest for regional hegemony. Any deal that explicitly or implicitly gives the Iranians sanctions relief on anything other than the country’s long-term and verifiable performance on its obligations is a bad deal.


A bad deal would also take the Iranian regime at its word that it isn’t cheating on its nuclear commitments. International inspectors must have “anywhere, anytime” access to the Iranian sites they need to visit, including military and other sensitive facilities. The United States should not grant Iran veto power over international inspectors. The Iranian regime’s refusal to submit to intrusive inspections would be a telling indicator that it intends to continue its deception.


The words of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have done little to dispel this notion. Khamenei has vowed to reject allowing international inspectors to visit Iran’s military sites or interviewing nuclear scientists. Iran’s Parliament agreed — passing legislation that bans these types of inspections as part of any eventual deal. As negotiations continue, Congress stands ready to stand up for core U.S. national security interests — and against a bad deal with Iran. Hopefully, President Obama will see the wisdom in President Reagan’s example.                  





OF U.S. NONPROLIFERATION POLICY?                                                                                          

Matthew Kroenig

Tablet, June 15, 2015


As the June 30 deadline for striking a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran looms, discussions quickly get bogged down in debates about numbers and types of centrifuges, schedules for sanctions relief, and procedures for international inspections. These arcane issues cause many people’s eyes to glaze over, but, in reality, the details of the ongoing negotiations are acutely irrelevant to the merits of the deal that the Obama Administration wants to strike.


Indeed, one can assess the merits of the outlined nuclear deal without any reference whatsoever to its finer points. The framework deal does not even come close to qualifying as an acceptable nuclear agreement, and the reason is simple and easy to understand: Since the beginning of the nuclear era, scientists have understood that the exact same technology could be used to produce fuel either for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons. The two methods for producing nuclear fuel, uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, therefore, became known as “sensitive nuclear technologies.” The United States has always opposed the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies to all states, including its own allies, and it should not make an exception for Iran.


I personally worked on nuclear issues both in and out of government (including at the Pentagon and other agencies) for over a decade, and I and many of my colleagues had always assumed that the only way to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran would be to eliminate its uranium enrichment capability. For over a decade, U.S. policy reflected this assessment. Throughout the 2000s, the Bush Administration engaged in international negotiations with Iran, but its bottom line never changed: The only deal worth having was one that stopped enrichment in Iran. Senator and U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama also supported this goal, saying at a 2007 meeting of AIPAC, “The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.”


The policy that both Democratic and Republican presidents and presidential candidates have supported for the past seven decades is a sensible compromise that encourages the peaceful uses of nuclear technology while managing its proliferation dangers: Countries can operate nuclear reactors for power or research purposes, but they are not permitted to make their own fuel. The vast majority of countries on Earth with nuclear programs do not possess sensitive nuclear facilities. Rather the fuel is provided by a more advanced nuclear power, such as Russia, France, or the United States. This eliminates the need for the spread of dangerous enrichment or reprocessing programs to new countries. Countries like Iran that insist on developing their own sensitive technologies for “peaceful purposes,” therefore, are tipping their hand and revealing a likely intention to build the bomb.


To stop determined proliferators, the United States and the rest of the international community have worked hard to halt the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies, a campaign that has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Democratic and Republican administrations alike. The enforcement of this policy began even before nuclear weapons were invented, when Norwegian saboteurs and allied bombing runs knocked out a heavy-water production facility necessary for the plutonium path to the bomb (and similar to Iran’s heavy-water production facility under construction at Arak) located in Nazi-occupied Norway. It continued after World War II as the United States tried to prevent the leaking of dangerous nuclear know-how. In 1946, the U.S. Congress passed the McMahon Act, which made it illegal for the United States to cooperate with any country, including its closest allies, on sensitive nuclear technologies. Even countries that had worked with the United States to invent the bomb at the Manhattan project, like Canada and Great Britain, were cut off.


Several advanced industrial countries, including Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, were able to develop sensitive nuclear technologies early in the nuclear era without Washington’s assistance, but this only reinforced the United States’ understanding about the potential dangers of these dual-use nuclear technologies.


When America’s Cold War adversaries, the Soviet Union and China, began enrichment and reprocessing programs, the United States immediately interpreted these as the building blocks of a nuclear weapons program, and high-level U.S. decision makers seriously considered military strikes against these facilities to keep these countries from the bomb. (In the end, they refrained only because they feared starting a superpower war, something that has not been a concern since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1989.)

Not even Israel, America’s longstanding security partner, was spared from America’s deep commitment to nonproliferation. When the U.S. government suspected that Israel was building a secret reprocessing plant beneath its reactor at Dimona in the early 1960s, U.S. President John F. Kennedy demanded that Israel allow inspectors on the site. Kennedy wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, threatening that if Israel were not more forthcoming about an issue as important to international security as the possible existence of a secret plutonium reprocessing plant, then “America’s deep commitment to the security of Israel” could be “jeopardized.”


The United States soon understood that it would need a multilateral framework for managing the spread of nuclear weapons, and in 1968 it led the negotiations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). All nonnuclear weapon state signatories, including Iran, agreed never to build nuclear weapons in exchange for several benefits, including the “inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology.” Iran insists that this treaty grants it a “right to enrich,” but the NPT does not explicitly mention uranium enrichment, and the United States has never interpreted Article IV as providing an inalienable right to sensitive nuclear technologies.


To further strengthen multilateral bulwarks against the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spearheaded the creation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1975. This international cartel of capable nuclear supplier states places tough restrictions on the transfer of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies.


The strength of the United States’ nonproliferation approach can be seen in the vast majority of countries that never attempted to develop sensitive nuclear technologies, but when these measures were not enough, Washington went to work on a case-by-case basis to put an end to sensitive nuclear programs, even taking the gloves off in standoffs with friends. In 1975, when Germany planned to build enrichment and reprocessing plants for Brazil in the so-called nuclear “deal of the century,” Washington intervened to slow and eventually kill the deal. In the late 1970s, it also convinced France to cancel the sale of a plutonium reprocessing plant to Pakistan and in 1985 it blocked the transfer of reprocessing technology from Argentina to Libya. When U.S. allies Taiwan and South Korean began reprocessing programs in the late 1970s, the United States threatened to withdraw America’s security guarantee if the programs continued and the countries relented…                                           

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




On Topic


The World Stayed Silent – Iran Short Film Series #7 (Video): Youtube, June 30, 2015

U.N. Nuclear Chief Is Optimistic About Iranian Cooperation on Review: Michael R. Gordon & David E. Sanger, New York Times, July 4, 2015—The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that, with Iranian cooperation, his agency could complete an assessment on Iran’s suspected past nuclear work by December, potentially removing a major obstacle to a nuclear agreement.

Iran’s Toxic Deal is Not a Legacy Obama Should Leave: Andrew Bowen, Al-Arabiya, July 5, 2014—Naïve optimism has enveloped the “final” hours of talks between Washington and Tehran on a nuclear agreement.

U.S. and Iran: the Unbearable Awkwardness of Defending Your Enemy: Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, July 5, 2015 —It's always awkward to defend your enemies. But that's the position U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has found itself in with Iran as it pushes for an historic accord that would end a 12-year nuclear standoff.






Manfred Gerstenfeld: The American Government and the “U” Word in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

If Israel were to have a central counter-propaganda unit, one of its functions would be to address the regular abuse of semantics used to demonize the country. Two expressions of such abuse which easily come to mind are the repeated misuse of international humanitarian law by Western authorities, as well as the term “disproportionality” where Israel’s military reactions are concerned.

At the top levels of the American government a new expression has emerged concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: “unsustainability”, or “unsustainability of the status quo”.  This seemingly rhetorically neutral expression hides a completely different message, i.e., that Israel has to make concessions to the Palestinians so that there will be a two-state solution. One can add that whatever might happen afterward – for instance, the possible Palestinian state takeover by the Hamas movement – is not of interest to those who pressure Israel. 

While celebrating the White House’s Annual Ramadan-Iftar Dinner, American President Barack Obama said in July 2014 that, “The situation in Gaza reminds us again that the status quo is unsustainable and that the only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, where differences are resolved peacefully and in ways that respect the dignity of all people.” It would have been more truthful of him to say that “the extreme criminality in parts of the Muslim world is unsustainable.”

The term was picked up by his Secretary of State John Kerry, who said in October 2014 that, "The current situation, the status quo, is unsustainable." Kerry repeated this sentiment yet again two months later in response to the Palestinian statehood resolution at the United Nations. "The status quo is unsustainable for both parties…Right now what we are trying to is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward.”

When the United States voted against the Jordanian resolution on Palestinian statehood in the UN Security Council on December 30, 2014, the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, found it necessary to say, "Today's vote should not be interpreted as a victory for an unsustainable status quo."

All these facts indicate that after the Israeli elections, Americans will most likely pressure the government to make concessions in support of the so-called “peace negotiations.” 

The main concession of the century, which Israel made to the Palestinians was the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government. In 2004, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes wrote for The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that, “the eventual take-over of the Gaza Strip by Hamas certainly cannot be ruled out, given the enormous political clout it already possesses and the relative decline of the Fatah movement in recent years.”

By the summer of 2006, American diplomat Dennis Ross wrote, “with Hamas in control of Gaza and Hezbollah having provoked a conflict that has many in the international community questioning the logic of Israel's response, one might be tempted to say that history's verdict is already in, and it is not kind to Sharon.”

Today, we know that Sharon unilaterally created a “lose-lose” situation. Sharon and the State of Israel initially received some international acclaim after its 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. Since then, however, the Israelis are only worse off due to Gazan terrorism and rockets. Israel is also ferociously criticized by media and politicians for its measures taken against Gazan terrorism. The Gazans are worse off due to the closure of their area and the consequences of Israeli reactions to the endless provocations of Hamas, an Islamo-Nazi movement, which aims to kill all Jews, which the Palestinians voted into power.

When Sharon died in 2014, many Western leaders eulogized him. Several of them, despite having had eight years to think over Ross’ aforementioned conclusion, had yet to understand its validity. Although Sharon had created the Gaza withdrawal disaster, some of these eulogizers presented it as a positive achievement. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “called on Israel to build on the late Prime Minister’s legacy of pragmatism, to work toward the long overdue achievement of an independent and viable Palestinian state next to a secure Israel.” A far more correct statement would have been that Sharon had created a calamity for his country, and that the current Israeli PM should be careful to avoid repeating such mistakes despite the fact that he is under constant international pressure. 

Kerry’s eulogy was less clear, but he also saw Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza as a positive event, saying, “Sharon surprised many in his pursuit of peace, and today we all recognize that Israel has to be strong to make peace. And we also know that peace will make Israel stronger, not just with its near neighbors, but throughout the world.” Kerry’s words were interpreted as putting pressure on Netanyahu to make concessions. Any logical analyst of Sharon’s lose-lose policy in Gaza would draw the opposite conclusion. Israel should stay firm rather than weakening itself to please many in the international community. 

As far as “unsustainability of the status quo” goes, the term is used in the political world in regard to the Palestinian-Israel conflict more than in regard to other conflicts around the globe. It is also used to describe the situation in Gaza. In December 2012, then-EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov released a joint statement in reference to the 2012 Gaza Operation Pillar of Defense. They “fully recognized Israel’s security needs”, but asked for the “unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, the situation of which is unsustainable as long as it remains politically and economically separated from the West Bank.” Ashton and Lavrov knew well that the closure of Gaza was a measure taken to assure Israel’s security – which they claimed they wanted to protect, but in reality were willing to sacrifice.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council repeated this sentiment during the summer 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. They stated, “The situation in the Gaza Strip has been unsustainable for many years and a return to the status quo prior to the latest conflict is not an option.”
During his May 2014 visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Pope Francis I said, "The time has come to put an end to this situation, which has become increasingly unacceptable." One wonders whether he hadn’t yet caught up to the fashion of using the term “unsustainable.”
If one starts an internet search, one would have expected many experts to have warned that when the last US troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011, they would leave behind an “unsustainable” situation. Indeed, the Americans have had to return to Iraq in 2014 to fight one of the local factions, Islamic State, and are now also doing so within Syria, as well. The Iraqi situation after the American withdrawal was truly unsustainable, but many great Western pundits could not see the writing on the wall. That should serve as a lesson – that there is a need for the West to systematically assess which are the situations around the world where the status quo is most unsustainable. A number of conflicts within Muslim countries would probably come up on top, well before the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld’s upcoming book The War of a Million Cuts analyzes how Israel and Jews are delegitimized and how to fight it.

He is a recipient (2012) of the lifetime achievement award of the Journal of the Study of Anti-Semitism.