Tuesday, August 25, 2015

French Expert: 'Obama put more pressure on its friends, than on Iran'

French Critics of the Iran Deal - John Vinocur

 After initially nodding "yes" to the nuclear deal with Iran, the French have partially reverted to form reflecting their traditional hard-nosed antinuclear proliferation position. Citing the profound weaknesses of an agreement that allows controls over Iran to end after 15 years and the mullahs to keep an absurdly high number of centrifuges, a French official expressed concern about America's willingness over time to continue paying the enormous expense of its vast Iranian surveillance operations. He also said that the deal's concessions to Tehran made a pressing reality of Saudi Arabia's quest for an atomic weapon.

French security expert Bruno Tertrais wrote last month in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir that "with pressure from the Obama administration," European negotiators' original intent deteriorated from a rollback of Iran's nuclear ambitions to their containment.

Camille Grand, director of the French think tank Foundation for Strategic Research, explained: "From 2013 on, the Americans gave the impression they wanted the deal more than Iran did. The administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians."  
(Wall Street Journal)

The Saudis Reply to Iran's Rising Danger - Sohrab Ahmari

  • Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has spearheaded Riyadh's outreach to Jerusalem. He made history in June when he appeared on a panel in Washington with Dore Gold, the director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. I sat down for an interview with Gen. Eshki on Wednesday in Prague.
  • Gen. Eshki said he was surprised by Secretary of State Kerry during the talks: "He supported the Iranians!" Kerry and his boss were willing to see things Iran's way, Gen. Eshki says, because they believe that moderates can outmaneuver hard-liners like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards.
  • "I believe Iran will not change its mind as long as that regime is in power in Tehran," he says. "They want to revive the Persian Empire. And also they want to dominate the Middle East."
  • It was the common Iranian threat that brought the general and Dr. Gold into a year-long strategic dialogue that culminated in the Washington meeting. "The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel....My government knows about the project. My government isn't against it, because we need peace. For that reason, I found Dore Gold. He likes his country. I like my country. We need to profit from each other."
  • The U.S. doesn't figure much in the moral and strategic map Gen. Eshki paints of the region. "The United States doesn't like anymore to be involved in the Middle East." That may be preferable to many American voters, but it comes at the price of a diminished capacity to shape events and outcomes.
  • (Wall Street Journal)

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Matisyahu vs. Palestinian flags


    With Palestinian flags in background, Matisyahu vows: 'Jerusalem, if I forget you'‏

    An American Jewish musician who was controversially barred from a reggae festival in Spain before being invited back to play performed to catcalls from some pro-Palestinian protesters on Sunday, though the concert passed off peacefully after a tense build-up.

    Amid a packed audience at the event in Benicassim, near Valencia in eastern Spain, dozens of people whistled in disapproval as Matisyahu took to the stage in the early hours of Sunday, with some waving Palestinian flags and chanting "out, out".

    But many others in the audience of hundreds applauded the musician as the concert got under way.

    "Whoever you are and wherever you come from raise a flag and wave it in the air," Matisyahu called to the crowd before his closing song. "Let music be your flag," he added, after dancing his way through his 45-minute set.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Faced With Sea of Palestinian Flags, Matisyahu Belts Out ‘Jerusalem’

    BDS bigots had yet another trick to unveil as the star ascended to the stage on Saturday night.

    Not to be cowed however, it was the spirited Matisyahu who had the last laugh.

    Far from boycotting the reggae artist’s gig, the “hate Israel” crowd showed up en masse. And they came bearing flags, immense Palestinian flags, which they waved with gusto from every corner of the 20,000-strong crowd.

    As Matisyahu took the mike and looked out to the audience, he was presented with an unmistakably hostile message. It was clear that those who sought to have him banished stood before him in protest. Then the catcalls started, with some chanting, “out, out.” It might easily have been unnerving, disorienting.

    But then he began to sing about Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

    And then, as he bounced and twirled around the stage, the most defiant lyrics of all: “3, 000 years with no place to be, and they want me to give up my milk and honey.”

    “Tonight was difficult but special,” he later posted on Facebook, along with a clip of the performance.

    The power of Jewish indignation - Caroline Glick

    Matisyahu’s disinvitation prompted a worldwide Jewish outcry. The Foreign Ministry registered a complaint with the Spanish government.

    Every major American Jewish organization and several European Jewish organizations condemned the blatant discrimination against Matisyahu. On Tuesday, Spain’s main newspaper, El Pais, condemned the festival’s anti-Semitism. The Spanish government followed hours later.

    On Wednesday, the festival organizers issued a groveling apology to Matisyahu and officially reinstated his invitation to perform.

    The lesson of the Matisyahu affair is that it is possible to defeat these haters. The festival organizers discriminated against Matisyahu because they feared the Jew-hating mob more than they valued his artistry. They are now groveling at his feet because the pushback they received from world Jewry for their behavior knocked them to their knees. When Jews stand up to anti-Semites, the anti-Semites back down.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Screws Israel

    Will Ben & Jerry's now produce a new Ayatollah flavor?

    Ice Cream Meltdown

    Ben and Jerry, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, came out in support of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday in an email to MoveOn.org activists, encouraging members to sign a petition supporting a donor strike - a pledge not to donate money to Democrats who are working to encourage the failure of the vote on the deal in Congress.

    The ice cream moguls stated that Democrats working against the deal, which is a victory for American national security, are going to lead the United States to revisit an Iraq-like war.

    The pair claim that this deal is “the only peaceful way to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” and have signed the petition "not to contribute a dime to any Democrats who put us on a path to war."
    [Jerusalem Post]


    Iran's Intention: VideoBite

      Chilling video above, produced by Iran
    New Iranian Video Imagines a Muslim Invasion of Jerusalem  

    At the beginning of the video, four groups of soldiers appear, showing their unit patches: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Iraqi Shi'ite Badr militia (supported by Iran), Hizbullah (Lebanon), and the al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas).
    (Daily Mail-UK)

    If Tehran Turns Down the Nuclear Deal - Daniel Pipes, PhD

    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the country's decision maker, just might reject the laboriously worked-out agreement that he helped negotiate.

    On one level, that makes no sense. As a plethora of analyses have established, the Vienna deal is enormously favorable to the Islamic Republic of Iran, legitimizing its nuclear research, assuring its future nuclear weapons program, helping the economy, and boosting its aggressive international goals. These advantages would make it appear absurd for Khamenei not to accept the deal. Plus, most Iranians celebrate the accord.

    But rejecting it makes sense if one focuses not on those immediate advantages and instead looks at its future dangers to the Iranian regime's surviving. Leaders of fanatical and brutal government such as Khamenei's invariably make ideological purity and personal power their highest priorities and he is no exception.

    [O]pponents of the deal will, of course, rejoice if Khamenei rejects the deal. But his doing so also presents them with a problem. After claiming that Obama has given away the store, they must confront the awkward fact that the Iranian leadership turned down his offer.

    Khamenei's rejection of the Vienna deal would be great news for everyone and especially for the deal's opponents – but the latter urgently need to prepare for this eventuality.
    [Washington Times]

    Obama's Nuclear Farce

    UN to Let Iran Inspect Themselves - George Jahn

    Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

    Iran is to provide agency experts with photos and videos of locations the IAEA says are linked to the alleged weapons work, "taking into account military concerns." That wording suggests that — beyond being barred from physically visiting the site — the agency won't get photo or video information from areas Iran says are off-limits because they have military significance.

    The revelation riled lawmakers who have been severely critical of a broader agreement to limit Iran's future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration. Those critics have complained that the wider deal is unwisely built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.

    A skeptical House Speaker John Boehner said, "President Obama boasts his deal includes 'unprecedented verification.' He claims it's not built on trust.

    Said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce: "International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period."

    The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal.

    Evidence of the inspections concession is sure to increase pressure from U.S. congressional opponents before a Senate vote of disapproval on the overall agreement in early September.

    John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, "Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement."

    Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.

    The document is labeled "separate arrangement II," indicating there is another confidential agreement between Iran and the IAEA governing the agency's probe of the nuclear weapons allegations.
    [Associated Press]

    Why the Iran Side Deal Is Important - Armin Rosen

    In the IAEA investigation of the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, Iran will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect Parchin, a military facility where detonators for a nuclear bomb may have been tested in 2003. 

    Aaron Stein of the Royal United Services Institute has noted that the AP story on the IAEA-Iran side deal is important for what it suggests about the overall effectiveness of the international effort to investigate the extent of Iran's nuclear weaponization work, since the IAEA was "using Iranian language" in framing how disclosure issues would be settled
    (Business Insider)

    Iran's Secret Self-Inspections - Editorial

    IAEA has sought access to Parchin for more than a decade, and U.S. officials have said the deal requires Iran to come clean about Parchin.

    Now, the country that lied for years about its nuclear weapons program will be trusted to come clean about those lies.

    The news raises further doubts about a nuclear pact that is already leaking credibility. Unfettered access to Parchin is crucial to understanding Iran's past nuclear work. Without understanding how close Iran has come to getting the bomb, it's impossible to know if Iran really is a year or more away from having the bomb. 
    (Wall Street Journal)

    The U.S. Changed the Objective - Emily B. Landau & Shimon Stein

    [D]uring the course of 2014-2015, the Obama administration's position on the ultimate goal of the negotiation seems to have shifted, from largely dismantling Iran's nuclear program to trying to manage it. It is when Obama's speech to an AIPAC gathering promising that his policy is one of prevention, not containment, began to ring hollow.
    (Institute for National Security Studies)

    Inspection Farce Puts Democrats to the Test - Jonathan Tobin

    [T]his shocking news about Iran being able to conduct its own inspections gives the lie to every assurance that the administration has made about verification. It is now clear that the entire process is a sham and that negotiators were instructed to accept any conditions, no matter how ludicrous in order to give the president the deal wanted at any price.

    For those so blinded by partisan loyalty or indifference to the threat poses to the U.S., Israel and the rest of the Middle East, that may not make a difference. But for any senators or representatives — including those who have already said they would vote the deal — this is a moment when all deceptions are stripped away. A vote for the agreement can no longer be defended on the grounds that the verification procedures will allow the administration to know when Iran is cheating. A vote for it now is a vote for a future with an Iranian bomb and all the dangers and possible horrors that phrase entails.

    Are there any Democrats left with a conscience that are brave enough to defy the president? We’re about to find out.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Matisyahu Reinvited to Spain's Music Festival

    Spanish festival apologizes to Matisyahu, reinvites him
    - Herb Keinon & Michelle Malka Grossman

    The Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival reinvited American Jewish musician Matisyahu to perform on August 22 as originally planned, following outrage from the Spanish government and people around the world.

    "Rototom Sunsplash would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having cancelled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival...," an official statement read.

    The festival said that it made a mistake "due to the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià"   threatening to affect the festival from functioning as normal. BDS had convinced five artists out of the 250 scheduled to drop out of the festival, convincing Rototom to cancel Matisyahu's performance instead. Festival organizers rejected accusations of anti-Semitism. "We respect both their culture [and] religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred," they said.

    El Pais, a leading Spanish newspaper often critical of Israeli policies, editorialized on Tuesday that the cancellation was tantamount to “unacceptable discrimination.”

    “It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century, individuals and organizations can still demand that somebody explain themselves in ideological terms in order to be able to exercise their profession, and takes us back to the dark days when everybody was required to prove their religiosity and purity of blood,” the editorial read.

    The festival, according to the paper, is funded with public money. The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain said it was considering taking the festival to court over its actions.

    [Jerusalem Post]

    Spanish Officials Condemn Cancellation 

    The Spanish government condemned the cancellation of American Jewish musician Matisyahu's appearance at the Rototom Sunsplash festival after he failed to meet demands that he clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.

    "Imposing a public declaration (from Matisyahu) puts into question the principle of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based," the Spanish foreign ministry said.

    Some government officials in Valencia also spoke out against the actions of the festival, which receives public funding. 
    BDS May Regret Getting Matisyahu Banned from Festival

    The BDS wasn’t alone in its discrimination. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “Other artists at the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival threatened to pull out of the festival since they felt that he, as a Jewish American, was ‘seen to represent Israel.'”

    As an American Jew, he was seen to represent Israel.

    It would be bad enough – if he were Israeli – to discriminate against him for his national origin, which the BDS openly advocates. But to target him because he’s a Jew and supports the Jewish state is nothing short of anti-Semitism. Then to pressure him to issue a political statement against his will takes it another level altogether.

    And it may have been a step too far.

    While the festival is absorbing the bulk of the condemnations, the BDS movement is claiming credit for the victory, calling it a “cry of popular solidarity.” It may be a victory they will come to regret.

    The real cry of solidarity, clearly, is with Matisyahu, who already enjoys the support of fans across the world. And that audience will only grow from the sympathetic coverage he’s receiving across the globe.

    The story also highlights the vast difference in what the BDS likes to say and what it actually does in the world. As the Wall Street Journal aptly put it: “Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.”

    And if people start to forget, just remind them.
    [Honest Reporting]

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    Senator Menendez Bucks Obama

    Short video clip of the conclusion of his speech

    Senator Menendez' speech on Iran at Seton Hall University

    U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks today at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations.  [Edited for brevity]:

    “Unlike President Obama's characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it, I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the Vice President and the Secretary of State, who both supported it. My vote against the Iraq war was unpopular at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    “In that context, let’s remind ourselves of the stated purpose of our negotiations with Iran: Simply put, it was to dismantle all -- or significant parts -- of Iran's illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time. Not shrink its infrastructure. Not limit it. But fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.

    “I recall in the early days of the Administration's overtures to Iran, asking Secretary of State, John Kerry, at a meeting of Senators, about dismantling Arak, Iran's plutonium reactor. His response was swift and certain. He said: ‘They will either dismantle it or we will destroy it.’

    “While I have many specific concerns about this agreement, my overarching concern is that it requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and only mothballs that infrastructure for 10 years. Not even one centrifuge will be destroyed under this agreement. Fordow will be repurposed, and Arak redesigned.

    “As the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran – who has exported its revolution to Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and directed and supported attacks against American troops in Iraq -- will be flush with money, not only to invest in their domestic economy, but to further pursue their destabilizing, hegemonic goals in the region. If Iran can afford to destabilize the region with an economy staggering under sanctions and rocked by falling oil prices, what will Iran and the Quds Force do when they have a cash infusion of more than 20 percent of their GDP -- the equivalent of an infusion of $3.4 trillion into our economy?

    "Imagine how a country like the United Arab Emirates – sitting just miles away from Iran across the straits of Hormuz feels after they sign a civilian nuclear agreement with the U.S., considered to be the gold standard, to not enrich or reprocess uranium? What do our friends think when we give our enemies a pass while holding them to the gold standard? Who should they trust?

    “The President and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly said that the choice is between this agreement or war. I reject that proposition, as have most witnesses, including past and present Administration members involved in the Iran nuclear issue, who have testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who support the deal but reject the binary choice between the agreement or war.

    “It is difficult to believe that the world's greatest powers could not have achieved some level of critical dismantlement. I believe we should have insisted on meeting the requirements we know are necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon today and in ten years, or we should have been prepared to walk away. I believe we could still get a better deal and here’s how: We can disapprove this agreement, without rejecting the entire agreement. We should direct the Administration to re-negotiate by authorizing the continuation of negotiations...

    “Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on ‘hope’-- hope that when the nuclear sunset clause expires Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration. Hope that the hardliners will have lost their power and the revolution will end its hegemonic goals. And hope that the regime will allow the Iranian people to decide their fate.

    “Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.

    “I know that, in many respects, it would be far easier to support this deal, as it would have been to vote for the war in Iraq at the time. But I didn't choose the easier path then, and I’m not going to now. I know that the editorial pages that support the agreement would be far kinder, if I voted yes, but they largely also supported the agreement that brought us a nuclear North Korea.

    “I have looked into my own soul and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.

    “It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.

    [Text via Elder of Ziyon]

    [For full text and video click HERE]

    Obama Spits Fire: Punishes Israel for Opposing Deal

    Obama Leaks Secret Documents on Israeli Nuclear Program
    - Haim Isrovitch & Yossi Melman

    Israel and the United States worked together to formulate the Jewish State's nuclear doctrine, archival documents released Tuesday by the US State Department reveal. The documents detail the classified discussions that took place on Israel's nuclear program between officials of the two countries.

    The publication of the documents comes as part of a routine release of historical information by the US State Department, however the timing of the revelations, on the background of the disagreement between Israel and the US over the nuclear agreement with Iran, lends them an extra meaning.
    There are those who would claim that the timing of the release is not a coincidence, and is in fact intended to embarrass Israel, which staunchly opposes the deal with Iran, and embarrass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who continues in his efforts to challenge the Obama administration and influence Congress to reject the deal.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    President Obama has broken new ground with this leak.  It is now possible to legitimately accuse him of anti-Semitism.  The classic definition of anti-Semitism posits someone who treats Jews differently than others.  There was no leak of old material about the Korean nuclear program.  Nor a leak about the Pakistani nuclear program.  The only document dump was about the Jewish State

    Russian Iranian Alliance

    Israel: Iran Deal a "Tornado Coming at Us" - Pete Kasperowicz

    Host Joe Scarborough said those who support the deal will argue that a decision by Congress to reject it will only make Iran and Russia closer allies. 

    Dermer responded: "You have the military commander of the Revolutionary Guard getting on a plane and going to Russia. You're going to move them closer to Russia? They're pretty close now." 
    (Washington Examiner)

    Enriching Iran - Gabriel Scheinmann

    The nuclear deal will do for Iran what the chemical weapons deal did for Syria. By making Iran indispensable to its own nuclear limitation, Iran has fulfilled its original nuclear objectives: the West's acquiescence - and even facilitation - of its regional hegemonic ambitions. In return for temporary enrichment restraints, the deal fuels Iran's conventional capabilities and greases Iran's path to power.

    Much like the Soviet bomb ensured Moscow's control over half of Europe, an Iranian bomb would remodel the Persian Gulf and its littoral sheikhdoms into Iranian tributaries, facilitating energy and transit shakedowns. Furthermore, an Iranian bomb would turbo-charge the Persian subversion of Gulf States through their Shiite populations, and embolden its existing proxies.

    Like the Syria [chemical weapons] deal, the Administration will be powerless to punish Iranian aggression, for it would doom Iranian nuclear compliance. Unlike the Syrian deal, no element of Iran's nuclear infrastructure will be dismantled and all substantive restrictions are time-limited. 
    The writer is director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center
    (The Hill)

    Tehran to sign deal with Russia for advanced missiles

    Iran and Russia will sign a deal that will see Moscow send Tehran the S-300 air-defense missile system by next week, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin had been ready to deliver the S-300 to Iran already in 2010, but had previously agreed to ban the sale under pressure from the US. Israel has also
    pushed Moscow not to send the S-300 to Iran.

    The deal has now been updated and will be finalized soon, the Iranian Students' News Agency quoted Dehghan as saying.

    The S-300 would make a potential strike against Iran's nuclear facilities much more difficult. "This system will be a challenge for an air force to overcome. Its arrival is a significant change in our region,” Agmon said. “Once the S-300 is stationed in Iran, the chances of it getting to Syria and Lebanon rise,” he warned.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    Matisyahu Kicked Out of Music Festival

    Matisyahu in Jerusalem

    Matisyahu Ousted from Festival

    The Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu, scheduled to perform Aug. 22 at the Rototom Sunsplash festival near Barcelona [Spain], had his show canceled after he refused to release a public statement backing a Palestinian state.

    The organizers had been pressured to disinvite Matisyahu by activists promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, even though Matisyahu is not an Israeli citizen.

    Boycott of Matisyahu Proves BDS Is Anti-Semitic - Herb Keinon 

    The following lyrics from his 2004 hit “King Without a Crown” will not be heard at the Spanish festival that boasts of promoting peace, harmony and understanding:

    “Say sometimes the world is dark and I just can’t see / With these, demons surround all around to bring me down to negativity / But I believe, yes I believe, I said I believe / I’ll stand on my own two feet / Won’t be brought down on one knee.”
    (Jerusalem Post)


    Statement from Matisyahu:

    "The festival organizers contacted me because they were getting pressure from the BDS movement. They wanted me to write a letter, or make a video, stating my positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pacify the BDS people. I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music. Music has the power to transcend the intellect, ideas, and politics, and it can unite people in the process. The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda.

    Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements. Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform? No artist deserves to be put in such a situation simply to perform his or her art. Regardless of race, creed, country, cultural background, etc., my goal is to play music for all people. As musicians that is what we seek. 

    - Blessed Love, Matis"


    The New Racists: Jew Hate - Douglas Murray

    The treatment of the reggae star Matisyahu is something new. For Matisyahu is not an Israeli -- he is an American.

    Spain has its own border issues, as nearly every country in the world does. Perhaps Spanish performers in the classical and pop world should henceforth be quizzed about their political attitudes before they are allowed to perform abroad? The whole question of Catalonia, for instance, is deeply fraught and fought over in Spain, with exceedingly strong views over independence on all sides. Maybe the rest of the world should demand that all musicians from Spain sign a statement or make a video supporting Catalan independence if they are to be allowed to perform in public? We could go back and forth in our allegiances of course -- and make the Spanish artistic community jump to our every whim and U-turn. Perhaps then we could decide that citizens of other countries could be made to jump through our whims on the Spanish border questions too?

    Of course, such a course of action would be obscene, as it would be with any other country. But it is always instructive that only one country and one geopolitical question is addressed in this way.

    To my knowledge Turkish artists are nowhere in the world asked to condemn their country's illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus -- an occupation, lasting more than four decades, of half an EU member state.
    [Gatestone Institute]

    ADL: 'clear case of anti-Semitic discrimination'

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival in Spain on Tuesday, calling their cancellation of American-Jewish artist Matisyahu's performance "a clear case of anti-Semitic discrimination."
    "This appears to be a clear case of anti-Semitic discrimination - which is illegal in Spain - and we expect Spain to uphold its non-discrimination laws.”

    ADL has reached out to Javier Moliner Gargallo, President of the County Council of Castellón, which had provided financial support to the reggae festival, and requested that Mr. Moliner insist that the festival reverse its discriminatory decision or have its financial support revoked.

    Last summer, ADL urged the Spanish government to take action on anti-Semitic incitement emanating from various anti-Israel demonstrations. The League’s recent poll in 100 countries found that 29 percent of those surveyed in Spain harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    Iran Deal Test for American Jewry

    American Jewry is being tested today as never before. The future of the community is tied up in the results of the test.

    If the Jews of America are able to mount a successful, forceful and sustained opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, then the community will survive politically to fight another day. If the communal leadership and its members fail to fight, American Jews will find themselves communally disenfranchised.

    Given that all Obama needs to do to secure the implementation of his nuclear pact with the mullahs is secure the support of a one-third minority in one house of Congress, he might have been expected to go easy on his opponents since they have so little chance of defeating him.

    Instead, Obama has decided to demolish them. He has presented them with two options – capitulate or be destroyed.

    Consider Hillary Clinton’s behavior. The same day Clinton escalated her support for the deal, the FBI seized Clinton’s private email server and her thumb drive amid reports that the inspector-general of the US intelligence community concluded that there were top secret communications on her email server. But there is one person who can protect her.

    If Obama wishes to close or expand a criminal probe of Clinton’s suspected criminal activities, he can. As Roger Simon from Pjmedia.com wrote this week, “Hillary Clinton is in such deep legal trouble over her emails that she needs the backing of Obama to survive. He controls the attorney-general’s office and therefore he controls Hillary (and her freedom) as long as he is president.”

    The prejudicial indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez – the most outspoken critic of Obama’s deal with the ayatollahs in the Democratic Party – on dubious corruption charges in April shows that Obama isn’t above using his control over the Justice Department to persecute political opponents.
    The prejudicial indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez – the most outspoken critic of Obama’s deal with the ayatollahs in the Democratic Party – on dubious corruption charges in April shows that Obama isn’t above using his control over the Justice Department to persecute political opponents.
    Then there is Obama’s treatment of Sen. Charles Schumer. Last Thursday night, the senior senator from New York and the next in line to lead the Democratic minority in the Senate informed Obama that he will oppose his nuclear deal. Schumer asked Obama to keep Schumer’s position to himself in order to enable Schumer to announce it on Friday morning. Rather than respect Schumer’s wishes, the White House set its attack dogs on Schumer.

    By the time Schumer announced his plan to oppose the deal he had been called a traitor, a warmonger and an Israeli agent by leftist activist groups who pledged to withhold campaign contributions. Schumer was compared to former Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman [who] was forced to face a primary challenge in his 2006 reelection bid.

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest threatened that Schumer could expect to be challenged in his bid to replace outgoing Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid when Reid retires next year. Responding to the onslaught against him, while maintaining his opposition to the deal, Schumer reportedly told his Democratic Senate colleagues that while he was opposing the deal, he would not lobby then to join him in opposition.

    Last week at American University Obama said that his Republican opponents are the moral equivalent of “Death to America”-chanting jihadists. Obama presented deal opponents in general as warmongers who would force the US into an unnecessary war that his deal would otherwise prevent. And, since he said that among all the nations of the world, only Israel opposes the deal, it easily follows that the Jews who oppose the deal are traitors who care more about Israel than America.

    In his meeting with American Jewish leaders last Tuesday, [h]e reportedly told AIPAC’s representatives, “If you guys would back down [from their opposition to the deal], I would back down from some of the things I’m doing.” In other words, Jewish opponents can expect to find themselves treated like other Obama opponents – such as Tea Party groups that were hounded and harassed by the IRS and other governmental organs. AIPAC can expect to be subjected to humiliating, public and prejudicial probes. Jewish institutions and groups can expect to be picketed, vandalized and sued. Jewish activist can expect to be audited by the IRS.
    Some commentators have characterized the fight over the deal as a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. This may be the case. But first and foremost, it is a fight over whether or not Jews in America have the same rights as all other Americans. To be sure, Israel will be harmed greatly if Congress fails to vote down this deal. But Israel has other means of defending itself. If this deal goes through, the greatest loser will be American Jewry.
    [Jerusalem Post via JWR]


    Congress Should Block the Iran Agreement - Joseph I. Lieberman

    I was a member of the Senate when, between 2009 and 2012, Congress developed a series of bills that dramatically increased pressure on Tehran for its illicit nuclear activities, including adopting a measure in late 2011 that effectively banned Iran from selling oil - its economic lifeblood - on international markets. In every case, senior Obama administration officials worked to block congressional efforts, warning that they were unnecessary, counterproductive and even dangerous.
    If a bipartisan supermajority does in fact begin to cohere in criticism of the undeniable loopholes and inadequacies of the agreement, it is likely the administration will adjust its position. The best chance for a better deal, in other words, is overwhelming bipartisan pressure from Capitol Hill about the need for one.
    The Obama administration claims that this is the best agreement possible because Iran will go no further. That conclusion overlooks two truths: First, the Iranians are historically capable of adjusting positions they have claimed were immovable to new political realities, and, second, Iran, because of its depleted economy, needs an agreement much more than we do. Congress has the power now to act on these two realities.
    (Washington Post)


    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    VideoBite: "Every politician will be held accountable" for Iran Deal

    A poignant one minute video against the Iran deal

    Members of Congress Harassed in Jerusalem

    The US congressional delegation that was harassed.

    Arabs harass US congressmen during visit to Temple Mount
    - Lahav Harkov

    A group of Muslim men harassed a delegation of US Congressmen visiting the Temple Mount on Tuesday.

    “There was an effort to completely suppress not only any expression of religious conviction, but any articulation of historical reality,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), co-chairman of the Israel Allies Foundation’s Congressional caucus recounted.

    Franks, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pennsylvania), Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-West Virginia) and his wife, Elizabeth Jenkins, are visiting Israel as part of a delegation organized by the Israel Allies Foundation, an umbrella group supporting 33 parliamentary caucuses around the world that mobilize political support for Israel based on Judeo-Christian values.

    As part of the delegation’s trip to the Middle East, the group took a tour of the Temple Mount that was constantly interrupted by shouting, first by Arab men in the plaza and then by staff from the Wakf Islamic trust.

    “We walked up there, and were almost immediately approached by several men who started shouting,” Rothfus said. “We were tracked the entire time we were there and found these individuals surprisingly intolerant and belligerent.” Police were needed to break up the melee and clear the way for the group to continue its visit.

    For the rest of their visit to the Temple Mount, the group was followed around by a group of Muslim men.

    E.J. Kimball, director of US operations for the Israel Allies Foundation, said the congressional delegation “wasn’t doing anything controversial, no one was even wearing a yarmulke. [The Muslims on the Mount] did a good job of making everyone feel very uncomfortable just for being up there as a non-Muslim.”

    On their way out, the delegation saw a group of Jewish visitors being confronted by a Muslim group, who was crowding around them and shouting “allahu akbar.”

    The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel is known to pay thousands of shekels every month to Murbitat – meaning protectors of holy places – who harass non-Muslim visitors. The groups of Murbitat are often led by women dressed head-to-toe in black, with their faces covered.

    “It was a place of great religious meaning to me as a Christian, a destination... that me and my wife were looking forward to,” Jenkins said. “And then to have the confrontation from the Muslims who yelled and shouted at us and my wife individually... To literally step on the Temple Mount and be confronted was certainly shocking.”

    The congressman from West Virginia called the experience “unsettling.”

    [Jerusalem Post]

    Muslim Officials Harass US Congressmen - Sara Abramowicz

    Dozens of Palestinian religious leaders, under the initiative of former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, issued a declaration last week stating that the Temple Mount is only holy to Muslims and that it is a “desecration” for Jews to enter the site.

    A Christian tourist from France was assaulted by a mob on August 4 for waving an Israeli flag. There were also riots attacking Jews on Tisha b’Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of both Temples.
    [United with Israel]

    Congressmen: Egypt Opposes Iranian Nuclear Deal - Gil Hoffman

    Egypt opposes the Iranian nuclear deal, a group of U.S. Congressmen led by Congressional Israel Allies Caucus chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who have been touring Israel and Egypt, said.

    (Jerusalem Post)


    Elderly Woman Struck by Muslim Woman on Temple Mount
    - Daniel K. Eisenbud

    In a video uploaded to YouTube, Brenda Rubin, who moved to Jerusalem from the U.S., describes being punched by a Muslim woman on the Temple Mount after being besieged by Muslims chanting of "Allah Akbar."

    "That was my first time on the Mount and it was a very important thing for me, and this woman in black came in between our line and gave me a big punch under my rib on my side....And it was really painful just that somebody could feel that they could come and, using the name of their god, go ahead and hurt us." 
    (Jerusalem Post)

    Thursday, August 06, 2015

    Obama Hits Low on Iran Deal

    The author [left] & President Obama during happier times

    Obama gets personal - Alan Dershowitz [pictured above]

    [I]n his desperation to save his Iran deal, [President Obama] has taken to attacking its opponents in personal ways. He has accused critics of his deal of being the same republican war mongers who drove us into the ground war against Iraq and has warned that they would offer “overheated” and often dishonest arguments. He has complained about the influence of lobbyists and money on the process of deciding this important issue, as if lobbying and money were not involved in other important matters before Congress.

    These types of ad hominem arguments are becoming less and less convincing as more democratic members of Congress, more liberal supporters of the President, more nuclear experts and more foreign policy gurus are expressing deep concern, and sometimes strong opposition to the deal that is currently before Congress.

    I, myself, am a liberal Democrat who twice voted for President Obama and who was opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Part of the reason I was opposed was because I considered, and still consider, Iran a much greater threat to the security of the world and to the stability of the Middle East than Iraq ever was. In my newly published e-book
    The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran From Getting Nukes?, I make arguments that I believe are honest, fair and compelling. I recognize some advantages in the deal, but strongly believe that the disadvantages considerably outweigh them and that the risks of failure are considerable. My assessment is shared by a considerable number of other academics, policy experts and other liberal Democrats...

    The President would be well advised to stop attacking his critics and to start answering their hard questions with specific and credible answers. Questions that need answering include the following:

    1. Even after the expiration of the nuclear agreement, will American policy remain that Iran will never under any circumstances be allowed to develop nuclear weapons?  Or is it now our policy that Iran will be free to do whatever it wants to do once the deal expires?

    2. After the major constraints contained in the deal end, or were the deal to collapse at any point, how long would it take Iran to produce a deliverable nuclear bomb?

    3. Would the United States allow Iran to begin production of a nuclear arsenal when the major constraints of the deal end?

    4. Does the deal reflect a reversal in policy from President Obama’s pre-reelection promise that “My policy is not containment; my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon”?

    5. If not, will President Obama now announce that it is still the policy of the United States that Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon?

    6. How exactly will the inspections regime work? Precisely how much time will the Iranians have between a request for inspection and the inspection itself? What precisely will they be permitted to do during this hiatus? And why do they need so much time if they don’t plan to cheat?

    7. What will President Obama do if Iran is caught cheating on this deal during his administration?

    8. Precisely when will which sanctions be lifted under the agreement? Do provisions that prevent the P5 plus one from imposing new sanctions apply even if Iran is found to be in violation of its commitments under the agreement? When exactly will sanctions prohibiting the sale of weapons, and particularly missile technology, be lifted?

    If and when these and other important questions about the deal are answered - directly, candidly, and unambiguously - Congress will be in a better position to answer the fundamental questions now before it: would rejecting this deeply flawed deal produce more dangerous results than not rejecting it? If so, what can we now do to assure that Iran will not acquire a nuclear arsenal? The answers to those questions may profoundly affect the future of the world.

    President [Obama] should spend more time on substance and less on personal attacks.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Confrontation with Iran Is Inevitable - Jose Maria Aznar

    Sooner or later the West will have to confront Iran - only later it will face an emboldened, better prepared, modernized and richer Iran that will do its best to attain the goals we've always tried to prevent. 
    The writer is chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative and a former president of Spain.
    (Wall Street Journal)


    Congress Can Rewrite the Iran Deal - Orde Kittrie

    Congress has flatly rejected international agreements signed by the executive branch at least 130 times in U.S. history. Twenty-two treaties were voted down, and the Senate permanently blocked at least 108 other treaties by refusing to vote on them. Moreover, more than 200 treaties agreed by the executive branch were subsequently modified with Senate-required changes before receiving Senate consent and finally entering into force. In the case of the Iran nuclear agreement, a resolution of disapproval or separate legislation could specify what changes would be needed to meet congressional requirements.

    The Senate required that several treaties with the Soviet Union be modified before ratification. Since the Iran deal is not a treaty and is not legally binding, such nonbinding political agreements receive less deference and are considered more flexible than treaties. Congress should be comfortable sending one back for renegotiation. 
    The writer, a law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former lead State Department attorney for nuclear affairs.
    (Wall Street Journal)

    Obama's Legacy - Gary Gambill

    Obama's a smart guy, with the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus at his disposal. If he's willing to bet his own farm on the JCPOA, it can't be that bad, can it?

    Unfortunately, yes. If smarts, knowledge and the desire to be judged favourably by history guaranteed foreign policy success, presidents would seldom make mistakes. Obama says he has "never been more certain about a policy decision than this one," but he also thought overthrowing Qaddafi would be a hoot and look how that turned out. Clearly he's not omniscient.

    "Look, 20 years from now, I'm still going to be around, God willing," the president told The Atlantic in May. "If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it's my name on this." But the larger problem with the my-name-on-it argument is that legacy-making and the defence of U.S. national interests are two different things. Good policy decisions don't always highlight White House leadership in ways that can fill a wing of a presidential library.

    [A] progressive like Obama surely assumes that future generations will be more sympathetic to his worldview than his contemporaries. He may therefore reason that a charitable judgment can best be ensured by staying true to himself, as it were, even if it entails serious security risks, all the more so because his administration has deviated from these presumed future norms in other areas (e.g., drone strikes).

    This may have given Obama reason to prefer a deeply flawed agreement that embodies his worldview over walking away from the table with nothing at all. Failed negotiations don't interest Steven Spielberg. At a time when prospects of an unvarnished domestic policy triumph have dimmed, and after his ambitious effort to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian talks went nowhere, the Iran negotiations were his last chance to do something big.

    Whatever his reasons, Obama's approach has been to extract as many concessions from Iran as possible before he leaves office, but not leave the table without an agreement. Unfortunately, the Iranians correctly ascertained that he could not afford to take no for an answer, and that standing firm on unreasonable demands would bring American flexibility.

    Congress and the American people should give the Obama administration a fair hearing and evaluate the JCPOA on its merits, but pay no attention to the president's expressions of boundless confidence in the agreement.

    It's a good bet even he never imagined he'd have to settle for such a crappy deal.
    [Middle East Forum]