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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

US: Iran Still Has Time to Change Course on Nuclear Program

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs testified today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She said she wanted to use this opportunity to speak clearly about the challenges facing U.S. foreign policy, especially from Iran. Here is her entire written statement to the committee:

The Nuclear Challenge

Iran’s nuclear activity – in violation of its international obligations and in defiance of the international community – is one of the greatest global concerns we face. A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the region, to the world, and to the future of the global nuclear proliferation regime. It would risk an arms race in a region already rife with violence and conflict. A nuclear weapon would embolden a regime that already spreads instability through its proxies and threatens chokepoints in the global economy. It would put the world’s most dangerous weapons into the hands of leaders who speak openly about wiping one of our closest allies, the state of Israel, off the map. In confronting this challenge, our policy has been clear: we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Our preference is to resolve this through diplomacy. However, as President Obama has stated unequivocally, we will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there should be no doubt that the United States will use all elements of American power to achieve that objective.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has asked why it is that the international community does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The answer is simple: Iran has consistently concealed its nuclear activities and continues to do so, denying required access and information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has responsibilities to the international community, and it is that blatant disregard for those responsibilities that has made Iran the subject of four UN Security Council resolutions imposing mandatory sanctions.

From his very first months in office, President Obama put forward a clear choice to the Iranian government: Meet your international responsibilities on your nuclear program and reap the benefits of being a full member of the international community, or face the prospect of further pressure and isolation. Unfortunately Iran has so far chosen isolation. There is still time for it to change course, but that time is not indefinite. I want to be clear that our policy is not aimed at regime change, but rather at changing the regime’s behavior.

The Dual-Track Policy

Since this Administration took office in 2009, we have pursued a dual-track policy. Working with the P5+1 – the five members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany, under the auspices of the European Union – we have actively pursued a diplomatic solution to international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. As a result of Iran’s continuing disregard for its international obligations, we have ratcheted up the pressure on the Iranian government. We have built and led a global coalition to create the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions to date on the Iranian regime. The international community is united in its determination to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Today, Iran is isolated and sanctions are having a real impact on the ground, exacerbated by the regime’s own mismanagement of its economy. Iran exports over 1 million fewer barrels of crude oil each day than it did in 2011, costing Iran between $3-$5 billion per month. All 20 importers of Iranian oil have either significantly reduced or eliminated oil purchases from Iran. Financial sanctions have crippled Iran’s access to the international financial system and fueled the depreciation of the value of Iran’s currency to less than half of what it was last year. Foreign direct investment into Iran has decreased dramatically as major oil companies and international firms as diverse as Ernst & Young, Daimler AG, Caterpillar, ENI, Total, and hundreds more have divested themselves from Iran. The International Monetary Fund projects the Iranian economy will contract in 2013, a significant decrease from the over 7 percent growth six years ago, and far below the performance of neighboring oil-exporting countries. Put simply, the Iranian economy is in a downward spiral, with no prospect for near-term relief.

Opportunities and Risks Ahead for Turkey

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington on May 16 comes at a pivotal time when the Middle East is riddled with extraordinary conflicts that have the potential of exploding into a regional war. The time is also ripe for creating a geopolitical realignment that could eventually usher in stability and progress.

Turkey can and in fact should play a constructive role, provided that the Erdogan government takes a hard look at the opportunities that exist to contribute to building a structure of peace and stability. The Erdogan government, however, must also consider the risks entailed should it remain stuck in grandiose old thinking.

The Turkish government managed over the past few years to create the perception that Turkey’s rise has been based on a sound foreign policy doctrine of “zero problems with neighbors” along with solid economic development policies, while continuing social and political reforms consistent with Islamic values.

A close look at the reality, however, suggests a somewhat different picture that raises serious concerns among Turkey’s friends and quiet jubilation among its enemies.

According to the Human Rights Watch 2011 World Report, the government increasingly breaches what it has committed itself to, including unjustified prosecutions for alleged speech crimes, the arbitrary use of terrorism laws, prolonged pretrial detention (especially of journalists and editors), and the systematic intimidation of any individual or party that objects to, or opposes, government policy.

The government also reversed course with the Kurds, carrying out a clampdown on the legal pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), arresting Kurdish notables and intellectuals for links with the PKK, and until recently resuming the old policy of massive retaliations against PKK attacks.

On Turkish foreign policy, if one takes a look at the situation country by country, the picture looks surprisingly different than “zero problems with neighbors.” There is hardly any neighboring country with which Turkey does not have some kind of problem.

Now is the time for Ankara to take some corrective domestic and foreign policy measures consistent with what the country has and continues to aspire for but fails to realize.

As the Turkish Parliament is writing a new constitution, there is no better time to seek political equilibrium and enshrine human rights in all aspects, especially the rights of the Kurds. Now that the PKK has agreed to abandon violent resistance in favor of a negotiated settlement, the government can institutionalize such reforms without losing face.

The Kurds and other minorities should enjoy equal rights to speak their language and live their culture with no reservations or discrimination, which is the essence of democratic governance.

Turkey’s failure to reconcile the hundred-year old dispute over the Armenian genocide continues to poison its relations not only with Armenia but also with the United States, which takes a strong supportive position on the Armenian grievances.

It is time to end the conflict with Armenia as the one hundredth anniversary is near (2014) and is bound to reignite a major controversy within and outside Turkey. Instead of taking such a categorical stance refuting the entire the issue of the Armenian genocide, Turkish leaders should take heed of what both the Old Testament and the Quran preach: “The children should not be held responsible for the sins of their fathers.”

Turkey, in this regard, should express deep regrets about the Armenian genocide during World War I for the tragic events that occurred a century ago. This may not go far enough with the Armenians, but it offers a good beginning that may lead to reconciliation.

The discord with Greece over Cyprus has only worsened with the dispute over gas exploration near Turkish territorial waters. Turkey must find a solution to the Cyprus conflict; not doing so will further strain its relations with Greece. Realpolitik must trump nationalism which can serve national interests; otherwise it will only harden over time and further limit any room for a negotiated settlement.

Although Turkey and Iran enjoy strong trade relations, Ankara still has not made up its mind about Tehran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Their bilateral relations are strained by Ankara’s decision to host a base for a NATO missile defense system and the conflict over Syria’s future.

Moreover, Turkey must come to terms with the fact that Tehran’s and Ankara’s national interests do not coincide and that the two countries are on a collision course. Syria has become the battleground between Sunnis and Shiites and thus the emerging political order in post-Assad Syria will have a great impact on their overall ambitions.

NY Officials Claim Chasidic Dress Code Violates Human Rights

Monday, April 29th, 2013

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights has served notice on owners of seven Chasidic stores in Williamsburg that posting a sign that does not allow service to women with “low-cut necklines” is a violation of their human rights.

But what about all the “no shorts, no shoes, no service” signs that are a favorite among the snob crowd?

That’s okay because it is a dress code, the commission general counsel Cliff Mulqueen explained to the Jewish Week.

And prohibiting low-cut necklines is not a dress code?

Of course not, he reasons. That is a religious decree, and telling someone they have “to abide by certain rules of the Jewish faith crosses the line into [establishing] a protected class,” according to his logic.

God says that the Jews are the Chosen People, but now New York rules we are the “protected class.” Maybe human rights officials also think that the designation of a Chosen People denies human rights to others.

Regardless, a restaurant presumably can post a sign telling patrons not to enter with immodest dress without worrying about a human rights violation, but if an orthodox Jew, especially a Chasidic Jew, puts out a sign like that, he is in trouble.

The New York Post pointed out that no one really is refused service in a Chasidic-owned store because of his religion or gender. A Christian, a Muslim a Buddhist and even an atheist could enter, so long as he or she obeys the sign stating, “No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, No Low Cut Necklines Allowed in the Store.”

The commission last summer told the newspaper that the signs are legal, but now seven stores have been cited for violating human rights. A top law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, is representing the shop owners on a voluntary basis.

What would the city say if a snotty WASP country club were to post a sign, “No shtreimels?

It probably would say nothing because, after all, that is only a dress code.

European Report Says Greece Can Ban Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

A report released by the Council of Europe says that Greece could legally ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, but Greece has rejected the idea.

The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, France and runs the European Court of Human Rights.

The 32-page was issued Tuesday by the council’s human rights commissioner Nils Mutinies, who said he was “seriously concerned by the increase in racist and other hate crimes in Greece,” and that “a number of the reported attacks have been linked to members or supporters, including MPs, of the neo-Nazi political party ‘Golden Dawn.’” The party has been linked to a number of violent, racist attacks and is openly anti-Zionist.

The reports said that under existing Greek legislation and under treaties signed by Athens, Greece had the legal means to take steps against Golden Dawn, including banning the party.

“The Commissioner calls on the Greek authorities to be highly vigilant and use all available means to combat all forms of hate speech and hate crime and to end impunity for these crimes,” the report added.

Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote or 18 seats in the 300-member Greek Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, now has 14 to 18 percent of the population’s support.

A statement on the party’s website dismissed the report, saying the Council of Europe was a “Zionist institution.”

Greek media said the Greek government had sent the council a response indicating they were unlikely to ban Golden Dawn.

Human Rights Watch Turns on Hamas for Executions of Collaborators

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Human Rights Watch, which usually has Israel in its crosshairs, has turned its fury on the Hamas terrorist organization for failing to investigate the gory public execution of seven Gaza Arabs accused and sentenced to death without a trial for helping Israel.

Hamas rejected the criticism, saying it was biased and adding that it has investigated the killings four months ago. Armed Hamas goons murdered the suspects and dragged their bodies through Gaza streets to the cheers of passersby.

The Hamas regime has executed at least 38 people since seizing power in 2007 after a deadly terrorist militia clash with its rival Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Dershowitz: I Challenge Carter to Human Rights Debate at Cardozo

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School, has challenged former president Jimmy Carter to a debate on his human rights record.

Dershowitz spoke by telephone to a reporter with The Jewish Press, on Monday, April 8, in response to the news that the Cardozo School of Law’s Journal of Conflict Resolution will be honoring Carter with the “International Advocate for Peace” Award this Wednesday, April 10, as reported that morning.

During the course of the interview, the law professor recounted the widespread death and devastation caused by Carter’s efforts at “human rights.”

“What should be discussed is not Jimmy Carter’s role as a peacemaker, but instead it should be his role as a deal breaker,” said Dershowitz.  He then proceeded to tick off the bases for his reasoning.

“First, it was Carter who advised Yassir Arafat not to accept the peace deal offered in 2000-01.  That failure led to the deaths of more than 4000 Israelis and Arabs.”

“Secondly, by encouraging and supporting Hamas, and always placing the blame on Israel, Carter has guaranteed the continuation of terrorism.”  Indeed, “Carter has embraced Arafat, he’s embraced Mashaal, why, he’s never met a terrorist he didn’t love, and never met an Israeli whom he did.”

“And third,” the professor said, “it was Carter who was responsible for not acting to prevent the death of two million Cambodians at the hands of Pol Pot.  Carter was the president of the United States and yet he did not intervene in that slaughter, he did not lead and prod the United Nations to take action.”

Dershowitz paused, to sum up, “Carter has prevented peace, encouraged terrorism and done more than anyone else to isolate and demonize the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel.”

But Dershowitz wasn’t finished.

“Jimmy Carter has distorted the very meaning of human rights, he has turned the concept on its head, what he does should be called ‘human lefts.’”

What does that mean?

“The way human rights should be addressed is based on ‘worst, first,’ you deal with the most egregious wrongs, the worst kind of abuses committed by governments first,” Dershowitz explained.  “He’s turned everything upside down.  Instead of Israel, just look over a little to the south, “Saudi Arabia is the worst human rights violator in the world: sex segregation, gender preference discrimination, religious discrimination,” that’s where a real human rights activist would focus, said the law professor.

“But Jimmy Carter was bought and paid for by the Saudis.  The Carter Center stopped criticizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when the Saudis started funding it.”

So what should be the plan of action with respect to the Cardozo award?

Dershowitz started out by suggesting that when Carter comes to Cardozo, leaflets should be distributed to everyone, including the former president, detailing Carter’s human rights records.  But his thoughts continued to develop as he spoke further about the many “failures Carter has orchestrated.”

Turning again to talk about Yassir Arafat, Dershowitz, more slowly this time, explained how Arafat had gone to seek advice from Jimmy Carter, in the run up to Camp David.  “And Jimmy Carter advised Arafat not to accept the peace accord.”

“We’d be celebrating 10 years of peace already had Carter not given that disastrous advice to Arafat.  Jimmy Carter is primarily responsible – along with Arafat – for the deaths since that time.”

“What’s more,” Dershowitz continued, “Jimmy Carter has not only sown death and destruction by inserting himself in global conflicts, his actions themselves are illegal.” Dershowitz was referring to the Logan Act, passed in 1799 in the wake of the XYZ Affair, which made it a crime for private citizens to conduct foreign policy.

Finally, Dershowitz settled upon the best course of action.

Dershowitz said:

I will come, at my own expense, to debate Jimmy Carter on Carter’s own human rights record.  If Cardozo will have me, I will come and provide the students, the administration and anyone else that is interested, with a first rate debate about the meaning of human rights and they can decide whether what Jimmy Carter has done, constitutes human rights or human wrongs.

So, Dean Diller, other administration and faculty, and students on the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution: here is your opportunity to resolve this particular conflict.  Jimmy Carter, by all means! come to Cardozo and talk about human rights, but be prepared to have a full discussion, a debate even, with Alan Dershowitz on the topic.

UN to Adopt Syrian Text Damning Israel for ‘Violating Human Rights’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, Syria accused Israel of violating the human rights of children in the Golan, while diplomats met in another chamber on the same day to discuss a Syrian-drafted resolution, to be adopted next week, entitled “Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan.”

There will be five other resolutions targeting Israel, and about the same number combined covering the rest of the world.

While this year Syria did not officially present the text, its delegate sat on the dais next to his Pakistani colleague who chaired the session on behalf of the Islamic group. Not a single diplomat called out the sheer lunacy of the exercise. Rather, the EU commented that it was “committed to the protection of all, including those in the occupied Golan.” It was willing to “constructively engage on the text,” even as it noted that its proposals last year were not implemented.

Egypt said it aligned itself with the Islamic group.



Later in the day, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer took the floor in the plenary. Here are his notes:

Mr. President,

This Council is charged with promoting and protecting the guarantees enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today we ask: is the Council fulfilling its mission?

Let us consider the most basic right: the right to life.

As we heard this week from Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia is preparing imminently to execute seven alleged child offenders including Sarhan Al Mashayekh—who was also sentenced to be crucified over three days. Why is the Council refusing to address this in any resolution, urgent session, or even debate? [Ed. note: the Saudis executed them today by firing squad.]

Three other countries known to execute juvenile offenders are Yemen, Sudan and Iran—yet none of these situations is being addressed by any resolution.

And while there is a resolution on Iran, it is silent on child executions—and indeed the text is devoid of any documentation whatsoever of the regime’s other massive abuses, including against women, religious and ethnic minorities, and dissidents.

Finally, the Council must do far more about the thousands of children subjected to violence and death in Syria.

Now, today we just heard from the Syrian representative about human rights in the Golan Heights. This was a transparent attempt to change the subject from the dire, catastrophic human rights situation in Syria.

Sadly, this has been going on for decades. The United Nations has allowed Syria to present itself as a champion of human rights.

Indeed, a resolution was circulated today—presented by Syria—the same one that has been adopted each year by this Council, on purported human rights violations in the Golan Heights.

This text embodies all that is wrong with giving Syria a free pass. Year after year, the UN enabled Syria to portray itself as a champion of human rights.

- While Hafez al-Assad was murdering 20,000 people in Hama, in 1982, Syria was sitting here, as an elected member of the human rights commission. Two years later, it was reelected.

- A year and a half ago, Syria was elected to two human rights committees of UNESCO.

- A few weeks ago, Syria was elected Rapporteur of the decolonization committee dealing with human rights.

Mr. President,

Let us be clear: the situation in Syria today was allowed to develop, and the Syrian regime was allowed to remain in power, in part because the United Nations granted false legitimacy to this murderous regime.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/un-to-adopt-syrian-text-damning-israel-for-violating-human-rights/2013/03/14/

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