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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Global Forum on Anti-Semitism This Year in Buenos Aires

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

For the first time, the Global Forum on Anti-Semitism (GFCA) traditionally held biennally in Jerusalem is taking place this weekend (July 16-18) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference this year is organized by the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Latin American Jewish Congress, the regional chapter of the World Jewish Congress.

Anti-Semitism is rising around the world, and this year’s conference is focused on creating an action plan to respond to the attacks on an international level.

On Monday forum participants are slated to attend a ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. The attack was suspected to have been perpetrated by Iran via its Lebanon-based terror proxy Hezbollah. In that attack 85 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

“The first GFCA in Latin America presents a unique opportunity to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism in Latin America and develop an action plan that would complement the one drafted at the last GFCA in Jerusalem in June 2015,” the HILC said in a statement.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent experts to the conference to participate in a panel discussion on best practices in tackling cyberhate – the spread of anti-Semitism online.

ADL resources which have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese are being presented during a session on identifying and opposing cyberhate and community safety online.

“With the advent of various social media platforms, and the volume of pernicious content, no continent is immune to the growing phenomenon of online hate,” warned Jonathan Vick, ADL Assistant Director for Cyberhate Response.

Hana Levi Julian

One Year in: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Alleviate Global and Israeli Fears?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

The nuclear agreement signed on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany—was a watershed event in international diplomacy and a key moment for U.S. President Barack Obama, who staked his legacy on the deal’s success. One year later, should world nations, and perhaps most notably Israel, still view the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threat?

“In terms of compliance with the deal itself, I think it is going very well,” Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation, told JNS.org. “Basically, the bargain was Iran rolling back of key elements of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—those two key aspects of the deal have been met.”

In May, U.S. Ambassador and Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull said in testimony to the U.S. Senate that the Iran nuclear deal “has been implemented by all participants.”

According to Mull, Iran has completed dozens of specific actions to “limit, freeze, or roll back its nuclear program and subject it to greater transparency by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

This includes Iran disconnecting two-thirds of its installed centrifuge capacity, terminating uranium enrichment at its secretive Fordow nuclear facility, reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and filling the core of its Arak heavy water reactor with concrete.

As such, Mull concluded that these actions have increased Iran’s so-called “breakout time”—the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—from two or three months to at least a year.

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org that while the deal is “holding for now,” the Iranians “remain within the letter of the agreement but not the spirit of it.”

“They have been a little more transparent in their nuclear processes, but it has not fundamentally changed Iranian behavior,” Berman said, alluding to Iran’s continued military buildup; support for terrorist organizations; and hostility towards Israel, the U.S., and America’s Arab allies.

Many policymakers and analysts also remain concerned about the economic ramifications of the nuclear deal. One of the principle concerns had been the estimated $100-$150 billion in sanctions relief that Iran would receive as a result of the unfreezing of foreign assets once the Islamic Republic met its obligations under the agreement.

According to Berman, the deal has set in motion a “vast sanctions give away that is far more expansive than most people understand.”

“It is not only the $100 billion or so incorporated into the deal, but also measures like the White House’s attempts to facilitate Iranian access to the U.S. dollar and pressure on state governments to roll back Iranian divestment measures,” he said.

“What they set in motion was this grand reorientation of global economics in favor of Iran,” Berman added.

Despite these concerns, there are still a number of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions in place on Iran relating to terrorism, Iran’s ballistic missile program, and human rights violations—creating financial uncertainty for Iran, and making a number of international companies and banks wary of doing business with the Islamic Republic. Those sanctions are in place in large part because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, is heavily involved in Iran’s economy.

As such, with Iran not seeing the economic windfall that it had hoped for and had promised its people, Iranian leaders have publicly complained that the U.S. has not held its end of the bargain in the nuclear deal.

“On paper, the Americans say banks can trade with Iran, but in practice they act in such an Iranophobic way that no trade can take place with Iran,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in April, while accusing the U.S. of engaging in “obstruction and deception.”

Yet Berman dismissed these complaints by Iranian leaders, saying that it is important to “separate what Iran says from what it is actually doing.”

Just weeks after the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, where both nations agreed to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Russia used the pretext of the lifting of nuclear sanctions to renew its deal to provide Iran with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

Even India, which has seen significantly warming relations with Iran’s enemy, Israel, under President Narendra Modi, signed a dozen agreements with Tehran during a visit by Modi to the Islamic Republic in May, including a $500 million deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Before the nuclear deal, Iran “didn’t lack for global ambition, but lacked resources,” said Berman. Now, he explained, “the powers of global politics are such [that] the Iranians can start thinking about what it looks like to not just be a participant in Middle East politics, but a key driver of it, [and] not just be a partner of rogue regimes like North Korea or Venezuela, but to actually be a patron of them….That’s a fundamentally new dynamic for the Iranians.”

For Israel, the nuclear agreement represented a major blow to the efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke out strongly and regularly against the pre-deal nuclear negotiations and has argued that the deal does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Yet a year after the deal was signed, there appears to be less concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions within Israel’s leadership and more of a focus on Iran’s regional ambitions, its involvement in Syria, and Iran’s support for its terror proxies.

This sentiment was clear in recent remarks by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who stated at the Herzilya Conference in June that Iran’s nuclear program “has been frozen in light of the deal signed by the world powers and does not constitute an immediate, existential threat for Israel.”

Similarly, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said during a speech in January that a current “decline” in existential threats to Israel comes due to a variety of emerging trends, including the Iran nuclear deal.

The Rand Corporation’s Kaye, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, said that “there is a wide consensus among Israeli analysts that the Iranians are likely to adhere to this agreement.”

But Israeli military officials are now more deeply concerned about the possible economic and military consequences that a richer and more emboldened Iran will bring forth, especially through its support for its terror proxy nations. Kaye cautioned that for Israel, attention “has really turned to Iran’s role in Syria and its relation with Hezbollah as well as a permanent Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border in southern Syria.”

Berman said that “even if you take away the existential question of Iran getting a nuclear weapon later, which is where they (Israeli security officials) still think Iran is headed. What you are looking at is a very negative cycle of economic attrition. [Israelis] expect all the proxies that Iran is funding —Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad—to have a greater resources in the near future as a result of the nuclear deal.”

As a consequence, Berman said, Israel will need to step up its security and deterrence, and spend more money on defensive weapons and technology such as the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems or anti-tunneling technology.

Nevertheless, Kaye contended that by taking the nuclear threat off the table for the time being, Israel might have more of a chance to act boldly against Iran’s terror proxies without the concern of potentially igniting a nuclear conflict with Iran.

“One of the motivations [of the deal] to begin with was to ensure that Iran would not be engaging in this type of behavior under a nuclear umbrella. I think in that context, there is some relief that Iran is at least hemmed in on the nuclear front,” Kaye said.

While it appears that Iran’s compliance with the letter of the deal has so far reduced the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran in the short term, there is continued concern among policymakers and analysts over Iran’s aggressive behavior moving forward.

“I think the focus will now only increase towards implementation as well as planning and preparation for what might happen once some of the key elements of this deal start to expire in 10 years,” Kaye said. “The only exception to that will be increased momentum and focus on the missile front. There won’t be a renegotiation on the existing agreement. But there may be a push to expand on the current agreement to include more restrictions on Iranian missile testing and development in exchange for further economic relief.”

Sean Savage

Iran Celebrates Anniversary of Nuclear Deal by Firing Ballistic Missile

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

One year almost to the day after the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, and in blatant violation of UN Resolution 2231, Tehran tried to launch a ballistic missile using North Korean technology, Fox News reported, citing intelligence officials.

The test failed when the missile exploded after liftoff, on July 11 at night, outside Saman, a city west of Isfahan, at a site Iran has used before to conduct ballistic missile tests. This is the latest attempt in the year since the signing of the nuclear deal.

The test rained on President Obama’s parade, who said on Thursday, the actual anniversary of the deal, that “over the last year, the Iran deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But according to The Hill, the Republicans used the one-year anniversary for several largely symbolic measures to undermine the deal. “We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

In UN Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

According to Reuters, a confidential report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. The Security Council is due to discuss the Ban Ki-moon report on July 18. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced that “Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets regularly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said this week that “Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.”

Which means the US is content to permit the Iranians to defy the UN and the Western allies in working on long-range missiles, which should be ready to carry nuclear payloads as soon as the temporary limit on Iran’s development of a nuclear device is removed, in 2025. And with its newly thawed billions of dollars, what would stop Iran from buying the device from North Korea, its favorite shopping spot?

In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching its home-grown Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan, this after five earlier failures.

JNi.Media

European Union to Open Iran Office

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The European Union intends to open a new office in Iran.

The announcement was made in a statement marking the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the nuclear deal signed with Iran by the five world powers led by the United States — whose numerous violations by Iran have been actively ignored by all the signatories.

“One year after the conclusion of the landmark deal… the European Union is pleased to note that the JCPOA is being implemented,” the EU said in its statement, released Thursday. “This demonstrates that with political will, perseverance and multilateral diplomacy, workable solutions can be found to the most difficult problems.”

Although, as the EU noted, economic and financial nuclear-related sanctions were indeed lifted in accordance with the agreement, Iran has repeatedly violated its end of the deal with tests of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and other activities.

Ironically, in its statement the EU said it “acknowledges that clarity regarding the lifting of sanctions is key to allow a full reengagement of European banks and businesses in Iran…For Iran to fully benefit from the lifting of sanctions, it is also important that it overcomes obstacles related to economic and fiscal policy, business environment and rule of law.

“The European Union and its member states stand ready to cooperate with Iran in these areas and to provide technical assistance, including on compliance with FATF requirements, and to consider the use of export credits to facilitate trade, project financing and investment.”

Money certainly does “make the world go round,” particularly in Europe, and the European Union is more than happy to help Iran spend as much of it as possible, as soon as is feasible, after the United States released some $150 billion in formerly frozen Iranian assets.

It is clear that everyone’s hands were washing each others’ in the JCPOA agreement signed in July 2015 in Vienna, and which is being reaffirmed this week in Tehran.

“The European Union reaffirms its commitment to further developing relations with Iran, in particular in areas such as trade, energy, human rights, civil nuclear cooperation, migration, environment, fight against transnational threats such as drugs, humanitarian cooperation, transport, research, education, culture and regional issues.

“In this regard it takes note of the final joint statement from the visit to Tehran of the High Representative with a group of Commissioners,” the statement continued.

“The European Union supports a strategy of gradual engagement that is comprehensive in scope, cooperative where there is mutual interest, critical when there are differences and constructive in practice.

“As part of that, the European Union intends to open an EU Delegation in Iran.

“The JCPOA is for the benefit of the entire region and creates the opportunity for improved regional cooperation that should be seized by all parties.

“The European Union calls on all parties to work towards a cooperative regional environment and to help reduce tensions. The EU reaffirms its commitment to help make an improved regional situation a reality.”

Hana Levi Julian

Greece Talks About Ties with Iran

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Greek and Iranian government officials met this week in Athens for talks on developing economic, trade and industrial ties between the two countries.

Such a move could become a threat to the Jewish State, which has worked hard to develop closer ties with Athens. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem awarded an honorary doctorate to Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos during his state visit to Israel on March 30, citing his “warm relations with the State of Israel and the Jewish world.”

Iranian leaders have consistently maintained that government’s determination to “wipe the Zionist state off the map.”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi met with Greek Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism Giorgos Stathakis, and Minister of Environment of Energy Panos Skourletis, according to IRNA, the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Both sides “declared their political will to develop ties in different fields” according to the news outlet.

Greece has an embassy in Tehran, and Iran is represented by its embassy in Athens. A small Christian Greek community exists in Iran; there is a Greek Orthodox church in Tehran which opens mostly during the Greek Holy Week. But relations that date back millenia between the two nations — at one point, two empires — have laid dormant for decades.

The officials discussed development of oil and gas and renewable energies, pharmaceutical industries, “modern technologies,” shipbuilding and shipping, tourism and “promoting banking relations.”

Both nations allegedly expressed willingness to implement a document that was signed following a February 7 visit to Iran by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, according to the Iranian news agency.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Engaged in Secret Efforts to Obtain Restitution for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The State of Israel is engaged in clandestine efforts to obtain restitution for the lost or stolen property of Jews who fled Arab countries after the State of Israel was founded. This was revealed in a discussion of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday morning.

“The expatriates from Arab countries fled, leaving their property behind,” said MK Avraham Neguise, the committee chairman. “We want to do historical justice by making sure that this property is finally restored to its owners.”

Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries and the Middle East already faced persecution on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. Once Israel declared its independence, they had to flee.

According to Avi Cohen, director general of the Social Equality Ministry, which helps funnel support to the poorer sectors in Israeli society, Israel has already been acting clandestinely to restore some of the property that belonged to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, investing millions of shekels to do so.

“Classified work is currently underway, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, in which we will invest millions to restore the property of Arab and Iranian Jewry,” Cohen said. “The work will come to fruition within four to six weeks. I cannot say more than that.”

Although Iran’s Jewish community did not face the same repercussions as Jews in Arab countries did in 1948, tens of thousands of Iranian Jews fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The officials at the meeting made other suggestions regarding restitution. Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog hinted that a regional agreement would give Israel an opportunity to make the issue a top priority.

“The topic was mentioned explicitly in our elections platform,” Herzog said. “If there should be movement toward a regional agreement, the topic must definitely be placed on the agenda.”

Ze’ev Ben Yosef, a member of the World Likud executive committee, was skeptical of Herzog’s idea.

“It’s problematic to link the issue of restitution to a political agreement because the other side is in no hurry to reach such an agreement,” he said.

Others who were present argued that the issue of the lost or stolen property belonging to Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries should gain more international recognition, especially since the UN gave refugee status to Palestinians and their descendants who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.

“The moment that the UN supports refugees from Arab countries, it must recognize that there are Jewish refugees,” said Eli Gabbay, a former MK of the National Religious Party. “It must be guaranteed, through a political process, that just as the UN grants funds to the Arab refugees, it will make restitution to the Jewish refugees.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud), a descendant of Jewish refugees from Iraq, echoed Gabbay’s statement. “If you want to recognize Arab refugees, you must also recognize Jewish refugees,” she said. “I, too, see myself as a daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Danon Warns UN Security Council Hezbollah Snuggles Bases Among Civilian Homes, Schools

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council at a special meeting Tuesday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group is aiming some 120,000 missiles at Israeli cities; a number far higher than the 7,000 rockets the group had in 2006.

In fact, Danon produced evidence that supported his claim that Hezbollah possesses more missiles in its underground arsenal than the entire European membership of NATO together maintain above ground.

Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the group has built many of its bases next to children’s schools — a human-shield tactic used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the meeting, which was held to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Danon shared new intelligence which included aerial imagery of a village that had been transformed into a terrorist base.

“The village of Shakra in southern Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold,” Danon told the Council. “One in every three buildings there is being used for terrorist infrastructure which includes launching pads for missiles, weapons caches and more.

“Nor has Hezbollah stopped here; it chose to situate its bases next to schools and other public structures. And in so doing, it has endangered innocent civilians,” he said.

Weapons are also being stored in civilian areas, according to IDF soldiers who spoke with the BBC. “Every mission that I’ve been on personally has been observing Hezbollah operations in a heavily populated area,” a soldier told the UK-based media outlet. “In a house with a family living in it, or in a house next door or behind it.” “It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to evict Hezbollah from southern Lebanon,” Danon emphasized.

The IDF pointed out in an article published Tuesday on its English-language blog that Hezbollah has joined Iran in working to destablize the entire Middle East, with footholds around the world. “This Shi’ite militia from Southern Lebanon has grown into a sizable international threat,” according to Israel’s military analysts.

Hezbollah trains, funds and fights alongside armies and militias that promote Iranian interests and ideologies, exacerbating conflicts not only throughout the Middle East, but also by exporting chaos well beyond their borders.

Former national security adviser IDF General (ret.)Yaakov Amidror told the BBC on Tuesday that Hezbollah’s firepower is magnified more than ten-fold over what it was before the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“Now they have more than 120,000 rockets and missiles,” Amidror said. “It’s a huge number that you don’t find in any country in Europe, for example. When you see all these efforts, you ask yourself one question: what for?”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/danon-warns-un-security-council-hezbollah-snuggles-bases-among-civilian-homes-schools/2016/07/12/

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