Friday, November 29, 2013

Israel and Creation Myths David Shayne 11-29-13

This week marks the 66thanniversary of one of the more celebrated events in modern Jewish history:  The United Nations General Assembly decision to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into two independent states – one Jewish and the other Arab, adopted Nov. 29, 1947.
The Arab world with one voice bitterly condemned what was called “the Partition Plan” and threatened to destroy the Jewish State if it was declared.  In fact, the Arab side did not wait until that date, sixth months later, but attacked Jewish Palestine the following day, launching what Israelis call the War of Independence and the Palestinians call the “Naqba” (the catastrophe), what Arabs see as their dispossession and loss of patrimony.
Ever since then, shifting coalitions of Arab and non-Arab forces, have waged continuous war against Israel, both on and off the battlefield. No less relentless has been the propaganda war.  This propaganda war, supported by some Americans  and Europeans, includes attempts to distort and obfuscate the historical record regarding Israel’s founding.
One of these tactics is to attempt to propagate “creation myths” intended to give the false impression that Israel is an artificial entity wrongfully imposed by outside powers on a unfairly victimized Arab population.
Below four of these myths are discussed:

Myth No. 1: The UN created Israel.

The UN is an international organization of nation-states created by treaty shortly after World War II, with the primary purpose to prevent war.  It has two main governing bodies, the General Assembly and the Security Council.  Most of the authority rests with the Security Council, the only body that can create binding obligations for member states. The General Assembly can only make recommendations or general policy declarations.
In May 1947, the British government announced it would end its 30-year rule over Palestine and requested the UN decide its future. On Nov. 29, 1947, the General Assembly passed Resolution 181 , the Partition Plan. Res. 181 was a suggestion. It had no binding force.  The Arab side rejected the resolution and, as mentioned above, launched a war of annihilation against Jewish Palestine, and then Israel.
The Security Council could have supported the General Assembly with its own resolution and sent forces to keep the peace, but it did not.  No nation, or group of nations or any UN organ took steps of any kind to prevent or punish the Arab aggression. Indeed, when the armies of five Arab nations invaded the newly established State of Israel, they flagrantly violated the UN Charter, which forbids wars of aggression, but the Security Council still did nothing.
In the end, no nation or group of nations took any concrete political or military steps to stop the Arab armies.  No foreign army came to Israel’s defense, not in 1948 and not ever.
Myth No. 2:  The US created Israel.

President Truman was in office in 1947 and 1948.  He was personally sympathetic with plight of Jewish Holocaust survivors (see further discussion below), but his Secretary of State favored adopting the same Pro-Arab stance the British government had adopted.  So, while the US supported partition (at least at first) and became the first nation to extend formal recognition to the new government of Israel, it refused to extend any assistance and, in fact, imposed a facially neutral arms embargo on all of the warring parties. The embargo, however, favored the Arab side as it received all the arms it needed from the British or other handy sources.  Contrary to what many people think, the US did not become Israel’s chief supporter and military supplier until after the 1967 Six Day War.
The only world power willing to aid Israel is one that may surprise some readers: the Soviet Union, which allowed its satellite state, Czechoslovakia, to sell desperately needed arms to Israel.  While Stalin was no Judophile, to put it mildly, he saw the real politik advantage to helping Israel beat back its Arab allies, which it was only able to partially do after months of long and bitter fighting. Britain, a Soviet rival, thereby suffered loss of prestige and influence in the Arab world.  (Only a few short years later, Britain and the Soviet Union would be on opposite sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the Soviets backing the Arabs and Britain backing Israel.)
In the end, Israel created itself, as did the US and as many other nations, through the ultimate exercise of a popular will seeking self-determination and, especially, self-preservation against the Arab onslaught.  No outside power can take credit-or blame-for Israel’s existence.

Myth No. 3:  Israel was created as a result of or in compensation for the Holocaust.

This is a particularly oft-repeated myth by Israel’s enemies, e.g. Iran’s Ahmadinejad, in order to negate the truth that the State of Israel is a natural, organic result of a national group exercising its will. The Holocaust and its aftermath certainly played a catalytic role, in that it galvanized the Jewish people, both inside and outside of Palestine, to unite, organize and rebel against British rule to achieve independence, and this, in no small part, to provide a refuge for the tens of thousands of survivors trapped in Displaced Persons Camps. The existence of these camps also created a certain amount of sympathy in Europe and the US, especially in light of the reluctance of any government to take in large numbers of these refugees.  Beyond that, the Holocaust played no role in Israel’s founding. In fact, the number of Holocaust survivors who actually made it to either Palestine or Israel were but a fraction of the number of Jewish immigrants (olim) who arrived both before and after the founding of the State.
As already explained, it is simply untrue that any nations or group of nations “imposed” the Israeli state at all, whether due to the Holocaust or for any other reason.

Myth No. 4:  Israel could not exist but for the lands and property stolen from dispossessed Arabs in 1948.
This one is such a whopper that even smarter Arab propagandists know better than to repeat it.  But given how much ignorance and misinformation is spread about Israel, especially on the Internet, it needs addressing. First, the underlying premise, that the Jews willfully and maliciously dispossessed the entire Arab population, is false at many levels. A significant portion (about one third) of Palestine’s Arabs were dispossessed but as result of a war their side started. A detailed analysis of the causes of Arab dispossession is beyond the scope of this article. It will just be noted that fighters on both sides committed atrocities and civilians on both sides suffered terribly, including losing their homes. The suffering that was caused, however, is largely the fault of the Arab side that launched and perpetuated the war, as it continued to do long after 1948.  Blaming Israel for the Palestinian “Naqba” is a classic case of blaming the victim for the bad outcome incurred by the would-be victimizer whose evil designs are thwarted.
But assuming, for the sake of argument only, that Israel was to blame, this myth would still be a lie because it ignores the basic fact that those parts of Palestine that became “The State of Israel” were developed mostly by the Jews who lived there. Jews founded Tel Aviv, most of Haifa, and Western Jerusalem and hundreds of smaller towns and villages long before 1948. Yes, the Israelis did acquire and use abandoned Arab property and even built a few villages over abandoned Arab villages, but these made up a tiny percent of privately owned Jewish property, or state lands acquired through independence.
Had there been no war, there would have been no dispossession, and yet, there still would have been a thriving Jewish State in former Palestine. Arab property was neither coveted nor needed before the war, although occasionally it was plundered and appropriated afterward. (But the same is true for thousands of Jewish homes and property that ended up in Arab-controlled Palestinian areas, i.e, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, not to mention the millions of Jews plundered in Arab countries in revenge for the “Naqba.”)
To conclude, many  currently existing nation-states, besides the US, “willed” themselves into existence often by throwing off the rule of a foreign power (e.g. Greece, India, Pakistan) or were born out civil war (e.g., South Korea, Eritrea).  Israel is no different, and has no less of a right to exist than any of those nations. And all of the claims that somehow Israel is an artificial entity with no right to exist is just a myth.
The world has been sorely remiss in remaining silent in or acquiescing to the blatant lies the anti-Israel forces spread.  The issue is not simply historical accuracy and fairness. Palestinian Arab hatred, intransigence and violence is fueled by this false narrative of Israel’s illegitimacy.  Peace will only be possible when Palestinian leadership and its supporters are forced to confront and acknowledge the truth:  The Palestinian Naqba was self inflicted. It’s time for Palestinians to own up to that fact, to put an end to their “righteous” warfare, and for them to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Yale Zussman 11-28-13

Blaise Pascal once noted, “The first moral obligation is to think clearly.”  In his “Two-State Illusion” (New York Times Sunday Review, Sep. 15), Ian Lustick provides proof that Pascal was right. By getting most of his details just wrong enough to inform sloppy thinking, Lustick reaches conclusions that are profoundly immoral. Since Obama’s and Kerry’s thinking on the issue resembles Lustick’s, it should be helpful to see where Lustick goes wrong.
Two “dirty secrets” lie at the root of the failure of the “two-state” solution, one on the Palestinian side and one on the Israeli. People involved with the discussions are aware of them, but because they identify the fundamental flaws with the Oslo “peace process,” much of academia and the media go to great lengths not to mention them, and Lustick certainly doesn’t.
On the “Palestinian” side the dirty secret is that there is no Palestinian People.  There are Palestinian people, but they owe their primary allegiance to tribes, clans, families (sometimes in the sense used in “The Godfather”), political, religious and economic groupings, rather than to a national entity. They are divided geographically as well, which simply reinforces the centrifugal effects of how Palestinian culture works. With peace, it might be possible for these groups to coalesce into a single nationality, but the Palestinians cannot make peace in their current configuration because there is no-one who can speak for them all.
Proof that there is no Palestinian People stares readers in the face each time they see the term. Arabic has no letter “P,” so no Arab group, which the Palestinians insist they are, would, or could, call themselves “P” anything.  In Arabic, they call themselves Filastiniyun, perhaps harking back to the Philistines of biblical days, but the Philistines weren’t even Semites, so if today’s “P”alestinians are Arab, they can have no connection with the Philistines. Turkish has a “P,” but the Ottomans didn’t call the country “Palestine”; indeed, they didn’t even see the country as a single territorial unit.
The Palestinians took their name, like the peoples of some African countries, from the name European imperialists gave to the territory where they lived. During the Mandate, “Palestinian” referred to the Jews, while the Arabs were simply Arabs.  Since the current “Palestinians” have seen themselves as such for only a few decades, it follows immediately that the claim to an ancient heritage on which their narrative is based is demonstrably false:  If they were an ancient people, they would have a name or names for themselves that they would have used throughout history, and they simply don’t.
That there was no Palestinian People accounts for the failure of the Palestine Arabs to establish a state in 1948/9, a reality Lustick acknowledges.  That there is no Palestinian People today is one reason they insist on “returning” to homes in Israel most of them have never seen rather than living in their own state.
A fragmented society like the Palestinians cannot negotiate because there is no-one with the stature to accept and enforce whatever agreements might be reached.  Arafat may have had this stature, but he realized that he could not make peace without opening himself to a very serious accusation:  The very best the Palestinians could do today, a fully militarized state on the 1967 lines, removal of the settlements, and a redivision of Jerusalem, is what they could have had in 1967, or even 1949, without subjecting his people to decades of life as refugees.  It follows immediately that Palestinian “suffering” was caused by the decisions of their leaders.  If they are victims at all, they are victims of their leaders’ bad decisions rather than of anything Israel has done.  This reality is a disincentive for current Palestinian leaders to agree to anything.  And the longer their leaders refuse to reach an agreement, the longer the Palestinians will suffer, and the barrier to reaching an agreement will get ever higher.
The “Right of Return” issue is basically about who bears the blame for subjecting Palestinian people to the “suffering” they have endured these last 65 years.
Whether or not Mahmoud Abbas privately wishes to resolve the conflict, he cannot do so without identifying someone to blame for his people’s suffering.  There are no good candidates today since the likely suspects, Haj Amin al-Husseini and Yassir Arafat, have both been put on a pedestal.  Abbas would rather not become the third candidate, which is why he wants Israel to accept the blame.  Israel has no reason to do so, and the evidence is clear that the problem comes from the Palestinian side. Until a “fall guy” is identified, Israel has no “partner” because no Palestinian leader will be willing to be that “fall guy.” The infighting between the factions guarantees that anyone who agrees to anything will be so labeled, and then likely assassinated.
If the BDS people were capable of thinking through the issues, and had an interest in doing so, they would see that their efforts reinforce the disincentive effect of responsibility for Palestinian suffering on Palestinian leaders, and that makes them partially to blame for the continuation of that suffering.
The “dirty secret” on the Israeli side is that the Oslo process was initiated not solely to make peace with the Palestinians but also to discredit the Israeli Right.  It is no coincidence that the Left took up this issue shortly after their monopoly on forming the government was broken.  The idea was that by solving this problem, the Left would demonstrate that it alone was worthy of ruling the country.  The Palestinian response to the possibility of peace, to raise the level of violence, ended up proving to the Israeli electorate that the Oslo Process was a failure and this strengthened the Israeli Right.  The response from the Israeli Left has been an ever more desperate effort to force the peace process toward a solution that will “vindicate” the Left’s claims about their right to rule the country, regardless of the consequences for the country.
The centerpiece of this effort has been promoting hostility toward the settlements. The Left built the first settlements, but when the Right endorsed them, the Left turned against them as part of its effort to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli Right.  Using their contacts abroad, especially in Europe, the Israeli Left has succeeded in vilifying the settlers — many of whom are religious, on the Right, or both — as well as the settlements and in the process legitimized violence against all civilians.  Initially, only Israelis were considered legitimate targets, but now we see this violence essentially everywhere in the world.  The Left’s “success” here further damaged its credibility with the electorate.  With each lost election, the Israeli Left has increasingly seen its survival depending on getting outside powers, the Europeans and the United States, to pressure Israel to accede to the Left’s ideas on how the conflict should be resolved.  Thus, we have J Street endorsing ideas rejected by the Israeli electorate while still claiming to speak on behalf of Israel.
The great irony of all this is that the settlements may be the only incentive available to encourage the Palestinian leadership to look past avoiding blame for past suffering toward reaching an agreement with Israel.  The Palestinians have made it fairly clear that they value land more than peace and more than the lives of their people (especially those people who come from outside their own circle) and the settlements present a risk of future losses.  The expectation that delaying a resolution now will lead to losses of things they value in the future is the only incentive such leaders have to move toward peace.  The campaign against the settlements removes that incentive and thus guarantees the failure of the “two-state” solution, bemoaned by Lustick and Kerry, who are, of course, vehemently opposed to the settlements.
Lustick proposes that the continuing failure of the Palestinians to agree to a “Two-State Solution” should lead the world to give them what they want, a single state where they would be able to do to the Jews whatever they wish.  He presents this proposal at a time when sectarian fighting is claiming hundreds, if not thousands, of lives a day in neighboring Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim world, and where Muslim Brotherhood-inspired attacks on Copts in neighboring Egypt have led tens of thousands of them to abandon their homeland of many millennia.  Jews are already nearly gone from most of the Muslim nations, and Christians are now being forced out as well.  Is Lustick (or Kerry or Obama) even aware of this?
Lustick believes Israeli Haredim can make common cause with Islamists — he sees them as similar religious fanatics — but the Haredim mainly want to be left alone to live their lives as they believe the Torah commands, while the Islamists seek to impose their conception of Shariah on everyone, killing as many Jews as possible in the process.  Is he even aware of, never mind does he understand, this fundamental difference?
Lustick also believes Mizrachi Jews in Israel will come to see themselves as Arabs.  This is even more delusional than the possibility of Haredim and Islamists linking forces.  Mizrachi Jews were expelled from Muslim countries where their ancestors had lived, in many cases since before the coming of the Muslims.  After the Muslim conquests, their ancestors lived under the dhimma, the original apartheid, only to be expelled after the establishment of Israel, often with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing.  In the process, they lost more land than there is in Israel in its entirety.  They came to Israel for protection from the Arabs, so the notion that they will regard themselves as Arab reflects profound ignorance at best.
But it’s not just the Middle East where multi-ethnic states are failing today.  All of the multi-ethnic states established in Europe in the wake of World War I, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, have now dissolved.  Scotland is contemplating departure from the United Kingdom, likewise Catalonia from Spain.  In Africa, Muslims and Christians could not coexist in Sudan or Ethiopia, so we now have Southern Sudan and Eritrea.
The notion that a bi-national state consisting of two peoples who have been locked in a bitter conflict for a century could succeed when these other less problem-plagued multi-ethnic states failed is basically irrational.
So what solutions are there?  There appear to be two, both calling for the abandonment of the notion of a Palestinian state, which, as we have seen, is not in the cards any time soon, if ever.  If there is to be only one state, clearly it should be Israel because Israel is vibrant and is home to a unique culture that contributes a great deal to global civilization.  By contrast, the Palestinian contribution to world culture is a series of ever more ingenious, and nefarious, techniques for killing civilians.
One possibility is for Israel to re-establish the occupation, disarm the gangs and return the Palestinians to the rapid socio-economic progress they made after 1967.  This cannot last forever, but a decade or two of quiet is in everyone’s interest.
A more permanent solution would involve learning from what worked before 1967: Egypt would annex Gaza and undertake to remove Hamas and the Islamists based there.  Israel and Jordan would negotiate a border between them, including the demilitarization of any Jordanian territory west of the Jordan River.  One advantage of this approach is that both Egypt and Jordan have already negotiated treaties with Israel so the issue of recognizing the legitimacy of Israel would not be a barrier to success.  Given the current confrontation between the Sunnis and Iran, it might be possible for the Gulf States to endorse such a solution and then recognize Israel.  That would effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Separating Gaza from the territories that will be annexed to Jordan is an acknowledgement that, by dint of geography and demography, either Israel or the putative Palestinian state must be non-contiguous and the track record for non-contiguous states — think Pakistan and Bangladesh, never mind Germany and East Prussia in 1939 — isn’t good.  The Partition Commission in 1947 grappled with this and came up with an unworkable solution.  Since the region is mainly Arab, it simply makes more sense for Israel to remain contiguous.  Once contiguity has been factored in, separating Gaza from the rest makes sense and this proposal follows almost immediately.
This solution is unlikely to be tried because it would face opposition from Middle Eastern “experts,” like Lustick, whose careers have been built on “research” demonizing Israel for not being more forthcoming in its dealings with the Palestinians.  It would probably be opposed by similar “experts” in the media for similar reasons.
But given the track record of repeatedly pressuring Israel for concessions which go unreciprocated, no successes in perhaps 20 tries, the rationality of doing this one more time is called into question.  After all, Albert Einstein is said to have defined irrationality as doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Clearly neither Obama nor Kerry is an Einstein, so let’s try something new: focus on Palestinian intransigence. The problem all along has been the notion of a “Palestinian” state.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Hidden Cost Of The Iranian Nuclear Deal
  • Michael Doran  November 24, 2013
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    Iran @ Saban

One's evaluation of the nuclear deal depends on how one understands the broader context of US-Iranian relations. There are potential pathways ahead that might not be all that bad. But I am pessimistic. I see the deal as a deceptively pleasant way station on the long and bloody road that is the American retreat from the Middle East.
By contrast, President Obama sees this agreement as stage one in a two-stage process. Six months from now, he believes, this process will culminate in a final, sustainable agreement. In the rosiest of scenarios, the nuclear rapprochement will be the beginning of something much bigger. Like Nixon’s opening to China, it will inaugurate a new era in Iranian-American relations. Whether Obama himself is dreaming of such an historic reconciliation is anybody’s guess, but many commentators certainly are.
I, however, am not among them. On the nuclear question specifically, I don’t see this as stage one. In my view, there will never be a final agreement. What the administration just initiated was, rather, a long and expensive process by which the West pays Iran to refrain from going nuclear. We are, in essence, paying Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate with us. We just bought six months. What was the price?
We shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities. We exposed fractures in the coalition against Iran. And we started building a global economic lobby that is dedicated to eroding the sanctions that we have generated through a decade of hard, very hard, diplomatic work.
That's the price that we can see clearly before our eyes. But I also wonder whether there were hidden costs — in the form of quiet commitments to Iran by third parties. I assume that the Iranians demanded economic compensation for every concession that they made. Will all of the promised payments appear in the text of the agreement? Did parties less constrained than our president by US congressional oversight also offer up sweeteners on the margins? At this point we do not know whether there is, in effect, a secret annex to the deal. Only time will tell.
But a hidden cost that is more easily verified is the free hand that the United States is now giving to Iran throughout the region. This is the price that troubles me most.
In my view, that free hand was already visible in the chemical weapons deal that Obama cut with Syria’s Bashar al-Asad. I have long suspected that Obama’s retreat from Syria was prompted, in part, by his desire to generate Iranian goodwill in the nuclear negotiations. The evidence for that case is growing by the day. We now learn, for example, that the administration had opened a bilateral backchannel to Tehran well before the Syria crisis. I can only assume that the president backed away from the use of force against Assad because, in part, he saw the Syria challenge as a subset of the Iranian nuclear negotiation.
Whatever the case, it is an undeniable fact that the chemical weapons deal made the United States Assad’s silent partner. The Obama administration took the threat of force off the table, and it trumpeted Syria’s commitment to destroy its weapons as a great achievement. Thereafter, it turned a blind eye to Assad’s murder machine — which is funded, trained, and equipped by Iran. As a result, Assad and his Iranian allies now enjoy a much freer hand in the Syrian civil war.
The nuclear deal will further subject the Arab world to the tender mercies of the Revolutionary Guards. Iran will now have more money — our money — to channel to proxies such as Hezbollah. Washington cannot expose the mailed fist of the Qods Force without endangering the nuclear rapprochement, so it has a positive incentive to ignore all Iranian subversion and intimidation in the region.
Whether he realizes it, Obama has now announced that the United States cannot be relied upon to stand up to Iran. Therefore, Israel and our Arab allies will be forced to live by their wits. Some actors, like the Saudis, will prosecute their proxy war with Iran with renewed vehemence. Others will simply hedge. They will make a beeline to Tehran, just as many regional actors began showing up in Moscow after the Syrian chemical weapons deal. American influence will further deteriorate.
That, in sum, is the true price that we just paid for six months of seeming quiet on the nuclear front. It is price in prestige, which most Americans will not notice. It is also a price in blood. But it is not our blood, so Americans will also fail to make the connection between the violence and the nuclear deal. It is important to note, however, that this is just the initial price. Six months from now, when the interim agreement expires, another payment to Ayatollah Khamenei will come due. If Obama doesn’t pony up, he will have to admit then that he cut a bad deal now. So he we will indeed pay — through the nose.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 

Last weekend, the International Atomic Energy Agency published one of its regular reports on the status of the Iranian nuclear program. This report was particularly important because it was coming out right before this week’s critical meetings in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1, where it would be decided whether sanctions against Iran would be reduced in exchange for concessions on the Iranian nuclear program. Many experts wanted to know if the Iranians slowed down their program in any way as a good will gesture prior to the Geneva meeting.
But the real story was not only what the IAEA said, but also the popular reaction to its report in much of the international press. The Los Angeles Times ran a headline “Iran’s nuclear program has slowed almost to a halt, IAEA says.” The Washington Post was more careful in its headline, but its report by Joby Warrick still led with a sweeping generalization that “Iran appears to have dramatically slowed work on its atomic energy program since the summer.” Even the normally conservative Wall Street Journal followed the rest of the journalistic pack with a headline that said: “U.N. says Iran has virtually frozen nuclear program in last few months.”
So what did the IAEA really think about what Iran was doing? Two days before its report was made public Yukio Amano, the director-general of the IAEA, gave an interview to the Reuters news agency, which served as a kind of curtain-raiser for his agency’s upcoming report. Looking at the previous three months coinciding with the period in which Hasan Rouhani came to power, Amano did not sound like the Western media. He simply stated: “I can say that enrichment activities are ongoing … no radical change is reported to me.” For the most part, the press ignored Amano, perhaps not wanting anything to break the momentum toward reaching an agreement in Geneva this week.
But Amano was right. Indeed, if the IAEA report is examined its becomes immediately evident why Amano was so careful in his assessment and did not join the cheering gallery with the Western press. According to its summary of the main developments of the last three months, the rates of production of low-enriched uranium, that is uranium enriched up to the 5 per cent level, remained “similar to that indicated in the previous report” which the IAEA published in August. Looking at the rates of production of uranium enriched up to the 20 per cent level, the IAEA concluded that it remained “similar to those indicated in the previous report.”
So how did so much of the international press get it so wrong and reach the conclusion that Iran had “slowed down” or “frozen” its nuclear program? These media reports ignored Iran continuing enrichment activities. Instead they focused on the question of whether the Iranians were installing more centrifuges at their Natanz and Fordo facilities, especially the advanced IR-2m centrifuges that operate five times faster than the older IR-1 centrifuges, which they have used since 2007.
True, Iran did not install any new advanced centrifuges in the last three months, but that did not mean they had frozen their program. Since January, they have installed over a thousand of these new centrifuges, but they have not begun operating them. In the past, even during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after the Iranians increased sharply the number of centrifuges, they would let their growth level off for a few years while the new centrifuges were being brought online. No one interpreted this behavior in the past as indicating that Iran was slowing down its nuclear program.
Moreover, most newspaper reports covering the Iranian nuclear program have missed a key point made in the IAEA’s latest report. It states that “preparatory installation work” has been completed for another 12 IR-2m cascades at Natanz. Since 2011, Iran has been installing these centrifuges in what experts call “cascades” of 164 centrifuges. That means that Iran is laying the groundwork for nearly another 2,000 advanced centrifuges, on top of the thousand centrifuges they have added during 2013.
Not only has Iran been enriching more uranium, it has also been quietly working on the next big expansion of its Natanz facility. On top of this the numbers of the older IR-1 centrifuges have also grown in recent years. In August 2011, the Iranians had installed roughly 8,000 centrifuges in total; but by November 2013 the IAEA was reporting that Iran had a total of more than 18,000 centrifuges in both of its enrichment facilities.
These latest developments change the whole calculus of any future agreement in Geneva. International commentators on the Iran nuclear negotiations have been tirelessly repeating that any future agreement must deal with Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent uranium while conceding to Iran that it can continue to enrich to 3.5 percent. The distinction was based on the assumption that if Iran wanted to make the last sprint to weapons-grade uranium, in what experts call “nuclear breakout,” it would use its stock of 20 per cent enriched uranium.
But a sharp quantitative increase in the number of Iranian centrifuges, or alternatively the introduction of qualitatively superior fast centrifuges, totally changes this scenario. Gary Samore, who served on the U.S. National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s first term, has in fact recently warned that all Iran has to do is massively increase its number of its older IR-1 centrifuges and it can pose a new threat to the West: “Ending production of 20-percent-enriched uranium is not sufficient to prevent breakout because Iran can produce nuclear weapons using low-enriched uranium and a large number of centrifuge machines.” The installation of fast centrifuges, like the IR-2m, makes this even more of a challenge for the West.
Given Iran’s new technical achievements, it becomes clear why Tehran is now so determined to get its “right of enrichment” recognized in any agreement that emerges in Geneva. For the Iranians have positioned themselves to get nuclear weapons from any level of enrichment that they are allowed. Of course there is no “right of enrichment” according to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which only speaks about “the inalienable right of all the parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
Past IAEA reports have noted that Iran is developing warheads that are to be fitted on its Shahab 3 missiles, that can strike Israel. Iran cannot argue that its uranium enrichment work is for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the NPT, and at the same time develop nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, in violation of the NPT. In short, Iran cannot claim a legal right based on a treaty that it has systematically breached so flagrantly.
It is often forgotten that, starting in 2006, the U.N. Security Council passed six resolutions prohibiting Iran from engaging in any enrichment. These resolutions were specifically adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter and are legally binding under international law, adding further legal force to the argument that Iran has no legal right whatsoever to enrich uranium.
Thus for the West to acknowledge any Iranian claim to a right of enrichment is completely unnecessary and unwarranted. Given the technical developments in the Iranian nuclear program, such a concession would also be dangerous, for allowing enrichment at any level will make it extremely difficult for the West to be certain that Iran will not proceed to a nuclear weapon in the months ahead.

Monday, November 25, 2013

FARS NEWS AGENCY'S ACCOUNT, VERBATIM, OF THE GENEVA DEAL VS THE THE US VERSION (INTENDED FOR US DOMESTIC CONSUMPTION){ From:Rouhani’s Iran Schooling West on Aggressive Diplomacy by Yori Yanover Published: November 24th, 2013}

To understand how flawed is the deal signed on Saturday November 23, 2013 in Geneva between the world powers and Iran review the Iranian version. Because the outcome of this deal will be decided in Tehran, not in Washington DC.

Here's the Fars news agency's account, verbatim, of the Geneva deal:

"Iran and the Group signed a four-page agreement after five days of difficult and intensive negotiations and more than a decade-long nuclear standoff.

"One of the pages of the agreement signed in Geneva deals with the easing and removal of the US-led western sanctions imposed against Iran.

"According to the deal, no further sanctions will be imposed against Iran.

"Oil embargoes on the country will be halted. Iran’s crude sales will be maintained at the current level and Iran’s oil revenues will also be released.

"Sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical sector will be completely removed and the sanctions on the country’s auto industry will also be lifted.

"Sanctions on exports of gold and precious stones and metals, as well as the ban on the insurance of oil cargoes will be fully lifted.

"Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized in two places of the document.

"According to the agreement, the structure of Iran’s nuclear program will be fully preserved. There is no turning back in Iran's uranium enrichment activities.

"Fordo and Natanz (nuclear sites) will also continue operation.

"In return, Iran will reciprocate with a series of confidence-building measures.

"Iran as a confidence-building measure will not further expand its activities in Arak, Natanz and Fordo in the next six months, but (uranium) enrichment below five percent and production of the relevant enriched material in Fordo and Natanz will continue as before.

"Iran will also continue its research and development in its nuclear program.

"According to the agreement, the 20 percent enrichment will not continue in the next six months since Iran does not need any more 20-percent enrichment. All the enriched uranium will remain inside Iran and no material will be taken out from the country."

 To summarize: No more oil embargo. No more sanctions. Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized.

 The semi-official Iranian news agency  is definitely saying it like it is.

Now the the US version (intended for US domestic consumption) most of which was delivered by President Obama yesterday, and are collected in a White House  " fact sheet."

According to the Administration, the deal "halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects… The initial, six month step includes significant limits on Iran's nuclear program and begins to address our most urgent concerns including Iran's enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor."

Except the Iran version says nothing about rolling back anything. It also celebrates the fact that the 20% enriched uranium stays in the country, and that the deal recognizes Iran's right to enrich in the future. So, who's lying?

The White House says: "The concessions Iran has committed to make as part of this first step will also provide us with increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program. In the past, the concern has been expressed that Iran will use negotiations to buy time to advance their program. Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community's concerns."

That last thing, the "long-term, comprehensive solution," that's never going to happen. Here's what will happen: Iran will have a month or two of dedicated adherence to every minute aspect of the agreement. Meanwhile, Chinese, Russian, European and American corporations will be drawn in, to usher an economic boom in Iran that country hasn't seen in at least a decade. The State Dept. talk about $7 or $8 billion in a combination of unfrozen Iranian assets and the removal of sanctions – that's going to be more like $50 billion this summer. It's just the nature of business.

After 2 months of excellent behavior, Iran will start cheating. Small. Mistakes, really, more than cheating, human error. Inspectors would be told at the last minute they can't come in, try again tomorrow. Elements will be moved without notice, on account of how forgetful Iranians can sometimes be…. this was precisely the modus operandi of the Iranian nuclear program under the guidance of Hassan Rouhani.

In 2003, Iran's foreign minister Kamal Kharazi established a nuclear team with Hassan Rouhani in charge, with special powers to formulate a comprehensive plan for Iran's interactions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Subsequently, negotiations between Iran and three European states. Rouhani and his team based their efforts on dialogue and confidence building. As a result, they prevented further escalation of accusations against Iran, and blocked a report of Iran's nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council. For the purpose of "confidence building," parts of Iran's nuclear activities were voluntarily suspended at several junctures.

In addition to building confidence, insisting on Iran's rights, reducing international pressures and the possibility of war, and preventing Iran's case from being reported to the UN Security Council, Iran succeeded in completing its nuclear fuel cycle and took groundbreaking steps to reach what many considered the point of no return in developing a nuclear weapon.

 Rouhani was successful in cheating the West and giving the Iranian nuclear program breathing room to thrive—even as the GW Bush Administration was preparing for the invasion of neighboring Iraq. Rouhani showed he had nerves of steel then, coupled with a stunning ability to charm his foes silly—he continues to possess the nerves of steel and the winning smile. Kerry and the west don't stand a chance.

By the time the State Dept. is forced to admit, six months down the road, if not earlier, that they made a terrible mistake, Iran will have repaired the major crisis areas in its economy, and would remain as close to making a bomb, if not closer.

Sunday, November 24, 2013




 ELIJAH Z. GRANET  11-22-13

On Tuesday, Yehuda Shaul, co-founder and head of the organization Breaking the Silence (BtS), spoke on campus. BtS claims it “exposes” the actions of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the occupied territories by accumulating the testimonies of soldiers about various prevention tactics exercised by the IDF. BtS casts itself as a nonpartisan and apolitical group that aims only to make public the confessions of IDF soldiers. This characterization, however, is highly misleading. As the Israeli paper Haaretz noted, BtS “has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a human rights organization.”
The great irony of BtS is that it claims to show Israelis events of which they are unaware via the testimony of soldiers. Israel, as is well known, exercises universal conscription, meaning that since 1967, millions of people have served in the Israeli army. It would be extraordinarily difficult to find someone in Israel today who does not know or did not serve themselves. Yet only 950 soldiers, an extraordinarily small number, have testified to BtS, most of them anonymously. The anonymous character of these statements has been heavily criticized by the IDF, and the IDF has noted that it cannot investigate anonymous allegations.
The IDF has always and continues to prosecute soldiers who engage in violations of policy or law. Much as in America, however, anonymous accusations cannot be the basis for legal action by the military. If the soldiers of BtS were truly serious about combating alleged abuses in the Israeli army, they would come forward.
The true stories of Israeli soldiers are found not in the anonymous confessions of BtS but rather in stories like that of Berkeley junior Nir Shtern. Shtern served for three years in the Israeli army, from 2005 to 2008, during a time of great turmoil. As an IDF soldier and later as a commander, Shtern says that throughout his service, the IDF was “always considering dignity, respect and safety of Palestinian civilians.” Even if some of the claims of BtS have grains of truth behind them, they are clearly anomalous. With the exception of a paltry 950 people, most Israeli soldiers are like Shtern: They served with honor and strived to treat all people with utmost respect.
The IDF has strict ethical standards and strives to at all times ensure soldiers meet them. Given the intense scrutiny Israel faces both internationally and domestically, the IDF, to the best of its ability, strives not only to protect Israeli civilians but also to treat all human beings with dignity. Immediately after the typhoon in the Philippines, an IDF humanitarian mission was first on the ground to treat Filipino civilians. IDF training focuses not only on the physical and strategic aspects of being a soldier but also educates soldiers on the ethical code of the IDF. In fact, so great is the IDF’s commitment to being an ethical army that it requires all soldiers carry with them a copy of the military’s code of ethics. Furthermore, the IDF has a strict requirement that all all suspected ethical violations must immediately be reported to a superior officer. In other words, the entire architecture and mission of the IDF is designed to conform to the strictest ethical standards.
Herein lies the truth behind BtS: It is not the noble pressure group it claims to be. Shaul himself acknowledged that the IDF is not the problem and claimed that his goal was not to reform the IDF. BtS does not advocate draft refusal and has spoken, at the request of the IDF, at various official IDF events in the past. Yet Shaul also stated that the organization does not advocate for a political solution to the ongoing conflict.
Why then, does BtS exist at all? The answer may lie in the organization’s budget. BtS receives its funding largely from foreign governments (such as those of Spain and the Netherlands), church organizations in Europe and a pro-Palestinian nongovernmental organization called NDC. All of these groups seek to delegitimize Israel politically, especially NDC, which has supported the dangerously prejudicial Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. Although Shaul claims to oppose anti-Israel groups, he seems content to take their money and allow them to use his organization as a platform to promote their views.
The undisputed truth is that the IDF’s tactics of prevention in the Palestinian territories have saved innocent lives. Israeli soldiers, such as Shtern, come into the  army at the age of 18, the same age many UC Berkeley students first come here. While UC Berkeley students are studying and socializing, young Israelis are working to defend their nation and protect people from terrorists and murderers. It is a serious discredit to these brave young men and women that BtS publishes their anonymous and one-sided accounts and uses them to characterize the entire IDF. Although there are serious issues in the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict that deserve careful debate, the borderline-libelous words of BtS will serve only to harm the level of discourse.
Elijah Z. Granet is a freshman at UC Berkeley.


BACKGROUND:Obama, Iran, Israel, and the Jewish “Appetite for Blood” Posted by Shmuel Rosner   {appreciation is expressed to the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles
For a writer, and a writer's ego, admitting defeat isn't always easy. Yet I must say that Lee Smith made more impression writing this week about American Jews and Iran than I did writing about the same topic. Two days ago I explained that "the clash over Iran might be the toughest gap ever to face these two communities of Jews". And I still think it was an important thing to recognize, both for American Jewish supporters of Israel, but also, just as importantly, for Israeli policy makers who have to carefully utilize this support.
Smith's angle is different and much more controversial (and some would say: preposterously partisan). I'm not sure if I agree with everything he says, but he makes a very powerful case in an article that is at times not easy to read. In short, he identifies the intricate ways in which the Obama administration is trying to separate Israel from its American Jewish supporters. If you buy his theory, and there's a slim chance that all readers will buy it, the Obama administration is running a campaign to weaken Jewish pro-Israel influence in Washington.
In other words: Smith portends to expose the intentional attempt, and the scare tactics, with which the administration is making it uneasy for Jewish Americans to oppose the Iran agreement - while I merely predict that Obama's effort will bear fruit (namely, that a majority of American Jews will ultimately support the President's Iran-policy).
If you have to read just one of these two articles, read Smith. You are likely to get uneasy or annoyed by it – especially so if you're an avid Jewish Obama supporter – but some measure of article-prompted annoyance is good for your health:
American officials apparently feel that trafficking in stereotypes about Jewish deceptiveness and appetite for blood is fair play because of the size of the stakes involved—peace and a historical reconciliation with Iran, which has been one of the collective dreams of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment for 34 years. In part, the White House’s confrontation with the pro-Israel community is clearly intentional, and another part is simply structural, the result of a larger, more comprehensive effort to downsize American power generally by withdrawing from the Middle East.

 Lee Smith|November 20, 2013 

In Washington, the president and his allies are using the nuclear issue to drive a wedge between Israel and its U.S. interlocutors

The Obama Administration thinks it’s close to signing a deal [1] with Iran—one that will only defer, not prevent, the theocracy from reaching nuclear capacity—later this week in Geneva. While Benjamin Netanyahu has been busy denouncing the proposed deal on the Sunday morning talk shows [2], the administration and its allies have outflanked both the Israeli prime minister and America’s pro-Israel lobby with a very nasty public campaign of its own—one that shows where the White House’s true appetite for confrontation and conflict lies.
During a Senate briefing last week, Sec. of State John Kerry effectively called the Israelis liars [3]: After Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk observed that Jerusalem had produced intelligence explaining that the proposed U.S.-Iran deal would set Tehran’s march toward a bomb back by only 24 days, Kerry advised him to “disbelieve everything that the Israelis had just told [us].”
Not only has the White House defined Israeli concerns as manipulative and deceptive, but they have also gone a step further, by identifying the threat to global peace as Israel’s temerity in voicing such concerns, rather than Iran’s decadelong push for a bomb. AIPAC’s push for another round of sanctions, administration officials say [4], will limit President Barack Obama’s diplomatic flexibility with the Iranians and set the United States on “a march to war.” Further congressional pressure on the Iranians, the New York Times says [5], is “urged on by Netanyahu.”
In other words, from the point of view of the administration and its surrogates in the press, if you believe sanctions—rather than good will—is what got Iran to the table in the first place and further sanctions are likely to produce a better deal than relieving pressure on Iran, then you’re a warmonger. If you believe that sanctions should not be lifted until Iran complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions and ceases all activity on its nuclear weapons program, then you’re with Netanyahu and the rest of those Israeli liars. Al-Monitor’s [6] Laura Rozen tweeted [7] that Mark Dubowitz, an official at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has been instrumental in building support for the Iran sanctions regime in Congress, was taking his “talking points” from Israel. If you’re not 100 percent behind Obama, you just want to send American boys off to die for Jewish causes.
American officials apparently feel that trafficking in stereotypes about Jewish deceptiveness and appetite for blood is fair play because of the size of the stakes involved—peace and a historical reconciliation with Iran, which has been one of the collective dreams of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment for 34 years. In part, the White House’s confrontation with the pro-Israel community is clearly intentional, and another part is simply structural, the result of a larger, more comprehensive effort to downsize American power generally by withdrawing from the Middle East. Either way, it’s crunch time, and both the government of Israel and AIPAC have taken the rather unusual step of taking their differences with a U.S. president to the American public. One thing is clear: Whether or not the Iranians are courteous enough to wait for Obama to leave office before announcing they have a bomb, Obama’s legacy will be to have broken the spine of America’s pro-Israel lobby.
In a sense, the struggle between the pro-Israel community and the White House isn’t really about Israel. Whether or not AIPAC’s sanctions campaign succeeds—which is to say, whether or not it gets sufficient bipartisan support from Democrats reluctant to rebel against a commander in chief in the midst of a crisis moment of his presidency prompted by the introduction of the Affordable Care Act—and whether or not some combination of AIPAC, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel manage to stop the Obama Administration from signing a bad deal with the Iranians in Geneva, Israel will be OK. Insofar as Jerusalem is coming to understand, along with the rest of America’s traditional regional allies, that Obama is leading the United States out of the Middle East, Israel, as analyst Martin Kramer, president [8] of Shalem College, recently wrote [9], “must be agile enough to survive a power outage of any ally, and to plug in elsewhere,” and will—in Russia, or China, or somewhere else.
The situation is very different for America’s pro-Israel community, whose power is a function of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Because Israel is a real country in a strategically vital area of the world and not simply an ethnic community like American Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, or Arab-Americans, Israel’s American interlocutors wield real power. Indeed, Israel’s current de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia, home to the world’s largest known reserves of oil, makes Israel even more significant as a possible guarantor of Saudi security. But the power of American Jews doesn’t rest on their control of oilfields, advanced fighter planes, and other traditional sources of geopolitical power. It rests [10] on their connection to Israel and Israel’s connection to them.
In retrospect, it’s clear that the administration saw J Street not as an alternative to AIPAC or even, in the words [11] of J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, as Obama’s “blocking back” on Capitol Hill to push the now-moribund peace process. From the White House’s perspective, it was simply a test pilot, whose job was to push the domestic political limits of the administration’s Middle East policy. OK, it wasn’t a good idea to force the peace process as hard as J Street had argued. However, battering the Israelis over settlements showed there was no problem in shaming Israel publicly—especially when the country was led by a right-wing prime minister, a spectacle that some in the U.S. pro-Israel community actually relished.
It wasn’t until his second term, with his eyes on the prize of historical reconciliation with Iran, that Obama really zeroed in on the pro-Israel community. Appointing Chuck Hagel, who’d made animus [13] toward Israel’s supporters in Washington into a defining source of personal and political pride, as secretary of defense, was a way to move the yardsticks far downfield and pin [14] AIPAC with its back to the goal line. Sure, the next few yards, getting a deal with Iran, would be a real pile-up, but it was doable.
Next, the White House got AIPAC to support [15] the president’s decision to wage a short and limited campaign of air strikes against Bashar al-Assad to enforce Obama’s red line regarding the Syrian dictator’s use of chemical weapons. This not only exposed the organization to the typical anti-Semitic charges—Jewish war-mongering on behalf of Israel—but it did much worse, in helping to paint AIPAC as an over-eager lackey that jumped to do the White House’s bidding on an issue that arguably had nothing to do either way with Israel’s national interest or the concerns of its supporters. When Obama backed off the strikes and signed on to the Russian initiative to rid Assad of his unconventional arsenal, AIPAC was hung out to dry. To further rub their faces in it, the administration sent Vice President Joe Biden to deliver the keynote address at J Street, which had declined to support the president’s plan to strike Syria.
AIPAC has fought back and continues to do so. When the White House tried to sideline the pro-Israel community and Abe Foxman announced [16] that Jewish organizations would take a “time out” in the Iran sanctions campaign, AIPAC immediately responded [17] that there would be “no pause, delay or moratorium” in the outfit’s lobbying for more and stronger Iran sanctions. Even with the administration on the verge of a deal, AIPAC keeps pushing for further sanctions. However, the problem is that AIPAC has already been shown unable to shape policy from inside Obama’s White House, or to gather enough bipartisan support from within the president’s party to oppose it strongly enough on Capitol Hill.
AIPAC’s failure to project strong, clear opinions on some controversial issues—including the Hagel nomination—has contributed to the weakening of its influence. Yet to make the problem simply one of poor decision-making and leadership by AIPAC is to draw too narrow a circle around a much larger decline in influence, which includes everyone sitting at the pro-Israel family table. The United States is getting out of the Middle East, which means that Israeli interests—just like Saudi Arabian interests, or Egyptian interests, or Iraqi interests, or Palestinian interests—will simply not be as important to American policymakers anymore.
Israel will be fine on its own—even if some of the decisions it might make, like absorbing the West Bank, or refusing to recognize the legitimacy of American Jewish marriages, or cozying up to dictators like Vladimir Putin—will leave American Jews feeling alienated and bereft. The first and most noticeable impact will be on the institutions and all of the personages who have served as mediators and interlocutors on behalf of the relationship between Israel and the United States government. Someone else will fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the Middle East, and that means that Israel’s significant foreign interlocutors—the ones who will get red-carpet treatment in Jerusalem and key interviews with sitting prime ministers—will no longer be found in the United States but elsewhere. Russian rabbis, like Berel Lazar, or French MPs, like Meyer Habib, will play the role that John Hagee or Chuck Schumer once did because of their access to key decision-makers in Moscow and Paris.
But the crucial point is that it’s not just the bigwigs in the U.S. pro-Israel community who will feel their significance to be radically diminished as the United States withdraws from the Middle East. Sure, they’ll feel the sting most acutely—at first. But in time, every American will come to feel the diminishment of American power that comes from forsaking a 60-year-old American patrimony, with the control over global resources and the geopolitical influence—and the opportunity to promote American values—it once made possible.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Letter to U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, Regarding Jonathan Pollard

Dear Ambassador Shapiro,
Jonathan Pollard began his 29th year in prison this week for his activities on behalf of Israel, a staunch ally of the United States. The usual sentence for this offense is two to four years.
Mr. Ambassador, you were recently asked, at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, held this year in Jerusalem, about presidential clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Your response?
  1. “Unusual circumstances are required for President Obama to get involved in the matter … There is no reason to expect that the [Pollard] matter will be handled differently.”
Unusual circumstances?

The president, prime minister and Knesset of an allied nation, Israel, ask the president of the United States to release their citizen, after Israel’s public apology — and that’s not unusual?
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, who was the sitting secretary at the time of Pollard’s arrest, says it’s time to release Pollard — and that’s not unusual?
Former directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA and Department of Justice, who have all seen the Pollard file, say it’s time to release Pollard — and that’s not unusual?
Dennis Ross, Special Envoy to the Middle East for President Clinton, writes in his memoirs that even though he believes that Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence is disproportionate and that Pollard deserves to go free, unconditionally, he still strongly advised the president not to free him. Why? Because Pollard is far too valuable as a bargaining chip with Israel to be released as a matter of simple justice. And that’s not unusual?

Mr. Ambassador, a recent editorial in the Jerusalem Post stated:
“Pollard long ago used up all of his legal remedies pursuing justice, but the American justice system failed to provide any relief. This is incomprehensible, since the conduct of the case blatantly violated every concept of justice that America holds dear.
“This includes:
“A grossly disproportionate sentence,
“A broken plea agreement,
“The use of secret evidence,
“A false charge of treason,
“Ineffective assistance of counsel,
“Ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge,
“A lack of due process,
“A sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies.”
Any one of these reasons would be sufficient grounds for presidential intervention; how much more so when there are eight! And that’s not unusual?
Recent revelations inform that the American National Security Agency has been spying on its Western Allies, including Israel, for years; while Israel’s spy remains in prison for almost three decades for spying in the United States on behalf of Israel, a friendly country — and that’s not unusual?
Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey, speaking at a security conference in New York this month, when asked about Pollard, and when asked what he would tell President Obama, responded that he would tell the president to forget that Pollard is a Jew and just release him — and that’s not unusual?
Mr. Ambassador, this entire situation is unusual!
I, too, was in Israel for the General Assembly.
After your comments, Yuli Edelstein, former Russian refusenik and current Speaker of the Knesset, opened the session of Knesset with a public request for his release.
Nir Barkat, the recently re-elected mayor of Jerusalem, welcomed the delegates of the General Assembly to Jerusalem, and commented, “There is one special person missing from this event, Jerusalem’s honorary citizen, Jonathan Pollard. We want him home, in Jerusalem, very soon.”
Natan Sharansky, former Russian refusenik, former Israel MK and Israel Government Minister, and current chairman of the Jewish Agency, speaking at the closing ceremony of the General Assembly, said 29 years is far too long; Pollard must be released; this gross injustice must end.
Mr. Ambassador, the entire Pollard case is unusual and, as such, requires that President Obama respond. Pollard’s petition for executive clemency has been sitting on the president’s desk since October 2010. All it requires is the president’s signature. It’s time!
This article appeared in print on page 45 of the November 20th, 2013 edition of Hamodia.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel and Co-Chairman of American Friends of the International Young Israel Movement, Israel Region, has been active in Jewish communal service for over 30 years. He can be reached at