Monday, September 28, 2015

Israel’s memorial to 9/11.

 Israel’s memorial to 9/11.

It is called the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza.


Image Credit: Creative Commons
Completed in 2009 for $2 million, it sits on 5 acres of hillside, 20 miles from the center of Jerusalem.


Image Credit: Screen Shot
The memorial is a 30-foot, bronze American flag.

That forms the shape of a flame to commemorate the flames of the Twin Towers.


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The base of the monument is made of melted steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.


Image Credit: Creative Commons
And includes this engraving in Hebrew and English.


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“This metal remnant was taken from the remains of the Twin Towers, that imploded on September 11th disaster. It was sent over to Israel by the City of New York to be incorporated in this memorial. This metal piece, like the entire monument, is a manifestation of the special relationship between New York and Jerusalem.”


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Surrounding the monument are plaques with the names of the victims of 9/11.


Image Credit: Creative Commons
It is the only memorial outside the U.S. that includes the names of all who perished in the terrorist attacks.


Image Credit: Creative Commons
Including 5 Israeli citizens.


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The site solemnly overlooks Jerusalem’s largest cemetery, Har HaMenuchot.
Image Credit: Creative Commons
The monument is often used for memorial and commemoration services.


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A powerful memorial from a powerful ally.




By Ofra Bengio  THE TABLET  September 24, 2015

The enlightened-benighted paradoxes of the Shia state have deep roots, and relations with Jews are at a historical nadir

In August 2015, shortly after the SIGNING OFarrow-10x10.png the nuclear deal with Iran, the supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a book of 416 pages under the title Palestine. The book carries one central message: the urge to annihilate the state of Israel and establish the state of Palestine in its stead. According to Amir Taheri, who got hold of the book early, the three key words are: “nabudi,” which means “annihilation,” “imha,” which means “wiping,” and “zaval,” meaning “effacement.”
Khamenei claims that his strategy for the destruction of Israel is based on “well-established Islamic principles” one of which is that a land that falls under Muslim rule can never again be ceded to non-Muslims. He provides various reasons why Israel, which he terms “adou” and “doshman” (enemy), should be destroyed. First because it is the loyal ally of “the American Great Satan,” second because it has waged wars against Muslims on various occasions, and finally because it occupies the third holiest city to Islam: Jerusalem.
In what has become standard language in the anti-Semitic jargon, Khamenei describes Israel as “a cancerous tumor” whose elimination would mean that “the West’s hegemony and threats will be discredited” in the Middle East. In its place, he boasts, “the hegemony of Iran will be promoted.” The message is hardly a subtle one.
The timing of the publication was no coincidence. It was meant to celebrate Iran’s victory over the “Great Satan,” the United States, and more specifically the “Little Satan,” Israel, which had worked assiduously to forestall the nuclear deal. To propagate his message all over the world, he then prophesized that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years.
Seen in retrospect, the publication of Khamenei’s book marks the nadir in the history of Iranian-Jewish/Israeli relations, which have extended for the last two and a half millennia, witnessing ups and downs in different periods and under different regimes. At times paradoxical ties existed even under the same regime, including under the Islamic Republic itself. While this history suggests plenty of room for improvement from the current low, the recurrence and the strengthening of the dream of Israel’s destruction leaves little hope as long as the clerical regime holds sway.
A quick look at the turbulent history of Iran’s relationship with the Jews and their national life would show that on the one hand it was Iranian rulers, Cyrus the Great and Darius, who had respectively ordered the building of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem and brought it to completion in 516 BCE. On the other hand, the current Iranian regime has vowed to destroy the so-called “third temple” and annihilate the Zionists, the Jews of Israel. This is the same Iran which as early as 1950 recognized the newborn state of Israel, albeit de facto, and built strategic relations with it that endured for 30 years. Yet when the Islamic Republic headed by Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979, it turned Israel into Iran’s official nemesis—while buying arms from Israel during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988). At the same time, it also established Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982 in order to fight Israel. So what is the explanation for these paradoxes?
The ebb and flow in the relations reflect rulers’ specific tendencies, ideological and political perceptions, as well as regional configurations. Cyrus the Great, for example, was motivated by his tolerance for different religious groups as well as his enmity for Babylon, which had caused the destruction of the first temple. The opposite was true of the Shia Safavid regime, which came to power one millennium later and which was motivated by Shia religious zeal. Thus the establishment of Shi’ism as the religion of the state in Iran at the beginning of the 16th century was crucial for the standing of the Jews who had lived in those lands one millennium before the advent of Islam. Among all Muslim sects the treatment of Jews was the worst under Shia rule, especially in Iran, the only place where Shi’ism has been the religion of the state since the 16th century and where Shias came to represent 93 percent of the population. In Shia Iran the Jews were persecuted and had to wear a special badge on their clothing to distinguish them from the Muslims. There were also occasions of massacre of Jews or forcible conversion to Islam. One of the most famous cases was the pogrom against Jews of Meshed in 1839, which was followed by forced conversion of the entire community.
What is the explanation for this Shia stance? The Jews are considered by the Shia to be ritually impure (nijs), and any part of their body such as blood or sweat may cause ritual impurity to Shia Muslims. For example, the Jews were not allowed to go out when it was raining or snowing so that their shoes would not leave impure remnants on the ground. Uri Lubrani, the last head of Israeli diplomatic missions in Iran (ambassador from 1973-1978), noted how his Iranian counterparts would take all necessary precautions not to get in touch with such impurity.
The anti-Jewish attitude inherent in Shia beliefs and practices received a boost during World War II. ACCORDINGarrow-10x10.png to the German scholar Matthias Kuntzel, who recently published a book titled Germany and Iran: From Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold, between 1939 and 1945 the Nazi’s anti-Semitism was exported via a daily Persian-language broadcast from Berlin to Iran. This broadcast was popular and its main radio speaker, Bahram Sharokh, was a celebrity during those years. The Nazis based their anti-Semitic incitement in Persian language on Islamic roots. Ruhollah Khomeini was, according to Amir Taheri, a regular and ardent listener of “Radio Berlin.” According to Kuntzel, Hitler was celebrated by Shia clerics as the Twelfth Imam. Furthermore in Kuntzel’s view the special relationship that has existed for 35 years between Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran is critical to understanding the ongoing controversy over Iran’s nuclear program.
From an Israeli perspective, the period between 1953 and 1978 may be considered as the golden era in Iranian-Israeli relations. The Shia clergy’s clout was diminished and relations with the Jewish state flourished. In this respect it should be observed that whenever the clergy has the upper hand the situation of the Jews or relations between the two states has taken a negative turn.
Even though Israel was tied with both Iran and Turkey in the famous secret peripheral alliance of the 1950s and ’60s, the Jewish state’s relations with Iran under the Shah were on the whole deeper and much more extensive than those with Turkey.  Five Israeli heads of state came on undisclosed visits to Iran, the first being Ben Gurion in 1961. Israel bought oil from Iran and in exchange it sold weapons. It also exported agrarian know-how. Intelligence was also an important sphere of cooperation between the two states. The regional and international geopolitical framework that kept relations moving was the common threat perceptions from the USSR and communism on the one hand and the radical Arab states, most importantly Egypt and Iraq, on the other.
Reflecting the strong ties between Iran and Israel, the situation of the Iranian Jews was at its zenith in that period. The Jews, who numbered at the time around 80,000, were an important part of the intelligentsia as well the country’s economic and business activities. But even in that honeymoon period Jews were still looked at as inferior and impure. There were also occasional cases of harassment, such as for example in the aftermath of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
The intimate relationship between Israel and the Shah regime changed abruptly with the establishment of the Islamic republic in 1979. The change is made up of several layers: the religious, ideological, political, and strategic. The first and deepest layer is the religious one, which has fed the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli stances of the Islamic Republic. Since the religious clergy got the upper hand in 1979, the situation of the Jews deteriorated significantly so that the greatest number of them had to leave the country. ACCORDINGarrow-10x10.png to the 2012 Iranian census less than 9,000 Jews were left in Iran at that time.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, those Jews who remained in Iran had to practice taqiyya (dissimulation) and to echo the regime’s hate speech toward Israel and Zionism. On one occasion Iranian News Agency quoted the Jewish community expressing its “sympathy with the oppressed Palestinian people” and condemning “the Zionist regime’s” “atrocities” against them.
Iran sought to disguise its anti-Semitic tendencies, claiming that it is merely opposed to Zionism. However, its consistent and strong denial of the Holocaust speaks volumes of its true tendencies. Still, paradoxically enough, while Muslim Sunnis are not allowed to have one single mosque in Tehran, the Jews have several synagogues. Another paradox is that Iran is a unique case among Muslim countries of the Middle East in that it has a Jewish member in the majlis, the Iranian parliament: Siamak Moreh Sedgh, who became a member in 2007, and who stated on the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel that the Jewish community enjoys comfortable living conditions in Iran. Moreh Sedgh further condemned “Israel’s atrocious tactics in Gaza.” President Rouhani’s invitation to Moreh Sedgh to escort him to the United Nations in September 2013 is part of this cynical policy.
In addition to being the state of the Jews (a state without legitimacy in the Shia clergy’s world view), Israel had also committed the original sin of cooperating with the hated regime of the Shah. Its association with the West in general and the United States in particular added another layer to the Islamic Republic’s hostility toward Israel. Targeting Israel has also had a political-practical value to it, namely challenging Arab Sunni countries by portraying Iran as the champion of the Palestinian cause—the Quds (Jerusalem) Day inaugurated by Khomeini immediately after the establishment of the Islamic Republic is a case in point. Clerical Iran took up the role of the most radical secular Arab states, which had formerly used all their propaganda tools to propagate the dream of annihilating Israel.
Another aim of anti-Israeli rhetoric is to distract from problems at HOMEarrow-10x10.png. It is interesting to note that Iran’s radicalization against Israel intensified in the aftermath of the Iraq-Iran war, which ended in 1988, a moment when the leadership needed to find a new enemy for mobilizing Iranian society.
While the upheavals in the region and the paradigmatic changes in the international arena such as the end of the Cold War have moved Arab states to change their perception of Israel as their main enemy, Iran escalated its attacks. Echoing Khamenei’s blatant call for the destruction of Israel, an Iranian media outlet stated recently: “We will witness the destruction and fall of the Zionist regime in the near future.”
No less dangerous for Israel is the proxy war that Iran is conducting against it on various fronts, the most conspicuous of which is that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Another Iranian war by proxy is that leveled against Israel by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. As Khamenei boasts in his book: “We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip.” One should also add the terrorist attacks masterminded by Iran against Jews or Israelis worldwide, such as those in Argentina in 1994 or Bulgaria in 2012. The common denominator of all these wars is that they target Israel’s soft underbelly—its civilian population.
The most disturbing recent development from Israel’s point of view was that the nuclear deal delivered Syria to Iran on a silver platter. True, the involvement of Iran in Syria was of long standing beginning from the early 1980s. However, the combination of a collapsing Syrian state and the legitimacy Iran gained thanks to the deal have emboldened Tehran to send some thousand troops in direct support of the Assad regime. This Iranian precedent might very easily turn into a permanent forward base from which to target Israel directly on the battlefield. The American strategy of using Iran as a balance to the Islamic State has therefore boosted Tehran’s ambition of becoming the hegemonic power, not just in the Gulf but throughout the Middle East, while encircling Israel and embattling it on various fronts.
And while the government of the Shah nourished the peripheral alliance with Israel, the clerical regime is nourishing new dreams of its destruction. The unsavory conclusion, then, is that as long as the clergy rules Iran, the prospects for it accepting the legitimacy of Israel are dim.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Uzi Silber Jan 01, 2009

Flus are contagious and incurable, but containable; the ancient and resilient virus known as Jew Flu is no different.

The 1930s Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked "Is there another People on Earth so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape, robbery committed by their enemies fill their hearts with admiration and awe?"
This is Jew Flu - the virus of Jewish Anti-Semitism, and its Jewish Anti- and Post-Zionist mutations, afflicting a small but inordinately loud minority of Hebrews.
Its modern symptoms are a rejection of Israel's identity as a Jewish state and a dismissal of its right to defend itself militarily, while embracing the goals of its nihilistic Arab enemies. Those infected with the virus wildly inflate Israeli sins real or imagined, while excusing or rationalizing Palestinian anti-semitism and outrages against Jews.
Those afflicted with Jew Flu often view the notion of Peoplehood as an artifice, which implies a rejection of Jewish national self-determination and acceptance of the 90-year-old Palestinian Arab contention that Jews are not a nation but merely members of a religion, and as such don?t merit a national HOME of their own.
Is Jew Flu a bona-fide illness? Michael Welner, a psychiatrist at New York University, SUGGESTS that Jewish Anti-Semitism is akin to a personality disorder, enabling a person to "derive some psychological benefit from this pathological thinking."
What causes Jew Flu? Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin argues for twin culprits: so-called 'Stockholm Syndrome', where "population segments under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of their besiegers however bigoted and outrageous", as well as "the psychodynamics of abused children who blame themselves for their situation and believe they could mollify their tormenters if they were 'good'."
Julie Ancis, a psychology professor at Georgia State University says that it isn't "uncommon for a minority group with a history of oppression and persecution to possess internalized self-hatred regarding their cultural/religious identity."
I'm no therapist, but that won't restrain me from proposing my own theory for the ultimate cause of Jew Flu. More on that later.
Since the defamations of Jew Flu victims are propagated across THE INTERNET and are extensively documented and challenged in many fine books and articles, repeating them here would be redundant.
Suffice it to say that Noam Chomsky, Daniel Boyarin, Joel Kovel, Avrum Burg, Ilan Pappe, Steve Quester, Jacqueline Rose, Tony Judt, Naomi Klein, Michael Neumann, Ben Ehrenreich, (the apparently "outed") Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and their ilk, spout pronouncements eerily similar to the propaganda routinely ejaculated by representatives of Fatah, Hamas or Hezbollah.
At the same time, a hearty "shout out" is due those who have made it their business to forcefully rebut the Jewish defamers, including Andrea Levin, Edward Alexander, Alan Dershowitz, David Solway and others. Those interested in a quick and free primer on Jew Flu should DOWNLOAD Alvin Rosenfeld's UJA-sponsored brief, "Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism".
Jew Flu, of course, isn't new: It has lurked in our midst for millennia. Jews collaborated with Greeks, Romans and Inquisitors; Bolshevik self loathers displayed savagery towards their brethren; their prophet Karl Marx was described by author Rafael Patai as the "most influential of Jewish self haters", who thought "Israelite faith" most repugnant, and whose rabid anti-Semitism was attributed by the historian Simon Dubnow to "the natural hatred of the renegade for the camp he deserted."
Incredibly, certain young Jews in Weimar Germany, members of a certain Association of National-German Jews were sufficiently maddened by Jew Flu to attempt to "identify and ingratiate (themselves) with the Nazi Party".
Jew Flu developed its anti-Zionist strain in the decades preceding the creation of Israel: renowned philosopher Martin Buber of Hebrew UNIVERSITY AND others actually justified the Palestinian Arab pogroms of 1921, 1929 and the late 30s, urging that desperate Jewish holocaust refugees be permitted to ENTER Palestine only with Arab permission.
In 1944, and with the destruction of European Jewry proceeding apace, Lessing Rosenwald, the President of the American Council for Judaism equated the ideal of Jewish Statehood with the concept of a racial state "the Hitlerian concept".
Following remission during the post-Holocaust years, Jewry experienced a relapse of Jew Flu in the aftermath of the '67 Six Day War. In the U.S., young Jewish radicals of the New Left branded Israel a fascist, colonial power while praising Arab countries as progressive and revolutionary - unsurprising since many were Soviet client states.
They remained largely silent as Soviet tanks crushed the 1968 Prague Spring - presumably a 'progressive' development.
New Left sentiments found expression in Israel even during the aftermath of the traumatic Yom Kippur War; at a Tel Aviv reception in late 1973, my mother found herself amid a chatty crowd of cocktailing cultural figures casually dismissive of their own country's right to EXIST.
The infection among Israel's cultural elites intensified through the Lebanon War and the two Intifadas that sandwiched the delusional Oslo era. As author Aharon Meged lamented in 1994, there existed "an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel's intelligentsia, and its print and ELECTRONIC media, with people committed to our annihilation."
Epitomizing this "moral identification" were the certain prominent Jewish journalists who, ACCORDING to Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, crucially failed the so-called 'lynch test', by exhibiting an inability to ever criticize Palestinian terror, even following the widely televised gruesome execution of two Jews by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah In 2000.
It was at this time that Jew Flu claimed a childhood friend of mine. We'd come of age together in the early '80s, like-minded Zionists, he more "Kahanish" in temperament. Immigrating to Israel the day after graduation, he'd serve in theIDF, settle in Jerusalem, marry, spawn a brood, and settle into the life of an Israeli academic, where anti Zionist stances are common and open identification as an Israeli patriot is tantamount to career suicide.
Infection struck during the Oslo years: before the millennium was out, the youthful Kahanist yeshiva boy had morphed into a militant Jewish Anti Zionist, mindlessly spouting hackneyed and malicious anti-Israel canards on leftwing and Arab websites, and regularly consorting with a posse of Arab academics in Ramallah.
This episode recalled a scene from "Radio Days", the Woody Allen movie in which an uncle fasting on Yom Kippur indignantly watches the Jewish communists next door brazenly barbecuing. In Holiday suit he marches out the front door to scold the Reds on their evil ways, only to return shortly after chewing on a chicken drumstick, indignantly decrying religion as the opiate of the masses.
Those like my friend afflicted with Jew Flu DENY their infection, contending that criticism of Israel isn't Anti-Semitism or even Anti-Israel.
Helpfully, Natan Sharansky formulated his so-called 3D litmus test to clearly distinguish mere Israel critics from Jew Flu victims, and has allowed me to diagnose my old friend.
As it turns out, the afflicted regularly engage in at least one of the following -Demonization (comparing Israeli actions to Nazism and referring to Arab refugee camps as Auschwitz);- Double Standards SINGLING out Israel for human rights abuses while ignoring the blatant human rights violators such as Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, North Korea, Cuba, China, Myanmar etc); and Delegitimization (denying Israel the fundamental right to exist as a Jewish state)
During March 2002, Jihadist suicide murderers were exploding on Israeli buses every other day, massacring and maiming hundreds of Jews in a cascade of latter-day pogroms; savage images of Haim Nahman Bialik's monumental poem, "City of Slaughter" blazed across the broken land.
125 Jews were massacred and hundreds were wounded by Palestinian suicide murderers that month. Yet unsurprisingly my stricken friend declined comment.
My friend seems to amuse his Arab colleagues: Appearing at a conference some years ago at Cairo's American University, an Egyptian fellow panelist quipped to the audience that our mutual friend was "more pro-Palestinian than me - I am more pro-Israel than him."
Incidentally, this college has since instituted a ban on Israeli academics.
At this point allow me to complicate things: It's easy to assume that those struck with Jew Flu would be contemptuous of Jewish religious observance. They often hold Marxist views, which would imply an atheist outlook.
Yet what one should one make of my friend who performs Kiddush on Friday nights, fasts on Yom Kippur and uses two sets of DISHES in his kosher kitchen? Would such Jewish customs be performed by an anti-Semite?
Knesset speaker Avrum Burg is a lifelong modern orthodox Jew, a skull capped davener whose Jew Flu was latent for years but burst out into the open when he took to smearing Israel in Nazi-like browns.
Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin are pleasant, prominent and yarmulked professors of Jewish history who don tefilin daily, daven on Shabbat and holidays and are easily mistaken in appearance for West Bank settlers.
Yet Daniel is comfortable vilifying Israel regularly as a violent outlaw state. And Jonathan admitted to me some years ago during an especially sweaty Simchat Torah "hakafa" on the Lower East Side that his views are identical if not even more radical than Daniel's (if that was possible.)
Actually, it is interesting that the views of such radical yet observant Jews resemble the tenets of Catholic Liberation Theology. But could such a trio be accused of outright anti-Semitism?
The Burgs and Boyarins of this world have long revered another devout Jew, the departed Yishayahu Leibowitz, a renowned scholar, recipient of the Israel PRIZE, and editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia, a Jerusalemite who habitually referred to drafted Israeli soldiers who happened to be defending his charmed way of life as "Judeo-Nazis".
Was Leibowitz an anti-Semite?
Submitting their pronouncements to the Sharansky test demonstrates that even tefilin wearing, kosher food eating Kiddush reciters can speak and write like anti-Semites.
But back to the elusive cause of Jew Flu: what makes one Jew vulnerable and not another? Wouldn't a far LARGERproportion of Jews fall prey to Jew Flu if, say, Stockholm syndrome was the culprit? Is there a prime mover, some physiological or neurological smoking gun pointing to a root cause?
There may be. David Brooks recently reported in the New York Times on research by a Haifa University team led by Reem Yahya who STUDIED THE BRAINS scans of Arabs and Jews while showing them images of hands and feet in painful situations.
Brooks reports that "the two cultures perceived pain differently. The Arabs perceived higher LEVELS of pain over all while the Jews were more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than their own."
This phenomenon was epitomized by Rosa Luxemburg, a prominent Bolshevik and Jew Flu victim. "I have no ROOM in my heart for Jewish suffering," declared Rosa the Red. "Why do you pester me with Jewish troubles? I feel closer to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations of Putumayo or the Negroes in Africa... I have no separate corner in my heart for the ghetto."
And then there's the modest story Ahmad the cabbie related to me last week as we drove through Eilat-like Palm Springs: Ahmad's brother in Nablus was employed for many years by an Israeli Jewish building contractor. When the outbreak of Intifada in 2000 permanently barred Ahmad's brother from work in Israel, his Jewish boss CONTINUED to pay the brother's salary for five years.
The intriguing research out of Haifa SUGGESTS that Jews may very well be inherently altruistic. But while exhibiting more sensitivity to another group's pain is one thing, embracing the goals of people openly committed to one's destruction is a form of madness.
So here's my ultimate theory for the cause of this nefarious virus: Jew Flu is a condition in which being "more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than (one's) own metastasizes into a malignant emotional and moral identification with people committed to (one's) annihilation."
Like any other virus, Jew Flu is contagious but containable. Yet ultimately incurable.

Uzi Silber
Haaretz Contributor
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Next Steps After the Iran Deal
What Next?
By Michael Makovsky   9-25-15


It's been two weeks since a majority of Congress sought to register its disapproval of the Iran deal but fell short of the votes necessary to break a filibuster or override a presidential veto, and most politicians and commentators have moved on.

It's understandable to want a mental break after a long and hard-fought struggle. But the world hasn't taken a break. The consequences of the deal are already reverberating.

On Monday, September 21, Iran self-inspected a key suspect nuclear weapons site without international inspectors present. "This deal is not built on trust," President Obama had told us. "It is built on verification." But apparently we trust Iran to carry out that verification. That same day, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a two-and-a-half-hour emergency meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin (followed by a meeting of Russian and Israeli military chiefs) to discuss Russia's military presence in Syria.

The front page of the Wall Street Journal on September 22 captured the new Middle East, with a picture of Netanyahu meeting Putin at the top, and below it the headline "Russia, Iran Team Up in Syria." Putin is depicted as the central player with whom sworn enemies Iran and Israel have to deal. And where is the United States? At best, watching from behind. At worst, making life more difficult for our friends and allies. We've become like William Macy in the 2003 movie The Cooler, whose very presence and proximity turns people's luck bad.

Such is the strategic reality that has emerged from the Iran deal. It has put an exclamation point on a collapse of American leadership that had been building during the entire Obama administration (and the last part of the Bush administration, too). It signaled a decisive reversal of decades of American dominance of the Middle East. Following our feckless blunders in withdrawing from Iraq, drawing but not enforcing a red line in Syria, and declaring quasi-war but doing very little against the Islamic State, the Iran deal was the straw that broke the camel's back of American credibility in the region. It blessed the emergence, 15 years hence, of a nuclear-weapons-capable and ballistic-missile-armed Iran, enriched and empowered a vehemently anti-American and anti-Israeli, terrorist-supporting regime, and spurred nuclear proliferation in the region.

What is to be done? We can mitigate some of the deal's costs in the near term, walk away from it as soon as possible, and act to prevent rather than enable or try to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. These must be fundamental elements of any successful U.S. national security policy.

How does one begin?

First, don't obsess about sanctions. Recognize that eagerness to do something can get in the way of doing what is needed. Sanctions can be an important tool of foreign policy, but they are a limited tool. Lawmakers concerned about the threat of Iran's nuclear program naturally gravitated toward sanctions as one of the few areas where the legislative branch can lead and set foreign policy. But this also gave many members of Congress an easy but ultimately ineffective out. Sanctions did not succeed in pressuring the regime in Tehran to cease its nuclear program. Even as they damaged Iran's economy, the regime continued installing new centrifuges. Obama was right when he said, "Sanctions alone are not going to force Iran to completely dismantle all vestiges of its nuclear infrastructure." Sanctions are only one supporting element of a new policy against Iran.

Second, stick to what works. The sanctions fixation obscured a strategy that actually has an empirical record of reining in illicit nuclear programs: a credible military threat. Tehran suspended parts of its nuclear program in 2003-04, when the mullahs worried they'd be next after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war also led Muammar Qaddafi to destroy his nuclear program. More recently, in September 2012, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a red line at Iran acquiring a bomb's worth-about 155 kilograms-of 20 percent enriched uranium. At the time, Iran was already dangerously close to this threshold; but it never crossed it. Hearing and, more important, believing Netanyahu's implicit threat, Iran chose to keep its stockpile from exceeding Israel's red line.

Third, the next president-especially if he or she wisely walks away from the deal-must use this credible military option not only to prevent Iran from going nuclear but also to confront Iran more broadly in the region. We can never be safe, nor can we ever regain international credibility, if Iran develops nuclear bombs or runs free as a dominant regional power. Attaining the capability to prevent these things will require freeing the U.S. military from the shackles of sequestration and boosting its capacity in the Middle East and beyond.

We have compared this period to the late 1930s, when the West, tired of war, failed to confront the strategic challenge of Nazi Germany. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin fiddled as Europe began to burn. But even in Baldwin's last year in office British military spending increased significantly, and it rose further under Neville Chamberlain, a total of 83 percent between 1936 and 1939. At least Chamberlain recognized that Britain had to rearm, even while he pursued appeasement.

Obama, however, is slashing defense budgets. After five years of sequestration, the United States is on course to have the smallest Army since 1940 and the smallest Navy since 1930. As a group of retired high-ranking military leaders put it in a report commissioned by the Jewish Institute for Natioal Security Affairs: "Should the worst happen-should Iran threaten the security of our allies, should it decide, after 15 years, to sprint for a nuclear weapons capability-the U.S. armed forces will rise to challenge, but they will do so with less manpower, fewer capabilities, more antiquated platforms and a lower level of readiness than they have now or have had in a very long time." It is amazing-and appalling-that the United States will not have an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as the Iran deal goes into effect. The United States must also continue efforts to develop weapons to defend against Iranian aggression-particularly missile defense systems-as well as, if necessary, to degrade and destroy their nuclear infrastructure, whether through cyberattack or the 30,000-pound, bunker-busting, Fordow-penetrating Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP).

Fourth, boost the military capability of Israel and of our Arab allies, while ensuring Israel retains its qualitative military edge. The United States can help Israel acquire the tools to be more self-reliant both in its offensive and defensive capabilities. Congress has a big role to play here. Congress, with Obama's support, has supplied Israel with financial aid for its Iron Dome system, which worked well in the war with Hamas in Gaza last year, but which will not suffice in the face of Hezbollah's tens of thousands of rockets and missiles. The United States can significantly augment Israel's missile defense capabilities, as well as work with it to improve its anti-mortar capabilities. American offensive help to Israel can begin with offering Israel MOPs and the spare B-52s that can deliver them. B-52s could also help Israel in a war with Hezbollah, which would surely be part of any conflict it has with Iran. Serious thought must be given to how else best to boost Israel's defensive and offensive capabilities, and to do so in a manner dramatic enough to signal Iran, as well as others, that we will stand by Israel.

Britain required a new leader, Winston Churchill, in 1940 to finally address the Nazi cancer. The United States needs a new leader as well, a Republican with a firm understanding of America's role in the world and the steel to pursue our interests properly and relentlessly. Still, re-armament helped provide the tools when Britain regained its will. When we have an American leader willing to restore America's place in the world and actually prevent a nuclear Iran, that president too must have the tools-as must the Israelis-to do the job.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is the Iran Deal a Dud?
by Peter Huessy
September 24, 2015 

  • Two new studies have confirmed that this fear is justified. Iran will be able quickly to produce nuclear weapons fuel even under the terms of the JCPOA.
  • Iran can emerge in 15-20 years, or less, as a nuclear power with the potential, at a time of its choosing, "to make enough weapon-grade uranium for several nuclear weapons within a few weeks." – David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
  • If sanctions failed to do the job, and if Iran engaged in future illegal nuclear activity -- no matter how serious -- would the U.S. use military force? When the U.S. and its allies discovered that North Korea had illegally built a nuclear weapon and massively cheated on the agreed framework, did anyone use military force to stop its effort? No.
  • The likelihood is far greater that the U.S. will look the other way in order not to admit that the deal it agreed to is a dud.
  • Iran has already repeatedly attacked the United States, from the murder of 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983, to the attack on Khobar Towers; the murder of Americans over Lockerbie; the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya; the attack on the USS Cole; has been complicit in the attacks of September 11, 2001; is still holding four Americans hostages and, openly, is daily threatening America again.
Congressional supporters of the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) and the P5+1 partners, seem to see matters from the perspective of whether the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) and allied intelligence agencies will be able to detect future Iranian cheating.[1]
Possibly feeling confident that they will be able to, Congressional supporters may have concluded that the agreement will buy the United States and its allies sufficient time to re-impose sanctions to ensure future Iranian compliance with the deal.
Let us assume for argument's sake that the IAEA and allied intelligence services will, in fact, readily detect Iranian cheating on the new nuclear deal. This anti-cheating detection capability -- critically important as it is -- would largely entail determining that Iran was enriching more uranium than allowed or keeping such enriched material, contrary to the terms of the agreement.
However, is this self-assurance adequate to be sure we will not be facing a future Iranian nuclear capability? No.
Remember the supporters of the JCPOA told Congress in April and May that they would not agree to a bad nuclear deal but would walk away from the table and agree to no deal as an alternative? Whatever happened to that?
ACCORDINGarrow-10x10.pngto the President of the United States, in 12 years the breakout time will be near zero. Although the Secretary of Energy subsequently sought to clarify that breakout time could never be zero, the "nuclear beans," so to speak, were spilled.
The real issue, then, is what nuclear weapons capability Iran will have if or when its rulers decide to break out of the JCPOA agreement. In short, does the deal in the out-years put Iran in a better position than today to then break out and produce a small nuclear arsenal? Yes.
Two new studies have confirmed that this fear is justified. Iran will be able quickly to produce nuclear weapons fuel even under the terms of the JCPOA.
First, David Albright, the respected head of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), in a new assessment explains, "A critical criteria [sic] of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a twelve month breakout timeline for Iran's remaining gas centrifuge program."
However, he continues, "this 12 month criteria [sic] does not hold if Iran were to re-install the advanced IR-2m centrifuges during a breakout. Breakout timelines of seven months result if these centrifuges are re-installed."
Furthermore, says Albright, the JCPOA's most serious shortcoming is that it almost ensures that Iran can emerge in 15-20 years as a nuclear power with the potential, at a time of its choosing, "to make enough weapon-grade uranium for several nuclear weapons within a few weeks."
Second, ACCORDINGarrow-10x10.png to Greg Jones of Proliferation Matters, the Arak heavy water reactor will produce spent fuel that, according to the JCPOA, should be sent out of Iran "within one year from the unloading from the reactor or whenever deemed to be safe for transfer by the recipient country."[2]
"A reactor of this design," Jones explains, "will certainly generate weapons-grade plutonium as part of its operation."[3]
A reprocessing plant constructed surreptitiously at a military base could extract the plutonium from this spent fuel and be converted to a metal sphere required for a nuclear weapon in a week, in a facility the size of a "few glove boxes."
Once the plutonium sphere is completed, "it could be mated with the non-nuclear components in a matter of hours."

The Arak heavy water reactor, in Iran, is capable of producing plutonium. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

When the U.S. and its allies discovered that North Korea had illegally built a nuclear weapon and massively cheated on the agreed framework, did anyone use military force to stop its effort? No.
Now, let us again concede for argument's sake that the reason the U.S. did not use military force against North Korea was that the capital of South Korea, Seoul, happens to be 35 miles from the DMZ, and faces up to 17,000 North Korean artillery tubes. It was assumed that if the U.S. used military force to shut down North Korea's nuclear activity, North Korea would retaliate by attacking South Korea. So the United States, it was argued, was deterred by the North Korean threat.
But, we are assured, with Iran things would be different because sanctions would be put back in place.
However, the "snap-back" of sanctions, which are meant to enforce elements of the deal if Iran starts cheating, will realistically not snap back.
First, the other members of the P5+1 all want to do business with Iran's new "market" and the $100-150 billion they expect will be coming to Iran for these expected massive purchases.
And second, as all the business deals initiated prior to the snap back of sanctions will remain unaffected, the immediate result of "snap back" sanctions will be minimal at best.
If one looks at the record since 1979, one would not have a lot of confidence that the U.S. will take effective action, or even action of any kind, against Iran. If sanctions failed to do the job, and if Iran engaged in future illegal nuclear activity -- no matter how serious -- would the U.S. use military force?
Iran has already repeatedly attacked the United States, from the murder of 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983, to the attack on Khobar Towers; the murder of Americans over Lockerbie; the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya; the attack on the USS Cole; has been complicit in the attacks of September 11, 2001; is still holding four Americans hostages and, openly, is daily threatening America again.
Iran is also responsible for killing between 500 and 1000 American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with its explosive devices.
This list of Iran's murder of Americans, and others, does not even include many years of Iran illegally violating its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Did the U.S. ever take subsequent military action? No.
Would Iran's retaliatory capability before -- or especially after -- having nuclear weapons preclude future U.S. and allied military action? In April 2012, a Washington Post story said retaliation could be problematical, warning "Iran bolsters retaliatory capability in the Gulf."
Since then, Iran's military capabilities have markedly increased and will only continue to do so.[4] This will be especially true with the eventual elimination of the current embargoes on Iran receiving conventional weaponry and missile technology. On top of that, Iran will receive over $100 billion in escrowed oil revenue, in addition to the vast new revenues it is expected to receive from all the new business it is expected to do.
Supporters of the Iran deal, however, say they are absolutely certain that if Iran breaks out of the agreement, the U.S. will stop Iran by implementing "snap back" sanctions. The likelihood is far greater that the U.S. will look the other way in order not to admit that the deal it agreed to is a dud.
So far supporters of the JCPOA claim there is no alternative but going to war with Iran. In reality, the war choice may well be between a bad war now, when Iran has conventional weapons, or a worse war later, when Iran has a nuclear capability. Or doing nothing militarily -- which is largely what the West seems to have chosen for the past 36 years. Some would suggest that now that option is tantamount to surrender.
There are other choices, but the West seems not to have wanted to take them. It is not known if the current administration even investigated them.
What seems clear is that the current administration hoped Iran would become a regional partner and assumed this deal would get them there. But what if it does not?
What the current administration muscled though with a contorted vote from a partisan minority may end up creating a hostile Iranian regional hegemon that is eventually armed with nuclear weapons.[5]
Supporters say that even if Iran will able to produce nuclear weapons and have tens of billions more to fund conventional weapons, ballistic missiles and terrorism, the delay is worth the time bought. At least for a decade or more (but in reality, possibly far less) there will be no Iranian nukes appearing on the horizon.
That indeed is the nub of the issue. Although the West thinks it is buying a temporary contraction in the Iranian nuclear weapons fuel production capability (if one assumes there are not, nor will be, any clandestine enrichment facilities), in return what the West gets in the future is an expanded Iran nuclear military capability that the West hopes Iran will not exercise.

Critically important as well is the history of our intelligence community downplaying Iran nuclear weapons developments. The US intelligence community incorrectly assured us for years that Iran did not have a serious nuclear program -- as they also did with North Korea and Libya. We are now assured that the community will absolutely discover whatever bad stuff Iran is up to, even knowing full well -- if Iran does not subsequently stop whatever it is that we discover-- such information could lead to war. The Iran National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 is very illustrative of this problem as well. It was designed to forestall military action against Iran as it concluded that Iran's nuclear program had stopped in 2003. We know the "stopped" description referred to warhead design work only at one facility that had been discovered (and likely moved elsewhere) and not uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity. The NIE report was part of a campaign to take Iran policy off the political table as an issue in the upcoming Presidential election campaign. If there was no military nuclear program, then there need not be any debate over whether military force was required to be used to stop the program. See Wall Street Journal, "Panetta Warns of Iran Threat," by Jay Solomon, June 17, 2010.
[2] Gregory S. Jones, "An Iran Nuclear Deal That Spreads Nuclear Weapons," August 10, 2015.
[3] Personal communication with the Gregory Jones by the author.
[4] James Clapper, "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the United States Intelligence Community", Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Testimony before the Select Committee on Intelligence, January 29, 2014.
[5] Walter Russell Mead reports that the Washington Post examined the administration's Iran policy and concluded, in Mead's words, that "... in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies." See "Why the White House Is Getting Lonelier on Iran," The American Interest, Feb 6, 2015.
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Sunday, September 20, 2015

President Barack Obama has complained multiple times about nefarious lobbies lined up against the Iran deal. Alongside the president, many proponents of the Iran deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry argue that there can be no honest reason for the unease and outright opposition to the deal among some politicians other than nefarious money from lobbyists who want war or, at the very least, want to maintain the tense status quo between Tehran and Washington.

It is a theme supporters of the Iran deal have picked up. Trita Parsi, an Iranian-Swede who leads the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and once declared that everything he does, he does for Iran, marked Senator Harry Reid’s endorsement of the deal by declaring it a defeat for big money, a silly statement given Reid’s own partisanship and acceptance of myriad campaign contributions from lobbying groups. “The Iran Project,” likewise reported, “In efforts to sway Iran debate, big-money donors are heard.” The news media has played along. “Big Money and Ads Clash Over Iran Nuclear Deal,” USA Today reported.

The irony, however, is that many of the staunchest proponents of the Iran nuclear deal feed from the same trough of cash supplied by the Ploughshares Fund, a multimillion-dollar group which defines itself as a foundation seeking nuclear disarmament but which has, for several years, taken a consistently apologetic line toward Iran. Now, too often analysts throw around discussion of funding to cast aspersions on those who disagree with them in the policy debate. Often, this is nonsense. Few analysts on either the left or the right are blank slates that simply follow the money. Those staffing NIAC, for example, have always sought an end to sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many had worked for Atieh Bahar, a Tehran-based consultancy close to former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. They are not chameleons, changing their stripes to match their funders. When NIAC policy director Reza Marashi, an Atieh Bahar alum, worked for the State Department during the George W. Bush years, he was not pro-democracy agenda, but was understood to be sympathetic to an embrace rather than isolation of Iran. Indeed, his persistent questions about the recipients of U.S. aid inside Iran raised SECURITYarrow-10x10.png concerns. Likewise, when NIAC received a couple hundred thousand dollars from the National Endowment for Democracy, Trita channeled it to organizations close to the Iranian government.

Not everyone is so ideologically consistent, however, or honest when it comes to the issues about which they profess objectivity. This has certainly been the case-in-point when it comes to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated by Secretary John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. Usually, an indicator of a flawed agreement is its failure to win bipartisan support. The opposition party, in such cases, is usually not to blame; rather, partisan votes on international agreements usually historically suggest an attempt to leverage party loyalty over national SECURITYarrow-10x10.png. In the case of the JCPOA, to reach agreement, Kerry shredded at least a dozen redlines. The idea that the JCPOA represents the best possible agreement and the toughest peacetime verification regimen is demonstrably false: After all, both South Africa and Libya subjected themselves to far greater and intrusive mechanisms. Then why is it that groups like the Arms Control Association seem to swear by the agreement and have even attested to the thoroughness of the agreement before its details were even negotiated? Here, the 2014 Ploughshares Fund report may provide a clue. The Ploughshares Fund describes itself as “support[ing] the smartest minds and most effective organizations to reduce nuclear stockpiles, prevent new nuclear states, and increase global SECURITYarrow-10x10.png.” What it has done in recent years, however, is to organize and fund a broad-based lobby to exculpate the world’s worst violators of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in pursuit of a new progressive agenda. Most recently, its money has come to play in cobbling together ostensibly independent support for the Iran deal.
For example, Ploughshares gave the Arms Control Association $210,000 for “influencing…US policy toward Iran,” and then another $25,000 for an expert workshop and press briefings. It gave the Atlantic Council, a think tank that has garnered a reputation as Washington’s most mercantile, pay-to-play academic institution, $80,000 to support the Iran Task Force and another $130,000 for the South Asian PROGRAMarrow-10x10.png. In effect, Ploughshares pays the salary of the Atlantic Council’s chief Iran hand that has consistently amplified Tehran’s own policy positions in her analysis and programming. It funded the Center for New American SECURITYarrow-10x10.png to give “boot camps” to Congressional staffers “on the nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” in other words, to lobby them. It underwrote the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s efforts “to support an integrated lobbying strategy to build support for pragmatic approaches to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.” It gave the left-wing group J Street $100,000 to “educate” on behalf of an Iran deal. The National Iranian American Council? Over $150,000 for its advocacy on behalf of the Iran deal, and that doesn’t include money given individually to its staff. National SECURITYarrow-10x10.png Network? $75,000 to “educate media and policymakers about policy options to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” The National Security Network’s home page proclaims its dedication to “progressive” policy solutions, so the notion that this is anything other than a political REWARDarrow-10x10.png seems a bit rich. Recently, blogger Jeffrey Lewis has criticized and downplayed the Associated Press’ revelation about a side deal between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would essentially gut verification by allowing Iran to test itself. What Lewis did not acknowledge was the $75,000 his home institution received from Ploughshares, ACCORDINGarrow-10x10.png to the Fund’s 2014 report. The Aspen Institute also received Ploughshares money to education Congressmen and senior staffers about Iran policy options, again, effectively to lobby them. In addition, the Fund gave $75,000 to Gulf-2000, a listserv run by former Carter Iran hand and “October Surprise” conspiracy theorist Gary Sick. While ostensibly non-partisan, in recent years Gulf-2000 has become a “Journolist”-style clearing house to feed pro-Iran talking points to journalists. Sick promotes one line and often uses his prerogative as moderator to censor and exclude arguments and information that may contradict his increasingly radical beliefs.
Nor is all this lobbying for a policy favorable to the Islamic Republic new. In 2010, Ploughshares gave National Public Radio $150,000 in what appeared to be a pay-to-play scheme to get Cirincione and his grantees on air, an arrangement that only ended after its public exposure UPDATEarrow-10x10.png: Plougshare’s 2013 Annual Report lists an additional $100,000 for National Public Radio). When Chuck Hagel — long a proponent of at-any-cost rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran — sat on the board of Ploughshares prior to his stint Defense Secretary, a tenure that even his ideological allies would like to forget, he channeled more than $2 million to support groups, many of which were led by former staffers, which sought to downplay Iran’s nuclear work and normalize ties with Tehran. More recently, Ploughshares has sponsored conference calls to rally support for the Obama administration and ensure a joint strategy among its grantees that, unfortunately, has turned on targeting the Jewish community.
So, in short, Ploughshares spread millions of dollars around to pro-administration groups to support whatever Iran deal came out of Vienna. To criticize the Iran deal would be to risk a significant source of funding — double digits percentages of their total budget in most cases — of these various groups. Seldom did these groups acknowledge the support provided by Ploughshares. The Ploughshares Fund’s strategy has amplified its success by cultivating both the non-partisan label of groups like the Arms Control Association, National Iranian American Council, or Atlantic Council, while using them to amplify each other’s similar messages. Hence, various organizations hosted one-sided panels in the wake of the Iran deal announcement with multiple Ploughshares grantees without acknowledging their funding from the same pot. For example, on March 26, the Arms Control Association sponsored an event featuring the National Iranian American Council. J Street, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation are all Ploughshares grantees.
President Obama is absolutely correct. Big money is seeking to sway the debate about the Iran deal. I personally have very little contact with AIPAC — I spoke twice at their conference on issues relating to the Arab world, never on Iran — in my 16 years in Washington, far less than, for example, than left-of-center pundit Peter Beinart. But, at least when AIPAC seeks to make its case, it does so openly; it does not pretend to be something it is not. What Ploughshares has done (and very successfully as well) is to fund myriad proxies who will push similar lines in concert with each other and Ploughshares, seeking credibility from their supposed objectivity, when the reality suggests they are anything but. When Obama warns of dark money and nefarious lobbies, it seems increasingly he is projecting.