Official Blogs from the Anti-Defamation League » ADL Blogs
providing inside access to our work on topics ranging from anti-Semitism and extremism to anti-Israel activity and much more
July 13, 2016 0

Pokemon GO, A Popular Game with Some Troubling Consequences

pokemonThe Poké­mon GO app is a hybrid vir­tual and real world game.  The game’s objec­tive is to use a smart­phone to find, see and capture/collect vir­tual Poké­mon char­ac­ters. Many play­ers find the game highly engag­ing, enter­tain­ing and even addic­tive. Poké­mon char­ac­ters are appar­ently ran­domly dis­trib­uted on the game’s map, but can also be col­lected at “Poke­stops,” loca­tions in the real world based on points of inter­est as iden­ti­fied on Google maps. Play­ers can also cre­ate “gym­na­si­ums” and “lures,” which are typ­i­cally at  pub­lic places like parks, post offices and muse­ums, but these gym­na­si­ums may poten­tially be cre­ated in places like memo­ri­als, churches, tem­ples, mosques, syn­a­gogues, and schools where play­ing the game is inap­pro­pri­ate or offen­sive.  Play­ers tend to con­gre­gate where Poké­mon char­ac­ters can be col­lected and they can inter­act with other play­ers.  Like Google’s points of inter­est, the loca­tion of Poke­stops is not always pre­cisely accu­rate.  So, for exam­ple, a Poke­stop based on a Google map point of inter­est may be located in front of a reli­gious insti­tu­tion, but the Poke­mon char­ac­ter may be view­able on a smart­phone used inside the build­ing. ADL has received reports that Poké­mon char­ac­ters have appeared on phones inside the US Holo­caust Memo­r­ial Museum, out­side syn­a­gogues, at Auschwitz and at other loca­tions where play­ing a game is dis­re­spect­ful if not offen­sive.  The game is software-driven, and it is rea­son­able to assume the char­ac­ters are not placed in such loca­tions with any mali­cious intent.  It is likely that the appear­ance of Poke­mon char­ac­ters at the Holo­caust Museum and at Auschwitz is an unin­tended con­se­quence of the tech­nol­ogy dri­ving the app.  Once they learned of it, the author­i­ties at Auschwitz were right to tell peo­ple they can­not play the game there. Even though we do not believe the app’s devel­op­ers delib­er­ately chose inap­pro­pri­ate set­tings for the game, we would urge them to explore the pos­si­bil­ity of tak­ing steps proac­tively to restrict areas which are likely to cause offense, and to pre­vent the char­ac­ters for appear­ing in or near them.  In the mean­time, peo­ple who encounter offen­sive Poke­stops can visit the app’s sup­port page, which pro­vides infor­ma­tion about report­ing a prob­lem with a gym or Poke­stop.  There is no clear way to request that a loca­tion be removed, but there is a choice that says “dan­ger­ous Pokestop/gym” on the “rea­sons” drop-down menu.  One should be able to suc­cinctly pro­vide as much detail as pos­si­ble there, but at this time, it is unclear how effec­tive this process will be. While remov­ing prob­lem­atic loca­tions would be wel­come, there are also some broader soci­etal con­cerns regard­ing Poke­mon GO.  For exam­ple, there are risks related to game play­ers who are dis­tracted while mov­ing around.  It may also be prob­lem­atic that by play­ing the game, the player reveals his or her phys­i­cal loca­tion at any given time to the devel­oper.  While the game itself does not pose any inher­ent threat, it does raise ques­tions of per­sonal safety and secu­rity for play­ers who do not show good judg­ment.  Par­ents in par­tic­u­lar should under­stand that play­ing the game could pose some safety risks for their children.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 11, 2016 0

Violent East Jerusalem Graffiti Suggests Incitement Seeping Into Palestinian Daily Life

Graf­fiti recently on view in East Jerusalem, includ­ing on Salah El-Din street (the area’s main busi­ness dis­trict), high­lights the incite­ment to vio­lence seep­ing into the daily lives of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in that area. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of the rel­a­tive calm Jerusalem has enjoyed in recent weeks, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been a focal point in the wave of Pales­tin­ian ter­ror which began in Sep­tem­ber of 2015, often referred to as the “Knives Intifada” because of the fre­quent stab­bing attacks. Exam­ples of this hate­ful graf­fiti include an image of a hand hold­ing a knife with the Ara­bic cap­tions “stab”  and “The Jerusalem Intifada,” and an icon of a Pales­tin­ian hurl­ing a Molo­tov cock­tail with the cap­tion “resist.”

Other exam­ples include a map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza with the cap­tion “From the river to the sea”, sug­gest­ing that the Pales­tin­ian state should stretch from the Mediter­ranean to the Jor­dan River, thereby elim­i­nat­ing the State of Israel. Also spray painted are slo­gans call­ing for addi­tional acts of Pales­tin­ian ter­ror, with graf­fiti read­ing “The armed strug­gle till the liberation/long live the Intifada” and “The Intifada con­tin­ues till the lib­er­a­tion of the land and the people.”

Tags: , , , , ,

July 7, 2016 2

The Iran Nuclear Deal: One Year Later

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

As we approach the first anniver­sary of the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action (JCPOA) it is an appro­pri­ate time to reassess the mer­its of the deal. ADL was among the nuclear deal’s crit­ics.

Beyond the nuclear restraints it would impose on Iran, our con­cern it is that it would nor­mal­ize an expan­sion­ist, mil­i­tant regime whose unre­pen­tant and fun­da­men­tal­ist ide­ol­ogy was not tamed by the deal.

Unlike pre­vi­ous major arms con­trol treaties in our country’s past that sig­naled a strate­gic turn in rela­tion with his­toric adver­saries, the Iran nuclear deal promised no such realign­ment. That is why we felt the sun­set of the JCPOA’s most impor­tant con­straints posed such a trou­bling prob­lem. That is ulti­mately why we could not abide by it.

Iran Deal-condensed

Dur­ing the past year, Iran has taken key steps out­lined in the JCPOA to limit its nuclear pro­gram, includ­ing ship­ping the vast major­ity of its enriched ura­nium out of the coun­try and dis­man­tling cen­trifuges. In this sense, the Admin­is­tra­tion has deliv­ered on its imme­di­ate term objec­tives of sig­nif­i­cantly length­en­ing the break­out time for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Fur­ther­more, the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity suc­cess­fully has imple­mented a far reach­ing ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem across the entire sup­ply chain of the pro­duc­tion of ura­nium, mak­ing it far less likely for Iran to suc­cess­fully main­tain a covert ura­nium enrich­ment capac­ity. Indeed, as retired Israeli gen­eral and for­mer direc­tor of Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence, Amos Yadlin has pointed out, if Iran remains fully com­pli­ant with the terms of the JCPOA, the deal will sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the imme­di­ate threat of a nuclear con­flict in the Mid­dle East.

Any rea­son­able observers must acknowl­edge this impor­tant reduc­tion of nuclear risk in the short term. How­ever, it would be fool­ish not to con­sider the wider effects of the JCPOA in the region — as well the chal­lenges the deal will present over the long term. Iran reached an accom­mo­da­tion with the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity due to the tremen­dous eco­nomic dam­age it suf­fered under the unprece­dented sanc­tions regime. Together with the pre­cip­i­tous drop in oil prices, the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran essen­tially made a deal to post­pone its nuclear options for 10–15 years.

But even before Iran is — under the terms of the deal — allowed to engage in research and devel­op­ment on advanced cen­trifuges, we can eval­u­ate its behav­ior to deter­mine whether early com­pli­ance was a good mea­sure of the long term effec­tive­ness of the JCPOA in terms of help­ing to facil­i­tate Iran’s reen­try into the com­mu­nity of nations. The­o­ret­i­cally there is much we can learn by look­ing at the early warn­ing signs rather than wait­ing for a decade to deter­mine progress. Indeed, in that time­frame, when sanc­tions are only a dis­tant mem­ory and with busi­ness and for­eign invest­ment likely flow­ing, a regime still com­mit­ted to hos­til­ity could try to vio­late aspects of the agree­ment, test­ing the inter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties’ will­ing­ness to enforce its pro­vi­sions. Per­haps at first, these vio­la­tions will not be egre­gious. But, slowly, an unre­pen­tant Iran is likely to test the lim­its of enforcement.

So is Iran nor­mal­iz­ing? Does the JCPOA her­ald a new era in its rela­tions with the West? The early signs are not encouraging.

“Today the most impor­tant point for the Islamic world is unity against Israel and who­ever breaks this unity would be a trai­tor. Peo­ple of Iran never aban­don their goal. I hope that a third intifada will lead to the destruc­tion of Israel.”

— Grand Aya­tol­lah Hos­sein Nouri Hamadani

Iran’s con­tin­ued devel­op­ment of bal­lis­tic mis­siles while not included in the terms of the JCPOA, con­tin­ues in clear vio­la­tion of exist­ing UN Secu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tions. So far it has faced few consequences.

It main­tains the unen­vi­able title of the “fore­most state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism” in the world.

As man­i­fested in recent Quds Day demon­stra­tions, its con­tin­ued geno­ci­dal rant­i­ngs toward Israel — includ­ing threats by Iran’s Supreme Leader that “God will­ing, there will be no such thing as a Zion­ist regime in 25 years. Until then, strug­gling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of seren­ity for Zion­ists,” — are far out­side the pale, indica­tive of its role as lead­ing fomenter of regional instability.

Indeed, in the eyes of its neigh­bors, the Iran­ian threat has grown, not dimin­ished since the deal was signed. More trou­bling is that few coun­tries have con­fi­dence that Iran­ian expan­sion­ism will be con­tained by reli­able Amer­i­can lead­er­ship are low. Reports indi­cate that it is increas­ing its fund­ing for the Lebanese ter­ror mili­tia Hezbol­lah whose leader recently admit­ted that for his group, “its bud­get, its income, its expenses, every­thing it eats and drinks, its weapons and rock­ets, come from the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran.”

Beyond Lebanon, Iran works to spread its rev­o­lu­tion­ary ide­ol­ogy in order to desta­bi­lize other coun­tries through­out the region includ­ing IraqBahrain,Yemen and oth­ers. The noted Syrian-Palestinian activist Kassem Eid pub­licly described the Islamic Repub­lic as “a reli­gious dic­ta­tor­ship, the Shia face of ISIS” that “uses its resources to estab­lish a sec­tar­ian empire across the Islamic world.”

Iran’s record on human rights at home is deplorable. Dr. Ahmed Sha­heed, UN spe­cial rap­por­teur for human rights in Iran, recently reported that there “is an alarm­ing surge in the rate of unlaw­ful exe­cu­tions in the coun­try, and ongo­ing arbi­trary arrests, deten­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of indi­vid­ual for the exer­cise of their fun­da­men­tal rights.” Eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties includ­ing Baha’i,Chris­tians, and Sunni Mus­lims con­tinue to suf­fer the cruel whims of the regime. Sim­i­lar sorry fate is what is faced by juve­niles and jour­nal­ists tar­geted by the regime.

One year after it signed the sup­pos­edly his­toric agree­ment with the United States and its part­ners in the P5+1, the Islamic Repub­lic remains the lead­ing exporter of deadly con­spir­acy the­o­ries and hos­tile pro­pa­ganda against the Jew­ish peo­ple and the Jew­ish state. In recent months we have seen a revival of their noto­ri­ous Holo­caust car­toon con­test, which encour­ages Holo­caust revi­sion­ism and out­right denial. The regime is a font of global anti-Semitism. Wild accu­sa­tions of Zion­ist plots abound, such as blam­ing imports of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts to infect Ira­ni­ans with dis­eases on the Zion­istsor accus­ing “Jew­ish actors” of con­spir­ing Saudis to spread Wah­habism. In the last few days when the rest of the world has mourned the loss of noted peace activist Elie Weisel, Iran opted to slan­der the Nobel Lau­re­ate as a “crim­i­nal Zion­ist and fake wit­ness of Holocaust.”

And while the lift­ing of sanc­tions was the trade-off in the deal, it is still trou­bling to see the Islamic Repub­lic land large con­tracts with ven­er­ated West­ern firms, such as Boeing’s $25 bil­lion deal with Iran to build up its air fleet. Not only might some of the planes be used for Iran­ian mil­i­tary activ­i­ties, this sends an unam­bigu­ous mes­sage that Iran has become a fully-accepted mem­ber of the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, a viable part­ner for busi­ness, with­out chang­ing its extrem­ist course.

All of these signs speak to a real­ity that Iran remains a bel­liger­ent actor whose norms and rhetoric do not line up with those of other nations, save per­haps North Korea. Despite the early ben­e­fits of the JCPOA, the regime appears more inter­ested in hos­til­ity than nor­malcy. It is clear, given its regional behav­ior, that Iran does not suf­fi­ciently fear con­se­quences for its actions. In short, it is unde­terred. This is all the more alarm­ing because as the robust­ness of the pro­vi­sions restrict­ing Iran’s nuclear ambi­tions wane towards the end of the life of the deal, cred­i­ble deter­rence will be the only force keep­ing it from cross­ing the hair-thin thresh­old to nuclear weapons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,