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November 7, 2015

Getting the U.S.-Israel Relationship Back on Track

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives this weekend in the U.S. and prepares to meet President Obama next week, there is an opportunity for the two countries to reboot relations heading into the final stretch of the Obama Administration.

Some believe this will be challenging. Many have written about the personality clash between the two leaders. But I think the impact has been exaggerated. However, there certainly have been significant policy differences between them over the past several years.

This was particularly obvious during the debate around the so-called Iran deal. In that fractious exchange, there were tough words exchanged all around. At times, competing claims degenerated into slanderous attacks. But both sides should now take a deep breath.

Even deal opponents should recognize that President Obama chose a path that he and many experts believed to be sensible. Based on the analysis of experts, the administration felt that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action served not only the U.S. national interest but also the interests of our allies in the region, including Israel. The Anti-Defamation League did not agree with this assessment, but many experts and organizations did.

When he adopted this position, some foolishly labeled the president and his aides as anti-Semitic, a groundless charge that seems especially weak after a cursory review of the facts. President Obama and his team have consistently renewed military support for the Jewish state and provided diplomatic support for Israel at the United Nations and in other fora. Moreover, not only has the president provided moral support to Israel by linking the quest for Jewish sovereignty to the American civil rights movement, but he has joined U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Pope Francis as world leaders who appropriately have questioned the true motivations of those who reject Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

By the same token, deal supporters should acknowledge that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government took a strong stance against the deal, not out of a desire to be oppositional to President Obama or because of a political agenda. Rather, the Israeli position was derived from a strongly held view grounded in facts that a militarized and normalized Islamic Republic is an existential threat to Israel. Critics who deny this fact seem dangerously out of touch with reality.

Indeed, since the deal was signed, the Islamic Republic has explicitly repeated its refusal to accept Israel as a legitimate member of the family of nations. Iranian proxies continue to pursue terrorism against the Jewish state. The hostility and militarism of the regime has not ebbed in any perceptible manner. And, if we take the Iranian leadership at their word, including recent statements by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it would appear that Israeli concerns are well-founded.

Further compounding legitimate policy differences, individuals on both sides occasionally have resorted to ad homenim attacks, whether individuals in Jerusalemderiding President Obama as anti-Semitic or unnamed officials in the administration disparaging Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chicken-s—.” In both cases, officials diminished themselves and their nations with such crass slander.

Looking ahead to the upcoming visit, both sides have an opportunity to move past the acrimony and acknowledge that the two countries have far more in common than the issues that divide them.

For the U.S., Israel remains a robust democracy and a bedrock island of stability in a region that seems less stable by the hour. Israel’s commitment to the rule of law, basic freedoms and human decency distinguishes it from every other country and non-state actor in the Middle East. And the Jewish state is a hub of innovation whose technological achievements power our products, whose groundbreaking research supports agriculture and manufacturing, and whose scientific advancements enable medicine and uplift humanity. And the American people at a grassroots level empirically support the Jewish state.

For Israel, the U.S, remains its most important ally. America has been unflinching in its support for Israel in international circles and multilateral fora that all too often ostracize the Jewish state. The U.S. has been a crucial source of military assistance but also an extraordinary reservoir of economic support and commercial investment at a time when the cancer of “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” continues to grow. And America’s bedrock commitment to a fair and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that guarantees Israel’s legitimate security interests, remains crucial to the long-term prospects for peace in the region.

And, as incitement persists and violence continues to flare, both the U.S. and Israel still share a fundamental interest in seeing an eventual end to the conflict through a two-state solution. To get the process back on track, preliminary steps will be required, including a cessation of violence on the Palestinian side and the reestablishment of trust among both parties. Nonetheless, the U.S. and Israel share an interest in facilitating this outcome and achieving a just and lasting peace for all parties.

America and Israel have far more in common than the critics care to mention. Next week — when the leaders shake hands — it will be an opportunity to remind the world of the shared interests that bind the two nations.

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May 14, 2014

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

66 years since the grand betrayal of the people of Palestine has passed*
(Mehr News Agency – May 14, 2014)

A report on the establishment of Israel as an American and British plot to take over the region, one which has resulted in continuing presence of this “malignant and incurable cancerous tumor.”

Hadi Mohammadi: The discourse of the Islamic Revolution is the solution to the issue of Palestine*
(Fars News Agency – May 14, 2014)

In a roundtable discussion marking the 66th anniversary of the nakba, the Arabic term meaning ‘catastrophe’ to describe Israel’s establishment, Hadi Mohammadi, an expert in Middle East affairs, said, “The project of Palestine’s occupation has three components. One is of the Zionists, whom built upon the [Zionist] program, and they had several choices and Palestine wasn’t their primary choice, and it is here when the great powers of the time, English, Germany and France, entered the equation. These countries participated in its [Israel’s] establishment to facilitate [Jewish] immigration…”

Tehran’s Friday prayer and sermon*
(Tehran University – May 9, 2014)

Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani said: “Iran and America are on two antithetical paths, and we will not back down from our rights and America will not lift its hand from devouring the world and being a malicious enemy. So our position is to support the oppressed of the world and America’s position is to kill the people of the world. Our position is [based] on logic, wisdom and laws, and America’s logic is force and bullying. Our position is related to being just with the world and America is worried about our expanding relations with the world.”

Qom Friday prayer and sermon*
(Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency – May 9, 2014)

In his sermon to the faithful in the holy city of Qom, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami issued a number of threats against Israel. “America is the lifeline of the terrorist Zionist regime, and to secure the safety of the Occupiers of Jerusalem, they do not want Iran to have any missiles. Our missiles are aimed to the direction of the Occupiers of Jerusalem’s sensitive centers. If they make a mistake we will raise Tel Aviv to the ground.”

ayatollah-mezba-yazdi-iran

Ayatollah Mezba Yazdi

An explicit warning by Ayatollah Mezba regarding the direction of some politicians’ politics and culture*
(Rasa News Agency – May 8, 2014)

Ayatollah Mohammad Mezba Yazdi, the president of the Imam Khomeini Institute for Education and Research, made anti-Semitic comments, positing, “What plan do the Jews have in store for our country?” Ayatollah Yazdi added that adherents of the Baha’i faith are not considered protected citizens, “We should not say Baha’i under the excuse of the rights of the citizens. Jews and Muslims have no difference between them because the Qur’an has provisions for such cases expressed in it.”

Araghchi: “Dark forces” seek to destroy Iran and P5+1 agreement*
(Iranian Students’ News Agency – May 8, 2014)

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi alluded to Israel, and said, “I don’t want to use the word ‘warmongering’, but this group wants to continue the disputes and crises in our region. They don’t want the sanctions against Iran to come to an end. They also don’t like that Iran is transforming into a primary player in the region.”

Inter­na­tional Media

ADL Global 100: Anti-Semitism in Iran is lower than the rest of the Middle East and North Africa
(Anti-Defamation League Global 100 – May 14, 2014)global-100-iran

The Anti-Defamation League released its much anticipated Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism. The comprehensive poll shows that Iran is the least anti-Semitic country in the Middle East and North Africa at 56% compared to 93% in the Palestinian Territories, and 92% in neighboring Iraq.

Six powers, Iran launch crunch phase of nuclear diplomacy
(Reuters – May 14, 2014)

Representatives from the P5+1 and Iran launched into the decisive phase of negotiations on Wednesday in Vienna, hoping to hammer out an agreement within the next two months.

Nuclear talks will confront Iran’s future capability to enrich uranium
(The New York Times – May 13, 2014)

As negotiations resume this week in Vienna, the issue of Iran’s right to enrich and how much it will be allowed to retain, are seen as the critical issues at hand.

Breaking bad in Tehran: How Iran got a taste for crystal meth
(The Guardian – May 13, 2014)

Locally known as sheesheh, crystal meth production and use has skyrocketed in Iran at startling rates.

Slow progress in IAEA investigation may complicate Iran nuclear talks
(Reuters – May 13, 2014)

The IAEA stated this week that Iran is making little progress to fully implement a series of nuclear transparency measure Tehran has agreed to.

Khamenei adviser backs Iranian negotiators
(Al-Monitor – May 13, 2014)

Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Khamenei’s senior foreign policy advisor, stated this week that he supports the current Iranian negotiations team in their meetings with the P5+1.

In thaw, Saudi extends invite to Iran
(The Washington Post – May 13, 2014)

Iran’s foreign minister has received an official invitation from his Saudi counterpart to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in what is seen as a possible thawing of relations between the two regional giants.

A ‘nightmare becoming reality’? Iran unveils American drone replica
(The Christian Science Monitor – May 12, 2014)

Iran has unveiled its own copy of the American stealth drone it captured in its territory in late 2011. IRGC officers have stated that the Iranian replica will be tested soon.

Iranian women post pictures of themselves without hijabs on Facebook
(The Guardian – May 12, 2014)

An online campaign is calling on Iranian women living in the Islamic Republic to post pictures of themselves sans hijab. Women are required by law to wear the headscarf in public or risk arrest by the morality police.

Israeli held for selling Iran spare parts for fighter jets
(The Times of Israel – May 12, 2014)

An Israeli citizen was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport for allegedly selling arms and spare parts for fighter jets to Iran. The suspect, Eli Cohen, is expected to be extradited to the U.S.

Benjamin Netanyahu compares Iran nukes to North Korea
(The Jewish Daily Forward – May 12, 2014)

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu compared Iran’s nuclear program and the danger it poses to that of North Korea.

Iran leader slams West’s ‘stupid’ missile stance before talks
(Reuters – May 11, 2014)

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted U.S. demands for Iran to end its missile development, calling this “a stupid, idiotic expectation.”

How the West gets Iran wrong
(CNN contribution by Akbar Ganji – May 9, 2014)

Akbar Ganji, a well-known Iranian dissident and journalist, writes that despite Iran’s authoritarian rule which rejects liberal democracy and feminism, many important books on liberalism, democracy and feminism are translated and published in the Islamic Republic. Among the available titles found in Iran are John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom.

Shiraz cemetery demolition continues by the Revolutionary Guards
(Baha’i World News Service – May 8, 2014)

The IRGC continues to destroy a historic Baha’i cemetery in the southern city of Shiraz. With an estimated 300,000 members of the faith, the Baha’i religion is Iran’s largest religious minority and unrecognized by the government as a protected minority.

Iranian revolutionary guards commander: US preparing for attack
(The Jerusalem Post – May 8, 2014)

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC’s naval forces, claimed that the U.S. is planning for an attack against Iran’s navy. Fadavi added, “They [the Americans] know nothing. We have been making and sinking replicas of US destroyers, frigates and warships for years, and we have sunk the replicas of their vessels in 50 second through a series of operational measures.”

What Iran really wants: Iranian foreign policy in the Rouhani era
(Foreign Affairs, Op-Ed by Foreign Minister Zarif – May 7, 2014)

In a piece published in Foreign Affairs, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif makes the case for Iran as nuclear negotiations pave the way for possible changes in relations with the West and the region.

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October 5, 2012

Anti-Semite Mark Glenn Gave Speech at Ahmadinejad Dinner in New York

Additional information has emerged about American extremists invited by the Iranian government to a dinner honoring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York City on September 25, 2012.  Ahmadinejad was in town to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Mark Glenn’s official invitiation to the Ahmadinejad dinner

In addition to Louis Farrakhan, the Iranian government invited Mark Glenn, a virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist  (who claims that Jews control banks, the stock exchange, politicians and the media) to speak at the dinner. Glenn, who makes regular appearances on Press TV, Iran’s English-language satellite network, used the dinner as an opportunity to attack Jews and Israel.

Glenn discussed his speech on the September 27 edition of his program on “The Ugly Truth,” an anti-Semitic online radio network and blog he runs. Glenn claimed that he shocked the guests at the dinner by asserting that the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, “is correct” in saying that “Iran’s nuclear program is going to wipe Israel off the face of the map.”  In Glenn’s vision of the future, Iran will use nuclear power for peaceful purposes and will be “the nucleus” around which all other Middle Eastern countries will revolve in “a perfectly harmonious orbit.”  Glenn asserted that a united Middle East would then be able to rid the world of Israel, and that countries outside the region would also “kick Jews out of places of power.”

Glenn let his listeners know how much the attendees at the dinner appreciated his speech, saying, “I saw people wiping their eyes.” He claimed that the speech has now opened several major doors for him, which he will reveal in the near future.  Glenn also indicated that his invitation to the dinner and his appearances on Press TV have brought him closer to Iranian government officials, including Ahmadinejad.

This is not the first time Glenn has had dealings with Ahmadinejad. In 2007, Glenn organized “No More Wars for Israel,” an event in Irvine, California that consisted of protests and lectures demonizing Jews and Israel. According to Glenn, the event featured a videotaped message from Ahmadinejad, in which he condemned Zionism as a racist movement and a danger to world peace.

Glenn let his radio listeners know that Ahmadinejad is one of his heroes. Before recounting his dinner speech on his show, Glenn ranted against the evils of Israel and claimed that Iran was, in contrast, “a highly cultured, blameless society.”

In addition, Glenn compared Netanyahu and Jewish supporters to vampires, saying that they “feed on innocent human blood.” He promoted a conspiracy theory that Israel is moving nuclear weapons into major cities and waiting for an opportune moment for its “operatives” to detonate them. Glenn later referred to Judaism as “a mental defect that leads to mental illness, spiritual barbarism” and “left unchecked, can bring the world to the brink of utter annihilation.”

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