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April 19, 2016 0

The Iranian Regime Has Not Changed

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

Iran Deal-condensed

Talks in Geneva over the Iran Deal in 2015.

A lit­tle over a year ago, the Anti-Defamation League reacted to the newly announced para­me­ters of the agree­ment between the world pow­ers and Iran, say­ing it left us with “many unan­swered ques­tions” about Iran’s nuclear pro­gram and the Islamic Republic’s inten­tion to fully and trans­par­ently uphold its com­mit­ments. “The Iran­ian regime has not changed, “ADL said then, “and we do not expect a change in its behavior.”

A year later, and months into the imple­men­ta­tion of that agree­ment, there is no clear evi­dence that Iran is vio­lat­ing its com­mit­ments, although our ques­tions on Iran’s true inten­tions regard­ing its long-term nuclear ambi­tions remain.

These ques­tions are more impor­tant than ever with ongo­ing debate tak­ing place in Wash­ing­ton over whether the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion should take more steps to facil­i­tate inter­na­tional bank­ing trans­ac­tions and trade between Iran and other states.

With this dis­cus­sion under­way, it’s timely to review the pre­dic­tions made by some experts that the agree­ment would lead to a more mod­er­ate and con­struc­tive Iran. Some opined that the deal would usher in a new approach, mak­ing it a fit­ting mem­ber of the com­mu­nity of nations. The steady pace of com­mer­cial and diplo­matic del­e­ga­tions vis­it­ing Tehran might lead one to believe that there is a glas­nost afoot.

Yet while there may be improved p.r., the regime has changed very lit­tle. It con­tin­ues to dis­play lit­tle regard for the human rights of its own cit­i­zens. It main­tains its poli­cies of regional aggres­sion includ­ing weapons devel­op­ment and test­ing. And it has not slowed its sup­port of ter­ror­ism and spread of base hatreds against Israel and its Jew­ish peo­ple. Indeed, just this week the sup­pos­edly reformed minded Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani called for vig­i­lance “against the dan­ger of the Zion­ist regime” and accused it of “con­tin­ued massacres.”

So much for change.

Unceas­ing Human Rights Vio­la­tions

Iran’s fail­ure to change, despite hopes for greater “open­ness” and “mod­er­a­tion” is most evi­dent in its abysmal human rights record. As the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Sha­heed, recently told the U.N. Human Rights Coun­cil, there “is an alarm­ing surge in the rate of unlaw­ful exe­cu­tions in the coun­try, and ongo­ing arbi­trary arrests, deten­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of indi­vid­u­als for the exer­cise of their fun­da­men­tal rights.“ In 2015, accord­ing to offi­cial gov­ern­ment records at least 966 peo­ple were exe­cuted — the high­est num­ber since 1989, and 10 times as much as a decade ago. Grass­roots reports pro­vide higher rates.

Amnesty Inter­na­tional reports that Iran is the world’s lead­ing execu­tor of juve­niles — and at least 160 indi­vid­u­als under the age of 18 are cur­rently on death row. The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur reported that just since Jan­u­ary, “at least 47 jour­nal­ists and social media activists were report­edly detained in the coun­try …and over 272 inter­net cafe busi­nesses were report­edly closed in 2015 for their alleged ‘threat to soci­etal norms and values.’”

Iran con­tin­ues to per­se­cute reli­gious minori­ties, par­tic­u­larly the Baha’i com­mu­nity, restrict­ing their rights, as the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur said, to “openly man­i­fest their beliefs, to edu­cate their chil­dren, and to earn a liv­ing.” One recent exam­ple: Iran impris­oned a young Baha’i woman whose sole crime was protest­ing the poli­cies that pre­vented her from pur­su­ing higher education.

A legal sys­tem estab­lished by a gov­ern­ment that accords sec­ond class sta­tus to a spe­cific cat­e­gory of its own cit­i­zens, restrict­ing their access to basic ser­vices like edu­ca­tion and shrink­ing their basic civil rights is unacceptable.

Push­ing the enve­lope on aggres­sive weaponry

Pres­i­dent Obama recently said that while “Iran, so far, has fol­lowed the let­ter of the (nuclear) agree­ment” it is under­min­ing the “spirit of the agree­ment” with its “provoca­tive” actions. Most egre­giously, Iran thumbed its nose at the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity with its March launch of long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles — an action restricted by UN Secu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2231.

An aerial view of a heavy-water production plant, which went into operation despite U.N. demands that Iran roll back its nuclear program, in the central Iranian town of Arak, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Saturday, after the inauguration of the plant, that his nation's controversial nuclear program poses no threat to any other country, even Israel "which is a definite enemy."  (AP Photo/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

An aer­ial view of a heavy-water pro­duc­tion plant, which went into oper­a­tion despite U.N. demands that Iran roll back its nuclear pro­gram, in the cen­tral Iran­ian town of Arak, Sat­ur­day, Aug. 26, 2006. (AP Photo/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

Four of the six world pow­ers who signed the Iran­ian agree­ment — the U.S., U.K., France and Ger­many — sent a let­ter to the heads of the U.N. and Secu­rity Coun­cil call­ing Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile oper­a­tions “incon­sis­tent with” and “in defi­ance of” the Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion which bars mis­siles that could carry nuclear weapons. In an omi­nous wink to the coun­try Iran has most pub­licly threat­ened, the Iran­ian news agency Fars said one of the mis­siles tested on March 6 had “Israel must be wiped off the Earth,” writ­ten along its side in Hebrew.

And it’s not just bal­lis­tic mis­siles. In a recent Iran­ian news report, Brigadier Gen­eral Hos­sein Salami of the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards threat­ened: “The Zion­ist regime will col­lapse in the near future. When Hezbol­lah has stock­piled over 100,000 mis­siles, it means Iran has tens of times more than that. Iran is in pos­ses­sion of dif­fer­ent classes of mis­siles, and this power is unstop­pable.” Around the same time, offi­cials in the city of Lamard held a mil­i­tary train­ing pro­gram for chil­dren with the goal of “con­quer­ing Tel Aviv.”

And the weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion is not just related to Israel. Three times in the last two months, U.S. Naval ships have seized large caches of weaponsbelieved to be sent by Iran intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen. And oth­ers have reported exten­sively on the con­tin­ued train­ing and weapons deploy­ment in Syria in sup­port of the Assad gov­ern­ment whose bru­tal­iza­tion of its own cit­i­zenry insti­gated the civil war that con­tin­ues to wrack the coun­try and desta­bi­lize the region.

Con­tin­ued cam­paign to destroy Israel and its Jew­ish population

Mean­while, even as Iran puts on a pub­lic face to court inter­na­tional busi­ness and invest­ment, its pro­pa­ganda machine churns out base con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Jews and Israel. A recent absurd alle­ga­tion asserted that imports of “genet­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts are a ‘Zion­ist plot’ to infect Ira­ni­ans with dis­eases and a ‘seri­ous exam­ple of infil­tra­tion.’ And, while Pres­i­dent Rouhani has not touted the issue like his pre­de­ces­sor Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad had, it is appar­ent that Holo­caust denial and mock­ery are very much alive and well within Iran­ian soci­ety, with aca­d­e­mic exam­i­na­tions of the issue and car­toon contests.

The Jew­ish fes­ti­val of Purim, which com­mem­o­rates ancient Persia’s Queen Esther and Mordechai’s sav­ing of the Jews from the evil Haman who planned to kill them all, has long pro­vided anti-Semitic fod­der in Iran. Point­ing to the Book of Esther’s telling that after Haman was killed, 75,000 Per­sians were slain, Ira­ni­ans have manip­u­lated this ancient story and pre­sented it as a “holo­caust” and “geno­cide” per­pe­trated by the Jews against Ira­ni­ans, and the real source of alleged Jew­ish hos­til­ity toward Iran.

Iran - Anti-Israel Slogan Blog 2015

In a recent arti­cle enti­tled “Purim: the Iran­ian Holo­caust by Jews, A Cel­e­bra­tion of Half a Mil­lion Iran­ian Mas­sa­cred” in Gha­treh, asserted: “Zion­ists’ hatred and jeal­ousy of the ancient his­tory and glo­ri­ous civ­i­liza­tion of Iran for their sci­en­tific advances and their his­tor­i­cal achieve­ments, par­tic­u­larly after the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion is not some­thing they can hide. The Zionist’s infe­ri­or­ity feel­ing toward the great­ness of the Iran­ian nation has a his­tor­i­cal root. By one glance to the his­tor­i­cal con­text and events that hap­pened between Ira­ni­ans and this peo­ple prove the fact. After Cyrus as a ruler who was a seeker for jus­tice, released cap­tive Jews from Baby­lo­nia, he never imag­ined the same peo­ple after few years would carry out a creep­ing coup against Iran and Ira­ni­ans and respond to the kind­ness of Ira­ni­ans, would be bru­tal slaugh­ter of them.”

It is galling to see the Islamic Repub­lic gain acco­lades for tweets in Eng­lish around Rosh Hashanah while its sup­port­ers use Farsi to issue such anti-Semitic screeds that seem like updated ver­sions of the Pro­to­cols of Zion.

In con­clu­sion, a year after the path was forged to the nuclear agree­ment with Iran much has changed. Pres­i­dent Rouhani trav­eled to Rome and Paris to pro­mote trade and eco­nomic part­ner­ship with Iran. Iran was a key par­tic­i­pant in the talks lead­ing to a cease­fire in Syria — much to the con­ster­na­tion of its Per­sian Gulf rivals. Iran finally released four Amer­i­can pris­on­ers it had been hold­ing, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton Post bureau chief Jason Rezaian.

But when it comes to its inter­nal illib­eral poli­cies, human rights vio­la­tions, the spread­ing of hate against Jews and its con­tin­ued mil­i­tancy against its neigh­bors, the past year has made no dif­fer­ence. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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April 13, 2016 451

Anti-Semite Ken O’Keefe On A U.S. Speaking Tour

Ken O’Keefe, an anti-Zionist ex-Marine and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist with a sub­stan­tial fol­low­ing on YouTube, is cur­rently on a national tour of the United States titled “F-ck the USSA/TSA/ Home­land Secu­rity Tour.” He is sched­uled to visit cities all over the U.S., as well as Canada.

O’Keefe proudly announced that he would embark on this tour, tak­ing Amtrak instead of fly­ing. In announc­ing the tour, he claimed that the secu­rity polices of the TSA and Home­land Secu­rity vio­late people’s rights by “order­ing” them to undergo a body scan, which he termed “radi­a­tion crap.” How­ever, while osten­si­bly focused on secu­rity poli­cies, his talks mostly pro­mote anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes.

Ken O'Keefe

Ken O’Keefe

For exam­ple, at a talk in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, on March 17, hosted by the con­spir­acy the­o­rist group 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe pro­moted a vast array of con­spir­acy the­o­ries vil­i­fy­ing Jews and Israel. He alleged that a small group of individuals—later referred to as Jew­ish bankers—controls the world’s money. He called these indi­vid­u­als trai­tors, psy­chopaths, sociopaths, pedophiles and “oth­er­wise cor­rupt, immoral, lack­ing in empa­thy peo­ple” who “bought every­thing and every­one that can be bought.”

He went on to say that Jews con­trol the media and Hol­ly­wood. He also claimed that Israel oper­ates within “Tal­mu­dic dic­tates” and alleged that the Tal­mud allows for Jews to rape non-Jewish three-year-old girls.

Later, when talk­ing about Israel’s 1967 acci­den­tal attack on an Amer­i­can ship, the U.S.S. Lib­erty, O’Keefe asserted that Israel can do any­thing with impunity. He added, “They even abduct, tor­ture, have sex with and rit­u­ally sac­ri­fice young chil­dren.” He also pro­moted the con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel would take the “Sam­son option,” and exter­mi­nate the world “if it feels that its exis­tence is threatened.”

Ear­lier in the week, at a pro­gram in San Diego, also hosted by the 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe expounded on sim­i­lar anti-Semitic themes. He claimed that Israel and Mossad were behind the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. O’Keefe’s tour con­tin­ues into the end of April, and he has stated that he plans to reach 17 cities across the U.S. and into Canada.

In 2014, O’Keefe attended Iran’s New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence, which drew anti-Semites and Holo­caust deniers from the U.S. and other parts of the world. He has also appeared on Press TV, the anti-Semitic Eng­lish lan­guage sta­tion run by Iran, and has writ­ten arti­cles for Vet­er­ans Today, an anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented website.

O’Keefe has been an anti-Israel activist for many years. His YouTube videos, some of which have gar­nered hun­dreds of thou­sands of views, fea­ture anti-Jewish and anti-Israel themes. He sup­ports the Pales­tin­ian cause and has claimed both Irish and Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zen­ship. He was on a flotilla in 2010 that was stopped by Israel before the ship made it to Gaza. A num­ber of activists on that ship were killed by Israeli armed forces and O’Keefe was arrested and deported. In addi­tion, he was on a flotilla that entered Gaza in 2008. He was also jailed by Israeli author­i­ties in 2004 when he attempted to enter the Gaza Strip to dis­cuss with Pales­tin­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tives his pro­posed plan to bring 10,000 activists to the West Bank and Gaza.

As O’Keefe trav­els the coun­try, it is likely that he will con­tinue to pro­mote vir­u­lent anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries to his audi­ences. The spon­sors of his talks often tout him as a peace activist and ignore his anti-Semitism. In some cases, they have been recep­tive to his anti-Semitic tropes, as they were in Berke­ley, and even applauded his rhetoric.

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March 11, 2016 5

In Iran, Holocaust Denial and Mockery are Alive and Well

Despite the inter­na­tional community’s reen­gage­ment with a more “open” and “mod­er­ate” Iran, some things in Iran­ian soci­ety haven’t changed, includ­ing the preva­lence of Holo­caust mock­ery and denial. While Pres­i­dent Rouhani hasn’t touted the issue like his pre­de­ces­sor Ahmadine­jad had, recent announce­ments indi­cate that the ques­tion­ing of the Holo­caust is very much alive and well within Iran­ian society.

In Decem­ber, the Tehran Inter­na­tional Car­toon Bien­nial announced an inter­na­tional Holo­caust car­toon con­test, with the win­ning entry get­ting a $50,000 reward. Now, the Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion of the Uni­ver­sity of Isfa­han has announced that it will hold its own Holo­caust car­toon con­test. The Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion held a sim­i­lar con­test in 2015. In announc­ing this year’s con­test, the Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion explained that its goal is to demon­strate sym­pa­thy with oppressed Pales­tini­ans and show hatred towards the Zion­ist regime and “the child killer Israel.” The orga­niz­ers claim the con­test is “not anti-Semitic,” but rather an effort to ques­tion such a dis­grace­ful and false phe­nom­e­non – the Holo­caust — some­thing which no one in the West­ern world dares to do.

Islamic Association of  Isfahan University Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion of Isfa­han Uni­ver­sity Holo­caust Car­toon Contest

They also claim their goal is to empower tal­ented indi­vid­u­als with skills they can use to edu­cate stu­dents and oth­ers about the fal­lacy of the Holocaust.

Addi­tion­ally, a recent con­fab for NGOs includ­ing social ser­vice agen­cies in an unnamed Iran­ian city titled “The Inter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Coop­er­a­tion and Human­i­tar­ian Aids”, which included a ses­sion pro­mot­ing Holo­caust denial. A report pub­lished fol­low­ing the ses­sion stated that there is “no proof for Zion­ist claims about the Holo­caust and Jews.” Moham­mad Javad Khos­rave, a Holo­caust “expert” and Emad Najar, Zion­ist and Media “expert”, were among the attendees.

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