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July 15, 2016 Off

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees

FB-DNC-RNC-Platforms

Over the next two weeks, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats con­vene their con­ven­tions – the equiv­a­lent of the MLB All-Star Game for polit­i­cal junkies. While the con­ven­tions are often a spec­ta­cle of polit­i­cal the­ater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken cen­ter stage is over­shad­ow­ing impor­tant pol­icy issues.

This hasn’t hap­pened in a vac­uum.  For years, America’s polit­i­cal debate has been slid­ing toward greater polar­iza­tion and acri­mony, leav­ing lit­tle space for the give-and-take that is vital to the pub­lic pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion and a healthy demo­c­ra­tic process. Even where Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can find com­mon ground, as they do on issues like crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, there seems to be lit­tle incen­tive for either party to compromise.

These diver­sions would be unhelp­ful in any elec­tion year.  But there are seri­ous issues fac­ing Amer­i­cans today, issues that require seri­ous debate. Amer­i­cans across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are reel­ing from the shoot­ing death of African-Americans Alton Ster­ling and Phi­lando Castile and the mass mur­der of police offi­cers in Dal­las. And ter­ror­ist mas­sacres tar­get­ing a gay night club in Orlando and gov­ern­ment work­ers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by vio­lent Islamist groups like ISIS. What­ever one’s views about how to address this vio­lence and the range of inter­twined issues it raises, Amer­i­cans deserve a prob­ing and con­struc­tive national debate rather than a con­test to see who can score the most polit­i­cal points.

In for­mal sub­mis­sions to the Plat­form Com­mit­tees of both par­ties, ADL has urged that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats address a range of impor­tant issues in an urgent way. Inter­na­tion­ally, the U.S. must con­tinue to play a lead­er­ship role in the fight against ter­ror­ism; in ensur­ing that Israel remains strong and secure; in pro­mot­ing peace and respect for human rights across the Mid­dle East and else­where around the globe; and in speak­ing out against a dis­turb­ing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domes­ti­cally, our sub­mis­sion also addresses a vari­ety of issues, for exam­ple assert­ing the urgent need for progress on vot­ing rights, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, expanded legal pro­tec­tion for the LGBT com­mu­nity, refugee rights, and gun vio­lence prevention.

ADL has had a long­stand­ing prac­tice of sub­mit­ting its pol­icy agenda to both par­ties, and has called on cam­paigns to reject char­ac­ter attacks and the use of big­otry in numer­ous cam­paign sea­sons.  This year, ADL is host­ing events at both con­ven­tions that focus on find­ing space for sub­stan­tive debate and col­lab­o­ra­tion toward progress in order to get down to the seri­ous busi­ness of address­ing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fall­out will linger unless we can ele­vate the qual­ity of the debate mov­ing for­ward.  It is incum­bent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of big­otry or char­ac­ter attacks by any can­di­date, and to pro­mote a pub­lic debate based on facts, evi­dence and civil discourse.

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July 11, 2016 Off

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.”

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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.

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