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August 20, 2013

Sanctions Are A Vital Component Of Diplomacy To Prevent A Nuclear Iran

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August 2013 inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right)

Just before the halls of Congress emptied out for August Recess, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 850, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, by an overwhelming 400-20, bipartisan vote.  That legislation would greatly expand the scope of international financial transactions with Iran subject to U.S. penalty and would greatly shrink the amount of oil importing nations can buy from Iran without U.S. penalty. 

While there is agreement across the board that the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapons capability, the debate about the role of sanctions in diplomacy continues.  Some in Congress argue against tougher sanctions, saying newly inaugurated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should first be given a chance to show that Iranian intransigence at the negotiating table has ended.  On the other side, just days after the House bill passed, 76 senators sent a letter to President Obama, saying “we believe our nation must toughen sanctions” and asking him to bring a “renewed sense of urgency to the process.”

Rouhani should be judged by his actions, not his soothing statements, and his history as the chief nuclear negotiator, from 2003 to 2005, supports the skeptics.  Describing his previous negotiation tactics, he said in 2004: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.”  Today, the regime continues to enrich uranium, install more centrifuges, and make progress on its plutonium-producing Arak reactor.   As recently reported by The Institute for Science and International Security, at its current pace of development, Iran should have enough centrifuges installed to enrich a bomb’s worth of uranium to weapons grade – without detection – by the middle of next year.

Even more severe sanctions will support diplomacy, not hinder it, by raising the cost of delay and defiance.  As President Obama himself said in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, “Sanctions must exact a real price.  Intransigence must be met with increased pressure” and sanctions must be “tough enough to actually change behavior.”  Clearly, we’re not there yet.

ADL continues to support sanctions legislation that provides the Administration with a full range of diplomatic, economic, and legal tools to pressure the world’s leading state sponsor of terror into verifiably renouncing its nuclear weapons program.  

When Congress returns from its five-week recess, we hope the Senate will follow the House’s lead on this issue and swiftly pass legislation akin to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act.

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January 24, 2013

Holocaust Imagery Taints Gun Control Debate

Update 1/17/14: The polit­i­cal debate over gun con­trol con­tin­ues to be marked by the inap­pro­pri­ate use of Holo­caust imagery by some gun advocates. Musi­cian and gun advo­cate Ted Nugent com­pared film pro­ducer Har­vey Wein­stein to a Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist.

Update 3/5/12: The list of inappropriate Holocaust analogies regarding gun control continues to grow. NRA President David Keene defended the depiction of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as Hitler at a rally in Albany protesting new state gun regulations. In an interview on March 1, Keene said, “Folks that are cognizant of the history, not just in Germany but elsewhere, look back to the history, and say we can’t let that sort of thing happen here.”

The charged political debate over gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting continues to be tainted by inappropriate invocations of Hitler, Nazis, and general Holocaust imagery.

These comparisons, made by political pundits on national news programs as well by others outside politics, are not only misplaced and offensive, relying on factually incorrect premises and exaggerations, but also deflect attention away from an important national discussion.

One analogy suggests that President Barack Obama is somehow reminiscent of Hitler because of his gun control proposals. For example, on January 9, the homepage of The Drudge Report featured an image of Hitler and Stalin with the caption “WHITE HOUSE THREATENS ‘EXECUTIVE ORDERS’ ON GUNS.”

A similar comparison was made by Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Tehrar, who posted a number of pro-gun and anti-Obama messages on her Facebook page, including a photo of Hitler with the caption: “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”

Another common theme that has emerged in recent weeks is that if only the victims of the Holocaust had better access to guns, the Nazi regime would not have been able to systematically murder so many people.

For example, Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano made this argument in a January 10 column on FoxNews.com. Napolitano wrote that, “If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust.”

Individuals on the fringes of the political debate also have weighed in with this narrative. In a January 15 column for the website WorldNetDaily, disgraced former Major League Baseball pitcher John Rocker wrote that “the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.”

It should be noted that the small number of personal firearms in the hands of the small number of Germany’s Jews (about 214,000) remaining in Germany in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state. When they had weapons, Jews could symbolically resist, as they did in the 1943 Warsaw Uprising and elsewhere, but could not stop the Nazi genocide machine. Gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did.

Invoking the Holocaust in discussions of controversial issues is nothing new. Conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche, leader of a fringe political cult that defies categorization, and his supporters have contributed to the divisiveness surrounding the public debate on health care reform by producing and disseminating materials comparing President Barack Obama and other government officials to Hitler, Nazis and fascists.

Offensive Holocaust analogies have also been used by Democrats and Republicans alike on a number of issues, and by public figures from various sectors of society when discussing topics ranging from abortion to animal rights to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to LGBT rights.

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October 23, 2012

Farrakhan Speaks To NOI About Jewish Control And The Holocaust

On Octo­ber 21, Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Far­rakhan deliv­ered the “Part 2” of his Holy Day of Atone­ment address in Chicago. While “Part 1” of his address in Charlotte last week primarily focused on harshly crit­i­ciz­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney, the audience at the NOI’s Mosque Maryam was exposed to Farrakhan’s views on Jewish control in the U.S. and a litany of conspiracy theories. Below are some excerpts from Farrakhan’s speech in Chicago:

Jewish Control of America

“Now you know I’m going to be lambasted and called anti-Semitic… They’ll say Farrakhan was up to his old canards; he said Jews control Hollywood. Well, they said it themselves! Jews control the media. They said it themselves! Jews and some gentiles control the banking industry, international banks. They do! In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?”

“The bankers never lose. I’m sorry, Mr. Rothschild, you and your bankers will lose today. You are not going to suck the life blood of the world’s people too much longer.”

The Holocaust

“I don’t know how many Jews were killed. I know something happened in Nazi Germany, and if it’s one million, two million, three million; it’s one million, two million, three million too many. But to deny a person the right to challenge your articulation of numbers and to put you in jail if you deny aspects of the Holocaust… You can’t speak about Jews. You can’t criticize Jews. If you do, you’re an anti-Semite.”

Israel

“…what kind of friend has Israel been to America? … Do friends spy on each other? Israelis spy on America! Do friends tap each other’s telephones? Do they? Mossad tapped the White House phone system! That’s how they tapped into knowledge of what was going on in the Oval Office that wasn’t quite kosher…Tons of uranium was stolen from America; it ended up in Israel. Israel destroyed an American ship, the [U.S.S.] Liberty. Is this what friends do to friends? Americans lost their lives!”

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