Tip Staff published Final Candidate Lists in Election Fact Sheets & Videos 2019-03-05 09:22:25 -0500
Tip Staff published TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in JNS on Britain, France and Germany Defying US Sanctions on Iran in TIP In the News 2019-02-19 11:32:19 -0500
Britain, France, Germany Prepare Financial Lifeline to Iran in Defiance of Sanctions
By Julie Lenarz
February 1, 2019
To read the full article in JNS, please click here.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany said they are prepared to announce the launch of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), an arrangement that will allow them to trade with Iran and protect European companies from the effects of U.S. sanctions, the Associated Press reported.
The SPV would set up a barter system that would allow Europe and Iran to trade goods and forgo the use of currency.
The announcement was expected to be made Thursday as European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Bucharest, Romania. While no definitive statement has been made yet, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that the E.U. was determined to protect the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“The most important thing is to show our American colleagues that we are moving in the same direction on a whole series of issues such as ballistic missiles or Iran’s regional influence, but that we do have a difference of opinion on the nuclear agreement,” said Reynders. “I hope we can also find a solution for this vehicle.”
Earlier this month, in a Tehran meeting with European representatives, Iranian officials reportedly stormed out and slammed the door. The undiplomatic response by the Iranians came in response to a European demand that the Islamic Republic end its ballistic missile tests and stop its terror plots on European soil.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that he expected the SPV to be ready in one or two months.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, also said that he expected the vehicle to be launched imminently.
While the purpose of the SPV is ostensibly to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, recently boasted that Iran cheated on one of its main nuclear commitments.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the AEOI, said last week that Iran didn’t fill the core of its heavy water reactor with concrete. Salehi said that Iran lied to its partners and only poured concrete into the pipes leading into the core. Iran had surreptitiously purchased other tubes and didn’t inform the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to Salehi.
“It is a shame that the E.U., founded first and foremost to preserve European security and stability, has chosen to abandon these principles for blood-stained trade agreements with the theocratic mullah regime,” Julie Lenarz, senior fellow at the Israel Project wrote in an op-ed published last week in The Tower. “Iran’s persecuted populations deserve better than being sacrificed on the altar of lucrative business deals with a regime that remains one of the worst violators of human rights in the world.”
In our new series of weekly elections podcasts, Tipping Point hosts IDI President Yohanan Plesner and Prof. Abraham Diskin for a conversation on the latest political developments.
In a week that saw Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked separating from their party, while Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabbai dramatically terminated his partnership with opposition leader Tzipi Livni, we asked our panelists which event will have the biggest impact on the election (01:17).
Also, the panelists try their luck as Campaign Cupid (06:35): Will Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon take Livni in? Will former IDF chief of general staff, Benny Gantz, join forces with Yair Lapid, and if so, who will agree to be Number 2? Could there be a “Likud Beitenu” comeback?
And before wrapping up, the conversation heats up as Diskin and Plesner spar over whether Israel’s multi-party system and subsequent fragmentation of public representation is good for democracy and for governance (15:24).
***The views expressed during the course of this podcast do not necessarily reflect the position of The Israel Project.
Tip Staff published Tell Rand Paul: America is Stronger With a Secure Israel in Take Action Now 2018-12-04 14:39:25 -0500
Senator Rand Paul is BLOCKING US aid to Israel. That support helps defend an American ally. We have to act NOW.
Add your voice. Send a message to Senator Paul: Stop playing politics with U.S. and Israeli security.GOAL: 15 signatures
Tip Staff published TIP CEO Josh Block on the Relationship Between American and Israeli Jews in TIP In the News 2018-10-25 14:35:23 -0400
TIP CEO Josh Block spoke to I24 News on the sidelines of the 2018 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly (JFNA GA) in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018. Below, you can find the video of this important discussion about the relationship between American and Israeli Jews.
How can tattoos and graffiti be used to overcome PTSD caused by war & terror?
What doesn’t the pro-Israel community get about artistic boycotts?
And why is Banksy, whose work has been extensively covered as anti-Israel, just getting a bad rap?
Tune in to Tipping Point’s latest episode with Artists 4 Israel CEO Craig Dershowitz.
Mickey Bergman works behind the scenes to release American hostages across the world. From Otto Warmbier in North Korea to finding the remains of Westerners beheaded by ISIS in Syria.
Does his Israeli identity serve as an advantage or a liability and is there a regime with which he will simply not negotiate? Tune in to Tipping Point’s latest episode.
Tip Staff published The Daily TIP: Amb Ross: Israel’s “Freedom of Action” Could Be Restricted as Russia Sends S-300 Missile System to Syria in Daily TIP 2018-09-24 14:43:21 -0400
The Daily TIP: Amb Ross: Israel’s “Freedom of Action” Could Be Restricted as Russia Sends S-300 Missile System to Syria
Amb Ross: Israel’s “Freedom of Action” Could Be Restricted as Russia Sends S-300 Missile System to Syria
UC Irvine Preparing to Refer Anti-Israel Disrupters to Prosecution
Iran Accuses U.S., Israel of Parade Attack Claimed by Islamic Terror Group, Vows ‘Devastating’ Revenge
Medical Equipment Giant to Acquire Israeli Spinal Surgery Company
Amb Ross: Israel’s “Freedom of Action” Could Be Restricted as Russia Sends S-300 Missile System to Syria
Israeli experts fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is exploiting the downing of a Russian aircraft in Syria last week to change the rules of the game in the war-torn country.
In an exclusive conference call with The Israel Project on Monday, Ambassador Dennis Ross expressed his concern about the consequences of the incident, specifically Israel’s “freedom of action” in Syria and the transfer of the sophisticated S-300 air defense technology. Ross also said he doesn’t believe that Russia is serious about curtailing Iran’s influence in Syria.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced earlier on Monday that Moscow will soon upgrade Syria's air defense following the downing of a Russian aircraft on September 15, 2018, with 15 Russian personnel on board.
The minister said the decision to "transfer the modern S-300 air defense system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks" was taken by President Putin, The Times of Israel reported. Shoigi described the transfer as "response measures.”
The Kremlin accused Israeli pilots of "premeditated actions,” warning it will harm relations between the two countries. The Israeli military, however, said that Syria's indiscriminate air defense fire was the cause of the accident.
"According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly cannot but harm our relations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The United States confirmed Israel’s narrative of events, saying Israeli missile strikes struck “a facility that Iran was using to house sensitive military equipment.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier said that Israel’s fighter jets “targeted a facility from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Russia first agreed to sell the S-300 system to Syria in 2010 but scrapped the plan at Israel’s behest. “We are certain that the realization of these measures will cool the ‘hot heads’ and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen,” Shoigu observed.
Israel repeatedly warned that it will enforce its “red lines” and will not allow Iran and Hezbollah to develop a permanent military presence in Syria.
UC Irvine Preparing to Refer Anti-Israel Disrupters to Prosecution
Campus police at University of California, Irvine will in the near future refer anti-Israeli event disruptors of a May 3, 2018 pro-Israel event to Orange County prosecutors, according to a UCI spokesperson. Referral will occur, says the spokesperson, as soon as the campus police investigation concludes.
If so, UCI will be the second UC campus, after UCLA, to refer loud and raucous anti-Israel disruptors to prosecutors for violation of California’s statutes prohibiting disruption of public meetings, disturbing the peace, and conspiracy to do either.
After the police referral, it will be up to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to decide whether actual prosecution should ensue. Rackauckas previously made history with the 2011 prosecution and conviction of the famous “Irvine 11,” who disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in 2010, when he spoke at UCI. Rackauckas is considered one the state’s most seasoned, no-nonsense DAs.
The new UCI case arises from a May 3, 2018 effort by UCI’s College Republicans to host a panel with Israeli Reservists on Duty. After about 40 minutes, a parade of anti-Israel agitators filed in to stage a well-orchestrated and unruly disruption, using a bullhorn and shouting derogatory chants. The disruption was documented by at least two dozen videos, reviewed by this writer, including this long video at minute 42:00. After the disruptors were ushered out, the boisterous disorder continued to disrupt from the corridor under police protection, according to the videos.
To read the complete essay, please click here.
Iran Accuses U.S., Israel of Parade Attack Claimed by Islamic Terror Group, Vows ‘Devastating’ Revenge
A senior figure in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned U.S. and Israeli leaders to expect a "devastating" response from Tehran, accusing them of involvement in Saturday’s attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, The Times of Israel reported.
Four gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked an annual Iranian military parade marking the start of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq in the country's oil-rich southwest, killing at least 25 people and wounding 60 in the bloodiest assault to strike the country in recent years.
The dead and injured were a mix of members of the powerful IRGC as well as civilian onlookers, semi-official news agencies reported. During the parade, the crowd chanted, "Death to Israel and America.”
"You have seen our revenge before ... You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done," the IRGC’s deputy head Hossein Salami said in a speech before the funerals on state television Sunday.
Threatening what Salami called the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States, the IRGC leader said: “You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions… We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge.”
Amaq agency, the official news outlet of the terrorist group Islamic State, claimed the attack and posted a video of three men in a vehicle who it said were on their way to carry out the assault. “We are Muslims, they are heretics,” one of the men can be heard saying in the video. “We will kill them with a guerilla attack, inshallah.”
However, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused U.S.-backed Gulf states of being behind the attack, saying in a statement that “this crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States.”
The attack, one of the worst ever against the IRGC, struck a blow at Iran’s security establishment at a time when the U.S., Israel and Gulf allies are working to isolate Tehran on the international stage.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed Salami’s comments. "He's got the Iranian people are protesting, every ounce of money that goes into Iran goes into his military, he has oppressed his people for a long time and he needs to look at his own base to figure out where that's coming from," she told CNN's 'State of the Union.'
Medical Equipment Giant to Acquire Israeli Spinal Surgery Company
Medical equipment giant Medtronic is to acquire Israeli spinal surgery company Mazor Robotics for some $1.64 billion in an all-cash deal, or $1.34 billion net of Medtronic’s existing stake in Mazor, it was announced last Thursday.
Medtronic, which held a stake of about 11 percent in Mazor before the deal was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, agreed to pay $58.50 per American Depository Share or $29.25 per ordinary share in cash, the companies said in a statement. The deal is expected to close in Medtronic’s third fiscal quarter ending January 25, 2019.
Mazor, a maker of robotic guidance systems for spine and brain surgeries, made headlines last year when Israeli surgeons performed the world’s first dual robotic surgery using Mazor’s Renaissance Guidance System and Siemens’ Artis Zeego.
The three-hour surgery at Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem in Jerusalem was performed on a factory worker who broke his leg in two places and broke six spinal vertebrae in an accident.
The company was founded by Moshe Shoham and Eli Zehavi in 2001 and is based in Caesarea. Medtronic is a multinational company headquartered in Ireland and Minnesota.
Medtronic said it expects the acquisition of Mazor “to generate a double-digit return on invested capital by year four, with an increasing contribution thereafter.”
“We believe robotic-assisted procedures are the future of spine surgery, and provide surgeons a more precise, repeatable, and controlled ability to perform complex procedures,” said Geoff Martha, executive vice president and president of the Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic.
“The acquisition of Mazor adds robotic-assisted guidance systems to our expanding portfolio of enabling technologies, and we intend to further cultivate Mazor’s legacy of innovation in surgical robotics with the site and team in Israel as a base for future growth.”
“The Mazor team and product portfolio’s full integration into Medtronic will maximize our impact globally through Medtronic’s channels, advance our system’s leadership position in the marketplace, and drive the realization of our vision to heal through innovation,” said Ori Hadomi, CEO of Mazor Robotics.
More than 200 Mazor systems are in clinical use on four continents and have guided the placement of more than 250,000 implants during some 40,000 procedures, enabling minimally invasive spine surgery to become standard procedure in many hospitals.
Tip Staff published U.S. Announces Closure of PLO Mission in Washington in Dispute over Peace Plan in Daily TIP 2018-09-11 17:13:27 -0400
U.S. Announces Closure of PLO Mission in Washington in Dispute over Peace Plan
British MP of Palestinian Descent Condemns “anti-Semitic” Posters, as Labour Party Investigates Infiltration by Iran
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Launch Deadly Ballistic Missile Strikes On Kurdish Dissidents In Iraq
Israeli Medical Team Teaches Medical Course to Doctors in KenyaU.S. Announces Closure of PLO Mission in Washington in Dispute over Peace Plan
The White House announced Monday that it is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) diplomatic mission in Washington over what U.S. officials say is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to participate in the peace process and attempts to get an international court to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes, The Times of Israel reported.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) repeatedly has reiterated its unwillingness to engage with a U.S.-led regional peace initiative, which enjoys the support of Arab states, as well as to negotiate with Washington’s envoys, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said during a speech to the Federalist Society. “The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
He added: “The United States supports a direct and robust peace process, and we will not allow the ICC (International Criminal Court), or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense.”
The U.S. State Department confirmed Monday that it was ordering the closure of the PLO office. “We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
She described the move as part of a widening U.S. pressure campaign on Palestinian officials amid stalled Middle East peace prospects. “The PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel, Nauert said.
“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”
The move was praised in Israel, where the Prime Minister’s office said the U.S. was taking a clear stance against the Palestinian refusal to negotiate.
British MP of Palestinian Descent Condemns “anti-Semitic” Posters, as Labour Party Investigates Infiltration by Iran
A British Member of Parliament of Palestinian Arab descent has denounced the defacing of bus-stops in London with "Israel is a racist endeavour" posters as "blatantly anti-Semitic,” The Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who represents Oxford West and Abingdon, told the BBC: "I'm a Palestinian... The fact that this has come from a group that purportedly is speaking for Palestinians, I take great offence at myself, because I think it is blatantly antisemitic." She clarified that “there are extremes in the Israeli government… But to say that an entire country is racist is entirely wrong."
Moran was responding to comments made by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who stated that "It is not at all anti-Semitic to describe a state as racist."
The posters were meant to mock the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which Labour reluctantly adopted in full last week with a caveat vowing "free speech" on Israel. The IHRA definition, which gives calling "a state of Israel... a racist endeavour" as an example of anti-Semitism.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan on Thursday ordered the signs to be taken down and described them as “offensive.” A spokesman for Corbyn refused to condemn the posters because Labour was not officially involved in the campaign by Palestinian activists.
The party, meanwhile, has come under fire again, after an Iranian state-owned TV station, which had its license revoked in Britain in 2012 over claims that editorial decisions were being made in Tehran, carried footage of a local party meeting passing a vote of no confidence in the Enfield North MP, Joan Ryan.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Ryan said that Iranian journalists from Press TV had “infiltrated” the party and had targeted her because of her support for Israel: “I’m horrified that they’ve infiltrated the Labour party in this way and I think it needs to be investigated, because it is incredibly serious.”
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Launch Deadly Ballistic Missile Strikes On Kurdish Dissidents In Iraq
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is behind an attack on Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region that killed at least 11 people and wounded numerous others on Saturday, The Algemeiner reported.
Iranian ballistic missiles targeted the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party - Iran (KDP-I) and the Democratic Party of the Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), as well as an Iranian Kurdish refugee camp in the Erbil Province’s Koya.
United States Vice President, Mike Pence, on Monday condemned Iran’s rocket attacks against the Kurdistan Region and, in a phone call with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, called the attacks by Iran “an effort to threaten and destabilize its closest neighbour [Iraq].”
The two men also discussed counter-terrorism efforts, “and reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the Kurds and the United States.”
In a September 9 statement, released by the semi-official Fars news agency, the IRGC said it had fired seven missiles in the attack on Rojhilati Kurdish dissidents. “In a successful operation, the Guards’ aerospace unit, along with the army’s drone unit … targeted a criminal group’s meeting and a terrorist training center with seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles.”
Iran’s target were armed opposition groups fighting for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community, which have been banned from the country for opposing the rule of the mullah regime.
In an op-ed published in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Seth J. Frantzman observed that the attack on Kurdish groups in the Erbil Governorate was “a message from Tehran to the region that it can do what it wants, not only in neighboring Iraq, but throughout the Middle East…It shows how the IRGC operates across borders and throughout the region, seeing Iran’s policy in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as linked into one larger program.”
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the nuclear deal with Iran from which the Trump administration withdrew in March, failed to curb Iran's ballistic missile program and, according to critics, was one of the major flaws of the agreement.
Israeli medical team brings CPR skills to Africa
Into a country where medicine, manpower and equipment are all in short supply came the Israelis. Their goal: to teach advanced CPR in the heart of Africa.
A senior delegation from the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa recently gave an emergency medicine course to local doctors and nursing staff in the village of Nakuru, Kenya.
The course, which included lectures, simulations and individual training, was initiated by Prof. Ruth Margalit, who is responsible for Global Medicine at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.
“It’s very important to understand what we were up against,” explained Prof. Itay Shavit, director of Rambam’s Pediatric Emergency Department and head of the medical team.
The Rambam team taught their local counterparts CPR equipment maintenance, case-management techniques, basic and advanced resuscitation methods and how to use equipment they had never encountered before. The Israelis brought medical equipment and simulation dolls.
“Because the gaps are great, the challenge is great, but it was exciting to see how quickly the changes were made and how easy it is to make a difference,” said team member Ravit Idelman, a senior nurse in Rambam’s ER department.
Rambam has given similar courses in Romania.
“When we accepted the proposal to hold the course in Africa, we did not hesitate for a moment,” added Dr. Hadas Levin Kanani, a senior ER physician. “Knowledge and skills help save lives in places where the need is greatest.”
The team intends to return to Africa to do more training on a regular basis and “to reach any place where we and our experience can help,” Idelman said.
Rick Hirschhaut, National Executive Director of American Friends of Rambam Medical Center, described the team’s work in Africa as “the highest humanitarian values of global citizenship.”
Tip Staff published TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in Fox News on Iran's Forgotten Persecuted Christian Minority in TIP In the News 2018-09-05 15:35:39 -0400
Iran's forgotten persecuted Christian minority
By Julie Lenarz and Ben Weinthal
August 26, 2018
Click here to read full article in Fox News
Iranian Christians are in dire straits in the Islamic Republic because of a new wave of regime repression that has largely not registered in the media due to the country’s economic free fall and popular uprising by a people fed up with the tyrannical nature of the regime.
The mullahs have launched a cut-throat campaign to silence their opponents, and on top of their list are Iran’s persecuted Christians – an ancient people of the land the regime stigmatizes as a gateway to the West.
On August 9, an organization – Article 18 – that promotes religious freedom in Iran, reported that a court in Boushehr had sentenced a couple of Christian converts and ten other Iranians to one year in prison each for “propagating against the Islamic Republic in favor of Christianity.”
The sentence came just weeks after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani – often portrayed in the West as a reform-minded moderate – had vowed that “Christians have the same rights as others do.”
Christianity, of course, is not alien to Iran where it arrived in Persia not long after the death of Christ. There are believed to be an estimated 350,000 Christians in Iran, with a growing trend toward converting to Christianity. Iran’s Statistical Center reports 117,700 Christians in a country of just over 82 million people.
The real number of Iranian Christians probably exceeds 350,000 because of the anti-Christian conditions they face in the country. Turning inward not to expose oneself to the dangers of practicing Christianity has become a survival strategy in Iran.
The law heavily discriminates against non-Muslims, who have been barred from all influential positions in central state organs since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Blasphemy and apostasy remain capital offences.
The persecution of Iran’s Christians is well-documented and is not limited to Evangelicals. Last year, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), arrested two Christians – a mother and her son – as part of a vicious crackdown on Catholicism in the country’s West Azerbaijan Province.
The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in October 2017. The 125,000-member-strong IRGC has a long record of brutality targeting Christians and democracy movements opposed to the mullah regime.
Europe, so far, has declined to sanction the IRGC for their blatant human rights violations.
The evidence is hard to ignore. Iranian authorities regularly arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles, Christian CDs and other religious literature, while regime-controlled media outlets spread anti-Christian propaganda.
A 2018 report by the Commission for International Religious Freedom observed that, “In the past year, religious freedom in Iran continued to deteriorate for both recognized and unrecognized religious groups, with the government targeting Baha’is and Christian converts in particular.”
Four evangelical Christians were arrested in May 2017 and sentenced each to 10 years in prison for house church activities and evangelism.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani stood trial in July along three co-defendants because of their house church activities. They were all sentenced to 10 years in prison. It is worth recalling that Nadarkhani was previously sentenced in 2010 to death for his conversion to Christianity. After a global pressure campaign ensued, Iran’s regime released him from prison, after a three-year incarceration. Over 70,000 people signed a petition urging Iran’s judiciary to release Nadarkhani.
In June 2017, an Iranian court sentenced Pentecostal Assyrian Church Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and three other members of his community to 10 or 15 years each in prison because of their faith.
Iran has a choice to make. As a signatory of international human rights declarations, the Islamic Republic must adhere to basic humanitarian law – including freedom of religion and belief – or is rightly castigated as a pariah in the family of nations.
The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Iran’s precious metal trade, automobile sector and use of U.S. currency in August. A powerful second round of U.S. economic penalties will hit Iran’s oil and financial sectors in November.
To isolate Iran’s clerical leaders – and hold those accountable for grave human rights violations – the EU and U.S. should impose a potent round of human rights sanctions on regime officials persecuting Iranian Christians.
The Islamic Republic remains highly vulnerable when a spotlight is shined on their widespread repression of religious freedom. If past is prologue, new human rights sanctions and global pressure can save the lives of persecuted Iranian Christians.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.
Tip Staff published TIP Senior Fellow Quoted in FoxNews.com Article on Germany Ignoring Iran Sanctions in TIP In the News 2018-08-24 10:14:26 -0400
Germany accused of betraying pledge to combat anti-Semitism by ignoring Iran sanctions
By Benjamin Weinthal
August 22, 2018
Click here to read full article.
The German government is under fire for betraying its pledge to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, in light of Berlin’s efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The criticism comes after Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, argued for a new world order without the U.S. as the leader.
In a hard-charging attack on the Trump administration, Maas said Germany “will not allow [the U.S.] to go over our heads, and at our expense.”
“It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels independent of the US, a European monetary fund and an independent SWIFT [payments] system,” he wrote in German business daily Handelsblatt. “The devil is in thousands of details. But every day that the Iran [nuclear] agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.”
His comments drew ire from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of U.S. human rights organization of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“Circumventing sanctions on an Iranian regime that is committed in word and deed to destroy Israel for financial gain for German companies makes a mockery of that [Berlin’s] commitment” to implement the lessons of the Holocaust, he told FoxNews.com.
Cooper expressed regret that Maas appeared to be taking sides with the ayatollahs, because “The Wiesenthal Center knows Foreign Minister Maas as a friend of the Jewish community and a person who takes [to heart] the legacy and responsibility of the Nazi Holocaust.”
He added that “economic greed should not subvert the safety of German Jewry.”
Iran's regime under then-Iranian president and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that "a world without America...is attainable."
The US wants Iran cut off from SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — to force Tehran to return to the negotiating table. Disconnection from the Brussels-based SWIFT, which facilitates cross-country payments, would deal a powerful blow to Iran’s struggling economy.
The US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May because the agreement does not stop the regime from building nuclear weapons, bring an end to Iranian terrorism or advance American security interests, President Donald Trump said.
The Wiesenthal Center’s criticism of Maas, who said he went into politics because of Auschwitz, and the German government follows a call from Germany’s roughly 100,000-member Jewish umbrella organization for the end of Iranian-German trade.
Dr. Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of German Jews, said last week: “Any trade with Iran means a benefit for radical and terrorist forces and a hazard and destabilization for the region.”
He added: “It seems paradoxical that Germany — as a country that is said to have learned from its horrendous past and which has a strong commitment to fight anti-Semitism — is one of the strongest economic partners of a regime that is blatantly denying the Holocaust and abusing human rights on a daily basis.
“Besides, Germany has included Israel’s security as a part of its ‘raison d'etre.’
As a matter of course this should exclude doing business with a fanatic dictatorship that is calling for Israel’s destruction, pursuing nuclear weapons and financing terror organizations around the world.”
The Industry and Chamber of Commerce in Bonn/Rhein-Sieg in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is slated to hold a conference promoting business with Iran on September 5, according to German newspaper Bild.
Approximately 120 German companies are active in Iran, with workers based in the Islamic Republic. There are 10,000 German businesses conducting business with Iran, and Germany exported $3.42 billion worth of goods to Iran in 2017.
The U.S government has urged German companies to wind down their business with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Julie Lenarz, a Senior Fellow at The Israel Project in Washington, D.C., told FoxNews.com: “All governments should make trade ties with Iran contingent upon the Islamic Republic‘s end to its global sponsorship of terror, illicit nuclear ambitions and suppression of basic rights at home.”
She said the Iran deal “was a disaster — a patient pathway to the bomb — and the Trump administration did the only responsible thing reimposing sanctions, thereby putting pressure on the regime and forcing them back to the negotiation table on our terms.”
Lenarz added: “Europe, and Germany in particular, are throwing the mullah regime — confronted with an economy in free fall, a collapsing currency and rising popular dissent — a much needed lifeline by boycotting the sanctions. It makes them directly complicit in the crimes committed by Iran.”
If Iran wants the economic benefits of being a member of the international community, it should behave accordingly, or Germany should immediately end its immoral trade with Iran and support the long-suffering Iranian people in ending the clerical dictatorship."
Peter Altmaier, Germany's economic minister and a fierce critics of U.S. trade policy, did not respond to
Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal
[Photo: Tasnim News ]
Tip Staff published TIP Senior Fellow Quoted in LA Jewish Journal on Jeremy Corbyn's Anti-Semitic Actions in TIP In the News 2018-08-17 11:25:26 -0400
Corbyn Ties Ceremony Honoring Terrorists to ‘Peace Process’
By Aaron Bandler
August 14, 2018
Click here to read full article in the Jewish Journal
Photos recently unearthed by the UK Daily Mail showed UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn laying a wreath at a 2014 Tunisia ceremony commemorating the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics. Corbyn told Channel 4 News that he did so to “have a peace process.”
Channel 4’s Clare Fallon asked if he laid a wreath on or nearby the graves of the terrorists, prompting Corbyn to respond that the terrorists were killed in Israeli operations in Paris and Beirut that resulted in others dying “who were not involved in” the 1972 massacre, such as Yasser Arafat’s deputy, Abu Yusuf.
“I, along with other colleagues who were delegates at the conference, laid a wreath in memory of all those that have died in the hope that we have a peace process and peace in the future,” Corbyn said, “so those raids are never repeated.”
Corbyn added that “the way forward is of peace” and “dialogue” instead of “bombing” or “shooting civilians in Gaza.”
The Labour Party leader was asked again if he laid down a wreath; he responded that the wreath was in honor of those that died in the 1985 Israeli strike on Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters. Fallon pressed again on if the wreath was laid nearby the Munich terrorists and Corbyn said it was laid for “all those that had died.”
Corbyn was then asked if he took part in laying that wreath, and he replied by saying he “totally condemned” the 1972 Munich massacre.
Fallon eventually asked Corbyn if he ever “laid a wreath at the graves of Israelis who were killed in Palestinian attacks.”
“I’ve met many people from the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, over the years,” Corbyn responded. “I’ve indeed visited the Knesset and I met visiting Israeli delegations into Britain and, of course, anybody killed in this awful conflict has to be mourned.”
However, The Israel Project’s Julie Lenarz noted in National Review, “Corbyn time and again has missed opportunities to meet with Israeli delegates and boycotted events with Israeli officials in attendance.”
In response to Corbyn, The UK Daily Mail showed a layout of the graves to argue that the photos do indeed show that Corbyn was at the graves of the Munich terrorists, not those that died in the 1985 strike against PLO headquarters.
The controversy appears to be taking a toll on Corbyn, as in another recent interview he is seen rolling his eyes in response to a question about the wreath. He has refused to apologize for attending the ceremony.
Corbyn is also under fire over an unearthed image of him giving the Muslim Brotherhood salute at a mosque in February.
[Photo: PressTV / YouTube ]
Tip Staff published TIP Vice President Op-Ed in The Hill on Restoring Peace in Gaza in TIP In the News 2018-08-17 10:52:36 -0400
To restore peace in Gaza, Israel and international community must step up
BY LIOR WEINTRAUB, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
08/14/18 07:30 AM EDT
Click here to read full article in The Hill.
Being prime minister of Israel always has been a tough job, requiring risky decisions daily that affect the security of the Israeli people and the survival of the Jewish state. David Ben Gurion took a leap of faith when he declared independence in 1948. Levi Eshkol bet everything on one card with a preemptive strike during the Six-Day War in 1967. Air force pilots engaged in a daring mission 37 years ago when Menachem Begin ordered the raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor.
Nonetheless, when they believed there was hope for peace, these leaders showed courage by extending their hands toward enemies. Such was the case with the Camp David Accords and subsequent treaty with Egypt (Menachem Begin), the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and the agreement with Jordan (Yitzhak Rabin), and the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria (Ariel Sharon). Benjamin Netanyahu undertook what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called an “unprecedented” move to freeze settlement construction.
Fast forward to today’s unique challenge of Gaza. Life for Israeli civilians in border communities has become intolerable — fires, underground tunnels and terrorist infiltration attempts. Hamas’s eco-terror has scorched over 7,400 acres of land, obliterating its wildlife. Firebombs and rockets fall on kindergartens, and many Israelis are well acquainted with bomb shelters. The success of a ceasefire in the works comes down to Hamas’s desire to maintain it.
Thirteen years ago, Israel disengaged from Gaza, uprooting homes and cemeteries so it would not rule over 1.8 million Palestinians. Some even hoped that the Strip would become the Singapore of the Middle East. But today Gaza is governed by terrorists: a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas brutally grabbed power from the Palestine Liberation Organization that leads the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority (PA).
Tactically, Hamas shows flexibility when it sees an opportunity to improve its standing. But it remains uncompromising ideologically and its strategic goal is immutable: the annihilation of the Jewish state. Hamas’s unwillingness to accept the Quartet’s conditions (recognizing Israel, renouncing terror from Gaza and the West Bank, and honoring past agreements), coupled with its cruel refusal to repatriate two intellectually disabled Israeli civilians and the bodies of fallen soldiers, is evidence of the group’s unchanging nature.
Israel undoubtedly could retake Gaza militarily but has other considerations. It wants to avoid collateral damage to civilians. And it is not Israel’s job to determine for the Palestinians who will lead them. Israel would be unable to provide health, education and welfare services to a hostile population.
Additional malign forces are at play. The Iranians wish to drag Israel into a Gaza operation that would force Israel to divert its attention from Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. This would fortify the Islamic Republic’s land bridge to the Mediterranean and provide a launchpad for attacks against Israel. Iran’s leaders know that a Gaza-Israel war would damage the Jewish state’s international standing, thereby weakening the impact of its efforts to combat Teheran’s quest for regional hegemony, and its fight to preserve the failed JCPOA. That’s why it’s pumping money into Gaza, pushing Hamas and Islamic Jihad into action.
Israel is concerned by Gaza’s humanitarian situation and facilitates the transfer of thousands of trucks of goods a week. While financial aid has flowed to the Strip, unemployment remains high, and power and water shortages are part of daily life. Where does the money go? Hamas invests it into strengthening itself and weapons factories.
The PA has delayed its payments of salaries to Gazan workers and prevented the transfer of payment for utilities necessary to the Strip. This is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s policy of punishing Hamas for refusing to accept a reconciliation agreement that would have required turnover of arms, border control and other instruments of power. So bitter is the internal Palestinian dispute that the PA refuses to support Israeli and American efforts to address Gaza’s humanitarian problem.
There are potential solutions to this situation.
Israel continues to explore arrangements that would restore peace along the border and improve the lives of Gazans. The cabinet meets regularly, and has suggested the construction of an artificial island off Gaza’s coast, a designated port in Cyprus, and support for generous aid packages that the United States and other international players are promoting. The Israeli government would do well to make its policy in this regard loud and clear.
Moreover, we need stepped-up involvement by the international community, led by the moderate Arab states; Egypt could take the reins. This would involve the carrot-and-stick approach — using sticks against Hamas and offering carrots to the Gazan population.
Finally, countries interested in improving the situation must condition their donations to Gaza with its demilitarization. Hamas cannot continue to be rewarded with generous funds. Money and commodities must reach civilians, not those involved in the industry of death.
Only when these three goals are met can we relieve the suffering of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians and put off — if not prevent — the painful campaign that Hamas and its Iranian backers seek.
Lior Weintraub is vice president of The Israel Project and the former chief of staff at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He is a lecturer on diplomacy and communication at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel.
[Photo: Wochit News / YouTube ]
Tip Staff published TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in National Review on Jeremy Corbyn's Long History of Anti-Semitism in TIP In the News 2018-08-17 10:15:13 -0400
Jeremy Corbyn, Anti-Semite
By Julie Lenarz
August 14, 2018
Click here to read full article in National Review
He has a long history of honoring and supporting those who libel Jews, deny the Holocaust, and vow to destroy Israel.
When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the British Labour party in the autumn of 2015, a chill ran through the Jewish community in Britain. They were fearful not because they anticipated the anti-Semitic storm that has since engulfed the highest ranks within the party — no one expected the situation to escalate to the contentious level it has now reached — but simply because they had been paying attention.
Behind Corbyn’s polished façade — beyond the walls of the carefully constructed bubble in which he is celebrated as an anti-racist social-justice campaigner for the most deprived in the world — lies a decades-long record of extensive links with terrorists, racists, and dictators. It explains why three leading Jewish publications recently took the unprecedented step of warning, in a joint editorial, that a government led by Corbyn would pose an “existential threat” to British Jewish life.
This is a serious charge, but the evidence has been lining up. Take the fact that Corbyn once described it as his “honour and pleasure” to host “our friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah in Parliament. Corbyn praised the two internationally designated terrorist groups, devoted to the total annihilation of the Jewish state, as organizations “dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people . . . and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region.”
Corbyn has often excused his meetings with Hamas and Hezbollah as gestures of peace, an opportunity to talk to all sides in the conflict — except when it comes to Jews. Corbyn time and again has missed opportunities to meet with Israeli delegates and boycotted events with Israeli officials in attendance. He is part of a mindset in which Zionism, the belief that Jews deserve their own homeland, is a racist endeavor — a position that, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition, is anti-Semitic.
Corbyn’s collusion with extremists goes on. He invited for tea in Parliament the Palestinian hate preacher Raed Salah, whom he described as “a very honoured citizen” whose “voice must be heard.” Saleh was found by a British court to have used the anti-Semitic “blood libel” (the fabricated assertion that Jews use the blood of Christians in religious ceremonies). On a different occasion, Corbyn accepted a free trip to meet Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, paid for by a Palestinian group that blames Jews for the Holocaust. In a similar fashion, Corbyn’s spokesperson had to disassociate Corbyn from Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, to whom he had allegedly donated money.
At the peak of his betrayal — not just of the Jewish community, but of the country he wants to lead as prime minister — Corbyn hosted a call-in program on Press TV, the state-owned propaganda outlet of Iran. For selling out his own people, the mullahs paid him a cushy salary of £20,000.
The list goes on. Last month, Corbyn missed an emergency session of the Labour party’s parliamentary delegation — called just after the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to reject key parts of the widely accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism — but found time to sit down with the emir of Qatar, the wealthy despot whose country has openly sponsored Hamas in Gaza.
Corbyn’s links to extremists continue to surface because Corbyn has been meeting with them throughout his entire career — they are his friends, associates, idols, even heroes. On Monday, the Labour leader was forced to deny that he laid a wreath at the memorial for Palestinian terrorists accused of being behind the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972, after the Daily Mail published photos of him at the event. The paper also revealed that Corbyn spoke at the wedding of Husam Zomlot, a PLO official who claimed that Israel had “fabricated” the Holocaust.
Corbyn would not be where he is today without his league of faithful minions, who will go to any length to explain away what is right there in plain sight — Corbyn’s long history of apathy toward anti-Semites.
Despite repeated promises to root out anti-Semitism in the Labour party, Corbyn has not once acknowledged the role he played in the drastic spike of anti-Jewish sentiment on the left. Instead, Corbyn’s latest article in the Guardian opens with a lame affirmation of his anti-racist credentials: “I have spent my life campaigning for recognition of the strength of a multicultural society.”
Yet Corbyn would not be where he is today without his league of faithful minions, who will go to any length to explain away what is right there in plain sight — Corbyn’s long history of apathy toward anti-Semites.
The political commentator and avid Corbyn supporter Owen Jones recently dismissed Labour’s racism problem as “a fringe on the left” and charged that “Corbyn and the left are being smeared.” Jones made the comment days after the NEC’s rejection of the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, which is adopted by 31 countries, including the U.K. The only other major European party not to accept the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism is Viktor Orban’s populist Fidesz party in Hungary.
The NEC is not “a fringe on the left.” It is the Labour party’s highest-ranking body. Jones, of course, knows that. But admitting it would undermine the Janus-faced strategy he and other prominent Corbynites have implemented since the Dear Leader’s rise to power: Condemn anti-Semitism in the Labour party, while at the same time washing Corbyn and his inner circle of any responsibility for the toxic climate that has been created.
Leading Corbynites — among them Jones, Aaron Bastani, and Matt Zarb-Cousin — have given birth to a culture in which accusations of anti-Semitism leveled at the party’s leadership are dismissed automatically as propaganda spread by Corbyn’s opponents to remove him from power. Corbyn’s loyalists have created a climate where references to any of the many meetings the Labour leader has held with extremists are answered with hysterical calls from supporters charging “FAKE NEWS,” “SMEARS,” and “BLAIRITE CONSPIRACIES.”
No amount of spin, however, can hide the totality of evidence. Corbyn is not a man of peace, and he is certainly no friend of the Jewish people. Veteran Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge had the chutzpah to speak to his face what many think but fear to say: that Corbyn is “an anti-Semite and a racist.” John Woodcock, a former Labour MP, called him a “national-security risk” before resigning in horror.
The problem, of course, is not just one man. The ultra-loyalists who surround Corbyn and roll out an excuse — no matter how shameful — every time he is caught whitewashing his history with extremists are just as much responsible for the morally depraved situation in which the Labour party now finds itself.
Owen Jones and his fellow travelers pretend that Corbyn is just the unluckiest, most misunderstood man on the planet. But the Jewish community in Britain knows the truth is much more sinister.
JULIE LENARZ — Julie Lenarz is a senior fellow at The Israel Project and the director of the Human Security Centre in London.
[Photo: ITV NEWS / YouTube ]
Tip Staff published TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Jerusalem Post on PA President Mahmoud Abbas Era Coming to a Close in TIP In the News 2018-07-26 14:13:19 -0400
A LAST CHANCE FOR MR. ABBAS
According to the Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid $198 million to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and an additional $160m. to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.
By Joshua S. Block
The Jerusalem Post
July 13, 2018
Click here to read full article in The Jerusalem Post.
It was reported last month that the leaders of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are so frustrated with the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to even consider the Middle East peace plan (currently being drawn up by the Trump administration) that they would not object if the American plan bypassed the Palestinian leadership and was presented directly to the Palestinian people.
The White House has expressed eagerness to negotiate “the ultimate deal” between the Israelis and the Palestinians – a plan which is still under wraps, and the Palestinians know little about. That fact, however, hasn’t stopped the PA from categorically rejecting any final product out of hand.
This deliberate policy of obstruction and obfuscation is an insult to the US and the American people, who have sent hundreds of millions in hard-earned tax dollars to the PA every year for humanitarian purposes. It is also a betrayal of the Palestinian people, who suffer extreme hardship as a direct result of the reckless decision-making of the PA.
If the PA is dissatisfied with US peace efforts, the way forward is more engagement and constructive criticism, not disrespect and boycott of an initiative that enjoys widespread support in the Arab world, and beyond.
A senior Jordanian official observed that “Arab states will not be the ones to throw a wrench in the wheels of the peace process, and that [Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud] Abbas’s continued refusal to work with the Americans will lead to a regional peace plan being launched without him.”
As the Abbas era draws to an close and leads to increased instability in the Palestinian territories, the PA has a simple choice to make: it can be part of lasting peace, or the cause of perpetual conflict. It can help shape history or watch as history is being written without it. It can work with the US, Israel and Arab states to bring prosperity to the region, or risk widespread isolation.
Abbas, now in the 13th year of a four-year term as president, is at risk of becoming irrelevant to the future of his people. He has no electoral mandate. He will not engage with either the US or Israel. And it appears that even the Arab nations whose support he needs have grown tired of him.
During a meeting with Fatah party leaders on Sunday, Abbas vowed that Palestinian terrorists and their families will continue to receive stipends – a policy that severely undermines the standing of the Palestinians in the international arena.
In March, the US passed the Taylor Force Act that would cut off most foreign aid from the PA if it continues to pay terrorists with blood on their hands and their families. Other countries followed. Earlier this month, the Knesset voted into law a bill to slash funds to the PA by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists and their relatives. Australia and Norway have taken similar steps to condemn the PA’s incitement of terrorism.
According to the Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid $198 million to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and an additional $160m. to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club – some 7% of its total budget.
Abbas claims to be a man of peace. Yet, in reality, he incites and rewards terror. How can he reverse the current situation? How can he lead his people to independence and secure a place for himself in history?
Abbas could relax his grip on Palestinian politics, cut down on corruption, and make his government more transparent. He could also relax his control over the economy and allow for the growth of a private sector. But most importantly, he must change his outlook from fostering “resistance” to Israel to encouraging cooperation with Israel.
None of this will be easy. In politics the toughest thing for a person to do is to voluntarily cede power and control. But years of resistance to compromise has failed to achieve Palestinian statehood.
US policymakers engaged in the new round of peace negotiations must make two basic stipulations. First, the PA must accept the reality that Israel is here to stay as the nation state of the Jewish people. This should be a no-brainer, but by no means is a given. Abbas in the past has publicly stated, “I will never accept a Jewish state” and “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.’”
Second, no agreement can be signed until the Palestinians withhold money to terrorists. Their leadership must carry a message of peace based on facts and reality, not disseminate an ideology based on hatred and conspiracy, and certainly not on violence and incitement.
If Abbas stays the course, he will be remembered only for having sacrificed the dreams of his people for the consolidation of his own wealth and power and putting continued conflict ahead of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
By rejecting the US peace plan out of hand, Abbas and the PA for now have demonstrated yet again that they lack the courage to embrace genuine peace. Only when Palestinian leaders want their own state more than they want to destroy the Jewish state, can the mandate of 1947 – two states for two peoples – see the light of day.
The writer is CEO and president of The Israel Project.
[Photo: Пресс-служба Президента России / WikiCommons]
Tip Staff published Episode 72 - What’s next for Gaza? in Tipping Point Podcast 2018-06-06 17:27:29 -0400
Following the deadly riots on Gaza’s border, Tipping Point hosted Dr. Kobi Michael of the Institute for National Security Studies for a conversation on possible policy changes Israel could take regarding Hamas.
Also on this episode – what will the day after Mahmoud Abbas look like and how will the power struggle between the old and new guard in Palestinian leadership play out.
Tip Staff published TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Hill on Iraq Being the First Test of U.S. Pushback Against Iran's Influence in the Region in TIP In the News 2018-05-25 13:58:21 -0400
TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Hill on Iraq Being the First Test of U.S. Pushback Against Iran's Influence in the Region
Iraq is the place to test US strategy to curb Iranian aggression
By Joshua Block
May 25, 2018
Click here to read full article.
Iraq’s May 12 election, its first since the defeat of the terrorist group ISIS, was a critical step in shaping the country’s future. The vote also was a test of the regional influence exerted by Iran at a time when the United States is determined to contain Tehran’s aggressive ambitions following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The result of the election, in which a political bloc led by firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took the lead, likely was not what the Islamic Republic had hoped for. But any discussion of an end to Iran’s power grab in Iraq would be premature — speculative at best, and potentially dangerous.
While al-Sadr’s victory complicates the situation for Tehran, the election turned America’s Iraq policy upside down, thus placing vital U.S. interests in the country at severe risk.
For Iran, too, the stakes are high as Tehran looks to protect its regional plan of a “Shiite full moon” in a corridor stretching from the Islamic Republic, via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
In Lebanon, the mullah regime strengthened its grip when Hezbollah and its allies scored significant gains in the parliamentary election this month, bolstering the Iranian-backed terrorist group fiercely opposed to Israel and boosting Tehran’s growing regional clout. In Syria, where Iran is propping up the murderous regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Tehran has built a wide-reaching military infrastructure that threatens the Jewish State right on its northern border.
Considering this, losing influence in Iraq is a scenario Tehran would not be willing to entertain. On the day of the election, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Republic’s IRGC-Quds Force, arrived in Baghdad to push for the formation of an Iraqi government favorable to Iran’s interests.
The poor showing of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the candidate backed by Washington, has dealt a blow to America’s interests, leaving Iraq exposed to Iranian attempts to dominate the country.
Al-Sadr and the Fatih coalition of Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organization, are not exactly friends. But they share a deep-rooted contempt for America and both have made clear their intent to expel U.S. forces from the country immediately. Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), an Iranian-backed militia group complicit in attacks on U.S. troops, also gained seats in the new parliament.
Al-Sadr rose to prominence during the U.S-led intervention in Iraq in 2003, when his movement gave birth to powerful Shiite militia groups that carried out numerous atrocities against U.S. forces. A decade later, the same groups are fighting U.S. troops in neighboring Syria, thereby enhancing Iran’s power over Syrian territory. While al-Sadr is critical of Iran’s interference in internal Iraqi politics, he’s determined to expel the United States from the region at all cost — a shared goal that could lead to a marriage of convenience between al-Sadr’s Sairoun bloc and Iranian-backed al-Ameri’s Fatih Coalition.
To make matters worse, the organization that the United States had hoped to sideline through an al-Abadi victory performed strongly in the election — the powerful Hash’d al Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces. The Hash militia is an umbrella organization of roughly 140,000 Shiite fighters with close ties to Iran, the most prominent being AAH, al-Ameri’s Badr Organization, and Saraya al-Salam, formed in 2014 by al-Sadr.
The question is, are we seeing the beginning of the end of U.S. influence in Iraq — a country where America has invested substantial blood and treasure — or, is there something to be done to turn around the grim situation? There is, but it will require a serious, coherent and long-term strategy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday laid out the White House’s broader strategy to address Iran’s malign behavior, including the demand that “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.”
This is a step in the right direction. America pulling out of Iraq — and for that matter, out of Syria, leaving the country at the mercy of Iranian mercenaries — is an idea that U.S. policymakers should bury for good.
In Iraq, the best chance for the United States to maintain a position of influence is to abandon its ill-advised strategy of placing all hope in al-Abadi and, instead, establish a strong multiethnic U.S.-aligned bloc composed of local forces opposed to Iranian interference. A deep mistrust toward Iran and Iranian-aligned candidates, such al-Ameri and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, exists in Kurdish and Sunni Muslim communities across the country.
Secondly, America should drill home to al-Abadi that U.S. patronage will depend on a fair power-sharing agreement between the country’s various ethnic and religious groups — a strong antidote to Tehran’s deadly sectarianism and an outcome that best appeases Iraq’s deeply divided society.
Withdrawing from the JCPOA was the beginning of countering Iran’s illicit activities, but for the White House’s strategy to work, the nuclear accord needs to be replaced by a broader strategy that addresses all of Iran’s malign behavior. Iraq would be a good place to start to put Pompeo’s words to the test.
Joshua S. Block is CEO and President of The Israel Project. He is a former Clinton administration official and spokesman at the State Department’s USAID. He got his start on Capitol Hill in the office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and was a spokesman for the Clinton/Gore and Gore/Lieberman presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter @JoshBlockDC.
[Photo: english.khamenei.ir/Wikimedia Commons]
Tip Staff published TIP CEO Josh Block on Hamas' strategy and the US Embassy opening in TIP In the News 2018-05-16 12:48:45 -0400
TIP's CEO Josh Block joins i24 to unmask Hamas' strategy of using human shields to create negative, powerful images that play on peoples' emotions around the world. Watch a 2 minute clip below or click here to watch the full segment.
Josh also sat down the TIP's Talia Dekel to discuss the US Embassy move and what it means for Israel's future.
Hamas doesn't have a military strategy to defeat Israel, it has a media strategy. That's not a battle the IDF is equipped to fight and it's why the work we do at TIP is so important. We are on the front-lines defending Israel from Hamas' attack in front of the entire world.
If you care about how the world sees Israel, support our work by donating using the form below.
ALERT & BACKGROUNDThe “March of Return” and Nakba DayMay 15, 2018BACKGROUND
Over 50,000 Gazans participated in Hamas-led riots along the Israeli-Gaza border on Monday. In the chaos of events, and in response to blatant violations of Israel’s sovereignty, Israel was forced to defend her border, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Palestinian rioters. The death toll rose to 60 overnight, of which 24 so far have been confirmed as members of known terrorist organizations.
During the riots, which took place on 13 different locations along the border, rioters hurled firebombs and stones at Israeli troops, set hundreds of tires ablaze, and tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the riots. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released videos and images showing rioters setting fire to the border fence, shooting at soldiers, and trying to breach the fence to infiltrate into Israeli territory.
Israel was bracing for a second day of violent riots as Palestinians commemorate “Nakba Day” to mark the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Riots, however, dwindled down on Tuesday with only 4,000 participants gathering at the border. The IDF said it arrested several suspects who attempted to infiltrate into Israel as part of riots on Tuesday afternoon.WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE VIOLENCE?
The full responsibility lies solely with Hamas, the terrorist group which exercises complete control over the Gaza Strip. The group has turned the citizens of Gaza into hostages and human shields. Hamas has created a press trap for the international media in which the terror group is in a win-win situation: If Israel allows the border to be overrun by those who would infiltrate Israeli communities, it wins. But if Israel prevents this, and Gazan civilians die in the process, it wins.
The high casualty rate on Monday was a direct result of Hamas inciting rioters to breach the border fence and attack Israeli soldiers. On Tuesday, an eight-month-old baby died from tear gas that her family said she inhaled on Monday.
- White House press secretary Raj Shah said that the “responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” and stated that the group was “intentionally and cynically provoking this response.” He added: “Look...this is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt. I think the Israeli government has spent weeks trying to handle this without violence, and we find it very unfortunate (…) Again, we believe Hamas is responsible.”
- At an emergency meeting at the U.N. on Tuesday, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said the riots at the border had nothing to do with inauguration of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: “Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location,” Haley said. “The location of the embassy has no bearing on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. (…) It does not undermine the prospects for peace in any way.”
Buses and trucks collected people from the streets to bring them to the border area, organized and paid for by Hamas. The terrorist group also promised financial rewards for rioters seriously injured ($500) or moderately injured ($200) in the riots, as well as paying the families of anyone killed a reward of $3,000.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, said hundreds of protesters carried out “concerted, coordinated” attacks on the border fence” and caused “significant damage.” Conricus added that Hamas terrorists disguised as rioters planted explosives along the fence and tried to infiltrate into Israel. The IDF reported at least three instances of armed Hamas gunmen trying to carry out attacks.HAMAS'S ROLE IN THE RIOTS
Hamas claims the “March of Return” is a legitimate protest against the decision by the U.S. to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14 – a move which enjoys bipartisan political support in the U.S. and Israel. The riots, however, are just a cover for Hamas to pursue the group’s true intention: the “complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea,” as stated in their official Charter.
The violence on Monday was driven as Hamas urged Gazans to attempt to tear down the border fence with Israel. Hamas, on Facebook, urged rioters to breach the fence in order to cross into Israel and kidnap Israelis. A new Hamas video was broadcast on Hadashot TV, which portrayed Gazan children saying that they would be “returning to our homeland.” The report also said that Hamas was urging Gazans to participate in the riots and assuring them that those killed would be assured of a place in paradise.
- At a press conference last week, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar envisioned “hundreds of thousands of people” storming the border fence with Israel. Earlier he had said that the riots “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and return [of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel].”
The “March of Return,” Sinwar added, “affirms that our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine. The protests will continue until the Palestinians return to the lands they were expelled from 70 years ago.”HAMAS'S MOTIVE BEHIND THE RIOTS
Hamas sees the riots as an opportunity to deflect from its crushing failures in Gaza and redirect anger within the coastal enclave towards the border with Israel.
The group is running out of ways to attack Israel, faces intense financial strains, and popular dissent in Gaza. The terror group wants people to forget that the misery of its citizens is the direct result of its squandering of hundreds of millions in aid on tunnels and rockets to attack Israel, instead of on the homes, hospitals, regular water and electricity supplies which Gaza’s suffering population desperately need.
SOCIAL MEDIA ASSETSClick the images to download
- Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s lead negotiator, wrote in an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “Hamas continues to exploit protests to foment violence against Israel.” He charged that “Hamas has managed to bring the people of Gaza, a people with a proud history and great potential, nearly back to the Stone Age.” He added: “What an embarrassment, what a desolation, what a failure.”
- Greenblatt called on the international community to “get real about this – Hamas, and its enablers, such as Iran, are squarely to blame for the desperate situation in Gaza. Hamas has consistently put its own destructive priorities above those of Gaza’s weary and increasingly desperate population.”
Tip Staff published TIP CEO Op-Ed in USA Today on Relocating U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in TIP In the News 2018-05-14 17:17:06 -0400
Today's talker: Relocating U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a positive thing for the Middle East
By Joshua S. Block
May 14, 2018
Click here to read full article
The Middle East has always been a place of universal truths. The first, and most prominent, is the belief that resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the gateway to broader peace in the region. Solve the conflict and, in doing so, address all the other deep-rooted quandaries that affect the Middle East. Fail and instability, war and hatred will flourish.
However, the Middle East of today — shaken up by the Arab Spring revolts and alarmed by the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran — is a profoundly different place than it was a decade ago. The decision by the Trump administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an acknowledgment of these new realities.
The timing of the decision — and the reaction to it, especially from the Arab world — have revealed some remarkable truths about the New Middle East.
First, while most of the Arab world objected to the announcement of the Trump administration, they made a tactical decision not to back up their condemnation by any meaningful actions to support the Palestinians. Why? Because solving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is no longer important enough for them to sacrifice more pressing security concerns.
The Arab Spring revolts have shred into pieces the myth that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the epicenter of war in the region. The stability of the region has nothing to do with checkpoints between Gaza and its neighbors. Making peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah cannot rebuild the broken cities of Syria, nor can it end sectarian strife in Iraq or the civil war in Yemen.
The Arab world’s backing of the Palestinian cause has always been motivated by pragmatism rather than passion. Yet, now it is the exact same pragmatism over Iran’s illicit nuclear and malign non-nuclear activities which brings Israel and its Arab neighbors closer together than ever before.
Against these changes, the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem could inject new life into the stalled peace process, for it drives home to the Palestinians that unilateralism no longer is an attractive option — and genuine peace negotiations the only viable solution.
Joshua S. Block is the president and CEO of The Israel Project, an educational organization focused on Israel and the Middle East and securing Israel's future.