Daily TIP

Top former government officials and experts urge anti-terror finance body to maintain pressure on Iran

Posted by Albert Gersh - June 22, 2016

High-ranking former government officials and experts urged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to remain vigilant against Iran and “reaffirm its call for jurisdictions to implement effective counter-measures to ensure the integrity of the global financial system in the face of continued Iranian aggression and recklessness.” The letter to the global anti-money laundering and anti-terror finance standards body was released on Tuesday and its signatories included former Senator Joe Lieberman, former Special Advisor to President Obama Dennis Ross, former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morrell, former Senior Iran Advisor to Hillary Clinton Ray Takeyh, former chief of Mossad Tamir Pardo, and Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz, among others.
Iran and North Korea are currently the only two countries that fall under the FATF’s worst listing: the counter-measures list. This listing means that the FATF calls on its members and other jurisdictions “to apply counter-measures to protect the international financial system from the on-going and substantial money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/FT) risks emanating from those jurisdictions.” Last February, the FATF stated that Iran’s “failure to address the risk of terrorist financing” poses a “serious threat … to the integrity of the international financial system.” Iran is attempting to integrate itself into the financial system and this listing presents an obstacle to its goals. According to the signatories, despite Iranian rhetoric, Tehran has still “failed to address its deficiencies in anti-money laundering enforcement and combating the financing of terrorism” and the FATF should therefore continue to call on its members and all jurisdictions to maintain and strengthen counter-measures against Iran. As examples of Iran’s continued support for terrorism, the officials cited Iran’s decision to renew its support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and increase its support for its terrorist proxy Hezbollah. Iran remains “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” according to the State Department and the US continues to designate the entire Iranian financial sector as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.
In a conference call a few days ago, Treasury official Eric Lorber pointed out that the long-term danger in removing Iran from the countermeasures list without having changed its conduct is that financial institutions may “begin to view Iran as a safer jurisdiction than the actual underlying conduct presents to them. Iran should not be able to integrate back into the international financial system without a change in its underlying behavior and a change in the risk that it actually poses to the international financial system.”

The first openly transgender officer in the IDF spoke at a gay pride event hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. on Monday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.“This is the right of the whole world, to be free and to be whoever we want to be,” said Shachar at the gathering, which was organized before a terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando claimed 49 lives earlier this month.Shachar, who went through his transition while training to become an officer in the IDF, said that one of his commanders gave him special permission to wear a field uniform at all times, since the uniform is unisex. The commander “beat the system” by bending the rules to accommodate him, Shachar observed.

After performing well in his position at the army’s behavioral analysis unit, Shachar was recommended for the officer’s course. His commanders encouraged him to inform his fellow soldiers about his true identity, which Shachar — recognizing that keeping such a secret would prevent him from having an honest relationship with his soldiers — did a week before his graduation. His certificate lists him as a male.

In addition to establishing standards for his own acceptance, Shachar has prompted policy changes that benefit all transgender soldiers in the IDF. In the years before Shachar came out, officers were required by law to address soldiers by their biological sex. Officers now address soldiers according to their gender identification. Soldiers may also be issued uniforms in line with their gender identity, upon request. “For me,” Shachar said, “the difference was like between heaven and earth.”

Today, Sachar advises the IDF’s chief gender officer, Brig. Gen. Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, on transgender issues and serves a counselor to other transgender soldiers.

Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of the famed Egyptian actor, also addressed the audience during the evening event. He said the days after the Orlando massacre were a “nightmare” for him as an Arab and gay man.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, compared the vulnerability of the LGBT community to that of Jews, and affirmed that “Israel stands with you.”

The event celebrated the progress of LGBT rights in the Israeli military, which never excluded LGBT soldiers, although they were historically discriminated against in certain sectors. After the Knesset passed laws guaranteeing the equality of gays in the military and other sectors in the 1990s, military leadership reportedly embraced the openness. Today, the military pays for sex change procedures while its soldiers are in uniform.

In an interview with Lieutenant Shachar conducted by the IDF Blog last year, Shachar explained his reasoning for becoming the first openly transgender officer. “As an officer-in-training I understood that I wanted to have an honest and trustworthy relationship with my soldiers, which meant I had to tell them who I really am,” he said.

For more on Israel’s strides in granting rights to its LGBT citizens and residents, read The Persistent Progress of Israel’s LGBT Community, in which Corinne Berzon discusses the advances LGBT individuals in Israel have made in gaining mainstream societal acceptance, and the challenges their community continues to face. (via TheTower.org)

Daniel Alon and Adam Levy are only 15 years old, but they have already invented helpful household gadgets that they hope to commercialize on a large scale. Daniel and her team of 10 in Ramat Hasharon created YaEzer, a vacuum-mop that requires no bending and was designed for pregnant women, seniors or people with back problems. Adam and his team of 14 in Herzliya designed StopDrop (StopTipa), an absorbent drip-catcher that fits around the necks of bottles of oil, honey or other drippy condiments. They are working on producing the 10-shekel product in cooperation with an organization for autistic and mentally challenged people. Daniel and Adam are both members of Young Entrepreneurs Israel (Yazamim Tze’irim Yisrael),  part of Junior Achievement Worldwide and Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe. Each year, close to 4,000 Israeli ninth-graders take part in weekly two-hour afterschool clubs held at 200 schools in 10 regions across Israel. “It’s very fun to build a product with your friends and learn your strengths and weaknesses,” says Adam. On June 21, the 10 winners of regional invention competitions will present their products to a panel of judges in Tel Aviv, who will choose one to represent Israel at a JA-YE competition in Europe involving young inventors from 42 countries. (via Israel21c)

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