FBI Rounding Up Islamic State Suspects - Josh Rogin and Eli Lake (Bloomberg)
The FBI has been rounding up potential "lone wolf" terrorists in response to the perception of a mounting threat of domestic attacks inspired by the Islamic State.
Since the thwarted attack on a "Draw Muhammad" conference in Garland, Texas, on May 3, the Justice Department has announced the arrests of 10 individuals it says were inspired by and supporting the Islamic State. Lawmakers say there have been more arrests that have not yet been announced.
The FBI has shifted its approach toward arrests rather than keeping suspects under surveillance.
The recent arrests are "an indication that the increased number of threads of threats...is at the highest level that most of us have seen since 9/11," Chairman Richard Burr of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence told us in an interview.
State Department Report Criticizes Iran for Human Rights Abuses - Carol Morello (Washington Post)
The State Department said Thursday that Iran practices "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of its citizens, part of a harsh critique of the country's human rights abuses.
The report noted that at least 895 political prisoners are incarcerated in Iran, among them at least 30 journalists.
Iranian Oil Tankers Keep Syria's War Machine Alive - Matthew Philips and Julian Lee (Bloomberg)
Iran has sent 10 million barrels of crude oil to Syria so far this year - about 60,000 barrels a day.
Ten tankers capable of hauling 1 million barrels each have traveled from Iran to the Syrian port of Banias, which is still controlled by the Assad regime.
With most of Syria's oil-producing regions controlled by either the Kurds or Islamic State, these crude shipments from Iran are vital to the Assad regime's ability to hang on to power, says Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Iran is basically fueling the entire country," says Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Eight Iranians Killed Fighting IS in Syria (AP)
Eight Iranian volunteers were killed in fighting against Islamic State in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday.
Nearly Half of Israelis See Iran Deal as Existential Threat - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
49% of Jewish Israelis said the proposed deal with Iran is a threat to Israel's existence, while 22% said it is not, according to a Geocartography Institute poll taken in May.
45% said they did not trust Obama to maintain Israel's security, while 22% said they did.
Just 7% said they would advise Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept the Iranian nuclear deal as is.
Iran Developing ICBMs to Carry Nuclear Warheads - Struan Stevenson (UPI)
History has repeatedly demonstrated that countries that wish to undertake the vast expense and risk the international criticism of developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) do so because they intend to arm their missiles with nuclear warheads and become nuclear powers.
The Iranian missile program makes no military, political or economic sense unless viewed in this context.
The writer was a Conservative MEP representing Scotland in the European Parliament (1999-2014).
Plan B for Iran - Michael Crowley (Politico)
Even if a deal is reached with Iran, the story is not over. The Iranians may break or cheat on an agreement, and try to build a nuclear weapon anyway.
That's why the U.S. has designed and tested a "Massive Ordnance Penetrator" (MOP) to destroy targets buried deep underground.
When CNN recently asked Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter if the MOP can destroy Iran's Fordow underground nuclear facility, he was succinct: "Yes. That's what it was designed to do."
See also Obama Already Told Us There Is No Plan B on Iran - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
Sunsets and Snapbacks: The Asymmetry Between an Expanding Iranian Nuclear Program and Diminishing Western Leverage - Mark Dubowitz and Annie Fixler (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
Under the emerging Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran over time will develop an industrial-sized nuclear program with zero-breakout time and a strong economy increasingly immunized against future economic pressure - and the U.S. will increasingly lose peaceful economic leverage to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Mark Dubowitz is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Annie Fixler is a policy analyst at the FDD's Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance.
Is Iran a Rational State? - Michael Oren (Los Angeles Times)
The question of whether Iran, run by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his ayatollahs, is a rational state goes to the very heart of the debate over its nuclear program.
Those in the "rational" camp see a regime that wants to remain in power and achieve regional hegemony and will therefore cooperate, rather than languish under international sanctions that threaten to deny it both.
The other side cannot accept that religious fanatics who deny the Holocaust, blame all evil on the Jews and pledge to annihilate the 6 million of them in Israel can be trusted with a nuclear program capable of producing the world's most destructive weapon in a single year.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Book Review: Behind the Top-Secret Curtain - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
Yossi Alpher, a former military intelligence officer, is a long-serving Mossad official who went on to head the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
In his new book, Periphery: Israel's Search for Middle East Allies, Alpher divides the periphery into three categories. Included in the first were the non-Arab and/or non-Muslim states that bordered on the Arab conflict states - Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Eritrea, and Kenya and Uganda at the rear.
The second comprised non-Arab and non-Muslim ethnic groups and peoples living in the Arab conflict states - the Christians in southern Sudan and in Lebanon, and the Kurds in Iraq.
The third category was made up of Arab countries on the margins of the Middle East that felt that militant Arab nationalism was a threat to them or wanted ties with Israel in light of local or regional circumstances - Morocco, some of the Gulf States, and, for a short time, Yemen.
The highpoint of the "Periphery doctrine" was the tripartite intelligence pact involving Israel, Turkey and Iran.
The Turkish-Israeli part of the pact was sealed during a secret agreement in Ankara on August 20, 1958, between David Ben-Gurion and the Turkish prime minister, Adnan Menderes, directed against Nasser's influence and the influence of the Soviets.
Israeli Power Plant Fights Off Giant Jellyfish Swarm - Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
A swarm of giant jellyfish arrived at the Rutenberg power plant in Ashkelon Wednesday. The plant constantly cleared the filters to keep the slimy sea creatures out of its cooling systems.
In 2013, jellyfish forced Sweden's giant nuclear plant Oskarshamn to shut down after they clogged the cooling pipelines.
Israeli Paralympic Rower Wins Gold Medal at World Cup (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli paralympic athlete Moran Samuel captured the gold medal at the 2015 World Rowing Cup in Italy on Saturday, breaking the Israeli record while defeating the reigning world champion by six seconds.
Her Italian coach, Paula Grizati, said Moran "displays professionalism, and she has made consistent and impressive progress. She deserved to win."
China Buys Controlling Stake in Israel's Fourth-Largest Insurance Provider - Shoshanna Solomon (Bloomberg)
Israel's Delek Group Ltd. agreed to sell its 52% controlling stake in Phoenix Holdings Ltd., Israel's fourth-largest insurance provider, to China's Fosun International Ltd. for $461.6 million, Delek announced.
Pentagon Releases Law of War Manual - Tyrone Marshall (U.S. Department of Defense)
Pentagon officials on June 12 released the Defense Department's first 1,200-page law of war manual, culminating a multiyear effort to compile legal principles governing warfare.
See also Text: Law of War Manual 2015 (U.S. Department of Defense)
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- Palestinian Move at ICC May Trigger Suspension of U.S. Aid - Rebecca Shabad
On Thursday, the PA submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of alleged Israeli war crimes. "By formally submitting allegations against Israeli forces to the ICC Chief Prosecutor, President Abbas has triggered a provision in U.S. law that suspends all economic assistance to the PA," Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. Lowey said Congress crafted the law to prevent U.S. tax dollars from rewarding "purposely provocative, unilateral steps" that threaten peace negotiations. "President Abbas' actions...reveal his willingness to try to discredit Israel in the international community at the expense of the economic and humanitarian wellbeing of the Palestinian people," Lowey added.
The chairwoman of the Appropriations panel with jurisdiction over foreign aid, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), said current law "prohibits economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority if they initiate or actively support an International Criminal Court investigation." (The Hill)
See also State Department: Aid to PA to Continue - Julian Pecquet
State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez told Al-Monitor that the U.S. will "continue to provide critical assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza....We do not consider the relevant restrictions on assistance to the Palestinians to have been triggered." A PLO official claimed they merely provided "information requested by the International Criminal Court."
Despite the Obama administration's continued support, key lawmakers have the ability to unilaterally ask the State Department to hold funds, a request which is almost never refused. Last year lawmakers temporarily blocked $230 million in aid for the West Bank and Gaza. (Al-Monitor)
See also U.S.: Palestinian Moves Against Israel at ICC "Counterproductive"
The U.S. has "made clear that we oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive," National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said Thursday.
- New York State Assembly Passes Anti-BDS Resolution
The New York State Assembly passed a resolution on June 18 rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
The resolution, co-sponsored by 75 members of the 150-seat body, rejects BDS activities that "undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination." The resolution also recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and says the U.S. and Israel share "a common bond rooted in the values of freedom, democracy, and equal rights."
State legislatures in Indiana and Tennessee also recently passed resolutions condemning BDS.
See also Pennsylvania Lawmakers Vote to Condemn BDS Movement
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 193-0 on Tuesday to condemn an international movement to target Israel with boycotts, divestment and sanctions over its treatment of Palestinians.
It called the BDS movement "one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state," and condemned the movement as "seeking to undermine the Jewish people's right to self-determination." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
UN Report on Gaza War
- The UN's Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous - Richard Kemp
The UN Human Rights Council report on last summer's conflict in Gaza sympathizes with the geographical challenges Hamas faced in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: "Gaza's small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply" with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.
The report suggests more should have been done to minimize civilian casualties. Yet it offers no opinion about what additional measures Israel could have taken.
No other country uses "roof-knocks,"
using harmless explosive devices as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, which were developed by Israel as part of a series of IDF warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives.
The report suggests that the IDF's use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime. Yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies.
The reason so many civilians died in Gaza last summer was not Israeli tactics or policy. It was Hamas' strategy. Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result. Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel. Col. Richard Kemp (ret.) is former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
(New York Times)
- Will the UN Report on Gaza Constrain Future U.S. Military Action? - Benjamin Wittes and Yishai Schwartz
Israel is, as always, the canary in the international humanitarian law (IHL) coal mine. Approaches that begin as a way of constraining Israeli military action quickly migrate to constraining U.S. military action. It is always tempting to look at large numbers of dead civilians and assume that the fact of the bodies implicates a targeting decision. But that's rarely right without knowing who the target was, what calculations as to civilian deaths commanders made, and what the expected military advantage of the strike was.
The commission of inquiry gives the benefit of the doubt to armed groups that made no secret about their intentional targeting of civilians, describing Hamas' military wing as focused chiefly on attacking military targets. "Security experts have noted that while the Al Qassam Brigades may have targeted civilians in the past as part of its military strategy, in 2014 its declared official policy was 'to focus on military or semi-military targets and to avoid other targets, especially civilians.'" Yet the commission cites Israeli government statistics that 4,500 rockets and mortars were aimed at Israeli cities, towns and communities. Benjamin Wittes is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and editor in chief of Lawfare, where Yishai Schwartz is an associate editor.
(Lawfare Institute-Brookings Institution)
- Even When Faced with Criminal Tactics, Israel Abided by the Laws of Armed Conflict - Irit Kohn
As the former head of the International Department at the Israeli Justice Ministry for 10 years, I participated in many deliberations regarding the exercise of Israel's right to self-defense in accordance with international law.
During its conflict with Hamas in 2014, Israel was forced - again - to engage an enemy who fought, literally, underground, within populated civilian areas.
As the recent Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs report noted, Hamas "actively encouraged, and even coerced, civilians to remain in areas of hostilities in order to impede IDF attacks and shield military activities." These human shield practices by Hamas constitute war crimes, as do the 4,000 rockets launched by Hamas towards Israel's civilians.
Israel, faced with such criminal tactics, continued to abide strictly by the laws of armed conflict. In fact, the IDF's efforts to mitigate civilian casualties went beyond the legal requirements, as attested to by two separate reports of high-ranking military experts from democratic countries around the globe. It is important to illuminate the disparity between the reality and what is often reported. The constant, biased treatment of Israel at the UN serves only to embolden Hamas and other terrorist groups to intensify their unlawful methods.
The writer is president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
- No Deaths Would Have Occurred in Gaza Had Hamas Not Chosen War - Steve Huntley
Another day, another UN Human Rights Council report condemning Israel.
It is notable that the Obama administration couldn't gloss over this latest bit of Israelphobia from a UN agency infamous for jihad against the Jewish state. A spokesman for the State Department cited "bias against Israel" as the reason that the U.S. wouldn't support any further action on the report.
The New York Times described the UN document as "taking pains to be evenhanded." What nonsense. This war was started by Hamas, and that bloody terrorist organization bears full and sole responsibility for the innocent deaths that occurred during the conflict. No deaths or injuries would have occurred had Hamas not chosen war.
The UN report criticized Israel for the measures it took to warn Palestinian civilians of impending attacks. What warnings do the Russian "separatists" issue before their attacks in Ukraine? Do warning leaflets fall on towns in Yemen where Saudi Arabia is conducting air strikes against Iranian-linked rebels?
- Gaza War Report Distances Peace - Ari Shavit
The UN report on the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict is distorted and distorting, and should outrage every decent person. That is because the document has a serious flaw - it has no context. It doesn't give proper weight to the fact that in 1993 Israel opened its heart to peace, put its confidence in Yasser Arafat and enabled him to set up a semi-independent entity. It doesn't give proper weight to the fact that in 2005 Israel destroyed 24 communities and uprooted 8,000 people from their homes so that the Palestinians would have (for the first time in history) an autonomous region of their own.
It doesn't give proper weight to the fact that all these Israeli gestures - intended to advance peace - resulted not in the appearance of a peaceful, humane Palestine, but in the creation of a totalitarian, violent Hamastan that oppresses Palestinians and attacks Israelis. Time after time, Israelis tried to do the right thing, but when the right thing went up in flames, nobody remembered what they did and nobody gave them credit for it.
Now, every thinking Palestinian will tell himself that it's better not to negotiate with Israel, but to grasp it with the iron vise of terror and loss of legitimacy. Now, every intelligent Hizbullah man will tell himself that the international community is shearing Israel's tresses and turning it into a vulnerable entity, on which thousands of rockets can be showered from densely populated areas. If, heaven forbid, blood is spilled here again in the near future, the blind knights of political correctness will be the ones responsible. (Ha'aretz)
- Gaza War Report Is Shallow and Unprofessional - Giora Eiland
Our resentment over the fact that the UN is treating us, a civilized country, with the same standards that it treats a terror organization like Hamas is understandable. But the right thing to do is to actually demand equal standards. We should emphasize our standards as a law-abiding state compared to the state of Gaza, where the government executes dozens of people on the streets without a trial.
The UN report is shallow and unprofessional. It says, for example, that Israel used excessive force, or that many civilians were killed. The necessary question is: "excessive" or "many" as compared to what?
The average ratio between civilian casualties and fighters in the allies' operations in Iraq was about 1:5 (five times more civilians). In the 2014 Gaza war the ratio was 1:1. Any professional and objective source should have praised Israel.
The report's authors completely ignored a number of parameters which can explain the results. When the enemy intentionally operates out of schools and hospitals, when it uses its citizens as human shields and prevents them from abandoning threatened places, the result is more dead civilians. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is a former head of Israel's National Security Council.
- No Justice from UN Human Rights Council - David Horovitz
The UN Human Rights Council is no place for those who strive for justice. It neglected to detail precisely how it was that Hamas came to power in Gaza, and what it is that Hamas stands for. It chose not to highlight Hamas' strategic goal of destroying Israel. It mixed up cause and effect in describing the security blockade as "strangling the economy in Gaza and [as having] imposed severe restrictions on the rights of the Palestinians," as though it is the blockade that has radicalized Gaza, rather than having been introduced as an attempted defensive measure by Israel (and Egypt) against the import of weaponry by Hamas.
The UN commission of inquiry equated the IDF, committed to self-examination and self-criticism as it struggles to protect Israel against threats on numerous fronts, with an Islamic extremist organization preaching unmitigated hatred for Israel. Israel has no presence in Gaza. Israel has no territorial quarrel with Gaza. If Hamas halted its violence against Israel, there would be no suffering on either side of that border. But so long as Hamas continues to work for Israel's destruction, Israel, like any nation that seeks to survive, will have no choice but to defend itself.
(Times of Israel)
- Time to Call Out Those Aiding the Pogrom Against Israel - Melanie Phillips
We know by now that the UN Human Rights Council is a sick joke, with its membership including murderous regimes which deny human rights to their own people. We know that the UN, with its great bloc of despotisms and terrorist states, is institutionally programmed to attack Israel - the sole country in the Middle East which safeguards human rights and where Muslims are safe. We know that the NGOs that the UN inquiry relied on are the instruments of a psychological warfare campaign to bend the collective Western mind with systematic falsehoods and blood libels about Israel.
What we haven't done is hold to account those who have enabled these institutions and groups to do these wicked things, and who have given them traction. Israel and its defenders should be publicly calling out those Western governments which fund these NGOs, and demand that they stop. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).
- The U.S. Must Not Accede to Iran's "Red Lines" - David Ignatius
The parameters reportedly endorsed in April in Lausanne, Switzerland, by Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif are significantly different from a set of "red lines" drawn this week by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
"We have to get the Lausanne parameters or we will not have a deal," a senior U.S. official said Thursday. "We all understand that; all parties understand that."
What the U.S. can't do is accede to Khamenei's red lines, which contradict several key items in the package tentatively reached April 2, involving the inspection of military facilities and the timing of the lifting of sanctions. No deal would be a better outcome than the severely weakened framework demanded by Khamenei. (Washington Post)
- Ignoring the Tehran-Terror Connection - Robert M. Morgenthau
The nuclear agreement with Iran doesn't address the Islamic Republic's continuing support of terrorism. Any deal that fails to hold Iran accountable for its criminal and terrorist conduct, past and present, will fail to curtail such conduct in the future. The sanctions on Iran were designed not only to curtail Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, but also to curtail its support of terrorist organizations, human-rights abuses and the development of ballistic missiles.
Iran is the primary source of funding for Hizbullah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations. During the war in Iraq, Tehran provided IEDs to insurgents to kill American troops. Today the Islamic Republic supports the Taliban as the U.S. attempts to withdraw from Afghanistan. Tehran also has growing influence in several South American countries, including Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Any deal that fails to address or curtail Iran's role as a state sponsor of terrorism - and that actually undercuts our ability to confront that threat - is a deal that we must not make.
The writer was Manhattan district attorney from 1975 to 2009.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Five Key Issues in Nuclear Negotiations with Iran - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
1. Transparency. Iran must ease access to sites immediately as required by the Additional Protocol agreed in Lausanne and implement Code 3.1 of the 1974 Safeguard Agreements. And the history of their covert military activity cannot any longer be covert.
2. Stockpile. Iran had agreed to export enriched uranium to Russia so that for 15 years at least it would never have more than 300 kilograms. The IAEA recently reported Iran's stocks had risen by 20%. Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi now says there's no question of shipping the fuel abroad. What's going on?
3. Arak. Secure a timetable for shutting down the heavy water reactor at Arak, having its redesign approved by the IAEA and the U.S. and its spent fuel sent to another country.
4. Fordow. The Fordow plant, which was deliberately built underground to protect it from bombing, is to be converted to a scientific laboratory. The Israelis want it shut entirely so it can't be reused as a safe haven for nuclear development.
5. Sanctions. Iran demands that sanctions cease as soon as there's a final agreement. No way. It should happen only when the IAEA is satisfied with big initial steps on transparency and access to any suspicious area, with the plans for conversion of Fordow and Arak, and with an assured ceiling for Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium. In short, the sanctions shouldn't be lifted until roadblocks to a bomb are in place.
- Sanction Iranian Regime for Human Rights Abuses - Jared Genser and Sara Birkenthal
The world recently has played down criticism of Iran on human rights in hopes of securing a nuclear deal. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has doubled down on its repression of domestic dissent. More than 1,500 executions have been carried out in Iran since Hassan Rouhani became president in August 2013. With 721 individuals executed in 2014 alone, Iran boasts the world's highest per capita execution rate.
Regardless of the outcome of the nuclear negotiations, the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment to advancing human rights in Iran. That means making the removal of sanctions contingent on tangible improvements in Iran's human-rights situation. This would include releasing political prisoners and halting executions for political crimes or for which there was no due process of law. Let us not forget the broader aspirations of the Iranian people to be free.
Genser is an associate of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Birkenthal is a fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy's Penn Kemble Youth Forum on Democracy.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Red Lines and Pitfalls for the Iran Deal - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog
The choice posited by the Americans between a
war and a deal is false. There are specific
elements that could still be improved with strong
U.S. deterrence, including a credible military option,
and international unity.
While the U.S. argues that this deal may empower
moderates, most Israeli analysts believe it is more
likely to empower hardliners and Iranian
destabilizing policies in the region.
Israel, major European actors and the U.S. should
also hold a close dialogue on how to deter Iran
from pursuing its hegemonic regional agenda from
a strengthened economic and political position
after a deal is signed and sanctions are lifted. They
should also consider how to prevent a regional
race for nuclear capability.
Contrary to the views of some in the West, there is
little room for strategic partnership with Iran,
given their contrasting vision of the Middle East
with respect to sectarianism, inclusion, human
rights, democracy, and the use of violence.
The writer served as chief of staff and senior
military aide and advisor to four Israeli ministers of
defense in the last decade and was previously the head of
the IDF's Strategic Planning Division.
- Why Iran's Past Nuclear Actions Matter - Ilan Berman
The collapse of the American position in the nuclear talks with Iran in recent days has been nothing short of breathtaking, as the White House began walking back on the "possible military dimensions" (PMD) of Iran's nuclear effort that have been carried out so far. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has identified nearly a dozen potential PMD activities - ranging from bomb designs to the development of nuclear detonators - that Iran needs to explain fully. Just this spring, Secretary of State John Kerry was still insisting that Iran's disclosure of its past military-related atomic activities was an ironclad requirement for any sort of agreement with Tehran.
The question of Iran's previous - and possibly current - military-related nuclear work goes to the heart of Western concerns over the intent of Iran's effort: namely, that it represents a path to the "bomb." Knowing as much as we can about how far Iran's work in this arena has progressed, and which processes are still underway (or could be restarted in short order), is essential to truly understanding the distance Iran still has to travel in order to attain nuclear status. The writer is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.
- A Yellow Star for the Jewish State? - Bernard-Henri Levy
All of the recent episodes to delegitimize Israel can be traced to the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, established in 2005 by Palestinian nongovernmental organizations. BDS is supposedly a worldwide civil-society movement embodying respect for law, democracy, and human rights. If that is true, why target the only country in the region that was founded on those values, and that has continued - despite a nearly 70-year state of war - to be broadly faithful to them?
Foundations in Qatar (together with Saudi think tanks) provide most of the financing for the BDS movement. In that country, 95% of the labor force consists of Asian non-citizens working in slave-like conditions under the kafala system, which is a close cousin to apartheid.
The truth is that the BDS movement is a campaign whose instigators have no aim other than to discriminate against, delegitimize, and vilify an Israel that in their mind never stopped wearing its yellow star. To activists of good faith who may have been taken in by duplicitous representations of the movement, I would say only that there are too many noble causes in need of assistance to allow oneself to be enlisted in a dubious one. (Kyiv Post-Ukraine)
- BDS: How Big a Threat? - Martin Raffel
The core mission of the BDS movement, sometimes made explicit but often hidden, is to delegitimize Israel and to isolate it economically and diplomatically. It completely ignores legitimate Israeli security concerns, and is not really in the business of advancing the cause of Palestinian statehood. In the end, its zero-sum politics directed at hurting Israel does nothing to help Palestinians. In fact, successfully confronting and containing the one-sided BDS agenda will promote an atmosphere more conducive to peacemaking between Palestinians and Israelis.
The writer is former senior vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and currently serves as an advisor to the Israel Policy Forum.
(New York Jewish Week)
- BDS: The Antithesis of Progressive Politics - Philip Mendes and Nick Dyrenfurth
The BDS campaign is regressive and corrosive of civil society. To teach that Zionism - the Jewish people's aspiration for national self-determination in their historic homeland - is the first enemy of progress is the antithesis of progressive politics. Indeed, local BDS campaigns have led to numerous manifestations of outright anti-Semitism.
Only those who are anti-BDS can lead the way toward a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict through a two-state plan that fosters dialogue and urges mutual compromise and concessions from both sides.
This genuinely progressive view, based on support for Israel's existence, is increasingly being excluded from local and international debates.
Associate Professor Philip Mendes and Dr. Nick Dyrenfurth of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, are the co-authors of Boycotting Israel Is Wrong: The Progressive Path towards Peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
- Boycott of Tel Aviv Gaelic Arts and Culture Festival Shows the Face of Real Bigotry - Ian O'Doherty
All cultures, we are told, are equal. But some are less equal than others.
Thus, it is positively de rigeur to libel Israel as a genocidal, Nazi, apartheid state that is a "cancer" in the Middle East. The ongoing BDS movement has been loud and shrill in their calls for a complete boycott of individual Israelis, regardless of their own political affiliation.
The latest example of this racist profiling comes with the news that Israel's first Irish dancing festival is now the latest target of the BDS bullies. An Irish dancing school, the Carey Academy, was hoping to hold a festival in Tel Aviv in August, but it was instantly trolled by the usual worthies who were quick to accuse them of "being on the wrong side of history."
Let's be clear, Israel is the only beacon of 21st-century civilization in a region where medieval savagery holds sway.
And yet, bafflingly, that is the country we choose to demonize.
The UN Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict: The Distorting Effect of Flawed Foundations - Geoffrey Corn (JINSA)
- Analysis of the UN Human Rights Commission Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict indicates the findings related to Hamas violations of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) are unjustifiably qualified, while the findings of IDF violations are not sufficiently supported by facts, expertise, or law. The report includes a disproportionate focus on alleged IDF violations in comparison to Hamas violations and fails to consider each belligerent party's overall commitment, or lack thereof, to LOAC compliance.
- The report fails to acknowledge and consider the consequences of engaging an enemy who routinely and deliberately violates the fundamental LOAC principle of distinction by commingling with the civilian population in order to gain tactical advantage.
While the principle of distinction requires those conducting attacks to distinguish between lawful targets and civilians and civilian property, it also imposes an obligation on belligerents to distinguish themselves from civilians
and civilian property.
- When civilian facilities or protected sites are transformed by their use, location, or purpose into a military objective, they become a lawful target.
Hamas fighters not only did not distinguish themselves from the civilian population, they deliberately exploited the civilian population and civilian property by cloaking themselves in the appearance of civilians to gain tactical advantage against an enemy committed to compliance with the distinction obligation. The routine violation of this fundamental LOAC requirement produces highly negative consequences, most notably the dilution of the LOAC's protective effect for actual civilians and for civilian property.
- The report includes a confused statement of the law related to the
legality of attacking members of organized belligerent groups: "a member of an armed group has to have a continuous combat function to constitute a legitimate military target." Contrary to this assertion, members of organized armed groups are targetable to the same extent as members of the armed forces of a state. LOAC imposes no requirement that the individual member be performing a particular function at any given time.
- There can be virtually no dispute that the IDF commits substantial resources and emphasis to understanding and complying with the LOAC, while there is information indicating that Hamas leadership encourages the deliberate violation of the law.
Lt.-Col. (ret.) Geoffrey S. Corn, a professor at South Texas College of Law, served as the U.S. Army's senior law of war expert advisor.
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