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Can the EU Be Induced to Abandon Its Craven Attitude toward Iran?

Jan. 12 2018

As much as the leaders of the European Union and its individual member states are fond of talking about human rights, they have been reluctant to express any sympathy for Iranian protestors. Benjamin Weinthal and Saba Farzan suggest that Washington pressure them to respond not just in word but in deed:

The EU’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who was in Cuba to promote better relations with the Communist dictatorship, waited a week before wading gingerly into the subject of the Islamic Republic’s violent repression of peaceful protests. Thus far at least 21 people [had] been murdered by the security apparatus, and more than 2,000 people imprisoned. The real numbers are certainly higher, hidden by the regime’s restrictions on press freedom.

Mogherini bemoaned the “unacceptable loss of life,” but her nebulous statement did not pin the blame on the perpetrators of the killings: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its . . . subsidiary, the Basij militia.

While there exists a sizable divide between the EU and the U.S. over Iran policy, the U.S. government has considerable economic leverage available to influence a change in EU behavior. The U.S. Treasury Department last week imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities for their involvement in Tehran’s illicit missile program. The U.S. could raise the stakes and impose secondary sanctions on European banks and companies involved with Iran’s banks, including its powerful central bank, and with the IRGC. European countries wish to protect their businesses operating in the Islamic Republic and their credit-insurance availability. . . .

[In addition], the EU should [be encouraged to] ramp up human-rights sanctions targeting the Iranian regime’s perpetrators of violence during the current protests. . . . “Whenever there is a human-rights issue, or a human-rights violation, we Europeans feel we must do something, and we do something,” Mogherini said weeks before the protests unfolded in Iran.

America should demand that Mogherini and her associates put their money where their mouths are.

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: European Union, Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations