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.

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Read more at New York Daily News

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


Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem