Why the U.S. Should Support the Women Protesting in Iran

On Sunday, Iranian police—apparently caving in to social-media pressure—released a woman who had stood near a public thoroughfare without her hijab to protest her country’s modesty laws. Charges against her have not been dropped, however. Meanwhile, women in the Islamic Republic continue to post pictures of themselves flouting hijab laws. Nina Shea explains why and how Washington can show its support:

Hijab infractions can bring sentences in jails notorious for medieval brutality and deprivations. (Amnesty International reports that five protesters have already died in detention.) Punishments can also include beatings, lashings, “reeducation,” or even the death penalty: a hijab protester was threatened with execution in 2016.

The U.S. already applies a number of sanctions against Iran for its religious oppression. We should give greater support to communications and information-sharing that are key to protecting dissidents like this heroic woman and the freedom cause itself. . . . When the regime blocks one messaging app—as it did with Telegram this month, effectively shutting down the economic protests—we should ensure there is access to others.

[Furthermore], Voice of America should cease uncritical reporting of Iranian propaganda—for example, that the mullahs showed “restraint” toward protesters (nearly 4,000 were arrested and dozens killed). Instead it should ramp up human-rights reporting. . . . The State Department should [also find] ways to expand the reach of U.S. broadcasting inside Iran. . . .

The new U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, should recognize the hijab protests as the religious-freedom issue that it is and publicize the names and cases of all of Iran’s religious prisoners.

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More about: Freedom of Religion, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict