The European Union’s Nonsensical Quest to Preserve the Iran Deal

April 17 2018

In recent weeks, the EU’s foreign minister Frederica Mogherini has been engaged in a campaign—traveling as far afield as Burma—to pressure the U.S. not to jettison the nuclear agreement with Iran. Current and former German, French, and British diplomats have joined in. Surveying the arguments put forth in favor of maintaining the deal, Amir Taheri finds them, to say the least, lacking:

The first [argument] is that discarding the “deal” could damage the credibility of “major powers”—that is, Britain, France, Germany, and the U.S., which signed it along with China and Russia. . . . However, the EU’s argument about “respecting signatures” [is unconvincing] because nobody signed anything. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), [as the agreement is formally known], is no more than a press release stating a set of desirable moves by Iran and the other parties—which, incidentally, didn’t include the EU as such. Moreover, there are significant differences between the JCPOA’s English and Persian versions, making various imaginative re-readings, à la Roland Barthes or Jacques Derrida, possible. . . .

The second argument is that the deal is working and, thus, the dictum “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies. That assumption is not borne out by the facts. Iran and the other parties have either tried to circumvent or have brazenly broken their promises. [For instance], the Germans and the French still refuse to issue export guarantees to firms seeking trade with Iran. Huge memorandums of understanding are signed but put on the back-burner as Iran remains subject to sanctions by the United Nations, the EU, and U.S. . . .

Ironically, the only [country] that has partially complied with the deal is the U.S., including through the mafia-style smuggling of $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran and the transfer of $700 million a month since August 2015. Iran, for its part, asserts that there has been no change in its nuclear project. . . . More importantly, Iran has managed to block international inspection of key research and development centers by claiming they are military sites and thus off limits.

The good news, to Taheri, is that the Iranian economy is now so weak that Tehran might be vulnerable to additional economic pressures.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Asharq Al-Awsat

More about: Europe, European Union, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada