Western Europe Stands Up for Iran

July 12 2018

Last week, the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and Iran met to devise a way to protect the last-named country from the recently renewed U.S. sanctions. Clifford May comments:

French, British, and German leaders . . . continue to insist that the nuclear deal is a reasonable bargain. In exchange for economic benefits, Iran’s theocrats have promised to slow—not end—their illicit nuclear-weapons program. [Although] Iran’s theocrats don’t actually acknowledge having a nuclear-weapons program, . . . they are threatening to accelerate it if the Europeans don’t fully compensate them for economic losses caused by the re-imposition of American sanctions.

Just prior to last week’s meeting, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani phoned France’s President Emmanuel Macron and told him that the [proposal being considered by the Europeans] “does not meet all our demands.” . . . In what kind of negotiation does one side make “demands” of the other? . . .

On Sunday, the German publication Bild reported that Germany’s central bank plans to turn over to Iranian officials 300 million euros in cash that will then be flown to Iran. That Iran’s rulers are in need of bundles of cash only highlights how weak their economy has become. Decades of mismanagement and corruption are the primary reasons. But re-imposed American sanctions—with new rounds to hit in August and November—are taking a toll. . . .

Meanwhile, . . . Belgian authorities have detained an Iranian diplomat in connection with a plot to bomb a rally in France organized by an Iranian opposition group. . . . At present, however, British, French, and German leaders appear loath to offend Iran’s rulers and anxious to accommodate them. Which raises this question: if appeasement is the European policy toward the Islamic Republic now, what will it be if the regime achieves its ambition of becoming the nuclear-armed hegemon of the Middle East?

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More about: France, Germany, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, United Kingdom

 

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.

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