The U.S. Must Punish Iran for Its Human-Rights Violations

Washington has now put into force a wide array of sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear activities, but it has not fully taken advantage of the legal channels available to punish the ayatollahs’ brutal treatment of their own people. As Tzvi Kahn, Ahmed Shaheed, Rose Parris Richter, and Irwin Cotler demonstrate in a detailed report, this repression is overseen by the highest echelons of the Iranian government and works through an organized and complex bureaucratic machinery. Cotler writes:

It is crucial that the international community not turn a blind eye to what I have termed the fivefold Iranian threat—the nuclear threat, state-sponsorship of terror, regional hegemonic aggression that includes mass criminality in Syria, state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, and massive domestic repression. In particular, sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program should not distract from, or even sanitize, the ongoing massive domestic human-rights violations, which should be a centerpiece of international containment and sanctioning of the Iranian regime in solidarity with the . . . suffering of the Iranian people.

It is now possible to sanction human-rights offenders on a global level, [by making use of] the U.S. Global Magnitsky Human-Rights Accountability Act. [The] naming, shaming, and sanctioning of specific human-rights violators [is] indispensable to mobilizing a critical mass of global advocacy to address and redress human-rights violations in Iran. This can also include, as takes place in the Canadian parliament, holding an annual Iran Accountability Week in the U.S. Congress to shine the spotlight on human-rights violations in Iran through public hearings, witness testimony, and the like. This can further include developing an Iranian political prisoner-advocacy project in which members of Congress can take up the case and cause of Iranian political prisoners in concert with their fellow parliamentarians in Canada and elsewhere.

The report goes on to note that multiple high-ranking Iranian officials have been sanctioned by the European Union, but not by the U.S. In addition, it points out that “the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Trump signed into law in August 2017, requires the president to submit, and to update annually, a list of Iranians who commit human-rights abuses,” but that the White House has not yet submitted such a list. Correcting these oversights, according to the report, will serve to increase both diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran, encourage America’s allies to follow suit, and provide moral support and perhaps even some protection to Iranian dissidents.

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

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank