The UN’s Shameful Gaza Report

June 24 2015

Despite a massive inquiry, the authors of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report on last summer’s Gaza war confess themselves unable to “determine conclusively the intent of Palestinian armed groups with regard to the construction and use of tunnels.” And yet, as David Horovitz writes, even while scratching their heads over that mystery, the authors did manage to find plenty of reasons to condemn Israel:

The UNHRC inquiry team . . . produced a 284-page report. And yet, in all that verbiage, it neglected to detail precisely how it was that Hamas came to power in Gaza, and what it is that Hamas stands for. It chose not to mention Hamas’s strategic goal of destroying Israel. It mixed up cause and effect in describing the security blockade as “strangling the economy in Gaza and [as having] imposed severe restrictions on the rights of the Palestinians,” as though it is the blockade that has radicalized Gaza, rather than having been introduced as an attempted defensive measure by Israel (and Egypt) against the import of weaponry by Hamas.

The UNHRC commission equated the IDF, committed to self-examination and self-criticism as it struggles to protect Israel against threats on numerous fronts, with an Islamic extremist organization preaching unmitigated hatred for Israel and seeking to kill Israelis. (Israel emphatically must, and does, constantly investigate and re-examine its military policies and operations; it doesn’t need a prejudiced UN panel to call it to order.) Actually, the inquiry did worse than that: it wandered bizarre linguistic alleyways in a bid to somehow differentiate between the Palestinian rulers and the armed groups of Gaza, as though they were not one and the same, and wishfully referred to the “State of Palestine” even as it held Israel responsible for the territory of that non-existent state.

Nowhere, in all those acres of words, did it offer the simple contextual truth in which last summer’s conflict played out, and in which, grimly, future conflicts are all but certain to unfold: Israel has no presence in Gaza. Israel has no territorial quarrel with Gaza. If Hamas halted its violence against Israel, there would be no suffering on either side of that border. But so long as Hamas continues to work for Israel’s destruction, Israel, like any nation that seeks to survive, will have no choice but to defend itself.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, Protective Edge, UNHRC, United Nations

Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy