Amnesty International’s Campaign against Tourism to Israel

Last week, the human-rights organization Amnesty International, which has a long track-record of obsessive hatred of the Jewish state, released a report accusing Israel of encouraging tourism in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank as part of a “political and ideological” scheme to tighten its grip on these areas. Therefore, the report claims, businesses that facilitate travel to Israel, such as Airbnb and Hotels.com, are abetting “human-rights violations.” NGO Monitor, a group that responds to efforts by non-governmental organizations to libel Israel, notes that the report is a poorly sourced and poorly reasoned effort to prove that tourism to the Dead Sea or to sites of great significance to the history of Judaism and Christianity results from a nefarious Jewish plot:

[T]his publication, and the broader campaign [of which it is a part], is designed to bolster the expected UN boycott-divest-and-sanction (BDS) blacklist. Amnesty denies Jewish connections to historical sites—including in the Old City of Jerusalem—and in essence faults Israel for preserving the Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians.

[The report] repeatedly diminishes Jewish connections to holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem and in other areas of religious and historical importance to Jews. It accuses Israel of creating a “settlement tourism industry” to help “sustain and expand” communities beyond the 1949 armistice line. Israel’s interest in Jewish archaeology is “to make the link between the modern state of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting history, [with] the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.” . . .

The possibility that Jews would visit holy sites and want to see archaeological remnants of biblical locations for their religious and historical significance is not entertained. . . . Indeed, it is unclear how a Jewish individual visiting the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem would somehow be guilty of [human-rights] violations, or how a tourism website advertising this would also somehow be complicit.

Amnesty [also] notes that “the top-three most visited places by foreign tourists [in Israel] in 2017 were all in Jerusalem’s Old City,” implying that this is a serious problem that needs to be solved. Only in a footnote do we learn that these are “the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” . . . By suggesting that foreign tourism to Israel is about supporting settlements, not about religious and/or historical interest, Amnesty International [implicitly denies both the Jewish and] the Christian connection to the Holy Land.

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Read more at NGO Monitor

More about: Amnesty International, BDS, Israel & Zionism, West Bank

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

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