What Alberto Nisman’s Wiretaps Reveal about Backdoor Dealings between Iran and Argentina

In the course of his investigation of Hizballah’s 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in mysterious circumstances in January, obtained extensive copies of wiretapped phone calls. Eamonn MacDonagh writes that the recordings present damning evidence of individuals with close ties to the Argentinian and Iranian governments discussing ways the former could cover up the role of the latter in the attack:

In both political and legal terms, the government’s response to the release of the recordings . . . has been both simple and successful. The government claims that the conversations are just the ramblings of political nobodies, people with no influence or role at the highest levels of the state, and that the very idea of them conducting back-channel negotiations with Iran is absurd.

This defense, successful though it has been, includes a rather obvious weakness: if one wanted to set up a back-channel negotiation with a foreign power, then who better to do so than [those who were recorded]? They provide the resource most coveted by governments everywhere that get involved in illicit activities—deniability.

Had even the most basic steps to investigate Nisman’s complaint been taken, it would have been easy to find [more conclusive information]. . . . But nothing like that is going to happen now, at least while the current Argentine government remains in power and even afterward, until its loyalists placed in the legal system have been removed or they resign. With Nisman dead, the driving force behind the investigation into the AMIA attack and the cover-up that followed has been removed from the scene. . . .

There is unlikely to be any justice for the AMIA dead, or for Nisman, either, until their cases are internationalized. . . . The least that could be done . . . is to make it impossible for Argentina’s next president and future ministers to have normal relations with democratic nations without the AMIA issue and the death of Nisman being raised at every opportunity. This would at least have the effect of keeping up the morale of those inside Argentina who continue to struggle for justice, while waiting for the political circumstances that will allow justice to be done.

Read more at Tower

More about: Alberto Nisman, AMIA bombing, Argentina, Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs


Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem