Standing with the North Korean People Will Advance America’s Interests

June 20 2018

Recalling his own experiences as a dissident and “prisoner of Zion” in the USSR, Natan Sharansky urges President Trump to speak publicly about human-rights abuses in North Korea.

In the case of the Soviet Union, it was a combination of external pressure from world powers and internal pressure from dissidents that ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain. By linking their negotiations with Moscow to the latter’s respect for human rights, Western leaders put the regime on notice that they took the wellbeing of ordinary Soviet citizens seriously, and they gave us dissidents the confidence to challenge the regime knowing that they were on our side.

Sadly, the long-suffering people of North Korea are not yet in such a position. Although President Trump’s meeting with Kim was a historic event with potentially dramatic consequences for nuclear disarmament, it is less clear—though no less important—what effect the meeting will have on the dismal human-rights situation inside the hermit kingdom. . . . [C]urrent and would-be dissidents need reassurance that America and other world powers understand their struggle and will defend their basic rights.

It is unfortunate that some of Trump’s subsequent remarks have conveyed the opposite message. In the meeting’s aftermath, Trump said that Kim had proved himself “very talented” in taking over totalitarian rule from his father and averred that the young dictator “loves his country very much.” Even more troubling, he declared that North Koreans love Kim in return, supporting him with “great fervor.” The president may have been attempting to solidify his newfound goodwill with Kim. Yet his comments are likely to have a deeply dispiriting effect on North Koreans. . . .

There are many situations in which world powers must cooperate with dictators on security issues despite their human-rights abuses. Even in the context of such tactical alliances, however, it is a mistake to praise relations between an unjust regime and those who suffer under it. Soviet dissidents were acutely sensitive to every statement coming from foreign leaders, relying heavily on the knowledge that they kept tabs on our fate and had not abandoned us to our tormentors. Just as standing firmly with dissidents back then furthered the long-term goals of the United States, so too standing with the North Korean people now will advance rather than hinder America’s objectives.

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Read more at Washington Post

More about: Human Rights, Natan Sharansky, North Korea, Politics & Current Affairs, Refuseniks, Soviet Union, U.S. Foreign policy

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror