The U.S. Should Not Rejoin the Nuclear Agreement with Iran

April 11 2019

Since Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, European statesmen have struggled to keep it alive, hoping that a Democrat will be elected to the White House in 2020 who will recommit the U.S. to the agreement. Amos Yadlin, a distinguished retired Israeli general who conspicuously refrained from denouncing the deal during the Obama administration, argues that such a move would be disastrous:

The four years that have elapsed since the deal was implemented have shown that key assumptions made by supporters of the agreement were wrong. Iran was not open to dialogue on non-nuclear matters even before the United States withdrew from the agreement, and has not only failed to moderate its hostile conduct but has even intensified it. Billions of dollars that were unfrozen following the agreement have enabled Iran to support Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime, the Hizballah terror organization, and the Houthis in Yemen, and to deploy military personnel and equipment that threaten Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. . . .

The recent threats from Iranian leaders immediately to start [uranium] enrichment at high levels demonstrate that, [contrary to the claims of its supporters], the agreement did not hermetically block Iran’s nuclear progress—in fact, the opposite: it enabled Iran to develop nuclear technologies while pursuing aggressive and dangerous activity in the region and continuing to call for “death to Israel” and “death to America.” . . .

Iran, [moreover], is a very vulnerable country that is rushing toward a direct clash with Israel and the United States. Paradoxically, a clear unwillingness to use force actually encourages Iranian aggression, while clear-eyed willingness to use it will cause the danger of war to recede. [Thus] it is necessary to continue the pressure on Iran from all directions, create a broad international coalition, and clarify in reliable and convincing fashion that not only are all options against Iran “on the table,” they also are ready to be used and the will to do so is real.

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More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Iran sanctions, Israeli Security

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat