The U.S. Must Not Ignore Iranians’ Human Rights in Pursuit of a Nuclear Deal

During the Obama administration, Washington often avoided pressing the Islamic Republic over its brutal treatment of its own citizens, out of fear that doing so would lessen its chances of achieving a historic agreement in which the ayatollahs agreed to restrict their nuclear program. Now that the Biden administration is considering a resurrection of the deal, Xiyue Wang—an American historian of Iran who was held hostage there—urges the White House not to make the mistake of relegating human rights to the back burner:

As seen . . . following the conclusion of the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran’s human-rights condition is unlikely to improve through Obama-style engagement. On the contrary, such engagement tends to backfire and intensify the regime’s malign behavior. Therefore, the United States should instead maintain moral solidarity with freedom-seeking Iranians and implement measures against the regime for its human-rights abuses.

A good start would be to establish a congressional commission to monitor human-rights violations in Iran and to provide material and moral support to Iran’s civil and political activists. Moreover, the United States should impose targeted sanctions, through the Magnitsky Act, on Iranian entities and individuals involved in such abuses.

This work cannot be done overnight. It requires an enduring political commitment to create and implement an effective strategy. Regardless of the challenges, American leaders should not hesitate to undertake such a task. They need only be reminded of Pope John Paul II’s message in 1978 to the oppressed people behind the Iron Curtain: “Be not afraid!” This simple message inspired and galvanized millions in the pope’s native Poland to defy the Communist dictatorship by demanding civil and political rights. It eventually helped to bring about not only the end of Communist rule in Poland, but also the total collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Appeasing the regime by giving in to its extortion, nuclear or otherwise, is a road to failure.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Barack Obama, Human Rights, Iran, John Paul II, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security