Iran’s Self-Inspections and the Latest Jewish-Conspiracy Theory

Last week, the Associated Press (AP) reported on a heretofore secret agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allowing Iran to carry out its own, unsupervised inspections of its suspected nuclear site at Parchin. A number of media outlets and nuclear-weapons experts responded by claiming—without evidence—that the AP had based its story on a forged document. Suggestions followed that Benjamin Netanyahu was behind the forgery. Tom Nichols writes:

Late last week, the Associated Press found itself on the receiving end of a kind of Iran-deal “trutherism,” in which people upset by an AP report on one of the Iran deal’s side-agreements have taken on the same role as the 9/11 “truthers” who were “just asking questions” about conspiracies. They’re not making direct accusations, but the implications are hard to miss. And like the 9/11 truthers, the conspiracies point to the country beloved by truthers everywhere: Israel. . . .

In the end, the most disturbing question of all is to ask what would have happened if an institution of less prominence and reputation had published this report. The Iran-deal truthers didn’t count on the AP firing back, and . . . the entire company stood behind the story. . . . [W]hile the IAEA has said the story is a “misrepresentation,” they haven’t said it’s false, either. Neither has the White House. So far, the AP and its story are still here.

The warning shot to other journalists is clear, however. Reporters with one of the most reputable news organizations in the world had to fight off odious charges for doing their job. This is apparently the price to be paid for reporting anything that challenges support for a deal that has reached, among its adherents, the status of a dogma that tolerates no heresy.

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: 9/11, Anti-Semitism, Iran nuclear program, Journalism, U.S. Foreign policy

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood