The Jerusalem Post covered our joint virtual conference with the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy (JISS) on the future of U.S.-Israeli relations.
The incoming Biden administration may waste sanctions leverage the US has against Iran simply because of an emotional reaction to undo everything the Trump administration did, former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said Monday.
Speaking at a virtual conference sponsored by B’nai B’rith International and the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, he said President-elect Joe Biden will enter office with a major advantage.
The Trump administration has used a “maximum pressure” campaign dating back to May 2018, which has heavily pressed the Islamic Republic to make compromises regarding its nuclear program and terrorism activities, even if Iran has not caved until now, he said.
“It would be a huge mistake not to use this leverage made by the previous administration, only because it was built by the Trump administration,” Amidror said.
There appears to be a feeling among many Biden supporters that anything Trump did needs to be torn down, similarly to how Trump wanted to tear down all of Obamacare regardless of wide support for aspects of the law, he said.
“With the new administration, we might have another problem,” he added. “It is the symbol of destroying the legacy of Trump and going back to president [Barack] Obama’s legacy.”
“The Iranians built their policy on the assumption that, after four years, Obama’s people will come back, and they can go back to stage one and have the bad agreement, which for them was very good,” Amidror said. “If this administration will make it clear when coming in that it will not go back to square one – that when he [Biden] spoke about a new and stronger agreement, he meant it – they [Iran] will have to reconsider their whole policy. This might succeed.”
“If, on the contrary, the next administration will [remove] the sanctions and say, ‘Let’s go back to the old agreement, and then we will negotiate a new one, taking care of all of the loopholes of the old agreement’… there is no chance,” he said.
Amidror suggested a 50-year deal would be needed to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The 2015 nuclear deal’s 10- to 15-year limit was far too short in the history of nation-states, he said.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of the U.S. government's request that the United Nations trigger snapback sanctions on Iran over its escalated nuclear activity.
(August 20, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and Israel-related groups immediately reacted to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Thursday that the United States has requested the United Nations enact its snapback sanctions on Iran.
The snapback mechanism is included under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it and enacting new penalties against the regime.
Enacting snapback sanctions would include extending the arms embargo indefinitely on the regime, following the Aug. 14 rejection by the U.N. Security Council of the U.S.-led resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
In accordance with the 2015 agreement, the United States had to inform the Security Council a month earlier if it intends to enact snapback.
“Our message is very, very simple: The United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles and other kinds of conventional weapons,” Pompeo told reporters at the United Nations.
“I’m pleased to say, too, that these restored sanctions will also reimpose accountability for other forms of Iranian malign activity that the authors of the nuclear deal foolishly downplayed,” added Pompeo. “Iran will be again prohibited from ballistic missile testing. Iran will be back under sanctions for ongoing nuclear activities, such as the enrichment of nuclear material, that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program.”
Senior Israeli officials applauded the United States for activating snapback.
“I commend the United States for its decision to trigger snapback sanctions against Iran,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. “This is the right decision.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said “reimposing the U.N. sanctions on Iran is a critical step to curbing Iranian aggression, which threatens the entire world. The Security Council should not allow the world’s largest terror regime to obtain and trade lethal weapons and ballistic missiles freely. Nor should it pave the way for Iran to fulfill its nuclear ambitions.”
He said that “now is the time for the international community to act decisively and impose crippling sanctions on Iran—not to reward its malicious aspirations.”
Organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, applauded the move, while J Street expressed objections.
“The U.N. Security Council’s refusal to extend the arms embargo on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror leaves the United States with no choice to retain the embargo other than to ‘snapback’ U.N. sanctions on Iran,” said AIPAC in a statement.
“We support this action, which comes in the wake of repeated Iranian violations of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including Iran’s denying International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors’ access to suspicious sites,” said AIPAC. “Our objectives must remain to ensure that Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon, to prevent the regime from further destabilizing the Middle East, and to support regional allies confronting Iranian aggression.”
“We commend the U.S. government for its steps to trigger the snapback of United Nations sanctions on Iran over its impermissible & escalated nuclear activity. @UN must swiftly implement this snapback to deter conduct that poses an unparalleled threat to global peace & security,” tweeted B’nai B’rith International.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement, “The U.N. has confirmed that Iran is violating every provision of the JCPOA. While the Obama-Biden deal with Iran was always a calamity that gave Iran everything it wanted, secured none of the protections we needed, and made the world less safe, this provision will help to fight back against Iran’s malign activities.”
In a statement, United Against Nuclear Iran said “U.S. leadership is forcing the U.N. to fulfill its duty of maintaining international peace and security. By triggering the snapback provision, the interests of the U.S. and its allies will be greatly enhanced.”
However, in a statement, J Street called the U.S. move as “reckless” and warned that this “would not only significantly escalate the current crisis and further isolate the United States, but make it even more difficult for a new American administration to restore the JCPOA and the prospects for further diplomacy.”
The group added that “it’s incredibly damning that the Trump administration continues to act in this belligerent, hypocritical and ultimately ineffective fashion on the world stage.”
‘It’ll be a test for the Europeans’
Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, told JNS that the Trump administration’s decision to activate snapback “shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
“The White House had previously attempted a more measured, incremental approach, lobbying for the extension of the U.N. embargo on arms sales to Iran,” he said. “But the failure of that effort has forced the U.S. to take more significant steps in order to ensure that international restrictions on Iran don’t loosen further, making it an even greater threat to international security.”
Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iran’s weapons of mass destruction at the White House National Security Council, told JNS that enacting snapback “reflects the overwhelming bipartisan American commitment to extending the international arms embargo on Iran so that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism cannot import advanced weapons from China and Russia.”
“Anyone who is against snapback is for Chinese and Russian arms sales to Iran to threaten America, Israel and other U.S. allies,” said Goldberg, now a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“If the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 was the administration tossing out the dangerously flawed nuclear agreement, then today’s move at the U.N. effectively shreds what was left so that it cannot be put together again,” Matthew Brodsky, a senior fellow at Gold Institute for International Strategy, told JNS. “The original sin of the nuclear deal was Obama’s acquiescence in Iran having a so-called right to enrich uranium on its own soil.”
John Sitilides, a geopolitical strategist at Trilogy Advisors LLC, told JNS that snapback “is a logical extension of current White House policy to exert maximum pressure on Iran for continued non-compliance and outright violations of the nuclear agreement, such as denying international inspectors access to suspected undeclared nuclear sites and hiding undeclared nuclear material."
The president has “always criticized the agreement for excluding Iran’s continued sponsorship of regional and international terrorism and its ongoing regional destabilizing actions,” he said.
On the other hand, Barbara Slavin, who leads the Atlantic Council’s Future Iran Initiative, told JNS that enacting snapback was “a sad day for the United States and the United Nations,” claiming that since the United States has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear accord, it had “no right to invoke snapback.”
But Danielle Pletka, a senior fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that “the administration’s actions are well-founded legally and substantively. It’ll be a test for the Europeans to see whether they place politics over international law.”
While countries such as Russia have said that the United States has no right to enact snapback since it withdrew from the deal, the United States has argued that under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 deal and lifted six Security Council resolutions sanctioning Iran, Washington has the right to enact snapback.
Slavin acknowledged that “it is likely that the U.N. Security Council will also fail to validate it, using a variety of procedural mechanisms.”
A resolution could keep the deal—and thus U.N. sanctions relief for Iran—in place. However, it could be vetoed by a permanent member such as the United States.
“If the Trump administration truly cared about improving upon the JCPOA, it would not have quit the deal while Iran was in compliance but would have sought follow-on talks with Iran and the other parties,” said Slavin. “My hope is that the Iranians will wait until Nov. 3 before deciding on any further retaliatory steps,” a reference to the U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic presidential nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has said that the United States would return to the 2015 nuclear deal if and when Iran returns to compliance.
B'nai B'rith Special Advisor on Latin America Affairs Adriana Camisar wrote about how there is hope for Argentine Federal Prosecutor Alberto Nisman's complaint against former Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman to see the light of day.
Nisman charged that they secretly negotiated a pact with Iran in order to get impunity for the Iranians accused of plotting and executing the AMIA attack. Nisman's complaint will finally be investigated. He “mysteriously” died days after making extremely these serious allegations.
The blog was published by The Times of Israel. Click the button below to read it on their website or scroll down.
Camisar's blog was also published in Spanish by the Argentine news outlet El Tribuno. Click below to read the Spanish version.
Jan. 18 will mark the second anniversary of the “mysterious” death of Argentine Federal Prosecutor Alberto Nisman. For more than ten years, Nisman had been in charge of the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires.
He was found dead in his apartment four days after making extremely serious allegations against then President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and other people close to the government. Nisman stated he had extensive evidence that the government had secretly negotiated a pact with Iran in order to get impunity for the Iranians accused of plotting and executing the AMIA attack.
The pact the prosecutor was referring to—known as the Memorandum of Understanding—was signed in January 2013. Through this agreement, both governments pledged to create a "truth commission" to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing, something as absurd as creating a Nazi commission to investigate the Holocaust. At the time, the government justified the signing of this pact on the need to discover the truth. However, it seemed clear to most people who knew the case, that the signing of this pact represented a major shift in Argentina’s foreign policy, as it attempted to improve relations with Teheran at the expense of the bombing’s many victims.
The pact never came into force because the Iranian Parliament did not ratify it, and also because it was ultimately declared unconstitutional by an Argentine Federal Court. But it would have given the Iranians access to all the documentation of the case, and made it easier for them to get rid of the Interpol red alerts that Nisman had secured against the accused.
Nisman’s death left the country in shock and there are still no clear answers as to what exactly happened to him. However, there is now some hope that his complaint will finally be investigated.
Right after Nisman’s death, a brave prosecutor tried to get the courts to open a serious investigation into his allegations. But Daniel Rafecas, the judge assigned to the case, dismissed his complaint in a very expedited way and with questionable legal arguments. His ruling was appealed but the Federal Court quickly dismissed it as well. A federal prosecutor subsequently appealed this decision before the Court of Cassation—the last resort that the Argentine criminal system admits before resorting to the Supreme Court. But the prosecutor who needed to allow the case to get to the Court of Cassation failed to do it (probably because of his known ties with the former government) and therefore, all doors seemed to get closed and most Argentineans believed that a proper investigation would never take place.
However, several things changed since then. On Dec. 10, 2016, Mauricio Macri took office as the new president of Argentina, and one of the first things he did was to let the pact with Iran die. He did this by not appealing the ruling that had declared it unconstitutional. Macri also said that he expected the judiciary to act with independence and to get to the truth.
Several months ago, the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA), which is the Jewish umbrella organization in Argentina, made a new presentation alleging that the case should be re-opened because of “newly found evidence,” and requested to be admitted as a plaintiff. The new pieces of evidence submitted were a recording that was found in which Timerman—in a conversation with the former head of the AMIA—conceded that he was negotiating with the ones that “placed the bomb,” and the ruling that declared that the pact with Iran was unconstitutional.
Rafecas, the original judge of the case dismissed the request and so did the Federal Court, but when the issue got to the Court of Cassation once again, they finally decided to re-open the investigation. The Court of Cassation accepted the DAIA as a plaintiff and ordered Rafecas and the other judges that had intervened to withdraw from the case.
For the first time in two years the possibility to get to the truth seems real. And, of course, this case could shed light on what really happened to Nisman, as his death is undoubtedly linked to his complaint.
It is still too early to know if the investigation will go as far as it needs to go, but the re-opening of the case is certainly a promising sign
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin represented B'nai B'rith International at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer during his annual Rosh Hashanah reception.
Mariaschin's presence was noted by Jewish Insider, which also offered the context of the gathering and a transcription of Dermer's toast to the New Year. Read excerpts from the article below:
Approximately 150 guests, including Jewish leaders, diplomats, journalists and members of Congress, gathered last night at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda in Chevy Chase to toast the upcoming Jewish New Year.
Dermer began by joking: "I hope you all had a more uneventful summer than I (laughter)... I could do boring for while. It'd be fine for me. But we are obviously meeting at a time when everyone is discussing the deal with Iran, a few of you raised it with me tonight not surprisingly, and I want to take this opportunity to let you know that Israel is opposed to the deal (laughter). I know that comment is going to set the entire twitter-sphere ablaze.
"The right of Israel to convey its views about a deal with an Iranian regime that actively works and openly calls for our annihilation... should not be the subject of controversy. It should be self-evident. But to some, it’s not. Because while no one questions the right of the Ambassadors of the other P5+1 countries to meet with members of Congress and explain why they believe this is a good deal, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for Israel to make its case to those same members of Congress. That’s pretty disturbing. Because there is no country in the world that has a greater right than Israel to weigh in on this issue because there is no country in the world that has more at stake than Israel.
"But regardless of where you stand on the nuclear deal with Iran, on this Rosh Hashana, let us all raise a glass and toast the fact that the Jewish people are voiceless no more. Israel has provided us with a shofar, with a sovereign voice among the nations. Israel will continue to blow that shofar with pride. And on this Rosh Hashana, let us also toast a privilege we all have – the privilege to live at a time when the Jewish people not only have a voice but when we also have the power and will to defend ourselves – a will that no deal and no force on earth will ever break." [Transcript; Audio]
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai Birith International said it would be a “mistake” to close out the debate on an issue where “every [congressman] should be heard,” especially as the White House failed to whip up support among some of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.
While both groups acknowledged that the president has enough support to keep Congress from killing the deal...they called for legislation demanding accountability while registering the wide opposition to the deal.
Mariaschin called it “just the beginning of the process on the Iranian issue,” encouraging bipartisan measures to “ensure greater accountability.”
Jewish groups, pro-Israel lobbies and, of course, Israel, among others are concerned the nuclear deal will empower Iran to work toward carrying out its stated goals of occupying Jerusalem and destroying the Jewish state; just Wednesday morning Khamenei predicted the “Zionist regime” would no longer exist in 25 years, which also happens to be when the final provisions of the nuclear deal expire.
“One has to be extremely skeptical going forward. [The Iranians] say they got the better end of this deal,” said Mariaschin, noting Iranian claims to victory over the international sanctions regime that will disintegrate with the deal’s implementation.
The first meeting, held at 1:45PM, featured National Security Advisors Susan Rice and Colin Kahl. The organization leaders who attended include.
Conference of Presidents' Malcolm Hoenlein, AIPAC's Lee Rosenberg and Robert Cohen, ADL's Abe Foxman, OU's Allen Fagin, JCPA's Steve Gutow, Wiesenthal's Marvin Hier, URJ's Rick Jacobs, AJC's Jason Issacson, WJC's Ronald Lauder, Israel Policy Forum's Peter Joseph, NCJW's Nancy K. Kaufman, B'nai B'rith's Dan Mariaschin, NJDC's Greg Rosenbaum, Rabbinical Assembly's Julie Schonfeld, Federations' Jerry Silverman, past CoP Chair Alan Solow, J Street Vice-Chair Alexandra Stanton, and CoP's Chairman Robert Sugarman.
According to a source, the two hour long meeting, featured Potus speaking for around an hour with some time for questions and answers with the President and Rice.
The second meeting, tailored more for the President's longtime supporters in the Jewish community, was held at 4:45PM and lasted around an hour and forty minutes.
The meeting featured President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, and Robert Malley. According to two sources with knowledge of the meetings, the President began by detailing the day's previous meeting, with no notes, for around twenty minutes and then went around the room allowing each attendee to ask multiple questions on issues including Iran, Israelis and Palestinians, and the U.S. - Israel relationship.
One source told Jewish Insider that they had never seen the President as "passionate, emotional and connected to the issues" as he was [today] but added that the President was also candid and honest about expressing frustration with the way some of his views have been portrayed and attacked by others.
B'nai B'rith International was one of 12 American Jewish organizations in a pair of off-the-record meetings with President Barack Obama on Monday, discussing the merit of a nuclear deal with Iran.
Following the P5+1 announcement on April 2, B'nai B'rith took a skeptical approach, expressing concern over Tehran's past double-speak and anti-Israel agenda.
With a June 30 deadline set for a final deal, B’nai B’rith has been monitoring the specifics of the deal, urging all parties to carefully and stringently review the agreement during that time as well.
Read CNN's recap of the meeting, below:
A range of both liberal and conservative Jewish-American groups met with President Barack Obama and other top White House officials Monday to hear the administration's pitch on its nuclear deal with Iran.
The president spoke for 45 minutes before taking questions at the first of the two meetings. That first gathering lasted two hours, doubling its expected length of one hour.
Obama demonstrated the "depth of his commitment to Israel," said one source who is supportive of the president's efforts to constrain Iran's nuclear program. But he also heard from participants "expressing fear and anxiety in the Jewish community" about the current framework agreement announced on April 2.
According to a list of the participants obtained by CNN, Obama met with representatives from the following groups: J Street, the National Council of Jewish Women, Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, AJC, Anti Defamation League, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, B'nai B'rith International, Orthodox Union, and the Rabbinical Assembly.
With contested Israeli elections, the framework of a nuclear deal in place between the west and Iran, and a tenuous peace between Israel and the Palestinians, there is much political fodder for discussion at this year's Passover Seder tables.
The International Business Times featured quotes from B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider in an article on the topic. Read highlights from the wide-ranging piece, below:
As much as Mia Warshofsky is looking forward to spending time with her family this Passover, the Florida college student is already bracing herself for the political arguments that she knows will break out over the Seder table on Friday. The subject of Israel has become a point of contention between Warshofsky and her grandparents, following Israel’s 50-day offensive in Gaza last summer, and she anticipates that these disagreements will be further inflamed by more recent political events.
“I would like my Seder table to not be a political minefield,” said Warshofsky, 20, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and a critic of the Israeli government’s policies toward Palestinians. “But all of my grandparents have recently picked up this really wonderful habit of bringing up Israel every time they see me… I don’t like to start debates, but they always seem to steer the conversations toward the hot-button issues.”
Warshofsky’s family will not be the only one navigating potentially charged political discussions this year. Passover comes in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s contentious elections and just after the announcement of a preliminary agreement over Iran's nuclear program, a process Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned will endanger the Jewish state.
These sensitive issues mean that for many U.S. Jews, regardless of political or denominational affiliation, the rituals of the Passover ceremony, which commemorates the Israelites’ freedom from slavery, will be particularly charged this year.
The implications of the election, which saw the incumbent Israeli leader sweep to a landslide victory after a tightly contested campaign, will be a particularly prominent topic at Seders in Israel, said Alan Schneider, the director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem. However, Schneider argued that for most Israelis, intense debates about Middle East politics are nothing new and that this year’s Passover would not necessarily be a departure from previous year’s holidays.
Making his historic third address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke for approximately 40 minutes, addressing reported details of a deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Following his address, B'nai B'rith International released a statement concurring with the overall themes and tone of the speech, citing specific quotations that resonated with the organization.
This statement was featured in The Jerusalem Post, J-Weekly, JBS TV and more. View a recap of the B'nai B'rith media coverage, below:
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