In its coverage of Senate Republicans uniting against the U.S. reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, highlighting his concerns about the agreement that might come out of the Vienna talks.
WASHINGTON – A group of 49 Republican Senators – all but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul – announced on Monday that they will not support efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
They noted that according to press reports, the Biden administration might soon conclude an agreement with Iran “to provide substantial sanctions relief in exchange for merely short-term limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.”
“We strongly urge the administration, our Democrat colleagues, and the international community to learn the lessons of the very recent past,” they wrote. “A major agreement that does not have strong bipartisan support in Congress will not survive.
“Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism,” the Senate Republicans continued. “But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it. Unless Iran ceases its support for terrorism, we will oppose removing and seek to reimpose any terrorism-related sanctions. And we will force the Senate to vote on any administration effort to do so.
“By every indication, the Biden administration appears to have given away the store,” they continued. “The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights.”
They went on to say that the nuclear limitations under the new deal “appear to be significantly less restrictive than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was itself too weak, and will sharply undermine US leverage to secure an actually ‘longer and stronger’ deal.
“What is more, the deal appears likely to deepen Iran’s financial and security relationship with Moscow and Beijing, including through arms sales,” they continued. “The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, as per its constitutional obligation, or for review under statutory requirements that passed on a bipartisan basis in response to the 2015 deal. Additionally, despite earlier promises to the contrary, the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress.”
Meanwhile, Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are bracing for the possibility that an agreement will be signed soon. Last week, the American Jewish Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressing concerns over the details of the imminent deal. However, many other groups are waiting to see how the final deal will look before making public comments.
B’nai B’rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin told The Jerusalem Post that he was “deeply concerned” about what agreement might come out of the Vienna talks.
“If issues like Iranian missile and centrifuge development and manufacture, and snap, intrusive inspections of military sites, not to mention Iran’s menacing malign behavior throughout the region [are not addressed], what will have been the purpose of reentering talks with Tehran?” he said.
“And what of even-more truncated sunset clauses which would allow Iran to resume its nuclear program unfettered?” Mariaschin continued. “Moreover, reports that side agreements that might remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from terrorism lists, or which would pull back efforts to prosecute those Iranians who perpetrated such acts of terrorism as the attack on the AMIA social welfare building in Buenos Aires in 1994, should be of special concern.
“The P5+1 countries need to pause and think of the consequences of any agreement that leaves Iran to its own devices,” he said. “Sunday’s Iranian attack on Erbil is yet another example that the regime in Tehran cares less about negotiated agreements than it does about wanting to maintain its ability to act with impunity to advance its interests in the region.”
CUFI Action Fund chairwoman Sandra Parker told the Post that everything she has heard and read about the impending deal indicates the Biden administration “has capitulated to Iran in a manner not even Tehran could’ve fathomed.”
“If the reports are true, the coming Iran deal will be one of the most significant foreign policy blunders of modern American history,” Parker said. “As we have seen in Afghanistan and continue to see now, President Biden’s approach to foreign policy enables our adversaries and imperils our allies. It is both dangerous and disgraceful.”
Mishpacha Magazine quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin in its coverage of Iran's nuclear program and the U.S. administration's options in dealing with Tehran going forward.
Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option, it seems. The world is finally coming to a crossroads with Tehran’s nuclear program.
When Joe Biden entered the Oval Office in January this year, one of the most urgent tasks he set out was returning to the Iran nuclear deal. This goal was supposed to be an easy one to achieve. Obama administration veterans were brought on board: Rob Malley, a key figure in the original JCPOA negotiations, was made US special envoy to Iran, and Jake Sullivan was made national security advisor. Tony Blinken, Biden’s former advisor, was appointed secretary of state, and said the goal was for both sides to first return to the original deal, and then negotiate “a longer and stronger agreement.”
The feeling in Jerusalem was that a return to the nuclear deal was only a matter of time, that all it would take is sorting out a few technicalities. But the Iranians had different plans. Since Trump’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018, they continued uranium enrichment at an accelerated pace, and this time they’re coming to the negotiating table one step away from the nuclear threshold.
If Washington expected them to be desperate for a deal, they were soon disillusioned. The Iranians are not only no longer content with the 2015 terms, they want a lot more from the West in exchange for far more modest concessions on their own part. In their view, America has to not only lift all sanctions, but also commit to never impose sanctions in the future for Iran to even consider restrictions on its nuclear project.
The Iranians’ arrogance led to Blinken sounding pessimistic at the end of the week.
“Iran doesn’t seem serious,” he said, in what could signal a dramatic change of approach on Iran. “If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead end, we will pursue other options.”
“Other options” is a deliberately vague term, intended to leave the door wide open to interpretation, possibly extending as far as a military threat. But it could also mean imposition of further sanctions, something Iran will clearly find unacceptable.
Danny Danon, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, tells Mishpacha that for his part, he wasn’t particularly surprised by Iran’s conduct.
“We are not at all surprised at the breakdown of talks in Vienna,” he said. “Iran has been deceitful in the past, and they are playing the same game now. After months of hard work and negotiations between the parties, Iran no longer accepts the agreed-upon compromises and is demanding outrageous walk-backs and changes. The diplomatic approach didn’t work at the beginning, and it is clearly breaking down now.
“There is a recognition that we are at a critical crossroads,” Danon continued. “Now is the time for the United States and other countries to adopt a new approach with the Iranian regime, in light of its dishonest and shameless conduct. They should speak to the Iranians in a way that they’ll understand, and apply more sanctions.”
Danon’s call for additional sanctions would fit neatly into Blinken’s threat to pursue “other options,” without banging the drums for war — perhaps a stark recognition that Israel can’t get too far in front of its powerful ally.
Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, has been active and vocal in opposition to the JCPOA since 2015. During this time, he has met with numerous leaders and diplomats and tried to convince them that any agreement should include not only the nuclear aspect, but also Iran’s malign regional activities and human rights abuses. His comments to Mishpacha echoed some of Danon’s rhetoric.
“It comes as no surprise that Secretary Blinken has said the Iranians are not serious about a resumption of negotiations,” he told Mishpacha. “For years, Tehran has done nothing but signal it is dead set on moving ahead with its nuclear weapons program.
“The first order of turning to ‘other options’ should be to hold fast to sanctions already imposed on Iran and adding additional measures to pressure the regime,” he said. “It’s long past time for the international community to stop treating Iran as a credible negotiating partner and to begin calling it out for the dangerous, rogue outlier it is.”
Mariaschin, in other words, sees sanctions as only the first step in Blinken’s unspoken threat; and if those don’t work, stronger measures would clearly be needed to deal with a dangerous adversary.
Richard Goldberg, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, brings up another point: The US should leverage its influence in the UN to prod the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the watchdog over Iran’s nuclear activities, to act as well.
“The most important issue to take up at the IAEA is Iran’s failure to cooperate with a three-year probe into undeclared nuclear material, which constitutes a breach of Iran’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT],” he said. “The IAEA board should pass a formal resolution finding Iran in NPT non-compliance and refer the matter to the UN Security Council. This investigation goes to the heart of Iran’s nuclear deceit and reminds the world of the folly of any nuclear agreement absent a full accounting of Iran’s nuclear program.”
This full accounting is something to which Iran has been implacably resistant. It was in this context that Mossad chief Dadi Barnea and Defense Minister Benny Gantz embarked on a whirlwind visit to the US. The purpose is to expose the Americans to more intelligence about Iran’s intentions. But what’s the goal of the visit? After all, America isn’t going to take military action against Iran, so what are Barnea and Gantz hoping to achieve?
Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to Washington and former deputy foreign minister, told Mishpacha that Israel’s security chiefs are bringing an “unequivocal message” to Washington: “Any deal that enables Iran to achieve breakout capacity — the ability to produce a nuclear weapon in weeks or even days — poses a strategic threat to Israel, which has the right and duty to defend itself by all possible means.”
Like Oren, Danny Ayalon served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington and then as former deputy foreign minister. He told Mishpacha that we are in an “extremely sensitive time period,” and that in the upcoming week we will know the faith of the Vienna negotiations — whether the sides are headed for a crisis and the end of the negotiations, or for another attempt to save the 2015 deal.
“Israel should be reasonable and rely on previous experience,” he said. “We should have a detailed discussion with the Americans about the different scenarios ahead of us.”
In the past week, we also witnessed tension brewing between Jerusalem and Washington. Thus, on Thursday Israeli media reported that Bennett had a “tough” phone call with Blinken, in which he warned the secretary of state that the US should not trust the Iranians. And Mossad chief Dadi Barnea said publicly that he “will not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons.”
Ayalon believes that a public feud with the US will not benefit Israel. “We shouldn’t fight with the US publicly. Gantz and Barnea’s visit is an opportunity to act wisely, and to try and convince the administration behind closed doors.”
B'nai B'rith in The Jerusalem Post: Iran deal: ‘We have to learn from 2015. Don’t free up the sanctions’
In a Jerusalem Post feature article, B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin argues that the world must address Iran's malign activities and human rights abuses, in addition to its aggressive nuclear program, and must not let up on sanctions against Iran.
As the superpowers and Iran gear up for Monday’s seventh round of talks in Vienna, B’nai B’rith International is calling for a united front to make sure that the talks address not only the nuclear program, but also Iran’s malign activities and human rights abuses.
In recent months, the organization has held “many” meetings with EU diplomats both in Europe and at the UN to address these issues.
“We were advocating against the JCPOA even before 2015, and at the time we said that this is not a regime that can be trusted,” says Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International.
“We called for three baskets of negotiations: the nuclear one, which of course is the most threatening, but also for a basket for malign behavior and support for terrorism,” he said. “And then the third basket would be human rights, because the Iranians are among the worst abusers of human rights in the world.”
But the response he got from the Obama administration was “nuclear is front and center,” Mariaschin said. “And I believe it was a naive assumption. Over the past 11 months, our position essentially has not changed. In fact, if anything, it has been reinforced by the behavior of the Iranians from the beginning of this year.
“Three days ago, there was a drone attack on the American base in Syria. I mean, we’re talking about reconvening talks in Vienna at the end of this month, and three days ago they’re still attacking us. They’re attacking our bases in Iraq. They’re attacking the base in Syria.”
Mariaschin said that while the key player is the Biden administration, “the key to presenting a united front on this issue is whether the Europeans are all on the same page. That’s the issue, and I’m not sure we’re there.”
For that reason, B’nai B’rith International has been very active in Europe over the past few months, said Mariaschin.
“In our meetings with European diplomats, and we’ve had many meetings, we have raised all of the issues. My sense is that the Europeans are not as exercised about the Iranian threat as they should be. The Europeans need to be much less equivocal on this issue than they are. I sometimes feel they don’t see Iran’s behavior necessarily as an existential threat for them. I think sometimes they see it as an academic exercise, but not as an existential threat. It’s an existential threat when it comes to the threats against Israel, the threats against the Gulf states. But I think that they are not as exercised. To go back into talks – that’s good [for them] because it’s kicking the can down the road continually, and they would rather kick the can down the road, I believe.
“We’ve also discussed these issues with a couple of Latin American countries because of our concern about the penetration of Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere.”
Mariaschin said it would be harder to get the Iranians to agree to a “longer and stronger” agreement if the West is signaling eagerness to return to the JCPOA.
“I hope the administration has learned that over the last 11 months, notwithstanding they’re signaling that they want to go back into the JCPOA,” he said. “The Iranians are drawing conclusions based on a sense that the West is desperate.
“If they sense an eagerness, then why would they at any point give up and change their mind about what they’re going to do with the nuclear program? I think ratcheting up your enrichment to 60% is a threat. It’s not a gambit on a negotiating position. So I believe that we have to learn from 2015. Don’t free up the sanctions, don’t allow them to take the extra cash and plow it back in as an investment in their hegemonic activity. Keep sanctions on. Keep it tight. Don’t signal that there’s eagerness.”
The Algemeiner noted our commemoration of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jewish organizations on Sunday marked the 27th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
The 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was orchestrated by Iran and carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Despite decades of efforts by the Jewish community, the terrorists involved have never been brought to justice.
The six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives behind the attack have escaped arrest and prosecution, while investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered in 2015, before he was to unveil accusations of collusion between the governments of Argentina and Iran to cover up the attack.
B’nai Brith International marked the anniversary, and emphasized, “No perpetrators have been held accountable.”
Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC concentrated on those perpetrators, noting that the bombing was committed by Hezbollah “at the instruction of Iran’s top leadership.”
“Iran continues to fund and promote terrorism around the world,” they said.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris asked, “26 yrs later, who’s been caught, tried & imprisoned? No one.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, also noted the lack of accountability for the terrorists, and said the AMIA victims have been “struggling for justice ever since” the bombing.
The World Jewish Congress said that it and the Congreso Judío Latinoamericano, an umbrella organization for Latin American Jews, “are still leading efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
On Friday, the head of Argentina’s umbrella Jewish group lambasted the timing of a court hearing that was held as victims commemorated the anniversary of the attack.
The hearing was scheduled for Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to appear in an inquiry into a 2013 agreement her then-government had negotiated with Iran.
Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA) head Jorge Knoblovits said the timing was “unnecessarily confrontational and goes against the memory” of the victims.
“If the feelings of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack of the 20th century are disrespected, it is very difficult to reach justice and end impunity,” he said. “We are very ashamed and very embarrassed that you cannot wait two, three weeks or a month to exercise the right of defense, which you can do so legitimately and constitutionally. But to do so today is offensive.”
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:
Following the tragic and mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, just hours before he was scheduled to deliver his findings on the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, a new name has been introduced to the case.
Daniel Rafecas, a respected human rights and Holocaust expert and former B'nai B'rith Argentina honoree, has assigned the next step of the investigation, according to articles by Arutz Sheva (English), Agence France-Presse (Spanish) and Agence France-Presse (Portuguese).
Separate investigation continues into the circumstances of Nisman's death, details of which are included in the full coverage below:
Por otra parte, el juez Daniel Rafecas, experto en derechos humanos y en el Holocausto, tomará la causa del supuesto encubrimiento de la presidenta Fernández a exgobernantes iraníes.
Rafecas juzgó a militares de la dictadura (1976-83) por delitos de lesa humanidad y por sus estudios sobre la Shoá que perpetraron los nazis recibió los premios Derechos Humanos de la Fundación B’nai B’rith, Moisés 2011 de la Sociedad Hebraica Argentina y Gilbert Lewi de la Fundación Museo del Holocausto de Buenos Aires.
O juiz Daniel Rafecas, especialista em direitos humanos e sobre o Holocausto, acolherá a denúncia de suspeita de acobertamento contra a presidente Cristina Kirchner a favor de ex-governantes iranianos, supostamente envolvidos em um atentado antissemita em 1994, em Buenos Aires.
Rafecas julgou militares da ditadura (1976-83) por crimes contra a humanidade e foi agraciado por seus estudos sobre a Shoá praticada pelos nazistas com os prêmios de Direitos Humanos da Fundação B'nai B'rith, Moisés 2011 da Sociedade Hebraica Argentina e Gilbert Lewi, da Fundação Museu do Holocausto de Buenos Aires.
More on Nisman's Death Below
B'nai B'rith International live tweeted U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, responding to items of particular interest to the organization's policy advocacy.
Read a recap of the tweets, below:
B'nai B'rith International was one of a handful of Jewish organizations to meet with the U.S. State Department for four hours, expressing concerns about rising anti-Semitism around the globe.
According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, Secretary of State John Kerry and three of his undersecretaries participated in the meetings.
Read highlights from the article, below:
Jewish leaders converged on the State Department to discuss rising anti-Semitism across the globe, which is of “deep concern” to the Obama administration, US officials said this week.
Meeting with the group for four hours on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry shared in worries over “the prevalence and pervasiveness of anti-Semitic threats and attacks,” the State Department said.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman led the discussions, attended only briefly by the secretary. Several other senior State Department officials participated the meeting.
Jewish representatives included leaders from the Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, B’nai B’rith, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and European Jewish communities.
On Iran, the secretary was firm in stating that negotiations over that country’s nuclear program would not be extended past it’s November 24 deadline.
“I think he wanted us to communicate the message to Israel,” the source stated. “I think the message was quite serious: That he is frustrated about what is happening. They [the administration] feel they invested a lot in it [peace negotiations].”
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