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.
In a joint statement, B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich and B’nai B’rith International executive vice-president Dan Mariaschin said the lack of outcry against the wave of terror was disturbing.
“If a rash of terror broke out in any other democratic nation, most of the international community would be appalled,” they said.
In light of the current wave of unrelenting attacks against Israel's legitimacy, B'nai B'rith International joined B'nai B'rith Europe, local lodges and dozens of other Jewish organization to rally in support of Israel outside of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
B’nai B’rith is highly critical of the report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “independent, international commission of inquiry” into Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The report inherently lacks credibility and should not be taken as a serious evaluation of the necessary counterterrorism actions of the Israel Defense Forces.
B'nai B'rith International's Israel/Middle East policy includes issues such as fighting terrorism; supporting Israel's right to defend itself; preventing Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons; preserving the unity of Jerusalem; promoting the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries; and supporting direct negotiations between the parties to the Middle East conflict while affirming the importance of Israel's critical security needs.
Photos below courtesy of Israel In Switzerland:
This year, some two-dozen B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters, including with three representatives from the national Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), met with senior representatives from more than 40 countries. B'nai B'rith is proud to partner with AEPi through community service, educational programming and advocacy. We work together to encourage brothers to remain involved in the Jewish community after college graduation.
AEPi's David Marias, Civic Engagement Coordinator, recorded highlights of his advocacy experience on Instagram.
Enjoy a slideshow of his images, below:
On this date in 1965, B'nai B'rith International was cited in an article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for its efforts to end all religious intolerance in the United Nations.
The advocacy efforts were later detailed by Dr. William E. Korey, director of the New York Bureau of the B'nai B'rith International Council, in the February 1965 issue of the National Jewish Monthly, a publication produced by B'nai B'rith:
This month, the United Nations General Assembly will be deeply involved in creating a historic and powerful legal instrument directed against discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds. The so-called 'Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination' will bind all states that ratify it to take specific measures aimed at removing barriers to human dignity.
The end goal of the Convention was to ensure religious freedom throughout the world. This is a policy upon which the organization has made great strides, and is still vigorously pursued by B'nai B'rith International 50 years later.
Read the JTA article in its entirety, below:
U. N. Body Hears More Jewish Pleas to Protect Religious Rights
January 20, 1965
Two international organizations–one of which has the American Jewish Committee as an affiliate, and the other representing B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews–urged a United Nations body here today not only to adopt an international convention calling for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, but also to formulate procedures of implementation which would put enforcement teeth into a UN document guaranteeing religious freedom throughout the world.
The steps were taken here before the United Nations Sub commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. This 14 member body has before it several preliminary drafts of a religious freedoms convention which became international law when finally adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by a sufficient number of member states.
The statements were submitted by the International League for the Rights of Man, represented here by Sidney Liskofsky, a staff member of the American Jewish Committee, which is affiliated with the League; and by Gustav Warburg, representing the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, comprised of the B’nai B’rith and the British Board.
B'nai B'rith celebrated its 171st birthday on Oct. 13, reviewing its first 17 decades at the forefront of Jewish advocacy in the United States and around the world.
Here is an infographic detailing the major achievements in the organization's history:
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels penned an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times on Aug. 27.
The piece urged the United Nations to place Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, on the list of officially recognized holidays. A committee will convene on the matter next month.
Read the op-ed in its entirety, below:
THE emblem of the United Nations shows the planet brought together in the embrace of two olive branches. Its charter affirms the “equal rights” of “nations large and small.” But in the “family of nations,” some members are more equal than others. No example of this inequity is starker than that of Israel.
The State of Israel was created, in the Jewish ancestral homeland, as a result of a United Nations resolution. Its 1948 proclamation of independence refers to the United Nations seven times. Israel tries to contribute to international peace in every area in which it can help, from disaster relief to medical innovation to agricultural technology. Jewish hope in the organization — created in the aftermath of the Holocaust — can be discerned in the words from Isaiah inscribed beside the Sharansky Steps, which face the United Nations headquarters in New York City: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
But over time, Israel has been a target for exceptional mistreatment at the United Nations. A pluralistic democracy facing extremists sworn to its destruction, Israel is routinely condemned by the body’s Human Rights Council, more than any other member state. Israel’s assailants at the United Nations often assert that they respect Jews and Judaism — and reserve their shrill disdain only for Israeli policies and Zionism. But the demonization of Israel calls their motives into question.
The United Nations is headquartered in the United States, the country with the most Jews outside Israel, and in New York City, which has the single largest Jewish population in the Diaspora. Judaism, of course, is an ancient, biblical religion — a precursor of the two dominant world faiths — and Jewish communities can be found in at least 120 member states.
In 1997, the General Assembly added two Muslim holidays (Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr) to the official calendar of the United Nations headquarters. Two of the 10 holidays are Christian (Good Friday and Christmas) and the other six are American federal holidays. None is Jewish.
Important United Nations events — even, sometimes, meetings related to Israel — have repeatedly been scheduled on major Jewish holidays, forcing Jewish diplomats and representatives of civil society to choose between their professional duties and their faith and families.
Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, unites Jews of all nationalities, political orientations and degrees of observance. The Day of Atonement, as it is known — traditionally spent in fasting, prayer and introspection — represents the universal aspiration to self-improvement and to making amends. Last month, 32 nations — including Argentina, Canada, Israel, Nigeria and the United States — declared their support for adding Yom Kippur (Oct. 3-4 this year) to the United Nations calendar. Next month, a committee will take up the matter.
In 1999, Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledged that, to observers, “it has sometimes seemed as if the United Nations serves all the world’s peoples but one: the Jews.” In 2006, his successor, Ban Ki-moon, told our organization, B’nai B’rith, that the United Nations should always be “a place where Jews and the State of Israel can feel at home.” Recently, Mr. Ban felt compelled to condemn an “upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks.”
One way to combat bigotry is by demonstrating respect. The Yom Kippur proposal is a nonpolitical one — unrelated to Israel’s recent hostilities with Hamas — and a test of inclusiveness. All 193 United Nations members, including the 56 in the Muslim bloc, should support it.
B’nai B’rith sent the following letter to the editor to the New York Times on Aug. 14.
Read it in its entirety, below:
The lumping together of "Israel, Sri Lanka and Syria" is precisely what is perverse about the record of High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Human Rights Council.
Israel is condemned by the council more than all other countries. Syria, though, has killed more Arabs in three years than Israel has in sixty-six.
Ms. Pillay has never criticized the council’s repressive members for a permanent agenda item singling out Israel alone for harsh scrutiny.
Irresponsibly, she suggests equivalence between Israel, a democracy, and Hamas, a terrorist movement. She emphasizes Israel's "occupation," ignoring the 2005 Gaza withdrawal and Hamas’s rejection of Israel’s existence within any borders. She also rushed to claim disproportionate Palestinian civilian casualties when most Gazans recently killed appear to have been males of fighting age.
Ms. Pillay awaits Israeli countermeasures to incessant violence before sounding any alarm. Her valuing of certain lives above others was made explicit when she said she opposed Palestinian attacks but "most especially" Israeli responses.
Discrimination has no place in the pursuit of human rights.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President
David J. Michaels, Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs
B'nai B'rith International
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