B’nai B’rith Frustrated After U.N. Security Council Endorsement of Iran Deal; Undermines Congressional Review
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is frustrated over the unanimous passage of the Iran nuclear deal by the United Nations Security Council, with the Obama administration virtually bypassing agreed upon Congressional review and committing the United States to a deal.
Under compromise legislation between the administration and Congress, lawmakers have 60 days to review the Iran nuclear deal. By submitting and passing the deal at the U.N. Security Council, the move undermines and contradicts the spirit of this compromise arrangement.
The U.S. Congress should have the full 60 days to review the details of the agreement struck last week between the P5+1 (United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) and Iran.
The deal in the Security Council was unanimously endorsed by a vote of 15-0. While it is expected that implementation of the U.N. resolution will be delayed 90 days and sanctions will not be lifted until after an initial International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, the legal rationale for stripping away a decade worth of nuclear sanctions will have already been fixed.
When the deal was announced last week, we reiterated our long-standing concerns about Iran’s history of deception and denial about its nuclear program.
Congress has an important role in the coming weeks. Lawmakers must ask tough questions about inspections, plutonium enrichment and sanctions relief, including Iran's demand to immediately begin acquiring conventional weapons. The distraction of a Security Council vote will loom over Congress as it fulfills this investigative role. B’nai B’rith hopes those on Capitol Hill can sift through the noise and, if it is unsatisfied with answers to it's questions about elements of the deal, it should reject it.
B’nai B’rith International remembers the 21st anniversary of the bombing attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building—the Jewish center—in Buenos Aires. As we move farther away from that fateful day of July 18, 1994, when 85 people were killed and 300 were wounded in the blast, the story only becomes uglier and more complicated. The mysterious death of the prosecutor assigned to the case, Alberto Nisman, this past January only added to the perpetual uncertainly of resolving this case.
B’nai B’rith participated in remembrance activities in Buenos Aires on July 16 and 17, with leaders and representatives of government, religion and non-governmental organizations from across Latin America descending on the Argentine capital to reflect on the past and discuss prospects for the future of the case.
“In the 21 years since the worst terror attack in the history of South America, it’s amazing how we’re still sorting through the lies and deception of this case,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Alberto Nisman’s death was a huge blow to the procurement of justice and only added another murky layer to this seemingly never-ending story. But we will fight on, vowing to never forget the victims and committing ourselves to ultimately shining a light on the truth of this horrific crime.”
The current chapter of the AMIA-saga goes back to 2005 when then-President Néstor Kirchner issued a decree accepting the state’s share of the blame for the disastrous inaction and incompetent inquiry into the bombing, and assigned Nisman to review the case. Nisman heroically and doggedly followed evidence in the terror attack wherever it led, including detailing how top Iranian leaders including Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s president at the time, and Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s current minister of defense, ordered Hezbollah to kill Jews in Buenos Aires.
Despite the mountain of evidence pointing to the regime in Tehran as the perpetrators behind the attack, in 2012 Iran and Argentina signed a “Memorandum of Understanding,” creating a supposed “independent” group to investigate the 1994 bombing. It’s a farcical arrangement that still holds no promise of justice.
But Nisman continued to dig. And this time last year, it appeared that he was onto something big. Why? The Argentine government barred him from travelling to the United States to testify before the U.S. Congress on the investigation. Fast forward to January 2015 when Nisman filed a complaint against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman alleging they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
The day before he was scheduled to speak before the Argentine congress about these enormous and pointed allegations, he was found dead in his apartment under mysterious circumstances. B’nai B’rith closely followed Nisman’s investigation over the years and strongly supported his efforts. His death created a gaping void in the pursuit of terrorists.
On July 16 B’nai B’rith Director of Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn joined participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela to engage in roundtable discussions on a variety of topics. B’nai B’rith Latin America Chair Leon Cohen joined Kohn in Buenos Aires, as did the president of the Chilean Jewish community and Paraguay Jewish community chair and B’nai B’rith mentor Jack Fleischman.
Topics covered included AMIA case and the lack of justice 21 years removed from the bombing, the pervasive threat of the Islamic State, and new strategies and challenges for Jewish communities in Latin American and beyond.
For the discussion of the AMIA bombing, attendees heard from Sofía Guterman, whose daughter, Andrea, perished in the bombing. During the ISIS roundtable Catholic nun Maria de Guadalupe Rodrigo addressed participants, having spent the last five years in Aleppo, Syria at a Catholic mission. She talked about the horrifying experiences she witnessed in the midst of the brutal civil war in Syria and lamented the conflict truly looks hopeless unless the international community decides to intervene in the war and take on the Islamic State head on.
Following a full day of productive talks, Kohn then attended a dinner and met with the Israeli Ambassador to Argentina Dorit Shavit.
Today, Kohn attended the annual commemoration ceremony at the site of the AMIA building with a moment of silence at 9:53 a.m. local time, marking the exact moment of the explosion.
“Every year B’nai B’rith commemorates the AMIA anniversary, but this year is particularly difficult due to the death of Alberto Nisman. It seems with his death, the quest for justice in this case has been partially extinguished, for the time being. To lose a man committed to truth and closure for the victims’ families is truly heartbreaking,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “But his death is also a reminder that we must continue on, we must continue to fight those who seek to obfuscate what truly happened on July 18, 1994."
B’nai B’rith urges the Obama administration to delay submitting the Iran nuclear deal to the United Nations Security Council for a vote, giving Congress time to review the agreement.
Under compromise legislation between the administration and Congress, lawmakers have 60 days to review the Iran nuclear deal. By submitting the agreement now to the United Nations Security Council, the move would undermine and contradict the spirit of this compromise arrangement.
The U.S. Congress should have the full 60 days to review the details of the agreement struck earlier this week between the P5+1 (United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) and Iran.
The vote in the Security Council is scheduled for next week, where it is expected the deal will be endorsed. While it is expected that implementation of the U.N. resolution will be delayed 90 days, the legal rationale for stripping away a decade worth of nuclear sanctions will have already been fixed.
When the deal was announced days ago, we reiterated our long-standing concerns about Iran’s history of deception and denial about its nuclear program.
Congress has an important role in the coming weeks. Lawmakers must ask tough questions about inspections, plutonium enrichment and sanctions relief, including Iran's demand to immediately begin acquiring conventional weapons. Congress needs to be able to fulfill this investigative role without the distraction of a Security Council vote.
Congress Should Reject the Deal If Vital Benchmarks Have Been Pulled Back
The just-announced deal on Iran’s nuclear program has not erased the deep concern we have about Iran’s true intentions for its nuclear program.
It is impossible to look at Iran’s track record in so many areas and not be skeptical about Iran adhering to the terms of the deal. In the days leading up to the agreement, on “al-Quds Day,” government inspired crowds called for “death to America,” and U.S. and Israeli flags were burned across the country.
The fact that verification has been a sticking point throughout this process is highly revealing. We fear that inspectors will never get managed, unfettered or spontaneous access, because Iran has consistently rejected this point all along.
According to the terms of the deal, the arms embargo is being lifted in five years, but the arms race will begin sooner than that, as other countries will begin stockpiling weapons. Sanctions that are being lifted now will never be reinstated, because it was too difficult to get full coalition approval the first time around. Apparently, even some of the terrorism sanctions will be lifted because they will be classified as nuclear instead of non-nuclear.
All the basic components of Iran's nuclear infrastructure will now be allowed to solidify with the international community's blessing.
At no point during the past nearly two years of negotiations has Iran lessened its support for terrorist organizations, its hegemonistic goals in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, or its continued abuse of human rights.
The P5+1 (United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) worked hard during this time to secure a deal. But perhaps the hopeful quest for a breakthrough overshadowed Iran’s long record of deception and denial about its nuclear program. Tehran’s history underscores the likelihood that Iran will cheat again under this new deal.
Congress needs to ask tough questions about inspections, plutonium enrichment and sanctions relief, including Iran's demand to immediately begin acquiring conventional weapons. If upon inspecting the details, Congress discovers the agreement proves unsatisfactory on crucial issues, then Congress should reject the deal.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith renews its long-held concern about the feasibility of a nuclear deal with Iran. The latest deadline overrun demonstrates once more Tehran’s inability to commit to some of the most important issues in any deal, including intrusive inspections of all of its nuclear facilities, especially military sites.
We reiterate our long-standing skepticism of Iranian intentions.
B’nai B’rith continues to call on the White House and the P5+1 (United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) to stand firm on addressing such issues as plutonium enrichment, intrusive inspections and the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.
It is difficult to overstate the global impact of Iran’s access to nuclear weapons. With Tehran-controlled proxies effectively running so much of the collapsing Middle East, an Iran with nuclear weapons is an alarming prospect.
As we noted months ago when an initial framework was reached: “Skepticism of Iran’s true nuclear intentions is natural, in light of the regime’s own words and actions.”
At the time of the initial framework, we noted that Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari had recently said: “The range of (our) missiles covers all of Israel today. That means the fall of the Zionist regime, which will certainly come soon.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also sharpened his rhetoric, saying in recent months: “whether a nuclear agreement is achieved or not, Israel will be more insecure each day.”
Is this a regime ready to allow full and unfettered access to its nuclear sites? Is this a regime that has peaceful intentions for its nuclear research? Its history as the largest state-sponsor of global terror would indicate the answers are no.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs (Right) and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin (Left) present Pope Francis (Center) with a framed 1965 edition of The Jerusalem Post with coverage on Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council document that helped to transform Catholic-Jewish relations.
A multinational delegation of B’nai B’rith leaders met privately with Pope Francis on June 25 at the Vatican, the first international Jewish audience with the pope since the Vatican announced an agreement on church issues with “the State of Palestine” and the pope separately acknowledged non-recognition of Israel as amounting to anti-Semitism. The meeting came during the 50th anniversary year of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council document that helped to transform Catholic-Jewish relations.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs celebrated the pope's commitment to “advancing the path of your predecessors in signaling the Church’s commitment to the Jewish people, its respect for Judaism, its denunciation of persisting anti-Semitism, and its due recognition of the State of Israel.” At the same time, he told the pontiff that “tragically, no enduring Palestinian-Israeli peace can be possible as long as powerful forces deny the right of a Jewish state to live within any boundaries in Jews' only ancestral homeland. It is in light of this that it is so important that Palestinians not be afforded incentives to pursue political aims outside of meaningful and direct negotiations, compromise and comprehensive bilateral agreement with Israel."
On the eve of the current June 30 deadline for international negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program, Jacobs also emphasized that "if it weren’t enough that Iran openly pledges Israel’s destruction and lethally empowers foremost terrorist groups—responsible for carnage as far away as Buenos Aires, whose unresolved 1994 AMIA bombing you have consistently highlighted—this rogue government has aggressively pursued the ability to acquire the most dangerous of weaponry... [M]ore attention needs to be paid to the telling fact that Iran’s actions have broadly united its neighbors—Arabs and Israelis alike—in urgent, and unprecedented, alarm."
The B'nai B'rith statement said that the “continuing, extraordinary transformation in the relationship between our faith communities can serve as a source of inspiration and optimism for so many others around the world, not least at a time of tensions and conflicts too often influenced by religion... We must make the deepening Christian-Jewish kinship further known among our own adherents around the world—from clergy to educators to young people—and we must progress from dialogue to concrete partnership in tackling the array of challenges that confront our constituencies and all members of the human family. Among these are the protection of our shared environment, care for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, the advancement of quality education for all, the encouragement of international peace, and the combating of all forms of extremism and bigotry.”
B’nai B’rith expressed support “to our Christian friends worldwide—and we specifically offer our immense concern, and abiding solidarity, as Christians in so many parts of the Middle East are now faced with discrimination, threats and outright persecution. We have them in our thoughts and our prayers."
Since Israel, a rare Middle Eastern democracy where Christians and other minorities have continually increased, itself represents a threatened minority presence in the region, the B'nai B'rith delegation decried "an economic warfare movement, present even in some religious denominations, that singles out the Jewish state for punitive campaigns."
This is not B’nai B’rith’s first time meeting with Pope Francis: In 2013, B’nai B’rith International Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels attended the installation of the pope and the first interreligious meeting with him at the Vatican. In 2014, Michaels also greeted Francis at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the papal visit to Israel. And before he was known around the world at Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hosted B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires in 2012.
“Our meeting with Pope Francis provided us an opportunity to directly reaffirm the bond between the Jewish community and Catholics worldwide, on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. It also gave our delegation an important chance to discuss urgent issues in the Middle East that affect both faiths in the region,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
The B’nai B’rith delegation additionally met, or is scheduled to meet, with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni; Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin; Bishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States; Emanuela D'Alessandro, diplomatic advisor to Italian President Sergio Mattarella; Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and its Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews; Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Zion Evrony, ambassador of Israel to the Holy See; Kathleen Doherty, chargé d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Rome; and leaders of the Italian Jewish community and B'nai B'rith Rome.
In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, among the other members of the B’nai B’rith delegation were Chairman of the Executive Board of Directors Gary Saltzman (Denver, Colo.); B’nai B’rith Europe President Erika van Gelder (The Netherlands); Chairman of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Joseph Harari (Panama); Haim Katz, Chairman of the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem (Israel); and President of B’nai B’rith Argentina Mario Wilhelm (Argentina).
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith lauds the overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate vote in favor of mandating Congressional oversight of the nuclear agreement the United States and its partners are negotiating with Iran.
The United States Congress has an important and legitimate role in reviewing any measure involving lifting sanctions against Tehran.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act provides a necessary structure for Congressional involvement. Given the high stakes of the nuclear talks, the global impact of their outcome and the many uncertainties that lie ahead as a final deal is negotiated, it is critical that Congress plays an active role.
Though a final negotiating deadline is set for next month, the framework agreement reached between Tehran and the P5+1 negotiating partners (the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Germany and Russia) in April has many troubling aspects.
B’nai B’rith has long been skeptical of the framework agreement’s ability to increase Iran’s nuclear breakout time from three months to a year, given the regime’s unwavering determination to continue enrichment and its history of evading inspections. Tehran has a decades-long record of obfuscation regarding its nuclear activities. There is no reason to believe now that it will stick to the parameters of an agreement.
We are encouraged by the Senate’s decisive action and urge the House of Representatives to promptly follow suit.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is encouraged by the bipartisan agreement reached between Congress and the White House on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (S.615), which, if passed, would give the legislature the power to review a final deal on the Iranian nuclear program.
The compromise struck between Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin gives Congress 30 days to review a deal with Iran following the June 30 negotiating deadline with the United States, its negotiating partners and Tehran. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill if passed by both chambers of Congress.
B’nai B’rith calls on the Senate to pass the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and the House of Representatives to do the same when the bill is brought to the floor.
Given the high stakes for U.S. national security and stability in the Middle East, it is essential that Congress be involved.
The bipartisan consensus on S.615 is encouraging. It conveys the broad concern in the Senate over the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.
While this congressional action is vitally important, B’nai B’rith remains deeply concerned about the Iranian regime’s interest in adhering to a nuclear agreement based on a 36-year track record of obfuscation and cheating. Iran also continues to act as the world's largest state-sponsor of terrorism, which only furthers our skepticism as to whether Iran will honor the final deal in good faith.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
In the wake of the announced framework of a deal between the United States, its five negotiating partners, and Tehran on the Iranian nuclear program, B’nai B’rith International believes there are still many questions surrounding the outcome—questions involving the viability of the deal and whether the notoriously sinister and secretive Iranian government will honor the terms in good faith.
B’nai B’rith is skeptical of the agreement’s ability to increase Iran’s nuclear breakout time from three months to a year, given the regime’s unwavering determination to continue enrichment and its history of evading inspections. The current deal, negotiated by the P5+1 (United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom), follows more than 20 years of deception by the regime in Tehran. If it was truly negotiated in good faith, then why did Iran run out the clock as the deadline approached?
We thank Secretary of State John Kerry and his team for their hard work over many, many months. But we still remain concerned.
Iran’s credibility has already been severely strained by its track record of saying one thing and acting on the complete opposite. Iran has always opposed international “interference” in the Syrian civil war, all the while supporting the Syrian government with troops and supplies. In the current conflict in Yemen, Tehran has taken the same stance, while simultaneously backing one side. These are just a few of many examples of Iran’s deceitful and aggressive behavior, a list which also includes Iran’s many ventures as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.
The framework deal calls for a reduction of Iran’s installed centrifuges by two-thirds of its current capacity, but Iran’s actions during negotiations seemingly offer a clear blueprint for how it would act once a deal is in place. Even under the preliminary agreement, the regime has continued to enrich and stockpile uranium, build centrifuges, defy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other inspection requests from the international community, pursue plans to build intercontinental ballistic missiles and hide the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Will Tehran truly allow for the transparency of its nuclear sites with comprehensive inspections by the IAEA? We also question whether the Iranians will actually convert their clandestine enrichment center at Fordow into a center for nuclear physics and technology research, or whether they will downgrade their heavy-water reactor in Arak.
While Iranian double-speak is a legitimate concern, what’s even more disturbing is the regime’s straightforward talk when it comes to Israel. Just a few days ago a commander in the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, said that erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable”—a horribly frightening statement as negotiations were in the penultimate stage.
The incendiary remarks, obviously, don’t stop there. Several months ago, Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari said: “The range of (our) missiles covers all of Israel today. That means the fall of the Zionist regime, which will certainly come soon.” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even stated that same month: “Whether a nuclear agreement is achieved or not, Israel will be more insecure each day.”
With a June 30 deadline set for a final deal, B’nai B’rith will be monitoring the specifics of the deal that are released in the coming months. B’nai B’rith urges Congress to carefully and stringently review the agreement during that time as well. A nuclear-ready Iran has consequences that would resonate far beyond Israel and the United States. Given the uncertainties of the deal and the enormity of the stakes, we hope that both parties in Congress will make their voices heard, as both the administration and Congress must play an active role in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
B’nai B’rith International remembers the 23rd anniversary of the Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove a truck loaded with explosives into the corner of the embassy on the afternoon of March 17, 1992. The terrorist detonated the bombs and killed 29 people, injured 242 and also destroyed a church and a school.
Until the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building was bombed in 1994, it was the deadliest terror attack in South America. In the tragedy at the AMIA building, 85 people died and 300 people were injured. Iran has long been linked to both bombings, but none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
Iranian involvement and alleged Argentinian complicity in the cover-up in the AMIA attack has been recently reinserted into the public consciousness. The suspicious death of Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman has sparked outrage among Argentinians and created a demand for answers. Nisman died shortly after he filed a complaint against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman alleging they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
“While we await more answers on Alberto Nisman’s death and the Argentine government’s actual role within the ‘Commission of Truth,’ we cannot forget where and when Iran’s savagery in South America began: at the Israeli Embassy on March 17, 1992. And B’nai B’rith will not forget that,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The attacks on the embassy and on the AMIA building have been credited to Iran’s terror arm Hezbollah, making the news of Iran and Argentina’s creation of the “Commission of Truth” in January 2013 and the allegations of the president and foreign minister shielding Tehran from punishment all the more shocking.
“B’nai B’rith has followed Nisman’s investigation into the AMIA bombing over the years and we have strongly supported his efforts. We hoped that if he uncovered the truth behind AMIA, the perpetrators behind the embassy bombing may be brought closer to justice,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Iran, through Hezbollah, has carried out global terror attacks for decades. Tehran needs to be held accountable. His death creates a gaping void in the pursuit of terrorists.”
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.