Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Ian:

From paying tuition to 'funding Hamas'?
American Jewish filmmaker Ami Horowitz recently took to the lawns of Portland State University in an experiment, to quip at students and see how far he could draw out their anti-Israel, pro-BDS sentiment.
Posing as a representative for a faux-organization dubbed "American Friends for Hamas," Horowitz set out to raise donations for the Hamas cause, explicitly stating that donated dollars would be funding violent intentions and promoting the destruction of the state of Israel.
"I want to see if these guys are willing to take it to the next level," Horowitz said pre-experiment, set in the "Pacific Northwest: American home of the BDS movement against Israel."
Horowitz introduced himself as an activist for the Hamas-linked organization, describing Hamas as "not your fathers terrorist organization."
"We've kind of evolved beyond that," he said. "We've rebuilt and re-branded ourselves [as Hamas]," he argued. And yet, his descriptions of what donations would be funding digressed back to the traditional Hamas methodology of striking civilian targets.
"We want to fund operations against Israel," Horowitz said. "The type of attacks we're talking about are cafes and schools - you know, soft targets." (h/t Yenta Press)

Will the Dem Platform Dump Israel?
A Democratic platform fight will leave us with two questions.
One is whether the Clinton camp has the strength or the will — despite her status as the certain presidential nominee — to successfully resist Sanders’ pro-Palestinian push. Given the strength and the passion of the left-wingers who will be in Philadelphia fighting for Sanders, that’s far from certain.
The second question is, will a Democratic platform that de-emphasizes support for Israel, or the spectacle of a nasty floor fight over this will have any impact on the election?
Despite her own checkered past with respect to Israel, Clinton has made her differences with Sanders over Israel clear in the past months. If the platform isn’t what she wants, she’ll ignore it the same way presidential candidates — and presidents once they’re elected — always ignore platforms.
Nor would a pro-Palestinian platform have much effect on the votes of most American Jews. The overwhelming majority are liberals and die-hard Democrats. Even those who are not partisans will be less inclined to defect to the GOP in the year of Donald Trump. Clinton’s percentage of the Jewish vote will probably easily exceed the totals won by Barack Obama and move it back into the vicinity of 80 percent after dipping below 70 in 2012.
But even though it probably won’t affect the outcome this year, a platform fight about Israel will be a seminal moment in the history of U.S.-Israel relations. It may be that left-wingers like Peter Beinart are right, and the Democrats are moving inexorably toward nominating an anti-Israel presidential candidate whose positions will conform to the opinions of a liberal base that rejects the Jewish state. In past years, Democrats have accused Republicans of using the issue as a political football by claiming that their party was more supportive of Israel. That charge seemed foolish after Congressional Democrats abandoned Israel on the question of the Iran nuclear deal in order to comply with a partisan litmus test exacted by Obama. But after this summer, it may no longer be possible for Democrats to argue that they are just as supportive of Israel as the GOP. Instead of pointing to their own records, Republicans will be able to just point to the Democratic platform.
Sanders Picks Two BDS Supporters For DNC Platform Committee
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has tapped two major backers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to be members of the DNC platform committee after reports emerged that Sanders wants to revamp the platform to highlight the issue of Palestinian rights.
Sanders picked James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute in Washington, and Cornel West, a philosopher and anti-Israel activist, to fill two of his five slots on the 15-member platform as part of his plans to revise the Democratic Party’s stance on relations with Israel.
West is a vociferous critic of Israel who has called the Gaza Strip “the ‘hood on steroids” and, in 2014, wrote that the crimes of Hamas “pale in the face of the U.S.-supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians.”
On Saturday, Zogby slammed the Obama administration for continuing to “enable [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] malevolent rule.”
In an oped in the Huffington Post, Zogby wrote that even though the administration has “repeatedly expressed displeasure over Netanyahu’s settlement policies and his blatant interference in US internal politics,” it is “now debating whether to reward his government with a 10-year aid package valued at $35 billion—while Netanyahu, supported by allies in Congress, is brazenly holding out for $45 to $50 billion. And so, operating with virtually no restraints, Netanyahu continues to maneuver and to aggressively advance his hardline agenda. He maintains his grip on power. Israeli society continues to become more extreme and intolerant. Palestinians are more despairing and desperate. And peace more remote.”
In addition to Zogby and West, Sanders also picked Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), the first Muslim elected to Congress. For his part, Sanders is the first Jewish candidate to win nominating rights.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Sanders Not Sure He’s Made His Tolerance For Terrorism Clear Enough (satire)
Senator Bernie Sanders told campaign staff last night that he still has concerns that he had not made his acceptance of Islamic terrorism sufficiently plain to the electorate, campaign sources reported this morning.
At a late-night strategy meeting at his campaign headquarters, the senator discussed the difficulties plaguing his continuing effort to secure the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. Front-runner Hillary Clinton as all but guaranteed victory in that fight, but Sanders and his supporters have vowed to keep campaigning until the party’s national convention, where the official choice will be made by the delegates. In analyzing the yawning gap between Clinton’s delegate count and his own, Sanders wondered aloud whether he should take a less equivocal stand on his tolerance for Muslims who attack civilians in the name of Islam.
“Appointing apologists for terrorism to this campaign is all well and good, but how many Americans – especially registered Democrats – know or care that those people have defended or dismissed such attacks?” asked the candidate. “I want everyone to make sure my position on terrorism is crystal clear: it’s fine if directed at Jews, Israel, American interests, and Westerners in general, provided it can be contextualized to make the attacker out as a victim. Have we been consistently on message in that respect?”

PMW: Official PA media glorifies murderer of US tourist, Taylor Force
On March 8, 2016, Palestinian terrorist Bashar Masalha attacked civilians in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, stabbing to death an American tourist, Taylor Force, and wounding 11 others. The terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli police. The day after the murder, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Abbas’ Fatah praised the murderer as “the heroic Martyr.” Last week, Israel gave his body to the Palestinian Authority.
Reporting on the funeral in which hundreds participated, official PA TV glorified the murderer calling him “the Martyr” - “Shahid” - 11 times. Becoming a Martyr in Islam represents the highest religious achievement that can be attained by a Muslim, according to PA teachings, and the Martyr is granted numerous rewards. The PA TV reporter explained that the funeral was “a large national wedding befitting of Martyrs.” The reference is to Islamic belief that a Martyr marries 72 Dark-Eyed Virgins in Paradise:
PA TV reporter: “His family, friends, and people of the region took it upon themselves to ensure that this [burial] would be a large national wedding befitting of Martyrs... The Martyr was accompanied to his last resting place in the cemetery for Martyrs in Hajja.” [Official PA TV, May 21, 2016]
Murderer of US tourist glorified as “Martyr” 11 times on official PA TV

MEMRI: Secretary-General Of Palestinian Presidency Delivers Speech On Behalf Of President 'Abbas: In Fighting For Palestine, Our People 'Loves Death More Than Life'
On May 22, 2016, Palestinian Presidency Secretary-General Al-Tayeb 'Abd Al-Rahim delivered a speech on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas to a group of Palestinian National Security Forces. The speech was part of a ceremony celebrating their second-place win in the international 8th Annual Warrior Competition, which took place in Jordan on May 2-6, 2016.
In his speech, 'Abd Al-Rahim condemned attempts to intimidate the Palestinian people and divert it from its path, and called such attempts futile, as "our [Palestinian] people loves death more than life." He added that the National Security Forces victory was a step on the way to establishing an independent Palestinian state, and rejected the notion of establishing a separate independent entity in Gaza, or a state with temporary borders in the West Bank alone.
UN Secretary-General Equates Arab/Israeli Conflict with Syrian Genocide
Speaking at the opening of the "Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade" hosted by the State of Qatar on May 21, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized military counter-terrorism operations as "short-sighted," and equated violence in "Palestine" to the Assad regime's murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Saudi Arabia's targeting of hospitals and markets in Yemen.
In his words:
"On one of the major prevention challenges of our times – violent extremism – we must avoid short-sighted policies and heavy-handed approaches that only exacerbate the problem and give terrorists their best recruitment tools... Finally, we must do all we can to end the conflicts and violence that have set this region aflame, from Syria and Yemen to Libya, Iraq and Palestine."
Vic Rosenthal: Adjusting the Moral Compass, Part I
For a long time Israel has been a Western island in a Middle Eastern sea, and it has turned toward universalist Europe and America for most of its cultural and economic intercourse. One of the arguments against Jewish tribalism has always been that our Western allies don’t like it. But now, in part because of weakness in the Western bloc, Israel is finding that it has no choice but to move closer to its more natural partners in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
The environment is changing and the cultural organism must change too, if it is to adapt to it. In our new environment, a strongly universalist morality is not an advantage; it constitutes unilateral moral disarmament. Our state won’t survive as a copy of the US or Sweden (indeed, the pressures are such that neither the US nor Sweden may survive in their present form).
That doesn’t mean that we need to give up democratic government or adopt all the cultural practices of our neighbors, like their misogyny, religious coercion, or beheadings and barrel bombs. It doesn’t imply that we ought to view ourselves as superior to non-Jews or that we should deny non-Jews that live among us their civil rights.
What it does mean is that our objective should be a state that unashamedly prioritizes Jewish people, culture, religion and values.
What are the consequences for our relationship with our neighbors, and our conduct of our long war – the one we have been fighting to create and keep our state on and off for close to a century? And what for our soldiers, like Sgt. Azaria?
That will be the topic of Part II. Stay tuned.
Adjusting the Moral Compass, Part II

Aaron David Miller: Is the Status Quo between Israelis and Palestinians Sustainable?
Secretary of State John Kerry has said repeatedly that "the status quo between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not sustainable." Yet Israelis and Palestinians have their own agendas and concerns, and their rationales and fears of dramatically changing the status quo outweigh the risks of managing it. A conflict that is perceived to be existential in nature isn't just a real estate deal.
At the Camp David summit in July 2000, I heard Yasser Arafat say several times that he wouldn't give the Americans the chance to walk behind his coffin. Translation: Don't think I'll sign a deal that will get me killed. He knew that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had been at Camp David, too, in 1978 with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and that despite getting 100% of Sinai back, the Egyptian leader had been murdered.
Paradoxically, close proximity helps mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians have a dependency on Israel for water, electricity, access to the outside world, and a range of goods and services - including employment opportunities. At the same time, the continuation of Palestinian violence, a hostile Hamas government in Gaza, a Middle East in meltdown, an Arab world distracted by Iran and the Islamic State, and Israel's growing closeness with Egypt all create very little chance that there will be an intense focus on negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
Palestinians reject Netanyahu’s direct talks proposal
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah dismissed Tuesday an Israeli proposal for direct negotiations instead of a French multilateral peace initiative.
“Time is short,” Hamdallah said. “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is trying to buy time… but this time he will not escape the international community.”
Hamdallah made the comments as he met French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has held talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories this week to push Paris’s peace initiative.
The June 3 Paris summit has been welcomed by the Palestinians, who suspended a planned UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements to focus on the French efforts. Israel, however, has consistently argued that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides, rather than in international forums.
Report: Israeli delegation sent to Cairo aiming for summit ahead of French peace talks
An Israeli delegation secretly arrived in Cairo on Sunday afternoon on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to arrange a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
The delegation hopes to enlist the assistance of the Egyptians in organizing a tripartite meeting between Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Sisi in order to reboot the moribund peace process ahead of a French-initiated peace conference scheduled to take place in Paris in early June.
Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited to the Paris meeting.
The Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, while Netanyahu has thus far opposed it, fearing it would give the Palestinians an excuse to avoid direct talks with Israel. Netanyahu has said the Palestinians do not need a conference in Paris to open a dialogue between Ramallah and Jerusalem, given that the two cities are located right next to each other.
Israelis, Palestinians Sign “Agree to Disagree” Accords (satire)
One thing there’s no shortage of in the Middle East is an ambient body odor level suggestive of a civilization that has yet to discover deodorant. Another is narratives. In this region, where borders are violated more often than a hot apple pie at Jason Biggs’ house, everyone’s got an idea about who did what to who and when. Nowhere is that more true than between the nebulous borders of Israel and the Palestinian Territories – the Middle East’s Jim and Pam. As a result of these discrepant narratives, the warring parties have decided on an alternative to the peace accords that many have been hoping for.
As of today, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have officially agreed to disagree about nearly all aspects of the conflict and the 2016 Agree to Disagree Accords outline every fact that the two sides agree they disagree about. These include who started the conflict, who is justified in killing whom, who’s not justified in killing whom, whose fault it is that the conflict is ongoing, who the international community supports, who the media favors, who should just admit their mistakes and give up their various claims, and the biggest one – who is native to the land. It seems that, as TMB has reported before, the only thing the two groups agree on is that not enough Israelis and Palestinians have died yet to make a peace deal. As crazy as this all seems, many think that makes sense. After all, you can’t spell “narrative” without “native.”
JPost Editorial: Status quo?
Will the addition of Yisrael Beytenu to the government coalition have an impact on the present government’s policy regarding issues of religion and state? It is no secret that Yisrael Beytenu has championed causes such as civil marriage and a more liberal approach to conversions of non-Jewish Israelis. Avigdor Liberman, the party’s chairman, has been a strong supporter of drafting military-age haredi men.
This should come as no surprise. Yisrael Beytenu’s constituency consists of a large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom are not considered Jewish according to Halacha, but who nevertheless tend to be highly patriotic and serve in the IDF in high percentages.
Unfortunately, Yisrael Beytenu’s leader has reportedly agreed to abandon many of his and his constituency’s demands in exchange for the opportunity to join the government and receive the defense portfolio and immigration and absorption portfolio.
One of the conditions reportedly set by United Torah Judaism and Shas for their agreement to allow Yisrael Beytenu to join the coalition is that there will be no attempts to change the status quo. Shas and UTJ have a broad interpretation of what constitutes changing the status quo.
Analysis: How 3 security trials for killing Palestinians could frame Israel's future
Diplomatically, the trials will have massive consequences for how Israel is viewed by the US and various European countries that vacillate between supporting and criticizing Israel. Is it a vibrant democracy trying its best to balance the rule of law with security threats that other countries could never dream of? Or is the rule of law taking a back seat under massive domestic political pressure to acquit soldiers who allegedly violate the laws of war as long as they are in conflict with Palestinians? Like with the ICC, if the process and results of the trials are viewed as legitimate, Israel will be reinforced as it addresses efforts at the UN and by France to impose parameters on it for the future of the Middle East.
It would also gain an upper hand in battling the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which it faces in universities and business dealings throughout the West.
If the process and verdicts are viewed as whitewashing alleged Israeli violations of the laws of war, they will be ammunition for imposing new diplomatic conditions on Israel and will fire up the BDS movement.
The fact that the trials are occurring at the same time is coincidence, and they themselves address a range of very different issues. But at the end of the day, their confluence and the fact that they all involve national security questions about interpreting the rules of engagement are what will make them so compelling in framing Israel’s legal, political and diplomatic narrative.
Border Police thwart stabbing attack north of Jerusalem
Border Police officers shot dead a female Palestinian terrorist who attempted a stabbing attack at the Ras Bidu checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Monday.
The terrorist approached the Border Police officers at the checkpoint around 2:30 p.m., immediately rousing their suspicion. They warned her to stop, firing shots in the air in accordance with procedure, but she continued to run toward them, pulling out knife from her purse and waving it at them.
As she attempted to stab the officers, they shot her, neutralizing the threat.
The commander of the checkpoint said that "the combat officers' alertness saved lives."
The incident was the latest in the wave of Palestinian terrorism that began last fall and in which 28 Israelis and two Americans have been killed.
Erdan freezes return of terrorists’ bodies over ‘incitement’
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered a freeze Tuesday on returning the bodies of Palestinian terrorists from East Jerusalem to their families.
The decision follows a months-long campaign by the families, including through appeals to the High Court of Justice, to have the bodies returned. Police have said they feared the funerals for the deceased attackers, who were killed as they stabbed, shot or rammed Israelis with cars over the past seven months, would turn into mass rallies in support of further terror attacks.
Police agreed to release the bodies after the families committed to hold private subdued funerals that would not include calls for further attacks.
On Monday night, the Ynet news site aired footage of a funeral in East Jerusalem that showed a crowd of some 200 residents demonstrating outside the cemetery with cries of “Allahu akbar” and “in spirit and blood we will redeem you, martyr.”
Most Palestinians View Government as Corrupt
A gated community of villas with well-tended flower gardens near the West Bank town of Ramallah may help explain why Palestinians almost universally believe there is corruption in the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The secluded "Diplomatic Compound," built for senior Palestinian Authority officials on subsidized land, is one of the symbols of what many Palestinians think is wrong with their leaders - that they are cut off from the people and award themselves special privileges.
The breakdown of trust is likely linked to overall dissatisfaction with Abbas' performance after 10 years in power, twice his lawful term. He hasn't delivered on promises to lead Palestinians to statehood, and the prospect of open-ended Israeli military occupation, already in its 50th year, darkens every aspect of life in the West Bank.
A recent poll found that almost all Palestinians - 95.5 percent - believe there is corruption in Abbas' government. Nader Said, a veteran pollster, surveyed 1,200 people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last month. Among Gaza residents scoring the performance of the territory's Hamas rulers, the figure was 82 percent.
"This is the highest rate I have ever seen in all the polls I have done," Said, who runs an independent polling agency called AWRAD, told The Associated Press. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.
Analysis: A decade of Hamas
Hamas swept into power in the Palestinian Authority via the ballot box in 2006 by promising to root out corruption and secure Palestinian rights. A year later, Hamas violently expelled the Palestinian Authority from Gaza, which the terrorist group has illegitimately – and disastrously – ruled since. A decade of Hamas’s aggression and mismanagement has plunged Gazans into misery and hurled the dream of Palestinian statehood backward.
But it didn’t have to be this way.
Hamas’s entry to Palestinian politics could have been a watershed moment. The Palestine Liberation Organization, begun as an armed revolutionary group dedicated to Israel’s destruction, made the tactical decision to remain relevant by engaging in secret negotiations with Israel that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Palestinians were closer to statehood than ever before.
Hamas won the 2006 elections because the Palestinian people saw the PA as ineffective and corrupt.
Gaza Rebuilding Falls by the Wayside as Arab States Leave Palestinians Hanging
When it comes to the security situation at Israel’s borders in recent years, no border has been more perilous for the Jewish state as its southern boundary with the Gaza Strip. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and the Palestinian terror group Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007. Since then, Gaza has given Israel three wars, thousands of rocket attacks, and a network of cross-border terror tunnels that Hamas is now trying to rebuild.
Since the conclusion of the latest Israel-Hamas war in the summer of 2014, both Israel and the international community have taken steps to rebuild Gaza in order to ease the humanitarian situation there and prevent another conflict. But over the last several years, chaos in the rest of the Middle East has put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the back burner of regional priorities.
An April 2016 report published by the World Bank, titled “Reconstructing Gaza – Donor Pledges,” revealed that a number of leading Muslim nations have failed to live up to their pledges for the Gaza rebuilding effort. At a 2014 conference in Cairo, the international community pledged roughly $3.5 billion over three years for Gaza. But as of the end of March 2016, only $1.4 billion had been delivered compared to the scheduled $2.7 billion.
Several Arab states have fallen significantly short of their stated pledges for Gaza. Qatar, which promised the most aid at $1 billion, has so far only donated $152 million, the World Bank said. Saudi Arabia, the second-leading pledger, has delivered only 10 percent of its promise of $500 million. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sent 15 percent of its pledge of $200 million. Turkey, which is one of Hamas’s top international supporters, has delivered one-third of the $200 million it pledged.
Egypt Gets $25 Billion From Russia To Build Nuclear Reactors
Egypt’s president announced Sunday the country will accept a Russian loan of $25 billion in order to build a nuclear power plant, despite recent terrorism and civil unrest in the country.
The loan will finance longstanding Egyptian plans to build a new reactor in Dabaa, despite long running terrorism concerns in the region. Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, signed a nuclear power plant deal with Russia last November, just days after the Kremlin announced a Russian aircraft was downed by an act of terrorism, killing all 224 people on board. The plane was heading from an Egyptian resort city to St. Petersburg in Russia.
Groups tied to the Islamic State (ISIS) have made repeated attacks in Egypt, even killing nine people, six of whom were police officers, with a bomb in Cairo in January. Egypt is also politically unstable, and has changed presidents three times since 2011. The country’s former president, Mohamed Morsi, was removed from office by a military coup in 2013 and sentenced to death last May.
Egypt has planned to build a nuclear reactor since 1955, but aborted most of its plans after the Chernobyl accident. Egyptian interest in nuclear power was renewed after the country signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia in 2004 and 2008, according to the World Nuclear Association. Egypt currently operates two extremely small and old reactors with technical assistance from Russia and Argentina.
EgyptAir 804 human remains suggest blast — official
Human remains retrieved from the crash site of EgyptAir flight 804 suggest there was an explosion on board that may have brought down the aircraft in the east Mediterranean, a senior Egyptian forensics official said on Tuesday.
“The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down,” the official told The Associated Press.
The official, who is part of the Egyptian team investigating the crash that killed all 66 people on board the flight from Paris to Cairo early last Thursday, has personally examined the remains at a Cairo morgue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
All 80 pieces that have been brought to Cairo so far are small. “There isn’t even a whole body part, like an arm or a head,” said the official, adding that one piece was the left part of a head.
“But I cannot say what caused the blast,” he said.
Khamenei: US ‘can’t do a damn thing’ about our missile program
Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Monday said the United States cannot “do a damn thing” about the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
“They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Khamenei said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Iran in March tested ballistic missiles, including two with the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” emblazoned on them, according to the US and other Western powers. Under a nuclear deal signed last year between world powers and Iran, ballistic missile tests are not forbidden outright but are “not consistent” with a United Nations Security Council resolution from July 2015, US officials say.
According to the UN decision, “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” until October 2023.
Hardline cleric elected head of key Iran oversight body
Iran’s Assembly of Experts chose ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati on Tuesday to head the key body which oversees the work of the country’s supreme leader and will elect his successor, state television reported.
The 89-year-old cleric is one of the few hardliners who secured reelection in a February vote that saw a landslide for reformist and moderates in the capital and big gains elsewhere.
Jannati was voted chairman of the 88-member Assembly with 51 votes.
No moderates or reformists stood for the post.
Former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had chaired the assembly until 2011 and who topped the polls in Tehran three months ago, did not put his name forward, with media reports suggesting he could muster no more than 20 of the assembly’s votes.
India signs $500m deal to build strategic port in Iran
India said Monday it will invest up to $500 million in a deal to develop a strategic port in Iran and both countries planned a number of projects they say are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The deal and plans were announced during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first such trip in more than a decade.
In a ceremony marking the agreements, Modi said the bilateral agreement to develop Chabahar, in southern Iran, and the “availability of about $500 million from India for this purpose is an important milestone,” in relations between the two countries.
President Hassan Rouhani said working on the port can be a “great symbol” of cooperation between Iran and India. He said Iran’s energy resources and Indian mines can pave ground for cooperation in the aluminum, steel and petrochemical industries.
Iran and India also signed a number of agreements to enhance technological, petrochemical and banking cooperation.
Media Outlet Funded By Pro-Iran Deal ‘Echo Chamber’ Group Silenced Top Deal Critic
A prominent media outlet that received money from a White House-backed group of Iran deal advocates refused interviews with a top congressional critic of last summer’s nuclear agreement, deepening accusations that the Obama administration and its allies suppressed voices opposing the deal, according to conversations with sources and a series of emails viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
The publicly funded National Public Radio declined interviews with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a leading critic of the Iran nuclear deal. NPR had received funding from the liberal Ploughshares Fund, which has been exposed as being a core part of a White House-backed campaign to push lobbyists, policy analysts, and journalists in favor of the deal.
When asked by reporters last week about refusing the interviews, NPR suggested that Pompeo’s office had never reached out to the station. However, multiple emails viewed by the Free Beacon demonstrate that Pompeo’s office had been in two separate talks with NPR producers about scheduling an interview.
These developments threaten to entangle NPR in a growing scandal over the White House’s coordinated efforts to mislead Congress and the American people about the contents of the nuclear accord.
The Ploughshares Fund, which coordinated with the White House to sell the deal, gave NPR hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Free Beacon initially disclosed in 2012. Ploughshares also gave high dollar donations to a range of other media outlets and organizations.
How they sold us the Iran deal
Eight hundred eleven op-eds. Three hundred fifty- two letters to the editor. Two hundred twenty-seven editorials. That’s the number of “pro-diplomacy” articles that Ploughshares Fund takes credit for helping support as part of its “proactive” media campaign to support the Iran deal last year. They “were published during critical moments of the Iran campaign,” the website of the fund boasts in its 2015 annual report.
The revelations about the work that this one fund did to support the deal is just part of a larger story now being revealed in the US about how the government worked with NGOs to sell the Iran deal. NGO funding went to organizations such as National Public Radio and the “pro-peace” Israel lobby group J Street.
The Iran deal is done. But understanding just how the wool was pulled over our eyes is necessary so that future “deals” of this sort can be challenged at their source. When one looks back at how US public support was influenced, it should serve as both a lesson about how the government works through its non-profit allies and about how public opinion can be manipulated and consent manufactured.
The first lesson from how the Iran deal was sold to the public is that it is important to follow the money. Bradley Klapper at the Associated Press notes, “Outside groups of all stripes are increasingly giving money to news organizations for special projects or general news coverage... Ploughshares’ backing is more unusual given its prominent role in the rancorous, partisan debate over the Iran deal.”

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