Wednesday, April 14, 2021

From Ian:

Amb. Dore Gold: The First Lesson of the Holocaust: The Jewish People Will Never Allow Anyone to Do This to Us Again
Five years ago when I served as Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, I stood in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany on Yom Hashoah. Jews from all over the Nazi Empire in Europe and North Africa were forced into Bergen-Belsen, where thousands died. What has the modern state of Israel learned from the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, and the Holocaust?

Chaim Herzog served as an officer in the British forces that entered Bergen-Belsen in 1945. In April 1987 he went back, as Israel's sixth president, and declared that the victims bequeathed a responsibility to later generations to ensure that the Jewish people would never again be helpless. That meant, first, that we will never allow anyone to do this to us again.

In modern times, there is a real physical threat to the Jewish people that emanates from a regime in the Middle East that parades missiles in its capital nearly every year and fastens to its launchers the words, "Israel must be wiped off the map." You cannot wipe a country off the map without posing an existential threat to the people who live there.

Israel will deter and defend against any state or political movement which poses a threat to the Jewish people. This is not an obsession, but a sacred trust handed to us by the people buried under the rubble of the Second World War.
Clifford D May: Biden's bad foreign policy deals
Why would the Biden administration — or any administration — not utilize all available leverage when negotiating with unfriendly and untrustworthy interlocutors? Three plausible — and not mutually exclusive — explanations occur to me.

The first: Mr. Biden actually believes Iran’s rulers can be appeased, that they will be satisfied to merely “share the neighborhood,” as Mr. Obama memorably put it.

The second: Because American diplomats are regarded as having failed if their talks break down, and having succeeded if they “get to yes,” they are inclined to see a bad deal as preferable to no deal — especially if the flaws in the deal can be papered over for a while.

Consider the 1994 Agreed Framework under which President Clinton gave North Korea massive aid in exchange for a pledge to end its nuclear weapons program. The regime pocketed the benefits while continuing its nuclear program covertly. Today, dictator Kim Jong-un possesses nuclear weapons and is developing missiles that can deliver them with accuracy.

At the time, however, Mr. Clinton was able to declare that he’d found a diplomatic solution, and the diplomats involved could move up the ladder or take comfortable chairs at universities.

The third explanation: American politicians and diplomats too often convince themselves that even the most despotic regimes contain some not-so-bad guys — moderates who want to reach a compromise, a win-win outcome.

Can American politicians and diplomats really be so naive? Yes, because sophistication is not the same as street-smarts.

Were you really surprised when John Kerry was outfoxed by Javad Zarif, Tehran’s silver-tongued foreign minister? Do you not get that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, has much to gain if he does Beijing’s bidding – and much to fear if he does not? By contrast, President Biden presents no threat and offers not much opportunity.

The “international community” is diverse. And not in the rosy sense that Americans now use that term.
Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz: Biden Just Threw Israeli-Palestinian Peace Under the Bus
By resuming U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the Biden administration is choosing to fund an agency that is institutionally committed to ensuring that peace will never be possible. UNRWA, under the cover of providing social services to Palestinians, is giving political cover to the dream of undoing Israel by nurturing and legitimizing the demand to settle millions of Palestinians inside Israel.

UNRWA is one of the greatest obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The vast majority of UNRWA refugees, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original refugees, are also citizens of other countries or living within territories governed by Palestinians, and so are not actually refugees and in no need of resettlement. UNRWA sustains many of them in perpetual limbo, in the elusive promise that they will one day be able to "return" to Israel.

There are perfectly rational, humane and effective ways to provide public healthcare and education services to Palestinians without fueling the conflict with Israel. As long as Palestinians are indulged by the West in their belief that the war of 1948 remains an open case, there is zero possibility that peace will be achieved. It is hard to imagine a more anti-peace U.S. policy choice.

Boris Johnson Affirms British Opposition to ICC Investigation of Israel, Warns of ‘Partial and Prejudicial Attack’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed in a letter revealed Tuesday that the United Kingdom opposes the International Criminal Court investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel.

“We oppose the ICC’s investigation into war crimes in Palestine,” Johnson wrote in an April 9 letter to Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a British pro-Israel parliamentary group affiliated with the Conservative Party.

“We do not accept that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance, given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state. This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK,” he continued.

Johnson referred to previous letters sent by CFI urging the prime minister to condemn the opening of the ICC investigation, announced by the court on March 3 in a decision opposed by Israel, the United States and other allied nations.

He also cited the UK’s efforts to “reform” and “strengthen” the court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, referencing the recent election of two British nationals to serve in key positions there. In June, Karim Khan — a British lawyer currently heading a United Nations inquiry into war crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq — will replace Fatou Bensouda, the outgoing ICC chief prosecutor who is leading the investigation of Israel.

“We strongly welcome the Prime Minister’s confirmation of the UK’s opposition to the ICC’s controversial investigation,” said CFI Parliamentary Chairmen, Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak in a statement.

CAMERA Op-Ed The U.S. State Department Should Take Bernard Lewis’s Advice
“We live in a time,” renowned historian Bernard Lewis wrote in his 2013 memoirs, “where great energies are devoted to the falsification of history—to flatter, to deceive or to serve some sectional purpose. No good,” he warned, “can come from such distortions.”

The U.S. Department of State, which is attempting to rewrite history, would be wise to heed the late historian’s warning.

On March 30, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken unveiled the 2020 Human Rights Report, which seeks to provide “objective and comprehensive information to Congress, civil society, academics, activists and people everywhere” about the status of human rights in various countries. Regrettably, in some respects, the report fails by its own standards.

Indeed, the 2020 Human Rights Report even goes so far as to alter the number of Iranian protesters murdered by the Islamic Republic.

In 2019, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the regime only to be shot by government security forces. As a previous State Department Human Rights Report noted, more than 1,500 were murdered, 7,000 wounded and more than 12,000 locked up in Iran’s notorious prison system. But as Ellie Cohanim, the former U.S. deputy envoy to combat anti-Semitism, observed in National Review, the new report “made a key paragraph from that Iran report disappear, covering up the number of Iranian citizens killed by the regime—from 1,500 down to 304. The new, smaller figure comes from Amnesty International, which itself has admitted that the assessment of casualties is incomplete.”

The State Department’s decision to alter the body count is suspect. As Reuters noted in a Dec. 23, 2019 report, Iranian officials themselves told the news agency that 1,500 individuals, including “at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women,” were murdered.
Martin Peretz: Tony Blinken’s Mideast Blind Spot
Something more than childhood chumminess is therefore at work when Blinken sends an actor with Malley’s track record out to negotiate with a state that is openly allying with America’s main strategic rival. At root, it means that there exists some level of underlying tolerance for a version of what Malley espouses: engagement no matter the circumstances, regardless of actual present-day human misery and oppression in Syria—and even if it strengthens Iran’s strategic ally in Beijing. By turning the means of international coalition-building and decision-making into a political end, Blinken risks abetting Malley’s worst instincts rather than checking them, as some moderate and mainstream congressional Democrats had openly hoped.

Malley’s preferred policy can be summed up in a single word: realignment, toward Iran and away from America’s traditional allies in Israel and the Gulf.

While Blinken’s muscular rhetoric may appeal more to liberal centrists than to the ghoulish regimes Malley openly courts, policy is something other than language; it is what happens on the ground once the talking stops. Just as Malley’s toxic brand of Third World “empowerment” must be subjected to the real-world test of whether it actually benefits the people it purports to champion, Blinken’s rhetoric about curbing Chinese abuses and blunting Beijing’s drive for supremacy must be analyzed in terms of the actual impact of Malley’s diplomacy in the Middle East.

Malley’s preferred policy can be summed up in a single word: realignment, toward Iran and away from America’s traditional allies in Israel and the Gulf. It is in that context that other moves in Malley’s regional purview can be understood: downgrading the Abraham Accords, amping up support for the YPG, delisting the Houthis as sponsors of terrorism even as they starve Yemen’s civilian population and launch missiles into Saudi cities, sending cash to Palestinian officials to circumvent the Taylor Force “pay for slay” Act, and reinstituting U.S. financial support for UNWRA, the Palestinian aid organization, with $150 million—a symbolic move that implicitly shifts the onus for peace from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to Israel.

Maybe Blinken and Biden feel constrained by Obama’s Mideast realignment policy and obligated to continue his intended legacy-making initiative, at least for a time; maybe Malley is leveraging the public strength of Obama’s legacy, and the former president’s sway with key administration figures like Susan Rice, to exercise undue influence in the Biden White House.

In any case, sometimes engagement is the wrong approach, because it weakens America’s strategic and moral imperatives, and keeps policymakers from seeing the forest for the trees. Iran is the place to start the practice of isolation, sooner rather than later.
The U.S.-Israeli Honeymoon Ends
The new US policy toward Iran is not the only reset in the Biden administration concerning Israel and the Middle East. On Friday, April 2, 2021, the US announced that it is lifting the sanctions it imposed on the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands). The Biden administration has thus reversed its position. It had previously imposed sanctions on the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, for her decision to probe ‘possible Israeli war crimes’ in Gaza and the West Bank. The ICC also sought to prosecute American ‘war crimes’ in Afghanistan. Israel and the US are not members of the ICC, and therefore the ICC has neither jurisdiction nor a mandate to conduct a probe. The ICC was simply complying with the Palestinian Authority (a non-state) wishes to undermine Israel’s reputation and international standing, as well as seeking to possibly harm and harass Israeli officers, politicians, and soldiers when traveling abroad. Ashkenazi, a former Israeli IDF Chief-of-Staff, told Blinken that the PA's malicious actions would harm efforts to renew peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Biden administration also reversed the Trump administration cut off of aid to the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority (PA). The current administration announced last month that it will resume financial aid to the PA. Washington authorized $15 million to be given to the PA to fight the coronavirus. Over $100 million have already been transferred to the PA. The Wall Street Journal reported (April 7, 2021) that the Biden administration is restoring humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. “$235 million in assistance includes funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).” Apparently, the fact that UNRWA is an incubator for Palestinian terrorists did not deter the Biden administration, or the fact that anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel is a major element in UNRWA’s educational institutions. A number of European states, who hitherto contributed to UNRWA, stopped their donations due to the corruption and mismanagement.

Days after his inauguration as the US 46th President, Joe Biden vowed to reopen the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) diplomatic mission in Washington DC. But the US Congress has passed into law an anti-terror amendment signed by President Trump in 2019, that made the ‘former’ terrorist organization and the PA liable for $655.5 million in financial penalties against them in US courts, if they are to open an office in the US. The Biden administration is also considering reopening the US Consulate in Jerusalem that functioned as a separate US mission to the Palestinians. Former President Trump subsumed it into the operations of the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.

Earlier, in 2018, the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Act (named after Taylor Force, the US army officer knifed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv), which restricts aid to Palestinians until they “are taking steps to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens perpetrated by individuals under their jurisdictional control, such as the March, 2016 attack that killed former Army officer Taylor Force; have revoked any law, decree, or document authorizing or implementing a system of compensation for imprisoned individuals that uses the sentence or incarceration period to determine compensation; have terminated payments for acts of terrorism against US and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been fairly tried and imprisoned for such acts, to any individual who died committing such acts, and to family members of such an individual, and are publicly condemning such acts of violence and are investigating such acts.”

Finally, reversing a Trump era reference to the West Bank Israeli settlements as legal under international law, the Biden State Department last week, in its annual human rights report, described the West Bank as “occupied territory.” Has Biden turned Israel from America’s closest ally in the region to ‘evenhanded’ with the Palestinians?
Biden to approve $23 billion sale of F-35s to UAE that followed Abraham Accords
The Biden administration has told Congress it will move ahead with a massive arms deal to the United Arab Emirates, including advanced F-35 aircraft, that was signed in the wake of Israel’s normalization deal with the Gulf nation, congressional aides told Reuters on Tuesday.

A State Department spokesperson said the administration would move forward with the proposed sales to the UAE, which also include armed drones and other equipment, “even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials” related to the use of the weapons.

In January, the new administration put a temporary hold on several major foreign arms sales initiated by former US president Donald Trump, including the deal to provide 50 F-35 advanced fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, which was fast-tracked by Washington after Abu Dhabi agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

The State Department spokesperson told Reuters that estimated delivery dates to the UAE were for after 2025.

In addition to the massive $23 billion transfer of stealth F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates, another deal being paused is the planned major sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia. Both sales were harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress.

It was not immediately clear if the Saudi deal was also going ahead.

“When it comes to arms sales, it is typical at the start of an administration to review any pending sales, to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after putting the review in place in January.
Biden to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11
US President Joe Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country, US officials said Tuesday.

The decision defies a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year. But Biden has been hinting for weeks that he was going to let the deadline lapse, and as the days went by it became clear that an orderly withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 troops would be difficult and was unlikely. A senior administration official said the drawdown would begin May 1.

Biden’s choice of the 9/11 date underscores the reason that American troops were in Afghanistan to begin with — to prevent extremist groups like al-Qaeda from establishing a foothold again that could be used to launch attacks against the US.

The president decided that the deadline for withdrawal of US forces had to be absolute, rather than provisional on conditions inside Afghanistan as the deadline neared, the senior administration official said. “We’re committing today to going to zero” US forces by September 11, and possibly well before, the official said, adding that Biden concluded that a conditioned withdrawal would be “a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”
‘Now We Can Torture and Kill Jews With Impunity’: Fury Among French Jews as Top Appeal Court Rejects Criminal Trial for Killer of Sarah Halimi
Police investigations later revealed that Halimi had told relatives that she was scared of Traore, who insulted her visiting daughter as a “dirty Jewess” a few weeks before the murder. The accused killer, who has a lengthy criminal record for petty offenses, was also reported to have regularly attended religious services at a local mosque frequented by Islamists.

At the time of the murder, the French media was widely accused by members of the Jewish community of ignoring Halimi’s fate based on the concern that it might impact the French presidential election — which was then in the final weeks of its campaign — in favor of the far right. Following Emmanuel Macron’s victory in June 2017, the new president declared on several occasions that Traore should face a criminal trial, a call that was echoed by several politicians but rebuked by the judiciary, who charged Macron with encroaching on their independence.

For his part, Traore admitted his guilt during his one recorded court appearance in Nov. 2019. “What I committed was horrible. I regret what I did. I apologize to the civil parties,” he said. However, successive psychiatric experts consulted by the court continued to insist that Traore’s mental state at the time of the killing meant that he could not be deemed criminally responsible.

Lawyers for Halimi angrily slammed the Cassation Court’s decision on Wednesday as a license to kill Jews with impunity.

“Today we can smoke, snort and inject ourselves in high doses to the point of causing ourselves an ‘acute delirious puff’ which abolishes our ‘discernement‘, and we will benefit from criminal irresponsibility,” lawyer Oudy Bloch told French media outlets. “It’s a bad message that has been sent to French citizens of the Jewish faith.”

In a post on Twitter that also tagged President Macron’s own account, Francis Kalifat — president of Crif, the French-Jewish representative organization — stated plainly that “now in our country, we can torture and kill Jews with impunity.”

The French Jewish student union, the UEJF, similarly excoriated the decision. “An antisemitic murder will not be tried in France in 2021,” the group said on Twitter. “A terribly fatal signal has been sent in the fight against antisemitism in our country.”

A lawyer for Traore meanwhile expressed satisfaction that the Cassation Court had upheld Court of Appeal’s Dec. 2019 decision to spare his client a criminal trial.

“We can obviously understand the frustration of the victims in the absence of a trial but, in in its current state, our law refuses to judge the acts of those whose consent has been abolished,” Patrice Spinosi said following the court’s announcement.
The Disingenuous Threat to Boycott the JNF-KKL
Which brings us to another interesting question. The organizations that are threatening to boycott include American for Peace Now, J Street, the Reform Zionist youth movement, and the New Israel Fund. In their literature and press releases, these groups deny that they favor dividing Jerusalem.

But when they say they will boycott JNF over buying land in the “West Bank,” they are, in fact, adopting the Arab position on Jerusalem. Remember, the term and concept “West Bank” are modern-day inventions by anti-Israel propagandists to make it seem like those areas have no connection to the Jewish people. Before the Israelis came on the scene, there was never any historical or geographical area known as the “West Bank.”

Many Arabs do not distinguish between the “West Bank” and Jerusalem. To them, anything beyond the 1967 line is “occupied Palestinian territory.” (Of course, everything within the 1967 line is also “occupied Palestine” to many of them — but that’s a different issue.) They don’t see any difference between a Jerusalem neighborhood such as Gilo and a Jewish town in the heart of Judea-Samaria.

So unless Peace Now or J Street specifically announce that their boycott threat does NOT apply to purchases of land in parts of Jerusalem that are past the 1967 lines, we can only conclude that they are boycotting those parts of Jerusalem, too.

If these groups intend to boycott Gilo or Ramot or other parts of Jerusalem, that’s their right. But the Jewish public has a right to know what their position is. The boycott threat puts the ball in their court concerning Jerusalem. Precisely which parts of the Land of Israel do they believe belong to the Palestinians and should be off-limits to Jewish development?
WATCH: Pollard dedicates Torah Scroll written in prison to Joseph's Tomb
Some 12 years after writing a Torah Scroll in prison, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard got the chance to fulfill a life-long dream and dedicate it to Joseph's Tomb, located at the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank.

Pollard visited the site of the tomb on Monday, accompanied by his wife, Esther, and head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan. Pollard had commissioned the writing of the Torah Scroll while sitting in US prison 12 years ago. Even back then, he knew he was going to dedicate it to Joseph's Tomb.

"I feel a personal connection to this place, to Joseph who is buried here and to everything that he went through," Pollard said during the ceremony on Monday, attended by notable rabbis from across the country, all of whom hold a close relationship with the former spy, with some playing an active role in the campaign for his release.

He said that faith in God was what helped him during his most trying times in prison.

"When I was in prison, the officers and the guard would routinely goad me and try to humiliate me by asking me did I think I would ever come home, here [in Israel]; would I ever be with my wife Esther," Pollard said. "And I always answered them the same way: I would ask them, 'Do you believe in God?' and most of them would say yes. And then I would ask, 'do you believe that God can perform miracles?' and they would say 'sure, of course.' Well, here we are."
The heroic story of the Jewish Brigade in WWII
‘I am greatly satisfied,” declared Gen. Mark Clark, the US 5th Army commander, emphasizing “that the Jewish people, who have suffered so terribly at the hands of the Nazis, should now be represented by this frontline fighting force.” Speaking in March 1945 from his headquarters in Italy, he was referring to the new Jewish Brigade, whose vehicles, arms and uniforms bore the Star of David, and who had become a vital and operational military force under him.

Led by its initial commander, Brig. E.F. Benjamin, the soldiers of the Jewish Brigade fought alongside troops of other nations. “Tough, tanned and thirsting for revenge,” one military correspondent put it, “these Jewish soldiers have something personal to fight for. Tortured in Nazi concentration camps, these individuals survived to fight back. Many had lost relatives, who were assumed to have been gassed and slaughtered.” Finally in that month of March 1945, side by side with British and American forces, they held their own against the Germans.

“The Brigade members have killed Nazis and suffered casualties as well. They have proven on the field of battle what the Jew can do,” Clark powerfully concluded.

The American general saw his Jewish brethren as superb fighters, but he did not realize that this Jewish Brigade was the first “world-accepted” entity of the State of Israel, which was to be born in 1948.

Only by reading the regular daily newspapers and weekly English-language Jewish papers from the English countries, can one experience what a “Jewish army” meant. However, behind the scenes even greater strides were being taken to move the mandate out of British hands into those of the budding UN, born in San Francisco in May 1945.

In the latter part of that year, even with the war over, the numbers of the Holocaust victims being made known and the unimaginable sights of the survivors and the dead carcases in the former concentration camps, a poll of American citizens indicated that 55% were familiar with the discussion about permitting the Jews to settle in Palestine.

Some 76% were in favor; 7% opposed. How could the thinking of Americans be changed so “settlement” was transformed to permitting the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine?
Nazi Germany Considered Bombing Jews in Mandatory Palestine
Israeli historians Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar and Daniel Uziel recently published aerial photographs of Palestine taken by the Luftwaffe during World War II in the Hebrew-language journal Cathedra, in a study titled "Hitler's Pilots Photograph Eretz Israel." Some 286 photographs from 50 sorties were found in the U.S. National Archives after being seized by the Allies.

Twice during the war, the Nazis considered using the information gathered in the aerial sorties to bomb cities in Palestine. In both cases, it was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was living in Germany and had close ties with the SS, who pushed for the bombing. In the summer of 1943, Husseini proposed bombing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in reprisal for the British and American bombardments of German cities. The Luftwaffe prepared a detailed plan for a heavy bombardment of Tel Aviv, but it was rejected by German air force commander Hermann Goering.

A few months later, the Mufti proposed that the Luftwaffe bomb a building where a gathering of leaders of the Jewish Yishuv was due to be held on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. German air force headquarters rejected the idea and suggested a symbolic bombing of the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem instead, but this proposal was rejected by the air force's intelligence branch.
PMW: 11 PA political parties express their rejection of Israel's right to exist in their logos
As Israel celebrates its 73rd birthday, nearly 1/3 of the 36 Palestinian parties running in the upcoming PA elections have logos that include the PA map that erases Israel, presenting all of Israel as “Palestine.”

The logos that are being used by the 36 parties in the PA parliamentary elections are a window to aspects of Palestinian ideology and goals. 11 of the lists include in their logos the PA map of “Palestine” that erases all of the State of Israel and includes it in “Palestine.” The two dominant Palestinian political movements, Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas that is the major party ruling the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, that rules the Gaza Strip, include the map of “Palestine” that erases Israel. Fatah's logo also includes two rifles and a grenade, indicating that the goal of liberation of “Palestine,” i.e., the destruction of Israel, will be through military means. The Future party of Muhammad Dahlan -- a Fatah breakaway - likewise uses the map.

The following are the names of the 11 political parties and logos that include the PA map of “Palestine” that erases Israel and includes it in “Palestine.”
Israel Is Showing that There Are Better Ways to Prevent Iran from Producing Nuclear Weapons
The Biden administration's attitude toward Iran is based on false assumptions and is both counterproductive and self-defeating. The false assumptions are that the JCPOA was a good deal with some flaws that can be fixed through bona fide negotiations with Iran; that Iran can be convinced to adopt a different attitude towards its opponents in the region; that the U.S. can promote a more pragmatic camp inside the Iranian regime; that the "maximum pressure" policy failed; and that the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program by violating its JCPOA commitments may enable it to have the capability to produce its first nuclear weapon within a short period of time.

The reality is quite the opposite. The "maximum pressure" policy caused the Iranian economy and regime enormous difficulties and provides Biden with a golden opportunity to force Iran to accept a much better deal than the JCPOA, if he keeps the policy in place as leverage. It would be possible to craft a new agreement that will deal with the huge deficiencies of the JCPOA, rather than simply bring Iran back to the 2015 deal, which is exactly where Iran wants to be, since the agreement paves the way for Iran to have the capability to produce a big arsenal of nuclear weapons after the limits on its nuclear activities are lifted in 2030.

If Iran makes any gesture now regarding the sanctions and the sequence of returning to the JCPOA, it is going to be seen as flexible and worthy of praise for doing exactly what it wants and the option of a better agreement is going to be lost. Meanwhile, Israel is showing that there are better ways to prevent Iran from having the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

European powers voice concern over Iran’s 60% uranium enrichment
European powers on Wednesday expressed “grave concern” over Iran’s move to boost uranium enrichment to 60 percent in response to what Tehran says was an attack by Israel against a key nuclear facility.

Britain, France, and Germany said the announcement was “particularly regrettable” at a time when talks have resumed in Vienna, including with the United States, to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington backed out of under Donald Trump.

“This is a serious development since the production of highly enriched uranium constitutes an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon,” the three countries said in a statement.

They said that the start of talks on reviving the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have been “substantive,” with the aim of finding “a rapid diplomatic solution.”

But they added that Iran’s recent moves were “contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith of these discussions.”

The step will bring Iran closer to the 90% purity threshold for military use and shorten its potential “breakout time” to build an atomic bomb — a goal the Islamic republic denies.
Senior Iran official confirms ‘thousands of centrifuges damaged and destroyed’
A senior Iranian official confirmed Tuesday that the blast at the Natanz nuclear facility, which Tehran blames on Israel, destroyed or damaged thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Alireza Zakani, the hard-line head of the Iranian parliament’s research center, referred to “several thousand centrifuges damaged and destroyed” in a state TV interview. However, no other official has offered that figure and no images of the aftermath have been released.

His comments came as Iran said it was stepping up uranium enrichment to an unprecedented 60% — bringing Iran closer to the 90% purity threshold for military use, and shortening its potential “breakout time” to the bomb — and installing new centrifuges in response to the Sunday attack.

The remarks appear to confirm Israeli reports indicating the damage was widespread and Iran will have significant difficulty restoring its enrichment to previous levels in the coming months.

An Israeli TV report on Tuesday night said that Iran will only be able to enrich very small quantities of uranium to 60% since Natanz is still out of commission following the Sunday attack.

Channel 13 analyst Alon Ben David said that despite Iranian officials’ vow to start preparing Wednesday to begin the higher enrichment process, they cannot do it at Natanz, since the 6,000 centrifuges there remain “out of action.”
Iran Expert: Natanz Explosion Could Mean Years of Work Down the Drain
"This isn't the first time that centrifuges in Natanz have crashed in one way or another. I'm not sure how many cascades [of uranium enrichment centrifuges] were destroyed there...but when a cascade breaks, this represents years of work that goes down the drain."

"The IR-9 centrifuges...reduce what takes days to do into hours. A power cut without back-up power can cause serious damage if the cascades leave their position."

Segall said social-media messages by Iranians have begun mocking the regime for being unable to defend its most critical assets. "The regime has been exposed," he said. "As it continues to absorb attacks, there is a growing erosion in its perception by the Iranian people."

Segall said he remains disturbed by the unknown aspects of Iran's nuclear program. "They have proven in the past that the nuclear program is spread out in hidden sites."
Report: Blast at Natanz Caused by Bomb near Main Electric Line
The blast at Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility on Sunday was caused by a bomb planted near the main electricity line and the entire facility has stopped functioning, Israel's Channel 13 reported Monday.

"All the signs point to this being the worst attack that Iran's nuclear program has the most important Iranian nuclear facility," said military analyst Alon Ben-David.

Iran may now try to expand its operation at the underground Fordo plant, where it has over 1,000 centrifuges. There were 6,000 centrifuges at Natanz.

Separately, Israel's Channel 11 reported that advanced centrifuges were damaged in the blast at Natanz.
Seth Frantzman: Will Iran invent 'revenge' stories or actually attack Israel? - analysis
In the absence of being able to actually strike at Israel, Iran’s regime may invent stories of “successful” operations in the wake of the Natanz incident.

Tehran painted itself into a corner this week by claiming that it would take action after an incident at its nuclear enrichment facility. A full-court press was unleashed by Iran’s media. But then the question remained whether the Islamic Republic has any real options to strike at the Jewish state without escalating tensions too much.

What we know is that Iran has said, at the foreign ministry and government spokesperson level, that it wants revenge. It has also said it will now enrich uranium to 60%. It then sent its government propaganda, English language media Press TV to publish claims of an attack on an Israeli ship off the coast of the UAE. The details have been downplayed in Israel.

This would be the third alleged attack in the last month-and-a-half on Israeli-owned ships in that area. Since these are commercial ships, Iran’s attacks are a flagrant violation of basic international laws. Iran’s Press TV says that Israel “awaits” the Iranian response. It likely knows that Israel’s Memorial Day is on April 13, so it is timing these news items for the solemn day.

A stranger story emerged on April 13 alleging that Iran was targeting “Israel” in Iraq. Press TV claimed that “Israel's Mossad spy agency has come under attack in Iraq, security sources say, with a number of Israeli forces killed or wounded in what was described as a ‘heavy blow’ on the Zionist regime.”

The story actually began at Sabereen News, which claimed that the “resistance” forces in Iraq struck at a “Mossad safe house” in northern Iraq. It said it would show pictures. It said that Israeli “spies” were hit.

This is a generalized account because “northern Iraq” is a big place and an “Israeli spy” could be a random person. A “safe house” can be any house that the pro-Iran militias have identified. The wording is important here. The “resistance” in Iraq is made up of pro-Iran militias such as Badr, Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and others. They have threatened Israel before.
MEMRI: Criticism In Saudi Arabia: The Biden Administration Is Determined To Renew Nuclear Talks With Iran – While Ignoring The Apprehensions Of The Countries In The Region
On April 6, 2021, indirect talks began in Vienna between Iran and representatives of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, with European mediation, with the aim of reviving the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 – the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, and China plus Germany – from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. The U.S. participation in the talks angered many in Saudi Arabia, who complained about the administration's insistence on renewing nuclear negotiations with Iran while ignoring the apprehensions of the countries in the region with regard to the danger Iran poses.

Former Saudi intelligence chief Turki Al-Faisal hinted that the new U.S. administration had submitted to Iranian extortion and called on the Gulf countries to prepare for the day when Iran will have nuclear weapons. The Saudi displeasure at the U.S. actions regarding Iran was expressed also in articles and op-eds in its press. They stated that the U.S. and Europe were showing negligence and hesitance in the face of Iran's advancing nuclear program, and that not only did the U.S. lack a consistent policy regarding Iran but it was also falling into line with Iran and leveraging the Iranian issue in order to actualize its interests in the region and in the world. Several of the Saudi writers argued that the Vienna talks would produce nothing and that the Biden administration was continuing the Iran policy of the Obama administration and that therefore the countries in the region must act independently, without regard for the U.S.

It should be noted that since Biden was elected president, fears in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries regarding his policy of conciliation vis-ร -vis Iran at their expense have continued to intensify.[1]

This report will present the criticism in Saudi Arabia about the Biden administration's renewal of nuclear talks with Iran:
Former Saudi Intelligence Chief: The Biden Administration Is Returning To The Nuclear Agreement – And Disregarding The Apprehensions In The Region

Former Saudi intelligence chief and former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Turki Al-Faisal, who is currently chairman of the board of directors of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, warned at a virtual Bahrain conference on April 8 that returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran would only exacerbate the conflicts in the region and hinted that the Biden administration was willing to submit to Iranian extortion. Calling on the Gulf states to prepare for the day when Iran would have nuclear weapons, he stressed that they were committed to disarmament from weapons of mass destruction.

According to the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily in English, "Al-Faisal criticized Iran's aggressive behavior towards the Gulf states in particular and Arab countries in general. He told a large virtual Arab forum held by Bahrain's Al-Bilad daily, with the participation of more than 60 leading Arab figures, that the danger of the Iranian leadership was reflected in its 'political hegemony and interference in the affairs of our countries and its relentless pursuit of nuclear technology.'
Gen. McMaster: Iran Sanctions Are Starting to Come Apart
Tehran will not make any major moves until after the Iranian presidential elections in June, former U.S. national security advisor Lt.-Gen. H.R. McMaster told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Whoever controls the presidency will also have an upper-hand in the decision over who will succeed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Iran's true leader.

McMaster noted that the sanctions on Iran were starting to come apart even before formal removal, simply by virtue of Biden's intention to reach a deal. There has been a huge increase in China's purchases of Iranian oil and India is also moving to restore ties with Iran.

McMaster called returning to the 2015 Iran deal with its current sunset clauses "ludicrous," noting that 2025 is now only a few years away. He also criticized the 2015 nuclear negotiations for leading to an inspection regime in which, "before the ink was dry, Iran was announcing which inspections it would not allow." He added that it was a mistake to "underestimate the ideology of the revolution, of Iran's forward defense strategy and desire to restore Iran as an empire."
Iran censors soccer match over 100 times due to woman referee
A television station controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran censored over 100 broadcast shots of a female referee during the Sunday British soccer match between Manchester United and Tottenham, sparking criticism on social media because of the regime’s sexism.

Sardar Pashaei, a world champion gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling for Iran, tweeted: "Last night, Iran TV interrupted the important game between Manchester United and Tottenham dozens of times, censoring its images, just because one of the referee's match was a woman (@SianMasseyRef)[Sian Massey]. Will @FIFAcom [International Federation of Association Football] voice its objection to this gender discrimination by Iran?”

Pashaei was also the coach of Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team and a key activist in the campaign to secure justice for Navid Afkari, a wrestler executed by the regime in September 2020 for his demonstration against corruption in the Islamic Republic.

Writing on the website of My Stealthy Freedom, which promotes a campaign against the compulsory hijab in the Islamic Republic, Vahid Yรผcesoy said that “Iranian TV was forced to crudely cut away more than a 100 times from the live game between Premier League giants Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs on Sunday much to bemusement of the viewers.”


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