Friday, June 11, 2021

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: How America is now threatening its allies
This petulance and spite towards a historic agreement that has made a mockery of the Foggy Bottom consensus on Israel and the Palestinians tells us that the Biden administration’s attitude to the Middle East is based not on realism or pragmatism, but on emotion and ideology.

It shows that the administration will deny hard facts in order to preserve fantasies, such as Palestinian “victimhood” and the illusory two-state solution, that define today’s progressive identity.

Israel itself is currently in the throes of unprecedented political convulsions. On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year stint as prime minister is set to end when an improbable coalition of rightists, leftists, centrists and the Arab Ra’am Party is due to be sworn in as Israel’s government.

With no-one able to say with certainty that such a coalition will even endure, it’s impossible to predict what its policies will be. No one can say whether the rightists will abandon principle and allow themselves to be held hostage by the left; or whether the left will swallow right-wing policies to stay in power; or whether the Ra’am leader really will abandon his Islamist holy war against Israel and settle for the pragmatic priority of improving the lot of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Despite these unknowables, there are hopes in the progressive world that the very existence of such a coalition will soften western hostility to Israel and break down barriers with the Biden administration.

Yet whatever the coalition does, western hostility won’t dissipate because it is based on an irrational hatred that treats any concession Israel may make as merely a further sign of its innate perfidy.

As for the Biden administration, stuffed with officials who either hate or are indifferent to Israel and the Jewish people, the only Israeli policies that would break down such barriers are those that would leave Israel twisting in the genocidal wind.

In Northern Ireland the Republican Sinn Féin Party, which has a history of rank antisemitism, promotes the left-wing Israel demonisation agenda, while the Republic of Ireland is one of the most extreme anti-Israel countries in Europe. In stark contrast, Northern Ireland’s Protestants have long been strong supporters of Israel. They identify with the Israelis’ struggle against existential foes, global disdain and perfidious “friends.”

With the Biden administration’s perverse interference in their own affairs, further endangering their security while doing the same to the Israelis, these two causes are now joined at the hip against an America that has lost the geopolitical plot.
Ruthie Blum: Is a bogus Iran deal upstaging the Abraham Accords?
ISRAEL ISN’T the only country wary of the goings-on behind closed doors in Vienna. The Gulf states that openly allied themselves with Israel through the Abraham Accords – and other Mideast countries, like Saudi Arabia, tacitly doing so as part of a joint attempt to curb Iran’s pernicious agenda – are equally concerned.

Their worry is certainly justified, particularly in view of another disturbing development. US State Department staffers were sent inter-office e-mails a few months ago discouraging them from using the official title of the historic peace agreements brokered by former president Donald Trump between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

According to The Washington Free Beacon (freebeacon.com), which reviewed two such memos, no reason was given for the directive. When asked about it, a spokesman told the news site that the State Department “would refer to the Abraham Accords as such.”

Subsequently, an official speaking on background told the outlet, “This administration is not focused on what these agreements are called, but what they mean.”


Kissinger, Kerry, Kushner
A question facing any future historian will be this: was the “Deal of the Century,” with its implicit endorsement of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, designed in advance as a throwaway, to facilitate the Abraham Accords? Whatever the answer, that is precisely the purpose it ultimately served. “We had been talking to both sides for 18 months,” said a senior American official, “but the annexation issue created the atmosphere which was conducive for getting a deal.”[6] If it was so designed in advance, then far from being a “dead-on-arrival” plan, it was a strategic feint worthy of a Kissinger. If not, it was a deft last-minute shift of gears.

Whatever the back story, however, the Abraham Accords and their sequels have introduced a new vector in the Middle East. The most creative and dynamic shorelines on the Mediterranean and the Gulf are now linked. They are the counter to the forty-year bond between Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which also links the Mediterranean and the Gulf. There is much potential in this fledgling alignment; how much of it will be realized depends on the ingenuity of Israelis and Gulf Arabs alike.

But it also depends on the attitude of the United States. Certainly, it has been hard for the old hands of the Democratic foreign policy establishment to concede that Kushner, wet behind the ears, achieved something that had eluded them. They should get over it. One doesn’t have to believe that Kushner (and Berkowitz) deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, though Harvard emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz has nominated them for one, but one must admit that they got this right.

Remember that Jimmy Carter didn’t toss out the Middle East achievements of Richard Nixon and Kissinger, but built them out into a new security architecture for the Middle East. President Biden should consider that precedent and think hard about how to capitalize on the achievements of Trump and Kushner. That need not mean abandoning the quest for a resolution of the Palestinian question. It need not mean locking the door to Iran forever. It does mean nurturing the cooperative spirit of the Abraham Accords. These US-brokered agreements give the United States a strategic edge. In the Middle East, America needs that more than ever.
Caroline Glick: The great unravelling
Over the past decade, for the first time in its history, Israel developed a strong diplomatic posture in the region and worldwide. Israel developed strategic ties with Arab states, and the states of the eastern Mediterranean. It has built close ties with the EU's Visegrád Group of central European states Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as Austria and Italy. Israel upgraded its diplomatic and trade relations with the states of Africa and Central and South America, as well as with India, Japan and South Korea.

Unfortunately, it is likely that what Israel achieved through painstaking effort may be lost after the new governing coalition led by Yair Lapid takes power next week. This is the case for three reasons.

First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the author of Israel's diplomatic triumphs. They are predicated on his foreign policy vision that diplomatic ties are built on common interests even more than ideology and that Israel has much to offer the nations of the world.

There are many things that divide the members of the incoming governing coalition. But they agree on one thing – they all hate Netanyahu. So, the first reason Israel may soon abandon its diplomatic achievement is because Lapid and most of his partners in the coalition want to erase Netanyahu's achievements.

The second reason Israel's diplomatic position is likely to soon crash is because Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz along with most of their partners do not share Netanyahu's diplomatic vision. Lapid is set to become foreign minister. Like most members of Israel's elite class, which includes the political left, the media, the senior brass of the security establishment and the senior leadership of the foreign and justice ministries, Lapid and Gantz believe Israel's diplomatic position is exclusively a function of its relations with the Beltway establishment. The closer Israel is to the American ruling class, the stronger it is internationally. The weaker Israel's relations with the American elite, the weaker its international posture.

The third reason Israel's decade of diplomatic achievements is likely to end in short order is because America-obsessed Lapid, Gantz and their ilk don't understand the importance or potential of Netanyahu has accomplished. They will not dedicate the necessary resources to maintain the ties he forged with the likes of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz or Brazil's President Javier Bolsonaro, because they don't value those ties. So the ties will wither.


German Politicians Demand Immediate Publication of ‘Secret’ EU Report Exposing Antisemitic Incitement in Palestinian Schools
The German government has demanded that the EU finally publish a revealing report into antisemitic incitement in Palestinian school textbooks that was commissioned more than two years ago, but has yet to see the light of day.

On Sunday, the German newspaper Bild published excerpts from the report, which it said had been kept under “lock and key” since being commissioned in 2019 by Frederica Mogherini, the then EU foreign affairs representative.

“From the report it becomes clear: Palestinian children are brought up in the classroom with antisemitic agitation and incitement to violence — financed by the EU!” Bild stated in its coverage.

A statement from German federal foreign ministry on Wednesday confirmed that officials in Berlin “have been campaigning within the EU for the report’s publication for a long time.” It stressed that the availability of the report was essential if “a fact-based discussion on the contents of Palestinian textbooks is to be conducted on the basis of the scientific findings.”

A foreign ministry spokesperson meanwhile told Bild that “a confidential draft of the study is available. The federal government has advocated publication several times vis-à-vis the EU. The EU has now promised this.”

The foreign ministry’s comments followed protests from several members of the European Parliament that the 194-page report — compiled by the Georg Eckert Institute, which specializes in school textbook research and monitoring — had not been shared with them.
Zionists fight antisemitism on social media, but what do they accomplish?
Two weeks after the recent flareup of violence in Israel and Gaza, as fights over Israel and Palestine raged on social media, Julia Jassey wondered aloud whether any of her effort was worth it.

Jassey, a student at the University of Chicago, has spent the better part of a year immersed in online skirmishes surrounding Israel and antisemitism. Last summer, as racial justice protests swept the country, she and a few other college students founded Jewish on Campus, an Instagram account chronicling antisemitism and anti-Zionism facing Jewish students. It was modeled after similar accounts documenting racism at universities and high schools.

In recent weeks, Jewish on Campus has collected anonymous anecdotes of antisemitism online and in person in the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Jassey said the account has been inundated with submissions. At the same time, harsh critics of Israel have taken aim at her and her personal posts — including some people she knows from school.

“We can’t even have meaningful discussions, we just fight,” she tweeted on June 3. “It’s toxic, and it brings us nowhere productive. Where do we go from here? I don’t know about you, but I am tired of it.”

Jassey is part of a small group of young, assertively Zionist Jews with an active social media presence who have taken it upon themselves to call out and respond to anti-Zionism, antisemitism and the many instances in which they believe those two concepts overlap.

But after weeks of fighting over Israel and Judaism on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, those activists, and others who observe them, are asking whether the effort of combating antisemitism online, in real time, is winnable or worthwhile.
How Can Israel Counter Pro-Palestinian Content on Social Media?

What diplomatic challenges await a Bennett-Lapid government?
Not long after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the premiership in 2009, his adversaries began to warn about massive international pressure. Two days after the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, then-defense minister Ehud Barak coined the term “diplomatic tsunami” that followed Netanyahu in the subsequent years, which he claimed would crush Israel if there was no progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Back then, the concern was that the Palestinians would ask the UN Security Council for recognition of statehood, which the US under then-president Barack Obama would begrudgingly veto, but then the UN General Assembly would declare the Palestinians a state, leaving Israel in dire diplomatic straits.

Ten years later, Israeli-Palestinian peace is no closer than it was, and though the UN upgraded Palestine to “nonmember observer state” in 2012, the diplomatic tsunami never materialized.

But when we examine the diplomatic challenges that incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett and foreign minister Yair Lapid will have to address in the very short term after being sworn in, the idea that 2011 was a “diplomatic tsunami” almost seems quaint.

Here are some of the big challenges the new government will likely face in the international arena its early days.
JINSA PodCast: Fourth Time Is a Charm: Assessing the Israeli Elections
One of the more bizarre political coalitions has formed in the wake of Israel’s fourth election. Lahav Harkov, Senior Contributing Editor at the Jerusalem Post, joins Erielle to discuss the presumptively incoming government, the likelihood of Netanyahu being able to undercut the new coalition, and what the new government might mean for Israel’s relationship with the United States and others.
UAE, Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana elected to UN Security Council
The UN General Assembly elected Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, and the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Security Council on Friday for a two-year term starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

All five countries ran unopposed for a spot on the 15-member body, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security. They will replace Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam.

To ensure geographical representation, seats are allocated to regional groups. But even if candidates are running unopposed in their group, they still need to win the support of more than two-thirds of the UN General Assembly.

Ghana received 185 votes, Gabon 183 votes, UAE 179 votes, Albania 175 votes and Brazil 181 votes.

The Security Council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions like imposing sanctions and authorizing use of force. It has five permanent veto-wielding members - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.
IDF dismisses officer over tank fire at Gazan farmers during May conflict
An infantry officer was dismissed from the military and may face criminal charges over an unauthorized tank attack on Palestinian farmers during last month’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said Friday.

Toward the end of the campaign, a platoon commander from the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion ordered a tank under his command to open fire with a machine gun at the group of three Palestinian civilians who were working near the border, hitting at least one of them. The farmer’s condition was not immediately known, nor was the exact date of the incident.

“An investigation determined that the fire was carried out in violation of orders and professional protocol,” the IDF said.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said the unauthorized attack was a “serious incident that does not at all match IDF values.”

The military said the Nahal platoon commander was discharged both from his position and from the IDF in general. The machine gunner, from the 7th Armored Brigade, was also expected to be dismissed from his position
Israel Asks Egypt Not to Allow Cement, Construction Materials to Enter Gaza Over Fears of Strengthening Hamas
In a bid to prevent items that could be used for terrorist purposes from entering Gaza, Israel has asked Egypt not to allow cement and other construction materials through the border crossings it controls.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that such materials are already entering the Strip through the Salah al Din Gate at the Rafah border crossing on the Egyptian-controlled Sinai border, despite the desire on the part of Israeli and international officials to prevent Hamas from rearming after its 11-day conflict with Israel last month.

Israel has asked Egypt not to allow further shipments of such goods to the Strip, and also requested that Egyptian bulldozers sent to Gaza to remove rubble not be used to rebuild Hamas’ terror tunnel network.

Bulldozers and other construction vehicles have been entering the Strip over the last few weeks via a contractor reportedly connected to the Egyptian military and intelligence services.

As long as the Salah al Din Gate remains open and unsupervised, Israel believes, no plan to rebuild the Strip without also strengthening Hamas will be workable.


Palestinian indicted for shooting death of yeshiva student at Tapuah junction
Military prosecutors filed indictments Thursday against a Palestinian over a West Bank shooting attack last month that killed teenage Israeli student Yehuda Guetta and wounded two other teens, one of them seriously.

Muntasir Shalabi was charged at the Judea Military Court with intentional homicide, three counts of attempted homicide, possession and use of an unlicensed weapon, and obstruction of justice.

Shalabi, 47, is suspected of driving to the Tapuah junction in the northern West Bank on May 2 and opening fire at a group of Israeli students from the nearby yeshiva in the Itamar settlement. The shooting fatally wounded 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta, seriously injured a second teenager and lightly wounded a third.

According to court papers, prosecutors say Shalabi had decided to carry out an attack at the junction a month earlier, but twice put it off because he didn’t feel well.

On the day of the attack, he drove to the junction with a pistol on the passenger seat, hidden beneath a prayer mat. Pulling to a stop alongside the bus stop, he shouted “Allahu akhbar!” (God is great) and opened fire, continuing to shoot until the pistol malfunctioned and jammed. He drove off as soldiers guarding the junction opened fire at him. Though he was injured, he escaped to the West Bank town of Aqraba where he ditched the car, which was later torched by locals as soldiers arrived to seize it.


Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank protests, riots continue in Acre
Some 400 Palestinians started throwing fireworks, burning tires and throwing stones at Israeli security forces at two locations near the Evyatar outpost on Friday, N12 reported.

According to Palestinian media, one 15-year-old Palestinian teenager was killed, while another five were injured in the clashes as well. The outpost was first erected in 2013 after an Israeli actor, Evyatar Bobrovsky, 31, a Yitzhar resident, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian in a terror attack at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank.

At the time, it was evacuated almost immediately.

Last month, settlers from the Nahala movement made the latest push to illegally consecrate the outpost after a drive by shooting at the same junction killed 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta.


Richard Goldberg: How States Can Respond If Biden Lifts Iran Sanctions
State divestment laws on Iran would grow teeth overnight. Banks and companies around the world would quickly find themselves on pension blacklists for taking advantage of Biden’s temporary sanctions relief.

And, yes, multinational companies — private and public — do pay attention to these lists. In 2015, Illinois became the first state in America to use pension divestment to target companies engaged in boycotts of Israel. Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and eight other states followed. Airbnb found itself in the crosshairs of these laws after announcing it would stop listing homes in disputed Jewish communities of the West Bank. Facing financial, legal, and reputational costs in multiple U.S. states — while pursuing an initial public offering — the company quickly reversed course.

The BDS laws exist in only a dozen states — and those state pension funds alone hold more than $170 billion in international equities. Imagine the impact of even more states wielding even more leverage uniting to stop Iran-sponsored terrorism that threatens America and Israel.

Governors could get even more creative. Willie Sutton infamously said he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” The same is true for effective sanctions policy — target the banks and financial transactions.

The State of Florida passed an Iran banking law in 2012 that required all chartered banks to certify that they did not engage in transactions with the Central Bank of Iran or other dirty Iranian banks. The hiccup: The list of those companies would be based on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list, which isn’t much help as the Biden administration prepares to lift most Iran sanctions.

There may be an easy fix for Florida and other interested governors. As it happens, foreign banks must apply to state regulators to open offices and establish representation. States could add a simple certification requirement for existing and future applicants: With an exception for trade in food and medicine, the bank must pledge it will not facilitate transactions with or for any entity in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Governors and state legislatures hold many levers to influence decision-making in C-suites around the world. The question is whether they will pull those levers to protect the security of the United States and Israel.
Senate Republicans Move To Require Congressional Approval for New Iran Deal
Senate Republicans introduced on Friday legislation that would require President Joe Biden to obtain congressional approval before he signs any new nuclear deal with Iran, according to a copy of that bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

While Senate Republicans stand little chance of forcing the bill through a Democrat-controlled chamber, the measure represents a last-ditch effort by GOP hawks to stop the Biden administration from granting Iran billions of dollars in cash windfalls and sanctions relief. The bill also caps months of Republican maneuvering in both chambers of Congress to block the administration's ongoing diplomacy with Iran.

The State Department on Thursday took the unilateral step of removing sanctions on several former Iranian officials and businesses, leading to speculation that a deal is on the horizon. State Department spokesman Ned Price slapped down such speculation, telling reporters there is "absolutely no connection" between negotiations and the decision to roll back sanctions. While senior Biden administration officials vowed earlier in the year that sanctions relief would not be provided until Iran agrees to significantly roll back its nuclear program, ongoing talks in Vienna have stalled. Iranian officials have been clear in their demand that all sanctions levied by the Trump administration be removed as a precondition for a revamped nuclear deal.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and 21 of his GOP colleagues are spearheading the bill, which says that any deal reached by the Biden administration must be considered a treaty and be brought before the Senate for approval. Treaties must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, meaning that Democrats would not have the votes needed to pass it given their razor-thin majority. The Obama administration avoided bringing the original nuclear agreement before the Senate for ratification as a treaty because of concerns it would fail to garner enough votes.

The bill also sends a message to Iran: Without congressional approval, any deal inked by the Biden administration stands little chance of surviving into the next Republican White House. The Trump administration nixed the original 2015 deal in 2018 with little resistance since it was not a treaty. A future Republican administration could do the same, meaning that any sanctions relief granted by Biden's team has little chance of standing the test of time.
Biden Admin Lifts Sanctions on Iranian Officials and Businesses
The Biden administration on Thursday lifted sanctions on several former Iranian officials and companies as part of an effort to relax U.S. pressure as the administration negotiates a revamped nuclear deal with Tehran.

Sanctions were lifted on at least three former Iranian officials and several companies that were designated as helping the Islamic Republic evade sanctions on its oil trade, according to an announcement by the Treasury and State Departments.

"The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of State are lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies previously involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products, as a result of a verified change in status or behavior on the part of the sanctioned parties," the State Department announced. "These actions demonstrate our commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in status or behavior by sanctioned persons."

Iran has been pressuring the Biden administration to remove nearly all of the sanctions that were applied by the Trump administration. While senior Biden administration officials initially vowed to keep these sanctions in place until Iran agreed to a stricter nuclear agreement, the administration has moved in recent months to relax pressure to keep Iran at the bargaining table. Talks in Vienna have largely stalled over Iran’s refusal to roll back portions of its nuclear program.

The Treasury Department confirmed that sanctions would be lifted on these individuals and companies, saying, "These delistings are a result of a verified change in behavior or status on the part of the sanctioned parties and demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in behavior or status for sanctioned persons."

The State Department also announced sanctions on an Iranian-backed supply network to the Houthi terrorists in Yemen.
Russia to give Iran advanced satellite that could track IDF bases
Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The satellite is projected to have the ability to track long-range targets, including IDF bases, as well as oil refineries throughout the Persian Gulf and Iraqi bases for US troops.

The plan would deliver a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera which could be launched from Russia within months, the Post said.

The report was published days before US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house US troops," said the paper, which cited three unnamed sources - a current and a former US official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale.

While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have made several trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement, the Post said.
Iranian Twitter propaganda revealed
Antisemitic tweets are being used as part of an orchestrated campaign on social media to build support for the Iranian regime, new research reveals.

A study by the Online Antisemitism Campaign Taskforce reveals how randomised twitter accounts, many of which are bots, are piggy-backing on the topic of antisemitism to celebrate suicide bombers and terrorist groups known for their pro-Iranian sympathies.

A second wave of fake accounts, which do not glorify violence, have also been set up to like and share the tweets of those that do – in a bid to normalise acts of terror and expand support for Islamic extremists on-line among more moderate Twitter users.

The results of the study have been branded “shocking” by one of the world’s leading experts on antisemitism who urged Twitter and social media giants to clean up platforms being used to glorify terror and violence.

Analysts at the taskforce studied more than 800 accounts mostly created in 2020 which share a series of common themes.

The accounts were chosen because the names of ‘holders’ are a series of random letters, numbers and characters – a strong indication of bot activity.

The accounts, written in Arabic, reveal strong support for Iran or organisations allied to the Iranian regime.


Merkel needs to end support for terrorist Iran’s regime
When it comes to matching words with action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s political class have their heads deep in the sand.

In a jaw-dropping May editorial on the webpage of the Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper, the co-editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt provides a bill of particulars for Merkel’s failing grade:

“Germany is Iran’s most important trading partner in Europe. The federal government [in Berlin] is working tirelessly to bypass U.S. sanctions against Iran. There is no other country in Europe that pours so much money into the anti-Semitic terrorist Iranian regime, which finances the very missiles that are currently being fired [by Hamas] on Tel Aviv.”

Reichelt also cites Merkel’s decision not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This reporter revealed in 2018 that Merkel lobbied European countries not to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem after Washington did so that year.

When Romania, for instance, was planning to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Merkel waged a no-holds-barred campaign against the Eastern European country and its ethnic German president, Klaus Werner Iohannis, to stop the move. Merkel also pressured other E.U. countries not to transfer their embassies to Jerusalem.

Had Romania established its embassy in Jerusalem, the chances of other Eastern European countries, friendlier to Israel than some of the Western European heavyweights such as France, might have increased. In other words, Merkel sabotaged Israel’s campaign to persuade European countries to relocate their embassies and the 3,000-year-old Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
Eli Lake: Biden Should Offer the Vaccine to Iran
The sanctions are a tool to get Iran’s regime to adhere to limits on its nuclear program, end its support for terrorism and curb its human-rights abuses. A clear-eyed analysis of Iran must acknowledge that most Iranians are victims of the same regime that threatens the U.S. and its allies.

With that in mind, an offer of the vaccine to Iran at this moment makes good strategic sense. To start, Iran’s failure to vaccinate its population is due partly to the failure of Russia and China to make good on their earlier commitments.

Consider these jaw-dropping comments from Alireza Naji, the head of Iran’s Virology Research Center. One reason for the country’s vaccine shortage, he told the state-run Iran Daily, is that China and Russia had not delivered promised vaccine doses. Only three million doses have been delivered to Iran thus far. About 2% of its population of 83 million is vaccinated.

An American offer of vaccines would also place the Iranian regime in a difficult spot. In January, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banned the import of U.S. and British vaccines. Had China and Russia delivered the promised vaccines on time — Russia alone was supposed to deliver 60 million doses by the end of the year — the supreme leader’s decision may not have mattered. But now that Iran is running out of the few vaccines it has imported, a U.S. offer would strike a further blow to the regime’s legitimacy.

Finally, an offer of free vaccines to Iran would emphasize a longstanding message of U.S. diplomacy: America’s quarrel is not with the Iranian people, but with the regime that purports to represent them. It would show that the U.S. seeks friendship with its people and not their oppressors.

For the last few months, China and Russia have tried to make the case that they are better friends to U.S. allies than America. Biden has an opportunity to repay the favor with a single act of generosity that both discredits America’s rivals and helps the Iranian people.











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