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Yemen Under Onslaught by Iran-Backed Rebels

(Photo: flickr/flat.luxury)

(Photo: flickr/flat.luxury)

Last week we reported on the suicide bombings that killed over 100 in Yemen, and we have also told you about the persecution faced by the country’s remaining Jews. Today, news from Yemen has grown worse, as The Times of Israel reports that the Yemeni president has fled, the defense minister has been captured, and Iran-backed rebels are gaining ground:

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled his country by sea on a boat from the port of Aden, as Shiite rebels and their allies advance on this southern city, security and port officials said Wednesday…

Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since the Houthi Shiite rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February.

The strife has raised fears that the country could be torn apart by a proxy war between Shiite Iran, accused of backing the rebels, and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which supports Hadi.

In a major blow to the embattled leader, the Houthis said they had captured his defense minister in their push southwards.

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 at 12:05 PM  | Stand For Israel

Iran’s Supreme Leader: “Death to America”

(Photo: wikicommons/ seyedkhan)

(Photo: wikicommons/ seyedkhan)

In yesterday’s Daily Dispatch, we noted that even as the U.S. and other Western powers creep ever closer to making a nuclear agreement with Iran – assuring the rest of the world that it is a good deal – the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader has again called for “death to America.” Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Dr. Denis MacEoin wonders which part of this the U.S. doesn’t understand, and warns that we should take Khamenei at his word:

On Sunday, March 21, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was lowing about progress in the “peace talks,” Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, was calling for “Death to America.” Mercifully, his call came before the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany) — illegally, under the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — tried to allow Iran to bolt its obligations under the NPT and acquire nuclear weapons.

Khamenei’s announcement, reported by the Times of Israel, appears to vindicate the views of Israel’s farsighted, newly re-elected Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the voters who overwhelmingly elected him, as well as France’s courageous former Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius.

Netanyahu recently explained that the circumstances of escalating extremist Islamism in the region at this time make handing over more land to terrorist groups, such as the Palestinian Authority’s government and Hamas, inauspicious. U.S. President Barack Obama said he would take Netanyahu at his word. It is therefore safe to assume, of course, that the current U.S. Administration will take Iran’s Supreme Leader “at his word,” as well …

What is worrying more than anything is that the U.S. president and his allies seem not to understand, even a little, the country now working to build nuclear weapons: its culture, its religion, and its apocalyptic obsessions.

Obama seems to think the Iranian leadership is made up of pragmatic politicians who favor an almost areligious approach to world affairs. This calculation seems based on a wished-for interpretation, which is almost secularist, of a…

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 at 8:39 AM  | Stand For Israel

US Intel Report Removes Iran and Hezbollah as Terror Threats

(Photo: wikicommons/ Alborzagros)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Alborzagros)

As the United States continues talks with Iran regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, a troubling bit of news has been reported by The Times of Israel. A new U.S. intelligence report has removed both Iran and Hezbollah from the list of terror threats:

An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports.

The unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, dated February 26, 2015 (PDF), noted Iran’s efforts to combat Sunni extremists, including those of the ultra-radical Islamic State group, who were perceived to constitute the preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide …

The report said that it was unclear whether or not Iran would eventually decide to build nuclear weapons, but noted that should the Iranian government decide to pursue such a course, it would face no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon.” It lingered on Iran’s pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missile technology as a likely delivery system for a nuclear weapon, and delineated Iranian threats in the realms of counterintelligence and cyber warfare.

According to one Israeli think tank, the removal of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the list of terror threats, where they featured in previous years, was directly linked to the campaign against the Islamic State …

Israel, as well as Sunni allies of the US, has often warned that Iran, through Hezbollah and other proxies, has been sowing instability in the region …

Iran has made bellicose statements toward Israel, threatening to destroy the Jewish state, often citing Israeli talk of attacking its nuclear facilities, which it maintains are for peaceful purposes.

Hezbollah, which is based to Israel’s north in Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights, has largely refrained from attacking Israeli targets since the bloody Second Lebanon War of 2006, although there have been skirmishes along the border.

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 8:53 AM  | Stand for Israel

Supporters of Deal Are Strengthening Iran’s Negotiating Position

(Photo: U.S. Dept. of State)

(Photo: U.S. Dept. of State)

Throughout the continuing nuclear talks with Iran, Stand for Israel has stood against making a bad deal with the Islamic Republic – a deal that would allow the very nation that threatens Israel’s existence to obtain nuclear weapons. Yet there are many who still want such a deal to be made. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Alan Dershowitz argues that supporters of such a bad deal are only giving Iran more leverage with which to negotiate:

Despite repeating the mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal” with Iran, the United States seems to be negotiating on the basis of a belief that the worst possible outcome of the current negotiations is no deal. Many supporters of the deal that is now apparently on the table are arguing that there is no realistic alternative to this deal. That sort of thinking out loud empowers the Iranian negotiators to demand more and compromise less, because they believe — and have been told by American supporters of the deal — that the United States has no alternative but to agree to a deal that is acceptable to the Iranians …

This is the worst sort of negotiation strategy imaginable: telling the other side that any proposal that is not acceptable to them will be taken off the table, and that any leader who offers it will be attacked as a deal breaker. This approach — attacking Netanyahu without responding to his proposal on their merits — characterizes the approach of the administration and its supporters.

We will now never know whether Iran might have accepted a conditional sunset provision, because the advocates of the current deal, both inside and outside the administration, have told Iran that if they reject this proposal, it will be withdrawn, because it endangers the deal. What incentive would the Iranians then have to consider this proposal on its merits? None!

The current mindset of the deal’s advocates is that the United States needs the…

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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 8:22 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iran Is No Partner

(Photo: wikicommons/Zereshk)

(Photo: wikicommons/Zereshk)

Despite warnings from Israel and from members of Congress, it seems that the United States is still intent on moving toward a “bad deal” with Iran concerning the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith writes that despite what the U.S. administration might think, Iran is not a partner that can be trusted:

Last week it was reported that the White House and Iran may be moving toward a deal over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. The proposed phased agreement, lasting 10-15 years, would initially attempt to freeze the program. But during the last years of the agreement, Iran would be allowed to resume activities that would lead to a nuclear bomb. The deal’s “sunset clause” means that after the agreement has expired, this state sponsor of terror will become legally entitled to the same treatment in nuclear energy matters as Japan, say, or Germany, or any other non-nuclear-weapon state with a civil nuclear program.

For the sunset clause to kick in, of course, Iran must fulfill its obligations under the terms of the agreement. The problem, however, is that Iran could get away with pretty much anything it wanted because no one’s watching—or more specifically, no one would be allowed to watch. The International Atomic Energy Agency would be responsible for monitoring compliance, but just last week the U.N. agency reported that Tehran still refuses to allow inspections to address concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of the nuclear program. The IAEA, said the report, “remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

According to the IAEA report, it is because Iran has not answered all the outfit’s questions that “the agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

In other words, the deal…

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Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 at 8:46 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Real Iran

(Photo: wikicommons/ Alborzagros)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Alborzagros)

Long before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Congress with his concerns of a nuclear Iran, those who stand for Israel and the free world have questioned making deals with the Islamic Republic. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Dr. Denis MacEoin – an expert on Persian, Arabic, and Islamic studies – warns that the real Iran is an unstable state with an extremist belief system that may very well achieve nuclear capability sooner than we think:

When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke from the podium of the U.S. Congress to warn of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran, the clock was already ticking towards March 31. That is the deadline for a final agreement between the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) and the Iranian regime on limits to Iran’s nuclear program, in return for the lifting of sanctions currently imposed on Iran.

By now, everyone has read page upon page of commentary on what the likely consequences of such a deal may be, with a preponderance of analysts agreeing that President Barack Obama’s drive to secure a resolution is likely to put Iran on a clear course to nuclear weapons capability after about ten years. Given Iran’s tendency to enrich uranium in secret, they may achieve nuclear breakout capability well before ten years from now.

Netanyahu’s mission was to warn Congress about the possible ramifications of these negotiations not only for Israel, but for the entire free world …

Over the years, Iran’s threats to destroy Israel, to “wipe it” from the pages of history or to flatten Tel Aviv and Haifa, have been direct and unambiguous …

What is worrying more than anything is that the U.S. president and his allies seem not to understand, even a little, the country now working to build nuclear weapons: its culture, its religion, and its apocalyptic obsessions.

Obama seems to think the Iranian leadership is made up of pragmatic politicians who favor an almost areligious approach to world affairs. This calculation seems…

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Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 at 8:30 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iran on Israel’s Right to Exist

(Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

(Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

With so much being discussed regarding Iran and its nuclear aspirations, the media often forgets why allowing the Islamic Republic to attain such capabilities is a bad idea. Jeffrey Goldberg hasn’t forgotten, though. Writing at The Atlantic, he reminds the world that the Iranian regime seeks to eliminate Israel:

The Iranian regime is not populated by Nazis, but it is led by people who do, in fact, seek the physical elimination of the Jewish state and its replacement by a Muslim state. It works toward this end, by sponsoring terrorist groups that regularly kill Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere.

So, as a reminder to those who argue that Jews should stop worrying so much about people who threaten to kill them, here is some (just some) of what Iran’s leaders, and leaders of its proxy militia, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, have said about Israel:

Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran: “If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime … if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” (2000)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (2002)

Nasrallah: “Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’” (2005)

Yahya Rahim Safavi, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard: “With God’s help the time has come for the Zionist regime’s death sentence.” (2008)

Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, Khamenei’s representative to the Moustazafan Foundation: “We have manufactured missiles that allow us, when necessary to replace [sic] Israel in its entirety with a big holocaust.” (2010)

Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij paramilitary force: “We…

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Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 8:30 AM  | Stand For Israel

How Esther’s Bravery Helped an Iranian Teenager Escape the Ayatollah

(Esther, c. 1865, John Everett Millais)

(Esther, c. 1865, John Everett Millais)

Today, the Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Purim, the festival that remembers the story of Esther. Purim is a joyous and festive day, but this amazing article from Tablet by Sima Goel tells how she escaped Iran as a Jewish teenager who was inspired by the bravery of the biblical heroine:

When I escaped from Iran in 1982 at the age of 17, I took a heart-wrenching journey into the unknown, crossing the dangerous Kavira Loot Desert in the company of smugglers. I was one of the first in my family to leave the country. I took nothing with me except my belief in freedom, a sense of my own identity, and my love for home and family.

Today, as we count down the days to Purim, I remember my life in Iran, and I feel my heart grow full. For most Jews, Purim and the story of Queen Esther provide the community with an opportunity to celebrate Jewish survival. For me, Purim and Esther bring me back to my hometown of Shiraz and the steps I, like Esther, took to stay true to myself.

In the Iran of my youth, we celebrated the holiday in a simpler style. Esther’s story was read in the large synagogue where we met to pray, to mourn, to celebrate, and to learn. The Megillah was chanted in a straightforward manner, without the hijinks enjoyed in Western recitations. No noisemakers drowned out the name of evil Haman, and no special pastries were prepared, although my grandmother did make her “happy halvah,” a treat she offered only on happy occasions. We looked forward to Purim largely because it sounded an alarm: just 40 days to clean and get ready for Passover.

I loved Shiraz with its many gardens full of fragrant roses and its lively markets. My stalwart mother expected her daughters to be independent, reflective, and practical. From a young age, I was entrusted with the grocery shopping, and I was expected…

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Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 8:51 AM  | Stand for Israel

Legitimizing Iran As a Threshold Nuclear Power

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

In today’s speech before Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak out against the legitimization of Iran as a world nuclear power. Such a thought is frightening to those who support Israel. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Yaakov Lappin says that the current deal being discussed is a bad one, as it endangers Israel:

The emerging Iran nuclear deal spells trouble.

For the past several months, Israeli security officials have privately been expressing concern over the emerging deal between the Obama Administration and the Iranian regime over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Defense officials familiar with the complex threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions have sought to stay clear of political statements, instead offering straightforward explanations as to why the deal, as it appears to be forming, will pose an extremely serious problem for the security of Israel and other Middle Eastern states in the path of Iran’s seemingly hegemonic aspirations.

Leaving aside the many technical details that are part of the wider picture of Iran’s nuclear activities, the essential problem with the would-be deal is that it will leave Iran with an enhanced ability to enrich uranium — an ability that can lead Iran to nuclear weapons production in a relatively short time.

The purpose of an agreement is to push Iran away from the ability to make nuclear weapons. Israel does not oppose the idea of an agreement, but it opposes the particular formula apparently being advanced in diplomatic talks.

The strength or weakness of any agreement rests on how long it would give the U.S. or Israel to respond in case Iran violates the agreement. An agreement that would be acceptable to Israel is one in which Jerusalem would have sufficient time to respond in case Iran violates it.

Under the terms of what seems to be the current proposal, however, the amount of time needed might not be adequate — meaning that Israel may not be able to consider itself bound by the agreement.

According to reports surfacing from the talks, the proposed arrangement will likely…

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 8:37 AM  | Stand For Israel

Danger Ahead for Obama on Iran

(Photo: wikicommons/ Fastfission)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Fastfission)

Many times we find ourselves disagreeing with Jeffrey Goldberg’s opinions. But the recent piece the often pro-Obama columnist wrote for The Atlantic says that while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is getting the attention, the real issue is that the U.S. does not make a deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear power:

I’m fairly sure Netanyahu will deliver a powerful speech, in part because he is eloquent in English and forceful in presentation. But there is another reason this speech may be strong: Netanyahu has a credible case to make. Any nuclear agreement that allows Iran to maintain a native uranium-enrichment capability is a dicey proposition; in fact, any agreement at all with an empire-building, Assad-sponsoring, Yemen-conquering, Israel-loathing, theocratic terror regime is a dicey proposition.

The deal that seems to be taking shape right now does not fill me—or many others who support a diplomatic solution to this crisis—with confidence. Reports suggest that the prospective agreement will legitimate Iran’s right to enrich uranium (a “right” that doesn’t actually exist in international law); it will allow Iran to maintain many thousands of operating centrifuges; and it will lapse after 10 or 15 years, at which point Iran would theoretically be free to go nuclear. (The matter of the sunset clause worries me, but I’m more worried that the Iranians will find a way to cheat their way out of the agreement even before the sun is scheduled to set)…

This is a very dangerous moment for Obama and for the world. He has made many promises, and if he fails to keep them—if he inadvertently (or, God forbid, advertently) sets Iran on the path to the nuclear threshold, he will be forever remembered as the president who sparked a nuclear-arms race in the world’s most volatile region, and for breaking a decades-old promise to Israel that the United States would defend its existence and viability as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 8:30 AM  | Stand For Israel

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Rabbi’s Commentary
A Beacon of Freedom in a Sea of Oppression

Last week, a United Nations’ commission singled out Israel as the world’s worst violator of women’s rights – ignoring the Jewish state’s offering of full freedom to women…


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