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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…Read More » Comments (4) »
Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 8:51 AM | Stand for Israel
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…Read More » Comments (11) »
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 8:37 AM | Stand For Israel
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:
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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.
Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Stand For Israel
Yesterday we noted the growing concern Israel – and those who support her – have over the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. In today’s Times of Israel, the paper’s founding editor David Horovitz takes a further look at what we have learned about the impending Iranian nuclear agreement and who we should believe:
In an op-ed on February 9, I suggested that Israel’s opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, should stand alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress on March 3, to underline “their common conviction that the regime in Tehran cannot be appeased and must be faced down.”
On Monday evening, as details of the looming US-led deal with Iran emerged from Geneva, Israel’s most respected Middle East affairs analyst, Channel 2 commentator Ehud Ya’ari, made precisely the same suggestion. So problematic are the reported terms of the deal, Ya’ari indicated, that Israel’s two leading contenders in the March 17 elections, Netanyahu and Herzog, need to put aside their differences and make plain to US legislators that the need to thwart such an accord crosses party lines in Israel and stands as a consensual imperative.
After anonymous sources in Jerusalem leaked to Israeli reporters in recent weeks the ostensible terms of the deal being hammered out, various spokespeople for the Obama administration contended that the Netanyahu government was misrepresenting the specifics for narrow political ends. They sneered that Israel didn’t actually know what the terms were. And they made the acknowledgement — the astounding acknowledgement for a United States whose key regional ally is directly and relentlessly threatened with destruction by Iran — that the Obama administration is consequently no longer sharing with Jerusalem all sensitive details of the Iran talks.
And yet among the terms of the deal being reported by the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday are precisely those that were asserted in recent weeks by the Israeli sources, precisely those that were scoffed at by the Administration. Centrally, Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for…Read More » Comments (14) »
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 at 8:39 AM | Stand For Israel
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported on details of the emerging deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Today, Israel Hayom notes that Israel is concerned with these details that would reward Iran for supposed “good behavior”:
Israeli government officials in Jerusalem are not hiding their concerns about the progress in the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, particularly in light of The Associated Press report on Monday that exposed the details of the emerging agreement.
According to the AP report, the deal would clamp down on Iran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make nuclear weapons …
The core idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement, gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment and slowly easing economic sanctions.
The U.S. initially sought restrictions lasting up to 20 years; Iran has pushed for less than a decade. The prospective deal appears to be somewhere in the middle.
One variation being discussed would place at least a 10-year regime of strict controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment. If Iran complied, the restrictions would be gradually lifted over the final five years.
One issue critics are certain to focus on: Once the deal expires, Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level it wanted.
Experts say Iran already could produce the equivalent of one weapon’s worth of enriched uranium with its present operating 10,000 centrifuges. Several officials spoke of 6,500 centrifuges as a potential point of compromise, with the U.S. trying to restrict them to Iran’s mainstay IR-1 model instead of more advanced machines.
However, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last year that his country needed to increase its output equivalent to at least 190,000 of its present-day centrifuges …
Israeli officials reacted with alarm to the AP report. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “The agreement with Iran, as it is…Read More » Comments (21) »
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 at 8:31 AM | Stand For Israel
David Horovitz writes at The Times of Israel that although Israelis may be at odds over whether PM Netanyahu should speak before the U.S. Congress, they are united in dismay at the nuclear agreement Obama is seemingly pushing:
It is not inexplicable only to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Obama administration appears hell-bent on leading the international community into a deal that will apparently reward the Islamist regime in Tehran for lying about its nuclear program by allowing it to become a nuclear threshold state, with the right to enrich uranium via thousands upon thousands of centrifuges.
The looming deal is similarly inexplicable to the political rivals of Netanyahu who are campaigning to oust him in general elections on March 17. “I’m worried about a bad deal as well, and [about the international community] caving into all sorts of Iranian pressure as well,” Isaac Herzog, the center-left Zionist Union leader who is Netanyahu’s leading challenger, said in a CNN interview on Friday.
Where Herzog and other Israeli party leaders differ with Netanyahu is over his handling of the crisis. Like Herzog, centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid does not underestimate the Iranian threat. They just both think that Netanyahu is acting counterproductively and for domestic political reasons by preparing to lobby publicly against Obama in Congress, when they say he ought to be working to shift the administration more discreetly, behind the scenes. …
In truth, it can hardly be doubted that Netanyahu has tried to impact the president’s stance in years of one-on-one conversations and in the endless top-level contacts between his officials and the Obama administration. The nature of the imminent deal — whose terms cannot be independently verified, but are profoundly troubling to such diplomatic veterans as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz — would indicate that private argument and entreaty have failed. His critics would suggest that had Netanyahu been more flexible on Israeli-Palestinian matters, ready to rein in settlements, more receptive to Arab Peace Initiative overtures, less confrontational with Obama, his Iran…Read More » Comments (15) »
Monday, February 23rd, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Stand For Israel
The public rift between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more than a personality dispute, a senior Israeli official has said. It has been building for more than two years and reflects a deep disagreement about how best to limit the threat of a rising Iran, according to Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of intelligence:
[Steinitz] said that the nuclear agreement contemplated by Obama would ratify Iran as a threshold nuclear-weapons state, and that the one-year breakout time sought by Washington wasn’t adequate. And he stressed that these views aren’t new.
“From the very beginning, we made it clear we had reservations about the goal of the negotiations,” he explained. “We thought the goal should be to get rid of the Iranian nuclear threat, not verify or inspect it.”
Steinitz, who helps oversee Iran strategy for Netanyahu, said he understands the United States wants to tie Iran’s hands for a decade until a new generation takes power there. But he warns: “You’re saying, okay, in 10 or 12 years Iran might be a different country.” This is “dangerous” because it ignores that Iran is “thinking like an old-fashioned superpower.”Netanyahu’s skepticism reached a tipping point last month when he concluded that the United States had offered so many concessions to Iran that any deal reached would be bad for Israel. He broke with Obama, first in a private phone call Jan. 12, and then in his public acceptance of an offer by GOP House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress on March 3 and, in effect, lobby against the deal.
The administration argues that the pact taking shape, although imperfect, is preferable to any realistic alternative. It would limit the Iranian program and allow careful monitoring of its actions. Angered by what it sees as Netanyahu’s efforts to sabotage the agreement, the administration decided in early February to limit the information it shared with Israel about its bargaining with Iran. …
Steinitz said the Israeli government understands the U.S. goal of a 10- to 15-year duration…Read More » Comments (23) »
Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 8:37 AM | Stand For Israel
Stand for Israel has been keeping an eye on developments in Argentina, where a prosecutor’s suspicious death is tied to the South American nation’s relationship with Iran. Now, the Argentine courts are asking the United States for help in solving the Iran-linked 1994 bombing of a Jewish center – by including the investigation of this terrorist act in the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran:
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Argentina wants the United States to help it get to the bottom of a deadly 1994 bombing at the heart of a current political scandal by including the crime in the U.S. nuclear talks with Iran, its foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Argentine courts have accused a group of Iranians of planning the attack on the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people.
The unresolved crime was the backdrop for the January 18 death of the prosecutor who headed the AMIA investigation, a mystery that has damaged confidence in Argentina’s justice system and thrown the government into turmoil.
Foreign Minister Hector Timerman released a letter to his U.S. counterpart John Kerry in which he said Argentina had made the request before.
“I am asking you again that the AMIA issue be included in the negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” it said.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Stand For Israel
Iranian diplomat Ahmed Sabatgold has been more involved in terrorism than diplomacy, as he was recently caught gathering intelligence about the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, and is also suspected of having planted an explosive device near Israel’s embassy in Montevideo in early January.
Sabatgold was serving as a political consultant for the Iranian embassy when he was caught planning a terrorist attack against Israeli diplomats. Apparently, while wining and dining other diplomats, Iranian diplomats also gather intelligence in order to facilitate terror attacks on foreign soil.
The government of Uruguay tried to keep a lid on the affair, so as not to embarrass and thus damage its relations with Iran, which has one of the world’s largest oil reserves and far-reaching influence in South America. So Ahmed Sabatgold was given sufficient time and warning to leave Uruguay as a diplomat with his head held high, as opposed to being expelled or detained for being the terrorist that he is.
Only a few weeks ago, Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was assassinated hours before he was set to reveal the Argentinian government’s role in covering up Iran’s direct involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that killed 84 people. Nisman’s body was discovered shortly before he was to present evidence which would have exposed Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández‘s central role in the cover-up.
Iranian tentacles have a global reach, and its influence in South American countries should worry Israelis and Americans. It amazes me how the Western world has taken up the fight against ISIS, yet Iran is being treated as though they are different from the thugs beheading journalists in Iraq and Syria.
Remember when Barack Obama called ISIS a JV team? Compared to Iran’s global influence, oil reserves, money, army, and missile capabilities, ISIS really is in many respects a junior varsity team. If the West does not wake up before the Persian version of ISIS attains nuclear capabilities, we will enter a period where the most sadistic and extreme Islamic regime will…Read More » Comments (11) »
Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 at 8:14 AM | Stand For Israel
This week, the Middle East has been thrown into further unrest – following last week’s Hezbollah attack on Israel’s border, and Iran’s direct threats of violence against the Jewish state. Iran continues to pursue its nuclear aspirations, while ISIS horrifically burned a captured Jordanian pilot alive. Writing at Tablet, Lee Smith provides this insight into the region’s latest turmoil, Iran’s ultimate goals and the flawed manner in which the West is handling the situation:
The point of burning alive Jordanian pilot First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh was to outrage onlookers, including his family—but especially the members of his large tribe, the Bararsheh, in southern Jordan. The Jordanian tribes form the core of support for the Hashemite kingdom against the Palestinian West Bankers, who may constitute the country’s majority …
What IS seems to betting on is that Kasasbeh’s death was so gruesome, and so evocative of the hellfire that awaits false believers, that the dead pilot’s tribe, a pillar of the Hashemite monarchy, is likely going to be shocked into wondering whether King Abdullah has pulled them into the wrong war, on behalf of a frivolous and potentially treacherous ally—the United States.
Right now, the Obama Administration sees the Islamic State as a major threat to U.S. national security—and to the political fortunes of President Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party. An episode like the Charlie Hebdo/Hyper Cacher attack played out on the streets of Chicago, say, or New York, would be a catastrophe for the administration, which is why it has enlisted allies like Jordan in its campaign against the deranged jihadists of the fertile crescent …
So, why is the White House turning the Middle East upside down? Obama is willing to throw away a U.S. framework built by American statesmen, soldiers, businessmen, and educators over the last century because he sees a really big prize out there for the taking—an agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program that will be the linchpin of a new…Read More » Comments (19) »
Friday, February 6th, 2015 at 8:50 AM | Stand For Israel