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When Israel's leaders incite, one soldier pays the price

Elor Azaria is guilty for firing the bullet that killed Abdel Fatteh al-Sharif this past March. But let us not forget the long line of inciting comments by top Israeli leaders that made it possible.

By Noam Rotem

Sgt. Elor Azaria stood on the witness stand during his trial this past week and described what led him to fire a bullet into Abdel Fatteh al-Sharif’s head on March 24 in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Al-Sharif had, just moments before, stabbed an Israeli soldier before he was shot, wounded and posed no threat to anyone. Azaria fired his weapon directly at al-Sharif’s head as the latter laid sprawled out on the ground.

Since September 22, 2015, over 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or police officers. Many of them allegedly took part in attacks on soldiers, policemen, and civilians. Aside from Azaria, no other soldiers or policemen were ever put on trial.

There is no arguing over the fact that Azaria was indeed the one who shot and killed al-Sharif. His line of defense has been the “justification” for the shooting, in an attempt to claim that he feared for his and others’ lives, and thus the incident will pass just like all the other ones from the last months. Some will claim that the only difference is that Azaria was caught on camera, but this is not exactly true: the officers who shot Muhammad Abu Halef in February were filmed by an Al-Jazeera crew that was at the scene — he too was sprawled out on the ground and posed no threat. The same goes for the killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamon, which took place when she was lying on the ground at a Hebron checkpoint, and many other cases. Not a single one of these incidents ended with putting soldiers or police officers on trial.

Instead of trying to justify his deplorable actions, Azaria must claim abuse of process. Two-hundred and twenty killed since October, and only one indictment for killing? Azaria, after all, did what everyone around him told him to do:

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “I killed a lot of terrorists, too bad I didn’t kill more, anyone who raises his hand against Israel must die.” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “every terrorist must know that he will not survive the attack he is about to carry out.” Erdan’s predecessor, Yitzhak Aharonovich, announced that “every attack must end with the terrorist’s...

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Home demolitions are organized state violence

Over the last decade, Israel has demolished over 1,100 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, leaving homeless more than 5,199 people, including at least 2,602 minors. The extensive demolitions are part of a broader Israeli policy of forced transfer. The following speech was delivered at a conference on home demolitions held at the Knesset on July 27, 2016.

By Hagai El-Ad

Esteemed Members of the Knesset, colleagues from the human rights and diplomatic communities and B’Tselem staff. Thank you for taking the initiative to convene this session and for taking ongoing and important actions in this area.

More than 5,000 people, including 2,602 minors. Over 1,100 homes. These are the figures for the last 10 years, from 2006 through June of this year.

Nearly 500 people, including 287 minors. One hundred and twenty-five homes. These are the figures for 2015.

Seven hundred and forty people, half of them minors. One hundred and sixty-eight homes. These are the figures for this year, from January through June of 2016.

This total does not include homes that Israel demolished more than once, nor the so-called “punitive demolitions” – i.e., collective punishment that targets the families of perpetrators of attacks. These figures refer only to demolitions that Israel carried out on the cynical grounds that these homes were constructed unlawfully – meanwhile, the reality is that Israel ensures that Palestinians are unable to undertake lawful construction.

First and foremost, these figures deal with human lives. Lives that Israel ruins, deliberately, as part of a broader strategy designed to dispossess Palestinians from vast areas of the West Bank, to make their lives unbearable until they finally take the hint and move, to move them into smaller concentrated areas, to push them out.

We at B’Tselem present these figures and explain their import to the Israeli public, to you – members of Knesset, and to the world. We show how Israel managed to perfect to a veritable art form the knack of employing bureaucratic mechanisms to promote the big move of dispossessing Palestinians in the West Bank, and to justify it all on administrative and legal grounds. This is organized state violence, and all the Israeli branches of government are party to it, each playing its own role: the planning mechanisms, the military, the Civil Administration, and also the settlers, and last but not least, the courts that serve as the crowning jewel in whitewashing the...

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How the Israeli army is deciding Palestine's soccer championship

The army is preventing seven Palestinians from traveling to the biggest sporting match of the year.

By Yoni Mendel

It seemed like everything was ready for the first match of the Palestine Cup to be held Tuesday evening at Gaza’s Al-Yarmouk Stadium between Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Younis. Almost everything, that is.

According to nearly every Palestinian sports website, Israel is preventing seven of Ahly al-Khalil’s players, all of whom are Palestinian citizens or residents of Israel, from traveling to Gaza.

Out of the seven, three of them are the team’s top players who also play for the Palestinian national team: Ahmad Harbi (who began his career with Hapoel Umm al-Fahm), Abdullah Jaber (born in Taybe), and Mahmoud Daif Allah (resident of East Jerusalem).

The seven were told on Monday to come back to Erez Crossing (on the border between Israel and Gaza), but were denied a permit to enter the Strip. According to Ma’an News Agency, the Palestinian players are waiting at Erez for permission to enter.

Meanwhile the game is set to take place as scheduled; Ahly al-Khalil will have only 11 players, as opposed to Shabab Khan Younis, who have at least 16 players.

Palestinian outlets are further reporting that the players were promised that issue would be taken care of on Monday, yet the delay has already caused much consternation among the Hebronites.

Samer al-Sha’arawai, a member of Ahly al-Khalil’s management, sent out a press release according to which the “Palestinian Football Association told us that 33 members of the West Bank delegation were allowed to enter, yet seven players were denied entry permits, all of them part of Palestinian society in ’48 territories (Israeli citizens). We are in constant contact with the association and hope that the problem will be solved so that everyone can enter the Strip.”

COGAT issued a response to the permit issue:

The entry of 33 players and professional staff belonging to the Ahly soccer team from Judea and Samaria to the Gaza Strip in order to participate in the Super cup match, despite the fact that those who requested the permits did not send the requests on time, and only sent them on Sunday evening.

In light of the current policies, and in order to maintain their safety, nine Israelis will not be allowed into the Gaza Strip.

The Ahly al-Khalil players who were allowed into...

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On Israel/Palestine, Democrats and GOP both veer off course

Both parties’ platforms on Israel/Palestine are bad policy. By adopting a Netanyahu-like approach to the conflict, the GOP will only hasten Israel’s rightward drift. Democrats claim to support independence and dignity for Palestinians, but refuse to name the occupation.

By James J. Zogby

To understand why the United States fails so miserably in efforts to achieve an Israeli/Palestinian peace, all you need to do is take a look at the mix of bad policy and bad politics found in the Israel/Palestine sections of platforms of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Republican document is particularly extreme, even bizarre. Finding opportunities to mention Israel in five different sections, the GOP platform: refers to Israel as “beacon of democracy and humanity”; claims that “support for Israel is an expression of Americanism”; “recognizes Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and calls for the American embassy to be moved there; terms the BDS movement “anti-Semitic; “rejects the faulty notion that Israel is an occupier”; and calls for “an immediate halt to all U.S. funding” to entities that admit the Palestinians as a “member state”—singling out the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Because the GOP platform committee specifically rejects any reference to either two states or to recognition of Palestinians as a people, the only time Palestinians are even mentioned in the document is in the context of the funding cut proposed for the UNFCCC.

The Democrats’ platform, though weak, is clearly more sober. They, too, find the need to shower excessive unwarranted praise on Israel, claiming that “a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism.” The Democrats also “oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the UN or through the BDS movement.” And, in a weirdly contradictory formulation, the platform both recognizes that Jerusalem is a “matter for final status negotiations,” while at the same time insisting that “it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Finally, while rejecting efforts to include language calling for an end to the occupation and illegal settlements (claiming that these terms “prejudge” issues to be decided in negotiations!), the Democrats, nevertheless, pledge to “continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees...

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‘There’s a vicious fight in our community’: Simone Zimmerman talks Bernie for the first time

By Isaac Luria

Simone Zimmerman has become an inspiring figure for American Jewish progressives in recent months — and a boogey-woman for the Right.

When the Bernie Sanders campaign fired her over a Facebook post — in which she used some “colorful language” to describe the Israeli prime minister — she became one of this campaign season’s proxy battles in the ongoing Jewish argument over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We sat down with Simone earlier this month for her first interview since being fired from the campaign, where she reveals exactly what took place inside the campaign, the right-wing attack that targeted her, and how the campaign was caught off-guard by the way “the Jewish establishment pounces on [its] youth who dare to say something different.”

Of course Simone’s story is about how a young woman from a traditional Jewish upbringing deeply anchored in the institutions of the American Jewish community becomes a dedicated anti-occupation activist. It also provides vital insight into the shifting tides in the American Jewish community, which are pushing more and more young people along a similar path.

Simone’s political transformation began on an American college campus when she was faced with arguments — and people — that her pro-Israel activism had not prepared her to confront, and with which Jewish organizations on campus did not want to engage. Meeting Palestinians and hearing their stories — in California, Israel and Palestine — unraveled yet another layer.

But like many in her generation, it was Israel’s recent wars in Gaza that drove Simone to step further away from the mainstream American Jewry’s often-blind support for Israel and begin to actively oppose the occupation and Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

“When I first got involved with J Street U, the talking point was like we don’t have to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. We can be both. We have to be both. Watching the third war in Gaza happen, seeing really the wreckage and the destruction of human lives and entire cities, also just showed me the limits of that nuanced middle ground,” she says.

Once the president of J Street’s campus arm, Simone also discusses the frustrations and urgency that ultimately led to the creation of IfNotNow, one of several young movements to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.

“Bringing a nuanced sign to a pro-Israeli rally is not enough anymore,” she explains. “There is a crisis on our hands. The...

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West Bank, Gaza gear up for Palestine's biggest sporting event

This year’s Palestine Cup, the biggest sporting event in the Palestinian territories, pits Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil against Shabab Khan Younis. Could reconciliation on the field pave the way for national reconciliation?

By Yoni Mendel

One of Jibril Rajoub’s greatest achievements as the Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, if not the greatest, took place a year ago. For the first time since the Second Intifada, Rajoub renewed the tradition in which the winner of the Palestine Cup in the West Bank plays against the winner in Gaza.

This occurred after Palestinian representatives in FIFA threatened to vote in favor of boycotting Israel and expelling the country from the organization. Eventually, instead of voting to kick Israel out, they decided to reach a compromise according to which a special FIFA committee — comprised of international, Israeli, and Palestinian representatives — will be responsible for ensuring that Israel does not get in the way of issues related to Palestinian soccer. These circumstances allowed for the Palestine Cup between Gaza and the West Bank to take place last year for the first time since 2000.

The match is bigger than the sum of its parts. After all, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip represent two parts of Palestine between which there is very little movement. They represent two Palestinian leaderships in conflict. They represent two parts of the Palestinian people, which haven’t had an election in over a decade. They represent two forms of Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians — occupation here, siege there.

For these reasons the match has become the most important sports event in the Palestinian calendar. The game is also an opportunity for both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to prove their leadership. Thus the players of both teams must prepare for a round of speeches and receptions, as both sides try to display their control and the legitimacy of their rule.

This year’s match will be between Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil ,which defeated Hilal al-Quds to reach the final match, and Shabab Khan Younis from Gaza. On paper, Ahly al-Khalil is a far stronger team; they won last year’s cup (the first Palestinian team that is able to hold on to the trophy two years in a row), and is one of the strongest clubs in the league.

Shabab Khan Younis defeated Shabab Jabaliya in the Gaza Cup final. The team hasn’t won a league championship in 15...

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Why an economic boycott of Israel cannot succeed

And why it might even hinder a political solution.

By Yonathan Mizrachi

Political movements calling for an economic boycott of Israel are working to advance a model based on the boycott of Apartheid South Africa and the critical role it played in ending white minority rule in that country. The parallel drawn between the economic boycott of South Africa and the one advanced by Palestinians and pro-Palestinians activists against Israel reinforces the view that Israel is an apartheid state.

However without going into the question of whether Israel is an apartheid state, it is clear that one of the central motives underlying the boycott is anger toward Israel and its policies in the occupied territories, and the need to take action based on ethical standards. Despite the anger and the justified criticism of Israel, the economic boycott is destined to fail.

Take the political map in the 1990s compared to today. When the Eastern Bloc was in the process of dissolution and began its first steps toward Westernization, the West was at the peak of its political power. The collapse of significant political and military threats after more than four decades of the Cold War, along with the formation of the European Union, left no room for doubt regarding the undisputed status of Western states in global politics.

In those years, the GDP of Western Europe, North America, Australia and Japan comprised 62 percent of the world economy (according to the world GDP in 1991). If we add the newly-democratized states of Eastern Europe and the democracies of the Far East, such as South Korea, to the list, we will find that Western democracies controlled two thirds of the world economy.

Twenty-five years later, the same countries make up only 38.8 percent of global GDP (including Japan and not including the other Asian countries and Eastern Europe). Thus, economically speaking, a boycott by Western states would be less effective today than in the past.

Israeli minister: Make BDS activists ‘pay a price’

Although Europe succeeded in affecting the economy of a strong state like Russia through sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine, Russian policy remained unchanged. The most notable case where economic pressure did is Iran. But can boycotting Israel have the same effect? In looking at the world political map in the context of Israel, it is safe to assume that countries such as the United States, Germany, Britain, and likely France and Italy, will not support a boycott...

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License to Kill: Forgery, evidence tampering and two dead teens

Usaid and Muhammed Qadus are shot to death in their own village by a major in the Israeli army who claims he only fired rubber bullets. But the bullets were real, and he admitted to lying and committing forgery to cover up his crime. Instead of being charged with a crime, he is promoted.

By John Brown and Noam Rotem
(Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

In the License to Kill series thus far, we have surveyed eight Military Police investigation files regarding the killing of Palestinians by IDF fire. Despite the fact that none of those killed posed a danger to anybody else and despite no lack of evidence pointing to the shooters’ guilt, none of the cases resulted in any indictments. One of the most outrageous cases was the shooting of 20 bullets into the Qawarik cousins and the subsequent whitewashing of the case. In this chapter, we will examine another double killing of young Palestinian men, which took place just one day earlier, by an officer in the same IDF brigade, Kfir, which is also happens to be the unit of the Hebron shooter, Elor Azaria.

After reading the following investigation into the IDF’s own investigation, we believe that you too will find it hard to believe that prosecutors decided not file an indictment for a double murder, or at the very least obstruction of justice. We will show how the shooter, a major in the army, admitted to lying in his testimony, forging documents and trying to tamper with evidence. In spite of all that, the Military Advocate General decided against prosecution. In fact, he continues to serve in the IDF, and has even been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

The sequence of events described here is based on the Military Police investigation file, which we have obtained, as well as other testimonies collected by B’Tselem.

The shooting

On the afternoon of Saturday March 20, 2010, a unit from the IDF’s Kfir Brigade entered the West Bank Palestinian village of Iraq Burin on the outskirts of Nablus. The soldiers went there after settlers from the Israeli settlement of Bracha set out toward the village to vandalize and fell Palestinian-owned trees and cause other damage (the army showed up to protect the settlers). From another direction, village youth were gathering, and some of them were throwing stones — which did not pose a threat to the lives of the...

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How Israel's relationship with Egypt's Sisi might come back to haunt it

Bonds with Israel cannot guarantee long-term stability of a regime that is not based on popular support and relies on oppression to maintain its rule.

By Itay Mack (translated by Tal Haran)

Egypt’s foreign minister’s first visit to Israel in nine years, and his meeting to discuss an Egypt-backed peace initiative with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not have come as such a surprise. Even the recent appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, the same person who called for the bombing of the Aswan Dam, as minister of defense, could not prevent this visit.

Both sides urgently need a fictitious initiative. Netanyahu wants to try and halt the French Peace Initiative which has gained momentum in the international community in a way that far exceeded the Israeli government’s expectations. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on the other hand, wants to strengthen his own regime in a moment of weakness. Indeed both leaders show signs of paranoid personalities, and both have been weakened in the global arena. However, unlike Netanyahu, who enjoys tremendous support inside Israel, el-Sisi’s regime suffers from an extreme case of internal weakness.

Against foreign-funded NGOs

Ever since el-Sisi was elected president in June 2014, his military regime has been busy destroying layer upon layer of real — as well as imaginary — opposition inside the country. He began with the Muslim Brotherhood and continued with human rights activists, political activists, journalists, students, bloggers, poets, and even youth. In fact, anyone suspected of being even slightly critical of el-Sisi’s military regime is liable to be arrested, tortured, murdered, or simply disappeared (approximately 1,840 disappeared in 2015 alone). Tens of thousands have been arrested, many without any due process, while numerous detainees are held in clandestine detention facilities.

Some of this oppression is grounded in a law passed in November 2013, which totally restricts demonstrations in Egypt, as well as a law waging a “war on terrorism,” which passed in August 2015. The anti-terrorism law sets fines and severe punishments for anyone who publishes information contradicting official army publications. In Egypt some even claim that persecution by the el-Sisi regime is much greater than that which characterized Mubarak’s 30 year rule.

A new line was crossed when el-Sisi decided to persecute and shut down human and civil rights organizations, operating with the help of European and American money, which document crimes committed by the security forces, under the pretext that the organizations are part of an international conspiracy meant to damage Egypt’s stability. Security forces have begun to persecutes...

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Equality could be the ultimate deterrence to violence

If the Israeli security establishment is looking for a proper way to put an end to violence, a little equality in the eyes of the law might go a long way.

By Talal Jabari

One of my very first assignments as a young journalist was to go to Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem to take pictures and gather quotes pertaining to the demolition of several homes that day. I remember looking on as the bulldozers went about their work, and as the residents of the homes, male and female, wept helplessly as they watched their life’s savings collapse into neat piles of rubble.

The demolished homes didn’t belong to so-called terrorists; the residents were accused of building without permits, which is a topic for another article. But suffice to say, it felt like a painful event for the recipients of the demolition orders.

The fact is that since 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), the Israeli government has destroyed on average about 1,000 Palestinian “structures” a year. That’s a little under three structures a day.

For full disclosure, a “structure” could mean anything from a chicken coop to a nine-story apartment building.

Of the more than 48,000 structures Israel demolished since 1967, hundreds were destroyed as a punitive measure, in the aftermath of a Palestinian attack — even a failed attack. Logic would suggest that the very fact that Israel has had to demolish hundreds of homes rather than a few dozen means the tactic has not been a very effective deterrent. An Israeli army commission came to the same conclusion in 2005, publishing a report that put an end to the practice of punitive demolitions.

To clarify, until 2005 the Israeli government destroyed hundreds of Palestinian homes that belonged to suspected perpetrators or planners of attacks or their families. In the vast majority of those cases, those suspects had ceased to live in those homes — they were either dead, incarcerated, or on the run. The result of such a punitive demolition is that the people who are actually penalized are the suspect’s families who most of the time, by the Israeli military’s own admission, had nothing to do with the actions that prompted the destruction of their homes.

So why are we still discussing a practice that was halted in 2005? In it’s infinite wisdom, the Israeli security establishment decided to ignore the findings...

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Using stolen water to irrigate stolen land

Settlers are trying to spin water shortages as a problem that affects both Palestinians and Jews in the same manner. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

By Dror Etkes

The recent reports on water crisis in Palestinian areas of the West Bank were accompanied by a story of another water shortage: this time in Israeli settlements. Let’s get one thing straight — there has never been a “water shortage” in the settlements. When settlers open up the tap at home or in their garden, the amount and quality of the water is identical to that which comes out in most homes to the west of the Green Line. Yes, there were several recent instances in which the water supply was cut off temporarily in a number of settlements (generally for a few hours), during which the authorities provided settlers water from water tanks. One can safely say that not a single settler was left thirsty.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to see how the settlers work the media will not be surprised that the issue made headlines. By exaggerating the water shortage, the settlers hope to achieve two complementary goals: neutralizing criticism of outright discrimination by the the state in everything having to do with the quantity of water sold to Palestinians (which makes up only a small percentage of water in the West Bank, the rest goes to West Bank settlements and Israel), while using the cynical and empty claim that the water shortage affects “both Arabs and Jews.”

The second goal is put pressure on right-wing politicians to approve budgets for establishing new water infrastructure, in order to meet the demand, which will likely skyrocket in the coming years — assuming the number of settlers continues to grow at the current rate (five percent per year, twice as much as the population growth in Israel).

Turning water into wine

The following is the story of water in the West Bank from a less well-known perspective: that of Israeli agriculture. Here are just a few statistics on Israeli agriculture in the West Bank:

Today settlers control almost 25,000 acres in the West Bank. Approximately 19,000 of them are spread out along the Jordan Valley and its northern beach at the Dead Sea. The rest of the land is around settlements and in outposts across the mountainous region in the central and western part of the West Bank. Around 6,800...

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Israeli government 'lawfare contractor' sues Facebook for $1b.

Shurat HaDin has admitted in the past to taking its marching orders from Israeli intelligence and government officials, lawsuit comes just days after senior minister said Mark Zuckerberg has blood on his hands.

By Noam Rotem

On the heels of the bizarre offensive Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s launched against Facebook last week, radical right-wing legal organization Shurat HaDin filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the social media giant, in what appears to be a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and an allegedly non-governmental organization (more on that later).

In the suit, filed in U.S. Federal Court, Shurat HaDin alleges that by allowing Hamas to use its social networking and communications platforms, that Facebook provides material support to the Palestinian group in attacks on American citizens in Israel and the West Bank.

The day after the group filed the lawsuit, the Justice Ministry submitted an early version of a draft law titled, “Removing content constituting a crime from the Internet,” which would provide the state with additional tools to control content published on the web. The draft law not only deals with social networks, but also expands the state’s ability to control results on search engines such as Google. According to the draft law, the state will be able to submit a request to Administrative Affairs Courts to remove content from the web — an order whose purpose is to force websites to remove content upon the government’s request. The draft law allows the state to rely on “classified material” in requesting the content to be removed.

Shurat Hadin, which was founded in 2002 by Atty. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner — and which primarily operates on donations from right-wing American Jewish organizations — engages in what it terms “lawfare.” The organization has filed lawsuits, mostly in the United States, against a long list of state entities to seek “compensation” for harm done to Israelis. One of the more famous cases the organization won damages from North Korea on behalf of a Puerto Rican victim of a terror attack at Israel’s main airport in 1972.

Another of Shurat HaDin’s U.S. cases was against the Syrian government for its support of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which carried out an attack in Israel that killed an American citizen. It has also taken on the governments of Iran, the Palestinian Authority, and others, in American courts. The organization has also facilitated court cases in various countries around the world...

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A year later, Iran deal lies are still being recycled

The exact same talking points that were used to oppose the Iran deal before it was ever signed, are now being recycled in an attempt to show it has failed. Not so fast.

By Ali Gharib

There is going to be a storm of hot takes to mark the upcoming anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal. And the first drops are already falling. The take that caught my eye at this early stage is a curtain-raiser exemplar of neoconservative thought a year after the accord. It comes our way in the pages of the Weekly Standard, authored by Michael Makovsky, the head of the neocon outfit, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Makovsky’s piece is worth looking at in detail because it succinctly rounds up so many points that we’re likely to see again and again from other hawks as the anniversary of the nuclear deal approaches and passes. Makovsky’s essay contains both the large and small flaws of the arguments against diplomacy with Iran. Few of the arguments are new. Opponents of talks with Iran used the same ones before talks even got underway.

Makovsky gives the immediate benefits of the nuclear deal a paragraph, with the technical specs summed up in a sentence. So far, so good. But Makovsky doesn’t like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), so you know the other shoe is going to drop. And it does:

If that line about Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon being paved by the nuclear deal sounds familiar, it’s because right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the same line time and again even before the deal was signed. No surprises there: neocons opposing the Iran deal have long since been taking their cues from Netanyahu and his Likud party.

Then there’s that line, with my emphasis, about Iran being free to “pursue a robust nuclear weapons capability, legally and legitimately.” That’s just not true. Iran is still a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was ratified by Iran’s legislature, meaning it carries the force not only of international law but Iranian law as well. So, if Iran were to pursue nuclear weapons, it would be doing so illegally. This remains true with or without the Iran nuclear deal, and Makovsky pretending otherwise makes a joke of his argument. If this purported scholar were worried about little things like being...

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