Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How Europe and the US subvert Israel’s sovereignty

How Europe and the US subvert Israel’s sovereignty

One of the most infuriating things about the struggle to keep a sovereign Jewish state is the degree of interference in its affairs by Western governments and interests — which are, with very few exceptions, anti-Israel in practice if not in word.
The Obama Administration has recently expressed its anger that Israel’s PM Netanyahu wants to ‘interfere in its affairs’ by accepting an invitation to speak to Congress on the subject of Iran. But interference in Israel’s affairs by Western governments is widespread and, unlike Netanyahu’s proposed speech, mostly hidden.
For example, the European Union and individual European states contribute huge sums of money to various non-governmental organizations in Israel which are run and staffed by anti-Zionist Jewish extremists and Arabs. These organizations, like Adalah, B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence, etc., along with the international “human rights” establishment (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, ICRC, and others) create and disseminate propaganda intended to delegitimize the state of Israel and criminalize its actions in self-defense.
Many of these groups work closely with anti-Israel UN forums like the UN Commission on Human Rights), providing raw data — mostly unsupported allegations from sources in terrorist organizations like Hamas — which are sanitized and used to buttress legal and diplomatic warfare against Israel. B’Tselem today is releasing a report which accuses the IDF and Netanyahu government of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge this summer.
Europe is joined in funding these enterprises by the US government and various foundations in the US, among which the New Israel Fund (NIF) is prominent.
But apparently even this isn’t enough. Now a group funded from US and European sources is mounting an effort to defeat PM Netanyahu in the coming election.
Haaretz reporter Roi Arad revealed in an article in the Hebrew edition [January 26] that the foreign funded organization, “One Voice”, is bankrolling the V-2015 campaign to defeat Binyamin Netanyahu’s national camp in the March 2015 Knesset Elections.
One indication of the generous financing is that it has now flown in a team of five American campaign experts (including Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign’s national field director) who will run the campaign out of offices taking up the ground floor of a Tel Aviv office building.
V-2015 is careful not to support a specific party – rather “just not Bibi”. As such, the foreign funds pouring into the campaign are not subject to Israel’s campaign finance laws.
I question the ‘grassroots’ character of a movement that involves a 5-man team of high-priced professionals including Bird, whose other clients include Hillary Clinton. And I question the honesty of claiming to be nonpartisan when you oppose one side in what is essentially a two-sided race.
The One Voice organization has close connections to the Obama Administration, and it lists the US State Department and the European Commission as ‘partners‘ (ironically, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry refuse to meet with Netanyahu on the grounds that it would constitute ‘interference’ in Israel’s election!)
It is reasonable to assume that if the details of this Astroturfing campaign paid for by elements hostile to the state should become well-known in Israel that it will backfire. On the other hand, recent revelations of the anti-Zionist attitudes of several of Labor’s candidates — shocking to naive observers like myself — didn’t seem to hurt them in the polls.
It isn’t easy for a story like this to “grow legs” in Israel. All of the TV and radio broadcasters in Israel and most of the print media — a significant exception being the “Israel Hayom” newspaper — lean left and oppose PM Netanyahu. There is now an attempt in the Knesset (temporarily frozen due to the upcoming election) to ban free newspapers of a certain size and frequency of publication. It precisely fits Israel Hayom, of course.
Right-wing media have had a hard time here. The Arutz 7 radio station was unable to get a broadcast license, operated as a pirate station for a time, and finally was given a license by a special act of the Knesset — only to have it taken away by Israel’s Supreme Court. Now it broadcasts only on the Internet.
As an American, I thought I was familiar with polarized politics and the extreme tactics used by the Left to try to stifle free discussion of controversial issues. But in the US, the Right has managed to develop effective communications channels, while in even-more-polarized Israel, the Left has maintained its almost-monopoly on the ‘real’ media.
There is also a constant din of scandals (corruption, secret recordings, sex, you name it) that distracts people from the real scandal — the fact that our enemies are already inside the walls of our city and are trying to manipulate us into opening its gates.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Time to Take It to Iran

Time to Take It to Iran

The stalemate over nukes, and now a Tehran-backed coup in Yemen, show that Obama isn’t tough enough.


The nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran appear stalemated. Meanwhile Iran is on the march in the Middle East with its forces supporting the coup in Yemen, buttressing the Assad war-machine in Syria, mediating between factions in Iraq, and plotting with Hezbollah operatives on the periphery of Israel. Today, the American alliance system stands bruised and battered while our friends in the region perceive Iran and its resistance-front galloping across the region.

These two simultaneous developments—the deadlock in nuclear talks and Iran’s aggressive moves in the region—are not coincidental. They are intimately linked, and that should be a lesson for President Obama: The nuclear deadlock cannot be broken unless Washington reengages in the myriad of conflicts and civil wars plaguing the region, particularly now that Yemen is vulnerable and the Saudi royal family is in a state of turmoil following the death of King Abdullah on Thursday.

During the course of the nuclear negotiations over the past year, Iran has been the beneficiary of a generous catalogue of concessions from the West. The 5-plus-1 has conceded to Iranian enrichment, agreed that Tehran need not scale back the number of its centrifuges significantly or dismantle any facilities and could have an industrial-size program after passage of a period of time. The Iranians have, during the course of the ten years of negotiations, grown accustomed to having their interlocutors return to the table with concessions meant to meet their mandates while offering only limited compromises of their own.

Despite that no agreement was achieved at the end of the one year time-frame of the Joint Plan of Action—and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei continues to signal that Iran can live without an agreement. In fact, his negotiators are pressing for more concessions while not offering any of their own.

Hence it is time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens what the Islamic Republic values the most—its influence in the Middle East and its standing at home. And the pattern of concessions at the negotiating table must stop if there is to be an acceptable agreement. Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations.

Historically, the Islamic Republic has adjusted its behavior only when its leaders saw high costs in not doing so. Iran needs to see that we are not so concerned about reaching a deal on the nuclear issue that we are indifferent to its behavior in the region. Should we seriously act to change the balance of power on the ground in Syria, we could raise the costs to Iran of supporting the Assad Dynasty, with the added potential benefit of making a political outcome in Syria possible. In Iraq, we should be concerned about what increasingly appears to be Iran’s invasion of the country under the banner of disarming the Islamic State. That should be the task of the Iraqi military working in close coordination with the United States and its Arab allies. And in the Gulf, it is time for Washington and Riyadh to collaborate on securing the waterways and isolating Iran in its immediate neighborhood. The guardians of the theocracy will only contemplate serious nuclear concessions once they see that all the walls around them are closing.

Along these lines, the United States should consider a political warfare campaign against Tehranto complement its economic sanctions policy. The administration officials and its broadcast services should draw attention to the unsavory nature of the theocratic regime and repressive behavior. Such language will not just showcase our values but potentially inspire political dissent. A regime stressed at home and under pressure abroad may yet consider the price of its nuclear intransigence.
As they once more meet their Iranian counterparts next week, the American diplomats should not be afraid to walk away from the table and even suspend the talks should they continue to meet an unyielding Iran. Another way of pressing Tehran would be to publicize all the concessions that 5-plus-1 have made and how little Iran has moved. In doing so, we would expose the emptiness of the Iranian claim that all they want is civil nuclear power and clearly signal to their leadership that we don’t need an agreement as much as they do and that we are prepared to create conditions for international support for increased pressure.

While it may be difficult now to foster the impression of a unified domestic American front, the White House would be wise to engage Congress on various legislation working its way through the Hill. The congressional concerns regarding the direction of the talks are not unreasonable. To be sure, the administration has its own diplomatic equities and legitimate concerns regarding the unity of the 5-plus-1. The White House has constructive interlocutors on the hill and a sincere dialogue might yet produce an accommodation on these thorny issues. In the end, the absence of congressional involvement and approval could well mean that any deal negotiated by the White House will not survive the Obama presidency.

The United States and Iran are destined to remain adversaries. It may be possible for enemies to negotiate an arms control compacts, but the path to such an accord will not come from additional concessions by the 5+1; if we want an acceptable deal at this stage, Iran’s leaders need to see they have more to lose than gain by not concluding one.

Dennis Ross is a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served as a special assistant to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. 
Eric Edelman is a distinguished fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and served as undersecretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration.
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Behind Obama’s love affair with Iran...."One thing is clear: the West puts a higher priority on ‘making nice’ with Iran than in bringing to justice the murderers of several dozen Jews."

Behind Obama’s love affair with Iran...."One thing is clear: the West puts a higher priority on ‘making nice’ with Iran than in bringing to justice the murderers of several dozen Jews."

The murder of dozens of Jews in Buenos Aires 20 years ago by Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists is being whitewashed in Barack Obama and the West's desperate policy of making nice with Tehran

By Steve Apfel

In downtown Buenos Aires there is a cream painted building locked down like Fort Knox. Alongside the building is a billboard, but it’s no suave ad for Kelvin Klein. The billboard is black, and eighty five names, handwritten in white, cover it from top to bottom.

They are mainly the names of Jews. Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists murdered the eighty five when they blew up the Jewish community building, badly injuring many more. This happened in 1994.

Lately, Argentinian President Cristina de Kirchner, another Eva Peron in her beauty and blinding ambition, has been bartering with Iran: a cover-up of the crime in exchange for Iranian oil and Argentine grain.

To add to the witch’s brew, the prosecutor who spent a decade compiling a million page case on the bombing, and was about to testify on the cover-up of de Kirchner and her cronies, got a bullet to the head in his bathtub. His name was Alberto Nisman. Last year he indicted a Hezbollah man and some former Iranian officials of high rank, for whom arrest warrants were then issued.

Now comes word that American President Obama tipped his own bag of tricks into the bubbling pot. Diplomatic sources have told World Tribune that the US pressed Argentina to end, or at least fudge the investigation of Iran’s involvement in the bombing of the Jewish building.

It was to be Iran’s quid pro quo for a thaw in relations with America and Europe. At one high-level meeting the US boldly asked Argentina “to lay off, according to a source close to de Kirchner. “Buenos Aires,” said the source, “eventually complied.”

The murdered Alberto Nisman left a 289 page complaint against the Argentine government. In it, Nisman writes that leaders “took the criminal decision of inventing Iran’s innocence to satisfy commercial, political and geopolitical interests.” What is not clear is whether the report contained evidence of U.S. involvement in the plot to clear Iran of the crime.

Now, as America and Europe go helter skelter to ‘make nice’ with Iran, Obama has vowed to veto a congressional bill that would re-impose sanctions on Iran. Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, considers Obama to be Iran’s leading defender.

Menendez claims that the administration is coordinating with Teheran in efforts to block U.S. sanctions. The US State Department may have been playing a supportive role as far back as 2013. In that year Alberto Nisman was invited by U.S. lawmakers to testify about his findings at a Congressional hearing on, “Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s extending influence in the Western Hemisphere.”

Argentina’s public prosecutor stopped Nisman from testifying, but in his absence, panel chairman Rep. Jeff Duncan noted that the State Department had omitted Nisman’s findings in its assessment that Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean was “waning.”

Duncan added: “In stark contrast to the State Department’s assessment, Nisman’s investigation revealed that Iran has infiltrated for decades large regions of Latin America through the establishment of clandestine intelligence stations and is ready to exploit its position to ‘execute terrorist attacks when the Iranian regime decides to do so.”

Obviously there is more to the West’s nuclear talks with Iran than meets the eye. One thing is clear: the West puts a higher priority on ‘making nice’ with Iran than in bringing to justice the murderers of several dozen Jews.

Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book, 'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, 2012). His articles and blogs are published in several foreign journals. His latest book, "Balaam in Modern clothes: enemies of Zion", will be released in 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Still Falling for It

Still Falling for It

I beg to differ with Yochonon Donn’s op-ed piece, “Yes, I Was at the White House” (Dec 24). Davening Minchah in the Red Room at the White House following the Chanukah party is nice, but substantively unimpressive. This is pure form, or “optics” as Obama likes to put it. The president’s articulating the words “pidyon shevuyim” is mere pandering and clever political grandstanding. And yet we fall for it.

Had we his ear, and if Obama really cared about our concern for pidyon shevuyim, this would have been the perfect forum for him to, at long last, announce his pardoning of Jonathan Pollard after some 30 years of U.S. incarceration. After all, here we have a chief executive who unhesitatingly “uses his pen” to issue executive orders when he so desires, even when his directives actually, or arguably, contravene the U.S. Constitution. How difficult would it have been for Obama to sign Pollard’s release, or even that of Mordechai Rubashkin, at that White House Chanukah reception! But why bother, since we Jews fall so easily for trappings of importance and willingly delude ourselves about the president’s friendship just by having “free reign in the East Wing.”

Indeed, it would have behooved one or more of the attendees at that party to politely point out to the president after his trenchant remarks about pidyon shevuyim that American Jews are most troubled by our own two shevuyim who sit in American jails. While we are pleased by Alan Gross’s release from Cuba, we care deeply and ask the president to free Pollard and/or Rubashkin. That would have been a meaningful way to test whether we have “Obama’s ear.” Unfortunately, the well-known passuk from the Navi Yeshayahu comes to mind: “meishiv chachamim achor…”

And, we will leave aside the quite overt ongoing hostility this president has shown to Israel in its struggles for survival, and to its prime minister during the past six years — hardly the treatment one would expect from a friendly head of state. So much for Obama’s attentiveness and “ear” to Jewish concerns!

No, folks — to employ one of Obama’s favorite expressions — there is no indication that this president would have lifted a finger to do more than did FDR in helping Jews during the Holocaust. The only difference is that Obama is willing to engage in “smoke and mirrors” and Madison Avenue tactics — all post-FDR political developments.

It is about time that we Orthodox Jews learn to accurately and maturely assess political realities and forego being naively farglutzt, bedazzled, by “show and tell.” Regrettably, Mr. Donn’s reaction to the White House reception demonstrates that we have yet very far to go as a community.

Rabbi Daniel Greer

Menahel, Yeshiva of New Haven

Thursday, January 22, 2015

International Criminal Court Opens Inquiry into Possible War Crimes in Palestinian Territories...... A Response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from Amb. Alan Baker

International Criminal Court Opens Inquiry into Possible War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

Amb. Alan Baker

“As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state, and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC.”  — State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, January 16, 2015.

A Response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from Amb. Alan Baker

18 January 2015

H.E. Ban Ki Moon
Secretary General of the United Nations,
United Nations Headquarters,
405 East 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10017   USA

Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs,
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017

Mr. Stephen Mathias, UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs,
United Nations Headquarters, Room S-3624,
New York, NY 10017

Mr. Santiago Villalpando, UN Acting Chief, Treaty Section,
United Nations Headquarters, Room DC2-0520,
New York, NY 10017

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor,
International Criminal Court (ICC),
P.O.B. 19519, 2500 CM,
Maanweg 174, 2516 AB Den Haag,


I write this letter as a former Legal Officer in the UN Office of Legal Affairs, a former senior member of Israel’s delegation to the 1998 Rome Conference on the ICC and to the preparatory committee involved in the drafting of the ICC Statute, as former Legal Counsel of the foreign ministry of Israel, a regular participant in the General Assembly’s 6th (Legal) Committee and as the former ambassador of Israel to Canada.

In the above capacities, I have been intimately involved both in the extensive legal activity within and for the UN, as well as throughout the various stages in the development and drafting of the ICC Statute and other international legal instruments.

As such, clearly, both the UN and the ICC remain dear to me and close to my heart.

As you are probably aware, the concept of the creation of an independent, permanent International Criminal Court was born following the atrocities of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and representatives of the world’s Jewish communities and the State of Israel were actively involved, since the early 1950’s, in developing the vision and bringing it to fruition. In this capacity, I had the honor to accompany the late Prof. Shabtai Rosenne and the late Judge Ely Nathan and other prominent Israeli international lawyers in the various stages of the negotiation and drafting of the Statute.

However, despite active Jewish and Israeli involvement in the concept and drafting of the Statute, Israel was prevented from becoming party to it, inter alia in view of the injection of politicization into the drafting of the list of crimes set out in Article 8 of the Statute, and specifically the politically motivated manipulation of the drafting of sub-paragraph (b)viii.1

To our great regret, as a “founding father” of the vision, it became evident to Israel that in contravention of the very ideal of an independent juridical institution, the Statute, from the start, was given to politicization, a factor which did not auger well for the future successful functioning of the Court.

Regrettably, our worst fears have recently come to fruition, and the ICC is rapidly and unjustifiably, – and doubtless against its own better interests – being manipulated to become a politicized “Israel-bashing” body, at the initiative of the Palestinian leadership which wrongfully perceives, and widely represents the Court as being their own private judicial tribunal, in order to conduct their political campaign against Israel.

This is borne out in several recent instances in which both the Secretary General and the ICC Prosecutor have been petitioned by the Palestinians to make political determinations at variance with the aims, purposes and very provisions of the Statute.

I refer specifically to the recent Depositary Notifications issued by the Secretary General, Reference C.N.13.2015.TREATIES-XVIII.10 and 13, both dated 6 January 2015, issued following documents transmitted by the Palestinian leadership to the Secretary General on 2 January 2015, requesting accession to the Rome Statute, and other treaties.

These Depositary Notifications acknowledged that:
“The [ICC] Statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on 1 April 2015 in accordance with its article 126(2)” and

“The Agreement [on the Privileges and Immunities of the ICC] will enter into force for the State of Palestine on 1 February 2015 in accordance with its article 35(2).”

These notifications cite the respective articles in both documents, which refer to “each State ratifying, accepting or acceding to this [Statute][Agreement].”

With respect, it would appear that in so issuing the above depositary notifications, the Secretary General has acted ultra vires a number of essential and well-established requirements concerning the functions of a depositary:
Article 76(2) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 19692 according to which:
“The functions of the depositary of a treaty are international in character and the depositary is under an obligation to act impartially in their performance. In particular, the fact that a treaty has not entered into force between certain of the parties or that a difference has appeared between a State and a depositary with regard to the performance of the latter’s function shall not affect that obligation.”

Article 77(1)(d) of the Vienna Convention, regarding the functions of the depositary, which requires:
“examining whether the signature or any instrument, notification or communication relating to the treaty is in due and proper form and, if need be, bringing the matter to the attention of the State in question.“

Article 77(2):
“In the event of any difference appearing between a State and the depositary as to the performance of the latter’s functions, the depositary shall bring the question to the attention of the signatory States and the contracting States, or where appropriate, of the competent organ of the international organization concerned.”

The 1999 Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depositary of Multilateral Treaties (ST/LEG/7/Rev 1)3, prepared by the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs, analyses, on the basis of practice, those situations in which the Secretary General must ascertain whether a State or an organization may become a party to a treaty deposited with him. (Chapter V, Paragraph 73)
Such practice addresses various formulae for issuing depositary notifications in situations where a treaty is open to “all States” (as is the case of the ICC Statute), but where the applicant is not a member if the UN or party to the International Court of Justice. In such situation, paragraph 79 addresses the situation where:
“…. a difficulty has occurred as to possible participation in treaties when entities which appeared otherwise to be States could not be admitted to the United Nations, nor become parties to the Statute of the International court of Justice owing to opposition, for political reasons  of a permanent member of the Security Council.”
The document goes on to state, in Section 80:
“…the Secretary General has on a number of occasions stated that there are certain areas in the world whose status is not clear. If he were to receive an instrument of accession from any such area, he would be in a position of considerable difficulty unless the Assembly gave him explicit directives on the areas coming within the “any State” or “all States” formula. He would not wish to determine, on his own initiative, the highly political and controversial question of whether or not the areas, whose status was unclear, were States. Such a determination, he believed, would fall outside his competence.

He therefore stated that when the “any State” or “all States” formula was adopted, he would be able to implement it only if the General Assembly provided him with the complete list of the States coming within the formula…..”

This practice of the Secretary General became fully established and was clearly set out in the understanding adopted by the General Assembly without objection at its 2202nd plenary meeting, on 14 December 1973, whereby “the Secretary-General, in discharging his functions as a depositary of a convention with an “all States” clause, and whenever advisable, will request the opinion of the Assembly before receiving a signature or an instrument of ratification or accession.”

Clearly, in light of the above, the “all States” formula as it appears in articles 125 and 126(2) of the ICC Statute, is intended to refer solely to established States and not to entities which, while claiming to be states, are not sovereign entities.

In this context, 2012 General Assembly resolution 67/90 which upgraded the Palestinian status within the UN to that of a “non-member observer state”4 and which is being cited by the Palestinian leadership as the authority for its requests for acceptance by the court, cannot be considered, by any legal interpretation or analysis, as indicative of, or granting statehood, nor as a legitimate source of guidance to the Secretary General in determining whether the Palestinian request for accession is “in due and proper form” as required by Article 77 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
That resolution did nothing more than to reaffirm in recommendatory form “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine” and recommended that the various organs within the United Nations system “continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, independence and freedom.”

That resolution did not establish or acknowledge Palestinian statehood or sovereignty as such, and did nothing more than to call for “the attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfils the vision of two States: an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel on the basis of the pre-1967 borders“. The peace negotiation process and peaceful settlement envisaged was indeed referred to in the preamble to this resolution and is ongoing.

Clearly this resolution did not create a state of Palestine. A political General Assembly cannot and should not serve to guide the ICC Prosecutor in carrying out her legal functions. Clearly, the General Assembly is not a judicial body, but a political one. Its determinations are political, not legal.
By the same logic, the ICC Prosecutor’s most recent announcement, dated January 17, 2015, of her intention to open a “preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine” following a Palestinian declaration of acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction under article 12(3) of the ICC Statute, would appear to be similarly ultra vires. This in light of her determination that the Palestinian Authority is a state based solely on her reading of the above-noted General Assembly Palestinian upgrade resolution 67/90 which, as stated above, represents nothing more than the political position of the states voting in favor of it.

In view of the above, and taking into consideration the accepted international criteria for statehood as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention5 which include among other things, a unified territorial unit and responsible governance of its people, and capability of fulfilling international commitments and responsibilities, no serious UN organ or the Prosecutor of the ICC could, logically accept the Palestinian authority’s claim to statehood and accession to the ICC Statute, as well as to other international conventions limited to “States” or to “all States.”

In light of the above, and with a view to protecting the integrity of the ICC and honoring the basic purposes and principles for which it was established, and in order to prevent any further damage, you are requested to review your recent determinations and to reject the attempts to politicize the ICC.

Alan Baker, Ambassador (ret’), Attorney,
Director, Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

4 A/Res/67/19, 26 November 2012,
5 Article 1, 1933 Montevideo Convention,
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