There are times when information that reaches us is unsettling, disturbing. But then, there are other times when the information becomes so incredible, so ghastly wrong, that we find ourselves headed towards a state of apoplexy.
That is where I am now, my friends: and for multiple reasons.
It is an imperative for me to write about these various situations that are so very disturbing. But it is not sufficient that each of you should be informed.
This is a moment for broad sharing and speaking out vociferously – which is what I hope you will do.
These are exceedingly precarious times.
Let us begin with highly relevant background on the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) – which is currently being negotiated and is close to being finalized. As Mark Dubowitz, (CEO) and Jonathan Schanzer (Senior VP, pictured below)
“The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has significantly encumbered the Biden administration’s drive to reach a renewed Iran nuclear deal. Seeing an opportunity to build leverage against the United States and Europe as they impose sanctions on Russia, Vladimir Putin threw a grenade into the Iran talks taking place in Vienna. The Russian strongman demanded a ‘white channel’ with Tehran to circumvent international sanctions. This was apparently a bridge too far for U.S. diplomats, who had until that point seemed willing to cave on any and every Iranian demand to seal a deal.
“…Since then, Russia has unleashed unspeakable violence on Ukraine, while the Iranian regime fired missiles near the American Consulate in northern Iraq. If the latest reports are true, the U.S. has just agreed to allow Russia to carry out nuclear work mandated under the 2015 nuclear deal…
“…While war rages on the edge of Europe and the U.S.-led world order hangs in the balance, a deal is now in the works that is set to empower Putin’s Russia and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Islamic Republic.
“There may have been a moment when the Biden White House believed a deal with Tehran might demonstrate American leadership amid the crisis in Ukraine. But that moment has passed, as Putin seems to have settled into the driver’s seat there as well. The Russian negotiator in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, has emerged as the dominant advocate for Iran’s case. Ulyanov recently boasted, “Iran got much more than it could expect in [the] Vienna talks.” This is now undeniably the truth…
“The American concession that enables Russia to conduct nuclear work with the Islamic Republic, even as Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, is foreign policy malpractice…
“…under the new deal, the Islamic Republic could immediately gain access to a total sanctions relief package of up to $130 billion. And that doesn’t include tens of billions in additional perks…This is…an outrage to our regional allies, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, which are under constant threat of Iranian missiles and terrorism…
“But perhaps the worst collapse by the Biden team in Vienna was the inclusion of an ‘inherent guarantee’ to the regime. Reports out of Tehran and other Middle Eastern capitals suggest that the Biden team offered a written guarantee stipulating that if the Iranians say there is a breach of the agreement…the regime in Iran will have the right to enrich uranium at 60% and to install thousands of advanced centrifuges. In other words, the Biden administration has reportedly decided to legitimize Iranian nuclear blackmail. This guarantee will, in all likelihood, be part of a series of side letters. Just as it happened in 2015, the world will never see the text of these promises. Indeed, the American public may never know the extent of Biden’s concessions.
So here you have background that could – should – cause a thinking person to have nightmares.
How many know about these matters? How many care?
When I tracked the Obama administration negotiations with Iran, I commented that I often did not know which side he was negotiating on. The Biden team, which includes many from the Obama administration, is worse. I will not say that it is Biden directing these matters, because – while I know he is left of any president the US has ever had – I am not clear what his level of competency is and not certain at this point who is pulling his strings. Some say Susan Rice.
I confess a particular sort of fury here, with regard to the opinions of some on the left in the US: Trump derangement syndrome persists. There are those who continue to hold on to that irrational hatred of Trump, so that having Biden in the White House remains the preferable option – and thus, as they cling to this delusion, they are prevented from looking clearly at what is happening in the Biden White House.
They will never ever acknowledge the incredible damage being done by that Biden White House, even while it is doing unimaginable harm to the US, and to the free world.
But let us move one step further here, with regard to concessions to Iran. It has made news in the last few days that a number of sources say Biden is considering another perk for Iran: The Iranian regime has apparently demanded that the lethal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the list of foreign terrorist organizations, and the Biden administration is considering acceding to this demand, which is being advanced by Iran as a precondition for signing the JCPA. The Revolutionary Guard would have to publicly commit to de-escalation.
It was Trump (bless him!) who designated the IRGC a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019, making it the first state-affiliated group on the list.
The US is considering this even though the IRGC just launched rockets at an American consulate in Erbil, Iraq (Kurdistan).
Dennis Ross, who has served a number of diplomatic roles and is not right-wing, tweeted, “For the IRGC…to promise to de-escalate regionally is about as credible as Putin saying Russia would not invade Ukraine.”
While Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel, and someone who similarly tilts center-left, tweeted that this would be seen as a betrayal by all those friends and allies who have suffered because of IRGC activities.
They get it. But the Biden administration does not give a damn. According to Dubowitz and Schanzer it is Rob Malley, Biden’s chief negotiator with Iran, who also served this role for Obama, who is pushing this. Malley is bad news.
Former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman is clear-eyed on this whole Iran deal. David, of course, served during the Trump administarion. He tweeted:
“Congress must stop this. It is inexplicably self-defeating and mind-numbingly stupid. What is Biden doing?!!!” @DavidM_Friedman
I would like to pick up on David’s thought with regard to Congress. Contact your representatives in Congress with regard, specifically, to removing the IRGC from the terror list. Point out that this Guard, which was formed to protect the Islamic revolution in Iran, has enormous military power and assists multiple terror groups. They represent a danger to world peace. (You might draw briefly on some of the comments by Bennett and Lapid below.)
Encourage everyone who cares to do the same. Americans must not be silent on this.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid put out a joint statement regarding the IRGC:
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are Hezbollah in Lebanon, they are Islamic Jihad in Gaza, they are the Houthis in Yemen, they are the militias in Iraq.
“The IRGC are responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. The IRGC were behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials.
“The IRGC were involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, they destroyed Lebanon and they are brutally oppressing Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because the
“They are an integral part of the brutal machine of oppression in Iran. Their hands have on them the blood of thousands of Iranians and the crushed soul of the Iranian society.
“The attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence. We find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans.
“The fight against terrorism is a global one, a shared mission of the entire world. We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”
Bennett and Lapid tell it straight, with regard to the dangers of the IRGC. It is their last sentence that unsettles me. Presumably this is a diplomatic nicety, but we have no time for diplomatic niceties. Hell, the United States WOULD abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises. This is the horrifying and painful reality. A demand is called for, that they MUST NOT.
Having spoken about David Friedman, the most excellent US ambassador to Israel, I turn now, with a sense of rage, to Thomas Nides, who I would say is likely the worst of all times.
Nides had already let it be known that he would never visit a settlement. But in a remote lecture to Americans for Peace Now, he elaborated:
“I’m a bit of a nag on this, including the idea of settlement growth, which infuriates me when they do things that just infuriate the situation in east Jerusalem and the West Bank…
“We can’t do stupid things that impede us for a two-state solution. What I mean is that we can’t have Israelis doing settlement growth in east Jerusalem or the West Bank.”
[Note here: there is no “east Jerusalem.” There is only the eastern part of a united Jerusalem.]
And then the worst statement of his lecture:
“By the way, the Palestinians are not perfect, either. I want to be clear here.
“These martyr payments [pay for slay], you know we can debate and talk about it, have caused an enormous amount of problems. And I’m working with Minister Gantz and the prime minister and the Palestinians to figure out how to stop it, because it gives the haters – and there are haters – who say: ‘We can’t do this because they are paying for people to kill Jews.’ Again, it’s more complicated than that. I just want to make clear that not everyone is perfect.”
Unbelievable. I must restrain myself in commenting here, as I seek to remain professional. Building homes for Jews in Judaea & Samaria “infuriates” this guy. But the PA paying salaries to terrorist is just bad because it provides “the haters” with “an excuse” for not proceeding with that “two-state solution.” Apparently he sees nothing intrinsically wrong with expecting Israel to agree to a Palestinian state even if it endorses support for terrorists who kill Jews.
I suppose we cannot expect better of someone who represents the Biden administration.
A Jerusalem Post editorial called Nides’ words undiplomatic and patronizing.
The news from Ukraine continues to break my heart. I will have more to say after Ukraine’s President Zelensky addresses the Knesset Sunday evening.
I close here with news that is a source of great pride:
On Tuesday, an Israeli hospital will begin to work inside of Ukraine. The hospital is being constructed on the grounds of a school in the town of Mostyska, outside Lviv in western Ukraine (where Russian forces are not operating).
Funding – to the tune of NIS 21 million ($6.5 million) – will be covered by the Israeli government, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Some 17 tons of equipment have already been brought in from across the Polish border, and 10 tents are being erected. Management of the site is being handled by the Sheba Medical Center and its crews have begun setting up the hospital’s patient care, laboratory, pharmacy, and logistical support facilities.
Yehuda Katzura, head of logistics for Sheba Medical Center, said, “…It’s incredibly emotional to run the whole logistics side of things. It’s a very complicated operation…It challenged everyone to give everything and raise a hospital that will be one of the best in the world, in terms of its capabilities, contents, and medical team.”
The facility’s medical staff — many of whom are Russian and Ukrainian speakers – are expected to arrive on Monday. They come from a number of hospitals and health funds, as well as from Magen David Adom.
The hospital is named for Golda Meir, who came from Ukraine.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner.