Bibi: 'If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.'
Kenneth J. Bialkin
Story Includes Video:
Recent reports of the status of negotiations with Iran to resolve the risk of Iran's threat to become a nuclear power have alarming implications. The U.S. is apparently supporting a deal where existing sanctions on Iran will be relaxed against an Iranian pledge to freeze its progress towards achieving nuclear weapon capability.
E.U. foreign ministers are slapping new sanctions on the wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad, three other Assad family members, and eight Syrian government ministers, according to reports.
The new restrictions, which are slated to go into effect on Saturday, include a travel ban and the freezing of assets, The Associated Press reported. The wife of the Syrian president, Azma Assad, is a British native and holds British citizenship, which may mean she may still travel to England, AP said.
Philadelphia’s Jewish newspaper is in a flap with organizers of a boycott, divestment and sanctions conference over the disinvitation of one of its reporters from the event.
Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent published an article on its website Friday reporting that organizers of the National BDS Conference had barred the paper from covering the Feb. 3-5 conference at the University of Pennsylvania -- a charge that a conference organizer denied.
After weeks of ratcheting up the criticism and pressure, President Obama has finally explicitly called for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to resign. He intensified sanctions on by freezing all assets of the regime under American jurisdiction and imposing other tough measures, but he ruled out “foreign intervention.”
NEW YORK (JTA) -- Protesters demonstrated outside the New York headquarters of several companies accused of conducting business with Iran.
Demonstrators from Iran 180 and United against Nuclear Iran, two groups promoting a democratic Iran, rallied June 10 in Midtown Manhattan, booing a large papier mache construction of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Eni Corp., one of the companies being picketed, sent down a spokesperson to declare the Italian energy company's plans to officially cease doing business with Iran.
Citing the movement of two Iranian warships toward the Suez Canal and a potential confrontation with Israel, a bipartisan group of members of Congress on Wednesday called for tougher sanctions against Tehran to thwart its nuclear ambitions.
"If we can bring greater transparency to any investment being made in Iran, we can defund nuclear development in one of the world’s most hostile nations,” said New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, in a conference call with reporters. “America can not and will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.”
A bunch of Jewish groups are indignant about last week's New York Times report that “over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism.”
Reading the midterm tea leaves, from the GA in New Orleans to Washington.
James D. Besser
President Barack Obama’s mounting political woes after last week’s “shellacking” in midterm congressional elections may indirectly lead to greater U.S. flexibility on the issue of Israeli military action to stop its nuclear program.
Some analysts say an administration committed to stopping Iran from going nuclear — but whose options may be even more limited after a big Republican victory based heavily on voters’ economic anxieties — may choose to let Israel take care of the problem.
Jewish groups welcomed last week’s imposition of sanctions on three Russian companies accused of supplying military technology to Syria, but expressed concern about the impact of the wor
Russian Firms Get Sanctions
Jewish groups welcomed last week’s imposition of sanctions on three Russian companies accused of supplying military technology to Syria, but expressed concern about the impact of the worsening U.S.-Russian relationship on Jews in the former Soviet Union and on the Middle East peace process.
The sanctions decision set off alarm bells in Jerusalem, where officials fear that their recent diplomatic efforts to press Russia on the proliferation question could be compromised by the new U.S. action.
The administration action touched off an angry blast from the foreign ministry in Moscow, which described the move as “illegal from the point of view of the international law,” and warned that it represented one more blow to relations strained by differences over the NATO campaign against Serbia.
Jewish groups generally welcomed the move — the first time officials here have imposed sanctions based on dealings with Syria.
“My feeling is that the United States is trying to find a credible approach to the problem of proliferation,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
But other observers warned that sinking U.S.-Russian relations will reduce this country’s leverage in the battle against the new epidemic of Russian anti-Semitism.
“Historically, U.S. leverage on issues like anti-Semitism is greatest when the relationship is good. When relations cool, it declines,” said Robert O. Freedman, president of Baltimore Hebrew University. “And relations are definitely cooling.”
Last week’s sanctions decision “confirm the rumors we’ve heard for a long time about major arms deals between Russian and Syria,” he said. “This is one more effort by [Prime Minister Yevgeny] Primakov to reintroduce the Russians into the Middle East.”
Mark N. Katz, an expert in U.S.-Russian relations at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., agreed that the Primakov factor is troubling. He cited recent reports that Primakov, an old Mideast hand with close ties to Saddam Hussein, received an $800,000 payment from the Iraqi government in 1997.
Katz warned that sanctions alone will not be enough to slow Russia’s dealings with countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.
“The Clinton people keep saying we have to treat them gently or we lose leverage,” he said. “But we never seem to get what we want, anyway. We need to talk more openly about more sweeping measures.”
Nightmare Budget Awaits Legislators
Lawmakers come back from their spring recess on Tuesday, and waiting for them will be an explosive budget debate that Jewish leaders fear may result in big cuts to domestic programs and new problems for Israel’s foreign aid.
The first confrontation will come as legislators resume bickering over the administration’s supplemental aid request that includes money for hurricane disaster relief in Central America and a special appropriation for Jordan.
That measure has been loaded down with special appropriations for a number of business interests, increasing the chances of a presidential veto.
And congressional Republicans have insisted that the supplemental money must be “offset” by cuts in already-strapped domestic spending programs. That could be a troubling precedent when Israel’s supplemental aid comes up for review later in the year.
Before they left town, both Houses passed budget resolutions providing a rough blueprint for Fiscal Year 2000 spending. The Republican-crafted proposals are based on the 1997 deficit-reduction agreement, with stringent spending caps that leave little maneuvering room.
At the same time, GOP leaders are insisting on significant tax cuts and increases in military spending. The war in Kosovo will add even more pressure on congressional budgeters.
“Basically we’re in the third year of a five-year deficit-reduction process,” said Reva Price, Washington representative for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
“Congress backloaded the cuts because nobody wanted to admit up front how difficult the process would be. As a result, this year’s budget is turning into a nightmare.”
Jerusalem Embassy Deadline Approaching — Again
Next week could produce some dramatic news in the fight to force the Clinton administration to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.