Saturday, December 14, 2013

Roger Waters: perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry

From Times of Israel, 12 Dec 2013:

...“Judging by his remarks, Roger Waters has absorbed classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and these have now seeped into the totality of his views,” Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the ADL), told The Times of Israel. “His comments about Jews and Israel have gotten progressively worse over time. It started with anti-Israel invective, and has now morphed into conspiratorial anti-Semitism.”
Added Foxman: “How sad that a creative genius could become so perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry.”
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, May 2009. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
(photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
In the interview, Waters — a longtime supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — remarked, regarding the Palestinians, that the “parallels with what went on in the ’30s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.
“There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946,” Waters said. “So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian people being murdered.”
Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel who urges fellow artists not to play concerts in Israel, came under fire in July for using a pig-shaped balloon with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David, at his concerts.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the balloon as a “grotesque display of Jew-hatred” and called Waters an “open hater of Jews.”
An op-ed in the Vatican newspaper at the time blasted “unrestrained anti-Semitism” at the music festival in Belgium where Waters displayed the inflatable balloon. “… Did they also have the right to draw the Star of David on the back of a pig and not be reported?” the article asked. “We continue to talk about the respect for every religion and every human being, yet we keep falling into these shameful situations.”...
...Last August, Waters issued a public letter to musicians to boycott Israel. A few months earlier, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Waters remarked that the US has a “knee-jerk” policy to support “anything” that Israel does.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Ayatollah’s windfall

From the National Post, 2 Dec 2013, by Emanuele Ottolenghi* and Saeed Ghasseminejad:

The billions of dollars Iran can now access due to reduced sanctions will most directly benefit the Supreme Leader and his Revolutionary Guards.

If any proof was needed that the nuclear compromise hammered out in Geneva last month between Iran and the six world powers is a mistake, look no further than the psychological impact it had on Iran’s sanctions’ battered economy. Evidence of such boost is already available: Within hours, Iran’s currency, the Rial, appreciated by 5% and shares of petrochemical companies soared on Tehran’s Stock Exchange, a sure sign that the agreement provides an economic lifeline to the Iranian regime in exchange for no meaningful or irreversible concessions.

Rather than claiming that the international community is offering modest and reversible sanctions’ relief to Iran, Western negotiators should be more candid and admit that theirs is a self-defeating proposition. The main beneficiaries will not be the ordinary Iranians for which Western policymakers constantly express concern when they fret about their own sanctions’ impact. The benefits will instead flow to Iran’s military-industrial complex, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader – those most invested in the nuclear program and least inclined to renounce their nuclear quest for economic incentives.

By relaxing sanctions against the petrochemical and automotive industries, the United States and Europe are giving them a cash bonanza. By committing themselves to no nuclear-related sanctions in the six-month interim period established by the agreement, Western governments will also enable Iran to exponentially expand the impact of sanctions’ relief. In practice, the deal authorizes business with the sanctioned IRGC through the backdoor.

Take the petrochemical sector — a key export area for Iran but also a sensitive industry due to the dual-use nature of the technology it requires.

Military involvement in this sector is mainly through the Parsian Oil and Gas Company (POGC), which is controlled by the IRGC through Ghadir Investment Company (80.18%), the Bahman Group (1.1%) and Kia Mahestan Company (1.66%), with a total market value of approximately $3.83-billion. The IRGC also controls Pardis Petrochemical (worth $2-billion), Kermanshah Petrochemical worth ($527-million) and Shiraz Petrochemical (worth $922-million).

Rey Investment, an entity directly controlled by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, owns several spare car parts companies, and has the exclusive dealership for the German car-maker, BMW in Iran

The price tag for IRGC-controlled assets in the petrochemical industry is $7.3b-illion. Add to that Pars Oil and Behran Oil, the two companies controlled by the Supreme Leader through Rey Investment Group, Tadbir Group and the Mostazafan Foundation, which are worth a total of $625-million. Since Iran’s petrochemical sector is worth almost $25-billion; in practice, one third of the industry — $8-billion — is controlled by the two Iranian centres of power in charge of nuclear proliferation.

The car industry is no less problematic — although U.S. sanctions against the automotive sector did not specifically target it on non-proliferation grounds, Iran has used it to procure needed items and materials for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs over the years. Khodro and Saipa, the two main players in the car industry, are government-controlled; their procurement networks raise concerns, given that the car industry, much like the petrochemical industry, relies on sensitive dual-use technology and raw materials.

Besides, the regime benefits from its revenues. Of its main players, the Bahman Group is controlled by the IRGC — its main shareholder is the sanctioned Bonyad Ta’avon Sepah — a company linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. As recently reported by Saeed Ghasseminejad in The Times of Israel, Rey Investment, an entity directly controlled by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, owns several spare car parts companies, and has the exclusive dealership for the German car-maker, BMW in Iran. As for Iran Khodro, its main shareholder — Iran’s IDRO — is a government entity under sanctions.

The Obama administration will no doubt argue that there is no sanctions’ relief for the IRGC — but most of the aforementioned companies are not designated yet. If the U.S. President were to target them under existing executive orders, Iran would denounce such a move as a violation of Western commitments not to impose new sanctions. If Western or Asian companies were punished for conducting financial transactions with IRGC companies in the petrochemical sector, Iran’s rulers would scream murder. The administration may not have thought through this loophole — but it is unlikely to jeopardize a deal it hails as historic.

The agreement does not constitute an incentive for Iran to comply with its international obligations. To the contrary, it offers much needed relief to its procurement efforts, a cash windfall to its channels of proliferation, and financial profit along the way. And given that little is expected of Iran in return, it is hard to believe Western powers thought this was a good idea.

This is a great deal — for Iran. But if the West wishes to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear finish line, this is definitely not the way forward.

*Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Saeed Ghasseminejad is a Ph.D candidate in finance at City University of New York.

PA promotes terrorism with foreign aid funds

From Israel MFA, 4 Dec 2013:

Convicted murderers - 52 of them already released from prison by Israel as part of the negotiating process with the Palestinians - are receiving grants of up to $50,000 and monthly stipends of up to nearly $4,000.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is giving very large grants and generous monthly stipends to terrorists. These convicted murderers - 52 of whom already have been released from prison by Israel in the framework of the negotiating process with the Palestinians - are receiving grants of up to $50,000 and monthly stipends of up to nearly $4,000.

Thus the PA is supporting incitement to terrorism, including through the misuse of foreign financial assistance.

According to Nael Ghannam, the Director of the PA's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, former prisoners who were incarcerated for more than 15 years receive grants of $2,000 per year of imprisonment, for a maximum amount of $50,000 (although there are credible reports of at least one bonus of $60,000).

Additionally, those who served at least 25 years in prison will be awarded the equivalent rank of major-general in the security forces or of a deputy minister in the PA, both of which earn monthly wages of nearly $4,000. Terrorists who were incarcerated 15-25 years will receive over $2,800 every month.

The amounts of money being bestowed upon these terrorists are large not only in and of themselves, but in particular in contrast to the average monthly salaries of Palestinian workers in the West Bank, which stands at $641, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Many of these terrorists will receive the maximum amount of $50,000. When the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians began on July 30, 2014, Israel agreed to release 104 terrorists who had been in prison since before the 1993 Oslo peace process. All were heavily involved in terrorist activities and in acts of murder. Instead of condemning their heinous acts, the PA praises them as heroes, setting them up to be figures of inspiration for the younger generation.

  • Among those who will receive at least $50,000 is the most veteran prisoner, Issa Abed Rabbo, who shot to death two young Hebrew University students hiking near Bethlehem in 1984. In addition to the grant and salary, the PA also offered to cover the expenses of his wedding.
  • Abu-Musa Atia, who used an ax to murder Isaac Rotenberg, a Holocaust survivor who had escaped from the Sobibor death camp.
  • Yusef Hazaa who murdered two Israeli teachers, one of them a 19-year-old volunteer.
  • Sualha Husseini and Almajed Mahmed who carried out a stabbing attack on a crowded bus, killed 24-year-old Baruch Heizler and wounding three young women.
These grants and salaries are not the only financial rewards given by the PA to convicted terrorists. Prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons for terrorism-related offences are paid a monthly salary by the PA. According to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (15 April 2011), salaries for serving prisoners range from approximately $390 to over $3,300, depending on the length of imprisonment. This means that the terrorists who carried out the most horrific attacks receive the highest salaries.

The Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid. This money, which supports the PA budget, is used to meet payments for imprisoned and released terrorists. For example, in 2012 the PA paid over $75 million to terrorists in Israeli prisons, and $78 million to the families of deceased terrorists (including suicide bombers). Together, these amounts account for over 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the PA budget.
Publically rewarding convicted murderers gives an official stamp of approval to terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. It is a highly persuasive form of incitement to violence and terrorism.
Providing financial support for terrorists not only violates basic morality, it encourages further terrorist outrages. [For example, it may tempt young Palestinians to seek an answer to familial financial difficulties through the use of violence].
The international community should express their outrage at this abuse of funding that was given for the proper management of PA institutions and for promoting peaceful coexistence with Israel.