Commentary Magazine

America Talks, the Centrifuges Spin

America Talks, the Centrifuges Spin
During the presidential debate devoted to foreign policy in October, President Obama denied a New York Times story alleging that the United States planned to conduct bilateral nuclear negotiations with Iran after the election. But a couple of weeks later, reports surfaced that such talks were already underway with the U.S. being represented by presidential confidante Valerie Jarrett. 

While the parties talked, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a new report on Iran, in which it detailed Tehran’s further refusal to cooperate with the United Nations and revealed new evidence about the Iranians’ building a nuclear explosive device. The IAEA reported earlier in the year that Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges enriching uranium and stored them in a hardened underground facility. There is every indication that this latest round of negotiations, like those that preceded it, is another ploy by Iran aimed at buying time to advance its nuclear-weapons program. 

Palestinians Cling to Right of Return
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas seemed to be throwing an olive branch toward Israel with his recent remarks implying that the “right of return” for the descendants of those Arabs who fled the country in 1948 would not apply within the borders of pre-1967 Israel. But the ensuing controversy revealed little had actually changed. Abbas told Israeli TV that a future Palestinian state would exist in the West Bank and Gaza—but that it would not be his right to live in the city of Safed, where he was born. After a display of outrage from the Palestinian public, the PA president backtracked and reiterated his support for the right of return once again. Abbas’s almost immediate disavowal of the concession illustrates how difficult it would be for him or any Palestinian leader to sign a peace deal. So long as no Palestinian can renounce the right of return without fear of retribution, there isn’t much hope for peace.

Hamas and Its New Friend, Turkey
President Obama is said to consider Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan one of his closest foreign friends, but Erdogan’s determination to undermine hope for Middle East peace has elicited little comment in Washington. Erdogan has scrapped his country’s alliance with Israel and is now ready to move from being a critic of the Jewish state to an active ally of Hamas in Gaza. Erdogan said in November that he is planning to visit the strip soon as a gesture of solidarity with the Islamist terrorist organization. Coming to Gaza after the emir of Qatar, whose country has semi-normal relations with Israel, made a similar trip will not only strengthen Hamas vis-à-vis Israel but also give the terrorists a boost against their Fatah rivals in the West Bank. Turkey is also planning a trial in which Israeli military leaders will be prosecuted in absentia for their role in stopping a Turkish flotilla from breaking the blockade of Gaza in 2009. It makes one wonder about Obama’s criteria for friendship. 

Morsi’s Anti-Semitic Prayer
Washington has treated Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood government with kid gloves. But while Americans assume that the Egyptians are too interested in maintaining the flow of U.S. aid to break the peace treaty with Israel, President Mohamed Morsi has been sending mixed messages. The most disturbing moment of his presidency so far was caught on state television in October, when he took part in a prayer service in which the imam preached: “Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder.” To this the head of Egypt answered, “Amen.” This is just one among many instances of state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the Egyptian media. The treaty has not been violated, but Morsi’s willingness to be publicly associated with anti-Semitic hate speech makes it clear that the administration’s faith in the new government is more a product of wishful thinking than of sensible policy. 

Greek Neo-Nazis Gain Ground
As a rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeps through Europe, the ascent of Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi political party, is particularly worrisome. The party won seven percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in June, but polls now show the group would get double that if another vote were held. Like many other far-right parties on the continent, Golden Dawn is focused on arousing resentment against foreign immigrants, but the group is also a font of anti-Semitic invective and incitement. One member of the party recently read from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion aloud in the Greek parliament. Although the Greek Orthodox church and more mainstream parties have condemned Golden Dawn, the ability of these extremists to garner support threatens the future of the small Jewish community in Greece. Just as Greece is the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to the crackup of European finances, so, too, is it the leader in anti-Semitism. If other countries go the way of Greece on insolvency, can it be too long before neo-Nazis go mainstream elsewhere?

South Africans Back Israel Boycott
While support for an economic boycott of Israel has had only mixed success in the United States, the so-called BDS movement continues to gain ground abroad. In October, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress formally endorsed a program of boycott, divestment, and sanctions on the Jewish state. Given the historic ties between the ANC and the Palestinians, this isn’t surprising, but the false comparisons the ANC draws between apartheid and Zionism will help fuel anti-Israel rage elsewhere. The BDS movement is nothing less than an attempt to wage economic war on Israel, and the backing of the most influential country in Africa for this measure further isolates the Jewish state—as well as the South African Jewish community.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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