Commentary Magazine

False Claims About the Iran Deal

False Claims About the Iran Deal

In his State of the Union address, President Obama lauded the interim nuclear deal signed with Iran in November that went into effect in January. But his claims were fraudulent. The president said the deal had “halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program” and “rolled back parts” of it, and that the Islamist regime was “eliminating” its stockpile of enriched uranium. He also asserted that “unprecedented inspections” would “verify every day” that Iran wasn’t building a bomb.

In fact, the Iranians are continuing to enrich uranium. This enrichment is at non-weapons-grade levels, but the nuclear fuel can easily be upgraded any time the Iranians choose to “breakout” to a weapon. Nor has their stockpile been eliminated. The material has been converted to oxide powder that can be quickly reconverted to its more dangerous form. What is more, UN inspectors are still not allowed on the actual sites where the Iranians are working on military applications of nuclear technology; the agreement didn’t even mention them. In the interim deal, the U.S. tacitly recognized a “right” to enrich uranium that furthers the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iranians are fully exploiting the opening.

The War on Iran Sanctions

President Obama discussed the interim deal in hopes of preventing Congress from adopting new sanctions against Iran. A bill that would put even tougher sanctions in place in the event the negotiations fail is supported by a bipartisan group of 58 senators. The debate over the bill has been characterized by a smear campaign aimed at delegitimizing congressional critics of the deal and their supporters.

The administration says new sanctions would “break faith” with its Iranian negotiating partners—and has asserted, fraudulently, that its passage would mean war. Administration cheerleaders have also informally branded the Senate majority in favor of new sanctions as puppets of Israel. That point was made in an outrageous cartoon published online by the Economist in which President Obama was chained to a Jewish-controlled Congress that was trying to prevent him from making peace with faux-moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Even worse, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart featured a segment in which the influential comedian claimed that the 58 in favor of sanctions were acting as “senators from the great state of Israel.” Stewart’s resurrection of the Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” myth crossed the line from satire into anti-Semitism. It also demonstrated that administration supporters would do almost anything to silence debate on the Iranian threat.

Kerry Threatens

Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to broker a Middle East peace deal got a new lease on life in early February with the reported acceptance by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority of a “framework” for continued negotiations. The nonbinding nature of the framework meant that the parties could sign on in order to avoid blame for the collapse of the talks. In reality, the talks appear stalemated. The Palestinians refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state or to relinquish their demand for a “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Yet rather than focus on Palestinian intransigence, the Obama administration has focused its public criticism on Israel.

At a security conference in Munich, Kerry summed up his obsessive pursuit of an agreement that seems nowhere in sight. Last fall, Kerry threatened Israel with another intifada if it failed to make enough concessions to entice the Palestinians to sign an agreement. This time, he said that if his effort collapsed, Israel would be delegitimized and boycotted. He decried Israel’s economic prosperity as “momentary” and “illusionary.” Though the State Department later said Kerry was merely describing a development that he opposed, the true import of his comment was clear. The secretary was issuing an implicit threat to Israel that if it failed to give in to his demands, it would be isolated and its goods subject to economic blockade. These are not the words of an ally who has Israel’s back, but rather those of a bully determined to pressure the Jewish state to give in to demands that would gravely weaken its security and its economy.

Euro Banks Start Divestment

The anti-Israel movement in Europe received a major boost when PGGM, the largest pension fund in the Netherlands, decided to withdraw its funds from Israeli banks. Any bank with a branch in the West Bank is being targeted by the PGGM fund. Though the amount of funds diverted is not great, this may be the tipping point for further efforts to target Israeli financial institutions. But rather than backing up Kerry’s warnings, the decision by the Dutch to act now while Israel is negotiating the possible surrender of some of the territories shows the intent is not to push for a return to the 1967 borders but to delegitimize the Jewish state.

The EU and the Jews

The European Union seems to have a problem with Jews. In the past, its foreign minister, Catherine Ashton, has condemned Israeli measures of self-defense and has pushed for concessions by the Jewish state to the Palestinians while maintaining silence about anti-Semitic incitement conducted by the latter. In 2012, Lady Ashton did condemn a murderous attack on Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, France—but then compared it to anti-terror operations conducted by Israeli forces in Gaza. But Ashton managed to outdo herself in January, when she issued a proclamation about Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism. Many Europeans have chafed at the lessons of the Holocaust because any acknowledgement of the real purpose of the Holocaust requires them to respect the right of the Jewish state to exist and defend itself. But now the EU has gone a step further and revised history in order to strip the Holocaust of its significance as history’s most genocidal example of Jew-hatred.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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