Friday, June 26, 2015

The West’s Misconceptions Over the Final Nuclear Deal - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh 

There exists a crucial underlying misconception in the West headed by the Obama administration regarding the final nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, which is approaching its June 30th deadline.

 ayatollah_2146641bIn a recent interview that President Obama gave to Israeli outlet Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan, he indirectly defended the Islamic Republic and suggested that the ruling clerics are not going to cheat on the terms of the final nuclear deal. But how can President Obama be so sure about Iran’s compliance if a deal is reached and when economic sanctions are lifted? Is he making such an argument based on Iran’s past history of nuclear defiance? Or based on its current military intervention in several nations and support for Shiite militia groups, proxies, and Islamic Jihad?

It is crucial to point out that the nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic came to the international spotlight due to Iran’s clandestine and underground nuclear sites. Iran had since repeatedly violated the IAEA’s terms by building additional underground nuclear sites and inching towards nuclear capabilities in order to obtain nuclear weapons.

President Obama also argued that sanctions will snap back in case Iran cheats. Nevertheless, the truth is that there is no such thing as automatic snapping back of sanctions.  In addition, by the time that the international community realizes that Iran has cheated, Iran would have reduced the nuclear break-out capacity to zero, boosted its Revolutionary Guards’ economy, and gained billions of dollars. Secondly, Russia and China will scuttle any process that would snap back the economic sanctions.

There exists a crucial underlying misconception in the West headed by the Obama administration regarding the final nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, which is approaching its June 30th deadline.

From President Obama and the Western powers’s perspective,  the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic is going to be transformational and revolutionary. This follows that the West, and particularly the White House, contends that the final nuclear deal or the nuclear resolution is going to transform the character of Iran’s political system in the long term; hence it will fundamentally alter Iran’s regional, domestic policies, shift its support for Shiite militia groups and proxies across the Middle East, moderate Iran’s foreign policy, and probably change the government in the long term.

On the other hand, from the Iranian leaders’ perspective, the nuclear deal is transitory, fleeting, momentary and transactional. In other words, Iranian authorities will follow the rules of the nuclear agreement for the limited time assigned in the deal. They will boost their economy, regain billions of dollars, and reinitiate their nuclear program soon after.

As long as Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is alive, the Islamic Republic is going to prioritize its Islamist revolutionary ideologies. The 75-years-old man, who has ruled over 25 years and continuously spread anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda, is not going to change his position and become a Western-loving person open to forces of globalization and integration. His has created a powerful social base based on his anti-American and anti-Semitic propagandas.

Since Iranian leaders view the final nuclear deal on a short-term basis, from the perspective of Iranian leaders, particularly Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and influential officials of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reaching a final nuclear deal is a no-brainer, economically speaking. In addition, the leaders of the Islamic Republic are cognizant of the fact that they will not give up their nuclear program based on the current terms of the nuclear agreement.

Most recently, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which owes the Islamic Republic an outstanding debt of more than $2 billion, has been talking about repaying Iranian leaders the debt after the nuclear deal is signed. and consequently the related sanctions are lifted. Several other foreign companies were unable to pay Iran due to the financial and banking sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and previous US administrations. Nevertheless, President Obama is opening the way for the flow of billions of dollars into the revolutionary Islamist ideology of the Islamic Republic.

It is crucial to point out that the flow of billions of dollars into the Islamic Republic will not trickle down to the Iranian ordinary people or even be distributed equally among the governmental institutions such as Iran’s foreign ministry. An overwhelming majority of the cash will likely be controlled by the IRGC, Quds forces (an elite revolutionary branch of IRGC fighting in foreign countries) and office of the Supreme Leader. The IRGC and office of the Supreme Leader do enjoy a monopoly over major economic sectors of the Islamic Republic.

The issue of immediate access to billions of dollars is particularly appealing and crucial for the Iranian leaders due to the notion that Tehran looks at the final nuclear deal through the prism of short-term, immediate economic and geopolitical boosts.

As a result, the final nuclear deal is viewed as purely short-term business for the IRGC and the Supreme Leader.

Finally, it is rational for every government to have strategies to rein in Iran’s full economic return. But, what is the Obama administration’s strategy? Apparently, the Obama administration does not have one. This is due to the fact that the administration believes that the Islamic Republic will not cheat, interfere in other nations’ affairs, or do any harm in case sanctions are lifted. In other words, the Islamic Republic is going to be another Switzerland.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh


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Rep. Nunes: America Faces Highest Terror Threat Level Ever - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

What is impossible to understand is how the administration, members of Congress, local and state politicians and journalists have been absolutely unwilling to “connect the impossible to ignore dots” that are flashing, not unlike the strobe lights on a police car or other emergency vehicle.

ftnnunes0621Usually the first challenge I face in writing my commentaries is to come up with a concise title that captures the most salient part of the issue I am writing about. Today I found this task easy, I simply borrowed the headline from CBS News’ Face the Nation article that quoted none other than Congressional Representative Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That headline is concise and echoes the very same concerns I have had in reviewing all of the publicly available information on the issue of threats posed by international terrorists.

What is impossible to understand is how the administration, members of Congress, local and state politicians and journalists have been absolutely unwilling to “connect the impossible to ignore dots” that are flashing, not unlike the strobe lights on a police car or other emergency vehicle.

Here is the segment of the article that accompanied the headline and addressed the topic of the threat of terrorism in the United States today:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, said the nation faces “the highest threat level we have ever faced in this country” due to the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria and the radicalization of young people on the Internet.
U.S. officials have been warning for months about the threat posed by people from America or Western Europe who travel to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and then return to their home countries, where they may carry out attacks. Nunes said the U.S. is not aware of all the people who have made the trek or who have now come back, although FBI Director James Comey has said there are cases open in all 50 states.
Officials are increasingly looking for ways to combat radical jihadists’ effectiveness in recruiting supporters through social media.
“They’re very good at communicating through separate avenues where it’s very difficult to track,” he said. “That’s why when you get a young person who is willing to get into these chat rooms, go on the Internet and get radicalized, it’s something we are not only unprepared [for], we are also not used to it in this country.”
He said that investigations often “do no good” in encrypted chat rooms where those communications take place, so Americans should be diligent about reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities because “we are having a tough time tracking terrorist cells within the United States.”
The warnings are particularly pertinent with the July 4 holiday approaching. Nunes noted that there will be large gatherings in every city across America.
“It’s just tough to secure those types of areas if you have someone who wants to blow themselves up or open fire or other threats of that nature and we just don’t know or can track all of the bad guys that are out there today,” he said.
The famed playwright, George Bernard Shaw’s statement says it all:
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
If our leaders were to seek to learn history’s lessons they should read the appropriate history books.

The 9/11 Commission Report and the “9/11 and Terrorist TravelStaff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” are the most complete and authoritative “history books” concerning the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and even included evaluations of vulnerabilities that led to previous terror attacks — both those that succeeded and those that failed. These books were prepared by the government of the United States in response to the horrific terror attacks that left more than 3,000 innocent victims dead.

My May 22, 2015 commentary for the Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) website, “Bin Laden, The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration,” addressed the fact that when the U.S. Navy SEALS raided the bin Laden compound, among the documents found in his library were a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report and a copy of an application for United States citizenship. It must be presumed that he had no intentions of filing for U.S. citizenship himself, but was contemplating embedding his terrorist operatives in the United States through the naturalization process.

Presumably bin Laden read that report — the obvious question that has no obvious answer, is “how many member[s] of the administration, Congress, political leaders in states and cities around the United States and journalists who are quick to chime in with their proclamations about how to ‘fix’ the ‘broken’ immigration system have actually read those reports?”

The damage inflicted on the United States and indeed the world by those attacks, has been inestimable and it continues to reverberate in so many ways. These reports both addressed the issue of the ways in which the 9/11 terrorists were able to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States. The latter of those two reports (the Staff Report) obviously focused the ways that the terrorists were able to travel around the world as they went about their deadly preparation and on flaws and vulnerabilities in the immigration system that failed to prevent the entry and subsequent embedding of not only the 19 hijackers, but other terrorists who were identified as operating in the United States in the decade leading up to the attacks of 9/11.

In point of fact, the investigation upon which these reports were based determined that the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world and cross international borders, especially the borders of the United States, were essential to the ability of the terrorists to carry out those deadly attacks.

The preface of the report begins with the following three paragraphs and makes it clear that this report sought information from as many credible sources as possible:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
Congress gave the Commission the mandate to study, evaluate, and report on immigration, nonimmigrant visas and border security” as these areas relate to the events of 9/11. This staff report represents 14 months of such research. It is based on thousands of pages of documents we reviewed from the State Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, approximately 25 briefings on various border security topics, and more than 200 interviews. We are grateful to all who assisted and supported us along the way.
The story begins with “A Factual Overview of the September 11 Border Story.” This introduction summarizes many of the key facts of the hijackers’ entry into the United States. In it, we endeavor to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was clean and legal.” It was not. Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas. One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.
Page 46 and 47 of this report noted:
By analyzing information available at the time, we identified numerous entry and embedding tactics associated with these earlier attacks in the United States.
The World Trade Center Bombing, February 1993. Three terrorists who were involved with the first World Trade Center bombing reportedly traveled on Saudi passports containing an indicator of possible terrorist affiliation. Three of the 9/11 hijackers also had passports containing this same possible indicator of terrorist affiliation.5
In addition, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the attack, and Ahmad Ajaj, who was able to direct aspects of the attack despite being in prison for using an altered passport, traveled under aliases using fraudulent documents. The two of them were found to possess five passports as well as numerous documents supporting their aliases: a Saudi passport showing signs of alteration, an Iraqi passport bought from a Pakistani official, a photo-substituted Swedish passport, a photo-substituted British passport, a Jordanian passport, identification cards, bank records, education records, and medical records.6
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.
Page 61 contained this passage:
Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists
In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.149 Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups.150 With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the “credentials” necessary to aid terrorist travel.
This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.
Both reports made it abundantly clear that had our immigration system worked, the attacks could not have been carried out.

Engineers use the term “root cause” to describe a fundamental failure from which all else that went wrong happened. For example, if a car’s brakes fail and the car hits a tree, the fact that the airbags failed to deploy is important, but the point is that the crash would not have happened in the first place if the brakes had worked.

Similarly, the terror attacks that have been carried out in the United States all resulted by the “root cause” of failures of the immigration system to prevent the terrorists from entering the United States in the first place.

The next failure of the immigration system occurred when terrorists were able to embed themselves in the United States. In this regard two factors came into play.

1. Terrorists who violated their immigration status were not apprehended even when they interacted with local police, leaving them free to remain at large.

2. Terrorists were able to acquire many identity documents — some actually issued by state governments — in false names, concealing their identities and movements.

Today most politicians have accepted the deceptive language first implemented by Carter administration when the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) mandated that its employees refer to aliens illegally present in the United States as being “undocumented immigrants,” an obfuscating and purposefully innocuous sounding term.

This was obviously done to create the misimpression that these individuals were simply immigrants who needed a piece of paper. Therefore the only thing we needed to do was give them the bureaucratic equivalent of a “hall pass” to make things okay.

The truth could not be more different from this lie that was and continues to be foisted on Americans by our own government. Aliens who evade the inspections process conducted at ports of entry should be referred to by the term that immigration enforcement personnel use, “EWI (Entry Without Inspection). This is the equivalent of trespassing or “breaking and entering.”

Such aliens are unscreened. We have no record of their entry and they may well be fugitives from justice in other countries, may have links to criminal or terrorist organizations.

The 9/11 Commission Report addressed the importance of the immigration inspections process conducted at ports of entry noting:
Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud, including political asylum fraud, to enter and embed themselves in the United States.

Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”

Here is an excerpt from that report that makes the above issues crystal clear:
Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.
In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.
Meanwhile there are mayors of some cities and even governors of some states that have created “sanctuaries” for aliens who evaded the inspections process at ports of entry that represent both our first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists, transnational criminals and others whose presence in the United States poses a threat to national security and the safety and well-being of Americans — and even members of the ethnic immigrant communities of which they are a part, irrespective of what their native countries might be. These politicians are even providing driver’s licenses and municipal identification documents, ignoring the fact that criminals and terrorists use changes in identity the way that chameleons use changes in coloration to hide in plain sight, often among their intended victims.

How can our nation’s leaders be so blind or corrupt as to ignore what should be commonsense issues that were clearly identified in the 9/11 Commission Report and the companion report I have noted above?

On July 27, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic: Whether the Attempted Implementation of the Reid-Kennedy Immigration Bill Will Result in an Administrative and National Security Nightmare.

At that hearing I noted that advocates for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens should get the “MVP Award” from al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. That statement applies today more than ever before.

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is


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International Farhud Day at the UN Commemorating the 1941 Pogrom against Baghdad's Jews - Edwin Black

by Edwin Black

The ensuing mass rape, beheading, murder, burning, and looting spree was the first step in a process that throughout the Arab world effectively ended 2,600 years of Jewish existence in those lands. Ultimately, some 850,000 to 900,000 Jews were systemically pauperized and made stateless in a coordinated forced exodus from the Arab world.

iraqijewsWhile I was speaking to the packed room, a woman I did not know, sitting in the front row, slowly shook her tear-stained head in disbelief and muttered softly … barely audible … “I never thought I would hear these words in this building.”

The woman, it turns out, was of Iraqi Jewish ancestry. The building was the iconic United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, astride the East River. The event was in a hall routinely used by the UN Security Council. The day was June 1, 2015. The occasion was the proclamation of “International Farhud Day” at the UN as a live global event broadcast by UN TV.

rtFarhud in an Arabic dialect means violent dispossession. The words I spoke that gripped the woman listening described in detail how the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, leader of the Arab community in Mandate Palestine, organized a blood-curdling massacre by Nazi-allied Arabs against Baghdad’s peaceful Jewish community on June 1-2, 1941. The ensuing mass rape, beheading, murder, burning, and looting spree was the first step in a process that throughout the Arab world effectively ended 2,600 years of Jewish existence in those lands. Ultimately, some 850,000 to 900,000 Jews were systemically pauperized and made stateless in a coordinated forced exodus from the Arab world.

Many Sephardic Jews consider the 1941 Farhud, which murdered and maimed hundreds, to be their Kristallnacht.

However, for the past 74 years, neither the facts about the brutal, two-day pogrom, nor the culpability of the Nazified Iraqi and Palestinian Arab perpetrators, nor the expulsion of 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab world that followed were topics the UN wanted to hear of. Nor for the past 74 years was this blood-letting and its aftermath commemorated in the vast chronicles of organized Holocaust remembrances. Nor for the past 74 years was this constellation of tragedies commonly known and/or spoken of within the Jewish community. In fact, it took years of highly acrimonious, sometimes public, debate with and pressure on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ‑‑ only recently successful ‑‑ to even induce the USHMM to recognize either the atrocity that occurred or the Mufti’s role in the killing as a Holocaust-era persecution.

Indeed, the Farhud is most often referred to as the “forgotten pogrom.” I first wrote about this massacre, in fleeting passage, in my 2004 book, Banking on Baghdad. My articles on the subject in the media, drawn from the book, such as those syndicated by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, were typically headlined “The Forgotten Pogrom.” That spawned the 2005 Farhud Recognition Project, which endeavored to bring this brutal Holocaust chapter into history’s sightlines.

Half a decade later, in 2010, I went further and published an entire book devoted to the topic, The Farhud: Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust. Yet, ten years after being “rediscovered” and right through the week before the UN event, Jewish media articles were still referring to the Farhud as the “forgotten pogrom.” Conference of Presidents vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, in his introductory remarks at the June 1, 2015 UN event, poignantly asked this question: “I must wonder why it took 74 years for the world to recognize the tragedy of the Farhud.”

Certainly, that was the question of the day. Three main reasons explain how mass carnage as barbaric as the Farhud remained out of earshot and over the horizon of Holocaust awareness.

First, persecution of Jewish victims in Arab countries did not conform to the established line of study that followed the classic Holocaust definition, as archetypically expressed by the USHMM’s mission statement: “The Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.” Note the pivotal word “European.” This geographic qualifier left out the Jews of Iraq as well as their persecuted coreligionists in North Africa, where some 17 concentration camps were established by Vichy-allied and Nazi influenced Arab regimes.

Second, because the persecution of Jews in Arab lands during WWII and their forced exodus was considered beyond the thematic horizon, the type of well-financed and skilled scholarship that has riveted world attention on the Holocaust in Europe, generally by-passed the Sephardic experience. Certainly, the overwhelming blood and eternal sorrow of the Holocaust genocide was experienced by European Jewry. But their deeply tragic suffering, including that endured by my Polish parents, who survived, does not exclude the examination of other groups. Years of focus on the plight of Gypsies, Jews in Japan, and other persecuted groups proves that. Undeniably, a solid nexus clasps the events of the Middle East, roiling in oil, colonialism, and League of Nations Mandates, to a European theatre brimming with war crimes and military campaigns.

After the 1941 Farhud and during the subsequent years Husseini was on Hitler’s payroll, the Mufti of Jerusalem toured European concentration camps and intervened at the highest levels to send European children to death camps in occupied Poland rather than see them rescued them into Mandate Palestine. In his diary, Husseini called Adolf Eichmann “a rare diamond.” What’s more, the tens of thousands of Nazified Arabs who fought in three Waffen SS Divisions in the Balkans and across all of Europe, were fighting for a Palestine and a greater Middle East Arab cause that hinged on Jewish extermination and colonial upheaval. When I wrote The Farhud in 2010, the focus was on excavating the details of a forgotten pogrom and a forgotten Nazi alliance. Only in recent years has a renewed trickle of excellent scholarship yielded gripping new research into the Arab role in the Holocaust. For example, there is Islam and Nazi Germany’s War, which The Wall Street Journal reviewed as “impeccably researched.” A second book, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by meticulous Arab and Turkish culture researcher Wolfgang Schwanitz, was published by Yale University Press. There are several excellent others.

Third, critics say, that many of the leading Jewish newspapers and wire services, now vastly more politicized than they were in the prior decade, did not devote sufficient space and informed knowledge to the topic. Moreover, some these critics suggest that in recent years, the Jewish press seemed to have marginalized the atrocity and its aftermath as a political discussion. “When former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was doing his 2012 campaign for Jewish refugees from Arab lands,” asserts Lyn Julius of the British organization HARIF – Association of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, “hardly a day went by when certain Jewish or Israeli newspapers did not politicize the matter, or suggest Israel was exploiting the issue for political gain.”

In that vein, the day before the June 1, 2015 UN event, one prominent Jewish newspaper published an article on the Farhud, which included this observation: “Now, Jewish organizations and the Israeli government deploy it [memory of the Farhud] frequently to support their claims for refugee recognition on behalf of Middle Eastern Jews.” Before the UN ceremony, three different irate members of the audience showed me this article on their tablets, and the consensus of disdain was expressed by one Sephardic gentleman who objected, first quoting the newspaper with derision: “‘Deploy it frequently to support their claims for refugee recognition on behalf of Middle Eastern Jews?'” and then adding, “They would never say such a thing about the European Kristallnacht!” The complainers were equally astonished that this prominent article made no mention of the Mufti of Jerusalem. They felt the complete omission of Husseini’s involvement and the marginalization of their nightmare was typical of the roadblocks they had encountered during their decades-long struggle for recognition of their anguish.

But on June 1, 2015, yes, 74 inexcusably years late and, yes, not an hour too soon, after waiting for thirty minutes beneath a gaggle of umbrellas in the torrential rain at a narrow admittance gate on First Ave, and then into a packed hall at the UN, attended by diplomats from several countries, human rights activists of various causes and key Jewish leaders from a communal spectrum, in an event broadcast worldwide live by the UN itself, the stalwarts of Farhud memory gathered to finally make the proclamation of International Farhud Day — and made it loud and clear. In doing so, they made history by simply recognizing history.

All they wanted was to be remembered — to change the headline on their suffering from “the forgotten pogrom” to “the not forgotten pogrom.” All they wanted was to draw back the curtain of their sorrow without an asterisk, without a parenthetical, without a “but also” or a “however” or a political catchphrase to qualify or filter their disconsolation. In short, they wanted to take their place in the annals of misery for the same reason all other Jews gather into that space: so they can help whisper endlessly the words “never again” as a beacon to humanity.

That happened on June 1, 2015, 74 years too late but not a minute too soon. The official proclamation was read aloud that day to the world: “On behalf of Iraqi Jews everywhere who yearn to commemorate the Farhud, the Holocaust-era massacre by Arab nationalists in coordination with the Nazis, which occurred June 1-2, 1941 in Baghdad, killing hundreds of innocent Jews and brutalizing thousands more, and pillaging their property …. and on behalf of those who recognize that Palestinian Arab leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, were central instigators of the violence in Baghdad, along with Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali al-Gailani and the Golden Square coup plotters … and on behalf of those who yearn to recognize that the Farhud was the first step in the process which resulted in the forced exodus of 850,000 to 900,000 Jewish refugees from centuries of peaceful existence in Arab countries … The organizations and individuals assembled and represented here, this June 1, 2015, in New York City at the United Nations, do hereby proclaim June 1st as International Farhud Day, to recognize and commemorate the Nazi-allied massacre by Arabs, the mass forced exodus that followed, and the 850,000 to 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab Lands. We recognize this date as a lamented day of history that should not be forgotten.”

Seven parchment copies were signed by the five key organizers: Rabbi Elie Abadie of Jews for Justice in Arab Lands, Alyza D. Lewin for both the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Maurice Shohet of the World Organization of Jews in Iraq, Avi Posnick for StandWithus, and myself as historian. Signing as witness for the proceedings was Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Numerous Jewish and non-Jewish organizations both here and abroad added their voices as co-sponsors, such as Philadelphia-based Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, HARIF – Association of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East in London, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, and the Babylonian Heritage Society of Israel.

On behalf of Congressional Israel-Allies Caucus in the House of Representatives, co-chair Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), issued a public statement expressing “deepest solidarity with Iraqi and the Arab world’s Jews. Franks declared, “Today we will change the first of June from a day of a near-forgotten tragedy into International Farhud Day – a day of commemoration – when we call on the entire world to remember the disaster that befell the Arab world’s Jews, and to do justice by them and their descendants.”

Those who know the complex inter-relations and brimming calendar of the Jewish communal scene would understandably guess that such an international and multi-organizational undertaking ‑‑ at the UN as a live global event no less ‑‑ would necessitate many months of tedious planning, and probably a grant or two from the donor community. In fact, the entire enterprise took just six weeks from the first light bulb email on April 9 to the culminating applause of Farhud Day on June 1, 2015. As a testament to the long overdue recognition and the deep-seated and visceral understanding of the tragedy, uncharacteristically, the prime movers came together immediately, cohesively, and with humanitarian synchrony. There was no real funding, except for the shoestring contributions of the participants. A team of volunteers were found to man the event.

Key among the responsible parties was Alyza Lewin who had successfully coordinated a UN event on UNRWA some months earlier. The two organizations she represented, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, combined the heft of their juridical grasp of international law and human rights abuses to inject the needed gravitas and perspective. Rabbi Elie Abadie, born in Beirut, heads up Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and has long been a warrior for recognition of both the Farhud and the unrecognized and forgotten nightmare of 850,000 to 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries. When he agreed to be program moderator, Rabbi Abadie imbued the effort with the long overlooked activist fire needed to fuel the effort. Maurice Shohet, as head of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq added the indispensable historical sinew to the survivor and descendant community. His dignity and intrinsic epicentral voice was listened to at all times as the program was developed. StandWithUs, as America’s pre-eminent Jewish and Israel defense organization, was not new to the topic. For years, its president Roz Rothstein had elevated the Farhud and the related forced expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands to a prominent place in the constellation of StandWithUs causes.

My end was simply the history. History, when connected to the present, can be a spark plug for the future.

Unlisted in the list of proclamation signers, was Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Its mighty efforts bored through tunnels of UN bureaucracy and secured the space, time, and broadcast slot at the UN. Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador David Roet came forward to provide introductory remarks for the UN program and, in so doing, revealed his family’s personal connection to the historical injustice of the Holocaust — a credential all too often known among Israeli diplomats. Two Long Island Jewish high schools, Mesivta and Shalhevet, organized a bus of students who came to witness the making of history.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry devoted a page International Farhud Day. The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles opened a page as well. So did the Israeli Consulate in Boston. Google added the day to their online calendar cites. Within 48 hours of the event, a simple Google search yielded more than 5,000 entries for “International Farhud Day.” Hashtags such as for #FarhudDay appeared.

From that very rainy moment June 1, 2015 at the UN and going forward, memories of the day Baghdad burned in 1941, will no longer be invisible, muffled, or parenthesized. The long, painful threnody of the Holocaust that never lacks for cadenzas now includes a refrain for the Jews of Baghdad and 850,000 of their co-religionists across the Arab world for whom the persecution never stopped when the Third Reich was toppled in May 1945. For them, forever more, we have imbued an added dimension, in a macabre cubist process that never lacks for additional dimensions, when we look out, look back, and look within, to intone the haunting always-wafting injunction: Never Again.

Edwin Black is the author of "IBM and the Holocaust", and "The Farhud -- Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust". He began the initiative to proclaim "International Farhud Day" at the United Nations.


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Saudi Columnists: Saudi Minors' Involvement In ISIS Requires A Reexamination Of Our Culture - E. Ezrahi

by E. Ezrahi

The involvement of minors in Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia caused a stir in the country's press. Articles on the issue harshly criticized Saudi culture, saying that it was saturated with sectarian hatred and with admiration of violence, and called for fundamental changes in it.


A terror cell arrested recently in Saudi Arabia includes two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old, the Saudi Interior Ministry has revealed. The cell carried out the May 22, 2015 bombing of the Shi'ite mosque in Al-Qudaih in eastern Saab, in which 22 were killed and dozens wounded, and planned several other attacks in the country.[1]

Left to right: 'Abdallah Al-Sa'awi, 16;, 'Abdallah Al-Taleq, 15; Saleh Al-Sa'awi, 15. Source: Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 26, 2015)

The involvement of minors in Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia caused a stir in the country's press. Articles on the issue harshly criticized Saudi culture, saying that it was saturated with sectarian hatred and with admiration of violence, and called for fundamental changes in it. They further claimed that Saudi society suffocates the instincts and urges of young Saudis, pushing them to seek an outlet in destructive alternatives such as joining terrorist groups, and that the Saudi regime must reexamine the measures that it has taken thus far to combat terrorism because it clearly remains helpless against the current terrorist activity.

At the same time, a controversy has also arisen in the country on the issue of young children's exposure to firearms and violence; this followed the emergence of the phenomenon of videos on social media showing little girls firing rifles and teen boys brandishing firearms.

The following are excerpts from the articles on the subject:

Saudi Academic: Our Culture, Language And School Curricula Glorify Violence And Destruction

Dr. Saghir Al-'Anzi, an academic at Saudi Arabia's Northern Borders University, wrote that Saudi culture, language, and school curricula glorify killing and violence, and that as long as this fact is ignored, it is pointless to ask families and schools to boost their education and supervision of the children. A substantial reform of Saudi culture is needed, he said, to defeat ISIS:

"Our social culture, which incites to violence and cloaks it in pleasing attire, has managed to keep us from understanding the dangerous results [of violence], for we have grown used to its ideas since childhood and have never discussed or pondered it, and habit blinds one's eyes and seals one's ears. Our language, in its cunning beauty, has imbued us with extremist thinking that maintains its tyrannical [grip] even in [this] civilized age. The home produces extremism, and [our] school curricula inculcate exclusion [of the other] and glorify destruction...

"Our families and our schools exalt and empower the cause of destructive heroism. The reason we are so impressed by 'the hero' – who is our supreme social symbol ­– lies in his ability to create and export violence. Our concept of heroism boils down almost exclusively to the intensity of violence and bloody solutions. The stories that excite us are those in which the hero can be seen beheading [his enemies], and the more he succeeds in sowing destruction, the more he captures [our] hearts. Fathers recount such [tales] to their children and grandmothers recount the praiseworthy deeds of the grandfather, who quenched the soil with blood. School curricula continue to teach grammar by plying pupils with 1,300-year-old linguistic examples… For literary texts they give us qasidas[2] of heroism, where we exult in the beauty of murder and destruction and become intoxicated with them, and they reside within us without us even noticing… Many of the cultural tools we use for education at home and in school involve extremely violent methods that inculcate extremism.

"This raises an important question: when we ask families to reinforce the education of their children and tighten their supervision, [or] when we urge the schools and universities to do the same, are we eliminating extremism or intensifying it? When someone lacks a certain [value], is he [capable of] imparting it? Someone who believes in a negative value without [even] noticing its negativity, is he capable of planting the opposite, positive value in the mind of another?

"Before we exhort any party to fulfill his role in oversight and education, we must reexamine our culture, values, customs and sayings, and see which [of them] are truly rooted in religion and are entirely humanistic, and which of them [merely] exploit religion for their own purpose, yet we mistakenly consider them to be supreme values when they are [in fact] the very opposite. We must arm ourselves with transparency and courage when we come to discuss our day-to-day culture… If we want reform, we should not call the examination of our cultural and educational faults 'self-flagellation,' and we should not be squeamish about unveiling the defects in these [educational] methods and reforming them. This does not detract from our worth; on the contrary, it makes us a better society. It is not difficult to conduct self-criticism; remove from our midst solutions that advocate force as the sole means of self-realization; seek positive solutions by whose light to educate the youth, as well as cultural sayings that view awareness as a source of dignified existence; and create sayings, parables and language that support coexistence [with others]… and which prefer intellect and vision over a 'coercive' solution.

"Many of the values that have gone unexamined, the parables that have been accepted as wise, and the sayings that have become inflexible laws have actively contributed to forming little ISIS activists inside each and every one of us, and therefore also in the minds of the younger generation – creating [a personality type] that exults in murder. If we truly want to eliminate the big ISIS activists, we must first of all eliminate the small ISIS activists inside of us."[3]

"The Nunu children's channel"; at the bottom of the screen: "Breaking news. We apologize for interrupting the cartoon to report the arrest of three children [belonging] to a terror cell" (Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2015)

Saudi Writer: Teens Join Terror Organizations To Escape Repressive Society 

In his May 26, 2015 column in the Saudi government daily 'Okaz, senior journalist Khalaf Al-Harbi wrote that the suffocating atmosphere of Saudi society makes young people feel isolated and pushes them to seek an outlet in harmful alternatives such as watching online pornography, abusing drugs or joining terror organizations. He wrote: "The interior ministry noted in its announcements that the ISIS cell recently captured included boys and teens aged 15-19. While the ministry's announcements focused on the role of the family in watching children's behavior, I wish to point to the role of the larger family (society), which puts pressure on boys and young men every day, keeps them from enjoying themselves and constantly blames them – until they have no choice but to escape to the edge of town where they can practice [car] drifting like madmen, or else escape to the internet and its virtual worlds, and later join the terror networks.

"Saudis, look at the data we have from across the world that compares [the various countries]. Even if we do not rank first in the world, we do rank fifth. But in what? In scientific discoveries? No. In technological discoveries? In technological advances? No. Only in deadly road accidents, in number of internet porn movies watched, in number of Kik[4] users, in number of individuals joining the terror organizations... and in the amount of drugs captured per capita!

"All this has only one explanation, namely that the world is changing fast, and oppression and isolation are grinding our young people down. Whenever any one of us criticizes the various expressions of extremism, he is immediately accused of being a secularist, liberal or Zionist, or of wanting to corrupt society. [But] the truth is that, even if the most satanical demons and people [in the world all] worked hard to corrupt the youth, they would not have managed to generate the disastrous levels [of corruption] that our youth has attained. Extremists have come out against book fairs, song concerts, shopping, the pluralistic press and television channels. So what recreation [options] do these youngsters have left? There are [summer] camps where they are isolated from their families and society, to make it easier to recruit them to the terror networks. There are remote roads where young men drift [cars] until they kill themselves. There are secret rooms where they take drugs, far away from watching eyes. [And] there are websites where they watch porn, with nobody supervising. That is the bitter truth, even if you try to escape it... 

"If the pressure on the youth continues, your children will devour you and themselves. Don't keep them from living just because you yourselves were denied life, [for] they will lead you to the worst [possible fate]. The ongoing attempts of the security apparatuses to arrest one or two terrorists, or ten or one hundred, may be successful. But the existing climate of oppression, isolation and suspicion may produce thousands of [other] crazy young people who sought life and, not finding it, turned eagerly towards death![5]
Fourteen Years Of Combating Terror Have Been In Vain

In another column, Al-Harbi called to recognize that none of the studies, reforms and debates in Saudi Arabia have led to finding an adequate solution to the problem of terrorism, and that new methods were needed to combat it. He wrote: "A friend pointed out to me that, today, the age of those who join terrorist groups is around 15-16... This means that they were one year old when 9/11 happened in the U.S, and three or four years old when Al-Qaeda carried out several terror attacks in Saudi Arabia. Its means they started school when a firm position against terrorism was [already] in place, and everyone understood the magnitude of the threat it poses to the country and the world. [Since then], for 14 years, dialogue forums and studies have tried to trace the roots of terror and propose ways to eliminate it. Ideas and curricula have been overhauled, and controversies regarding this [process] required establishing teams to overhaul the overhaul. There have been television programs and real time television debates. But none of this kept young people from joining terror organizations, and none of this was any use...

"The [ideas] that have been put up the blackboard these past 14 years have not been bad at all, but if you want the truth, it would be better to look for it rewrite the [entire] lesson plan! This, because the state of terrorism is much more complicated today, now that online social media networks are providing fertile ground for recruiting suicide bombers, and now that terror organizations are infiltrating the corridors of cyberspace. Moreover, the targets of the terror organizations have changed, and are no longer as hard [to hit] as they were. We are no longer talking about a military base of American soldiers, but of the first group of innocent civilians that [the terrorists happen to find,] walking by on the street, praying at a mosque or shopping at the market!... Fourteen years of [combating] terror have missed the mark!... Will we correct [the mistakes of] the past?" [6]  

'Al-Riyadh': Exposing Young Children To Firearms Produces A Violent Generation

Along with criticism of the Saudi teens' involvement in the ISIS cell, Saudi media also criticized the culture of exposing young children to firearms and violence. This issue came up in early April 2015, after videos were posted on social media showing little girls firing a rifle as family members urged them on. The videos evoked furious comments, and were condemned on social networks and by various experts.[7]

The government Saudi daily Al-Riyadh addressed the matter in an article titled "Firearms In The Hands Of Children – We Do Not Want An Aggressive Generation." It stated: "Perhaps the girl who appeared on social networks carrying a firearm and firing several shots, under the supervision and with the encouragement of her father, who reiterates his pride and support, is not a common sight. [However,] this is a negative and dangerous phenomenon, which threatens these children's proper development. It could sow negative ideas in their hearts and influence their behavior and social life, and the formation of their personalities... as well as prevent them from leading their lives in their society. A child who has grown used to acting violently and aggressively can constitute a danger to society, and can cause the spread and growth of this plague. Any family that educates its son in racist extremism, and gets him accustomed to bearing arms, may be preparing him to carry out violent actions in the future..."

The newspaper interviewed education experts who condemned the phenomenon, saying that it has a negative impact on children, harms their development and the formation of their personalities, and could help foster extremist, violent, and racist tendencies. The experts interviewed say that on the societal level, these influences on the child's development could loosen bonds between groups in Saudi society and harm national unity.[8]

Girls firing rifles in videos posted to YouTube

Another Al-Riyadh article, titled "Firearms In Our Home – Our Children In Danger," highlighted the destructive consequences of carrying firearms and of keeping them in the home, a practice common in Saudi society. It quoted Saudis who warned about the danger inherent in doing so, particularly when firearms are carried by teens who cannot understand the danger they pose, especially when they get involved in fights with other teens.

The article notes that the Saudi Education Ministry has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of firearms among teens and among their parents and teachers. It also notes that it is illegal to sell firearms in Saudi Arabia, and that the Interior Ministry is tracking attempts to do so online and via social media and arrests violators.[9]

Education Ministry campaign: "No Guns"

*E. Ezrahi is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London),, May 24, 2015.
[2] An ancient form of Arabic poetry. typically written in praise of a king or a nobleman.
[3] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) May 26, 2015.
[4] Kik is an instant messaging application for mobile devices that allows users to maintain privacy.
[5] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 26, 2015.
[6] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), June 14, 2015.
[8] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 20, 2015.
[9] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), March 6, 2015.

E. Ezrahi is a research fellow at MEMRI.


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The failure of the West - Omer Dostri

by Omer Dostri

These unequivocal declarations made by Iran's spiritual leader -- the country's highest authority on security and foreign affairs -- is more than a hint of Iran's intention to maintain its nuclear program and its effort to develop nuclear weapons.

Just a week before the deadline for Iran and world powers to reach a final nuclear agreement, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered an aggressive speech on Tuesday that symbolized more than anything the West's failure in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

In his speech, Khamenei demanded the West immediately lift all sanctions as soon as a final deal was reached, contrary to the West's demand for gradual sanctions removal. Khamenei also ruled out freezing Iran's nuclear program for longer than a decade and reiterated his refusal to allow inspectors access to Iranian military sites.

These unequivocal declarations made by Iran's spiritual leader -- the country's highest authority on security and foreign affairs -- is more than a hint of Iran's intention to maintain its nuclear program and its effort to develop nuclear weapons.

Two weeks ago, at a press conference on the second anniversary of his election, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made similar comments. And if all these statements are not enough to constitute a glaring warning about Iran's plans, the 2014 Country Reports on Terrorism that was published by the U.S. State Department earlier this week revealed that Iran's support of global terrorism has not only continued, but also expanded. 

Lifting all sanctions currently imposed on Iran as part of the final accord would be a dangerous move that would boost the Iranian economically significantly and allow it to further increase its support of global terrorism. 

Meanwhile, according to a document revealed last week by WikiLeaks, in 2012 Saudi diplomats in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, believed Iran had shipped advanced nuclear equipment, including centrifuges for enriching uranium, to Sudan. 

Eight months later, in October of that year, foreign media reported that Israel struck an arms factory in Sudan. 

Even if the WikiLeaks information was false (Saudi Arabia did not deny it), it was an illustration to the West of what Iran is capable of doing to preserve its nuclear capabilities.

If not in Sudan, Iran could transport to another location and even continue to develop it there.

The series of declarations, voiced by Iran's most senior officials, who have been clear about Iran's commitment to continued development of its nuclear program, indicate that the chances for the final deal between world powers and Iran by June 30 is quite low.

If indeed a deal is eventually signed, the West would be compelled to make further gestures to Iran, making the deal completely redundant. 

Even without any further Western concessions being made, the deal, according to the current details that have been reported, would enable Iran to, within a few years, turn into a threatening nuclear power with international legitimacy and a legal stamp to whitewash any of its violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Omer Dostri


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Iran's supreme leader is laughing, for good reason - Boaz Bismuth

by Boaz Bismuth

The U.S. and its partners are reportedly ready to provide the Iranians with advanced nuclear reactors and equipment, giving the impression that no matter how hard the ayatollah tries to torpedo nuclear talks with the world powers, they just won't let him.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Photo credit: AP

Boaz Bismuth


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Poll Shows High Levels of Support for Shariah Law and Violence Among American Muslims - Sierra Rayne

by Sierra Rayne

-- "nearly one-fifth of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the United States is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in this country," the CSP polling data showed.

The Center for Security Policy (CSP) has released the results of a poll showing alarmingly high levels of support for shariah law and violence among the American Muslim community.

According to the nationwide survey, "significant minorities embrace supremacist notions that could pose a threat to America's security and its constitutional form of government."

A majority (51 percent) of Muslims surveyed said they "should have the choice of being governed according to shariah."

Almost 30 percent of American Muslims believe it is legitimate to use violence "against those that insult the prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, or Islamic faith."

One-quarter of Muslims said that "violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad."

Even more ominous, "nearly one-fifth of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the United States is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in this country," the CSP polling data showed.

When asked "if shariah conflicts with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which law should be considered supreme?," one-third of Muslim respondents said shariah.

As for their political views, 48 percent of the Muslims surveyed said they are Democrats, 19 percent are Independents, and just 19 percent are Republicans.

Sierra Rayne


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