Friday, December 17, 2021

Jewish Anti-Semitism Denial - Richard L. Cravatts


by Richard L. Cravatts

Canadian Jewish professors and self-loathing.


In what can only be characterized as the latest example of Jewish self-loathing, a group of morally deranged faculty has joined forces to create a new organization, the sole purpose of which is to derail the adoption and use of the working definition of anti-Semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The organization, the Jewish Faculty Network (JFN), is comprised of some 140 Canadian academics who last March published a statement in which they decried the IRHA definition, suggesting at that time that, “as Jews,” they wished to “add our voices to a growing international movement of Jewish scholars to insist that university policies to combat antisemitism are not used to stifle legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state, or the right to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

What Jews could possibly interfere or take issue with a tool for identifying anti-Semitic behavior and expression when it manifests itself? Why would anyone, Jewish or not, try to reject a working definition of anti-Semitism that has been adopted by some 35 countries, international organizations, and 30 universities, all of which see the IHRA definition as an important vehicle for ameliorating a surge of anti-Semitism, both on campuses and outside the university walls?

The answer is revealed when these woke activist professors finally disclose why they object to efforts to have the IHRA definition adopted on their respective campuses: regardless of whether or not it helps expose anti-Semites, for the JFN the greatest concern, “the most serious problem  . . . is that the definition is tied to a series of examples of which many are criticisms of the Israeli state.” For this group, whose members are an active and vocal part of the campaign to decry the very existence of the Jewish state, linking instances of anti-Israelism with anti-Semitism is completely unacceptable, because, they contend, the use of the IHRA definition “threatens to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s grave violations of international law and denial of Palestinian human and political rights.” 

Only in the inverted reality of academia could a group of Jewish professors denounce a tool which has as its core purpose to identify and define current-day instances of anti-Semitism, preferring, instead, to stand in solidarity with Israel’s ideological enemies, the same individuals who are largely responsible for the present tsunami of Jew-hatred or campuses, disguised as “criticism of Israel.”  In fact, as supporters of the IHRA definition have urged universities to adopt it, the very people who object to its use are the ones complicit in propagating the bigotry it was created to address.

Why should professors, and especially Jewish professors, care more about supporting the right of pro-Palestinians to voice their loathsome views concerning Zionism, Israel, and Jewish self-determination and the people—including non-Jews--who support them than they do about protecting Jewish students and faculty from anti-Semitic bigotry that frequently intrudes on the periphery of the Israel/Palestinian debate?

What would make them wish to proudly stand in solidarity with the ideological and existential enemies of the Jewish state and protect their supposed right to freely spew forth libels, slanders, and lies about Israel in an incessant, singularly-focused campaign that holds Israel to a double standard when judging other nations and omits comparable critiquing of any other nation on earth—both instances that the IHRA definition suggests can be n example of anti-Semitism.

What is so noble and virtuous about Palestinian self-determination that would compel these Jewish professors to want to protect its articulation more than they wish to suppress anti-Semitism?

Is it the genocidal charter of Hamas, the Palestinian leadership in Gaza, which is committed to the murder of Jews everywhere, not just in Israel, and are theologically and ideologically committed to the destruction of the Jewish state?

Could it be the stellar leadership of Fatah by the so-called moderate Mahmoud Abbas, someone who is furious when Jews “defile” the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, with “their filthy feet” or publicly announces that not one Jew will be allowed to live in a new Palestinian state—a salient example of the apartheid that Israel is always falsely accused of committing against the Palestinian Arabs?.

Do those standing in solidarity with the Palestinians do so because of the peculiar culture of death in which martyrdom is celebrated for those who immolate themselves in an attempt to murder Jews and who have a grotesque “pay to slay” program that pays hundreds of millions of dollars in bounties to terrorists and their families for having successfully killed Israeli civilians?

Or does this fervent support come from an admiration of the campus version of being pro-Palestinian which is comprised almost exclusively of a campaign to denounce and decry every aspect of Israel’s existence, using a visceral hatred in a narrative of lies and contortions of history in prolonged hate-fests like “Israeli Apartheid Week,” Holocaust in the Holy Land,” “Israel: The Fourth Reich” and other venomous events designed to malign Israel and reduce its support in the community of nations?

Is this the cause to which these professors lend their vigorous support? Would they as energetically support the free speech rights of a white power group on campus? Would they fret so excessively if the speech was “chilled” of an anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-Hispanic organization that maligned its targets of hate with the same passion and vituperation endemic to the anti-Israel campaign that these professors facilitate and with which they are complicit?

Of course not. No such groups would even be allowed to organize and campaign on any university campus in the United States in the first place, and these woke professors would not step over each other to defend the odious ideology of these groups, though they seem oblivious to the fact that they are helping to insulate the poisonous pro-Palestinian campaign on campuses by resisting the use of a tool—the IHRA definition—that will help administrators and others clearly identify those instances when anti-Israel activism crosses the line into anti-Semitism.

These professors, like many on the Left, never see their own role in perpetuating anti-Semitism as part of the anti-Israel campaign, pointing to other sources of anti-Jewish bigotry as a way of deflecting their own complicity. “The IHRA working definition distracts from experiences of anti-Jewish racism,” the JFN statement claimed, suggesting that the real instances of anti-Semitism emanate from white supremacy, an accusation that became ubiquitous after the election of Donald Trump as part of the mendacious narrative that he emboldened white supremacists and fascists and that within their ranks lay the most troubling sources of anti-Semitism.

But that is precisely why the IHRA definition dwells disproportionately on items involving Israel: because contemporary cases of anti-Semitism most frequently occur and manifest themselves in the debate around Israel and the Palestinians. Critics of the IHRA have been adamant, of course, in their belief that anti-Zionism is completely disconnected from anti-Semitism, and that even venomous, vile, and out of proportion criticism of Israel is never, never an example of anti-Semitism, even though the IHRA definition has determined that, in some contexts, it often is. It is obvious why anti-Semites, and those who apologize for or are complicit in this bigotry, would seek to ignore a definition of anti-Semitism that calls reveals them as being anti-Semitic, exactly why the JFN and other groups and individuals have ignored the IHRA tool.

Anti-Semites do not get to decide what is, and is not, anti-Semitic. The JFN statement cautioned that the IHRA definition “threatens to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s grave violations of international law and denial of Palestinian human and political rights,” but, again, anti-Semites do not get to define what is “legitimate criticism of Israel” and what is part of a campaign to demonize Jewish self-determination by maligning Zionism, accusing Israel of being a racist endeavor, and of being singularly responsible for all the ills that have befallen the Palestinians, an incantation of the Third Reich, and an obstacle to peace throughout the Middle East.

JFN members also exhibit a paranoia about their ability in the future to continue their abhorrent campaign to defame Israel, suggesting that the IHRA definition will “chill” free speech, suppress academic freedom, and stifle research and scholarly debate. How would that happen? “On campuses where this definition has been adopted,” the JFN statement claimed, “it has been used to intimidate and silence the work of unions, student groups, academic departments and faculty associations that are committed to freedom, equality and justice for Palestinians.” Intimidated and silenced? The blatancy of pro-Palestinian activism on university campuses is so visible and ever-present, and so radical and venomous, no one could reasonably claim that any anti-Israel activists are being silenced or intimated, just as this group of morally-challenged professors feels perfectly comfortable with denouncing a tool to curb anti-Semitism on behalf of the genocidally-inspired pro-Palestinian movement.

And the adoption of the IHRA definition does not mean that anti-Semites will have to cease articulating their bigotry, anyway; it will just mean that their expression and behavior can and will be called anti-Semitic if and when it is. A normal person would not have any problem that happening; someone more concerned with virtue-signaling how tolerant and compassionate they are for the every-victimized Palestinians, of course, would.

And there is another, more psychologically interesting aspect to a group of Jewish professors opposing a tool that attempts to protect Jewish students and others from the pernicious effects of anti-Semitism, an aspect that Harvard’s insightful Ruth Wisse dealt with in her book, If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews: the professors attacked the IHRA definition specifically because it deals with Israel, and how academia reacts to the debate about the Jewish state and its surrounding Arab neighbors. Rather than confront the lies and distortions promulgated by the Arab world against Israel over its alleged racism, apartheid, settlements, and lack of a just solution to the so-called occupation, anti-Israel liberal Jews completely accept the spurious new narrative of Israel being the sole villain, and, in fact, often abet it with their own condemnations of the Jewish state.

For Wisse, this behavior could “more accurately be described as the desire to disassociate oneself from a people under attack by advertising one’s own goodness,” a psychological pattern that has manifested itself conspicuously on campuses and seems to be at play in the current instance with the Jewish Faculty Network. So worried are these professors that by accepting the use of a working definition of anti-Semitism they will somehow be seen to be complicit in defending Israel, they would rather denounce the definition and expose Jewish students to potential harm than stand up for principles that might tarnish their liberal credentials.

It is easy to demonize Israel and critique its strategy and politics, and certainly it requires no bravery in academia, where moral narcissists console each other in an echo chamber of good intentions, willing to sacrifice academic integrity, true scholarship, and the safety and viability of the Jewish state in the process.


Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

The Iranian threat cannot be underestimated - Meir Ben-Shabbat


by Meir Ben-Shabbat

While Israel’s strategic standing is solid, it is also fragile. Domestic challenges, including internal strife, have diminished governability, and rising crime rates are a disturbing warning sign. And above all hovers the peril of the ayatollahs’ regime.

As we enter the new year, Israel’s strategic position is sound, but fragile and facing many challenges. Sound, because despite the events of the past year, Israel ends 2021 with its diplomatic standing strong, its economy robust and its military power established beyond doubt. Israel continues to harvest the fruits of its diplomatic achievements, of the perception of its prowess and of being a nation of innovation and technology.

Fragile in view of the large number of volatile issues that it faces, the connections between them and the broad implications of each. Above all, of course, the Iranian nuclear issue on which we are approaching a decisive point, and where tensions are increasing in the diplomatic arena and on the security front.

That Israel faces many challenges seems to always be the case. But at this time, among those challenges is the need to tread lightly on every level, from the strategic to the operative planes. Some of the challenges the country currently faces involve decisions on issues within the Israeli sphere itself.

The unity of Israeli society is essential to our national resilience. This is true at any time, and all the more so because of the challenges that the political-security reality may spring upon us. The tensions between Jews and Arabs in mixed cities since “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in May, the decline in the sense of personal safety, the apparent decline in governability and the increase in serious crime in the Arab sector have created new fissures and deepened existing ones. These are the results of internal polarization.

The situation assessment on this matter necessitates a change of approach, and addressing these issues must be among the government’s primary goals for the coming year.

An existential threat

What is the ultimate goal? Where should we be focusing our efforts?

First, bolstering Israel as a strong, safe and prosperous Jewish and democratic state. This ultimate goal should dictate where the state focuses its efforts, and should serve as the compass by which we set concrete goals in all fields for the planning and operational bodies. While this effort should reflect a desire to stay as close as possible to the practical plane, that does not render insignificant the important debate on the big questions of identity, destination and vision.

Second, preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state. In other words, Israel’s primary challenge in 2022 is the effort to prevent the Islamic Republic from becoming a nuclear state or a threshold state.

Simply put, a threshold state is one with the technology and capabilities to put together a nuclear weapon, but which has yet to do so.

Why does Iran view its nuclear program so highly that it is willing to risk paying unbearable costs because of it? One can sum up the answer in two words: survivability and vision.

Iran strives for nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of the ayatollahs’ regime in the event of external military intervention to topple it. The regime’s endurance is a guarantor that from a historical perspective, the Islamic Revolution will be more than just a passing episode. The regime’s survival is also the main tool to achieve its ambitious vision.

Nuclear weapons, or even the status of a threshold state, will enable Iran freedom of operation in its subversive maneuvers and its plans to establish Iranian hegemony in the region. It will be able to operate proxy forces under the deterrence that this status will add to its arsenal, and will enjoy improved global status and greater negotiating leeway on various issues.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran are an existential threat to Israel. One cannot assume that at any given time and in any scenario, Iran will act rationally, according to greater win/lose considerations that would dissuade it from directly striking Israel. Iran’s repeated comparing of Israel to cancerous growth and its consistent threats to destroy the Jewish state reflect Tehran’s deep animosity toward it.

One does not need a fervent imagination to come up with a scenario in which internal turmoil in Iran leads the regime to conclude that it is nearing its end, thus creating the temptation, a moment before the fall, to use the nuclear weapons in its hands—as if to say, “Let me die with the Little Satan.”

Even without the apocalyptic scenario of Iran dropping a bomb, the threat it poses to Israel is intolerable. Achieving the status of a nuclear state will enable Iran to send its proxy forces to carry out massive conventional attacks against its enemies without fear of military reprisal. Iran will be able to watch safely from the sidelines as its proxies pound its enemies with thousands of missiles. This could apply to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and the various other militias supported by Iran.

Moreover, if Iran becomes a nuclear state or a threshold state, this will lead to a nuclear arms race across the entire region. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others will not stand aside and watch. The list of potential regional ramifications is too long to detail here, to fully describe the implications of such a process, but suffice it to say that peace and stability are not on the menu.


Meir Ben-Shabbat


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Rep. Adam Schiff doctored a Rep. Jim Jordan text message - Andrea Widburg


by Andrea Widburg

As part of the Democrats’ relentless effort to turn January 6 into something more than a protest that got out of hand, Schiff engages (again) in fraud.

At law, fraud is a very specific act requiring that the person charged with fraud knowingly makes a false statement intending that people rely on it. The fraud becomes actionable if people do rely on it to their detriment. The falsehood can be from commission (telling an affirmative lie) or omission (suppressing a critical fact). From the moment Trump entered the White House, chipmunk-cheeked Rep. Adam Schiff (D. Hollyweird), has been defrauding the American people with one lie after another.

Schiff’s latest fraudulent act as part of his role on the Soviet-style show trial that is the January 6 committee was to doctor a text message from Rep. Jim Jordan to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. Schiff made it appear that Jordan was ordering Pence to refuse to certify the election.

However, on Wednesday, Sean Davis, at The Federalist, broke the news about Schiff’s intentional fraud against the American people. Here’s how the fraud worked:

Schiff read aloud from a purported text from Jordan to Meadows. Additionally, he showed an image on the screen that made it appear as if the following message is the entire communication between Jordan and Meadows:

Here’s a still frame of the text message Schiff claimed came from a “lawmaker”:

Image: Schiff’s doctored text. YouTube screen grab.

Reading that text shows clearly that Jordan was instructing Meadows to force Pence to refuse to certify the election—something that could be construed as a conspiracy or collusion in connection with the claimed “insurrection” (which, of course, never actually happened).

However, The Federalist’s investigation discovered that Schiff committed a giant fraud by omission. To understand what he did, think of a sleazy movie ad that includes a quote saying “This movie is an exceptional...comedy,” when the real quote was “This movie is an exceptional example of how a bad director and a bad cast can destroy a comedy.” Schiff did the same with Jordan’s text message, leaving out a whole bunch of important stuff.

What really happened was that Jordan received a draft legal brief from a Washington attorney and former Department of Defense Inspector General named Joseph Schmitz. The four-page document was replete with citations to legal authority, including the Founders themselves, explaining why there was a relevant case to be made that Pence had constitutional authority to refuse to accept certification from those states that had manifestly questionable practices before, during, and after the election. As Davis writes at The Federalist, by the next day, Schmitz’s memo was available online.

Image: Schiff lying about a text message (edited in befunky). YouTube screen grab.

Schmitz sent Jordan the memo, along with a three-paragraph text message summarizing the memo’s contents:

On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence.

‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).

Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.

Jordan, in turn, forwarded Schmitz’s text message and memo to Meadows. What Schiff did was to take the first paragraph from the summary, insert a period after the word “all,” and delete everything after the em dash:

On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all. — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence.

Schiff also omitted telling the commission and the American people that the sentence he’d so dishonestly edited wasn’t an order that Jordan was issuing to Meadows or Pence but was, in fact, part of a longer, thoughtful legal analysis from Schmitz. If you’re looking for a perfect example of a fraudulent lie by omission, Schiff’s purported “lawmaker text to Meadows” is it.

Committing fraud in pursuit of political goals is Schiff’s modus operandi. He lied about having seen evidence of Russian collusion, he lied about what Trump said to Ukraine President Zelenskyy, and now he’s lying about Jim Jordan’s texts. The only people who could ever be deceived at this point by anything Schiff says are willing victims—and that perfectly describes the members of the January 6 committee, each of whom is desperate to destroy President Trump by making the ludicrous claim that a protest that got out of hand (almost certainly with help from deep state provocateurs) was an “insurrection” that struck at the heart of American democracy.

Schiff, as his name somehow always reminds us, is a piece of human detritus, and those on the committee who willingly accept his blatantly fraudulent representations are too.


Andrea Widburg


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Lithuania Stands Up to China: Europe Should Too - Soeren Kern


by Soeren Kern

"The tiny nation of Lithuania is punching way above its weight and has set a benchmark that the rest of the European Union must support and follow."

  • Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says that his country will not capitulate to bullying from China and that he is committed to defending the principles and values of democracy from attack.

  • "China is trying to make an example out of us — a negative example — so that other countries do not follow our path. Therefore, it is a matter of principle how the Western community, the United States, and European Union react." — Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Lithuania's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

  • "The tiny nation of Lithuania is punching way above its weight and has set a benchmark that the rest of the European Union must support and follow. Such leadership, particularly when stronger countries like Germany and France are buckling under the pressure and onslaught of this rising rogue nation, needs to be supported by countries across the world." — Gautam Chikermane, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation.

  • "It is time for the EU to end its extramarital affairs with authoritarianism.... That China is a threat to democracies, in general, and the EU, in particular, is visible to all but the EU. Other than geography, the essence of the EU is values. And one event after another, one country at a time, the EU is giving them up." — Gautam Chikermane.

  • "China as a communist superpower is so scared of 3-million Lithuania on the other side of the globe. Lithuania is the bravest country in Europe. We should all stand up with Lithuania." — Jakub Janda, Director, European Values Center for Security Policy.

  • "We support democracy, as we will never forget the cruel lesson of living under occupation by a Communist regime for 50 years." — Lithuanian Member of Parliament Dovilė Šakalienė.

  • "We would like to have relations with China based on the principle of mutual respect. Otherwise, the dialogue turns into unilateral ultimatums, requirements which are not acceptable in international relations." — Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, in an interview with the Financial Times.

China has blocked all imports from Lithuania and has ordered multinational companies to sever ties with the Baltic country, in retaliation for Lithuania's decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital, Vilnius. (Photo by Petras Makukas/AFP via Getty Images)

China has blocked all imports from Lithuania and has ordered multinational companies to sever ties with the Baltic country or face being shut out of the Chinese market.

The extraordinary sanctions, which amount to a full economic boycott of Lithuania, are in retaliation for the country's decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital, Vilnius.

Taiwan has other offices in Europe and the United States, but they use the name of its capital city, Taipei, due to the host countries' preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country. Beijing insists that the democratically self-ruled island is a part of the territory of the communist People's Republic of China and has no right to the trappings of a state.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says that his country will not capitulate to bullying from China and that he is committed to defending the principles and values of democracy from attack.

Lithuania, which has a population of fewer than 3 million, regained independence in 1990 after almost half a century of occupation by the Soviet Union. Lithuania has become one of the strongest defenders of democracy within the European Union and NATO.

On December 9, Lithuania's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mantas Adomėnas, said that China had warned multinational companies to stop doing business with Lithuanian suppliers:

"China has been sending messages to multinationals that if they use parts and supplies from Lithuania, they will no longer be allowed to sell to the Chinese market or get supplies there. We have seen some companies cancel contracts with Lithuanian suppliers."

The Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, which represents thousands of Lithuanian companies, confirmed that some multinational companies that buy goods from Lithuanian suppliers were being targeted by China. In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Confederation President Vidmantas Janulevičius said:

"This week was the first time we saw direct Chinese pressure on a supplier to drop Lithuanian-made goods. Previously, we only had threats it could happen, now they became reality.

"For us, the most painful part is that it's a European company. Many Lithuanian businesses are suppliers for such companies."

Lithuania's direct trade with China is relatively small; the country exported €300 million worth of goods to China in 2020, less than 1% of its total exports. It is, however, home to hundreds of companies that make products for multinationals that sell to China.

On December 1, China delisted Lithuania as a country of origin, meaning that its goods cannot clear customs. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that China effectively had blocked all imports from Lithuania.

In a December 3 interview with the Financial Times, Landsbergis denounced the "unannounced" and "unprecedented" sanctions. He said that Lithuania would ask the European Commission, the administrative body of the European Union, for assistance.

Lithuania's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Arnoldas Pranckevičius, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, DC, warned that China's harassment of Lithuania should be a "wakeup call" for Europe:

"China is trying to make an example out of us — a negative example — so that other countries do not follow our path. Therefore, it is a matter of principle how the Western community, the United States, and European Union react."

Europe Divided

Help from the European Commission is unlikely to come soon, as the EU is deeply divided over relations with China. Larger member states such as France and Germany are reluctant to jeopardize economic ties with China, while smaller member states, including Lithuania, Czechia, Slovakia and Slovenia have urged the EU to stand united against Chinese pressure.

On December 8, the European Commission issued a tepid statement which said that it would launch an investigation into whether China's measures against Lithuania are in breach of the rules of the World Trade Organization:

"The EU has been informed that Lithuanian shipments are not being cleared through the Chinese customs and that import applications from Lithuania are being rejected. We are in close contact with the Lithuanian government and are gathering information via the EU Delegation in Beijing in a timely manner. We are also reaching out to the Chinese authorities to rapidly clarify the situation....

"If the information received were to be confirmed, the EU would also assess the compatibility of China's action with its obligations under the World Trade Organization.

"The EU remains committed to its One China Policy and recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole government of China. Within the framework of this long-established policy, the EU will pursue cooperation and exchanges with Taiwan in areas of common interest."

The daily tabloid Global Times, the English-language mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, warned the EU to "act with caution" when it comes to Lithuania's trade complaint:

"Even though Lithuania is an EU member, there is no need to let China-EU trade be derailed or hijacked by Lithuania's wanton provocation of China's internal affairs.

"Nevertheless, we have no intention to deny that economic and trade cooperation between Lithuania and China will be affected after China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of chargé d'affaires, the lowest rank of diplomatic representative, over the latter's breach of the One-China principle.

"Make no mistake that any country that provokes China's core interests is bound to find itself on the receiving end of countermeasures."

On December 13, during a meeting of EU's 27 foreign ministers, the Lithuania-China issue reportedly was not even discussed, even though it was earmarked by Germany's new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. The issue presumably was vetoed by France, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency.

Laurence Norman, Europe correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, tweeted:

"EU foreign mins did not discuss Lithuania-China situation today. Extraordinary. A silence which will ring very loud in Beijing."

Meanwhile, Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, said that he would not be attending the 2022 Olympic Games in China. France countered that it would not take part in any boycott. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said that any common EU position would not be reached quickly: "You know as well as I do that we will not find a solution regarding the Olympic Games today or this week."

China analyst Theresa Fallon tweeted:

"EU demonstrates once again that values are only talked about at conferences... lonely Lithuania stated it will have diplomatic Olympic boycott. But France, Luxembourg, Hungary will attend Olympics."

The Reuters news agency noted:

"The bloc is torn over whether to join the United States, Canada, Australia and Britain in deciding not to send their government officials to the Beijing Winter Games in February, fearful of Chinese retaliation that would hurt trade."

Select Commentary

Analyst Giovanni Giamello, writing for the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies, noted that Lithuania's deepening relations with Taiwan are part of a broader strategy to strengthen relations with the United States:

"Beijing requires its partners to recognize only the People's Republic of China (PRC) and to treat the so-called Republic of China not as an independent Taiwan but as a 'rogue province' of the PRC. Vilnius' defiance of this requirement should not be misread as potentially reckless idealism — it is a deft move by a small state on the geopolitical stage....

"Lithuania perceives Beijing as a threat more than other EU countries do — not least because of China's relationship with Russia....

"It was a conscious choice by Vilnius to stress — and strengthen— its ties with the US as the threat from China was seen to be rising. The US is Lithuania's most valuable ally and security guarantor — the same role it has in Taiwan. Other Baltic states share the same concerns, and some Central and Eastern European countries are starting to take more interest in Taiwan....

"Vilnius has taken a clear geopolitical decision to stand up to China and side with the US.... It is time for other EU countries that are discontented with or wary of China to clearly spell out similar stances."

The London-based magazine, The Economist, wrote:

"The governments in many eastern European countries can trace their roots back to the anti-Soviet movements of the late 1980s and 1990s. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia are all led by centrist or center-right coalitions that are increasingly hawkish on China. Many see similarities between the Soviet Union, which once controlled them, and today's oppressive China.

"But their concerns are not just historic. In the Czech Republic, for example, public opinion began to sour towards China in 2017 when it was accused by journalists and politicians of trying to interfere in Czech politics by dangling the promise of massive investments. In 2018 the Czech intelligence service said Chinese espionage was a greater threat to the country's security than Russian interference.

"Marcin Jerzewski of Taiwan NextGen Foundation, a Taipei-based think-tank, says there is a growing awareness in central and eastern Europe that Taiwan 'is the best partner for sharing best practices against authoritarianism.'"

Asia analyst Gautam Chikermane, Vice President of the Observer Research Foundation, an India-based foreign policy think tank, noted that Lithuania's embrace of Taiwan provides the EU with an opportunity to stand up to China's bullying tactics:

"In terms of GDP, Lithuania ranks 22nd out of 27, below Luxemburg, Bulgaria, and Croatia. In terms of per capita income, it ranks 19th, below Estonia, Czech Republic and Portugal. But in terms of taking a moral and spirited stance against the excesses of China, the tiny nation of Lithuania is punching way above its weight and has set a benchmark that the rest of the European Union (EU) must support and follow. Such leadership, particularly when stronger countries like Germany and France are buckling under the pressure and onslaught of this rising rogue nation, needs to be supported by countries across the world....

"What's surprising, even shocking, is the way the EU biggies are bending over backwards to accommodate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), ignoring human rights issues and labor camps in China....

"While the Big 2 [France and Germany] continue to make spaces to accommodate Chinese hegemony, ignore its use of forced labor in Xinjiang and allow it to infiltrate the EU, it is the smaller and younger countries like Lithuania that are taking the moral high ground, by standing up for the principles on which the EU was founded....

"Under the Chairman of Everything in China, Xi Jinping, the country has told the world that it has economic power and will weaponize it to smother everything, from using democracy and its institutional fractures to rewriting maps for conquest to extending its surveillance state architecture to the rest of the world. It is time for the EU to end its extramarital affairs with authoritarianism.... That China is a threat to democracies, in general, and the EU, in particular, is visible to all but the EU. Other than geography, the essence of the EU is values. And one event after another, one country at a time, the EU is giving them up....

"For the moment, it seems Brussels is hiding its head and values in the sands of trade. Instead, it should use Lithuania to ramp up the unity, collate interests, and declare a state of reciprocity.

"Intoxicated by the servility and the accommodation by the EU, the CCP is running amok. It has hit Lithuania with unofficial trade sanctions, as it did earlier with eight countries: Canada, Japan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, the Philippines, South Korea, and of course, Taiwan.

"This entire narrative of assuaging an 'angry China' is manipulated by the CCP, fed to a pliant media, and digested by policyframers. That the EU is following this narrative as a US $15-trillion strong concert of democratic nations is a shame. It needs to understand its own power, economic as well as strategic, and prevent further assaults by China on its members.

"The CCP has no scruples; it does not believe in the rule of law. When countries kneel, Beijing kicks. This is natural. Bend before a bully and you strengthen the bullying. At such a time, when smaller nations are raising the pitch, the hands-off approach from the EU is a shame. It is Vilnius today. To think that this assault will not reach Berlin and Paris tomorrow is being strategically naïve — the barbarians from Beijing will be at their gates sooner rather than later.

"It's time the EU got its act together. And the first step, howsoever late, begins with Lithuania."

Jakub Janda, director of the Prague-based European Values Center for Security Policy, concluded:

"China as a communist superpower is so scared of 3-million Lithuania on the other side of the globe. Lithuania is the bravest country in Europe. We should all stand up with Lithuania."

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

Appendix 1: Timeline of Bilateral Relations

Lithuania established formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in September 1991, after it regained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. As part of its diplomatic agreement with the PRC, Lithuania recognized the so-called One-China policy, which asserts that Taiwan is part of China.

The Chinese government says that Lithuania, by allowing Taiwan to use its official name on its representative office mission in Vilnius, is violating the 1991 agreement. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė counters that the agreement signed with China has not been violated and is still in force. She adds that the opening of Taiwan's representative office, which does not have a formal diplomatic status, should not have come as a surprise to anyone:

"Our government's program says Lithuania wants a more intense economic, cultural and scientific relationship with Taiwan. I want to emphasize that this step does not mean any conflict or disagreement with the 'One China' policy."

In recent years, Lithuania, much to the irritation of China, has repeatedly voiced support for Taiwan. In April 2020, for instance, more than 200 Lithuanian political and intellectual elites jointly sent a letter to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda calling on the government to support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations. In May 2020, the Lithuanian foreign ministry called on WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to an international assembly on the Coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, recent events include:

November 9, 2020. Lithuania's new government pledged to support "freedom fighters" in Taiwan. A coalition agreement — signed by leaders of the Homeland Union, Liberal Movement and Freedom parties, which together won 74 seats in the 141-seat parliament during elections held on October 25 — committed the new government to carry out a "values-based" foreign policy: "We will actively oppose any violation of human rights and democratic freedoms, and will defend those fighting for freedom around the world, from Belarus to Taiwan."

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry thanked Lithuania for its support:

"Lithuania and Taiwan are like-minded partners, and the foreign ministry sincerely thanks friends in Lithuania for continuing to take concrete actions to defend shared values."

China's embassy in Vilnius said that Beijing is ready to work with Lithuanian government "on the basis of mutual respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in each other's domestic affairs."

March 22, 2021. The European Union and the United Kingdom joined the United States and Canada and imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials accused of responsibility for abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, a remote autonomous region in northwestern China. The Chinese government responded to the EU sanctions by announcing its own sanctions on 14 European entities and persons, including Lithuanian Member of Parliament Dovilė Šakalienė, who has publicly criticized the Chinese government for human rights abuses.

May 20, 2021. The Lithuanian Parliament approved a non-binding resolution which described China's treatment of its Uyghur minority as "genocide." The Parliament called for a U.N. investigation of internment camps and asked the EU to review relations with Beijing. The resolution further called on China to abolish a national security law in Hong Kong, and to let observers into Tibet and to begin talks with its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Lithuanian Member of Parliament Dovilė Šakalienė, who sponsored the resolution, said: "We support democracy, as we will never forget the cruel lesson of living under occupation by a Communist regime for 50 years."

May 22, 2021. Lithuania withdrew from a '17+1' dialogue forum between China and Central and Eastern European countries. The so-called Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC) was established by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2012. Critics argue that the forum is part of a "divided and conquer" strategy designed to benefit China at Europe's expense. Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that the group was "divisive" and the urged EU to pursue "a much more effective 27+1 approach and communication with China."

July 20, 2021. Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, announced that Taiwan would open a representative office in Lithuania to expand its relations with the Baltic nation and other Central European countries. He said that the new office would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania — the first time the island's name has been used for one of its offices in Europe. Lithuanian MP Dovilė Šakalienė tweeted: "What a beautiful morning #Lithuania and #Taiwan will become even closer friends. We both are small democratic states, both neighbored by bloody authoritarian regimes, but both not easily intimidated."

August 10, 2021. China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania. In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: "We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately rectify its wrong decision, take concrete measures to undo the damage, and not to move further down the wrong path."

August 11, 2021. The European Union External Action Service said that the EU does not regard the opening of a representative office [as opposed to an embassy or consulate] in or from Taiwan as a breach of the EU's One-China policy.

August 13, 2021. China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying replied:

"There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is an indisputable fact, a universally recognized norm governing international relations and the common consensus of the international community. Any country, when following the one-China policy, must strictly abide by the one-China principle, including severing all official ties with the Taiwan authorities. Certain countries and people are trying to confuse public opinion with malicious intentions, but their plot is doomed to fail. China urges the EU to uphold a correct position on Taiwan-related issues and refrain from sending wrong signals on issues concerning China's core interests and creating new troubles for China-EU relations."

August 15, 2021. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, in an interview with the Financial Times, said:

"We would like to also have relations with China based on the principle of mutual respect. Otherwise, the dialogue turns into unilateral ultimatums, requirements which are not acceptable in international relations...

"As a sovereign and independent country, Lithuania is free to decide which countries or territories it develops economic and cultural relations with."

Nausėda said that Lithuania had learned "certain moral lessons" since independence:

"We really take our responsibility as a new member of NATO and the EU very seriously because of our historical lessons and experience. Our history was painful, our history was complicated. But we think that principles and values even in the 21st century mean a lot and we try to defend them."

September 3, 2021. Lithuania recalled its ambassador to China.

September 22, 2021. Lithuania donated more than 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan. This is in addition to 20,000 doses it donated to Taiwan in June. Taiwan's vaccination program has been hobbled by supply delays

September 30, 2021. Lithuania's Parliament passed a law that establishes the legal basis for the country to open an economic and trade office in Taiwan. The new office, which is expected to open by the end of 2021, could be named the "Lithuanian Representative Office" or the "Lithuanian Trade Representative Office," according to Lithuania's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mantas Adomėnas. Lithuanian Economy Minister Aušrinė Armonaitė said that many other members of the European Union have already opened an office in Taiwan, and that Lithuania will do the same.

November 18, 2021. Taiwan formally opened its office in Vilnius. In a statement, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said:

"The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania officially commences its operation in Vilnius on November 18, 2021. The blessed opening will charter a new and promising course for the bilateral relations between Taiwan and Lithuania....

"Taiwan and Lithuania have huge potential for cooperation in various industries such as semi-conductor, laser, fintech and many others. Just recently in late October, a Taiwan delegation promoting economic, trade and investment ties with Lithuania had a successful visit in Vilnius. The two sides signed six MOUs, ushering in a shared vision of blueprint for closer cooperation ahead, laying a solid foundation for greater bonds of our two peoples. Taiwan will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values."

November 19, 2021. In a statement, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said:

"The Lithuanian government, in disregard of the Chinese side's strong objection and repeated dissuasion, has approved the establishment of the so-called 'Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania' by the Taiwan authorities. This act creates the false impression of 'one China, one Taiwan' in the world, flagrantly violates the one-China principle, and renounces the political commitment made by Lithuania in the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. It undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs. The Chinese government expresses strong protest over and firm objection to this extremely egregious act, and will take all necessary measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Lithuanian side shall be responsible for all the ensuing consequences."

November 21, 2021. China downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania to the level of chargé d'affaires, a rung below ambassador. In a statement, China's Foreign Ministry said that Lithuania had "undermined China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs," thereby creating a "bad precedent internationally."

November 23, 2021. Lithuania signed a $600 million export credit agreement with the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The deal could more than offset the Chinese economic sanctions against Lithuania.

December 1, 2021. China delisted Lithuania as a country of origin, meaning that its goods cannot clear customs. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that China had blocked all imports from Lithuania.

December 2, 2021. Seventeen Lithuanian MPs from the ruling coalition called on politicians, the National Olympic Committee and athletes to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics. A statement said that prestigious sporting events should not be hosted by authoritarian countries that use sports to try to improve their image.

Appendix 2. China's Anti-Lithuanian Propaganda

Chinese officials and government media outlets have produced a steady stream of highly aggressive anti-Lithuanian propaganda consisting of threats, insults and smears, all aimed, apparently, at tarnishing Lithuania's reputation.

The Global Times, which reflects the sentiments and values of Chinese Communist Party officials, publishes daily diatribes against Lithuania. During a three-week period (November 23-December 14) the tabloid published dozens of articles in which it variously described Lithuania as: "a modern-day Nazi state," "a short-sighted pawn," "a trivial force," "a trouble maker," "despicable," "extreme," "filled with anger and hatred," "hypocritical," "irrational," "irresponsible," "mouse dung," "muddleheaded," "non-mainstream," "non-sensical," "not a country but a geographical destination," "on thin ice," "opportunistic," "oversensitive," "provocative," "racially puritan," "radical," "reckless," "rogue," "unreasonable," "unscrupulous," and "white supremacist."

According to the Global Times, Lithuania is guilty of: "anarchy," "antagonizing Beijing," "assaulting China," "brutal betrayal," "challenging China's bottom line," "challenging the red line," "chicanery," "collusion," "continuing on the wrong path," "continuous daydreaming," "damaging bilateral political bias," "deliberate provocation," "deliberate sabotage," "diplomatic provocation," "following orders," "following twisted and rogue logic," "gambling," "going against the trend of the times," "going too far," "hijacking," "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people," "instigating conflicts," "kidnapping the EU," "kidnapping the interests of more than 2 million Lithuanians," "losing diplomatic independence," "making excuses," "making mistakes," "miscalculation," "overestimating itself," "painting 'beautiful' skin on its ugly face," "political provocation," "punching above its weight," "putting other countries on the 'pirate ship,'" "reckless provocation," "repeatedly touching China's red line," "sacrificing people's real interests for politicians' abstract values," "setting a bad precedent," "short-sighted provocation," "sophistry and political maneuvering," "souring diplomatic relations," "standing on the anti-China forefront," "supporting secessionist forces," "trampling on China's sovereignty," "treachery," "trying to gain bargaining chips," "walking along this path of tragedy," "walking on the wrong path," and "wanton provocation."

Lithuania's actions are: "a bad precedent," "a mistake," "a smear," "a stunt," "coming to a dead end," "completely unnecessary," "crazy," "dangerous," "delusional," "despicable," "diplomatic and economic suicide," "doomed to reach a dead end," "extremely immoral," "faithless," "hostile," "malicious," "mean," "polluting friendly ties," "potentially high-cost," "provocative," "reckless," "self-defeating," "short-sighted," "stupid," "surprisingly naïve," and "very risky."

Lithuania seeks: "attention," "international exposure," "short-term political gain," "recognition," "rewards," "the international spotlight," and "to position itself as the EU leader in the forthcoming clash between the EU and China."

Lithuania deserves: "consequences," "countermeasures," "economic pain," "harsh consequences," "isolation," and "punishment."

Lithuania must: "adhere to the One-China principle," "correct its mistakes," "immediately correct its mistake," "pay a price," "pay the price," "realize its mistakes," "realize the seriousness of its blunder," "stop the smear bias," "suffer consequences," and "take responsibility for its wrong actions."

In a November 22 editorial titled, "Let's Have a Frank Talk about Lithuania over Taiwan Question," the Global Times referred to Lithuania as vermin:

"Lithuania is a small country. Is it even qualified to spoil the situation and stir up trouble with China? The country's population is not even as large as that of Chaoyang district in Beijing. It is just a mouse, or even a flea, under the feet of a fighting elephant."

On November 30, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian falsely accused Lithuania of anti-Semitism. He tweeted:

"In #Lithuania, there was once massacre of Jews in history. Today, racism remains a grave problem in the country, with Jews and other ethnic minorities suffering serious discrimination."

The Jewish Community of Lithuania (JCL) refuted his claim: "Lithuania is a democratic country that respects its Jewish citizens and treats all its citizens equally."

The irony seems lost on Zhao. Human rights experts say that the Chinese Communist Party has detained at least one million Uyghur Muslims in up to 380 internment camps, where they are subject to torture, mass rapes, forced labor and sterilizations.


Soeren Kern


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Like Khamenei, Rouhani – Iran's Raisi blinks under threat - analysis - Yonah Jeremy Bob


by Yonah Jeremy Bob

Since his election in June, some have mythologized President Ebrahim Raisi as an immovable object. But then he moved.


Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi gestures at a news conference in Tehran, Iran June 21, 2021.  (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi gestures at a news conference in Tehran, Iran June 21, 2021.

It could be meaningless.
Iran’s announced deal with the IAEA on Wednesday only gets rid of one of its many blatant violations of nuclear inspectors’ access and does not provide obligatory answers to unresolved questions or stop its continued hovering around the weaponized uranium threshold.
But it does build a case that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi can be handled and blinks like other Iranian leaders and human beings when faced with stark choices.
For months and even within 24 hours before Raisi and Iran gave in on restoring IAEA camera-monitoring of nuclear facilities, the Islamic Republic maintained that it would not move an inch.
Until it did.
Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (credit: LISI NIESNER/ REUTERS)Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (credit: LISI NIESNER/ REUTERS)
Since his election in June, some have mythologized Raisi as an immovable object.
He ignored all calls to negotiate and all threats for around half-a-year, moving closer to the uranium enrichment threshold that would permit development of nuclear weapons than any previous Iranian leader.
When his new negotiating team arrived, they wasted two weeks, having ripped up all the prior understandings reached during six rounds of talks between April-June with the prior administration of Hassan Rouhani.
The idea of Rouhani making deadlines, but then flinching was not new, but was rather well-established.
But this is the first chink in Raisi’s impregnable armor of stonewalling.
The question is what does this mean for the future of nuclear negotiations, and more broadly, whether the West will stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
The answer could be broken down into the short, medium and long-term.
In the short-term, Raisi’s backing down clearly came from a US threat to get the IAEA Board of Governors to condemn Iran by the end of December if no deal to restore the inspectors’ camera monitoring was struck.
This follows a similar pattern by Iran after the IAEA Board condemned it on June 19, 2020 – the only time the Islamic Republic had been condemned since before the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal.
That condemnation gave the Mossad cover, according to Iran and foreign sources, to destroy the Islamic Republic’s above ground Natanz nuclear facility on July 2, 2020 and for some other disruption operations which caused explosions in various facilities.
By August 2020, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Rouhani had granted the IAEA access to multiple disputed sites for which its access requests had been ignored for around a year.
Whether Khamenei and Raisi were worried about losing diplomatic ground or a post IAEA-condemnation move by the Mossad, the threat was serious enough to get them to reenter broader nuclear talks with the world powers and to restore IAEA camera access.
In the medium term, this may also signal more flexibility in returning to aspects of the JCPOA’s nuclear limits.
It is hard to see strategically what Raisi would hope to achieve by a technical deal with the IAEA without an eventual deal with the world powers.
If that is true, all of the six months of Raisi’s posturing would just have been about seeing if the US might concede something new, or at least getting it to drop its talk of follow-on negotiations to strengthen and lengthen the JCPOA.
So the US and the West may also record a victory over Raisi in the medium term, getting Iran to agree to a return to some nuclear limits sometime in 2022.
But the key question is still the long-term.
When the JCPOA was signed, the first major sunset expiration of nuclear limits in 2025 was 10 years away. Now it is only three years away. What happens then? What if the new deal allows Iran to keep its new advanced centrifuges in storage?
What is worse, multiple Israeli security officials both with left and right-wing politics worry that part of Iran’s strategy the last six months was to enrich enough uranium up to 60% so that it could conceal enough to make a nuclear bomb on the side before returning to a deal.
These officials have pointed out that concealing 60% uranium and enriching it up to 90% is much easier and faster because the volume of material and number of centrifuges required is much smaller than at lower enrichment levels.
As the US breathes a sigh of relief that it does not yet need to go into a broader conflict with Iran, these long-term questions will remain on the minds of Israel’s security establishment.

Yonah Jeremy Bob


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter