Recommended Reading on the Iran Deal

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Dmitry Shumsky in Haaretz: How BDS is actually perpetuating the occupation

By obscuring the uniqueness of the Israeli colonialist regime, BDS is giving Israel an escape hatch; instead, boycott movement must focus on occupation and settlements, stop blurring lines between Israel and Territories.

If the BDS movement didn’t exist, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of occupation and settlement would have had to invent it. For contrary to the popular notion in Israel, on the international scene BDS is serving as one of the most effective factors in perpetuating the Palestinians’ national enslavement.

Both the boycott movement and the present Israeli government – as made clear in Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s fundamentalist speech to Israeli diplomats – are striving to imprint in international consciousness the inherent identification between the State of Israel and the Israeli military regime in the occupied territories, a single organic Israeli unit. Put another way: There is basic consent between the BDS movement and the Israeli government regarding the conception of the geopolitical space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, as a single state called Israel.

The dispute between the boycott movement and the occupation and settlement government has to do with the moral character of that single “Israel” between the river and the sea. While BDS describes it as a criminal colonialist entity whose international legitimacy is in doubt, the Israeli government sees it as a legitimate partner in the family of nations that gives just expression to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

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NSC Press Office: Interview of the President by Israeli Channel 2's Ilana Dayan

obama_bp_oval_office_320x265Q: Mr. President, thank you so much for having us at the White House.

THE PRESIDENT: Wonderful to have you here.

Q: Here’s what you said just a few years ago: “I had the impression that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not interested in just occupying a space, but is interested in being a statesman and putting his country on a more secure track.” And even -- also, you said, “I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace.” Would you repeat those very same words today?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s always difficult to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. And I think Prime Minister Netanyahu -- I’ve gotten to know and worked with since almost the beginning of my presidency -- is somebody who loves Israel deeply. I think he cares about the security of the Israeli people. I think he recognizes the history of hostility and anti-Semitism that makes it very important to him and his place in history to preserve Israel’s security. And I respect all that.

I think that he also is someone who has been skeptical about the capacity of Israelis and Palestinians to come together on behalf of peace. I think that he is also a politician who’s concerned about keeping coalitions together and maintaining his office.

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In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

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Mitchell Plitnick on LobeLog: Elliott Abrams’ Shell Game on Settlements

The shell game is a tried-and-true method of persuading people to give their money to the person running the game. In political terms, it’s also a reliable method of persuading people to buy into the political stance of the man running the game.

Elliott Abrams is a master of the shell game. He provides what seems like a serious and sober analysis, with just enough cherry-picking of facts and omission of detail to convince you of his point of view. That is a big reason why this man, who is responsible for some of the greatest foreign policy fiascos in American history, continues to be considered a legitimate source for foreign policy analysis.

Perhaps it’s not surprising. Despite the enormous catastrophes brought on by the neoconservative school of thought of which Abrams is a part, the philosophy, such as it is, continues to be an influential voice in the foreign policy debate in the United States. This is, however, even more reason to look at an apparent change of course from Abrams with a skeptical eye.

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Ernest Moniz in The Washington Post: A nuclear deal that offers a safer world

Ernest Moniz is U.S. energy secretary.

The recent announcement of the Lausanne framework concerning Iran’s nuclear program has stimulated a lively public and political debate. This is an important discussion that the nation deserves to have, and it must be informed by clarity on the specifics of the negotiated technical parameters for a final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

I joined Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s negotiating team in late February, but throughout the negotiations, leading nuclear experts at the Energy Department and its national labs have been involved in the careful development and thorough evaluation of the technical proposals to help define U.S. positions.

As a result, the key parameters for the agreement that was announced April 2 in Switzerland provide a technically sound path for certifying Iran’s nuclear program as peaceful, quickly determining if it is not and providing the breathing room needed to respond appropriately.

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Articles on announcement of 450 Israeli Settlement Tenders

Kiryat_Arba_Construction2012The January 30, 2015, announcement by the Israeli Government of tenders (allowing for bids) for construction of 450 new settlement housing units in the West Bank (including Kiryat Arba, pictured) was covered extensively in the Israeli and international press.  Peace Now was prominently referenced, including from its released statement which said in part:

"After embarrassing the Obama administration with the invitation to the Congress, Netanyahu adds another slam in the face of the Americans, showing no respect to Israel's closest ally," 

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Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic: The Netanyahu Disaster

The Israeli prime minister has two main tasks, and he's failing at both.

Benjamin Netanyahu believes he has just one job, and that is to stop Iran from getting hold of nuclear weapons. He might argue that this description of his mission as Israel’s prime minister is too limiting, though such an argument would not be particularly credible. Israel’s very existence, he has argued, consistently, and at times convincingly, is predicated on stopping Iran, a country ruled by a regime that seeks both Israel’s annihilation and the means to carry it out.

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Israel’s policy of perpetual occupation is already causing an increase in animosity toward the Jewish people and their state. Perpetuating this policy fosters the beginning of an anti-Israel movement – from within and without the state – that will be difficult to reverse.

Casino tycoon and right-wing political patron Sheldon Adelson has finally spoken to the existential issue of Israeli democracy absent a Palestinian state. Many observers were shocked by the multi billionaire, hard-liner's recent statement proclaiming, "Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state – so what?”

While I passionately oppose Adelson's views, his remarks provided clarity by openly acknowledging that a binational Jewish state would not be a democracy, an obvious consequence largely ignored by the Israeli right wing.

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Roger Cohen in The New York Times: What Will Israel Become?

JERUSALEM — Uneasiness inhabits Israel, a shadow beneath the polished surface. In a violent Middle Eastern neighborhood of fracturing states, that is perhaps inevitable, but Israelis are questioning their nation and its future with a particular insistence. As the campaign for March elections begins, this disquiet looks like the precursor of political change. The status quo, with its bloody and inconclusive interludes, has become less bearable. More of the same has a name: Benjamin Netanyahu, now in his third term as prime minister. The alternative, although less clear, is no longer unthinkable.

“There is a growing uneasiness, social, political, economic,” Amos Oz, the novelist, told me in an interview. “There is a growing sense that Israel is becoming an isolated ghetto, which is exactly what the founding fathers and mothers hoped to leave behind them forever when they created the state of Israel.” The author, widely viewed as the conscience of a liberal and anti-Messianic Israel, continued, “Unless there are two states — Israel next door to Palestine — and soon, there will be one state. If there will be one state, it will be an Arab state. The other option is an Israeli dictatorship, probably a religious nationalist dictatorship, suppressing the Palestinians and suppressing its Jewish opponents.”

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