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Iranian FM to Hizbullah Chief: Nuclear Deal Presents 'Historic Opportunity' To Confront Israel


The nuclear deal between Iran and the West provides Iran and its allies with a "historic opportunity" to confront Israel, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a meeting in Beirut Tuesday, according to Hizbullah's al-Manar TV.

"Zarif said from Beirut that the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers created a historic opportunity to [sic] for regional cooperation to fight extremism and face threats posed by the Zionist entity," al-Manar reported. He called for "more cooperation between the Lebanese and Iranian governments and people, so that this new beginning for our region will be good for regional countries."

Hizbullah, the Iran-backed Lebanese terror organization, has obstructed efforts to choose a new Lebanese president for more than a year. Hizbullah boasted in May that it had massively built up its infrastructure and military capabilities with an eye towards attacking Israel.

Reporting From Iran, Jewish Paper Sees No Plot to Destroy Israel

By The New York Times

The first journalist from an American Jewish pro-Israel publication to be given an Iranian visa since 1979 reported Wednesday that he had found little evidence to suggest that Iran wanted to destroy Israel, as widely asserted by critics of the Iranian nuclear agreement.

The journalist, Larry Cohler-Esses, assistant managing editor for news at The Forward, an influential New York-based newspaper catering to American Jews, also wrote that people in Iran were eager for outside interaction and willing to speak critically about their government.

While he heard widespread criticism of the Israeli government and its policies toward the Palestinians, Cohler-Esses wrote, he also found support among some senior clerics for a two-state solution, should the Palestinians pursue it.

"Though I had to work with a government fixer and translator, I decided which people I wanted to interview and what I would ask them," Cohler-Esses wrote in the first of two articles from his July reporting trip. "Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant and resisting people."

His reporting, coming as Congress prepares to vote on the nuclear agreement next month, presents a more nuanced view of Iran compared with the descriptions by a number of Jewish-American advocacy groups that consider Iran an enemy state.

Many of those groups have exhorted lawmakers to reject the nuclear agreement, which will end sanctions in return for verified guarantees that Iran's nuclear work remains peaceful. "Ordinary Iranians with whom I spoke have no interest at all in attacking Israel. Their concern is with their own sense of isolation and economic struggle."

Among some senior ayatollahs and prominent officials, he wrote, there is also dissent from the official line against Israel. "No one had anything warm to say about the Jewish state," he wrote. "But pressed as to whether it was Israel's policies or its very existence to which they objected, several were adamant: It's Israel's policies."

While he emphasized that there was no freedom of the press in Iran, "freedom of the tongue has been set loose. I was repeatedly struck by the willingness of Iranians to offer sharp, even withering criticisms of their government on the record, sometimes even to be videotaped doing so," he wrote.

He added that members of Iran's Jewish population of 9,000 to 20,000 people, "depending on whom you talk to," were unafraid to complain about discriminatory laws. He called them "basically well-protected second-class citizens — a broadly prosperous, largely middle-class community whose members have no hesitation about walking down the streets of Tehran wearing yarmulkes."

Is Obama Using Anti-Semitic Rhetoric?

By Reuters

CAMERA (The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), Tablet and other media orgs have weighed in on whether pro Iran-deal spokespersons are taking an anti-Semitic tone. Some say: "Not to worry, there's no anti- Semitism – but it will get worse."

CAMERA quoted President Barack Obama as having said he will promote the Iran deal "despite the money, despite the lobbyists." The same Obama was reported by The New York Times – which has come out editorially in favor of the deal – to have "denounced the deal's opponents as 'lobbyists' doling out millions of dollars to trumpet the same hawkish rhetoric that had led the United States into war with Iraq."

These are examples, CAMERA explains, of "time-worn stereotypes of Jews as dual-loyalists, using their money and nefarious influence to incite wars [that] have surfaced in various media." Even more recently, CAMERA noted, a New York Times article about Senator Chuck Schumer's opposition to the deal used the word "Jewish" no fewer than six times.

The editors of the online magazine Tablet are very worried: "What we increasingly can't stomach… is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple.

Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the US electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South."

"Murmuring about 'money' and 'lobbying' and 'foreign interests' who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card," Tablet concluded.

Elliott Abrams has written in a Weekly Standard editorial that Obama cannot plead ignorance: "The president … must know that he is here feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism that accuses American Jews of getting America into wars."

Could the effect have trickled down to the street already? An example of real-life anti-Semitism framed as support for the Iran deal occurred during a protest in New York City on Monday. Protesters from and Peace Action protested against Schumer's rejection of the deal. Other Americans quickly gathered to make their opposing opinions known – and "then it happened," wrote an AFSI (Americans for a Safe Israel) representative: "Their true colors came out: Chuck is the enemy because he supports Israel over the US… [and] we were the enemy because we who oppose the deal with Iran, support Israel - which supports the burning of babies! Yes, these words were [angrily] yelled at us…"

There are those who say that Obama is actually not anti-Semitic, and are not overly worried by the tone of his rhetoric. Blogger Shmuel Rosner, political editor at The Jewish Journal, writes that Obama's terming those who oppose the deal as war-mongers and more pro-Israel than pro-America is nothing more than an indication that he very much wants to sell the deal to Congress and the American people.

However, Rosner acknowledges, it could get worse: "[T]he battle is at an early stage. If the administration gets to a point where it feels it really might lose it – the tools it is using today could still pale in comparison to the tools it will no doubt use later."

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