103 thoughts on “American Jewish Committee Anti-Iran Propaganda Sinks to New Low – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. While I am just about speechless on the subject of that beyond-appalling ad, I do have something to say on another aspect of this post.

    I do not agree with your equating the images you described from the ad (which I will not watch myself) with photos on “pro-Palestinian” sites of the carnage wrought by that “most moral army in the world”. The use of the images you described for Israel propaganda is without question gratuitous since no matter how much we might abhor certain practices in Iran, these are purely domestic matters and in no way indicate that Iran is a threat to any other country. Further, Iran and its government have been very effectively demonized beyond all reality as it is. If anything, we need images that will balance the outlandishly evil image that propagandists have created of Iran.

    On the other hand images of the very real horrors perpetrated by Israel via its military, when presented as evidence of the reality faced by Israel’s Palestinian and Lebanese victims, serve a completely different purpose, and a purpose that is, in my view, a necessary one. Someone needs to show the world what really happens when Israel goes berzerkers on a civilian population. In addition, Palestinians, Lebanese, and those who care about human rights, and facts have a right to feel outraged, and to express their outrage.

    And, of course, I haven’t heard anyone mention what the real power in Iran, Supreme Leader Khamenei said yesterday:

    We are fundamentally opposed to nuclear weapons. We consider the use and proliferation of nuclear arms as forbidden.

    This is not the first time he has made this statement, and it has far more weight because it is a religious pronouncement from an Ayatullah. He is not saying that the use and proliferation of nuclear arms is ممنوع

    He is not saying that the use and proliferation is ممنوع – forbidden by man. He is saying that it is حرام – forbidden by God. As an Ayatullah he would put himself in a very awkward position to pronounce that something is حرام and then later reverse himself by his actions.

    Of course, the drivel that drips from Ahmadi Najad’s lips is so much more useful than the pronouncements of the man who actually has the authority to make them that no one is liable to pay attention to the far more meaningfull words of the one who actually has the power to make the decisions and take the actions.

    1. We have to begin with the fact that these disgusting images are real and represent acts that are evil (certainly in the Israeli case and arguably in the Iranian one as well). I freely concede this & as such they document acts that must be condemned. But we also have to understand how these images are used by propagandists on both sides. They are used to stir hatred, fear & revulsion. Their display does not advance debate about what must be done to solve the conflict. In fact, when you view such images you cannot imagine the perpetrators as human, which makes it easier to consider them as beasts & seek their annihilation or overthrow.

      No matter how evil the acts of Israel or the mullahs, can we afford to consider them sub-human beasts esp. if we wish to make peace someday?

        1. As in “a valid argument can be made for…” I never trust video images unless I know their provenance for a fact. The hanging sequence does not have provenance though I trust it’s likely to be genuine. Hence “arguable.”

      1. My difference with you on this goes directly to relevance. Assuming that the Iran images are genuine, they are horrible, and condemnable, but their use in Israel propaganda is gratuitous in that they are to do with purely domestic matters, and bear no relation to Iran’s foreign or military policies or likely actions, so their use is purely for the purpose of demonizing and inflaming anti-Iran passions in those who are so inclined. If a human rights group were to use them we might argue whether their use is necessary or appropriate, but at least the images would be relevant.

        On the other hand, the use of images of Palestinian and Lebanese children killed or maimed by the Israeli military is certainly directly relevant to demonstrating Israel’s disregard for human life, and its flaunting of international law. In fact arguably the displaying of images of the carnage and destruction wrought by Israel’s military is a necessary part of bringing reality home to a public that has been fed mainly Israeli propaganda about its “most moral army in the world”. I remember now my shock in December of last year when I saw on mainstream U.S. TV images not only of Palestinian children killed and maimed by the Israeli assault, but even of blonde and blue-eyed Palestinian children. It was at that point that I realized that the tide was beginning to turn to such an extent that Americans were not only being shown the horrible reality, but they were being shown that it was happening to little kids that looked just like their own little kids.

      2. One other thing about the images of women being hanged in Iran for some sort of alleged “sexual misconduct”. I can’t speak about the images in this particular anti-Iran propaganda piece, but in general things like stonings, and beatings and executions of women for alleged “sexual misconduct”, or “improper dress”, or whatever, take place in more remote parts of the country, and are the work of local officials, not the national government. I am not aware of the national government or the government of any major cities taking these kinds of actions. That does not mitigate it at all, of course, but it is important to understand the context in which things take place.

        1. But of course there are exceptions: “In another instance, two men convicted of assassinating a hardline judge, Hassan Moghaddas, were executed in front of the judiciary headquarters in central Tehran last July, within view of numerous office blocks and several foreign embassies.”

          300 people were executed in Iran last year; 200 people the year before.

          “Sixty men convicted of a range of capital offences, including murder, rape and drug trafficking have been hanged from cranes in public since last July, in scenes usually witnessed by large crowds. Several executions have been screened on state television, including one on Monday of two men convicted of raping and murdering several women in the central city of Arak. Armed robbery, apostasy, drug trafficking and homosexuality are also punishable by death in the Islamic republic.”

          Iran carries out more executions than any other country, apart from China. The argument that this brutality is not a natural result of being ruled by a group of theocrats is not very convincing. At least Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi seems to at least be doing something about it (see the article for more).

          1. Oh, come on, Alex, can’t you at least pretend to stick to the topic? We were discussing the gratuitous use of graphic video images of women allegedly being hanged for sexual indiscretions. What does the execution of men convicted of crimes, including, interestingly, the crime of rape, have to do with that? The answer is nothing.

            As someone who is categorically opposed to capital punishment, I consider it abhorrent in all cases. Having said that, there is certainly a qualitative difference between executing women who may or may not have sexually misbehaved, and executing a man who has been convicted of a crime. And using images of either purely as a means to demonize an entire country is well beyond what is acceptable behaviour

          2. I am sticking to the topic by challenging your intimation that the national government has nothing to do with these kind of practices. As is clear from the examples mentioned above, it is more than capable of imposing law around the country. I am glad that we agree on the issue of capital punishment. If you want to talk about qualitiative differences, what do you think of the fact that over one hundred homosexuals have been executed in Iran since 1979?

            As for your complaints regarding demonisation, the words pot, kettle and black come to mind.

          3. over one hundred homosexuals have been executed in Iran since 1979?

            What do you think of the fact that Israeli gays were murdered in cold blood in Tel Aviv and your fahrshtunkeneh police force, which hates gays to begin with, can’t seem to figure out who committed the crime? And let’s not even talk about other acts of violence against ethnic minorities. I really detest this tit for tat game you play, Alex. It’s rather pathetic.

          4. We could ask what you would say if you had written about the homophobic murders in Tel Aviv and I had then responded by asking what you thought of the execution of over 100 homosexuals in Iran since the start of the revolution, but I think we know where that line of inquiry would lead us.

            I think the homophobic murders in Tel Aviv were appalling, and I’m deeply distressed that they haven’t yet found out who did it (although the lack of complaint from the gay rights groups here, combined with the gag order on the investigation, suggests that the reasons for that failure aren’t as insidious as you’d like them to be). But to accuse me of being tit-for-tat is extraordinary chutzpah, given that the topic under discussion is Iran, and not Israel. If anything, it’s you that encourages the game of tit-for-tat by constantly trying to equate the quite transparently far worse homophobia in Iran with that of Israel (although, as I noted at the time, the discussion here surrounding the TA murders forced me to reevaluate my previously held notion that Israel was such a paradise for gays. It’s not, although nor is it the hell that Iran quite transparently is).

          5. You were the one who was being provocative. Without yr provocative behavior in asking an obviously leading question to which you already had yr own answer, I would not have responded in kind. If you write as if you have no ulterior motive or agenda you will find an open-minded response. If you don’t, you’ll get the type of response you did in this instance.

            You didn’t really care what Shirin had to say about Iran killing gays. YOu wanted to get a rise out of her to show you could needle her & undermine her position. It’s rather pathetic as I said, but it’s the way you operate.

            I also know you denounce the gay murders in Tel Aviv. But my pt is that neither Israelis or Iranians have the right to act as if the other society is brutal, cruel or violent w/o looking in the mirror & seeing the brutality & violence right there at home. That’s the problem w. what you do.

            Iran may be homophobic but Israel is Arabophobic. Iran kills gays, Israel kills Arabs. What’s worse? Neither, they’re both objectionable.

          6. Alex, I don’t think you are as thick as you seem to pretend to be sometimes. I certainly did not suggest that the Iranian government is not involved with executing men who have been convicted of capital offenses such as murder, drug trafficking, and rape (don’t you find it interesting that rape is a capital crime in Iran, and not in the U.S.?). Nor to I believe you are stupid enough to equate executing women for supposed sexual indiscretions with executing men for murder, drug trafficking, and rape. And I certainly did not suggest that the Iranian government is incapable of imposing law around the country. The reality I pointed out was something quite different, which I am convinced you are sharp enough to understand and differentiate from executing men for capital crimes.

            As for the alleged executions of 100 alleged homosexuals in the last thirty years, it is impossible to comment without knowing when and in what context these executions tool place. Like, when were they executed, and what were the charges against them. This brings to mind the standard Hasbara about a certain group of Iraqi Jews who were hanged, the implication being that they were hanged for being Jews when in fact they were hanged along with a number of Muslim and Christian comrades, and they were all being hanged because they were members of the Communist Party. The fact that they were Jews was irrelevant. They were being hanged for being Communists.

      1. Wow, you’ve done tremendous research. The B.A. bombing allegedly involved Iranians but that has never been proven in any court of law (this fact was conveniently omitted fr. the AJC porn video). The LRB story contains lots of possibly interesting conjecture but little in the way of hard evidence. And the source for the Haaretz claim that Iran has taken over Hezbollah is…an unnamed IDF intelligence officer. That’s about as open & shut a case as anyone can make based on a totally reliable source. We know fr. experience that military intellignece is always right in its public statements & never makes such statements w. a reckless disregard for the truth.

        Mazel tov! You’ve finally nailed Iran. Go to the head of the class.

        1. Richard – we’ve been over much of this already. There is an interpol arrest warrant out for the current Iranian defence minister; presumably if the Iranians handed him over it could be tested in a court of law. I’m aware that these aren’t open and shut cases, but you are surely well aware that there are frequent stories throughout the media of Iranian involvement in other countries.

          Or do you really believe that Iran has no ambitions beyond its own borders?

          What’s frustrating, btw, is that things often come up between threads once we’ve all moved on – it would be good if there was some way that these conversations could continue over a lengthier period of time – perhaps you could set up another page where people could give the issue of Iranian foreign policy the time it required.

          1. Also – do you hold the same standard for the Mughaniyeh killing? If someone came on here and nailed it on Israel, would you say “that’s never been proven in a court of law.”

          2. And even if you’re cynical about the claim that Iran is literally manning Hizbollah, are you disputing the claim (voices most recently by members of the Iranian opposition) that Iran actively supports Hamas and Hizbollah? Whether you have a problem with this or not is besides the point; the fact is it gives lie to Shirin’s extraordinary claim that Iran (apparently uniquely among the nations) has no external reach. And this from a country who has a core principle to export its revolution.

            Until your country puts forward leaders who have an ounce of insight into how to deal w. Iran you can forget a non violent change of regime in Iran.

          3. Iran actively supports Hamas and Hizbollah?

            Asked & answered, Alex. I don’t want to go over territory we’ve already been over (though perhaps not w. you). So what if Iran supports them? Do I think this is OK? No. But when the U.S. stops arming Israel then I’ll scream bloody murder about Iran supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. Besides, the amt. of support Iran provides Hamas is quite small relatively & contrary to what many pro Israel advocates claim, they exert no control over Hamas’ actions political or military.

            When Israel stops encroaching on its neighbors, Iran will stop encroaching on Israel. It’s that simple. Israel was an expansionist power long before Iran began supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. So saying Iran is the culprit while Israel isn’t is balderdash.

            Iranians demonstrated a few days ago & their slogans opposed Iranian support for outside players including Hezbollah and Hamas. That’s why if Israel stopped playing the bully regarding Iran those Iranians might actually have a chance of turning their country into something resembling an Islamic democracy.

          4. It’s not about screaming bloody murder; it’s about Shirin’s ludicrous comment about Iran is in no way a threat to any other country. (Although, of course, it would be interesting to see how you would react if someone said “when Iran stops arming Hamas and Hizbollah then I’ll scream bloody murder about the U.S. supporting Israel)

            As for the notion that the support is quite small, and they have no control – evidence?

          5. I don’t know how to break the news to you, Alex Stein, but if tomorrow morning Iran cut off all their support to Hamas and Hezballah both groups would continue operating just as they have been.

            As for your request for evidence, you ought to be smart and experienced enough to know that it does not work that way. You are the one who constantly asserts that Hamas and Hezballah cannot go to the loo without permission from Iran, and it is up to you to provide evidence for your claims, not up to us to provide evidence against them. So, come on. Let’s see what you’ve got.

          6. Shirin – that’s patently absurd. If they don’t need support from Iran why do they take it? I never said Hamas and Hezbollah cannot go to the loo without permission from Iran. Leaving that aside (it’s yet another in the long list of inventions), one of the big problems in holding discussions here is that the pieces I bring to support my arguments are a priori waved out of court, primarily because people here don’t generally subscribe to the George Orwell dictum about the daily telegraph yada yada yada. But, in case you are willing to read some material on the issue, and consider the content, here’s an interesting place to start – http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/iran_e004.pdf

          7. If they don’t need support from Iran why do they take it?

            Honestly, Alex Stein, what an utterly silly statement. I don’t need the monthly checks I get from my mother’s estate either, but I take them, even though I sometimes let them accumulate until they age out, and I have to send them back for replacements.

            And no, you didn’t specifically say they can’t go to the loo without Iran’s permission, but what you did say was equivalent to that (don’t MAKE me look it up).

            And your harping on the George Orwell thing is deeply ironic given the overtly biased sources YOU choose to accept without question. ITIC?! Give me a break. Do you seriously believe I will trust them over all the non-right-wing-israeli sources who are interested in realistic analysis?

            Seriously, Alex Stein, you are not addressing naive left wing idiots here.

          8. If they don’t need support from Iran why do they take it?

            Who said they “need” it? They may accept it because it enables them to do things they might otherwise not be able to do. But “need” it? I seriously doubt that.

            The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center opened in 2001. It is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC) , an NGO dedicated to the memory of the fallen of the Israeli Intelligence Community and it is located near Gelilot , north of Tel Aviv. It is headed by (Col. Ret.) Dr. Reuven Erlich .

            Alex, must we explain to you why material derived from websites affiliated with the Israeli intelligence community are not reliable? Why would you think that anything provided at such a site could be trusted w/o verifying it through a reliable 3rd party source?

          9. The organisation who produced that ‘material on the issue’ is called ‘Intelligence and Terrorism Information
            Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage
            & Commemoration Center’. Its links include the MFA and neo-conservative sites like the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the JCPA, CAMERA, and the American Jewish Congress pertinantly enough:


            It has no credibility at all as an objective group: and it’s report is clearly a political interpretation of matters (the first sentence is ‘the Iranian rocket threat’. The author appears to be unaware of the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction).

            Iran does provide finiancial aid to Hamas, and has done since 2006:

            but you’re talking trifling amounts compared to the 3 billion or so dollars the US supplies to Israel per annum. I have no affection for Hamas at all; I don’t have any for the Iranian authorities – but neither are first world democracies. Israel and the US both are of course. Where is the cynicism greater?

          10. Thanks. I am acquainted with the ITIC, and I agree with you in regard to their affiliations and agenda.

          11. I read the same newspapers you do, Alex. But maybe I pay better attention. I’m afraid you’ll have to do some homework w. the help of our friend, Mr. Google. And I’ll throw the question back at you. Can you provide evidence fr. a source other than an IDF intelligence officer (in other words, a credible source) that Iran’s support for Hamas is significant or massive & that it controls its military or political policy?

            Those who I’ve read who are experts on Hamas say it is a fiercely independent movement taking orders fr no one external to Palestine. I’ll give you Helena Cobban’s e mail address if you want to question someone who really knows about this stuff. She was formerly the Christian Science Monitor’s Middle East correspondent I believe.

          12. To answer your question I’d guess that Hamas retains far more independence than Hizbollah. As for the extent of the support, I’ve already posted a detailed report into that issue.

          13. This now seems to be a common response when dealing with something you’re not prepared to engage with. I’ve no problem with that – just please don’t accuse me of failing to deal with the substance of the matter.

          14. I already explained in some detail the fundamental flaws in the Times article. That is why I said been there, seen it, not impressed. To put it concisely, there is no “there” there.

          15. Is there no place in discussion for speculation/throwing out ideas. It’s exactly what you did above with your point about Hamas having little to learn from Iran (which flies against the facts that Hamas is gaining much from Iran).

          16. Is there no place in discussion for speculation

            It depends on one’s track record. If the majority of what you wrote here was undergirded by fact & credible evidence, then yes you’d be given some leeway for speculation…

            Calling someone critical of Israeli policy a ‘hasbaranik’ is an incredibly inapt locution which flies in the face of common usage. Yes, I know you’re trying to tweak my own usage. But really could you pls. stop using a term which you’re misusing. It only confuses things & no one except me knows what you mean & even I think it’s lame.

            My lord, now you’re quoting World News Daily, another far-right wing news portal:

            We also seek to stimulate a free-and-open debate about the great moral and political ideas facing the world and to promote freedom and self-government by encouraging personal virtue and good character.”

            Do you not know the political orientation of the sites you use for evidence or do you know it & think we don’t?

          17. Richard – your first statement is incredibly unfair given the frequency with which I back up my assertions; it is not my fault that the bar is higher in the case of developing opinions which go against the central dogma of the blog and its principal readers.

            Richard – I wasn’t tweaking your usage, actually. But to be clear: what I mean is that Shirin is using the same tricks hasbaraniks apologising for Israel often use. So, if that continues, I’ll continue to use the term.

            What did I quote from the World News Daily?

          18. your first statement is incredibly unfair given the frequency with which I back up my assertions;

            Citing WorldNet Daily, sensationalized, clearly biased stories featuring shadowy unnamed supposed Hamas commanders who may or may not be as represented, and who may or may not be telling the truth, and clearly biased “intelligence blogs” does not constitute backing up your assertions. If you used sources like that in an academic paper or article you’d have trouble getting anyone who knows anything to take you seriously.

            …it is not my fault that the bar is higher in the case of developing opinions which go against the central dogma of the blog and its principal readers.

            The bar is higher because there are people here who have studied the serious literature on the subject, who have a decent knowledge base from which to start, and who are capable of thinking logically and using reason to form conclusions.

            WorldNet Daily is the “real news” equivalent to the supermarket tabloids that feature stories about women giving birth to alien babies, and the like. Nothing in it can be taken even remotely seriously.

          19. Is there no place in discussion for speculation/throwing out ideas. It’s exactly what you did above with your point about Hamas having little to learn from Iran (which flies against the facts that Hamas is gaining much from Iran).

            Wild, baseless, self-serving speculation is of no use at all, and worse yet is boring and a waste of time. My comment that I did not see what experienced guerilla groups such as Hamas and Hezballah could learn from a conventional military that has never had to wage guerilla resistance, and that finished its only war more than twenty years ago was not speculation. I was merely commenting on what seems intuitive to me, and I made that perfectly clear.

          20. I am no expert, but my sense fr. reading on the subject is that Iran has provided some key technology & training for Hezbollah that maximized its lethality in fighting the IDF in 2006. For example, Hezbollah broke the IDF communications code & was able to listen in on many conversations among the troops. It is thought that Iran provided much of the technology that enabled this. You’ll recall that an Iranian missile nearly sunk an Israeli ship at sea outside Beirut. And I’d say that these are but examples of much other support provided.

            I’m not making the same point the hasbarists are though. I don’t believe that Hezbollah is an extension of Iran or that Hezbollah would be toothless w/o Iran. And I also believe if Israel wants to use America’s finest weapons technology on its enemies it should expect precisely the same treatment fr. those enemies when it comes to accepting weapons help fr. their friends & allies. So I do believe that Iran contributed in significant ways to Hezbollah’s success in the 2006 war.

            However, I do not believe the same holds true of Hamas. While undoubtedly there is some Iranian support, financial & otherwise, I don’t see it as nearly as significant as what is given to Hezbollah.

          21. I think you are pretty much on the mark on all points. And as far as I am concerned I am glad that Hezballah was able to whup Israel’s a** to the extent that it did, and if Iran helped, fine with me. Hezballah is Israel’s creation. If Israel had not aggressively invaded and occupied Lebanon for eighteen years, Hezballah would not exist. And as you say, if Israel can get all the latest and greatest weapons and technology from the U.S. to use in its aggressions against Lebanon, then no one has a right to complain if Hezballah gets weapons and technology from someone else to defend itself and its country. It is not Hezballah that threatens Israel, despite all the wailing and whining to the contrary, it is Israel that is a threat to Lebanon, and Hezballah has a right to defend itself and its country in whatever way it can.

            Now I am reminded of a discussion that I was party to between Israeli artist and illustrator Avi Katz, who had done reserve duty numerous times in Lebanon, and a young Druze woman from a Lebanese family. She (thoughtlessly, I think) referred to Hezballah as “terrorists”, and Avi took her strongly to task over that, insisting adamantly that Hezballah was not a terrorist group, but a legitimate resistance group fighting against an occupying force. He pointed out that despite hasbara to the contrary, overwhelmingly Hezballah went after military targets inside Lebanon, occasionally fired at military targets in Northern Israel, and only attacked civilian targets in response to Israel’s targeting civilians in Lebanon.

            When the occupation finally ended Avi drew a devastating illustration for an article on the withdrawal showing Israel as a beaten up dog slinking with its tail between its legs away from a fierce looking cat that represented Hezballah. It was on his website for years, but last time I looked it was no longer there. There is also a nice story involving Avi, the opening of an exhibit of his paintings, and Ariel Sharon, whom he despised, but I will save it for another time.

            It is not at all surprising that Iran has stepped in to help Hezballah. Historically Lebanese and Iranian Shi`as have had a very close and important relationship going back many centuries, much more than Iraqi and Iranian Shi`as ever had. Iran has an investment in the well-being of Lebanon in general, and the Shi`as of Lebanon in particular. Those who insist that Hezballah is fighting a proxy war for Iran are displaying their ignorance of the relationship and its history, and of course their interpretation is also very self-serving since it feeds their agenda against Iran.

          22. God, that name Avi Katz was so familiar to me. Then I realized his cartoons were in the Israel anti-Semitic cartoon contest which I wrote about a few yrs ago. I love his work! His Pinchas & Jamaila cartoon is in the rotating slideshow that serves as the banner for this blog.

            If you’re in touch w. him tell him I’m always looking for cartoons to illustrate (& enliven) my blog posts. I’d be happy to feature his work here if he was interested. In fact, I’ve just spent some time at his site & really like the rest of his work as well.

          23. Unfortunately I have been out of touch with Avi for some years, but I have been wanting for a long time to ask him for a copy of that cartoon I mentioned. It is pretty devastating, and attracted considerable ire at the time. I will try e-mailing him, and tell him of your interest in his work. He is someone I have admired very much for his refusal to compromise his principles. His reaction to that Druze woman’s careless use of the word terrorist impressed me enormously. Too bad there are not more like him.

          24. Hi Shirin!
            Times change, and I was deeply disappointed that after Hizbollah succeeded in forcing Israel’s total withdrawal from Lebanon (which was good for Lebanon but more so for Israel), it invested all its energies into creating a massive arsenal of rockets aimed at Israeli civilian targets (which was bad for Israel but more so for Lebanon). I also thought that after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza the Hamas government would say “mission accomplished” and buckle down to creating a decent life for its people. Sigh.
            Richard–my website is hopelessly out of date, I don’t know how people find time to blog every day when I don’t even manage to upload drawings I have done. But if there is a subject you’re interested in let me know, maybe we can figure out a way to let you browse my archive.

          25. Avi is one of Israel’s finer political cartoonists & several of his images grace my rotating banner. Thanks for yr comment.

            I’m afraid that Hamas also feels it must resist the Occupation and since Israel placed Gaza under siege it felt compelled to act. If Israel ended the siege it would be on much firmer moral ground in demanding that Hamas end violent resistance (though Hamas HAS honored the ceasefire). As for Hezbollah, given the savagery of Israel’s attack I’m afraid Hezbollah is also justified in believing it needs armaments in case there is a future conflict with Israel. Israel seems to refuse to change the status quo & negotiate about anything unless it is goaded to do so by resistance. One wishes it weren’t so & that Israel would take advantage of peaceful interludes to negotiate peace agreements w. its enemies. But it doesn’t as the current situation with the Netanyahu gov’t indicates.

          26. One could make a pretty airtight case that Israel was expansionist even before statehood. That great peacenik Ben Gurion certainly made his intentions clear on more than one occation (in fact, as I recall he had to be reined in at least once), as did others. He wasn’t a “Nile to Euphrates” guy – at least I never got that sense – but he sure wasn’t about to be content with the territory inside the green line either. He was pretty clear about his reasons for not declaring borders in 1948.

          27. But by 1967 he was opposed to Israel taking the West Bank and Gaza, because he realised it would be catastrophic.

          28. Yeah, well, some people get smarter in their old age, but clearly not everyone does. The reality is that prior to that he was not only hot to grab whatever he could, he lead the ethnic cleansing efforts of 1948-49 and beyond.

          29. I’m aware that these aren’t open and shut cases

            We don’t often agree. But on this we do.

            do you really believe that Iran has no ambitions beyond its own borders?

            There are certainly Iranian hardliners (a slim minority, but possibly w. some power) who have such ambitions just as there are Israeli leaders who have similar amibitions for Israel. But the overwhelming majority of Iranians & their leaders do NOT have such an agenda. I don’t want to go over ground we’ve already covered (& you’re responsible for starting this tangent), but if Israel resolved its own issues w. its neighbors, Iran would do pretty much the same.

            I have a discussion forum you could join & begin the conversation there. It’s not as well populated & well-read as here. But things are open for ongoing discussion & you can start yr own threads as well.

            We’ve also been over Mugniyeh & I don’t want to reopen that can of worms. But Israel has a long & proven record of assassinating enemy leaders. It boasts of it in fact. I’m not aware of Syria, Hezbollah or Iran assassinating enemy leaders though it may have happened in some instances. So I’m inclined to put more stock in the claim that Israel may’ve assassinated Mugniyeh. In addition, Hezbollah believes Israel did it & intends on exacting revenge. Knowing Hezbollah, they would not waste such revenge unless they were absolutely certain who was responsible.

            Though I also concede Israel has not been proven to be the killer.

          30. And this from a country who has a core principle to export its revolution.

            Oh come on! If this is such a “core principle”, how is it that Iran has made no effort to make it happen more than three decades?

  2. As the AJC video makes clear, any nation that would murder civilians, suppress dissent, and make a mockery of its legal system cannot be trusted to have nuclear weapons.

    That’s why the conversation must turn toward taking Israel’s nukes away.

  3. What would Hamas and Hizbollah’s alternative source of weaponry/funding be, out of interest?

    I don’t expect you to ‘trust’ them: I expect you to look over the material, deal substantially with the points, offer alternatives etc etc. If you don’t want to do so, that’s your choice. Just don’t accuse me of not bringing evidence.

    1. I expect you to look over the material, deal substantially with the points

      But why would you? Would you trust George Tenet’s CIA with a report about Iraqi WMD? Why would you even need to read it unless you wanted to study the ways in which self-delusion creeps into intelligence analysis.

      You have not brought “evidence.” You’ve brought the highly suspect claims of Israel’s intelligence community. There is a diff. even if you do not concede there is. We know the diff. It’s rather sad you don’t.

  4. While we’re on the topic of Hizbollah, by the way, here’s a very interesting analysis:

    “Having spent a good deal of time in Lebanon and now writing from Jerusalem, I believe Hizballah represents the greatest threat to, primarily, the peoples of Lebanon and then, secondarily, the peoples of Israel. The “culture of resistance” that Hizballah has developed over the past 30 years, I fear, condemns both the Lebanese and the Israelis to a war without end. Studying statements made by Hizballah officials down through the years, it is hard to conclude that Hizballah’s raison d’être is anything other than armed conflict with the State of Israel. That should worry Israelis and Lebanese — including many of Hizballah’s supporters in southern Lebanon, who suffered more than anyone in 1993, 1996 and 2006 — that even if Hizballah’s leadership should decide that armed conflict is no longer in the rational interests of the organization or the Shia of Lebanon, it will be awfully difficult to change the organizational culture. All of those young men who signed up with Hizballah in the wake of the 2006 war, for example, did not do so merely to direct traffic in the Dahiyeh. For the Israelis, meanwhile, Hizballah will likely never constitute an existential threat. But they will be a rather annoying and deadly violent non-state actor on its northern border for whom no real military solution exists. You can march north and beat Hizballah around for a few weeks, sure, and you can even level the Dahiyeh. But in doing so, does that merely feed into the narrative Hizballah tries to sell its constituents and other Lebanese? In this light, we’re right to pity both the residents of Kiryat Shimona and the residents of Bint Jbeil.” http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2009/09/capability-intent-threat.html

    1. A very interesting analysis on the website of the following right-wing U.S. group:

      The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values.

      To quote Shirin, Alex, what do you take us for?

      I just don’t understand, Alex, how someone who claims to attend anti-Wall protests in Bilin reads the whole panoply of U.S. & Israeli far-right intelligence sites. You do understand why this poses a problem for some of us in seeing you as someone who is a disinterested party?

      Leaving all that aside, the author of the passage you quote has merely said that Hezbollah may find it difficult to transform itself from a military movement to a political one. He hasn’t even provided any real evidence that this is the case. But let’s grant that it is. Why is that surprising? Of course it will find it difficult to do this. All guerilla movements find the transition from military action to political power a tough one. Hezbollah will be no different. And this by no means indicates that Hezbollah cannot or will not succeed in doing so. And if it doesn’t then it will turn into something else that will surely be a political, rather than military movement.

      1. Richard – it’s called retaining an open mind. I am open to the possibility of truths coming from anywhere on the political map, not just those which confirm that which I already believe. As for what you said, possibly – we can’t know what the future holds.

        1. Gosh, really? Then how come the only things that seem to fall into that open mind of yours are those that fit within the right wing ideas you so continuously spout around here?

          1. I don’t see what’s right-wing about pointing out elementary facts regarding the Iranian relationship with Hamas and Hizbollah. Speaking of which, any thoughts on that Sunday Times article?

        2. it’s called retaining an open mind.

          You’re hopelessly naive or disingenuous or both. I retain an open mind when I know that a source deserves an opportunity to be read and weighed. There are some sources that have not earned that level of credibility. If you deny that you use the same critical judgment when you approach sources you’re either lying or pursue yr research in far diff. fashion than I do.

          1. You cannot disqualify sources because of your dislike of their political stance (although obviously your judgement of their political stance will reflect how you analyse their material). I wouldn’t accept a right-winger refusing to read what you wrote; ergo I can’t do the same when the boot’s on the other foot. Either a standard is universal, or it is not.

    2. Alex Stein, you need some more credible sources. Abu Muqawama? Seriously? Why don’t you add to that mix Michael Totten and Tom Friedman? Now THAT would make a real triple threat, with the emphasis on threat.

      But right now I do have to move on. Will try to revisit this another time.

      1. What a surprise to see you moving on right when I cite an interview in the UK’s oldest newspaper which shows Hamas admit the high level of Iranian involvement in the organisation. What an evasive hasbaranik you are.

        1. As I have already pointed out, there are more questions than answers in that story.

          And by the way, I did not mean I was moving away from the topic, but that I needed to defer further discussion, which should have been clear from my statement that I would try to revisit it another time.

  5. Well to answer you all: debate is impossible. As George Orwell said, Just because it’s in the Daily Telegraph doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Needless to say, you don’t hold the same standard for left-wing sources.

    1. One Hamas commander a yr ago tells a British reporter that 150 of his fighters are training in Iran. This signifies what precisely? Exactly what I said. That if Iran is providing support to Hamas it is a very small amount of the overall effort that is necessary to fund & equip its forces. I can’t remember exact numbers, but I believe Hamas has something like 5-10K under arms.

      1. Well 150 a year ago is presumably more now. But the point is the knowhow they bring home with them, as the interviewee states: “They come home with more abilities that we need,” said the Hamas commander, “such as high-tech capabilities, knowledge about land mines and rockets, sniping, and fighting tactics like the ones used by Hezbollah, when they were able to come out of tunnels from behind the Israelis and attack them successfully.” He also notes how they learnt the importance of making explosives from simple devices. The knowledge they get in Iran they can then transfer to people on the ground, above and beyond all the technical support they’re receiving. In any case, the interviewee seemed to be pretty clear that the support Hamas receives from Iran is of some importance.

        1. Again, he’s one commander. We don’t know who he was, how many he commanded, whether he was a lower level or higher level commander. We don’t know whether he was just bragging for a foreign reporter hoping to get his views into the world media. You can’t legitimiately assume the number of trainees has changed fr. a yr ago unless you have some basis for making such an assumption.

          The terrain in Lebanon is entirely diff. than in Gaza. All the advantages Hezbollah had on Lebanese soil are lost to Hamas. Gaza is small, densely populated, flat & blockaded. Lebanon is large, mountainous, sparsely populated in the areas where it fights, & has porous borders. Hence Hamas loses almost all the advantages Hezbollah had. You can worry for both of us about these matters.

          As for the terrorism-info site: I don’t disqualify it for its political views. There are many centre-right sites I do read because they’ve proven credible. I also do read the drivel disseminated by Israeli intelligence. But they have proven themselves time & again to be completely unreliable sources prone to deliberately lie when it suits their purpose. It’s the lying that’s a problem, not their political views.

          1. We don’t know whether he was just bragging for a foreign reporter hoping to get his views into the world media.

            This reminds me of my research into Deir Yassin, which serves as an example of how “facts” can be created and become the “received truth”. For close to fifty years the almost-universally-accepted number of Palestinians murdered in that massacre was 250. During my research I discovered a list of names based on reports of survivors that listed 108 were were known to have been murdered, or who were never seen again after that day. As I researched the source of the erroneous figure, I found that the most common assumption about the discrepancy was – surprise, surprise – that the Arabs had simply exaggerated – after all, they are known for that sort of thing, right?

            What my research on this question turned up instead was quite different. Right after committing the massacre the perpetrators had sat down in a neighboring Jewish village (sorry, the name won’t come to me at the moment) for a tea and cookies session with the press to boast about their great accomplishment, and claimed to have killed 250. That number stuck. So, it was their boasting, and not exaggerated claims by the Arabs that made 250 the accepted number killed for close to 50 years.

            As a post script, I took a lot of heat for years over that revised number, and in some cases was dragged through the mud over it, and not only by Arabs. Some of the ugliest episodes came from Jewish activists. Eventually most people came around, and I am pleased to say that most modern accounts I have seen use the more accurate number.

        2. PS And even If 150 or even 300 or 450 Hamas members went to Iran for training, big deal. Iranian support or lack thereof will not make or break Hamas. In fact, it makes very little difference, and is mainly useful as fodder for the propaganda machine.

          1. “In fact, it makes very little difference, and is mainly useful as fodder for the propaganda machine.” As you might say – evidence?

    2. So, to you “from the horse’s mouth” means a story about an unnamed, unidentified alleged “Hamas commander” who tells a British reporter a bunch of completely unverifiable stuff that just happens to fit beautifully with the current agenda of making Iran the big bad scary guy du jour? And how do we know that this guy is even part of Hamas, let alone that he is a commander, or that he knows what he is talking about? And whoever he is, how do we know he is telling the truth? Pardon my skepticism, but in the inimitable words of George W. Bush, fool me once…..can’t get fooled again.

      Not to mention that there are not-entirely-subtle indications of bias throughout the article.

      Nope, sorry, but when I compare this article with the information available from sources that have proven to be credible and reasonably unbiased on Hamas, Hezballah, and Iran, it is simply not convincing. Not only that, but while I am by no means an expert on military matters it is very counter-intuitive that Iran, which has been involved in only one war in the last 300 years or so, has never been involved in unconventional warfare – i.e. guerilla-style resistance action – and has not seen any military action at all for more than 20 years would be the optimum place to go for advanced training in how to conduct anti-occupation resistance. Even less so Syria, whose last military experience was more than 35 years ago, which has not been involved in any kind of resistance action since the ’20’s, and whose president is a very modern, relatively progressive leader who would like to open up the country more to the west, has made numerous overtures to Israel (and the U.S.), and is mainly interested in advancing the country socially, economically, and technologically.

      1. To put it a different, and more accurate way, it is counterintuitive that highly experienced guerilla resistance groups like Hamas and Hezballah would have all that much to learn from Iran, and even less to learn from Syria. On the contrary, I would expect that Iran and Syria might seek training from the far more experienced Hamas and Hezballah in the matter of conducting guerilla resistance-type combat.

        1. It’s only in the 2000s that Hamas have turned ot what you call “guerilla resistance-type combat”; before that their raison d’etre was blowing kids up on buses.

          1. That’s offensive. You know as well as I that Hamas earned its reputation providing a myriad of social services for Palestinians which Fatah was too corrupt to do. Other forms of terror in which it engaged were part of its reputation. But if all it did was terror it would not be where it is today. You don’t win elections solely because you kill lots of the enemy. You win them because you produce or are seen to produce for yr constituents.

            Slogans don’t go over well here so do us all a favor & drop them

          2. As you should have been able to garner from the context, the discussion focused solely on the issue of their military activities.

        1. WorldNet Daily?!!!!! OMG, Alex, desperaton seems to have caused you to sink to new lows. WORLDNET DAILY?!!

          Pathetic, really, really pathetic.

          PS You still don’t understand how this works, do you? If you make a claim, you are required to supply credible evidence from credible sources to support it. It is not our job to disprove your claims, it is your job to support them. So far you have failed to provide a single credible bit of support.

          WorldNet Daily. Wow.

  6. Money quote, by the way: “The details he gave suggested that, if anything, Shin Bet has underestimated the extent of Iran’s influence on Hamas’s increasingly sophisticated tactics and weaponry.”

        1. Alex, that quote is weak on its face, and as a “money quote” it is absolutely worthless. It is supported by a slightly sensationalist, and apparently biased article about a shadowy, unnamed character who may or may not be what he is represented to be, and who may or may not be telling the truth. It really ought to begin “If that guy was who he said he was, and if he really knew what he was talking about, and if he was telling the truth…”. If you really think that is the money quote, then you are reaching pretty hard.

          1. Every time you do this I shall provide more evidence:
            – In March 2007 Meshal stated Iran had been providing Hamas with financial support since it took office in 2006.
            – The US Treasury Department has revealed one case in which Iran sent $50 million to a Hizbollah-controlled organization between 2001 and 2006 (Bank Saderat has been used for this).
            – Grad-type Katushya rockets bearing Iranian serial numbers, Farsi lettering, and Iranian paint have been spotted in the Gaza Strip. Iranian engineers reportedly have designed and manufactured a version of the Grad rocket that disassembles into several pieces so that it is easier to transport through the underground system of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.
            – According to a December 2000 Palestinian intelligence report confiscated by Israeli authorities, Iran had transferred $400,000 directly to Hamas’s Qassam Brigades specifically to support “the
            Hamas military arm in Israel and [encourage] suicide operations,” and another $700,000 to Islamic organizations opposed to the PA. A confiscated Palestinian document describes a May 19, 2000, meeting between the Iranian ambassador and Hamas, PIJ, and Hizballah at the Iranian embassy in Damascus. According to the report, “During the meeting the Iranian ambassador demanded that the abovementioned persons carry out military operations in Palestine without taking responsibility for these operations.”
            – Canadian intelligence cites Canadian Secret Intelligence Service (CSIS) assessments that Iran transfers somewhere between $3 million to $18 million a year to Hamas.
            -“In short, as I stated in the interview, Iranian support for Hamas is extremely significant – to the point that Hamas could not function as it does today were it not for Iranian financial and material support.”

            No doubt you’ll dimiss the source as unreliable. What’s fascinating, though, is that – for all your talk of evidence – you’ve been unable to produce a single source which suggests that the support is insignificant.

          2. Counter-Terrorism Blog??!! Really, Alex. Must you? Where do you come up w. these sites and why?

            Alex, you’ve done it again. I’m laying down a new rule specifically for you. Websites or authors which espouse the views of Israeli intelligence or are directly or indirectly associated with Israeli intelligence are not welcome here. BTW, the author of the article you cite works for WINEP, which is Aipac’s think tank. And when an already dubious source makes claims like “Iranian engineers have reportedly done this, that or the other,” the source is even less credible (if that’s possible). Sources affiliated w. WINEP & Counter-Terrorism Blog along with all the other ones you’ve offered with are heavily slanted toward the views of the Israeli intelligence community are no longer welcome. I will not engage with comments offering such sources & I hope other readers will do the same.

            You know what is a credible source. Use them or don’t make the arguments you make. YOU’RE WASTING OUR TIME.

            One exception I would accept is that if you can find a supporting source that is credible to bolster a claim fr. hasbara media, then I would entertain it.

          3. For the 1000th time, Richard, just because it’s in the Daily Telgraph, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. Remember, this is in the absence of either you or Shirin offering any concrete source to back the claim that Iranian support for Hamas is insignificant. In any case, you obviously don’t want to have an open discussion, and you needn’t worry about me commenting here again. There really is no point.

          4. I don’t give a crap about Orwell, the Daily Telegraph or anything else. Just don’t use these sources. If they’re satisfactory to you as sources that’s fine. Just don’t bother to offer them to us here because they don’t convince & they waste our time.

            I do want an open discussion involving CREDIBLE sources. If you can’t provide them then either search until you do find them or find another subject to argue about.

            I can’t tell you how many times you’ve threatened to take yr marbles home w. you. You of course are welcome here anytime you choose–as long as you can offer sources that are credible to support yr arguments & claims.

          5. just because it’s in the Daily Telgraph, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

            Really, Alex, you are becoming an excellent cure for insomnia with this. Whether you like it or not, the quality of your sources is important. If you cite WorldNet Daily then we are unlikely to even waste time reading it because it is no better than the tabloids with headlines about women giving birth to babies with cat’s heads and dog’s feet. If you cite sources that are known to be biased, or known to be ignorant of the facts or to provide poor analysis, or to be inconsistently reliable and therefore require verification (e.g. Wikipedia), then you will not have much credibility. If you cite as sources stories that are empty of real, concrete, verifiable information, then they will not be taken as serious evidence. That is just how it is.

            Remember, this is in the absence of either you or Shirin offering any concrete source to back the claim that Iranian support for Hamas is insignificant.

            For the hundredth time, Alex, the way it works is this: You make a claim, you have to back it up adequately and convincingly. We are not required to disprove it, you are required to prove it, or at least present a convincing case.

            Look, I can see how frustrating this is for you, and I think you are probably a decent guy. You just have certain things stuck in your head that you are absolutely determined for some reason to hold onto for dear life, and to go to any lengths to prove to yourself. I’m sorry for that because my guess is that it would be a huge relief for you if you could see how far off the mark are these ideas – fears, really, I think – you are clinging to.

        2. PS As Richard point out, even what the alleged Hamas commander told the author does not indicate that high a level of involvement by Iran. Even if you buy every word of it, Syria, which since Bashshar has been president has been far more interested in using diplomacy than attempting force, is far more involved with Hamas than Iran ever has been. So, the conclusion does not follow even from the information presented in the article.


        3. Alex, can’t you see that there is nothing in the material that is worth engaging with? It is like trying to engage with a vacuum-filled ball. That’s about how much substance there is.

  7. RE: “You don’t want to see what Iran does with the button.”

    MY COMMENT: I’m scared as hell of what Israel might do with “the button”. We need to get a good ‘missile defense shield’ up and running before the Masada-complexed, psychopathic state of Israel decides to to show us.

  8. “And this from a country who has a core principle to export its revolution.”

    Oh come on! If this is such a “core principle”, how is it that Iran has made no effort to make it happen more than three decades?”

    Again – not true. I suggest you start by reviewing the scholarly literature regarding Iranian involvement in Lebanon.

    1. I suggest you start by reviewing the scholarly literature regarding Iranian involvement in Lebanon.

      Once again, Alex, others have made an entirely convincing argument that Iran’s assistance to Hezbollah has nothing to do with the idea of exporting “Islamic revolution” (whatever the hell that means) to Lebanon; and everything to do with allowing the Lebanese to resist Israeli aggression.

      1. Well it’s not ‘entirely convincing’ because not everyone’s convinced by it; that’s why there’s disagreement on the issue. Once again – sometimes it helps to have more agnosticism.

    2. I suggest you start by reviewing the scholarly literature regarding Iranian involvement in Lebanon.

      Has it occurred to you that it is precisely because we have reviewed the scholarly literature, and expert, non-agenda-driven analysis on Hamas, Hezballah, and Iran that we are not finding your claims or your sources credible?

  9. More on the issue of Buenos Aires: At the UNGA, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner once again requested that Iran extradite a number of its citizens wanted for the 1994 bombing (she did the same last year and her predecessor Nestor Kirchner did the same in 2007).

    1. Yeah, well, that and $8.50 will get you a Starbucks latte in Dubai (unless they have gone up in the last six months or so). Come on, Alex, you have to know that an extradition request from the Argentinian (or any other) President is proof only that the Argentinian President made an extradition request, no matter how many times it is repeated, and by how many different Argentinian presidents.

  10. I really wish you’d stop speculating on more inner motives: argue my points, not what your imagination tells you my personality is.

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