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Iran sanctions likely to pass — thanks to Iran

WASHINGTON – For years the pro-Israel lobby has been pushing more punitive steps to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But with enhanced U.S. sanctions increasingly likely by early next year, opponents and supporters agree that the case was finally made — by Iran itself.

The key to the accelerated path to a sanctions bill that insiders now believe will land on President Obama’s desk within a month was Iran’s belligerent rejection of a Western offer to substantively enhance its peaceful nuclear program in exchange for greater transparency.

News Analysis

“There’s no lack of appetite for passing the sanctions,” said an official of one of the centrist pro-Israel groups that has pushed for legislation targeting third parties, including countries that deal with Iran’s energy sector.

“It’s evident,” the official said, that the Iranians “do not want talks. They’re not going full speed ahead, they’re going full nuclear ahead.”

Even a leading opponent of sanctions, such as Trita Parsi, who heads the National Iranian American Council, conceded that such a measure now seems inevitable — and that the Iranian government’s behavior in recent weeks was behind the accelerated pace.

“There’s a very justified disappointment with how the negotiations have gone and with how the Iranians have conducted the negotiations,” he said.

In October, Iran initially accepted the offer to hand over much of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for further enrichment to medical research levels. It also agreed to allow inspectors to examine a second, secret nuclear enrichment plant at Qom, just days after President Obama revealed its existence, based on Western intelligence reports.

Within weeks, however, Iran reneged on the deal — despite claiming that it had suggested the deal in the first place — and obstructed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, from thoroughly investigating the second enrichment site.

Parsi asserted that the resistance arose not from a regime implacably opposed to engagement with the West, but instead from elements that oppose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government and seek to undermine it by painting the government as undermining Iran’s national interests. The paradox, Parsi said, is that these elements are otherwise perceived in the West as friendlier to rapprochement.

Nonetheless, Iran’s recidivism led two of the most critical opponents of enhanced sanctions — China and Russia — to join in an IAEA resolution blasting Iran for not cooperating. Iran countered that it would build an additional 10 enrichment sites.

Iran’s actions whittled away the reluctance of a number of key players who had worried that new sanctions would pre-empt Obama’s efforts to resolve the crisis through direct talks with Tehran — chief among them the president himself, who is now considered likely to sign a sanctions bill.

It was Obama who dispatched his most prominent Iran hawk, Dennis Ross, and Jeffrey Bader, both senior staffers on the National Security Council, to China in late October to make the case for signing on to the IAEA resolution. Ross’ argument reportedly was simple but effective: Help contain Iran, or we won’t be able to contain Israel.

Another domino to drop was U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. He not only lifted his hold on the proposed House legislation, but is fast tracking it for a vote by next week. There are similar plans in the Senate, although they may be delayed past the Christmas break because of the vexed health-care debate.

In the Jewish community, tougher sanctions have been pushed for at least a decade by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and, more recently, by other centrist, established pro-Israel organizations. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a politically and denominationally diverse umbrella organization consisting of more than 50 groups, issued a statement over the weekend urging both chambers of Congress to pass sanctions legislation by the end of the year, if possible.

“The timing for this vote is especially significant,” said Presidents Conference chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein in the statement. “Should the IRPSA legislation pass the House, it has the potential to seriously impact the Iranian economy. The prospect of the sanctions in this bill and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in October, are essential to pressing Iran, the leading violator of human rights and state sponsor of terrorism globally, against pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity.”

Signaling just how widespread Jewish organizational support is for the sanctions, they now have the support of J Street, a lobbying group that generally advocates stepped-up U.S. diplomacy rather than confrontation.

For months, J Street has said it backed the sanctions in principle but opposed pushing them forward while engagement was under way. But Monday the group issued a statement expressing support for the congressional measures, citing “Iran’s continued defiance of the international community and its rejection of the most recent diplomatic offer on nuclear enrichment.”

“We’re not jumping for joy for supporting this legislation,” said Hadar Susskind, J Street’s political director. “Iran has showed itself to be bad actor.”

The legislation, Susskind said, “is not perfect, it doesn’t resolve every problem, but it shows Iran that the United States and other nations are serious about this.”

One pro-Israel group remains actively opposed: Americans For Peace Now says the sanctions would backfire by turning Iranians toward a regime now fending off accusations of illegitimacy.

The group is lobbying Congress to loosen the legislation’s restrictions on the president’s ability to waive the sanctions — saying that tying his hands undermines their usefulness as a diplomatic stick.

“Rather than ‘empowering’ the president with additional authority,” as the bill promises, Americans for Peace Now said in a letter to House members, “HR 2194 would sharply limit his authority regarding both existing sanctions and potential new ones.”

Steve Clemons, a senior analyst at the liberal New America Foundation, said such posturing plays into the hands of a regime eager to blare its nationalist credentials in the wake of a summer of protests that undermined its credibility.

“They are trying to create external crises to consolidate internal power,” he said. “We shouldn’t help them.”

Parsi said rushing forward the unilateral U.S. sanctions would undercut efforts by Obama to sign on the international community to multilateral sanctions by early next year, adding that unilateral sanctions might have the effect of alienating Russia, China, and key European nations by targeting major companies in those nations.

“Are you going to have a bomb by Christmas Eve?” Parsi asked, referring to the accelerated congressional schedule. “You don’t want to give the impression that people are dying to go for sanctions because that casts the diplomacy in doubt.”

Underscoring the sinking standing of the Iranian regime, Parsi’s organization blasted the Obama administration this week for not making human rights as much a priority as nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s human rights abuses must be addressed now and not just when our focus turns to punitive measures,” he wrote in a column on the Huffington Post blog.

“Otherwise, the administration will unintentionally signal that the rights of the Iranian people are used solely as a pressure tactic against Iran when it fails to compromise on other issues.”

JTA

 
 

Fishing for Jews in Russia’s muddy waters

MOSCOW – This spring, Howard Flower and his assistants will go to Russia’s westernmost region, Kaliningrad, on a fishing expedition: They’re fishing for Jews.

Flower, the aliyah director of the Russian office of the International Christian Embassy, a pro-Israel evangelical group, plans to look through telephone directories for Jewish-sounding names and meet with local leaders in an attempt to find far-flung Jews — some of whom might not even realize they’re Jewish — and talk to them about moving to Israel.

As elsewhere in the world, determining who is Jewish in Russia is more an art than a science.

In the 2002 Russian census, the country’s most recent, 233,000 Russians self-identified as Jews. Jewish leaders here and abroad consider the figure an underestimate, but they can’t agree on the actual figure or how to determine it.

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Some 233,000 Russians self-identified as Jews in the last Russian census in 2002, but Jewish leaders believe it’s an underestimate. Khamovniki Jewish Community

“Anyone who works in Jewish organizations knows that the real number of Jews is higher than records show because many people do not receive any services and thus are not registered anywhere,” said Rabbi Yosef Hersonski, head of the Khamovniki community in Moscow. “Probably they are not interested. But if their mother was Jewish, we consider them Jews.”

One of Russia’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, estimates the number of Jews in Russia at 1 million to 2 million; he considers as Jews all those with a Jewish mother. NCSJ, a U.S.-based advocacy group for Russian-speaking Jews, estimates that Russia has 400,000 to 700,000 Jews, and 1 million to 1.5 million in the former Soviet Union as a whole.

A representative for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the largest Jewish aid group active in Russia, declined to speculate on a figure.

“We have not yet found reliable data based on sound methodology about the number of Jews in Russia,” JDC representative Rina Edelshtein said.

Across Russia, approximately 100,000 Jews are registered with their local Jewish community organizations. To be registered, one has to prove Jewishness.

It’s often not a simple thing.

Official records tend to be a mess. In the Soviet era, ethnicity was delineated on adults’ internal passports. Those with two Jewish parents were registered as Jewish, but the children of mixed marriages could choose the ethnicity of either parent. Since Jews suffered discrimination in the Soviet Union, the products of intermarriages usually did not register as Jewish.

The situation was captured best perhaps in a joke popular at the height of the Soviet Jews’ struggle for immigration to Israel.

“How many Jews are there in the USSR?” Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev asks the head of the KGB.

“Two-and-a-half million,” the KGB head replies. “But if we let them leave, there will be 6 million.”

By the time the Iron Curtain was lifted and Soviet Jews obtained the right to emigrate, there were 1.8 million Jews in the Soviet Union, including 570,000 in Russia, according to 1989 census data. Most have left since then, moving to Israel, the United States, and Germany.

The Israeli Embassy in Moscow says it knows only about those who qualify for aliyah, or immigration to Israel, under Israel’s Law of Return. Under those criteria, anyone with a Jewish grandparent is eligible.

The Nativ organization, which deals with aliyah in the former Soviet Union, estimated that 530,000 Russians meet the criteria for aliyah, according to embassy spokesman Alex Goldman-Shaiman. How many are legitimately Jewish is unknown, he said.

Mark Tolts, a demographer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the author of the “Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe,” estimates that only about 255,000 Jews live in Russia. He bases his figures on census data.

“If you speak of a million Jews, show me the method with which you counted them,” Tolts said. “Given the proliferation of mixed marriages among the Jews of the former Soviet Union in the last generations, it is very difficult to empirically determine the number of Jews, according to halacha. Demographers base their figures on the statistic data they have. These are mainly census results, vital and migration statistics.”

Tolts says that 1.5 million people did not state their nationality during the 2002 census; he guesses that at least 20,000 were Jews.

However, Tolts’ figure of 255,000 refers only to the so-called “core Jewish population” — the aggregate of those who, when asked, identify themselves as Jews or, in the case of children, are identified as such by their parents. It does not include those of Jewish origin who report another ethnicity in the census. Russian passports dropped the ethnicity field in 1994.

To complicate matters, some Russians of Jewish lineage were baptized yet still identify as Jews when asked about ethnicity.

“The main dilemma is who should be called Jews,” said Mark Levin, the executive director of NSCJ.

Flowers, of the International Christian Embassy, called counting Russia’s Jews “one of the trickiest questions facing man.”

His organization recently provided the Jewish Agency for Israel with a list of 1.2 million people in Russia whose names sound Jewish, all of whom were found in online and print telephone directories.

In 2004, a similar list of 30,000 names among St. Petersburg residents was examined. The Jewish Agency chose 10,000 that seemed Jewish and called them. More than 2,000 expressed some interest either in immigrating to Israel or in Jewish community events, according to Flowers.

Along with halachic and ethnic standards, he said the methodology introduced a new way of counting Jews: “phonetically.”

JTA

 
 

A sorry day at the U.N.

 

Reaction mixed to announcement on easing of Gaza blockade

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On Monday, the day after Israel announced that it was easing the Gaza blockade, an Israeli truck driver walks by trucks filled with goods bound for Gaza at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90/JTA

JERUSALEM – Israel’s decision to loosen its blockade of Gaza is drawing both praise and criticism.

Israel’s security cabinet voted on Sunday to ease land-based civilian imports to the Gaza Strip; the naval blockade will remain in place.

The move garnered praise from the White House, which released a statement Sunday saying it welcomed the new policy toward Gaza.

“Once implemented, we believe these arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza while preventing the entry of weapons,” the statement said. “We strongly re-affirm Israel’s right to self-defense, and our commitment to work with Israel and our international partners to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza.”

Turkey, which lost nine citizens when Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla determined to break the blockade, continued to slam Israel following the announcement.

“If the Israeli government really wishes to prove that they have given up the act of piracy and terror, they should primarily apologize and claim responsibility in the slaying of nine people on May 31,” said Egemen Bagis, Turkish minister for European Union affairs, according to The New York Times.

The blockade of Gaza was put into place by Israel and Egypt in June 2007 after Hamas violently wrested power in the Gaza Strip from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. It was designed to thwart the import of weapons or weapons-capable material into Gaza and pressure the coastal strip’s rulers into releasing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was taken captive in a cross-border raid in 2006.

An economic blockade had been in place since Shalit’s abduction.

Pressure on Israel to ease the latter blockade, which had been climbing steadily, increased dramatically following last month’s Israeli interception of the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair, who joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening to announce the easing of the blockade, reportedly played a central role in establishing the new protocols for Gaza. The Quartet — a grouping of the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia — issued a statement after Israel’s announcement calling for its rapid implementation and an easing of the conditions in the Gaza Strip.

Under the new rules, all items except those on a published blacklist will be allowed into Gaza. Until now, only items specifically permitted were allowed into Gaza. The blacklist will be limited to weapons and war materiel, including “dual-use items” that can be used for civilian or military purposes. Construction materials for housing projects and projects under international supervision will be permitted, according to a statement issued by Israel’s security cabinet.

The plan also calls for increasing the volume of goods entering Gaza and opening up more crossings, as well as streamlining the movement of people to and from the strip for medical treatment.

Despite the easing of the land blockade, Israel will continue to inspect all goods bound for Gaza by sea at the port of Ashdod.

Israel called on the international community “to stop the smuggling of weapons and war materiels into Gaza.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague praised Israel’s plan but took a wait-and-see attitude.

“The test now is how the new policy will be carried out,” he said.

German officials called for a complete end to the blockade in the wake of Israel’s refusal to allow Germany’s minister of economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, to enter Gaza during a four-day visit to the region.

For their part, Hamas officials said the easing of the blockade was not good enough to relieve the distress of the Gaza population. They called the changes “cosmetic,” according to Ynet.

In Israel, the announcement received mixed reviews. Some lawmakers, including ones from the centrist Kadima Party and the center-left Labor Party, criticized the government for buckling under pressure, saying the move would strengthen Hamas. But others, such as Labor’s Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, praised it. Arab-Israeli Knesset member Hanin Zoabi called it insufficient, saying the blockade should be lifted completely.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the French news agency AFP that the blockade should be abolished altogether.

“These steps alone are not sufficient,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said, “and all efforts must be exerted to ease the suffering of the people of Gaza.”

JTA

 
 

With BP’s spill in mind, Israel considers delivery of natural gas

TEL AVIV – More than a year after a massive natural gas find in the Mediterranean Sea off the Israeli coast sparked hopes in Israel of a new era of energy independence, the project is running into concerns about how the gas can be delivered safely.

The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico has raised concerns in Israel about processing the gas and its delivery within the country.

“You don’t just open the valve and everyone’s happy,” said Zeev Aizenshtat, a fossil fuels expert who works as a chemistry professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. “In a country that has security problems, especially with the imminent threat of missiles coming in, you need to makes sure the pipes are well protected.”

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In early 2009, an energy exploration outfit in the Mediterranean Sea discovered a huge natural gas field about 50 miles off the Haifa coast. Creative Commons/Tsuda

The question is how to bring the gas, which was discovered in February 2009 one mile below the sea floor approximately 50 miles off the Haifa coast, to Israel, and then how to distribute it throughout the country. Natural gas is highly flammable, and Israel also lacks the infrastructure of piping needed to distribute the gas nationwide.

If Israel finds a way to deliver it safely and efficiently, the treasure trove of some 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be Israel’s ticket to energy independence, providing the country with some 70 percent of its energy needs for the next 20 years, according to experts.

The trove is a combination of two major gas fields — called Leviathan and Tamar, named for the granddaughter of Israeli energy mogul Yitzhak Tshuva. It was Tshuva’s Delek Group and a U.S. partner that were responsible for the drilling that led to the finds.

Israel’s energy needs are now provided mostly by coal. Israel imports natural gas from Egypt via a pipeline, and it imports coal and oil from countries around the globe, including Russia, Mexico, and Norway.

“This discovery is nothing short of a geopolitical game-changer,” Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based NGO that deals with energy and security issues, wrote last month in the Haaretz newspaper.

But several challenges come first. Lebanon claims it has rights to the Leviathan find because they say the northern part of the find is in Lebanese territorial waters. Israel dismisses the claim, saying it is firmly within its own maritime boundaries.

“We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law,” Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau told the Bloomberg news agency last week, responding to the Lebanese claims.

Then there is the question of how to deliver the gas and avoid accidents like the BP spill especially if, as is now being considered, Israel builds a natural gas processing plant in the sea rather than on land.

The underwater plant has two potential benefits. It could offer the processing plant additional protection from attack by terrorists or enemy aircraft, and it could circumvent the not-in-my-backyard syndrome that stands as an obstacle to the construction of a processing plant near Israeli population centers along the coast. Local opponents already have emerged against each of six potential sites for the plant on land.

Israelis are concerned that the gas power plants could become military targets or turn into fireballs, said Amit Bracha, executive director of the advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din, The Israeli Union for Environmental Defense.

“The not-in-my-backyard syndrome takes on new meaning in Israel, which is so small,” Bracha said.

Adam Teva V’Din supports the alternative option of establishing the plant underwater.

“No one can bomb it,” Bracha said, “and it’s safer because it’s not near any neighborhoods.”

But safety concerns attend to that option, too.

A spill in the water would cause serious environmental damage, albeit less than a toxic oil spill. Even on land, Israel would have to build a network of pipes that would be secure and able to shut down automatically if there is a leak.

The government is conducting a survey to determine the best option for constructing the natural gas processing plant. In any case, the gas itself won’t be tapped until 2012 because it takes time to set up a distribution infrastructure.

In a statement to JTA, the National Infrastructure Ministry wrote that even if a decision is made to build an underwater plant, it does not preclude the possibility that one might also be built on land.

Aizenshtat said the natural gas find could help Israel achieve newfound independence.

“We were promised a land of milk and honey by God, but nothing was ever said about petroleum,” he said. “But the moment you do have it, people start looking at you differently.

“Energy today is a commodity that countries live and die by,” he said. “Whoever has control of the faucet can have a strong influence on the world. Politically this find is very important.”

JTA

 
 

Uniting against Iran

 

Russia crosses a line in Iran

Josh LipowskyEditorial
Published: 22 August 2010
 
 

Berman, Ros-Lehtinen press Obama on sanctions enforcement

_JStandardWorld
Published: 03 December 2010

WASHINGTON – The top Republican and Democrat House foreign policy members called on the Obama administration to more closely scrutinize nations that do not comply with Iran sanctions.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the outgoing chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, convened a hearing Wednesday on imposing tougher sanctions on Iran.

“There seems to be no doubt that Chinese companies are pursuing energy investments and selling Iran refined petroleum,” said Berman, who initiated the expanded sanctions act passed earlier this year. “The Chinese acknowledge it. I’d like to know why we haven’t sanctioned any of the Chinese companies engaged in clearly sanctionable actions. I’m concerned that we will not be able to sustain a robust sanctions regime if we don’t impose sanctions in an even-handed manner.”

President Obama had sought and received latitude in the bill to waive sanctions against countries he deemed cooperative in otherwise isolating Iran until it suspends its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Also addressing the hearing, where top administration sanctions officials were set to testify, was Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who is slated to replace Berman as committee chairwoman in the new Congress.

In addition to China, Ros-Lehtinen said Armenia and Turkey had expanded economic ties with Iran, and that Russia had offered defense assistance to Syria, an Iran ally.

“We must ensure that the tools we have are used to their maximum effectiveness, and look for new means of compelling Iran to cease activities that threaten our security, our interests and our allies,” she said.

Both Ros-Lehtinen and Berman praised countries that had recently added Iran sanctions, including Japan, South Korea and a number of Western nations.

Iran, meanwhile, has agreed to send a representative to talks next week in Geneva with the six major powers that shape the international community’s policies on the Islamic Republic: the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.

JTA Wire Service

 
 

Obama pitches Jewish groups on START treaty ratification

Ron KampeasWorld
Published: 10 December 2010

WASHINGTON – The campaign to curb Iran’s nuclear program just acquired a new deadline: the end of the 111th Congress.

The Obama administration has made a priority of ratifying the START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia before the Senate’s lame-duck session finishes at year’s end. A number of Republicans, citing what they say are weaknesses in the treaty, are balking.

The treaty, which was approved in September by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, needs 67 senators for ratification.

News Analysis

President Obama’s overarching consideration in negotiating the treaty has been to keep two of his election promises: to reduce nuclear arms and to “reset” what had been a troubled relationship with Russia.

Another key component of the White House rationale in advancing START is further isolating Iran as a means of getting the Islamic Republic to end its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Vice President Joe Biden hosted a chat last Friday with journalists who reach constituencies that the White House is eager to win over. At the session, to which JTA was invited, top national security officials said that ratifying START was vital in keeping Russia on board on Iran.

“Once we finished in Geneva, signed the treaty in April, within a very short time we were working with the Russians on intensive sanctions against Iran in the U.N. Security Council,” said Rose Gottemoeller, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, who led negotiations with Russia.

Mike McFaul, the special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia, said that Russia not only signed on to the sanctions — the toughest yet passed by the U.N. Security Council — but also suspended the sale of the S-300 anti-missile system to Iran.

“That especially hurts Russia’s economic and geopolitical interests,” he said of the sanctions and the suspension of the S-300 sale.

“Let’s just be blunt about it because [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev has been blunt about it,” McFaul said. “He said unlike the START treaty, which he mentioned while we were in Prague was a win-win for the United States and Russia, this sanctions resolutions is asymmetric,” but that the relationship with the United States in the long run is going to be more valuable to Russia than that relationship with Iran.

The White House and top Democratic senators have reached out to Jewish groups to support ratification. In a letter leaked to Politico, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) — both Jewish and invested with credibility on Israel and defense issues — appealed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to openly support START.

“As a leading voice in favor of crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime, AIPAC cannot afford to stand on the sidelines as the Senate debates the New START treaty,” said the letter addressed to AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr.

The blunt appeal outraged some conservatives, who argued that it was untoward to pressure the Jewish community on a matter not directly related to Israel.

“Your letter — an effort to pressure an organization to lobby on a matter far outside its expertise and area of concern — is a disgrace,” the Emergency Committee on Israel wrote in a letter to Schumer and Levin. “We’ve rarely seen senators stoop to this kind of public bullying.”

In fact, pro-Israel leaders said, such give-and-take is par for the course in Washington and characterized the Bush administration effort in 2002 and 2003 to garner Jewish support for the Iraq War.

“Every administration from time to time with foreign policy has an interest” it wants the Jewish community to support, said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “It happens from time to time. In this case they called, we said we’d take a look. We took a look, we agreed.”

While Israel has been silent on START because it does not directly concern the country, Israeli leaders in recent months have expressed relief at the suspension of the S-300 deal. They feared that delivery would substantially inhibit the prospects of any strike aimed at disabling an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Medvedev’s announcement helped push back Israeli predictions of an imminent Iranian nuclear capability.

While AIPAC remained silent, Patrick Clawson, an Iran analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who is close to the organization, said failure to ratify START posed dangers.

“Lack of ratification of START may well lead to Russian retaliation on a variety of issues,” Clawson told JTA.

Ultimately, much of the community was on board for START: In addition to the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, J Street, and the National Jewish Democratic Council endorsed ratification, and B’nai B’rith International said it could prove useful in isolating Iran.

The sole unequivocal voice in opposition was the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs.

“We seriously question whether Russia is serious about stopping Iran, with or without START,” JINSA said in an open letter.

JTA Wire Service

 
 
 
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