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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Iran demands justice while Kerry ignores history

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, July 22. I have a comment at the end.
1) The Executioners Demand Justice
Perhaps one of the oddest stories appearing yesterday was Iran's Mullahs Demand Justice for Trayvon. According to the semi-official Iranian website Press TV:
“The acquittal of the murderer of the teenage African American once again clearly demonstrated the unwritten, but systematic racial discrimination against racial, religious and ethnic minorities in the US society,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi said. He noted that the court ruling has also seriously put under question the fairness of the judicial process in the United States. “Several months on since a probe was launched (into the murder), the public opinion in the US and across the world expect transparency, an accurate and fair judicial investigation into the case, with due regard to human rights principles for American citizens and a ban on discrimination against minorities in the country,” Araqchi added.
(Araqchi, by the way, was appointed just two months ago and has been quite vocal and aggressive since his appointment.) As Adam Kredo writes, though, it's more than a little ironic that Iran is pronouncing judgment on the American justice system.
Iran’s calls for justice came as a surprise to U.S. observers, who pointed out that the Iranian regime is notorious for beating opposition members, arresting journalists, stoning women to death, and publicly executing homosexual teenagers.
Theater of the Absurd: Iran’s Mullahs Demand Justice for Trayvon, slam USA. http://t.co/TYhMhZ1PMr via @sharethis
— Ron M. (@Jewtastic) July 20, 2013
According to a group called Iran Human Rights, executions in Iran have been spiking since the June 14 presidential election. The group bases its count on the regimes' announced executions and observes:
One possibility might be that during elections the authorities have to give more space to the public in order to encourage people’s participation in the elections. Additionally, during elections international journalists visit Iran one week before and after elections. However, in the weeks prior to and after the elections the number of executions reaches a peak.
A few years ago it was reported that the regime would ensure that young women were "married" before they were executed. Of course, Iran is also known to have targeted civilians in other countries without the benefit of any minimal amount of due process. The idea of the Iranians passing judgment on the American system is perverse. 
2) "You used to ride on your chrome horse with your diplomat" 
The New York Times has been tracking John Kerry's efforts to restart Palestinian/Israeli negotiation. First the paper reported in Kerry Achieves Deal to Revive Mideast Talks:
“The representatives of two proud peoples today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling and that the daunting challenges that we face are worth tackling,” Mr. Kerry said in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on Friday night before flying back to Washington. “They have courageously recognized that in order for Israelis and Palestinians to live together side by side in peace and security, they must begin by sitting at the table together in direct talks.” There was no indication that either the Israelis or the Palestinians had compromised on core issues — such as ending Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank or conceding the right of return of Palestinian refugees — that have sunk previous negotiations. Rather, this round of diplomacy was focused on getting distrusting adversaries to sit in the same room. But after years of stalemate in which the prospects of creating side-by-side Israeli and Palestinian states seemed to fade, even as a goal of American and regional diplomacy, the resumption of a process of talks counts as progress, some analysts said.
Whether or not this is how Secretary of State Kerry framed the issue, the New York Times picks two issues that would put the onus on Israel. Other issues such as Hamas ruled Gaza, the refusal of Abbas to negotiate and the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel are all non-factors in this reporting.
Netanyahu pledges referendum following Kerry breakthrough on talks: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Net... http://t.co/2cpHlZkNMq BICOM
— Jewish Community (@JComm_NewsFeeds) July 22, 2013
The next day the New York Times reported Palestinian Prisoner Release Is Critical Hurdle in Resuming Peace Talks:
One of three main Palestinian demands for resuming talks has been the release of about a hundred Palestinians who have been jailed since before the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993. The other demands are using the 1967 prewar borders as the basis for negotiations, and freezing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. The Americans had been working on ways to resolve the border and settlement issues with a formula in which they would make a declaration about the 1967 border and about Israel being a Jewish state. A Western official said Saturday, “There are no terms of reference or any other agreements that the ’67 lines will be the basis for negotiation.” Frustrated by the lack of a guarantee regarding the 1967 borders, the Palestinians on Friday pushed further on prisoners, an issue with profound emotional resonance on both sides. Palestinians consider the men in Israel’s jails, particularly those serving since before Oslo, prisoners of war. Israelis call them terrorists. Some have been convicted of multiple murders, and the families of their victims have already made passionate public appeals against the release.
Again, even though it is Abbas who refuses to negotiate, the reporting blames Israel for its hesitance to make concessions ahead of negotiations. Of course releasing convicted terrorists is a risky move, often leading to more terror. The release of a thousand terrorists to secure the freedom of Gilad Shalit nearly two years ago was no exception. The risk of releasing prisoners with "blood on their hands," is compounded by the fact that the Palestinian Authority, rather than criticizing the terrorists, praises them instead and absolves them of any wrongdoing. Why should the Palestinians be "frustrated" by not knowing the outcome of negotiations? Isn't that what the point of negotiations is? The Palestinians don't want negotiations, they want guarantees delivered by the international community. But if Mahmoud Abbas can't even keep a Prime Minister to govern by his side, how can he be expected to rule an entire country? How can be expected to keep his commitments?
The main ambition of Martin Indyk in life is to prove that Dennis Ross has been always wrong.
— Aharon Meytahl (@ameytahl) July 22, 2013
So Kerry did it. By George he did it! Negotiations will resume forthwith. Now watch the naysayers declare there'll never be an agreement.
— Martin Indyk (@Martin_Indyk) July 19, 2013
The latest, that the New York Times reports, is Seasoned Hand in Mideast May Shepherd Peace Talks:
But with the negotiations due to start in the next week or so, and Mr. Kerry intent on assuming his broader responsibilities as secretary of state, he has begun to assemble a team that would manage what one senior State Department official said is expected to be “a rocky and up-and-down process.” Channel 2 News in Israel reported that Mr. Kerry had told the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, that Mr. Indyk was his choice; the channel said both leaders expressed approval. ... Mr. Indyk was sent again to Israel as ambassador in 2000, to work with Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, on an ambitious bid for a peace deal, but that effort failed, and the second Palestinian intifada erupted.
With a recalcitrant Palestinian President being dragged into peace talks with Israel, whose experience does Kerry seek? The same person who helped "shepherd" the parties to the 2000 Camp David summit. Kerry has apparently not learned from history. He isn't really where it's at.
Given that the US allows its justice system to be judged by Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of other human rights violators as part of the Universal Periodic Review process at the United Nations 'human rights council,' is it really in a position to complain when Iran judges its record solo? It's the US subjecting itself to the UPR that gives Iran the credibility to make any comments.

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