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20 April 2015


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"Doesn't your analysis of who's in first depend on which U.S. sanctions have been levied by the President and/or an executive branch agency or levied by the Congress?"

In principle, yes, but see it from a European company's point of view:

Does it matter which body of the US harasses as a result of jurisdiction established because a single, digital dollar of yours touched the US banking system for a logical second - exposing you to politically motivated prosecution in a deal that is perfectly legal under any law but American law?

If charged with a sanctions violation, possibly facing a painful fine, it likely matters little to you whether it is a prosecutor from Florida or a federal prosecutor who inflicts that on you.

I recall the remark in a German textbook on US law that there is a tendency for US jurors to vote patriotic in cases involving foreign companies (recommendation: do avoid juries in business disputes). Doesn't help. The US federal register for 2013 alone contained more than 80k pages.

Now throw in every midnight whack bill one of the 50 states has enacted while nobody was watching. Consider a tendency to use the office of a prosecutor as a basis for a future political career. Consider the potential of elected judges for more mischief.

For the company, all of this means they have an unpredictable, arcane, lengthy and worse - expensive - lawsuit ahead, bad press in the US to boot, and if they get charged it will be expensive if not ruinous. The temptation to go for a settlement just to be spared all that misery must be great, in fact increasing US leverage even more.

Every multinational company considering business with Iran and the US will triple check *any* business deal for a possible US link with Iran after the example the US made of BNP Paribas.

As for divestment from the dollar - hard thing to do probably, given the interconnectedness of global financial markets.

IMO, if the annoyance starts to outweigh the monetary benefits then we may see the abandonment of the dollar as a trading currency. Since there is a lot of money to be made in the US, as opposed to Iran, it probably will take time and companies will suck it up for that long.

Margaret Steinfels

Thanks. Hadn't paid enough attention to the Paredo-Corker-Netanyahu dust up. I don't think that made it into any other news story. Very interesting. Didn't realize Corker was a mensch.

Was Benzion Netanyahu a lobbyist in the U.S. I know he taught here; which is why Benji speaks U.S. English..., and knew he was part of Jabotinsky's movement, but not that he played an active role in U.S. politics. Must take a look at that book. Other references?

Charles I

A lot of this ground, including historical relations between Anglo and American Zionists and supporters is covered in detail by our old contributor Clifford Kiracofe in his book "Dark Crusade: Christian Zionism and US Foreign Policy"

see: http://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-Crusade-Clifford-Kiracofe/9781845117559

"Despite its efforts to promote peace and instil democracy in the region, America is viewed by many in the Middle East as a dishonest broker waging a 'dark crusade' against its enemies: in covert collaboration with Israel. The crucial hostility to Arab and Palestinian interests of the so-called 'Zionist lobby' in the US has long been recognised. But it is another less familiar element in US politics that increasingly calls the shots on Capitol Hill, directing the course of American foreign policy there: Christian Zionism.Christian Zionists now influence not only the Republican Party, but also the White House and Congress. Protestant fundamentalists anticipating the end of the world, they have long made common cause with the most extreme political elements in the state of Israel. But why? Jews and fundamentalist Christians hardly look like natural allies. Adhering to a feverish apocalyptic ideology, Christian Zionists nevertheless believe that restoration of the entire biblical Holy Land to the Jewish people will result the thousand-year reign of Christ. During his eleven years working in the Senate, the author observed at first hand the deep-seated influence of Christian Zionism on American foreign policy, and is uniquely qualified to assess its significance. "Dark Crusade" offers the most nuanced analysis yet written of this dangerous and complex phenomenon."

David Habakkuk


As regards of charges of anti-Semitism, it has come to see to me that these have degenerated into a despicable form of moral blackmail, whose effect is to inhibit serious discussion of critical issues – in a way which is actually not in the long-term interests of anyone, including Jews.

Indeed, I have got to the point where, if I were to be accused of anti-Semitism by Abe Foxman, I would regard it as a badge of honour.

You may have followed the recent discussion of remarks made by Senator Lindsey Graham over a glass of Riesling. Apparently, he explained that

'If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing… I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding. [Chuckles.] Bottom line is, I've got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding.'

Discussing this, Philip Weiss quoted Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of the 'New Jersey Jewish News.' According to this gentleman:

'Pro-Israel donors are not responsible for the huge amounts of cash that flow into and distort our political campaigns. But we have gotten very good at leveraging our small numbers and relative affluence for political influence. If that bothers you, then consider the alternative. Perhaps the Holocaust would have happened even had American Jews been an assertive, well-organized lobby. And perhaps Israel would have been able to defend itself in war after war without a strong ''Israel lobby.'' But American Jewry is haunted by memories of its failures in the first instance, and doesn't want to repeat the mistake in the second.'

Unfortunately, people who are determined not avoid repeating the mistakes of the past commonly make new ones. The position of the 'Board of Deputies of British Jews' is precisely that which you attribute to 'J Street' – continuing to insist on the need for a 'two state solution', while opposing efforts such as BDS.

I have commented over the years on SST on the lack alike of Machiavellian realism and moral seriousness of this 'liberal Zionist position'.

(See, for example, http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2010/03/habakkuk-on-the-.html .)

However, a recent post from the 'Micah's Paradigm Shift' blog run by a British Jew, Robert Cohen, which Philip Weiss reproduced, makes the indictment better than I have. Defending his support for BDS in an open letter to Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies, Cohen writes:

'Your faith in the two-state solution would carry more conviction if you had once in the last 25 years urged the State of Israel to recognise international law, halt settlement construction and accept that Jerusalem should and could be shared. But you did not.'

(See http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/boycotting-from-within-letter-to.html .)

And this is one central point. It has long been clear to anyone but the most determined ostrich that prospects for a 'two-state solution' – always problematic in the extreme – could not survive the kind of continued process of colonisation which successive Israeli governments have pursued.

It is all too obvious to very many people here that, as Cohen points out, what we now have is an 'emerging one-state reality'.

Ironically, many of us crabbed old cynics find it difficult to share the hope of people like Cohen and Philip Weiss that some kind of harmonious democratic 'one-state solution' is possible, and actually have sympathy with the doubts of Zionist sceptics on this point.

What however is the alternative? Clearly, it is a 'one-state reality' which makes a mockery of any kind of any kind of 'liberal principles', and also appears to necessitate a periodic resort by Israeli security forces to 'mowing the lawn' – to quote the phrase some of the country's strategists employ for their periodic strikes on Gaza.

Apparently, not simply people like Jeffrey Goldberg, but also 'liberal Zionists' like the members of 'J Street' and Vivian Wineman, have difficult in seeing what happens when this kind of behaviour comes together with their attempts to portray hostility to Zionism as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

Again, Cohen is to the point. Having stressed that there is nothing inherently anti-Semitic in the notion of bringing pressure to bear on Israel through economic protest, he goes on to write:

'But if BDS supporters find it difficult to make the distinction between Jews and the State of Israel it's hardly surprising. Every Israeli Prime Minister enjoys speaking as if they were our international leader. Our communal organisations, like the Board, refuse to offer an ounce of criticism towards Israel and our synagogues offer weekly prayers for the State of Israel and its defence forces. Why wouldn't BDS campaigners draw the conclusion that Judaism, Jews and Zionism are all one and the same?

'Over the last 70 years we have merged our ancient faith with a very modern political nationalist project to the point where most Jews accept the State of Israel as a seamless continuum of all our beliefs and traditions. You have contributed greatly to this situation but have left yourself no room and no words to unscramble it.'

This is the simple truth, and it does indeed threaten a kind of revival of anti-Semitism here. But this really has very little to do with traditional Jew hatred. It has a great deal to do with the fact that figures like Netanyahu, or Sheldon Adelson, or Paul Wolfowitz, or Victoria Nuland, or indeed Tom Friedman and David Brooks, not to speak of Jeffrey Goldberg, have little about them which any civilised human being could like or admire.

Margaret Steinfels


Babak Makkinejad

I think "Westphalia" is tied to the Land of Europe and it is meaningless to apply it or expect to apply it successfully outside of Europe.

Babak Makkinejad

Right and to that must be added that Iranian leaders would be stupid to let their commerce with EU ever reach the levels it had before EU started her economic war against Iran.

Likewise, I should expect the Russian leaders to keep EU commerce to a certain level and no more.

Babak Makkinejad

EU was the one that weaponized finance and commerce and not US.

Margaret Steinfels

Yes, except for all the places that the Land of Europe drew boundaries, Africa, ME (Sykes-Picot), India, Latin and Central America, bits of the Far East, and the colonies of North America.


Please elaborate.

Babak Makkinejad

I cannot think of any country except Uruguay as having been created explicitly by a European state in South America.

I think the borders of those countries are historical accidents; technically the various governorships and vice-regencies were destroyed by new Americans of European origin - Bolivar, St. Martin, Agustín de Iturbide, Vicente Guerrero.

I mean, look at Bolivia whose borders were decided in war by Peru and Ecuador.

I think you are on much firmer ground when it comes to Africa and the Middle East.

But really, if you were there, do you think you could have done much better?

Margaret Steinfels

Wait a minute! How about Brazil which wound up Portuguese-speaking and the rest Spanish-speaking under the Treaty of Tordesillas, 1494, under the auspices of Pope Alexander VI, who owned large chunks of Italy.

The rest of Latin America? Maybe you're right--except for Guyana (Netherlands), Suriname (English and Dutch), and Guiana (French).


As for the multitude of US law I was being somewhat unfair to the US in two regards:

* European law probably approaches a similar volume than the federal register.

* The other thing is, and that will be water on your mills Babak, that Europe has applied sanctions to Iran, too, and even threatened to reimpose them even after they were found to be unlawful.

The difference to the US is first that one can challenge European law (i.e sanctions) in any European court, and secondly, that the sanctions were found to be unlawful at all (i.e. there is efficient recourse for sanctions). That never happened in the US afaik. And the reasons why sanctions have been scrapped speak for themselves:

"Sanctions against Bank Tejarat have been scrapped as, according to the ruling, the EU failed to prove the bank’s involvement in financing the nuclear program or helping others to avoid sanctions.

The commercial bank, previously owned by the state, was privatized in 2009.

In addition, the court said that companies linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping lines (IRISL) have not been proven to had been involved in supporting nuclear proliferation either."


"Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Sumption ruled that the British government had been "arbitrary", "irrational" and "disproportionate" to single out Bank Mellat for sanctions.

A British government spokeswoman said it was "disappointed" with the decision and was "considering the judgment and its implications for any future orders (for sanctions)".


After the defeat in court, EU sanctions were re-imposed with altered justification:


Legal oversight of administrative action is necessarily reactive. So now the circle can begin again, which is of course hard on Iran. Unless there is a deal, which I hope and pray for (much unlike Norman Podhoretz).

Babak Makkinejad

You got me there Peggy....

Margaret Steinfels

Dont be embarrassed! I had to look up Guiana and Surname on a map.

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