Highlights from Sebastian Kurz's Keynote Speech on EU-Israel Relations and Jewish Life in Europe
Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Israel of pursuing a policy of “apartheid and persecution.” AJC Director for Diplomatic Affairs Aaron Jacob exposes the HRW report’s most glaring biases, including the organization’s attempt to portray the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as racial in nature when, in fact, it is “a political conflict between two peoples with competing national goals – and should be addressed as such. Attempts to transform it into a racial or religious conflict make it much more difficult to resolve. By embracing the two-state solution and making generous peace overtures, Israel has made it abundantly clear that it does not want to rule the Palestinians.”
April 24th marked the annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide, the systematic annihilation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. U.S. President Joe Biden’s recognition of the genocide was a groundbreaking event, one that American Jewish Committee (AJC) had long been advocating for. AJC CEO David Harris explains why in his latest op-ed in The Times of Israel.
Five years ago, Kuwait Airways denied boarding to a student living in Germany because of his Israeli citizenship. The state-owned airline cited the country's own antisemitic 1964 boycott law. AJC Berlin Senior Associate Annina Fichtner argues in Jüdische Allgemeine that Berlin must urgently take decisive action to end this anti-Jewish discrimination on German soil: “If the fight against antisemitism is not to be simply lip service, and as long as Kuwait Airways is not prepared to make any changes, Germany should resort to suspending the airline's take-off and landing rights.”
Backed by the city of Hamburg through an official state cooperation agreement since 2012, the Islamic Center Hamburg (IZH) is Iran’s direct affiliate in Germany. According to German intelligence, the IZH is Tehran's most important hub in Europe. "The Islamic Center Hamburg is not only tasked with spreading Iran's antisemitic, anti-democratic, misogynistic, and homophobic state ideology, but serves as a hub for Hamburg’s Hezbollah supporters," writes AJC Berlin Director Remko Leemhuis in this Welt opinion article calling on the city state to ban the IZH and its activities.
Both the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords and the bipartisan Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act - signed into law earlier this year – have the potential to advance the economic conditions needed to provide a foundation for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Benjamin Rogers, AJC Director for Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, writes in this op-ed in The Hill that the $250 million allocated by Congress over five years to expand peace and reconciliation programs and bolster the Palestinian economy through private sector engagement could be transformational: “While each instrument is revolutionary, the full power of the Abraham Accords and the Lowey Fund will emerge when applied together, unleashing their potential as a catalyst for the future of an integrated, symbiotic Middle East.”
As modern Greece marked its bicentennial this month, celebrating the nation’s emergence from 400 years of rule under the Ottoman Empire, the recent discovery of natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean continues to energize the Israel-Greece-Cyprus trilateral relationship. Backed by the U.S., the region is fast transforming into a real political and economic hub. For the first time, a major source of natural gas in the region is controlled largely by Western democracies. AJC Senior Director of Policy and Political Affairs, Julie Fishman Rayman, writes in the Greek daily Kathimerini that Greece and Cyprus, the U.S., and the entire region have much to gain from deepening this strategic partnership.
The U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords achieved even more than the historic establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and three Arab nations. Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer, argues in Newsweek that the agreement’s critical ‘side deals’ ought to be honored. Both the $23 billion sale of F-35 warplanes to Abu Dhabi and U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara – with Sahrawi autonomy – will bolster ties with and among these critical allies to promote regional stability, counter extremist forces and address human needs.
Resuming contacts with Iran has become an early foreign policy priority for the Biden administration and Europe. AJC CEO David Harris offers in his latest piece in The Times of Israel six recommendations for any future negotiations with Tehran. Since last year’s Abraham Accords the Middle East has undergone a fundamental shift. Consulting closely with America’s Sunni allies and Israel, President Biden can now rectify the JCPOA’s shortcomings on regional aggression, ballistic missiles, inspections, and the accord’s dangerous sunset clauses, which give the regime a patient pathway to nuclear threshold capability.
Israel is the world’s front-runner on COVID vaccine distribution. It didn’t take long for libelous accusations to surface that the Jewish state deliberately neglected the Palestinians even though the Oslo Accords gave the Palestinian Authority sole responsibility for health care and Ramallah never asked for Israeli help. In this Times of Israel opinion piece, AJC CEO David Harris takes on the journalists, members of Congress, and activists who are propagating falsehoods about Israel and sets the record straight about the Palestinian vaccination program.
Europe and the U.S. have been bitterly divided these past four years on how to counter Iran’s regional and nuclear aggression. Writing in Newsweek, AJC Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal argues that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden now has a unique opportunity to forge a united transatlantic front against Tehran. Germany’s sudden call for a robust follow-up deal to the JCPOA and France’s public censure of the regime for its murder of the journalist Ruhollah Zam are promising signs.