Int'l conference urges aggressive Iran sanctions

Intl conference urges a

Iran missile fired 248.88 (photo credit: )
Iran missile fired 248.88
(photo credit: )
Two-thirds of Iran's industry, including its energy sector, is dependent on German equipment, and that is where the Islamic Republic is vulnerable to sanctions, the spokesman for a German pro-Israel group said earlier this week. Michael Spaney, who represents the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin (MFFB), pointed this out in a speech to a Berlin conference titled "Time to Act," which took place Saturday and Sunday and was organized by the MFFB. The conference, a Who's Who of academics and policy makers, urged Europe to embrace a tougher approach to modify the jingoistic behavior of the Iranian regime. The panel speakers also sought intensified support for the Iranian democracy movement. Scholars and think-tank experts from the United States, Europe and Israel pushed for the European Union to reinvigorate the sanctions strategy against Iran. Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi , head of the Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, termed the current diplomacy track with Iran a "dead end" because deadlines are being ignored by the parties. Ottolenghi advocated a potent mix of crippling economic sanctions on the Iranian energy sector, and a global human rights campaign championing the pro-democracy and free trade union movement in Iran. He cited the imprisonment of the Teheran bus union leader Mansour Osanloo as a pressing human rights cause. The regime incarcerated Osanloo in 2007 for his efforts to organize an independent labor union. Daniel Schwammenthal, an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe, said at the session on Israel's security that "a fanatical religious regime and one of the world's biggest sponsors of terror is threatening to wipe Israel off the map while it is racing toward acquiring the means to carry out this apocalyptic vision. While denying the Holocaust, it is simultaneously threatening another genocide, and yet Germany and much of the rest of the West is idly standing by." He added that "what we are witnessing is not just a betrayal of Israel but of Western values and interests" in not confronting the Iranian threat. Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, spoke about the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which the US designated in 2007 as a global terrorist group. He told the Post that there is a need for a systematic analysis of companies and subsidiaries trading with the terror entity. In his talk, he noted that the Revolutionary Guards are the second national military to be named a global terror group by the US; the first was the Nazi SS. The German-Iranian sociologist Saba Farzan sharply criticized Volker Perthes, the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) as "half-educated" regarding his understanding of repression in Iran. The SWP is a think tank funded by the German government that advises the German Foreign Ministry on both Iran and Israel. Perthes has written that "bilateral trade and economic sanctions against Iran are neither politically nor economically meaningful." Farzan said that Perthes and the Green Party-affiliated Heinrich Böll foundation are encouraging an "embedding of the Islamic Republic" at the expense of the Iranian freedom movement. German critics, such as political scientist Dr. Matthias Küntzel, who spoke at the conference, view Perthes as "lacking a moral compass" and not friendly to Israel's security needs. The head of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, Dr. Charles Small, criticized in a keynote speech the silence from German anti-Semitism researchers concerning Iran's threat to obliterate Israel. He asked the packed audience of roughly 300 on Saturday why the controversial Berlin Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism was not present at the "Time to Act" conference. The Center's Director Wolfgang Benz and his assistant Dr. Juliane Wetzel have been the subject of intense criticism in Israel and the United States for ignoring Iran's genocidal anti-Semitism. Small said at the conference that he was not aware of any major articles or publications in 2009 from the Berlin center addressing this issue. The Berlin Center advises the German government on combating anti-Semitism, and Dr. Wetzel is a member of the Interior Ministry's commission on investigating anti-Semitism in Germany. Benz, the director, has equated discrimination against Muslims with anti-Semitism, according to his critics. He has refused to engage his Jewish critics in Germany, among them Der Spiegel journalist Henryk M. Broder, who view Benz as playing down the significance of modern anti-Semitism in Germany, which manifests itself as hatred of Israel. The prominent German Jewish historian Dr. Julius H. Schoeps, who attended the conference, criticized the Berlin Center, saying that the Center's comparison between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is "nonsense." Wetzel, who is the Berlin Center's spokeswoman, refuses to communicate with The Jerusalem Post in Germany.