At Wednesday’s meeting a TwItter representative flatly stated that some of President Donald Trump’s Tweets needed to be flagged because it served the public interest but Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people is acceptable because it reflects “commentary on political issues of the day.”
Insane doesn’t begin to explain how a Twitter representative could say what they said, with a straight face. In fact, she said it as if there was nothing wrong with the idea that the leader of the free world is bad, while the Iranian so-called Supreme leader’s consistent antisemitic and dangerous statements are just commentary.
For crying out loud, the Iranian government promotes genocide. It’s just that simple.
Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights lawyer and political analyst, asked Twitter’s head of policy for the Nordics and Israel Ylwa Pettersson: “I have a simple question here, you’ve recently started flagging the Tweets of President Trump, why have you not flagged the Tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?”
Pettersson said, “so we have an approach to world leaders that presently say that direct interactions with fellow public figures on political issues of the day or foreign policy, saber rattling on military, economic policy issues are generally not in violation of our (Twitter) policy.” She came before the Knesset to answer questions related to the companies digital policy on political speech.
Member of the Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh, “so calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not okay?”
“I think that what’s come up again and again through different examples is actually a sense of double standards,” said Cotler-Wunsh. She later noted that Twitter has double-standards and has failed to hold Iran accountable, like it has for other countries.
For example, in one instance Twitter suppressed a Tweet by President Trump in May. In that tweet – during a time where people were rioting in the cities – he Tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter immediately posted a warning on the Tweet that said it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.”
Twitter has not taken similar actions against Khamenei, who by the way has called for Israel’s annihilation and has called the Jewish people a “cancerous growth.”
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Arab States Unlikely to Join Broad Military Defense with Israel Against Iran
In an effort to re-charge the Abraham Accords launched by the Trump administration, Sens. Jodi Ernst (R-IA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the DEFEND Act, which calls for US leadership in supporting Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait) to form a joint air and missile defense against Iran. The Biden administration will also visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority from July 13-16. His visit to Saudi Arabia will include a “GCC+3” summit that would reportedly include the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the members of the GCC.
But this grand summit faces some serious challenges. While the UAE and Bahrain are already coordinating with Israel on defense, the other GCC countries plus Iraq are quite far from such a possibility. And Saudi Arabian normalization with Israel is the Biden administration’s diplomatic breakthrough to lose.
Iraq seems far from any reconciliation with Israel. Iraq recently made it illegal for Iraqi citizens to have any ties with the Jewish State, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment. The law is so egregious that even the State Department condemned it.
Kuwait continues to express outright hostility to Israel. Yes, it is refreshing to hear that a Kuwaiti editorial supported normalization with Israel and bashed the Palestinians, calling for the Gulf States to cut off aid to the latter. But Kuwait has shown little signs of changing its actual policy towards Israel. Kuwait recently banned maritime shipping between Israel and Kuwait, as well as the film Death on the Nile because it featured Israeli actress Gal Gadot.
Qatar is a long way away from joining the Abraham Accords, and any defense agreement that would involve Israel. In a welcomed diplomatic step, Qatar will allow Israelis to visit the country using Israeli passports to attend the FIFA World Cup. Israel will also propose an arrangement with Qatar where Israel would have direct flights to the country for the World Cup. While these are welcome developments, Qatar must abandon significant hostility to Israel like its support for jihadist groups and state-sponsored anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism before it can join any broader defense agreement with the Jewish State.
While Oman has clandestine ties with Israel, it has stated numerous times that it will not join the Abraham Accords. While warm to Israel, it also has a strong relationship with Iran which includes military cooperation. So, Oman joining a defense pact against Iran seems absurd.
The most likely country to join Israel, UAE and Bahrain in a defense pact against Iran would be Saudi Arabia, who has to its credit moved incrementally closer to normalization with Israel. US and Israel are reportedly in the midst of helping to broker the transfer of strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Both US National Security Council Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein were recently in Riyadh to help broker this deal. According to Axios, the Biden administration seeks to clinch a deal between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel on these islands before the GCC+3 summit. The deal would also serve a two-fold purpose: 1) to advance normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel; and 2) to improve US-Saudi relations that have long been antagonized by the Biden administration’s anti-Saudi policies. Israel wants security arrangements regarding the islands, as well as access to Saudi airspace to Asia, in addition to direct flights for those seeking pilgrimages from Tel Aviv to Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia currently grants Israel limited access to its airspace for flights to the UAE and Bahrain.
And as the Wall Street Journal has reported, there have been a growing number of secret business and security discussions between the two countries. According to an Israeli newspaper Globes, “dozens” of Israeli businessmen recently traveled to Saudi Arabia using special visas and their Israeli passports. This report further alleges that Israeli businessmen have been travelling to Riyadh and the future location of Neom, a planned hi-tech city, for months. The Globes article further mentions that Israelis and Saudis have already signed “a number of agreements” which each other, “including a multi-million dollar deal in the agriculture tech sector and a second deal for an Israeli water tech solution.”
The greatest hope for a broader Gulf defense agreement with Israel against Iran would be if Saudi Arabia joins the UAE and Bahrain in normalizing ties with Israel, with one or more countries following suit. Israel and Saudi Arabia have made strides towards normalization. But the Biden administration must follow its shuttle diplomacy with reversals of numerous counter-productive anti-Saudi policies. It must climb down the tree it planted when it accused MBS or orchestrating Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, without presenting hard evidence and ignoring Khashoggi’s checkered past. And it must support Saudi Arabia in its war against Iran’s proxies, the Houthi terrorists in Yemen. Only when America reconciles with Saudi Arabia can the region see a broadening of the Abraham Accords.
NOTE: Due to an editorial error an earlier draft of this story was posted, it is now updated.
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