UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM A TWITTER SPOKESPERSON
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday alleged in a tweet that his country is not interested in producing a nuclear weapon, but said that if it were, no one could stop it, including Israel. In the post, he used the antisemitic phrase “international Zionist clown,” which, according to The Times of Israel, was an apparent reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“That international Zionist clown has said they won’t allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons. First of all, if we had any such intention, even those more powerful than him wouldn’t be able to stop us,” Khamenei tweeted Monday.
Many conservatives, after former President Donald Trump was banned last month from Twitter and other social media platforms regarding his posts alleging election fraud and those viewed as playing a role in stirring up the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, have argued that it was unfair that Trump was banned while Khamenei and the Chinese Communist Party have tweeted far worse things and faced no repercussions.
A Twitter spokesperson told this reporter that Khamenei’s tweet is “not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
Specifically, the spokesperson pointed to Twitter’s world leader policy, in which it is stated that the company assesses “reported Tweets from world leaders against the Twitter Rules, which are designed to ensure people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.” The policy also says that “[p]resently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
It is not clear whether Twitter will take action against Khamenei for the tweet, though the company has not done so in the past—even when he has used the platform throughout the years to call for the “elimination” of Israel, among other statements.
Prior to Twitter permanently banning Trump, he was shielded by the platform’s world leader policy, which exempts currently serving global leaders from penalties for posting certain policy-violating content. The former U.S. president, the company argued, needed to be held accountable for violating its policies, despite still being a world leader at the time.
Former Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ellie Cohanim, a Jewish Iranian whose family fled Iran due to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, told this reporter that the “Iranian regime engages in what I have termed an ‘obsessive anti-Semitism,'” adding that “Ayatollah Khamenei’s tweet is just more evidence of the hatred and vitriol which the Supreme Leader himself directs at the Jewish state of Israel.”
“Despite his protestations, Khamenei is clearly frustrated with the knowledge that Israel has consistently blocked repeated Iranian attempts at achieving nuclear capability, and undoubtedly the Israelis will continue to thwart the greatest state sponsor of anti-Semitism from developing a nuclear arsenal,” Cohanim added.
Below Khamenei’s aforementioned tweet, the Iranian leader doubled down on his claim that Iran isn’t seeking nuclear weapons, saying, “This is based on Islamic fundamentals and commands that prohibit weapons that are used for killing ordinary people.”
He, however, went after the United States for dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, the only nuclear weapons ever used in warfare.
“The one that massacres 220,000 people with nuclear weapons is the US.”
In a separate post on Monday, Khamenei reasserted his claim that his country has no interest in such weapons but said that Iran’s “nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either.” Moreover, he added that it “will enrich uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country” and that its “enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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