Israeli-Made Armor Helps Save American Lives

— by Max Samis

The state of Israel has proven time and time again to be the United States’ closest and strongest ally, and it continues to be a two-way relationship. During a recent trip to Kibbutz Sasa in the northern Galilee, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro had the opportunity to visit the Plasan factory, which has provided over 8,000 armor kits to U.S. troops across the world. In this video posted by the U.S. Embassy, Shapiro demonstrates the capabilities of the products built by Plasan.

Besides the support shown to Israel by the U.S., it is clear that Israeli technology is responsible for saving the lives of American troops in combat.

You can learn more about how President Barack Obama has strengthened the relationship here.

GOP Candidates Maintain Their Distance from Most Jews in AZ Debate

— Max Samis

In the first Republican presidential debate in nearly a month, one thing became clear: little has changed when it comes to the distance separating the GOP candidates from most Jews. The four candidates on stage in Arizona last night took their turns reminding most American Jews why they support the Democratic Party, in addition to wrongfully attacking President Barack Obama’s work to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) wrongly attacked Obama’s leadership of the international movement to sanction Iran. As NJDC has noted, the Obama Administration recently implemented more sanctions that have essentially cut off Iran’s central bank from the global economy — and they’ve already made an impact. In addition, the Iranian steel trade has grinded to a halt, and the Iranian oil flow has taken a massive hit. While Romney and others assert otherwise, the fact remains that the President and his Administration are keeping all options on the table when it comes to stopping Iran. As The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote before the debate:

The Obama Administration, through its stalwart opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, has narrowed Iran’s maneuverability, and forced the regime to make some obvious errors … It is precisely because the Obama Administration has constructed a sanctions program without precedent, and because the Obama Administration has funded and supported multinational cyber-sabotage efforts against the Iranian nuclear program, that Iran is panicking and lashing-out.

To get the facts on Obama’s work to stop Iran’s nuclear program, click here.

The New York Times, Politifact, and National Journal fact checked Romney on Iran. Click the hyperlinked publication to view their findings that debunk Romney’s falsehoods.  

“Friendship Blossoms” Between Romney and Anti-Israel Paul

— by Max Samis

As we’ve noted previously, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul have grown quite close on the campaign trail. Many believe that Romney will need Paul’s support to win the Republican nomination, and Romney has told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he would vote for the anti-Israel Paul if he were the nominee. Several weeks ago, The Washington Post reported on the “strategic partnership” that the two candidates have formed.

According to NBC News:

In addition to the Paul campaign’s latest TV ad, here’s more evidence in the emerging Mitt Romney/Ron Paul bro-mance: The Paul camp is now passing around oppo[sition research] on Rick Santorum.

With Santorum potentially on the brink of upsetting Romney in Michigan next week, the Paul campaign is targeting the former Pennsylvania senator for what it says is hypocrisy — after Santorum criticized Romney on the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Now, The New York Times reported that there is a “friendship [blossoming]” between the two candidates. The New York Times wrote:

In a Republican presidential contest known for its angry rivalries, the Romney-Paul relationship stands out for its behind-the-scenes civility. It is a friendship that, by Mr. Paul’s telling, Mr. Romney has worked to cultivate. The question is whether it is also one that could pay dividends for Mr. Romney as he faces yet more setbacks in his struggle to capture the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Ideological similarities among supporters of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich suggest that if Mr. Gingrich dropped out, many of his backers would coalesce behind Mr. Santorum. But as Mr. Paul steadily collects delegates, one thing that remains to be seen is whether his affinity – at least on a personal level – for Mr. Romney could help the former Massachusetts governor as the fight drags on…

“I talk to Romney more than the rest on a friendly basis,” Mr. Paul said. “I throw Romney’s name out because he’s made a bigger attempt to do it. The others are sort of just real flat.”

In an interview on CBS this past weekend, Mr. Paul volunteered that since his rivals were largely identical in policy substance, “when it comes down to those three, it’s probably going to be management style more than anything else.” According to one person close to the Paul campaign, it would be accurate to infer from that phrasing — “management style” — that Mr. Paul has a willingness to listen to overtures from Mr. Romney, who has been trying to sell himself to voters as a proven manager.

Increased Sanctions Continue to Pressure Iran’s Economy

— Max Samis

It has been several weeks since President Barack Obama first increased sanctions on Iran, effectively cutting off Iran’s central bank from the global economy. To this point, the evidence is overwhelming that these sanctions have had a strong effect on Iran’s economy and government.

Previously a major importer of steel, Iranian steel traders have found their business “grinding to a halt.”

More after the jump.
According to Reuters:

Iranian buyers cannot obtain dollars or euros, forcing them to offer letters of credit in alternative currencies such as the Indian rupee, Korean won and Russian rubles.

Most steel traders, wary of currency risk and taxation issues, are not willing to accept this form of payment.

‘Now you can really feel the effects of the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe…It is very difficult to do any business with Iran at the moment,’ a steel trader at a Swiss metals trading house said.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Iranian oil flow has taken a massive hit. Reuters wrote:

Iran could be forced to place unsold barrels into floating storage or even shut in production in the second half of this year, the IEA said on Friday in its monthly Oil Market Report.

‘International sanctions targeting Iran’s existing oil exports do not come into effect until July 1, but they are already having an impact on crude trade flows in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,’ it said.

‘Although there are five months before restrictions on existing contracts take effect, European customers have already curtailed imports of Iranian crude and Asian buyers are lining up alternative sources of supply,’ the IEA said, adding that European customers were likely to look to Russia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia for replacement barrels.

Bloomberg added that owners of over 100 supertankers have now said they will stop loading oil supplies from Iran.

In an interview with Haaretz, Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Middle East advisor, stated that ‘The fact is [Iran’s] currency has devalued by half in the last six weeks… I’d say sanctions are working, if that’s the case.’ Haaretz wrote:

These sanctions, Ross said, are the crippling sanctions Israel has called for, and can affect Iran’s behavior. When the Iranians feel they are under sufficient pressure, they look for a way to reduce it, Ross said, and right now they are under pressure they have not been under before. ‘It’s not an accident that suddenly they want to meet with the P5 +1,’ Ross said, referring to the forum of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

Ross also stated his belief that sanctions are forcing Iran to the negotiating table in an op-ed in The New York Times. Ross wrote:

Iran cannot do business with or obtain credit from any reputable international bank, nor can it easily insure its ships or find energy investors. According to Iran’s oil ministry, the energy sector needs more than $100 billion in investments to revitalize its aging infrastructure; it now faces a severe shortfall.

New American penalties on Iran’s central bank and those doing business with it have helped trigger an enormous currency devaluation. In the last six weeks, the Iranian rial has declined dramatically against the dollar, adding to the economic woes Iran is now confronting…

Now, with Iran feeling the pressure, its leaders suddenly seem prepared to talk. Of course, Iran’s government might try to draw out talks while pursuing their nuclear program. But if that is their strategy, they will face even more onerous pressures, when a planned European boycott of their oil begins on July 1.

As sanctions continue to take effect, international pressure will only continue to increase against Iran’s nuclear program.