Oppose Iran to Stand Up for Human Rights, Sideman Says

“The 23 kiloton “Badger” explosion at the Nevada Test Site. (Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration, April 18, 1953.)

In the recent hubbub surrounding the proposed Iran nuclear deal, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the deluge of differing opinions and perspectives. On the diplomatic level, Israel has been a clear and consistent opponent to any such détente.

I had the opportunity to discuss the Iran nuclear deal with the Israeli consul general to Philadelphia, Yaron Sideman. Sideman explained Israel’s position in a short and simple manner, so it would be easy for a layperson to understand:

Do you want the most dangerous regime in the world to obtain the most dangerous weapon?

The comprehensive nuclear deal that the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Germany, and the European Union are proposing with Iran will ultimately enable Iran to have a functioning nuclear weapon.

What does this mean for Israel? Israel takes Iran’s pronouncements very seriously. When Iran says that it wants to wipe Israel off the map, Israel believes it. Iran currently sponsors Hezbollah, militias in Iraq, and the Assad regime in Syria. Iran is making Syria and Iraq unstable. Iran has been designated by the U.S. State Department as an “active state sponsor of terrorism”, supplying arms, funds, training, and personnel to numerous known terror groups.

Like ISIL, Iran wants to impose its ideology on the world. How much more frightening will this be when the world is being threatened with a nuclear bomb, instead of the knives used by ISIL? If Iran is able to obtain the bomb, its proxies will be emboldened. Iran will swallow countries one by one. Iran does not respect the human rights of its own people. What do you think it will do with the human rights of others?

Iran is currently developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. As soon as it can arm them with nuclear heads, it can aim them at Israel; which it calls “The Little Satan”; and the U.S., which it calls “The Big Satan.”

Sideman spoke of a video that he had been shown, of a young Iranian woman accused of adultery. The video was smuggled out of Iran to show how she was stoned to death by a mob. The Iranian authorities are not pleased that this video is available for the world to see.

Sideman expressed hope that the agreement will be improved:

There is still time to delay this agreement. The U.S. can bring Iran back to the negotiating table. The U.S. can get a better deal — one that will not allow Iran to threaten the U.S. with utter destruction.

No Place for Hate Crimes in Israel

— by Yaron Sideman, Consul General Of Israel, Mid-Atlantic RegionImageProxy.mvc

Last week we witnessed two hideous attacks in Israel: The first was an arson attack on a Palestinian family, in which an 18-month old toddler was murdered. His parents and 4-year-old brother were seriously injured. There is evidence pointing to the attack having been carried out by Israeli extremists. The second was a stabbing spree at the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem that injured six people, two of them seriously, carried out by an ultra-Orthodox man with an existing criminal record.

 Courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ cartoonkronicles.com.

Courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ cartoonkronicles.com.

Every society has its negative elements: miscreants who seek to undermine its fundamental values and pollute it with their hateful agendas. Such criminal elements belong behind bars, but unfortunately they will succeed, on occasion, in rearing up their ugly heads and spreading mayhem and destruction. No society, even the most democratic and enlightened, is free of such “bad weeds.”

There are no other words to describe these attacks other than “despicable acts of terror.” They shocked the Israeli public and were condemned unequivocally by public figures from across the political spectrum. The murderous attack against the Palestinian family was condemned as well by the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Such attacks are an assault on all who cherish human dignity. They are, in effect, an attack on Israel as a democratic society, as described in the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, released immediately after the attack on the Dawabsha family:

This is an act of terrorism in every respect. The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the perpetrators are.

Netanyahu said similar things in response to the attack at the Gay Pride parade:

A despicable hate crime was committed this evening in Jerusalem. In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right. I welcome the Israeli religious leadership’s condemnation of this terrible crime, and I call on all those in positions of leadership to denounce this contemptible act.

Our hearts and minds today are with the grieving Dawabsha family and with those injured at the parade attack in Jerusalem. We wish them healing and a speedy recovery.

Stopping Radical Islam: An American Muslim’s View

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser gave a fascinating and encouraging talk on a cold, rainy Tuesday evening before an audience of 120 at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. “Stopping Radical Islam: An American Muslim’s View” opened with introductions by the Israel Consul General of the Mid-Atlantic region, Yaron Sideman, and StandWithUs directors Ferne Hassan and Yossi Puder. Internationally recognized political Islam expert Dr. Jasser founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the U.S. Constitution and counters the ideology that fuels radical Islamists. He is the author of the book A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faithand has been featured in several documentaries, including Islam v. Islamists, and The Third Jihad. He has been published extensively in national news media and appeared on national broadcast and cable TV and syndicated radio programs. He regularly testifies and briefs congressional staff members and caucuses on the threat of radicalization within the American Muslim community.

Islam v. IslamistsThe Third Jihad

Dr. Jasser’s family story is instructive. He spoke of being a first generation American of Muslim Syrian parents who fled the oppressive Baath regime in the 1960s. His family believed in the ideals of this country, where they could practice their faith freely. He was raised to serve and consequently went on to earn his medical degree with a U.S. Navy scholarship. He was the past president of the Arizona Medical Association, and now teaches and advises on medical ethics. He proudly wears a U.S. flag pin on his jacket lapel.
[Read more…]

Holocaust Is Not a Matter of Opinion


Jews being selected for labor or death in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

— by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region

Last Monday I participated in the dedication of the Holocaust and Liberators Memorial on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. I participated in this emotional ceremony along with Ohio Governor John Kasich, who spearheaded the project and shepherded it until its completion this week.

The Holocaust is not a matter of opinion. It is an undisputable historical fact. Holocaust denial is, therefore, a despicable practice rooted in one of the most ancient and ugly form of hatred — anti-Semitism. The fact that Holocaust deniers these days are not always overt neo-Nazis parading around with swastikas, but rather so-called academics operating within established university settings, only makes it all the more troubling.

More after the jump.
I recently read about an adjunct professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who has questioned the number of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.

So-called professors who deny the Holocaust are nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing. Their motivations are anything but academic. On the contrary, they are anti-academic in that they seek to deliberately obstruct and distort objective, historic truths. They are driven by hatred and prejudice. They should be called out for what they are and condemned.  

Israeli Consulate to Remain in Philadelphia

Mayor Michael A. Nutter received a letter from Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing him that Israel’s Consulate General in Philadelphia will remain open.  

It had been reported previously that a decision to close the Consulate General was under consideration. The letter was personally delivered to Mayor Nutter by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, at a board meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

More after the jump.
Mayor Nutter said:

Today’s announcement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is tremendously exciting for the City of Philadelphia, our Jewish community, and the Consulate General. I want to thank Minister Liberman for his decision.

The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia plays a tremendously important role in supporting our Jewish community and the strong business relationships that exist between Israel and Philadelphia.  

Preserving the consulate in Philadelphia was a true team effort involving the Consulate General, the Jewish Federation, Philadelphia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, American Jewish Committee and elected officials at all levels of government. I would like to thank everyone involved.  

Congratulations to Consul General Yaron Sideman and the Jewish community in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Last month Mayor Nutter traveled to Israel with a delegation of community and business leaders to strengthen ties between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel. The delegation stayed in Philadelphia’s Sister City of Tel Aviv-Yafo and was hosted by Mayor Ron Huldai.

The potential closure of the consulate was high on the Mayor’s agenda, and he raised concerns about the possibility with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres, U.S. Ambassador Shapiro, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mayor Huldai of Tel Aviv and Mayor Birkat of Jerusalem.  

A wide range of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania elected officials also expressed similar concerns to the Israeli government about the impact of the closure of the consulate.

In his letter to Mayor Nutter, Minister Liberman highlighted the success of the Mayor’s trade mission, the strength of the relationship between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv, and the values shared between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel.

Consul General Yaron Sideman said:

I laud the tireless efforts made by Mayor Nutter and so many others to keep the Consulate open, efforts that bore fruit in the form of this exciting news.

It is now up to all of us to roll up our sleeves and continue with the task of working together to strengthen the ties between Israel and Philadelphia. The many partnerships that have emerged as a result of the recent the Mayor led trip to Israel are a perfect starting point.

Palestinian Authority Should Learn From Nelson Mandela

— by Yaron Sideman, consul general of Israel, Mid-Atlantic Region  

It was his ability to transform his country’s culture of animosity into a culture of acceptance, and to replace an entrenched ethos of hatred with one of tolerance which made Nelson Mandela the great man that he was. Few leaders are capable of making that personal journey, let alone successfully leading their people through it.

I wish there were more leaders like Mandela in the Middle East. In particular, I wish that the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership would take a page from the Mandela playbook and realize that the time has come to jettison its culture of hatred and to embrace one of acceptance. How else can any effort towards peace succeed?

More after the jump.
Unfortunately, Mandela’s way has not yet sunk in with the PA. Had it, its officials would not have rewarded released terrorists with overly generous grants (up to $50,000) and monthly salaries ($4,000), in effect illustrating that terrorism does pay.

The Middle East is riddled with tensions and divisions of a vastly different nature than those of South Africa. However, in both cases, at the core, are ordinary people, who want nothing more than to provide for their families and live their lives in peace. The Middle East would greatly benefit from more “Mandelas” — leaders able to bridge divides and bring people together.

Rethinking Plans to Close Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia

Among the wonderful aspects of our Jewish community in Philadelphia is the close relationship we have with the State of Israel. We do not take that relationship for granted. It comes as the product of hard work, constant communication and, perhaps most importantly, personal contact. The close personal contact we have with Israel in Philadelphia comes from the warm relationship which we have with the Israel Consulate and, specifically, the Consul General.

I was saddened to receive the news that the government in Israel is considering closing our Consulate. Understanding the financial burdens which weigh on the State of Israel, I am sympathetic to the need to cut costs in many programs.  At the same time, the work of the Consul General and the Consulate creates the close and warm bond which we feel toward Israel, ultimately impacting positively on Israel’s economy through our support. We benefit from the Consul and his office through his personal presence at so many of our synagogues and Jewish Institutions. He provides a friendly and knowledgeable voice for the State when he speaks, contributing strong support for Israel when she is attacked, a voice of reason, warmth and encouragement for those of us who work to support Israel. [Read more…]

Israel Responds to Rouhani’s Hypocritical UN Speech

— by Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman

Yesterday, the world witnessed one of the most cynical and hypocritical displays ever made at the U.N. General Assembly, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took the stage. Here are some of the reasons why, clearly articulated in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the Iranian President’s speech:

  • Rouhani spoke of human rights even as Iranian forces are participating in the large-scale slaughter of innocent civilians in Syria.
  • He condemned terrorism even as the Iranian regime is using terrorism in dozens of countries around the world.
  • He spoke of a nuclear program for civilian purposes, even as an IAEA report determines that the program had military dimensions, and while any rational person understands that Iran, one of the most oil-rich nations, is not investing capital in ballistic missiles and underground nuclear facilities in order to produce electricity.
  • It is no coincidence that the speech lacked both any practical proposal to stop Iran’s military nuclear program, and any commitment to fulfill U.N. Security Council decisions. This is exactly Iran’s strategy — to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons. Rouhani knows this well.
  • He bragged that a decade ago, he succeeded in misleading the West, so that while Iran was holding talks, it simultaneously advanced its nuclear program.

Continued after the jump.

The international community must test Iran not by its words, but by its actions.

The Israeli delegation absented itself from Rouhani’s speech in order not to grant legitimacy to a regime that does not recognize the existence of the Holocaust, and which publicly declares its desire to wipe the State of Israel off the map. As the Prime Minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I could not allow the Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations ploy, by a regime that denies the Holocaust and calls for our destruction.

Actions speak louder than words. The international community should examine Iran according to its actions, which clearly indicate an acceleration of Iran’s military nuclear program, and continue intensifying economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until Iran completely dismantles its military nuclear capabilities.  

For His Family, Evyatar Borovsky Will Never Be a Statistic

— by Yaron Sideman, Israel’s consul general, Mid-Atlantic Region

On April 30, 2013, a Palestinian terrorist murdered Eviatar Borovsky at the Tapauch Junction in the northern West Bank. Eviatar, just 31 years old, was a righteous and God-fearing man who loved life. He loved making people laugh and was extremely funny. He had studied to be a medical clown, and saw it as his vocation to make patients smile and laugh. He didn’t care if they were Jewish or Arab.

To most of us, Eviatar Borovsky will, unfortunately, soon become a statistic — another casualty in the long list of victims of mindless hate.

More after the jump.
He will never become a statistic, though, to his family, friends and relatives, including his wife and five children, the eldest only seven years old. For the rest of their lives they will carry with them an unbearable burden; with the death of their loved one, something in them died as well. There is a sudden void that has been created in their lives, never to be filled again.  

He will never become a statistic to his brother, Elyada Barak. Elyada happens to be a colleague of mine in Jerusalem. Both of us work together at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am sure that when I encounter Elyada in the future, he will continue being the good-natured, amicable person he has always been, but I will know that life for him will never be the same. A significant part of him died on April 30 and will never come back.

When, from a young age, Palestinian children are indoctrinated to hate Israelis, when their curriculum in Gaza includes a course on using hand grenades and Kalashnikov rifles against Israelis, when Palestinian suicide bombers are glorified and public squares in major Palestinian cities are named after them, when Palestinian terrorists receive handsome financial support from the Palestinian Authority for their acts of ‘heroism,’ and when such a culture of hate is systematically being fostered and is absorbed from a very young age — then perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised that innocent Israelis like Eviatar Borovsky are brutally murdered at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

Eviatar Borovsky should not become a statistic. It is my hope that his tragic and untimely death will not have been in vain; that it will impress the need to change the Palestinian mindset, starting with educating the youth.

My hope is that one day the values of tolerance and acceptance will replace those of hatred and animosity in the textbooks of Palestinian children, and that Eviatar Borovsky will be the last victim of a culture of hate.  

American Associates of Ben Gurion U. Welcome Israeli Consul General


Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman is welcomed to the American Friends of Ben Gurion University of the Negev reception in his honor by hostess AImee Katz and her daughter Kathy Katz-Hall. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, held a reception to welcome the new Mid-Atlantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman.  Aimee Katz, of Bala Cynwyd, hosted the event, with Julia and Steve Harmelin, Esq., serving as co-hosts.  Derek Gillman, President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation, spoke briefly about his pride in the fact that limestone from the Negev had been selected as the building material for the new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Sideman had served previously in Lagos and in the New York Consulate.  He told the large group assembled about cooperative ventures between America and Israel, going on right now, particularly with military forces.

The Consul General talked about Israel’s concerns, regarding the Arab Spring and the unrest and uncertainty in the region.  During a question and answer period, he spoke of Turkey’s trying to gain favor with other Muslim countries, asserting that the break in relations between Israel and Turkey was initiated by the latter.

More after the jump.


Derek Gillman (right), President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation museum, introduced the new Mid-Atantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman, pointing out the architects of the new Barnes museum selected granite from the Negev for the new building. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

He also said that Tunisia, the country which initiated the overthrow of dictators in Arab countries, had benefited from Israel’s support in prior years, although he was not certain what Israel is doing currently or can do to assure the transition in Tunisia to a democratic state.

A few years ago, the American Associates had spent time in Tunisia before going on to the Negev in Israel.  The president of Ben Gurion University, Dr. Rivka Carmi, is a geneticist who has done much research on the occurrence of Fragile X Syndrome in communities of Tunisian Jews from Djerba who have migrated to Israel.

Connie and Sam Katz, co-chairs of the Philadelphia region’s AABGU, were unable to get back to Philadelphia in time for the reception because of Hurricane Sandy.  But the Charlotte and Dr. Carroll Weinreb, who will be honored at an AABGU brunch on November 11 at the Ritz- Carlton in Philadelphia, were delighted to be congratulated by Consul General Sideman at the reception.  Sideman will also be at the brunch and will be joined there by the Honorable Barukh Binah from the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.


Julia Harmelin (right) represented her husband, Steve Harmelin, Esq., who was traveling and could not make the reception. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




Irwin and Adele Lipton were delighted to be part of the crowd which welcomed Consul General Sideman. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




Murray Shusterman, Esq., was delighted to meet the new Israeli Consul-General. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




(Left to right) Consul General Sideman chats with hostess Aimee Katz and friend of AABGU committee Dottie Wasserman before Sideman spoke at the reception in his honor. Photo by Bonnie Squires.