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December 6, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 6, 2013 By Ben Sales TEL AVIV (JTA)--For the first time in a decade, the United States and a coalition of world powers have reached an agreement with Iran to curb the country's nuclear program. The deal requires Iran to limit its nuclear enrich- ment and freeze most of its centrifuges for six months, as well as halt construction on its plutonium reactor. In exchange, the U.S.-led co- alition-including Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany--will roll backsome of the sanctions on Iran. Both the United States and Iran have strongly praised the By Toby Axelrod BERLIN (JTA)--The ex- traordinary disclosure that a trove of more than 1,400 vanished artworks were found in a Munich apartment has raised more questions than it has answered. What were these works, which were produced by mas- ters such as Chagall, Matisse and Picasso? Who are their rightful owners? And where is Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Holocaust-era art dealer in whose apartment they were found? Responding to growing in- ternational pressure, German authorities have begun to offer some preliminary answers. A few weeks ago, the state prosecutor in Augsburg start- edto put names and images of Understanding the deal with Iran deal, but Israeli officials are lambasting it. President Obama said in a speech that the deal makes possible "a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot builda nuclearweapon." Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu called the deal a "historic mistake," telling his Cabinet on Sunday that Iran "has taken a signifi- cant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world." What does the deal include and what do its provisions mean? With the help of ex- perts, JTA answers some ques- tions about the agreement and what lies ahead. What does Iran give up? What does it get to keep? Iran's key commitment is to limit its enrichment of ura- nium-the element needed to make a nuclear bomb--to 5 percent, according to a summary of the agreement released by the White House. Iran will dilute its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium down to 5 percent, freeze many of its centrifuges that produce uranium and disable some technical features of some centrifuges. Iran also will stop construction and fuel production for its unfin- ished plutonium reactor and not expand its enrichment capabilities. Under the agreement, Iran may continue to enrich ura- nium and does not need to dismantle any centrifuges or its plutonium reactor--con- ditions Netanyahu has said are necessary. What is the significance of different levels of uranium enrichment? Only a rare and specific type of uranium, uranium 235, can be used for a nu- clear weapon. Enrichment, which is conducted using centrifuges, is the process of separating that material from the rest of the uranium supply. Five percent enrichment, for example, means that 5 per- cent of the uranium stockpile in question is uranium 235. Five percent enriched ura- nium can be used for civil- ian purposes like nuclear power; to be used for a nuclear weapon, uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent. Iran long has claimed that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. The agreement aims to curb Iran's uranium enrichment at 5 percent. So why are Israeli officials criticizing the dead Getting uranium from zero to 5 percent is still the hardest part of enrichment; jumping from 5 to 90 percent is easier. So by allowing Iran to enrich to 5 percent, the agreement allows Iran to continue clearing the biggest First steps taken to identify trove of Holocaust-era art found in Munich the works into a database run by Germany's central office for lost cultural property, whose website promptly crashed due to an overload of requests. Authorities also have con- firmed that the collection con- tains at least 380 works that the Nazis onfiscated during a 1937 campaign against so- called "degenerate art." Still, much remains un- clear about the provenance of the works and how they -came to be stored in Gurlitt's apartment. The case has unfolded like a suspense novel. On Sept. 22, 2010, customs agents search- ing for tax evaders on a night train from Zurich t(i Munich caught Gurlitt with 9,000. euros, just under the legal limit. Suspecting him of tax evasion and embelement, investigators were intrigued to find no record of Guflitt ever working, paying taxes or receiving Social Security. On Feb. 28, 2012, customs investigators carried out a search and seizure order of his apartment. Over three days, they carted off more than 1,400 works of art--many by artists banned by the Nazis, some of which were unknown to experts. The seizure was kept secret until it was revealed by the German magazine Focus. Since then, it has been the talk of the nation. "My reaction was 'wow. Really wow!' " said Hannah Lessing, the secretary general of two Austrian government funds for Nazi victims who has worked to help heirs re- cover stolen art. "Maybe [now] PAGE 5. A enrichment-related hurdle to bomb-making capacity. Iran also possesses "next- generation" centrifuges that allow it to jump from 5 to 90 percent in a matter of weeks-- what Israelis call a "breakout capacity." The agreement freezes those centrifuges but doesn't require Iran to fully dismantle them. Israelis fear that Iran could renege on the deal and then, using its next-generation cen- trifuges, produce bomb-grade uranium within as little as a month. "They agreed to freeze their program, but they can continue to enrich," said Sales on page 15A there will be some people who inherited a whole house from their grandparents... and maybe they will ask themselves 'where did this art come from?'" The Munich find is by far the most significant discovery of Holocaust-era artwork, pieces of which occasionally surface over the years in auc- tion houses, vaults and even abandoned cellars. In 2010 in Berlin, workers excavating a subway tunnel unearthed a stash of sculptures by artists disliked by the Nazis. Meanwhile, European gov- ernments have made signifi- cant'progress in identifying seized Holocaust art. In Aus- owners since the 1990s. In Holland, the Restitution Commission recommended in favor of the claimants of 430 objects, which fetched more than $10 million when they were sold at auction in 2007. And in France, a government probe of 2,000 paintings re- sulted in the restitution of six paintings in March to Thomas Selldorff, 84, of Boston. "More artwork has been coming on the market as people die and their heirs try to sell it off," said Wesley Fisher, director of research at the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Ger- 'many, "But there's been noth- 'ing as spectacular as this." things, he was hired to procure works for the so-called Fuhrer Museum in Linz,Austria, and he was sent to Paris 10 times between 1941 and 1944 to purchase art on its behalf, ac- cording to a sworn statement Hildebrand Gurlitt provided to U.S. authorities in June 1945. The elder Gurlitt also was used to scour markets for sellable art that could bring in money to the German trea- sury. In his statement, Hildeb- rand Gurlitt said he had heard about art and furnishings confiscated from Jews and held in a Parisian palace, but insisted he had never seen it. ,Nor, the elder Gurlitt sai[, had he ever bought anything tria, nearly 20,000 artworks  Gurlitt'sfather, Hildebrand, from someone who did not and cultural items held in was a German art dealer want to seil. state collections have been well known to restitution returned to their original campaigners. Among other Axelrod on page 15A By David Suissa When I see the earnest and eager John Kerry globe- trotting the world in his sharp business suits trying to convince mullahs not to build a nuclear bomb, I can't help but have these politically incorrect thoughts that are loaded with stereotypes. The most obvious stereo- type is that of the golly-gee American sucker in long shorts and black socks get- ting ripped off by a wily merchant in a Middle Eastern souk. The first question I ask myself is: Does Kerry real- ize what this is about? Does he realize that in a region where honor and glory are everything, a nuclear bomb represents precisely that, honor and glory? He's hoping the Iranians will abandon the very program thatwould help them fulfill their dream of bringing back the powerful and glorious Shiite Persian Empire that would eradicate Zionism and dominate Arabs, Turks and Sunnis across the greater Middle East for the next century. When you ask for that much, you'd better have plenty of leverage. Right now, Kerry's lever- age is pain--economic pain. It is this pain that has brought the mullahs back to the table, not some epiphany that maybe a better way to regain U.S. suckers on the loose their Persian glory would be to find the cure for cancer. If Kerry better understood this leverage, he wouldn't be offering deals thatare so lame that, in the words of Middle Eastern expert Lee Smith, the United States would give the Iranians "virtually everything they wanted for nothing but empty promises." In other words, deals where Iran would get sanctions relief but still be allowed, according to The New York Times, to "continue adding to its stockpile of low-enriched uranium." The mark of a sucker is to act like an eager buyer--and Kerry looks like one very eager buyer. He's so eager, in fact, that he's fighting against his own side - U.S. congressmen and senators--to convince them not to increase the sanctions so that he can decrease the sanctions. Apparently, it hasn't dawned on him that there's a third option: Using new sanctions as a negoti- ating tool and telling the mullahs, "In return for us not increasing the sanc- tions, what are yop prepared to offer?" As Jeffrey Goldberg writes on, "The Iranians have a his- tory of expanding their nuclear program under the cover of negotiations; the least Western diplomats could do to avoid looking like suckers is to demand that Iran press the [nucle- ar] pause button." A shrewder Kerry, then, might propose this deal: We stop increasing sanctions if you stop enriching uranium. But even more important than the issue of U.S. shrewd- ness in deal-making is the issue of U.S. seriousness. It's well known that if you're really serious about getting Iran to abandon its nuclear dream, you must back sanctions with a credible military threat. How credible is the U.S. threat? In a piece in Politico titled "Obama's Fight With Israel: This Time It's Serious," Robert Satloff writes that President Barack Obama's military threat is "tarnished" and that he needs to take "urgent steps ... to make the threat more believable." The real question is: Does Obama want to make this threat more believable? Skeptics (myself included) will tell you that President Obama was never serious about a military option. As we saw with his flip-flopping on Syria and his infamous "lead- ing from behind" doctrine, Obama has shown neither the stomach nor the inclination to start another Mideast war. That's why he's dialed down the threats--he's hoping his man in Geneva can strike a deal so that Iran won't call his bluff. And, now that he's em- broiled in the Obamacare fiasco--which has severely undermined his credibility and threatened to taint his legacy--Obama has even less reason to start awar and even more reason to strike a deal, even a lame one. The wily mullahs of Persia seem to grasp all this. They may hate sanctions, but they understand leverage. Israeliswho are rightly wor- ried about another Holocaus[ understand that without a credible military threat, the Iranians will just continue to buy time until it's too late to stop their nuclear program, which could be only months away. As French President Fran- cois Hollande urgently re- minded everyone when he was greeted like a hero in Israel, "The Iranian nuclear program is a threat to Israel, and it is clearly a threat to the region and the world," and, he added, France will be uncompromis- ing until it is "completely sure that Iran has given up nuclear weapons." In that same spirit, another world leader once said: "The Iranian regime supports vio- lent extremists and challenges us across the region .... The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." Those words were spoken in 2008 by candidate Barack Obama, the same man who would promise his nation five years later that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." If President Obama is now wobbling on his promise to eliminate the Iranian threat, that might explain why Kerry is looking like a sucker in the ,souks of the Middle East: It's not so much that he's na'fve but that his boss has lost the stomach for the fight. Israel doesn't have that luxury. David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp.Jewish Journal. Dry Bones