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US embassy in Lebanon's charge' d'affaires Edward White at a June 2018 USAID ceremony with Jammal Trust CEO Anwar Jammal
(Image by The Grayzone) Details DMCA
Because Lebanon's economy is so thoroughly dollarized, the sanctions represent a likely death sentence for Jammal, preventing it from carrying out transactions in the US currency.
Notably, the bank is owned by a Shia businessman with close ties to Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and one of several who have been targeted under the watch of Mandelker. Berri was reportedly threatened with US sanctions this April by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his insufficient hostility to Hezbollah.
When New Horizon's Mehanna was sanctioned, her personal savings account in Lebanon was frozen.
"I got a call that I need to go to the bank and close my account," Mehanna told The Grayzone. "The teller told me that the bank was informed by US Treasury Department to close my account because it had dollars! They closed my account, gave me a mere $400, and I was told politely to leave."
She said she was given no documentation that her account had been closed. She recalled, "We just left the bank in total shock and bewilderment."
It was all in a day's work for Mandelker, the most militant official to serve in a department overseen by a long line of pro-Israel ideologues.
At a gathering of the elite Aspen Security Conference this July, Mandelker put her extreme views on display when she accused former Obama officials of mollycoddling Iran.
Seated beside Wendy Sherman, Obama's Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Jeremy Bash, the CIA's ex-chief of staff, Mandelker declared that Iran was "posing an incredibly destabilizing presence in the region. They're threatening our great ally in the region, Israel!"
She went on: "And after the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal], what did the Obama administration do to curb that kind of behavior? Nothing!"
"That's not true," Sherman protested.
"Bad actors need money to do bad things," Mandelker continued. "That is why we have this massive sanctions regime. Because we know Iran is threatening our great partner, Israel!"
While media at the event focused on the dust-up between Trump and Obama officials, they ignored the stunning admission by a US official to advancing provocative policies on Israel's behalf.
But this was the role that Mandelker and her predecessors have played since her position was established during the second Bush administration by her mentor, Stuart Levey.
Like Mandelker, Levey is an unabashedly ultra-Zionist ideologue. His 1985 senior thesis at Harvard University was a paean to the creation of Israel, declaring that the Zionist movement had created a "morally exemplary" state that "would be a light unto other nations."
As journalist Phil Weiss noted, Levey's thesis advisor was Martin Peretz, the neoconservative former New Republic publisher who emigrated to Israel after triggering protests with his declaration, "Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims."