In sunlight at last, Israel lobby throws its full weight behind Obama’s Syria strike

Israel/Palestine
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The only good thing about the campaign for the attack on Syria is that it has exposed the Israel lobby as the one political constituency that is pushing hard for an attack– in order to maintain its red line on Iran. When folks ask, Who wants this war, the Israel lobby’s role will be undeniable.

Several news items follow. Sheldon Adelson– who tried to smash Obama in 2012– joins on the Obama team. With the demonstration of bipartisan support, the entire Jewish establishment jumps off the fence to push the attack. Los Angeles Congressman Henry Waxman organizes a Jewish members call with “senior White House officials” today. And Chuck Hagel, late the target of the Israel lobby, is forced to call on the lobby to support the attack.

Because as Willie Sutton would say, That’s where the power is.

Bloomberg reports on Adelson’s importance to the effort– and seeks to explain the basis of the lobby’s influence:

Lobbying on Syria has inspired coalitions of the unlikely, aligning President Barack Obama with Sheldon Adelson, the Republican billionaire who spent about $70 million trying to defeat him last year, in the push for a military response to the use of chemical weapons….

The support Obama is getting from pro-Israel groups in the U.S. is important because of their history of political influence. …

The pro-Israel community contributed $14.5 million to federal campaigns for the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than the $11.1 million in donations by the defense aerospace industry, one of the biggest and most consistent political contributors

Max Blumenthal reports the Jewish Congressional call on twitter:

White House holding call w/Jewish members of Congress at 3 PM tomorrow on striking . Rep Henry Waxman’s office is coordinating…. organized thru Mira Resnick, leg aide w/longstanding ties to AIPAC, pro-Israel activism.

Resnick is only 30 but she is wired; her father is a leader in the LA Jewish community. She used to work for a Florida congressman with Middle East committee interest, then went to Waxman. From her email:

URGENT: Jewish Member call tomorrow on Syria

Representative Waxman invites Jewish members to participate in a conference call with senior White House officials to discuss the President’s request for authorization for the use of military force in Syria. Members only.

 

Yesterday we noted that AIPAC had issued a statement strongly in support of a strike. Now it’s in “full court press,” its power on the line. Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev says the entire American Jewish establishment jumped off the fence to support the strike, yesterday:

The American Jewish establishment jumped off the fence on Tuesday and came out in full support of Congressional approval of President Barack Obama’s plans to launch a military strike against Syria’s chemical weapon capacity.

And Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren took the unusual step of expressing support for elements of President Obama’s statements on Syria, including his assertion that the Assad regime must be held accountable and that there should be “international consequences” for his use of chemical weapons.

The sudden unified burst of support for Obama’s request for Congressional authorization for a strike against Syria follows almost two weeks in which Jewish organizations have maintained a low profile on the August 21 chemical attack near Damascus and the American response to it.

Shalev said that the demonstration of bipartisan congressional support for the attack allowed the lobby to engage, lest it be taking sides in a party fight. So now you know why Obama met with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain first on Labor Day: That was the only way he could get the lobby on board. The dynamic changed overnight, Shalev reports. AIPAC came out for the strike yesterday afternoon. And as the NYT reported before AIPAC’s declaration, AIPAC was the 800-pound gorilla in the room in Obama’s push for political backing. Iran is the drumbeat in the Jewish organizations’ calls to arms:

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations said in a statement that “failing to take action would damage the credibility of the U.S. and negatively impact the effort to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity.”

The American Jewish Committee sent a letter to all members of Congress expressing support for Obama’s request for “limited military action” against Syria and warning that “acquiescence in the face of the crimes evidently committed by the Assad regime would doubtless have wide-ranging consequences for U.S. interests and influence in the Middle East and around the world.”…

And Israel played an active role in the Jewish organizations’ decision, Shalev notes.

ADL National Director Abe Foxman told Haaretz … the threat to America’s national security interests in the Middle East, in which Israel has such a high stake, “go above and beyond any political consideration.”

…The sources said that their support also stemmed from conversations with Israeli leaders who expressed concern about the negative ramifications of a Congressional veto on Obama’s proposals both for Israel and for America’ standing in the Middle East.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has issued an action alert to 45,000 members in support of the president, and emphasized that this is not a partisan issue. “The RJC believes that this not a Republican or Democrat issue. We encouraged our members to reach out in a bipartisan fashion to Republican and Democrat officials to ask for their support of the resolution.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued an Action Alert today to our 45,000 members, calling on them to reach out to their elected officials in the House and Senate, to ask them to support the upcoming resolution authorizing the use of military force against the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria.

The Action Alert stressed the moral threshold that has been crossed by Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.

We also emphasized that it is in America’s vital national interests that we continue to be able to project – in Syria and elsewhere – a credible military deterrent.

– See more at: http://www.rjchq.org/2013/09/rjc-statement-on-the-use-of-force-resolution-regarding-syria/#sthash.AXG70Fhv.dpuf

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued an Action Alert today to our 45,000 members, calling on them to reach out to their elected officials in the House and Senate, to ask them to support the upcoming resolution authorizing the use of military force against the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria.

The Action Alert stressed the moral threshold that has been crossed by Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.

We also emphasized that it is in America’s vital national interests that we continue to be able to project – in Syria and elsewhere – a credible military deterrent.

– See more at: http://www.rjchq.org/2013/09/rjc-statement-on-the-use-of-force-resolution-regarding-syria/#sthash.AXG70Fhv.dpuf

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued an Action Alert today to our 45,000 members, calling on them to reach out to their elected officials in the House and Senate, to ask them to support the upcoming resolution authorizing the use of military force against the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria.

The Action Alert stressed the moral threshold that has been crossed by Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.

We also emphasized that it is in America’s vital national interests that we continue to be able to project – in Syria and elsewhere – a credible military deterrent.

– See more at: http://www.rjchq.org/2013/09/rjc-statement-on-the-use-of-force-resolution-regarding-syria/#sthash.AXG70Fhv.dpuf

J Street is still on the fence. Its last statement, a week ago, condemned what it called Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians and called on the US “and the international community… [to] hold President Assad and all responsible for this heinous crime fully accountable.” I bet J Street comes off the fence.

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post reports that Chuck Hagel has reached out to the pro-Israel groups for their support and states the bottom line for supporters of Israel: Iran: “there is consensus in the mostly-Democratic pro-Israel community that the Syria vote and Iran are inextricably linked. If so, a ‘no’ vote would be catastrophic.” Rubin spoke to an Israel lobbyist:

“There are two issues, the moral dimension on a mass scale and the direct link to Iran,” he said. “Syria is a puppet for Iran. They will conclude that if cannot in the case of WMD’s being used, then we won’t ever act to prevent the obtaining of WMD’s.” He stressed, “We have no other option.” If the Congress votes “no” he fears the U.S. will be like Great Britain –irrelevant and powerless… “Assad and Syria are franchise of Tehran, ” he said. “You cannot be against this if you are concerned about Iran.”

 

From a friend:

Forget Iraq. These are not just neocons, all the usual suspects are getting into the act, and Liberal Zionism will also be amply represented. As far as I’ve read, only Peter Beinart has dissented, which shows how far he has evolved.
Also note that it required some time for Israel to settle on a view of what should be Assad’s fate. The Lobby moved into step within days though. Interesting to watch MD Senator Ben Cardin today. Here’s a guy that actually voted against the Iraq war as a Congressman (which I believe is a piece of evidence that the Lobby didn’t want the Iraq War enough to demand action from its front-line troops), today showing full support for a Syrian action. Cardin has been representing Jerusalem rather than Maryland since entering the Senate.
Please keep in mind that this time it was Saudi Arabia that created the facts on the ground in Syria, which has gotten us to this point. Not Israel and not the US.

Kerry’s connections to the lobby. Maidhc Ó Cathail reports:

“Perhaps someday we will discover too that Kerry’s “Munich moment” was scripted by another partisan of the supposedly besieged “Jewish state” with hegemonic pretensions. The Secretary of State’s chief speechwriter, Stephen Krupin, is, after all, a former intern of the Solomon Project, a pro-Israel think tank affiliated with the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). While working on a 2004 book entitled “Jews in American Politics,” Krupin’s director of research was Ira N. Forman. Forman, the NJDC’s longtime executive director, previously worked as legislative liaison and political director of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. With people like Krupin working inside the State Department, it makes it just that little bit easier for the Israel lobby to maintain the pretense that it has no position on U.S. intervention in Syria.”

 

Thanks to Alex Kane and Annie Robbins

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