Obama meets with ‘small coterie’ of Jewish leaders, after Kerry appears to criticize Netanyahu for ‘fear tactics’

Israel/Palestine
on 19 Comments

 

Obama talks to Netanyahu on the phone Oct. 28, photo by Pete Souza

Obama talks to Netanyahu on the phone Oct. 28, photo by Pete Souza

 

Yesterday the White House sought to diffuse tensions over its Iran opening with a meeting between the president and a “small coterie of Jewish organizational leaders.” One of those leaders was Abe Foxman, who had lashed out at John Kerry for making “inappropriate” criticisms of Netanyahu. Though Kerry never mentioned Netanyahu by name.

Of course you would think Iran policy involves all of us, and that our Secretary of State should be free to criticize foreign leaders who slam our policymaking. But who counts the most: the official Jewish community, the Israel lobby (whose existence has been repeatedly pooh-poohed in the mainstream press).

It doesn’t matter that the men who came to the White House are rightwing hawks, Obama must conciliate them. He is feeling the heat from Foxman, and apparently too from rightwing funder Sheldon Adelson, who is urging Obama to nuke Iran– which NPR says is part of a campaign by conservative critics to scuttle the Iran opening.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Amid an escalation of signals that the Obama and Netanyahu governments are parting ways on Iran strategy, the White House called in American Jewish leaders for a briefing on short notice.

A small coterie of Jewish organizational leaders will meet Tuesday afternoon with top staff at the National Security Council to discuss Iran, according to the White House and officials of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

…The invitation follows a tense, albeit coded, public exchange between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry in the last two days over Iran, as well as persistent backing by pro-Israel groups for a congressional bid to enhance Iran sanctions despite White House pleas to put new sanctions on hold.

Among those meeting Obama were Foxman, Malcolm Hoenlein and Rober Sugarman of the Conference of Presidents, leaders of AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee, and Alan Solow, a leading fundraiser for Obama and Clintonites, per Chemi Shalev in Haaretz. Shalev:

ADL National Chairman Abe Foxman has slammed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s “inappropriate” remarks rejecting “fear tactics” supposedly being employed in order to dissuade the Obama Administration from pursuing a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear impasse.

Reflecting assumptions that Kerry’s pointed remarks were aimed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foxman told Haaretz: “Those remarks were inappropriate. They were not conducive to the relationship between the two countries. If Kerry had any criticism of Israeli positions, he should have made them privately,” he said.

Foxman’s rebuke of Kerry came following an extraordinary White House meeting on Tuesday between senior Administration officials, led by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and a select group of Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, the Anti Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

Here are some of Kerry’s allegedly-offensive remarks to the Ploughshares Fund Gala on October 28, in Washington, seeming to mean Netanyahu in reference to fear tactics:

Obviously, we are now facing a test of that – two tests – in North Korea and in Iran. And we are engaged, as the President has charged me to be and has welcomed, an opportunity to try to put to test whether or not Iran really desires to pursue only a peaceful program, and will submit to the standards of the international community in the effort to prove that to the world. Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with even putting that to the test. I suggest that the idea that the United States of America is a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise. (Applause.)…

So we will do what is necessary here, but it is important for everybody to remember that in a world with fewer nuclear weapons, every nation can actually be stronger, not weaker. Everybody can actually be safer and more secure because of the regimen that you set up in order to guarantee that.

So the Ploughshares folks cheered Kerry for the opening to Iran. But Foxman didn’t like it.

Here is Netanyahu statement on Sunday, per the JPost:

On Sunday, addressing his Cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu derided in unusually sharp terms the attempts to talk Iran down from 20 percent to 3.5 percent uranium enrichment.

“The Iranians are intentionally focusing the discussion on this issue. It is without importance,” said Netanyahu, who has insisted that Iran must dismantle all enrichment capabilities as part of a deal to end sanctions aimed at ending its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Writes a friend, who notes that Foxman is head of the Anti-Defamation League:

1. Is it now anti-Semitic for Kerry to criticize Israel in public, even obliquely, according to ADL?

2. Oh, Foxman is wearing his other ADL hat, that of rabid apologist and protector of Israel. How is the public to know which hat he is wearing at any particular moment? Is there any other “Civil Rights” NGO with such a schizophrenic personality?

3. No J-Street at the White House? That’s a curious omission to the Guest List. Is J-Street not considered among the Jewish leaders or not interested in Iran policy?

4. How do the rest of us get an inside briefing on Iran negotiations? Or are we not interested parties worthy of attention?

5. Is such a meeting the only way Obama Administration can slow down passing of further Iran sanctions in Congress? And how is US ME policy determined again?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. amigo
    October 30, 2013, 11:01 am

    Has the Executive branch nothing else to worry about but kissing zionist posteriors.

    Who is running the USA. F.C.S.

    • Bumblebye
      October 30, 2013, 5:57 pm

      Well, US shucked off one colonial master a couple of hundred years ago, but must have decided they needed another. With all his fifth columnists (not only those in the media ;) ) Nutty seems to call most of the shots- and gets to demand more of US taxpayers money every year!

  2. Bandolero
    October 30, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Abe Foxman made a good point. An employee of a company should not critisize the boss of the company in public.

    Foxman told Haaretz: “Those remarks were inappropriate. They were not conducive to the relationship between the two countries. If Kerry had any criticism of Israeli positions, he should have made them privately”

    Of course, Abe Foxman would never critisize Netanyahu for publicly criticizing Obama. As the boss, it’s his right to critisize an employee, and if he feels so, he may even humiliate his employee in public. It shows who runs the company and reflects power.

    And Obama and Kerry seem to accept that. Instead of rebuking Foxman and Netanyahu their reaction is to kowtow in front of them.

    • Annie Robbins
      October 30, 2013, 2:24 pm

      bandelero, and such hypocrisy, juxtaposing the two statements. one calling for transparency: The statement went to note that the two sides “agreed to continue the consultation to enhance the prospect of achieving a transparent and effective diplomatic resolution.” and the other chastising kerry/obama for not making criticisms privately.

      foxman doesn’t mean the kind of transparency anyone else can witness.

  3. dbroncos
    October 30, 2013, 1:39 pm

    The photo says it all about US-ME foreign policy with yet another Commander in Chief being denuded before The Inquisition.

  4. eljay
    October 30, 2013, 2:58 pm

    1. How horribly anti-Semitic of the Obama administration to invite all these pro-Israel types to the White House. He should know that pro-Israel types have absolutely no influence on American foreign policy in any way, so there’s no need to invite them to the Oval Office for a donkey-fellating session.

    2. Foxman is a Zio-supremacist asshole.

    3. Kerry’s an idiot. His assertion that “the United States of America is a responsible nation to all of humankind” – a “beacon unto the nations”, if you will – is a joke.

  5. LanceThruster
    October 30, 2013, 5:47 pm

    “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
    ―George Orwell

    Now that Kerry knows, I’m sure he’ll fall in line and offer no more such unpleasantness in the future.

  6. Bumblebye
    October 30, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I find it difficult to understand why no one in the ‘international community’ rips Netanyahu a new one for the sheer effrontery of demanding that Iran should dismantle its whole nuclear program, when it is a signatory to the NPT and is not even attempting to ‘color outside the lines’. Whereas King Nutty is the head of a nation that refuses to sign the NPT, stole (even himself) technology and nuclear materiel from the US and has possibly upwards of 200 nukes that no-one has ever inspected.
    And, while politicians won’t mention the Israeli nukes in order to maintain a fiction, what stops the media from mentioning them and/or other countries from demanding accountability?

  7. DICKERSON3870
    October 30, 2013, 5:55 pm

    RE: Of course you would think Iran policy involves all of us, and that our Secretary of State should be free to criticize foreign leaders who slam our policymaking. But who counts the most: the official Jewish community, the Israel lobby . . .” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: No! No! No! No! You’ve got to “pay to play” in America (even if you’re Jewish*)! ! !

    * FOR THE TIME FOXMAN SAID THAT HE REPRESENTS THE ADL’S DONORS, NOT THE JEWISH COMMUNITY, SEE:
    “Fire Foxman”, by Joey Kurtzman, Jewcy, 07/08/07

    [EXCERPT] . . . What’s surprising is how unabashedly forthright Abraham Foxman has become about what motivates him and his institution [the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)]. In October of 2005, Foxman addressed a classroom of Jewish students at New York University. Young heads nodded and brows furrowed as Foxman riled them with his customary rhetoric: Isn’t it antisemitic for pro-Palestinian groups to seek divestment only from Israel, ignoring the far greater crimes of regimes like Sudan or North Korea? How do we describe this sort of selective flagellation of the world’s only Jewish state, if not as antisemitism?
    “What if the campus Free Tibet club campaigned for divestment from China? Would that be anti-Chinese bigotry?” asked Asaf Shtull-Trauring, a 20-year-old student and conscientious objector from the Israeli army.
    Of course not, answered Foxman
    , but it was preposterous to compare the two conflicts, what with the Jews’ experience of two millennia of murderous persecution. Shtull-Trauring responded with two questions: Did Foxman mean that selective treatment is okay so long as it’s not directed at Jews? And where did the Anti-Defamation League get off telling Jewish university students which opinions about Israel were acceptable and which verboten?
    The dialogue spiraled into a confrontation. Shtull-Trauring says Foxman, frustrated and under attack, placed his cards on the table, angrily retorting: “I don’t represent you nor the Jewish community! I represent the donors.”
    Foxman’s outburst was surprising not because of its content, but because of its candor. Foxman needn’t bother himself with the trifling concerns of American Jews who happen not to be multimillionaire philanthropists. If he makes the Jewish community less appealing to young Jews, if his theatrics turn us off and turn us away, that’s all beside the point. Foxman’s job is to keep the millionaire benefactors happy: the rest of us can go jump in the Kinneret [WIKIPEDIA: The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias ~ J.L.D.].
    Without a meaningful mission to pursue, the ADL has resorted to scaremongering to fill its coffers and justify its existence. These efforts have grown increasingly bizarre and damaging. . .

    ENTIRE POST – link to jewcy.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 30, 2013, 6:08 pm

      RE: “You’ve got to “pay to play” in America (even if you’re Jewish*)! ! !” – me (from above)

      FROM opensecrets.org (10/28/13):

      ● Pro-Israel: Money to Congress

      • SUMMARY
      • All cycles

      Dems: $70,969,618
      Repubs: $39,958,026
      Other: $1,546,917
      All Candidates: Total to All Candidates: $112,474,561
      Incumbents Only: Total to Members: $91,696,169

      House
      # of Members / Avg. Contribution / Total
      Democrats 1,468 $17,787 $27,119,594
      Republicans 973 $14,977 $15,500,766
      Independents 2 $1,181 $15,350
      TOTAL 2,443 $17,452 $42,635,710

      The US House of Representatives has 435 members and 5 non-voting delegates.
      Totals may exceed 440 due to mid-term replacements.

      Senate
      # of Members / Avg. Contribution / Total
      Democrats 377 $82,141 $31,227,126
      Republicans 301 $53,446 $16,379,493
      Independents 5 $102,324 $1,381,590
      TOTAL 683 $71,725 $48,988,209

      The US Senate has 100 members.
      Totals may exceed 100 due to mid-term replacements.

      The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.

      All donations took place during the -1-All election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, August 18, 2013.

      SOURCE – link to opensecrets.org

  8. DICKERSON3870
    October 30, 2013, 6:03 pm
  9. DICKERSON3870
    October 30, 2013, 6:26 pm

    RE: “Yesterday the White House sought to diffuse tensions over its Iran opening with a meeting between the president and a ‘small coterie of Jewish organizational leaders’. One of those leaders was Abe Foxman, who had lashed out at John Kerry for making ‘inappropriate’ criticisms of Netanyahu. Though Kerry never mentioned Netanyahu by name.” ~ Weiss

    ACCORDING TO THE “JEWISH LEADERS”: There must be absolutely no daylight between the U.S. and Israel! Nada! Zilch!
    In essence, the U.S. must act as though America and Likudnik Israel are conjoined twins. The U.S. has to do absolutely whatever the Israelis do, despite the fact that the Israelis are almost always free to do whatever they want to do (irrespective of what the U.S. does).
    AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Likudniks say that there can be absolutely no “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel, but they certainly don’t mean that Israel has to close the gap by adopting the U.S. position. The onus is ALWAYS on the U.S. to close any gap by unquestioningly adopting Likudnik Israel’s position. Consequently, when Israel moves away from a U.S. position, the U.S. must then adopt the Israeli position (except for things like Israel’s government-run, socialized health care) so as to avoid the verboten “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.
    In other words, America MUST always be Israel’s “frayer”* so as to ensure that Israel does not become America’s frayer! ! !

    * FROM quora.com [frayer]:

    [EXCERPTS] There is one correct definition of the term frayer. It means “sucker” or “mark,” in the sense that somebody is a sucker if he goes along with the rules when nobody else is following them, or a mark if he’s a naive target for thieves. . .
    . . . In Israeli life and society, the worst thing anybody can ever be is a frayer, and most people will do anything and everything they can at all times to avoid being a frayer. The only way to be certain at any given moment that you are not a frayer is to make somebody else a frayer.

    SOURCE – link to quora.com

    • LanceThruster
      October 30, 2013, 7:09 pm

      And there’s this –

      It’s a Sin to Be a Sucker in Israellink to articles.latimes.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        November 1, 2013, 9:53 am

        THANKS! THAT ARTICLE REALLY SPELLS IT OUT.

        SEE: “It’s a Sin to Be a Sucker in Israel, by Marjorie Miller”, L.A. Times, 7/25/1997

        [EXCERPT] JERUSALEM — Why does an Israeli driver speed up when another car signals its intent to enter his traffic lane? Because he doesn’t want to be a freier–a sucker. . .
        . . . So does the fear of being a sucker bear upon peace negotiations?
        Israel’s bottom line in a peace accord with the Palestinians will be determined by “the sense that they are making decisions governing the existence of the Jewish state and future of the Jewish people,” said a U.S. diplomat in Israel. Not by the fear of being a sucker.
        And yet, peace negotiations are affected by the fact that neither Israelis nor Palestinians want to risk being a sucker by making concessions before the other side does.
        In negotiations, an American generally will put his cards on the table, expect the other side to do the same and assume that a happy compromise lives somewhere in the middle. But Israelis and Palestinians do not bargain in this way.
        “Both sides believe anything offered up first will be pocketed by the other side,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
        “Whenever things break down, this is usually the problem. They will hold out carrots but do not want to give one up until they are sure the other side will give.”
        Lucy Shahar, co-author of the book “Border Crossings: American Interactions With Israelis,” explained that, in the case of Israelis, this is because they do not share the American belief in win-win negotiations. “In his heart of hearts, an Israeli believes that is impossible,” Shahar said. “In the Middle East, usually someone loses badly. Nothing in the Israeli experience suggests that everyone wins here or in the diaspora.” . . .

        ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to articles.latimes.com

        • LanceThruster
          November 1, 2013, 12:10 pm

          YVW – my pal Bernie the Attorney turned me on to this. Said it described quite a few types he met in the legal profession.

  10. thankgodimatheist
    October 30, 2013, 6:29 pm

    Kerry on a leash..What else is new?

  11. RoHa
    October 30, 2013, 8:49 pm

    “1. Is it now anti-Semitic for Kerry to criticize Israel in public, even obliquely, according to ADL?”

    Now? It always has been. And you are an anti-Semite for even asking the question.

    “4. How do the rest of us get an inside briefing on Iran negotiations?”

    You don’t.

    ” Or are we not interested parties worthy of attention?”

    You aren’t. Just being a US citizen doesn’t give you any say in US policy. It’s nothing to do with you.

    “5. … And how is US ME policy determined again?”

    You really have to ask?

  12. RoHa
    October 30, 2013, 8:51 pm

    Incidentally, does Obama ever meet a small coterie of Baha’i organizational leaders, or Parsee organizational leaders, or Sikh organizational leaders, or …?

  13. iResistDe4iAm
    November 2, 2013, 10:20 am

    Obama, Hagel and Kerry are falling over themselves to try to appear more Zionist than the Israelis.

    Of the three, Kerry is most likely to lose his temper with an even bigger critical outburst against Israel within the next 6 months (no-one can survive 9 months of one-sided closed-door “negotiations” while simultaneously taking orders from a small coterie of Israelis, Israel’s lawyers, and Israel Firsters).