Hat’s off to Tom Friedman, for stating the basis of the power of the Israel lobby, money. His column is called “Let’s make a deal” and supports Obama’s efforts in Geneva. He is completely aligned with Walt and Mearsheimer here, in stating the power of the lobby to “stymie” a major foreign policy initiative.
Dplomats and ministers from Israel and the Israel lobby have been working Congress, while officials from Arab Gulf states have been telling the Obama administration directly the same message: how much they oppose the proposed deal that Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany have drafted to trade limited sanctions relief in return for Iran starting to roll back its nuclear program.
Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.
This is a continuation of Friedman’s assertion that Congress is “bought and paid for” by the Israel lobby, and of his explanation in England that the reason the U.S. supports Israel blindly is that in the 1992 election, would-be presidents learned that if they crossed the lobby they would be roadkill. (And the reason that Obama was “absolutely livid” when the Democratic convention left out platform language saying Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.)
Friedman separates himself from the Israel interest in the way that many Israel supporters in the U.S. are now doing. Some anyway.
If Israel kills this U.S.-led deal, then the only option is military. How many Americans or NATO allies will go for bombing Iran after Netanyahu has blocked the best effort to explore a credible diplomatic alternative? Not many. That means only Israel will have a military option. If Israel uses it, it may set Iran back, but it will also set Iran free to rush to a bomb. Is Israel ready to bomb Iran every six months?
Jeffrey Goldberg can’t abide this. He smeared Walt and Mearsheimer as anti-semites. He is far more polite with Friedman:
I disagree with Tom Friedman on this one. U.S. lawmakers have reasons other than Jewish money to worry about contours of Iran deal.
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) November 20, 2013
Who is right? It’s time to have this out. Calling Robert Simon on 60 Minutes. And Chris Matthews. Wait, scratch that. Obama just held a million-dollar fundraiser at Matthews’s boss David Cohen’s house.
Cohen is a former vice chair of the Philly Jewish Federations, and a big supporter of Israel.
The fundraiser featured Senator Robert Casey, who has taken a hard line against Obama’s talks with Iran. But Obama hosted a fundraiser with someone who is opposing his policy? Why? Who has more power in this situation? Obama or the Israel lobby? This is precisely what Friedman described, and the reason that members of Obama’s own party are bucking him on a crucial foreign-policy question.