— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) November 16, 2013
The accompanying article in the Economist, by Lexington, is plain about Netanyahu playing the Israel lobby against the Obama administration:
Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has not held back. In a speech to thousands of Jewish-Americans in Jerusalem on November 10th he more or less called the American president and his envoys naive to the point of imperilling Israel’s survival..
And it warns that the lobby can’t overplay its hand because of war-weariness in the American public:
The Israeli lobby loses leverage
To those who brood, darkly, about Israel’s influence in American politics, the bogeyman of choice has long been the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a hawkish lobby group. AIPAC’s friends in Congress, notably Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have suggested that new sanctions would strengthen America’s hand with Iran….
[Democrats] do not wish to embarrass their president. But senators distrust Iran intensely, and are not convinced that Mr Obama will insist on a robust deal, either. AIPAC will need to tread carefully—a core tenet of Israeli diplomacy is maintaining bipartisan support in America.
Roger Cohen at the Times has nothing to say about Israel. It’s the French banging the drum, he says, and that’s not bad. We should be worried about the cheese-eating surrender monkeys in the White House.
The cheese-eating surrender monkeys of France, in the phrase from “The Simpsons,” have become the world’s meat-chomping enforcement tigers. As for the United States, it has, in the French view, gone a touch camembert-soft…
The United States, of course, is not quitting the Middle East and isolationist tendencies are easily overstated — as [French Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius later conceded.
But his warnings are worth heeding. Obama spoke to Hollande this week; he expressed how “the United States deeply values its relationship with France.” The president could usefully borrow some French toughness to get a winning Iran deal.
When the cheese-eaters are in the White House it is time to worry.
Cohen’s position puts him in the same camp as David Brooks, the conservative NYT columnist. Though Brooks (who is “gooey-eyed” about Israel, stronger stuff than Cohen’s “liberal Zionist–and I am one”) cites Israel’s concerns. From NPR last night:
Host Audie Cornish: How do the congressional politics here help or hurt the negotiating position of the U.S. going forward?
BROOKS: Well, it makes it much tougher. And they sort of back up what’s become the French position which is to be more skeptical of the talks. And there are two good reasons for that. The first is that if we – the administration sometimes seems so eager to put a nonproliferation deal, we end up winking at some of the human rights abuses of the regime.
The second, and this is the worry of Israelis and others, which is that once you start weakening the sanctions and there’s Katie bar the door, it’s hard to keep any sanction regimes in place and the pressure on Iran just diminishes and diminishes.
Now notice when the liberal commentator EJ Dionne steps in on NPR, there’s a hint about Israel’s role in our politics but no edification. Dionne demystifies nothing:
DIONNE: First of all, in American politics, you don’t lose much by being anti-Iran and so I think there’s going to be some pressure from Congress. But this also – and I’ve talked to administration officials about this. This strengthens them vis-a-vis the Iranians because the administration, while it’s saying to Congress please don’t strengthen these sanctions now, let’s see if we can make these talks work, the administration can always hold the threat that sanctions could get worse as it’s trying to get Iran to make concessions.
The administration seems to have some confidence that they can get a pretty good deal out of Iran, but of course that’ll also depend on how outsiders judge whether it is a pretty good deal.
Outsiders? Do outsiders judge the Affordable Care Act? Who are these foreign-policy judges? And when is the mainstream media going to talk about the Israel lobby?
P.S. As Alex noted yesterday, Foreign Policy is being more forthright: Foreign Policy magazine’s John Hudson reports that Israel and the Obama administration are locked in an “information war” over a deal with Iran. Hudson reports that “Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are storming Capitol Hill
H/t Scott Roth.