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Rachel Maddow calls out AIPAC for pushing war with Iran

on 38 Comments
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

Props to Rachel Maddow. A day after we knocked her for failing to mention AIPAC’s role in pushing war with Iran, she took on the lobby last night in blasting the Democratic senators who are trying to derail the Iran deal.

“A vote for this thing is a vote to go to war with Iran,” she said, in comments that Ali Gharib picked up. And Steve Clemons said that Obama will veto the legislation if it passes.

Here is Maddow on AIPAC:

Because of the domestic political pressures — and it’s groups like AIPAC, I think, leading the way on this. They’ve sort of been seen as the lead push on this in terms of an outside group, but it’s other groups as well. In terms of that domestic political pressure and the way that Democratic Senators as well as Republicans are susceptible to it, if Bob Menendez could get Harry Reid to allow a vote on this, and if the Senate could vote on it, do you think that there’s a chance that it could pass with a veto-proof majority? Could the White House get their bluff called on vetoing it?

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38 Responses

  1. dbroncos
    December 20, 2013, 10:22 am

    Good for Maddow. Her ears must be burning.

    • December 20, 2013, 10:40 pm

      maybe we can take credit for her sudden mysteriously unexplainable reversal.
      i know i surely put in my two cents.

  2. just
    December 20, 2013, 10:24 am

    Well done, Rachel. Keep reading MW– it’ll give you guts and facts.

    • pabelmont
      December 20, 2013, 11:49 am

      Can Terry Gross be far behind? (Unhappily, yes. But we can hope.)

  3. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    December 20, 2013, 10:29 am

    She noticed the elephant in the room by pretending that it’s a menagerie. The “other groups” pushing for this bill are also Zionist orgs.

    • Ellen
      December 20, 2013, 11:50 am

      Oh man! She littered this with all the qualifiers to render her words meaningless.

      “and it’s groups like AIPAC, I think,”

      This opens the door for her to say”Opps, I am sorry. I did not know what I was talking about. I just thought…..”

      They’ve sort of been seen as the lead push on this in terms of an outside group, but it’s other groups as well.

      What is “sort of?” “in terms…” What does that mean? In terms of what?

      “been seen” This means that is a perception, but not fact. You know, some people think they are seeing things.

      Other groups?” What other groups? Tell us Rachel. Do your homework. You have a research staff!

      She coughed out the AIPAC word, but it was a weasel step.

      • Citizen
        December 20, 2013, 5:45 pm

        @ Ellen

      • joemowrey
        December 20, 2013, 6:30 pm


        Thanks for pointing out the obvious. This was really nothing but a weasel move similar to the fluff pieces she occasionally does criticizing Obama and the Dems. Just enough to maintain her creds as a so-called liberal while not stepping too hard on any important toes (or jeopardizing her paycheck). Maddow is a hypocrite and the ultimate sellout. Her tepid use of the AIPAC word shouldn’t impress us.

      • Reds
        December 20, 2013, 8:43 pm

        Notice how she talked about AIPAC vs the way she talked about Congress?

        “The only problem is Congress. Lawmakers in both houses on both sides of the aisle have been saying, oh, forget this deal, we hate this deal. We want more sanctions on Iran now.”

        “Now, everybody who likes that there`s this deal with Iran, a potential diplomatic solution to this vexing problem, everybody`s been saying, hey, Congress, don`t screw this up. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to persuade Congress, do not screw this up. Do not to scuttle the agreement by messing with and trying to pass sanctions that would absolutely kill the

        “MADDOW: Could be done with diplomacy, as long as Congress can`t get its act together to screw it up. I love that we`re dependent on that at this point. Keep tripping, keep tripping. Amazing.”

        “The only problem is”
        “oh, forget this deal”
        “we hate this deal”
        “We want more sanction”
        “don`t screw this up”
        “do not screw this up”
        ” Do not to scuttle ”


        “It’s like ”
        “I think”
        “They Sort of”
        “But it’s other”
        “if” “Could”

        Now do people want to really say she’s brave? From both shows you can see a big difference and how she chooses to talk and who she seems to fear.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        December 21, 2013, 6:12 am

        @ Ellen & joemowrey
        Exactly what I thought when I read Rachel’s words. And she didn’t even say what AIPAC stands for. No mention of “Israel” or “Zionists”. Really pathetic.

      • MRW
        December 21, 2013, 3:14 pm

        She came out under the canopy of Huffington Post’s startling headline two days ago (19th): SABOTEUR SEN. LAUNCHING WAR PUSH, and they showed Menendez at an AIPAC podium.

        This is the backlash from the ADL and J Street:

        Read the comments. No one is buying it. What is it going to take for Israel and the the Israel-Firsters to understand how clenched-teeth fed up everyone is with them?

  4. piotr
    December 20, 2013, 10:42 am

    Now I got the feeling that MW is one of those powerful groups that can intimidate the media.

    Alternative theory is that this (sabotaging the negotiations) is so insane that there is some backlash at the top of our establishment. So Maddow got some green light to bolder.

    • Cliff
      December 20, 2013, 10:46 am

      Clearly the latter. Even Establishment servants like Maddow can’t ignore the Israel Lobby’s blatant interference.

    • Citizen
      December 20, 2013, 11:16 am

      @ piotr
      I’m sure I’m not the only regular commuter here who took Kathleen’s advice and bombarded Maddow’s Facebook Page, telling her fans how she, once again, ignored the Lobby’s pressure when she covered the sabotage bill being pushed to blow up the fragile interim diplomacy with Iran. She still has not mentioned said bill’s rider giving Bibi N America’s ignition key to war. Also, as Rusty Pipes notes above, she pretended many groups besides the Lobby were pressuring congress when AIPAC is just the umbrella org for the myriad of Jewish Establishment orgs that in aggregate are the Lobby.

      And I’m sure I’m not the only MW commenter who also slammed Maddow on Twitter and Facebook generally.

    • pabelmont
      December 20, 2013, 11:53 am

      If you accept the view that the USA’s government is run by “The Establishment” a/k/a “The Oligarchy” — namely, the BIGs, such as BIG-BANKs, BIG-OIL, BIG-ZION, BIG-DEFENCE, etc, — then you understand that USA policy is always dictated when these groups are all either in favor of an action or don’t care to resist the action. But if these groups are divided and there is push-and-shove in both directions, the government will have a choice about what to do.

      Seems like that is the case here, and I wonder which BIGs are opposing a new war. Be nice to know who is doing what to whom (whom, here, being AIPAC and maybe BIG-DEFENCE).

      I also wonder who told Maddow about the shift within the Oligarchy. Or did she sense it when Obama himself opposed AIPAC on this?

      • piotr
        December 20, 2013, 3:00 pm

        My reading of the situation is that no one really wants war with Iran, barring nut cases like John Bolton and John McCain. If USA is overly unreasonable, it will encounter opposition from China, Russia and other countries, and it those circumstances Iran may block Strait of Hormuz and make reasonable demands for unblocking: reparations and guarantees that an attack will not be repeated. If such demands are supported by some large powers, then Iran can stick to it. The whole affair would end with a gigantic humiliation for USA, and this is not the worst case scenario.

        Would Israel attack rather then USA, the same thing may happen because ultimately Israel is our lap dog. (If you let your lap dog control you, nobody would view it as a valid excuse.) Overt encouraging of Israel in that direction just makes the situation simpler in a bad way.

        Here we are talking about Mutually Assured Economic Destruction, so people who would gain are in short term producers of oil and arms, but in slightly longer terms they can be the biggest losers if the public opinion would turn against them. The fact that many commentators and politicians openly advocate keeping the “war option” just says that public discourse is considerably divorced from reality.

        No, the real question is not the war option but the option of perpetual sanctions that would keep Iran weak. Until recently, it was very attractive, most of all to Zionists but not only to them. But now the resulting power imbalance seems genuinely dangerous, namely Gulf monarchies and Turkey support “al-Qaeda” to take over Iraq and Syria. (I use “al-Qaeda” as a general term, you can also call them Sunni radicals, taqfiris etc.) If you scratch your head, you will realize that this is really bad business that only people who run funeral homes may love, and the only way to stop it is to let Iran help, which requires letting Iran to earn more cash.

        I would bet the farm that this is how China and Russia see the situation. But a large part of Western establishment agrees. Why the attack on Syria was opposed by so many conservative politicians? Because there was a real danger that it could be effective!

        The short summary is that external forces cannot control the situation in wider Middle East, least of all, Americans, and if a balance of power is missing we are endangered by the actions of our allies.

      • HarryLaw
        December 20, 2013, 3:45 pm

        piotr, You are right, nobody wants war with Iran except those whack jobs you mention, Israel is not concerned about Iran’ s non existent nuclear weapons capabilities, rather it’s growing, [and for the most part] home produced conventional weaponry, a halt to sanctions would also see Iran’s economic growth surge, and with Iranian oil and gas on the world market producing a dramatic fall in the price of same, could cause trouble in Saudi Arabia who need the high price to bribe the Saudi masses and keep them from forming necktie parties. The Iranian Generals have said they have enough rockets to level Tel Aviv, if the Israelis were foolish enough to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, how safe would Dimona be? All things considered nobody is going to attack Iran, the world economy could not stand it, Russia and China would not stand it, and most importantly the American public [as in the case of Syria] would not stand it.

      • Ecru
        December 21, 2013, 6:52 am

        I’m not sure the fact that the public was against Syrian intervention plays here. Syria was presented as regime change with a little bit of humanitarian concern thrown in for good measure. Well people saw how well that type of war played out in Iraq so it was bound to be a non-starter.

        An attack on Iran however is being presented, not only by Israel’s stooges in Govt but also by its willing abettors in the MSM, as almost a war of self-defence, global defence in fact – the USA riding to save the entire planet from the threat of the Muslim bomb (and where’s the idea of attacking Pakistan?). It’s also being played as punishment for “uppity Ayrabs” that, it is claimed, threaten the one true Jewish Democratic State and have, completely unreasonably refused to cow-tow to the “American Way.”

        Given the constant demonising of Iran and Iranians over the past 30 years in the USA I’m afraid I strongly suspect many American will, when it comes to it, support the “military option.” Now they might regret it down the road but they regret Iraq too – that late realisation didn’t save a single Iraqi though.

      • Citizen
        December 20, 2013, 5:48 pm

        Putin said Iran has the right to enrich nuclear material–in his state of the union message which appeared on CSPAN today.

    • Ellen
      December 20, 2013, 11:58 am

      Yes, it is the alternative. There are serious interests behind normalizing relations with Iran. As the fear and war mongers go more ballistic in their efforts to drag the US into a war against Iran with the interest only of preserving Israel’s current hegemony for Israel (and Saudi Arabia) they will only become more exposed and destroy themselves in a sort of insane meltdown.

      Menendez is not a bright bulb and the perfect tool for others. He and others like him will end up weak pariahs as this plays out over the next years.

      • Citizen
        December 20, 2013, 5:50 pm

        Remember when Kirk was brain dead in the hospital, his office kept putting out Israeli hasbara?

  5. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    December 20, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Does Mondoweiss take writers and editors aside and steer them toward one message, away from another, with an escalating series of threats and rewards, and thus achieve message control through intimidation? At its best, Mondoweiss has pointed out the hollowness and corruption of some of those messages, and embarrassed those writers and editors, and eventually demarcated limits to how far the intimidators can push them. Mondoweiss has also beaten a trail through the snowdrift of disinformation, so that others find it easier to follow. A prophet crying in the wilderness, a pioneer with arrows in his back. Not an intimidator.

    The “alternative theory” is that Likud-Neoconism has been very consistent now for twenty years, Netanyahu has demanded of the intimidators the same message in the same words for so long – “Iran is two years from a nuclear weapon, the immediate equivalent of Nazi Germany in terms of existential threat to the Jewish people; therefore extreme emergency measures are required now” – all the while using warmongering, a strategic plan for regime change and societal disintegration in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, among the Palestinians, phonied and stove-piped “intelligence,” phony peace processes and AIPAC’s power in DC, and the ADL, CAMERA, Podhoretz, Kristol, and the Dersh to smear dissenters, to hold up a consistent story that has become so threadbare and so hollow that more and more people can no longer suffer to speak it or hear it spoken, without having a physical reaction of exhaustion or revulsion.

    The Israelis need to dump Likud, because Netanyahu’s end-game is very clear and progressively ugly. American Jews are apparently in a better position to see this than the Israelis. The unified message attempting to smear the ASA – “all those academics are just a bunch of ignorant Anti-Semites” – will be revealed for what it is when the rest of academia joins them in condemning the Occupation. “Bigoted liberal academic establishment!” The absurdity speaks for itself.

    The momentum is clear. Only the timing remains uncertain. But “breaking friction is greater than sliding friction” and Likud is already sliding toward the dustbin.

    • piotr
      December 20, 2013, 3:30 pm

      Israel is a small provincial place and you have only so much talent, particularly in politics. Who is a positive alternative for Netanyahu? Lieberman? Bennet? Feiglin? Mr. “Vapid”? Ms. “I have charisma of a dead fish”? Ms. “I care only about preschools and cottage cheese”?

      But Israel is a small country, and without effective lobbying they would quickly adapt to what is possible. Right now the political wisdom there is to try to get as much as they can grasp “for the Jewish people”, and leave it to outsiders to worry if it makes sense. Importantly, liberals in Israel are utterly discredited because for at least 20 years they claimed that Israel cannot do this or that because “the World will not allow it” or that “in the long run, the World …”. Only radicals, and there are quire few of them would advocate to withdraw from all occupied territories simply because the occupation is wrong.

      The road to peace and/or justice will not go through Knesset.

      • David Doppler
        David Doppler
        December 20, 2013, 3:46 pm

        What about Isaac Herzog?

      • piotr
        December 20, 2013, 8:25 pm

        I do not know about him. He definitely started his leadership of Labor with promising statements, and now that I checked, both Meretz and Labor gained in polls, while Lieberman’s party is clobbered.

        VERY characteristically, part of the public is buying the criticism of the government that it screwed up relationship with USA. Obviously, the right wing tries its best to lobby its positions through, and when they are successful, the appear in Israel as geniuses and liberals as idiots, and vice versa. If there is a change in USA, Israel will follow.

      • seafoid
        December 20, 2013, 3:59 pm

        Only so much talent and even less with mass indoctrination.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        December 21, 2013, 6:23 am

        Israel is a small provincial place

        Hey, don’t say that. That’s an insult to small provincial places, such as where I live. The extent of racism is not equivalent to population density or territory size.

  6. Obsidian
    December 20, 2013, 12:32 pm

    Oh. I thought that it was the United States that was restraining Israel from attacking Iran.

    • Ellen
      December 21, 2013, 4:34 am

      Read the bill, Obsidian. The language of compels the USA to follow Israel into conflict.

      You thought wrong….ly

  7. Chu
    December 20, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I think she has a lot to prove to get away from her cushy establishment perch. She’s had ten years to criticize AIPAC, and all she can say is ‘it’s groups like AIPAC, I think, leading the way on this.’ I think!!! You better know girl…

    If you listen to the nightly array of MSNBC talking heads, it all starts to sound like one continuous drone zone. Chris Hayes, who I thought would do much better, drones on about Republicans, war, deficit, blah, blah, blah. It’s all so boring when you are fed this nightly dosage of left wing corporate talking points. Might as well listen to Hannity and O-Reilly to numb my skull some more.

    • piotr
      December 20, 2013, 3:05 pm

      Drone warfare is indeed a nasty business. Even if you are not attacked with missiles, you can be bored to death. Resistance is futile.

  8. radii
    December 20, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Ms. PEP finally got the courage up to dip her toe in the water

  9. ToivoS
    December 20, 2013, 4:10 pm

    Excellent news even if Maddow sort of mush mouthed her report. I was beginning to worry about not seeing more establishment support for Kerry and Obama’s efforts to forge a peace deal with Iran. Piotr is right, this is a sign that there some powerful players that are gearing up to support them.

    That support will needed to prevent the Senate from killing any Iranian deal that was just introduced by 26 co-sponsors. loblog has a good summary of the bill AIPAC is going to be in force on this one and it looks they will very visible this time. One particular dangerous section of the bill reads:

    …if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence…

    This is just insane. They want to let Netanyahu make the decision whether or not the US goes to war with Iran. I find it hard to believe that AIPAC would put themselves on the line with language like this. They might very well be in line for another big whupping.

    • Citizen
      December 20, 2013, 6:24 pm

      Imagine what George Washington would say about the American constitutionality of supporting, and continually enmeshing itself with the foreign country, Israel, basically promising the whole American blood and treasure to follow Bibi Netanyahu’s American-made and funded F-16s into Iran.

      I haven’t come across any Libertarian awareness of this crass absurdity yet on the internet; naturally zero in it in mainstream media. Where’s all those folks who carry around little copies of the US Constitution in their pocket?

    • ritzl
      December 20, 2013, 11:04 pm

      Also, this bill, with that language, is coming so close to manufacturing and forcing a crisis in our democracy. No way the DoD PTB are going to allow the US to be dragged into a truly cataclysmic middle-eastern war by an insignificant yet exceedingly loud and insatiable little blip of a country 10,000 miles away. No matter what the politicians say.

      • dbroncos
        December 21, 2013, 1:32 am


        “Also, this bill, with that language, is coming so close to manufacturing and forcing a crisis in our democracy.”

        I agree. When Obama declared war on Syria, then dissembled, a real leadership crisis emerged in a hurry. Out of nowhere, Obama found a soft landing in Putin’s open arms and loving bosom. That won’t happen with Iran. To avoid the Israel firsters war, Obama needs all the Presidential authority and guile he can muster – stuff he hasn’t shown much of to date.

      • ritzl
        December 22, 2013, 1:21 am

        @dbroncos – Agree completely on Obama.

        Called my Senators. Maybe public sentiment can become 100-1 against the passage of this bill like it was against intervention in the Syrian war.

        “Tipping point” seems to be the consensus description of what we’re close to on this whole swirl of issues related to Israel. Maybe this bill is it.

        Fingers crossed anyway… Cheers.

  10. HarryLaw
    December 20, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Here is a excellent overview of the US/Iran deal and how the US accommodated Iran’s bottom line.

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