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Cracks in the lobby: Wexler warns Netanyahu not to be ‘cavalier’ about US support

Israel/Palestine
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Robert Wexler

Robert Wexler

There are fractures inside the Israel lobby. Lately three American stalwarts for Israel have expressed misgivings about how Israel is playing its hand, with the Israel-right-or-wrong backing of the American Jewish community. These stories are an indication that Peter Beinart’s “outsider” criticism of conservative Jewish leaders is starting to come into the lobby itself: more realistic Israel supporters fear that the hard-core types are showing hubris about their power to compel American support, and isolating Israel.

Michael Adler

Michael Adler

Item 1. An AIPAC leader says Israel lobbyists are so “wrapped up” in their own views they have lost sight of political reality.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee is both an Obama minion and a stalwart of the Israel lobby, but she has straddled on Iran, refusing to join the lobby’s chorus for more sanctions, also refusing to back up Obama publicly. She’s been pressured/slammed by the hard core lobbyists; and now the Forward’s Nathan Guttman reports that a leading AIPAC contributor, Michael Adler, thinks the lobby should pipe down.

Spokespersons for AIPAC and for Wasserman Schultz declined to comment on the current relations between the lobby and the congresswoman. But Michael Adler, who is both a major Democratic Party donor close to Schultz and an AIPAC activist, warned that the pressure on her reflected a desire to make the Iran sanctions bill a “litmus test on if you are pro-Israel” — a move he warned against.

“She is concerned about the criticism because she is a supporter of sanctions,” said Adler, whose own stand may reflect divisions on AIPAC’s approach even within the lobby. He described those in the pro-Israel community who criticized the congresswoman as being “so wrapped up in their own belief that they can’t recognize there are good pro-Israel people on both sides of this discussion.”

But it is that ability to be counted as “pro-Israel” on either side of this issue that is vexing activists who want to force congressional lawmakers to choose.

2. Robert Wexler suggests Netanyahu is “cavalier” about American support.

Wexler is another lobby stalwart, a former Florida Congressman who now heads a pro-Israel lobbying group. Last month, speaking on a DC Jewish panel, he issued a veiled criticism of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Wexler supports Obama’s Iran deal, he said. And even if Netanyahu is “rightfully skeptical” and even serves Israel and the U.S. by playing the bad cop to America’s good cop, Netanyahu is wrong to call the deal a “historic mistake.”

The sharpest criticism comes at 21:00 or so: 

I think it undermines [Netanyahu’s] own credibility to a degree, and unfortunately does not maximize his own administration’s ability [to participate in negotiations]…

I would offer one word of caution. The American-Israeli relationship is Israel’s greatest strategic asset, and it always will be. That’s not in question, thank goodness. My respectful advice would be to handle that relationship with due care and not in a cavalier manner.

3. The conflict “significantly harms” US interests, and the US will walk away, warns a major pro-Israel funder.

Slim-Fast mogul Daniel Abraham of Florida chairs a relentlessly-pro-Israel shop, the Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. He has published a remarkably-realist argument for Kerry’s deal in Haaretz–saying that Israel has ignored American interests, that the Israel lobby won’t be able to support it in the future, and you better cut a deal with Kerry before you become a ruptured isolated country.

This is a watershed moment after which Israel will face a completely different situation – one which will be governed by new realities much less favorable than those Israel faces today. If Kerry’s mission fails, Israel will miss a historic window of opportunity to achieve an agreement that is optimal from its viewpoint. In the future, Israel may be forced to accept a bad agreement or live without an agreement, thereby compromising its Jewish or democratic character.

If this round of negotiations fails, the United States will probably disengage from further attempts to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The vacuum will be filled by other actors such as the UN Security Council. Unlike the United States, these actors have no great affection for Israel. Israeli interests will not receive as much positive attention as they do when Washington is in charge of the political process. …

Israel will discover that America’s patience with friends who demand its help while simultaneously ignore its interests is shorter than before. And it’s no secret that the United States believes that the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict significantly harms U.S. national security interests.

U.S. demographics are changing and as a result the automatic sympathy Israel enjoys in the U.S. has greater potential of eroding. Rather, it will be a ruptured country losing its Jewish and democratic identity and becoming increasingly estranged from its own sons and daughters, as well as from the world community.

If I’m Palestinian and I read that, why would I want to cut a deal? The terms will only grow more favorable if I hold out. As Shira Robinson shows in her new book on Israel’s foundation, Palestinian nationalists in the 50s supported U.N. partition on an equitable basis, divide the land, let us return to our homes. Why settle now for 1/5th of the pie and no return, if the power relations are about to shift in your favor?

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About Philip Weiss

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

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20 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    January 23, 2014, 11:24 am

    I like the warning that if Kerry fails to get — what, any sort of quasi agreement, some minimal progress, what ?? — USA will pass the I/P issue back to UNSC.

    OTOH, if it does do that, or seem to do that, there is a question about what that would mean. Five countries have vetoes, the USA first among them in terms of use. The UNSC’s hands have been tied by the USA for years. It will mean little to pass the I/P dossier back to UNSC unless the USA also retires its veto.

  2. American
    American
    January 23, 2014, 11:57 am

    ”The American-Israeli relationship is Israel’s greatest strategic asset, and it always will be. That’s not in question, thank goodness.”..Wexler

    This why I am torn at this point between hoping Kerry does succeed on I/P and hoping he doesn’t.
    On one hand I want to see an end to the Palestines oppression and land stealing by Israel . ( But I dont think at this time they are going to get fair deal even if there is a settlement.)
    Then on the other hand I want Israel to continue to show its ass and ingraditude until the US does wash its hands of Israel and US I Firstdom—- I want to be totally rid of them, get them out of US gov and our business completely or they will continue to be a forever $$$ parasite and US problem.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 23, 2014, 1:36 pm

      The salient fact is that Kerry is not threatening Israel with withdrawal of carrots, but only the Palestinians negotiation team. In view of the giant carrots to Israel, as compared to the tiny ones for Palestine, what do you think this means?

      • American
        American
        January 23, 2014, 3:52 pm

        ”what do you think this means?”…Citizen

        Same thing its always meant…..US domestic politics- the lobbies- the money–etc..
        Even if I/P is settled , it must be a settlement ‘that pleases’ US I-Firstdom.
        Which naturally means shafting the Palestines.

      • shachalnur
        shachalnur
        January 24, 2014, 8:14 am

        Rumour has it Russia had a bumpercrop of giant carrots this year,

        Abbas is in Moskow right now to pick up a planefull.

        Nethayahu is piling up new Chinese carrots in Davos.

        Chinese and Russian beta carotene is a lot healthier for body and mind, than US/Europe GMO’s

  3. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 23, 2014, 12:14 pm

    BDS is the place to be–it’s the only force that can call the US mainstream media to account, and the US congress counts on that media to bury just how much the WH & Congress are prostitutes for Israel due to the never-to-be-fixed American campaign finance system.

  4. shachalnur
    shachalnur
    January 23, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Cracks in the Lobby?

    Is the Lobby controlled by Israel or vice versa,did the Lobby and Israel came into existence by coincidence??

    And what is causing the watershed?

    Changing demographics and an awakening public?

    Alternative media?

    Anybody heard of “Pigeon Superstition”?

    This split was engrained from the start(1897),and now it’s being activated.

  5. Sycamores
    Sycamores
    January 23, 2014, 12:59 pm

    cutting a deal now for the Palestinians according to what i read about the potential Kerry’s peace plan would mean:

    recognising israel as a Jewish state so non-Jews become second class citizens
    give up the right of return
    giving up most of the West Bank to illegal settlements
    forget about East Jerusalem
    accept israeli troops in the Jordan valley

    the more savvy zionist would realize this is there last chance of the two state solution.
    even Peres is saying that recognizing israel as a Jewish state is not necessary.

    Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that “the settlements are not part of Israel’s security, they are hurting it.”

    the cracks are showing. Palestinians need to hold out for a genuine partner in peace.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 23, 2014, 1:40 pm

      I hope the Israelis keep undermining Kerry-Obama until those guys react and go over the top at the bully pulpit to tell the American masses just how much an asshole Israel is, and why we shouldn’t be giving them a dime of foreign aid, nor any pocket veto courtesy of the USA at the UN SC.

      • Sycamores
        Sycamores
        January 23, 2014, 4:18 pm

        i believe we will start seeing a growing divide in the israel camp towards the US. the more level headed israeli will not want to go down the road of isolation. while the arrogant extremists (because that’s what they are) will carry on regardless eventually this could/should lead to a confrontation.

  6. MRW
    MRW
    January 23, 2014, 2:09 pm

    Wexler has it right. The lack of support among Gentiles, previously iron-clad, is now extraordinary, but deadly silent. I wrote previously on MW that support for Israel nationwide was 3000 miles wide but an inch deep. I can report from anecdotal evidence that it’s now 1/8″ to probably 1/16″ deep, bordering on anti-semitism. A war with Iran would bring it out overnight. I think you can take that to the bank, and no one would regret their sentiments about it. That’s how fed up people are.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    January 23, 2014, 2:12 pm

    RE: “Why settle now for 1/5th of the pie and no return, if the power relations are about to shift in your favor?” ~ Weiss

    IN OTHER WORDS: Why shouldn’t Palestinians take advantage of the “Abrams Principle”*, namely that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state.

    *FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:

    [EXCERPT] . . . Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703379.html

    P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me [by the sheer power of his (il)logic and his very impressive math skills] to wholeheartedly support the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.
    As I understand it, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River), no matter what that majority Palestinian state is called. Fiat justitia! ( “Let Justice Be Done!” )

    P.P.S. According to a recent EU Briefing Paper (EU Trade with Israeli Settlements, Version 2: Published August 2012), “[t]he total area controlled by settlements is around 43 per cent of the West Bank.” The Briefing Paper further explains that “[w]hile fenced or patrolled areas of settlements cover three per cent of the West Bank, 43 per cent of the West Bank is off-limits for Palestinian use because of its allocation to the settlements’ local and regional councils, according to UN OCHA OPT (January 2012) factsheet ‘The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli Settlement Policies’ .”
    SOURCE [EU Trade with Israeli Settlements (PDF)] – http://www.qcea.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bp-eusettlementtrade-version2-en-aug-2012.pdf

  8. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    January 23, 2014, 2:13 pm

    I agree this is a watershed time for Israel/US relations. The American Jewish community has risen in America primarily as part of the liberal establishment, which has supported Israel in the past as consistent with liberal values. The ugly reality of the Israeli right wing, the corrupting effect of being an occupier, the fraudulent nature of the hasbara effort, the racism directed at Palestinians, the misdirection of American Power to fight dirty little counter-productive wars so that it will be ready and willing to fight wars for Israel, are all coming to a head in America. The liberal establishment here cannot be joined at the hip with the same Zionist movement that is joined at the hip with the Christian zionists and the Sheldon Adelson moguls, the Gitmo torturers, the Iraq War fiasco, the whole Clean Break/Global War on Terror strategic plan, which has now fully demonstrated its bankruptcy over the last fifteen years, with AIPAC and Abe Foxman left to smear with false accusations of libel those realists who seek to serve America by criticizing and correcting failed policies. With Obama and Kerry making every effort from the perch of American intellectual liberalism, if the Israeli Right Wing thinks it can continue to submarine these efforts and continue the same eat-the-pizza-while-negotiating-with-Palestine-over-whose-pizza-it-is strategy, while libeling all critics as Anti-semites, which is now being mocked for humorous effect in multiple settings, it is mistaken. And what will come out of the other side if this peace effort fails is an isolated Israeli right wing relying on oppressive and naked aggression for its territorial ambitions, supported only by right-wingers, religious zealots, and others who can be bought for money, as their only allies, as global liberalism turns against it.

    This will be bad for Israel, Diaspora Jews, and the world generally, and only right-wing zealots and various ideologues are blind to this reality. If there are those in Israel who imagine an end game of some global eruption of Anti-Semitism driving the Diaspora home, or the Messiah coming, or a combination of those, they are surely madmen who need to be stripped of power immediately.

  9. Keith
    Keith
    January 23, 2014, 8:05 pm

    PHIL- “If I’m Palestinian and I read that, why would I want to cut a deal? The terms will only grow more favorable if I hold out.”

    You live in a fantasy world. The Palestinians are totally dependent upon outside aid for survival, hence, in an extremely weak negotiating position. Kerry has already brokered the support of the Gulf monarchies and the EU for his plan.

    “Both sides of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks risk paying a high price in losing European Union trade and aid if negotiations collapse, the EU ambassador to Israel said on Wednesday.”

    “We have made it clear to the parties that there will be a price to pay if these negotiations falter,” ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen told reporters.
    http://normanfinkelstein.com/2014/eu-laying-down-the-law-as-the-kerry-juggernaut-proceeds/

    The Palestinian position is grim, the future bleak, yet you feel that they should hold out because “the power relations are about to shift in (their) favor?” Jeez.

  10. bilal a
    bilal a
    January 23, 2014, 10:12 pm

    Tablet’s ‘Queen of the Jews’ Sarah Silverman brings to light the Christian -Jewish rift ; this is where the Lobby is cracking , on the break between American Zionist and Evangelical social values, more importantly, mutual respect: No response from John Hagee or the ADL yet:

    —————————————————-

    On her radio show earlier today, Laura Ingraham called Silverman, a “degenerate, foul-mouthed slob of a person.”…But there’s simply no excuse for O’Reilly to suggest he’d like to incur physical violence upon Silverman –
    http://www.newshounds.us/bill_o_reilly_boy_i_d_like_to_hit_sarah_silverman_with_a_pie_01232014#MFSq57vxwLpBsUB6.99

    Comic Sarah Silverman Invokes Jesus in Profanity-Laced Pro-Abortion Skit; ‘Using Religion to Dictate Legislation Is Un-American,’ She Says
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/comic-sarah-silverman-invokes-jesus-in-profanity-laced-pro-abortion-skit-using-religion-to-dictate-legislation-is-un-american-she-says-113266/

    Sarah Silverman: Mike Huckabee’s remarks ‘gross’
    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/sarah-silverman-mike-huckabee-women-102535.html

    GrossFest! PBS to Honor Sarah Silverman, Lena Dunham..
    http://www.lauraingraham.com/b/GrossFest!-PBS-to-Honor-Sarah-Silverman,-Lena-Dunham…/-799581893548516179.html

    Potty-Mouthed Queen of the Jews
    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/152922/sarah-silverman-hbo

  11. seafoid
    seafoid
    January 24, 2014, 6:29 am

    “Item 1. An AIPAC leader says Israel lobbyists are so “wrapped up” in their own views they have lost sight of political reality”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/045dca8a-6725-11e3-a5f9-00144feabdc0.html

    “Another government official, reflecting on a recent visit by Chinese politicians to Israel, put matters more bluntly: “They don’t care about the [Palestinian] issue,” the official said. “They want to talk about three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.”

    Israel’s economic pivot to the east and south is a welcome development for the majority of Israelis who reject Europe’s growing drive to isolate their country economically over its Palestinian policies.

    But Israel’s shift could – if it succeeds – be bad news for the international “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement, which favours a full economic boycott of Israel to press it to make peace.”

    They are so nuts.

    Some of the comments below the article are fabulous.

    Coase Theorem | January 5 4:08pm | Permalink

    “Israel’s key trading partner will always be the EU because Israel is in the Mediterranean. Geography always determines trade. In the UK we fantasise about global trading as a substitute to the EU but we still trade more with Ireland than Brazil, Russia, India and China out together – and that won’t change no matter how much pig semen David Cameron sells.
    The truth is that the EU doesn’t actually put any meaningful pressure on Israel in relation to the Palestinians so this isn’t driven by any security need. But if Israel wants to trade more with China, good luck to them – don’t we all.
    The main issue Israel faces is that in contrast to the US, emerging powers like China won’t help Israel pursue its political agenda. They don’t give a damn about the Palestinians but they don’t give a damn about Israel and European Jewish history either. They will buy technology from Israel, buy oil from Iran and then sell second-rate copies of Israeli technology to Iran and watch them fight each other from a safe distance. Israel will never have as sympathetic a global hegemon to support it as the present-day United States. Maybe they should cash in their chips now and look for detente with regional powers like Iran and peace with the Palestinians instead of living with the shrapnel in their butt. But that would involve giving up that piece of land East of the Wailing Wall and West of the River Jordan and guys like Naftali Bennett think God promised it to him. I’m waiting for someone rational in Israel to call bulls**t on Bennett and other settlers. “

    • piotr
      piotr
      January 24, 2014, 11:16 am

      “They don’t care about the [Palestinian] issue,” the official said. “They want to talk about three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.”

      It is quite delusional. First, China has many ways of getting “technology”. Second, “technology needs” could be well served by offering refuge to scientists and engineers in the event of collapse of Israel. This is a thought experiment, but the gist is that technology is not obtained from countries but from persons and companies and those are quite peripatetic.

      Finally, “Iran” is not just Iran but a group of countries, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, that collectively represent much larger market and source of materials, and much larger growth potential. Right now, Iran’s import is a bit smaller than Israel, if sanctions end they will double or triple. This is the math.

  12. mikeo
    mikeo
    January 24, 2014, 8:33 am

    Another government official, reflecting on a recent visit by Chinese politicians to Israel, put matters more bluntly: “They don’t care about the [Palestinian] issue,” the official said. “They want to talk about three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.

    Or to put it more accurately, the Chinese know that Israel can be relied upon to transfer technology that the US would baulk at, and the Chinese know that the US won’t punish Israel for this, so there will be little diplomatic blow-back.

    In reality this should read; “They want to talk about three things: US technology, US technology and US technology.”

    As we all know Israel has a long record of passing U.S. military technology to China. And as we also know many “Israeli” innovations are claimed for US companies (Intel being the most obvious). If Israel was a sandbox and there was no “special relationship” to the US, no links to the US Jewish diaspora then there would be no “start-up nation”. Israeli hi-tech is completely founded and co-dependent on the Israeli-US links.

    The Israeli’s are insane if they think they can “pivot to Asia”. While the Chinese may feel an affinity with the Jewish tradition of study, entrepreneurship and wealth creation, a JPPI report China and the Jewish People
    admits that Chinese essentializing of these traits would be considered anti-semitism coming from Westerners (as needs must the Chinese are given a pass!).

    The image of Jewish riches has existed in China for more than a hundred years. Images of success and power are linked to it. The Jews are admired, but perhaps also envied because they are seen to have what every Chinese wants to have for himself and his nation: money, success, and power…

    The explanations for Jewish money and the Jews’ alleged dominance of business, the banks, the stock exchange, the world economy, etc., have varied. There have been a small number of anti-Semitic expressions in line with hostile European attitudes, particularly in bio- graphical references to some of the former rich Jews of Shanghai.

    But in general, the Chinese traditions with regard to money and wealth are similar to those of the Jews, and different from the moral reticence that Christianity often
    maintained towards wealth. Both Chinese and Jews celebrate riches, success, and well-being in this world, not poverty.

    Therefore, when Chinese authors speak admiringly of the “commercial consciousness” of the Jewish Bible, or “the special sense that Jews have about money,” this must not be seen as a reflection of Western prejudice, though it may sound quite similar.”

    Israel will never penetrate the political process in China as it has in America.

    Israel will never be able to use the Holocaust to guilt-trip the Chinese.

    Chinese sources list the total number of WWII military and non-military casualties, both dead and wounded, at 35 million. Most Western historians believed that the total number of casualties was at least 20 million.

    The US is the best sugar-daddy Israel will ever have, the Chinese will look after their own interests first… No special favours

  13. eljay
    eljay
    January 24, 2014, 9:28 am

    >> The American-Israeli relationship is Israel’s greatest strategic asset, and it always will be. That’s not in question, thank goodness.

    Always is a very long time for any relationship to be “not in question”. Likely sooner than later, America’s politicians will realize that they no longer want – or need – to fellate the Zio-supremacist donkey.

    And then all the little Zio-supremacists will bray loudly about how the big, bad world – including America, which they just knew all along was anti-Semitic – hates them so much when all they ever wanted was a little colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” carved greedily and bloodily out of Palestine by means of terrorism and ethnic cleansing. :-(

  14. doug
    doug
    January 24, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Speaking of Israel and China’s closer diplomatic future check this out.

    Poleg (www.buybuychina.com) discusses how positively Jews are viewed in China and not just in recent times but extending back for many decades.

    Poleg talks very openly about the philo-Semitic attitudes in China. There is even a cute anecdote he relates about someone complaining to him about Chinese anti-Semitism. The fellow, in ignorance about Chinese customs, says that everywhere he goes he sees Chinese spitting on the street around him believing it is because he appears Jewish. Funny stuff.

    Oh, and don’t miss Poleg’s reference to NY Jews being attracted to Chinese women.

    Some of the other “positive” stereotypes noted are ads from businesses seeking Israelis or Jews for the biz cred.

    All in all, quite a fascinating interview by Fish of “Foreign Policy.”

    http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/13927?in=29:08&out=35:29

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