The sanctions bill that would derail the Iranian deal has exposed the Israel lobby as never before. It’s getting a lot of coverage on the Mainstream media. Peter Beinart takes on the Jewish “leaders” in a report in Haaretz: “The new Iran sanctions effort, claims a well-placed congressional aide, is ‘totally and completely Jewish-community run.’” (And Chuck Hagel got slammed for using the phrase “Jewish lobby,” not Israel lobby.)
Here are the latest straws in the wind. Only they are beams not straws. A Jewish Telegraphic Agency story is being published widely, reporting that the Israel lobby finds itself dangerously exposed because of its confrontation with Obama over Iran:
[K]eeping a low public profile is proving impossible.
According to congressional insiders and some of the pro-Israel lobbying group’s former senior executives, AIPAC may soon face a tough choice: Stick out the battle over sanctions and potentially face a reputation-damaging defeat, or reach out to the White House and find a way for both sides to save face.
“I don’t believe this is sustainable, the confrontational posture,” said Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy chief known for his hawkishness on Iran.
JTA mentions Jon Stewart’s mockery of AIPAC and other media exposure:
the confrontation has landed AIPAC squarely in the media spotlight and drawn pointed criticism from leading liberal commentators… AIPAC already is taking some high-profile hits on TV…
It also says that the lobby has reached the limit of its political influence–
AIPAC has been stymied by a critical core of Senate Democrats who have sided with the Obama administration in the fight. While AIPAC’s bid to build a veto-busting majority has reached 59 — eight short of the needed 67 — it has stalled there in part because Democrats have more or less stopped signing on.
in part because powerful Jews aren’t jumping on. Notice that JTA counts the Jewish chairpeople who oppose the bill, and says this is making a difference:
A source close to AIPAC said the stall in support for the legislation is due in part to the fact that of 10 committee chairmen opposed to the bill, four are Jewish and have histories of closeness to the pro-Israel community.
Non-Jewish lawmakers tend to take their cues on Israel-related issues from their Jewish colleagues — a common template with lawmakers from other communities — and this is no different, the source said.
The JTA says that while the lobby doesn’t want a confrontation, it’s not bad for the source of its strength, the “purse.” Now they tell us, it’s about money.
Others, however, argue that the conflict with the White House was not necessarily bad for AIPAC.
“When they are being attacked, they come out on top from a fundraising point of view,” said a former AIPAC official speaking on condition of anonymity.
An aide to a Republican senator who backs the sanctions said that in the long run, AIPAC’s better bet was to align itself with Congress rather than the White House.
“Congress holds the foreign policy purse,” the aide said. “The White House will always have a new occupant. It is less important what the White House thinks of any organization and far more important what Congress thinks of any organization.”
More exposure: David Remnick was on All Things Considered yesterday to talk about his profile of the president in The New Yorker. Remnick went after the Tea Party by name and the Israel lobby implicitly (some mystification there; senators don’t fear the Saudi leadership). He said that Obama is outraged by the deference to Netanyahu.
I think [Obama]’s pretty outraged by the fact that there were so many Democrats that seem more interested in the point of view of Bibi Netanyahu and the Saudi leadership, than in their party leader and president.
So that the morning after the Iran deal was signed, Chuck Schumer went on the Sunday shows. And without any fear of punishment from the president or the party leadership, simply pronounced that he was going to possibly favor increased sanctions against Iran, which would really be counterproductive for the deal as it is at this point. And he’s not the only one: Cory Booker, Gillibrand.
I mean there are a lot of Democrats that talk in this vein, forcing Obama to say if such a bill came to his desk he’d have to veto it.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says that Cory Booker is getting hammered by Obama. The rabbi stands up for his protege in the Jerusalem Post, and lashes out at Peter Beinart as a demon seed.
US President Barack Obama has dropped the hammer on 16 Democratic senators who have joined a bold Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, in co-sponsoring new legislation that will increase sanctions against Ira…
One of those brave 16 is my close friend Sen. Cory Booker, who has had a unique and special relationship with the Jewish community since I met him as an undergraduate at Oxford University in 1992. As is well-known, Cory served as president of my Oxford L’Chaim society, where he arguably became the first African-American/Christian head of a major Jewish organization in history. Cory and I then began studying Torah on a regular basis, and he has probably been invited to lecture more American Jewish communal venues than any other political figure in the US. What Cory has seen, as have his other intrepid Senate colleagues, is that Iran is an immense danger to the world in general, and to Israel and the US in particular.
Beinart and his kind scapegoat Israel’s settlers as principal obstacles to Middle East peace, just as Khomeini himself scapegoated the US for the same.
Meantime, Beinart has a piece in Haaretz that all but accuses the leaders of the conservative Jewish organizations of a lack of loyalty. “The only ‘leader’ who speaks for American Jews on Iran is Barack Obama,” is Beinart’s headline. OK; tell that to Chuck Schumer and Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.
AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations all support a sanctions bill that Obama insists will wreck his chances of achieving a nuclear deal. In fact, “support” may be too weak a word. The new Iran sanctions effort, claims a well-placed congressional aide, is “totally and completely Jewish-community run.”
That may be an exaggeration. And American Jewish “leaders” might argue that they’re not obligated to represent American Jews as a whole, only the ones in their organizations. Still, it’s extraordinary to watch American Jewish “leaders” play such a prominent role in undermining an Iran policy that, according to all the evidence, most American Jews support.
Update: Jewish Voice for Peace is lobbying against the bill, as a group that includes Jews and that opposes the Israel lobby. “Stop AIPAC drive to war over Iran.”
This AIPAC-backed bill would torpedo ongoing diplomatic efforts and open the way to military action and further draconian sanctions. The results could be disastrous—for everyone….
This legislation is being pushed by Israel lobby groups who want a pretext for Israel to take military action against Iran. Remarkably, it would pre-commit the United States to military involvement should Israel attack.