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Obama ‘outraged’ by Schumer, Gillibrand, & Booker’s deference to Netanyahu

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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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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29 Responses

  1. just on January 22, 2014, 11:07 am

    Holy crow!

    Sunlight in the midst of the ‘polar vortex’! Hurrah!

  2. pabelmont on January 22, 2014, 11:39 am

    Only thing — and this all does seem like progress — your headline (EVEN if it is really someone else’s text — Max B, are you listening) is inflammatory and WRONG.

    It is not the Jewish “community” which is pushing for war, but the big-money heads of (what are in effect) Jewish major corporations, who claim to speakk for the community but do not.

    I’d prefer as a title: “Opposition to Iran deal is totally and completely Jewish-ultra-Zionist-Politicos run”

    • philweiss on January 22, 2014, 12:19 pm

      Fair enough, Pabelmont, I changed it

    • Les on January 22, 2014, 2:14 pm

      The heads have to do such things to justify their big bucks salaries. Neither ethics nor morality are part of their financial equation.

  3. on January 22, 2014, 12:03 pm

    Peter Beinart reports 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.)

    This is simply amazing. What is amazing is that analysis of this type has been so successfully screened out of the US media for so many years. Even now Beinart reports this in Haaretz which is an Israeli newspaper. It will be amazing to see how many US media outlets report this as well as our own formidable Mondoweiss.

    I read recently that some Israelis are trying to pass a law that bans the use of the word Nazi. If this trend continues, perhaps laws will be passed whereby only Israelis and Jews will be able to use the word “Jew”. Then the propaganda dream would be complete and even anti-Semitism would be suppressed.

  4. HarryLaw on January 22, 2014, 12:43 pm

    It must be remembered that the new sanctions bill would only come into effect in the event that Iran breaches the interim agreement to limit its nuclear program [something it is highly unlikely to do] or fails to agree to a final accord, [something which is possible, since the US has a tendency to move the goalposts, or sometimes fails to take yes for an answer]. Obama would probably try to do the same in the event of a failure of the agreement with Iran, but if the US tried to move the goalposts the sanctions would be a dead letter to the International community, still, the bill is badly timed and indicates bad faith by its authors.

  5. John Douglas on January 22, 2014, 1:15 pm

    True that the envisioned consequences of the Menendez bill would apply only if it is determined that Iran acts against the agreement’s provisions. The bill is still very dangerous. First, Obama could be pressured to accept an inconsequential Iranian act as a trigger. Second, even if Iran obviously thumbed its nose at the agreement, for example, if a hard-liner took power, the Menendez bill gives Israel the effective power to commit the U.S. to enter an Israel/Iran conflict. This is completely unacceptable for a thousand reasons.

  6. CloakAndDagger on January 22, 2014, 1:22 pm

    I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems that a number of you, who have been predicting the imminent demise of the “special relationship”, are about to have your prophesies realize themselves in the not-too-distant future and be proven to be prescient.

    I am visiting my relatives in Canada this week, and it surprised me to find how aware they are of the political landscape in the US and our corrupt relationship with Israel. I thank the power of the Internet and the alternative press for this widespread awareness and for the withering of the Lobby’s night-flowers in the brilliance of direct sunlight. It is indeed the apocalyptical unveiling that we are witnessing as the veils fall away and the somnambulant citizenry rubs its eyes awake and stares at the mess our country finds itself in.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it is this absolute omnipotence in the US that the lobby has enjoyed since 9/11. As with all historical instances of absolute power, hubris comes before the fall, as the corrupt puppet masters start to believe that they are invincible, which leads to their ultimate destruction. We are spectators to this very phenomenon and it is not a moment too soon, and may yet salvage our nation from destruction at the hands of the vipers in our midst.

    Their defenses are crumbling as are their tried-and-true tools of yesteryear. The cries of antisemitism to silence protest and bring attention to the crimes of Israel, have become much less effective deterrents, and are well on their way to becoming badges of honor. The mainstream media, on which the lobby relied for the dissemination of hasbara, has become much less credible as evidenced by its falling readership, and even CNN has started to transform itself from a news outlet to becoming an entertainment channel. Unfortunately, they still retain their ability as gatekeepers of what the citizenry sees and hears as they continue to hide events from the public or spin them in ways that obscures their significant impact on our foreign policy, but with their declining viewership and the continued rise of Internet sources, this too shall diminish to insignificance in the years ahead.

    In the meantime, the Internet is breeding its own celebrities (e.g. the recent quote from, and reference to, our own annie in the mainstream media last week), as purveyors of significant news and credible context for the comprehension of the common gentry. I watch with glee as these nascent young stars displace the aging priests of the information temple.

    There is a time for everything under the sun, and we are watching the first glow in the eastern skies of the eventual dawn and rebirth of our great nation. It is the nature of oppressors that they breed resentment from the oppressed and their success and duration of their reign is directly related to their ability to obscure, obfuscate, and reinterpret the damage that their action wreak on the populace. Historically, some oppressors have lasted longer than others, some even for centuries. This one is coming to an end in the next few years.

    So, pop that cork and raise your glasses as you and I prepare to rejoice in the breaking of a new day ahead, and this nation of the people, becomes once more, by the people, and for the people, and the American Dream and the grand experiment is reality once more.

    To all those at Mondoweiss, and other alternative news sources such as yours, congratulations for all your contributions to this reawakening! You are true Americans.

    • annie on January 22, 2014, 3:41 pm

      hey thanks C&D, we try. and it’s certainly helps to have so much support from our readers.

    • irishmoses on January 22, 2014, 8:28 pm

      What a wonderfully well-written post. Crossing my fingers.

      • CloakAndDagger on January 23, 2014, 2:51 am

        Thanks! High praise indeed!

  7. Pamela Olson on January 22, 2014, 1:45 pm

    This is off-topic, so feel free to skip, but I got a (small) birthday present from Jon Stewart last night after I gave him a copy of my book. Here’s hoping he’ll read it and maybe find it a little bit enlightening in some ways.

  8. Citizen on January 22, 2014, 1:56 pm

    I am at odds with my non-jewish siblings, the closest family I have left because of my continual support of the Palestinians against Israel. My two sisters hate that I don’t love the Hollywood movies that romanticize Wall Street, and my brother sees what I see, but doesn’t care as he says he’s too old to care.

  9. James Canning on January 22, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Chuck Schumer demonstrates he is an aggressive stooge of Aipac, trying to prevent any improvement in America’s relations with Iran. To “protect” Israel, no matter how much damage this does to the national security interests of the American people.

  10. shachalnur on January 22, 2014, 3:38 pm

    “…10 commitee Chairmen are opposed to the bill ,four are Jewish…..”

    They have names; Feinstein,Boxer,Levin and Wyden.

    And they are not exactly nobodies,and clear Israel firsters.

    Why doesn’t anybody explain why these Senators would oppose the bill?

    I mentioned this fact in a post 3 days ago ,but my explanation was moderated into the bin,so I’m not gonna try again.

    Happy to see it was at least mentioned this time.

    • piotr on January 24, 2014, 9:56 pm

      Sometimes it is enough that the bill is stupid.

      It is one thing to harass Palestinians, and another to mess with world economy. Would all usual AIPAC supporters get together, there are two possible outcomes:

      they would still fail to pass the bill, exposing limits of AIPAC power

      they would succeed with the bill, scuttle the negotiation, leading to a revolt against sanctions that almost surely would include China, Russia and India but quite possibly EU as well, thus exposing the limits of American power.

      “War options” are so bad that not even worth contemplating: Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz until it would get some satisfaction, and Russia could even make military threats to prevent further attacks on Iran. This would not be mere exposing of the limits of American power, it could undermine it in a colossal way.

      That begs the question, why so many senators signed up for the bill, if it is so stupid? Is it possible that they are actually stupid? The short answer is: YES. Chuck Schumer is exhibit one:

      Aug 1, 2013 – “Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife further,” Schumer read.

      Does AIPAC add something to water served to invited speakers?

  11. Hostage on January 22, 2014, 3:57 pm

    And Chuck Hagel got slammed for using the phrase “Jewish lobby,” not Israel lobby.

    They brand and market themselves as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Israeli Jewish Organizations, e.g.

  12. DICKERSON3870 on January 22, 2014, 4:20 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Beinart

    MY COMMENT James Petras doesn’t see it as so extraordinary*.

    * SEE: “The ‘Israel First’ Industry and CEO Profiteering”, by James Petras,, 1/16/14

    [EXCERPTS] During the first half of the 20th century, socially conscious Jews in the United States organized a large network of solidarity and charity associations financed mostly through small donations, raffles, and dues by working and lower middle class supporters. Many of these associations dealt with the everyday needs of Jewish workers, immigrants, and families in need. . .
    . . . Over the past fifty years a far-reaching transformation has taken place within Jewish organizations, among its leaders and their practices and policies. Currently, Jewish leaders have converted charities, social aid-societies and overseas programs for working class Jews into money machines for self-enrichment; converted charities funding health programs for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism into the funding of colonial settlements for armed Zionist zealots intent on uprooting Palestinians; and organized a powerful political machine which buys US Congress people and penetrates the Executive in order to serve Israeli military aims. From defending human rights and fighting fascism, the leaders of the principle Jewish organizations defend each and every Israeli violation of Palestinian human rights – from arbitrary arrests of non-violent dissidents to the detention of children in ‘cages.’ Israel’s Kafkaesque prolonged administration detention without trial is approved by contemporary leaders. In the past Jewish leaders, especially labor and socially-engaged activists had joined forces with Leftists in opposition to political bigots, McCarthyite purges and blacklists. Today’s leaders practice the very same bully, blackmail and blacklist politics against critics of Israel and its Zionist appendages.
    In the past Jewish leaders of social aid organizations received modest salaries . . .
    . . . The moderately social liberal Jewish weekly, The Forward, recently completed a survey of the salaries of Jewish “not-for profits” leaders, with the aid of a professor from the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania). Among the leading profiteers was Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) earning $688,280, Howard Kohr of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — $556,232, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) — $504,445, Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) — $435,050, Janice Weinman of Hadassah — $410,000, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (PMJO) — $400,815, Mark Helfield of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society — $268,834 and Ann Toback of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring — $185,712. These salaries and perks put the Jewish leaders of non-profits in the upper 10% of US incomes — a far cry from the not-too-distant past. According to the analysis by the Forward and the Wharton team, ‘most leaders (CEOs) are vastly overpaid – earning more than twice what the head of an organization of their size would be expected to make”.
    While the membership has declined in many organizations, especially among working and lower middle class Jews, the funding has increased and most important the plutocratic leaders have embraced a virulent militarist foreign policy and repressive domestic policies. Forward describes Abraham Foxman as “diverting the ADL from its self-described mission of fighting all forms of bigotry in the US and abroad to putting the ADL firmly on the side of bigotry and intolerance.” . . .
    . . . The overwhelming response of the Jewish readers to the Forward’s survey was one of indignation, disgust, and anger. As one reader commented, “The economic disconnect between their (CEOs) salaries and the average incomes of those who contribute to their charities is unacceptable”. Another indignant reader remarked succinctly: “Gonifs! (Thieves!)”. Many announced they could cut off future donations. One formerly orthodox reader stated, “I would rather give to a street beggar than to any of these”.
    The drop-off of donations from lower-middle class Jews, however, will have little effect in reducing the salaries of the ‘non-profit’ CEO’s or changing the politics of their ‘non-profits; because they increasingly depend on six and seven digit contributions from Jewish millionaires and billionaires. Moreover, the contributions by big donors are linked to the politics of repression at home and securing multi-billion dollar military aid and trade programs for Israel from the US Treasury. The billionaire donors have no objection to funding the millionaire leaders – as long as they concentrate their efforts on buying the votes of US Congress members and aligning their politics with Israel’s war aims. . .


    • Nevada Ned on January 22, 2014, 7:04 pm

      Thanks, Dickinson, for the excerpt from James Petras. I don’t always agree with Petras, but he seems to be on target in the text that you excerpted.

  13. Philip Munger on January 22, 2014, 6:32 pm

    Sen. Mark Begich, one of the Democratic senators up for election this year from Red states that signed on to the Kirk-Menendez resolution, is in Alaska this past week. I tried to set up an interview with him on this, but it didn’t pan out. Speaking with his campaign manager last Friday, I got the feeling he’s counting on this not coming up for a vote, and taking in extra campaign donations for having gone along with what his campaign manager, Susanne Fleek-Green, says “he believes in.” I told her, “Yeah, right.”

    When I spoke to her, she claimed to be unaware of the Jon Stewart and Chris Hayes segments that ran last Thursday. I sent her links to them. Word is that if this comes to a vote, it would be linked to a July 21 effective date.

  14. piotr on January 22, 2014, 7:08 pm

    I checked google-news for “Iran Congress”. Recently, google-news is a “little search engine that couldn’t”, so the sparse collection of stories is not proving much. But in that collection, quote a bit more are against “warmongers” in Congress that for. One notable exception is Commentary, which is rather morose. It raises the issue that a deal with Iran would require to lift sanctions and Congress may refuse, in which case Administration may cease to enforce those sanctions.

    As the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted in a paper published in November 2013, the president can legitimize a policy of non-enforcement by the granting of waivers that could effectively gut any and all sanctions enacted by Congress. The only effective check on such a decision would be the political firestorm that would inevitably follow a relaxation of the sanctions that would be accurately viewed as a craven offering to the ayatollahs and also an affront to both Congress and America’s Middle East allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia that rightly fear a nuclear Iran.

    So far, so good. Our cause is (a) just and (b) popular. But further reading suggests that the inevitable firestorm will be minor at best, so Obama will be able to ride roughshod (or run in the latest athletic footwear) over the will of Congress while the public will be indifferent or approving.

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