Senator who spearheaded letter to Iran got $1 million from Kristol’s ‘Emergency C’tee for Israel’

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The U.S. media have been sadly incurious about the origins of yesterday’s unprecedented Open Letter of 47 Republicans to the Iranian leadership seeking to block the president’s likely deal with Iran. The press has portrayed the letter as the work of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a 37-year-old freshman senator so new to the limelight that the New York Times got his name wrong on first impression. But as a Times commenter writes, “Does anyone really believe the ‘freshman senator from Arkansas’ wrote the letter? No.”

The media are all over the unprecedented nature of the letter — which informs Iranian hardliners that Obama’s likely deal with Iran is a “mere executive agreement.” Chris Matthews and Chris Hayes and Michael Steele on MSNBC last night all expressed outrage or surprise. Paul Waldman at the Washington Post calls the letter “stunning” and “appalling.” But apart from a passing reference to neocons from Matthews, no one is looking under the hood.

I don’t know who wrote the letter, but I can tell you whose fingerprints are on it: the only folks who are supporting it publicly, the hard-right Israel lobby. Even as Cotton himself splutters on national television, rightwing lobby groups are the main voices out there defending the letter.

Like Bill Kristol of the Emergency Committee for Israel:

Cotton open letter: “Just so you know, we’re a constitutional democracy. Congress (or next president) has a say.” Dem response: Hysteria.

J Street’s Dylan Williams fingers Bill Kristol for writing the letter:

Who gave @SenTomCotton & others the awful idea for the Iran letter? Seems like Sarah Palin-for-VP-level bad advice doesn’t it @BillKristol ?

There’s a reason for Williams’s suspicion. Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel gave Tom Cotton nearly $1 million in his race for the Senate just five months ago, Eli Clifton reported. “Cotton received $960,250 in supportive campaign advertising in the last month.” (Thanks to Kay24 in comments).

Cotton also got $165,000 from Elliott Management Paul Singer’s hedge fund. Singer is the billionaire who is trying to stop Obama’s Iran talks (Clifton’s reporting again). He funds the Israel Project too– Josh Block’s efforts.

Josh Block has been standing up for the letter on Twitter. And the rightwing Israel Project offered support for the letter in an email last night:

Many analysts believe that without congressional approval, if a final deal with Iran is reached, it will not outlast President Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States. Without congressional involvement, the Obama administration would strike a deal with Iran through executive action which could signal to the Iranians that the “deal would be with the President alone,” writes Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith. He continues, “The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous.  And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.”
When it comes to the Iran negotiations, the Obama administration says that they only see a role for Congress  when it comes to sanctions. If a final agreement is reached, they will eventually look to Congress for the lifting of sanctions. The White House said that Congress has had a role to play when it has drafted and passed the sanctions legislation that President Obama subsequently signed into law. The White House does not believe that an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program would require congressional approval.

The letter has gotten support from David Frum, the former Bush aide who wrote of taking on Saddam Hussein, “It’s victory or Holocaust.” On twitter:

“Time after time, Obama has told Congress to go to hell. Now Congress is telling Obama to go to hell.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition, a pro-Israel group, has also supported the letter.

Josh Block used to work at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and is sometimes thought to speak for AIPAC. AIPAC is staying silent, while pushing further sanctions on Iran.

But former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg has explained why he believes AIPAC penned the letter. As he tweeted today:

Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.

What network is behind this letter? People have a right to know. The media should be sending reporters out to dig into these connections. Imagine if the Koch Brothers were pushing some initiative on states’ rights or abortion. Would the media be so incurious? No. The scandal of the Netanyahu speech and the efforts by Israel to derail US negotiations with Iran has surely exposed the workings of the Israel lobby to the eyes of the American public to an unprecedented degree. But the media have to do more.

 

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Isn’t it strange that these GOP congresspeople are pushing and pushing for a war, having no alternative plan for dealing with Iran, not knowing the full details of any deal, as no deal has been finalized, and yet is trying to sabotage every step of Obama’s efforts? Bill Kristol has openly put Israel above the country he pretends to love, so no one should be surprised at what he keeps doing. He was one of… Read more »

Another example of David Duke politics here at Mondoweiss. When you disagree with the policy decision of the Republican party, blame the Jews. Because if a few Jews support it (even if a substantial minority of the country does), it must be Jews who are responsible for it. And if the media don’t report it your way, it’s the Jews in the media who are responsible, right?

Oh man these congress critters sure are desperate for war. I’m laughing cuz they deserve the worry of peace!

Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif “expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration.” Yeah that’s like in-your-face treason!

Here’s Zarif’s quoted response to the poison letter:
http://www.vox.com/2015/3/9/8180933/zarif-cotton-letter

RE: “J Street’s Dylan Williams fingers Bill Kristol” ~ Weiss

MY COMMENT: I can easily see Cotton’s Iran letter being a Kristol/Dermer co-production.

According to Chomsky, the Israeli lobby is “one of the smaller lobbies”, citing Stephen Zunes’ writings. (eg. http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/the-israel-lobby) Now let’s think about just one statistic. At the AIPAC conference this year, and every year, there are about 16,000 delegates, and they go see their legislators after the meeting. That comes to about 300 per state, some many more. Let’s say you are a senator and 300 constituents come to your office from a conference where… Read more »