Last week Scott Roth tweeted the picture above with the following:
If this wasn’t the headline of a Jewish newspaper how would this be construed?
Well I don’t know what the answer to Roth’s question is, because today the debate begins in earnest on the Congressional effort to derail the Iran deal, and this was the headline in one non-Jewish newspaper, the Washington Post:
Obama meets with Jewish American leaders to defuse Iran fears
The Hill headline was even stronger than the Washington Post one:
Obama pleads with Jewish groups to back Iran deal
Here’s the Washington Post’s lead:
President Obama met with Jewish American leaders at the White House on Monday in a bid to defuse antagonism toward him and to convince them that he shares their concerns about the safety of Israel and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
That Jews can affect a nation’s decision to go to war is of course an anti-Semitic trope. But that’s what this is all about. As J Street, which was included, said today, ironically, “Time for a war with Iran!”
The Jewish leaders got incredible access:
At the first meeting, the president spent an hour with the leaders of major Jewish organizations. Then the discussion continued with Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice; Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, Colin Kahl; and three other senior officials.
At the second session, Obama met with “community leaders,” many of them major political contributors.
So he cleared his schedule for Jewish leaders. Who were they?
The White House invited about 16 leaders of Jewish American organizations, including Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Robert Cohen, president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Allen I. Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union; and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Obama made an “emphatic and passionate” case during the nearly 90-minute meeting with Jewish organizations that the deal is the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, according to an official from a group that participated.
Steven Mufson writes in the Washington Post that Obama talked about anti-Semitism:
One person who attended the first meeting called the session “positive” and said Obama was “heartfelt about his connection to Israel. Very moving.”Another said that “the president talked about how deeply he feels about Israel and the Jewish people and anti-Semitism. It was not just about Iran. It was much, much deeper in terms of the president sharing with us how he felt.”
Haim Saban, a major Democratic donor and supporter of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, attend the second meeting along with more than a dozen other Democratic fundraisers, former ambassadors, and former leaders of Jewish groups, according to a list provided by the White House.
So, what about Roth’s challenge: how do we construe this meeting? The Israel lobby has huge influence. Last year two Haaretz writers said that the influence of American Jews over imperial policy fulfilled the caricatured belief contained in the notorious anti-semitic Russian forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And last week another Haaretz writer, Gideon Levy, said the “United States of Israel” had sacrificed its sovereignty to the Israel lobby. (And people say the Arab world is filled with conspiracy theories!)
When is the American press going to start looking into the Israel lobby? The 4th of Never. Last week This American Life did a long piece about a guy who likes listening to the music when a bureaucratic corporation puts him on hold. And Terry Gross is busy doing popular culture, last week the new Noah Baumbach movie, today House of Cards. On the Media: the UVa story. This is an abdication, and a conscious one.
One reason the media rationalizes not doing the story: Because this story is also a challenge to conventional wisdom in the left. So, how does the left explain that the President is clearing his calendar to talk to Jewish leaders in advance of the Iran deal going to Congress? These facts simply don’t fit its theory of imperial agency and primacy, the military-industrial-complex. No, the tail is wagging the dog for all to see. The realists have been right about this mechanism all along. (And it’s time for the two camps to combine fully, with the realists embracing a Palestinian human rights agenda, and the left embracing the Israel lobby theory, and the lion lying down with the lamb.)
Thanks to Peter Voskamp.