As we’ve pointed out before, the politics of the Iran Deal have unfolded as a largely Jewish affair. Not a very democratic process! But there is an upside. As Paul Pillar writes at the National Interest, the Israeli government’s politicking has backfired, fostering “disgust in the United States that raises new questions and doubts among Americans about the extraordinary U.S.-Israeli relationship.” So people are catching a clue, at last.
Here are the latest stories that reveal Israel and its American supporters trying to kill the deal.
Nahum Barnea at Ynet reports that Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. is actively lobbying members of Congress against the deal, going from office to office on Capitol Hill; and that there may be hell to pay for this conduct:
Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer is, according to American accounts, making the rounds from one room to the next in Congress, from one office to another, trying to convince the members of Congress to vote against the deal. From their perspective, this is an intolerable interference in the internal affairs of another nation. You could only imagine what Israel would think if the American ambassador was working to lobby members of the Likud party to vote against Netanyahu. The American administration will have a hard time letting this go after the crisis passes; Obama, despite his aversion to mixing personal feelings with politics, will not forgive this.
Barnea points out that in 2002 when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lobbied for the disastrous Iraq War, Dermer was right behind him (graphic above).
About 100 Jews in Pittsburgh have signed a full-page ad in the Jewish Chronicle that virtually accuses President Obama of allowing the “Second Holocaust.” Excerpt of this truly crazy ad:
To our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren….
If Iran violates this agreement, it will be a nuclear state that much sooner thanks to all fo the concessions that this White House has offered. If this appeasement of evil passes, wiping Israel off the face of the Earth could become a reality.
When our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren ask what the Pittsburgh Jewish community did to try to prevent Iran from obtaining the means to effect an attack on the United States and a Second Holocaust in Israel, they will know that the undersigned visited Capitol Hill, lobbied our congressmen and senators, and did everything in our power to stop this deal.
Who will condemn this hysterical language?
The Jewish Federation of Chicago wants it both ways. It says it studied the deal and opposes it. Israel is singled out, the Federation says, as the only country to oppose the deal and the country Iran wants to annihilate. But in taking this pro-Israel position, the Federation also wants to maintain Jewish unity and diversity. It says it respects all Jewish opinion.
Jewish unity is a preeminent Jewish value, and we value it dearly. Before and after Congress votes, every Jew is a precious, welcomed, valued member of this cherished community. No matter your views, you are us, and we are you. We are all better together
You are us, and we are you, and we are better together– that sounds a bit like a cult. Richard Goldwasser, a member of the J Street board, blasts the Federation:
“We approach this complex issue with humility.” How very humble to pretend you speak on behalf of the entire community.
The absolute, unvarnished, and condescending chutzpah.
Democratic congressman Brad Ashford returned from Israel to his swing district in eastern Nebraska to announce that he’s against the deal. Because it’s not good enough for Israel! Omaha World-Herald:
“This deal is not good enough for Israel, not good enough for the United States of America, not good enough for the Middle East, and not good enough for the world,’’ Ashford said in a speaking engagement before two Omaha Jewish groups.
Roger Cohen of the New York Times is troubled by Netanyahu’s direct appeals to American Jewish voters to oppose the deal, in his webcast warning American Jews that Iran will have “hundreds of bombs tomorrow” if the deal is signed.
Netanyahu’s performance was of a piece with his habit of intervening in American politics, evident at the time of the last presidential election, when his preference for Mitt Romney was clear. His relations with Obama are bad. He tries to circumvent Obama, often in clumsy ways, further undermining the relationship. It’s enough to imagine Obama calling thousands of Israelis to encourage them to oppose a piece of sensitive legislation in the Knesset to gauge how inappropriate Netanyahu’s behavior is.
The Netanyahu webcast was co-sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (an umbrella organization so resistant to the age-old fertile cacophony of Jewish opinion that it rejected J Street’s application for membership last year) and Jewish Federations. Several leading Jewish groups — including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League — have come out against the Iran deal. This is unsurprising; they tend to move in lockstep with Israel. But it’s troubling because it’s unclear how representative of American Jews as a whole these organizations are.
Why are the Jewish organizations unrepresentative? Todd Gitlin and Steven M. Cohen have an important piece up at the Washington Post explaining that the leading Jewish groups do not represent the 22 percent of Jews who say they are No Religion. JNRs are for the deal:
Why is the “Jewish leadership” so unrepresentative of the population it claims to speak for on one of the most consequential and controversial American foreign policy decisions of our time?..
For one thing, the dominant leadership is somewhat older and more conservative than Jews on the whole. Perhaps even more important, it disproportionately represents wealthy Jews…
But perhaps the most critical distinction is that the [organizationally-] affiliated include hardly any of the large minority of Jews who profess no religion. These “Jews with no religion” (JNRs, in Pew’s lexicon) did not answer “Jewish” when asked their faith but did say they were Jewish when asked, “Aside from religion, do you consider yourself Jewish or partially Jewish, or not?” … [W]hile 39 percent of Jews-by-religion want Congress to reject the deal, only half as many (19 percent) of the JNRs are opposed…
Jewish organizations are understandably populated by Jews who are more engaged in conventional Jewish life. Not so understandably, surveys that purport to delineate American Jewish opinion frequently ignore what is perhaps the fastest growing “denomination” in American Judaism: Jewish with no religion.
(Cohen and Gitlin are both Zionists, and their sword cuts both ways. How do you think JNRs will answer that simple but essential question: Is your homeland biblical lands in the Middle East? When the dust settles, and the deal goes through, the liberal Zionist/non-Zionist coalition that won it will break apart over those issues.)
Next, two slightly-stale stories I wanted to mention here. The leading Israel lobby group, AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, flew 700 folks to Washington to lobby the Congress, and the White House made it a point to meet with these folks. So it sent over a weighty delegation. But after the White House officials made their presentation, AIPAC did not permit questions. A truly appalling scene, and indicative of how much power AIPAC thinks it has vis-a-vis the White House. The Times report, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis:
[State Department negotiator Wendy] Sherman; Adam J. Szubin, the Treasury official who handles financial sanctions; and Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, all made presentations to the group, but were barred from taking questions to further explain it….
Mr. Obama took offense and later complained at the White House to Aipac leaders that they had refused to allow Ms. Sherman and other members of his team to confront the “inaccuracies” being spread about the agreement, leaving him to defend the deal to wavering lawmakers who had been fed misinformation about it.
And the second data point: White House official says anonymously that Senator Chuck Schumer, who announced against the deal last week, came to the administration with questions that he had gotten straight from AIPAC:
Schumer came to meetings with a list of questions, but “those questions were lifted straight from AIPAC” a senior U.S. official was quoted as saying by Reuters. “He came into it with a certain mindset.”
So much for all that midnight oil the senator said he’d burned studying the deal.
Lastly, the Washington Post is doing little to raise American consciousness. It has a piece up on Iran Deal “mega-donors” outspending the Deal’s supporters and lists five organizations that are trying to kill the deal. Four are explicitly devoted to Israel (and United Against Nuclear Iran is chiefly funded by pro-Israel donors). But reporter Catherine Ho never mentions Israel or the Israel lobby. Whatever happened to calling a spade a spade?
Daniel Levy at Foreign Affairs is much more straightforward about what is happening in our politics:
The U.S.-Israeli relationship is not about to be turned on its head overnight—the role of money in U.S. politics guarantees against that…