This is the image atop the White House website tab for “Foreign Policy.” It’s President Obama holding up his hands at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, in 2013. On his left are Elie Wiesel and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, I believe, based on news accounts of the visit.
This is the famous Zionist balcony of the memorial: you pass from the horrors of Europe out to a vista of Israel to the northwest. Deliverance.
The accompanying text from a 2014 Obama speech to the U.N. seeks to unite the Zionist dream with the Iran Deal:
“For America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs. We choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.”
I don’t know when this image was published on the White House site. Max Blumenthal (author of the 51-Day War) sent it to me today. The timing is appropriate because yesterday the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee made the most difficult decision she has made in a soaring political career that began 25 years ago when she sent out her resume to 180 politicians, and a state legislator in Florida discovered her. Yes: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 48, came out for the Iran Deal after stuffing the deal at the DNC meeting in Minneapolis last month. Here’s her statement in the Miami Herald. It is incredibly honest about her concern for Israel.
This is the most difficult decision I have had to make in the nearly 23 years I have served in elected office, and this vote will be the most consequential.
It’s also one that is deeply personal. Iran’s leaders routinely call for the destruction of the United States, the nation to which I have dedicated my life to serving. Iran’s leaders are also virulent anti-Semites and call for the destruction of Israel, the historic homeland for me and millions of other Jews.
She’s one legislator who didn’t mind being lobbied by Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (a move that backfired for many others!):
I also spoke or met with independent economists, nuclear experts, military and intelligence experts in Israel and the United States, and ambassadors from our allies that are parties to the agreement as well as Israel’s ambassador.
She reached an honest understanding:
we cannot now get a better deal, as I was unable to find a credible source to say otherwise….
My commitment to the security of Israel as an American ally, but more personally as a deeply committed member of the Jewish community, has weighed heavily on me throughout my review process.
Make no mistake: This is an American national-security issue. But when Iran continues to call for the destruction of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, our most staunch ally in the region, and its proxy Hezbollah continues to launch attacks against innocent civilians, it is irresponsible not to consider this agreement’s impact on that nation.
Iran doesn’t call for the destruction of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, this is propaganda. But guess what, the deal means more support for Israel than ever, in its endless conflicts:
Furthermore, almost everyone agrees, including American and Israeli intelligence, that under the agreement Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear bomb for at least 10-15 years. With the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] in place, the United States and our allies will be able to more closely concentrate on stopping Iran’s terrorist activity.
Critically, all sanctions related to terrorism remain in place, and we will apply even more if their terror activity increases.
It is essential that if the agreement goes forward, that the United States develop a robust security package that allows Israel to access technology and hardware that would enable her to protect her people.
In fact, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, sitting on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I pledge to be a vote and a voice to make that happen. I am confident in President Obama’s commitment to provide additional security to Israel because I have spoken with him about it personally and because of his demonstrated record through the Iron Dome missile-defense system and the significant military and intelligence cooperation that has increased under his administration.
As the first Jewish woman to represent the state of Florida in Congress, I am disturbed to my core over how much of the debate around this hugely consequential issue has devolved into thinly veiled and sometimes blatant tropes of anti-Semitism. My colleagues who took principled stands in opposition are being accused of having dual loyalties. Those of my colleagues who support this deal are being accused of abandoning Israel or, worse, their own faith and people. Some of that hateful rhetoric has already been hurled my way, and I’m sure more is to come, though nothing could be further from the truth.
Throughout our history as a nation and certainly, throughout the Jewish people’s history, we have taken great risks for peace and security. Often, the easier path to choose was to dig in harder. But the thorough, pragmatic and factual analysis I have done and my fervent desire as a Jewish mother to ensure that Israel will always be there — l’dor v’dor — from generation to generation lead me to the conclusion that this agreement provides the best chance to ensure America’s, Israel’s and our allies’ security today and tomorrow.
Notice the complete conflation of the American nation’s interest with Israel’s interest. This will not last. But let’s give it up to Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her courage in standing by the president and for her honesty with the American people about her agony over this decision. We are seeing the Israel lobby naked now in American politics. It is based in elemental facts: American Jews were convinced of the need for a Jewish state after the Holocaust, they understood they had to play a partner’s role to Israel in gaining imperial support for that state, and Jews in high position in our society (lifted by the meritocracy) were called on to use their influence to assure that support. I’m glad it’s all out in the open. Jews now need to discuss whether we need that state, when it is founded on racial discrimination; and if we feel represented by the lobby, when it is based on providing so much support to a Jim Crow project.
BTW, the politican who discovered Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 1990 is a religious Jew who now lives in Israel. And Senator Ben Cardin who came out against the deal the other day, his father was a leading Zionist and his cousin by marriage is on the board of the Jewish National Fund, which sustains the Jim Crow project of buying land for Jews in Israel. These are ardent stalwarts of the Israel lobby, and they are the heart of Jewish organizational life in the last generation.
Here is J Street’s Dylan Williams on the Wasserman Schultz breakthrough, counting important Jews (just as I do):
#IranDeal now has the support of the majority of Jewish Members of Congress, reflecting such support in the American Jewish community
Here is Ron Kampeas. Smart analysis, and generational:
Wasserman Schultz’s backing for Iran deal may have been inevitable, but it also signals a sea change in U.S. Jews and Israel
Here is a tweet from the next generation, our publisher, Scott Roth:
— Scott Roth (@scottroth76) September 6, 2015