One of the choicest moments from Donald Trump’s decertification of the Iran deal Friday was when the Israel lobby group AIPAC applauded his speech for “accurately” outlining the history and dangers of Iran’s “aggression,” and former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice promptly called bullshit.
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) October 14, 2017
The tweet is deliciously disturbing because Susan Rice had ample opportunity while she was in office to call out AIPAC’s bullshit, but she never did. In fact, she groveled to AIPAC on at least two occasions– below– and pleaded with the group to support the Iran deal– and completely affirmed the claim of Iran’s aggression she refutes now.
The tweet demonstrates a cynical-making pattern: that high office-holders and -seekers pander to the Israel lobby; and only tell the truth about it when they’re no longer in the turrets of public life (Rice is today living in D.C. and serving on a bunch of boards). Former Senators Fritz Hollings and Chuck Hagel come to mind; they came out after they left the Senate.
The tweet also demonstrates the degree to which Donald Trump has helped to fragment the Israel lobby, by turning the rightwing branch of the lobby– embodied by AIPAC– into a cheering section for his and Netanyahu’s erratic intolerance.
As for Susan Rice’s former career as a suckup to AIPAC, here’s a speech from March 2012, as President Obama was running for reelection. Rice was then ambassador to the United Nations, and praised AIPAC at a synagogue lunch at its annual conference:
It’s great to be back at AIPAC. This extraordinary gathering is a testament to the strength and dedication of the pro-Israel community and the American Jewish community—a community devoted to the unshakeable U.S.-Israel bond, to human rights for all, and to the wider principle of tikkun olam.
When she spoke at the AIPAC policy conference two years ago, during the runup to the Iran deal, she called AIPAC president Lee Rosenberg by his nickname and said that her son wanted to come too:
It’s great to be back at AIPAC. Rosy, thank you so much for your warm introduction.
I want to thank Bob Cohen, Michael Kassen, Lillian Pinkus, my old friend Lee Rosenberg, and all of AIPAC’s board and members for welcoming me tonight. I want to thank all the Members of Congress who represent America’s strong bipartisan support for the State of Israel; and all the young people here today, some 3,000, who represent the bright future of the U.S.-Israel special relationship.
I brought one of those young people with me, my seventeen year-old son Jake, who insisted he had to come to AIPAC.
Rice was fulsome. She quoted a psalm about brotherhood in Hebrew and said, “That psalm always reminds me how much we can do together when we unite in common purpose. And, it goes to the heart of what AIPAC is all about—what the relationship between Israel and the United States is all about. Brotherhood. Togetherness. Unity.”
For at least 15 minutes, she pleaded with AIPAC to approve the Iran deal– it never would– and at that time described Iran’s history of aggression.
One final word on Iran: even if we succeed in neutralizing the nuclear threat from Iran, we will still face other threats—Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, its gross violations of human rights, its efforts to destabilize neighboring states, its support for Assad and Hamas and Hezbollah, its intolerable threats against Israel. Our sanctions against Iran on these issues will remain in place. We will continue to counter Iran and the full range of threats it poses. Tehran must understand—the United States will never, ever waver in the defense of our security or the security of our allies and partners, including Israel.
I should add that in the earlier speech, she bragged about all she had done for Israel, including her embarrassing veto of the Security Council resolution against settlements in 2011, a resolution similar to the one that the Obama administration allowed to pass in December 2016. And she bragged about shutting down the Goldstone Report, which documented the Gaza massacre of 2008-2009.
So what did you really think when you were doing that for the lobby, Ambassador? BS?
When AIPAC called on you at the UN, you only said "YES" https://t.co/Xhoum0shge
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 14, 2017
In fairness, Rice’s tweet does reflect the new landscape for the Israel lobby in the era of Trump. It’s become divided/partisan at last. The liberal Zionist group J Street has been a valiant supporter of the Iran Deal, and all Democrats have fallen into line, including Chuck Schumer, who voted against it in 2015.
Two years ago, Rice told AIPAC about the Republican and Democratic presidents who had lined up for Israel– and she praised Nixon and George W. Bush!
Our relationship has deepened and grown through different presidents and prime ministers for nearly 70 years.
That bipartisan feeling is happily no longer the case. Trump has made an alliance with Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised his crazy U.N. speech (rocket man, etc) as one of the strongest he had ever heard in that chamber, and who was quick to cheer the Iran speech too. Robert Parry has a compelling report at Consortium News arguing that Netanyahu is now pulling Trump’s strings. While at Lobelog, Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe show that Trump is being obedient to neoconservative billionaire donors on the Iran deal. Those donors also support Netanyahu and our own political rocket, Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
So here are two corrupted/investigated, rightwing nationalist leaders bound and determined to make their countries pariah states, working in concert, alienating all good opinion. And AIPAC is cheering them both along. That gave Susan Rice some freedom too.
Though it speaks volumes that she never said a word of this when it would have made a difference. Or dared to do what Bernie Sanders did in 2016: refused to go to AIPAC. We all have a right to be cynical about this. Even Donald Trump.
I hate to say it but he has a point. https://t.co/QrsUoITBMB
— Scott Roth (@scottroth76) October 16, 2017
Thanks to Max Blumenthal and Scott Roth for detecting this statement in the first place and explaining it.