The Iran Deal is in danger. Donald Trump is said to plan to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal by October 15 and kick it over to Congress to reimpose sanctions, or not.
And one problem is that supporters of the deal aren’t naming the Number One Enemy of the deal, which is Israel and its lobby. Maybe they forget, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress in 2015, trying to preempt the U.S. president’s signature foreign policy achievement. Maybe they forget that President Obama stated at the height of the fight for the deal that only Israel opposed the deal openly, of all countries in the world, but if he sided with Israel it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty to protect the interests of the American people.
The New York Times all but leaves out the Israel angle in this explainer on the deal, by the usually-superb Rick Gladstone. Why has Trump called it the worst deal? What do other politicians have to say about it? Why is Trump so hostile? Gladstone raises these political angles with only one glancing reference to Israel.
Similarly, the Washington Post says that Trump’s decision on the deal could cause a “major breach” with European allies, but there is no reference to the Israeli interest pressing the U.S. A European official speaks anonymously to the Post about the fearful Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, working to reimpose sanctions.
“But we’re convinced somebody like Cotton will go out with a bill,” said the official… “That will cause a crisis among the Republicans. . . . Nobody wants to appear to be defending Iran. Nobody wants to appear to be defending Obama.”
Tom Cotton got elevated to the Senate from the House in Arkansas in 2014 in part through a $1 million campaign contribution from Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel. Cotton immediately became the neocon horse in the Senate, battling the Iran deal at every turn.
Another political meteor, UN ambassador Nikki Haley, (who’s said says she’s going to kick Israel’s foes in her high heels), is already promoting Cotton’s criticisms of the Iran deal.
As for that “crisis” among Republicans over the deal, how much does that have to do with the mother’s milk of politics, money? At Lobelog, Eli Clifton says that Trump is caving to three billionaire donors: Bernard Marcus, Paul Singer, and Sheldon Adelson. “All three have funded groups that sought to thwart the negotiations leading to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, official name of the deal], including [Mark] Dubowitz’s FDD [Foundation for the Defense of Democracies], and have given generously to Trump.”
At least Clifton identifies Israel’s role in trying to torpedo the deal. And as for the three billionaires, they’re all giant supporters of right wing Israel. Adelson has of course called for the nuking of Iran, as reported here first, and says he regretted not serving in the Israeli army. Paul Singer backs certain liberal causes domestically, such as LGBT rights, but turns into a neoconservative when it comes to the Jewish state (Commentary magazine, the Kagan clan, the Republican Jewish Coalition).
That’s the best thing about this battle; the billionaires are rightwing Zionists, but the Zionist lobby in the U.S. is splitting over the Iran deal. J Street is strongly defending the deal, (citing Israel’s genuine interest, as usual). So the Israel lobby has fractured over the deal, as it is also split over Netanyahu and the two-state solution. There is open infighting inside the lobby, and things are poppin loose. To the point that the Jewish Forward has run an article by the lobby’s leading critic.
The American people’s interest is clearly in maintaining this deal. But we’ve taken a big step backward from summer 2015, when the Israel interest could be named, by Obama and John Kerry. Unless our press calls out the country that’s trying to undermine the deal, it will be a lot easier for politicians to gain cover for their opposition.