The big news of the Democratic debates for those who care about the Middle East is simple: Iran is not a threat to the United States.
All 20 Dems were offered a chance to say what the biggest threat to the United States is, and only Senator Amy Klobuchar mentioned Iran and did so in the context of Trump risking war. “He has made us less safe than we were when he became president.” Klobuchar and several other candidates said it was a mistake to get out of the Iran deal, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was almost conciliatory:
President Trump is hell-bent on starting a war with Iran. My first act will be to engage Iran to stabilize the Middle East and make sure we do not start an unwanted never-ending war.
The dovishness is panicking the pro-Israel community. Its central assertion is that Iran is not just a threat to Israel but a threat to the United States. Israeli PM Netanyahu yesterday warned the Democrats against going back into the Iran deal if Trump is defeated in 2020, and the American Jewish Committee issued this urgent appeal today about Hezbollah’s global reach.
Beirut. Buenos Aires. Burgas.
What do these three cities, separated by thousands of miles, have in common?
All have been the sites of deadly attacks carried out by the Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. Across the globe, Hezbollah has claimed countless lives—and the death toll continues to rise.
(BTW, the Burgas attack was 2012, Buenos Aires 1994.)
AIPAC was on the Iran case yesterday. The Anti-Defamation League (which opposed the Iran deal) also states that Iran represents a threat to the U.S. with global terror networks and the capacity to strike US troops in Europe, and much worse if it acquires nukes.
The Democrats missed the talking points. They barely mentioned Iran’s missiles and ignored a red-meat question from Lester Holt about Hezbollah. Even Cory Booker blamed Trump’s reckless policy for the crisis, while saying the Iran deal must be renegotiated. The Dems are “squeezed” between “a donor class that is more supportive of Israel and an activist base that is far more critical of Israel and American support for it,” as Michael Koplow says, and they are siding with the base. The American people don’t want war, as Bernie Sanders said:
Let me be very clear, I will do everything I can to prevent a war with Iran which would be far worse than disastrous war with Iraq.
Which brings us back to the question of why Donald Trump is pursuing such a reckless policy in the Middle East. The obvious answer is (yes I’m repeating myself) Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Yesterday at a conference sponsored by an Adelson-owned newspaper in Israel, Netanyahu issued those warnings to the Democrats about not going wobbly on Iran, and Miriam Adelson, the publisher of the newspaper that hosted the conference, said Trump’s defiance of Iran is biblical.
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?” Adelson asked.
The Adelsons support Netanyahu, and they support Trump and the Republicans to the tune of $177 million. I don’t know about you, but $177 million would get my attention. Trump gave Miriam Adelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, right alongside Babe Ruth, and he gave her and her husband a “war cabinet.” Even if Trump doesn’t want to follow thru on Adelson’s call to nuke Iran, he likes to make a lot of noises in that direction, threatening to obliterate the country (and thereby doing the opposite of regime change, empowering the hardliners, as Sina Toossi has pointed out).
You’d think that the $177 million and Trump’s reckless policy and Adelson’s call to nuke a country and his ties to a rightwing foreign PM would be fodder for an American media tuned to the idea of foreign interference in our elections.
It’s not. The media ignore the issue– apart from the site indispensable in this crisis, Lobelog (which is itself loath to bring up the Israel angle). I don’t believe an MSM reporter has ever asked Trump the simple questions, What does Sheldon Adelson tell you? How often do you talk? Is he driving your policy? (The only reference to Adelson on the White House website, which includes press conferences, is praise for the Adelsons by the president, the vp and the national security adviser handpicked by Adelson).
How do the media justify this silence? Jake Tapper explained it today. After Palestine Legal tweeted about Robert Kraft’s announcement that he would spend his $20 million Israeli prize money to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the U.S. —
In case you need another reason to despise the New England Patriots, the team’s owner has pledged $20 million towards fighting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,
OK, maybe Ayers shouldn’t have written Oy, though God knows American Jewish identity and Jewish orgs are wrapped up with Zionism to the point that many say it is Jewish to be pro-Israel. But is this joke really so hostile to Jews? (PS Ayers’s wife has Jewish background, he hangs out with Jews, etc.)
Tapper’s comment sets a red line, and makes it clear that the media are afraid to go near this issue because of fears that it will tap into dangerous anti-Semitism in the United States. I understand the fear. Pittsburgh and Poway are historic events that have reoriented my own understanding of the persistence of anti-Semitism in the U.S. But journalists ought to do their jobs; and question Adelson and Netanyahu’s agenda. Thankfully, that agenda doesn’t seem to have much traction among the Democrats.
H/t Michael Arria, Adam Horowitz and James North.