A front page article in today’s Ha’aretz struck me with the thought that, no matter what happens with the peace process, it is becoming impossible to expect non-Orthodox (i.e. 90-plus per cent) of young American Jews to identify with today’s Israel.
There, on page one, was a photo of a beautiful young couple in their early 20′s who are seriously dating. One is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s son. The other is a Norwegian girl who happens not to be Jewish. Sweet looking kids. But, in Israel, a scandal.
I received an email over the weekend from a woman in northern New Jersey who says she was “shocked” to see Senator Cory Booker’s name on the list of Democratic senators who are backing AIPAC over the president on the issue of Iran sanctions. “I don’t get it. He has been a friend of Muslims during his entire career. Why did he change?” The answer is simple: he didn’t. His support for the local Muslim community has nothing to do with his position on matters AIPAC cares about: the Israeli-Palestinian issue and Iran. As far as the lobby is concerned, Booker can march 24-7 in front of the FBI building to protest profiling of Muslims, so long as does not deviate an iota from Netanyahu’s line on Israel, Palestine or Iran. In fact, being good on Muslim civil rights serves as a good cover for being terrible on Middle East matters.
Booker is a more complex case than, say, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, or Bob Menendez. They are obstructionists on Iran and Israel entirely for the campaign funds. For Booker, that is a large part of it. Remember how, back in the 2012 presidential campaign, he publicly broke with President Obama on whether or not Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital — buying up and then dismantling companies — was a legitimate campaign issue? Obama thought it was because it showed Romney not as a job creator but the opposite. But, just as the Bain issue was getting traction in the polls, Booker went on Meet The Press and called the Obama’s use of it “nauseating” and “ridiculous,” damaging Obama but delighting Booker’s own Wall Street donors.
It’s Friday and things seem to be breaking our way. According to National Journal, Majority Leader Harry Reed is strongly resisting demands from AIPAC Senators to bring its sanctions bill to the floor for a vote. John McCain says that the game will be to get Jews to put the pressure on their senators and, if Reed resists, to keep bringing the bill up and forcing Reed to block it. That way the Democrats will be exposed as anti-Israel and the Republicans will benefit in November. AIPAC and its deputy, Chuck Schumer, are giving Reed the same message: if we don’t do this, AIPAC donors will boycott us and will lose our majority. But Reed is good at standing up to special interest pressure. So the old boxer may very well stand tough. We’ll see. But so far, so good. Especially with some in the media finally addressing AIPAC’s bum rush to war.
It has started. The media is waking up to the AIPAC crusade to get us into a war with Iran.
Last night Chris Hayes, the very young, very brilliant, MSNBC reporter called out both AIPAC and the 16 Democrats backing its Iran war bill with a directness never before seen on that station or anywhere else on television. Watch it here. Best part: when he reminds Cory Booker and the others of the last time Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) voted for a war because they were afraid not to: Iraq. But watch the video. It’s brilliant and trenchant.
That New York Times story today about AIPAC’s obstruction of President Obama’s effort to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb without a war is having an impact.
The National Journal, the most elite publication covering Congress, runs a piece by its top writer Ron Fournier that begins:
This paragraph from a New York Times story on proposed new sanctions for Iran sent a chill down my spine: Behind these positions is a potent mix of political calculations in a midterm election year. Pro-Israel groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, have lobbied Congress to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, and many lawmakers are convinced that Tehran is bluffing in its threat to walk away from the talks. I’m ambivalent about the debate over Iran: President Obama is pursuing an agreement with Tehran to suspend its nuclear program (sounds good), while many lawmakers don’t believe Iran can’t be trusted to comply with any diplomatic accord (makes sense). But I don’t want U.S. foreign policy swayed by lobbyists and politics.”
Woke up this morning to see that the lobby’s war against President Obama’s agreement with Iran is the second lede in the New York Times. Read it here. Surprisingly, the Times mentions AIPAC by name which is rare. Note also Democratic senator Ben Cardin (MD) calling out the president for criticizing the lobby’s effort rather than calling out the lobby that he is so tight with for obstructing U.S. policy. Note also that Carl Levin, no surprise for him, is fiercely supporting the agreement and his president.
Credit: Creative Commons
On Sunday, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany (known as the P5+1) reached full agreement with Iran on the next steps in the process of freezing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
This is great news.
Nonetheless, Democrats in Congress are moving to terminate the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Iran despite our government’s signed promise to lift sanctions. They are joining the Republicans who, as on health care, will sabotage anything the President supports.
Nobody I know is interested in talking about Israel anymore.I think that may be because virtually all my friends are essentially pro-Israel and have supported Israel their entire lives. Now their attitude is “what’s there to say?” as if Israel was a friend with an alcohol problem who, despite everyone’s best efforts, simply chooses drinking to excess over being sober. You know the alcohol is killing him but you also know that it’s his considered choice to drink. He’s weighed the risks and chosen alcohol. There isn’t anything anyone can do.So you stop talking about him, other than the occasional sigh at the mention of his name. It’s wrong, but essentially you stop actively caring.That is the way it is with Israel. Nobody wants to discuss the new conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps adding in his effort to defeat not the Palestinians but Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to achieve peace. First the demand that Israel be recognized “as a Jewish state.” Then allowing the fanatic settlers in Hebron to remain along with the satellite outposts populated by the violent “settler youth.” Then there is keeping troops in the Jordan Valley, along the border with Jordan, thereby ensuring that any Palestinian state in the West Bank would be as sovereign and viable as the ghetto Israel created in Gaza. The latest: Netanyahu is hard at work trying to prove that President Mahmoud Abbas, who Netanyahu himself credits with preventing terrorist attacks against Israel, is, you guessed it, an anti-semite.
I had a good laugh when I saw the New York Times story last week with the headline: Members of Jewish Student Group Test Permissible Discussion On Israel.
The piece told of the decision by the Hillel Jewish student society at Swarthmore College to break with the national organization over its ban on discussions of the Middle East that did not tilt toward the Israeli position. It noted that the restrictions faced by Swarthmore students are far from unusual: