Suddenly AIPAC is a lobby without a cause. In three weeks thousands of delegates from all over the country will descend on the Washington, D.C. convention center to get their marching orders but, as of today, AIPAC hasn’t even drafted them. That is because the centerpiece of the conference was to be dispatching its people to Capitol Hill to lobby for AIPAC’s Iran sanctions bill. The lobby had anticipated that its bill would still be very much alive in March. In fact, it would be at that sweet spot, with hundreds of co-sponsors but not quite enough to pass over President Obama’s veto.
It didn’t take much. Just the power of the presidency, the State Of The Union, and the whole country watching. Plus the president’s will. And AIPAC’s entire campaign to destroy America’s chance to reach an agreement with Iran crumbled. Within hours, three senators announced they were no longer cosponsoring AIPAC’s bill to kill the Iran negotiations (Gillibrand, Coons and Manchin), and AIPAC’s hopes to override Obama’s veto ended with a whimper, AIPAC’s whimper.
No, this does not mean that AIPAC and Netanyahu are giving up.
I have been thinking about that secret meeting Mayor De Blasio had with AIPAC, the meeting Andrew Sullivan brilliantly analyzed here.
And the more I think about it, the happier the meeting makes me. The reason is simple. Both De Blasio and AIPAC decided that the meeting should be kept top secret. De Blasio kept it off his schedule and banned reporters from the room. AIPAC did the same.
I am always amused when I hear people say that right-wing Christian fundamentalists are part of the Israel Lobby, that Congress is just as intimidated by them as they are by AIPAC and its satellite organizations. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, millions and millions of fundamentalists may “support” Israel (not Jews, mind you, who they rightly consider to be dangerously secular) but their support, such as it is, is meaningless. Here’s why. Christian fundamentalists do not vote based on Israel.
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.
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.
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.”
It took 1900 years to realize the Zionist dream. It’s taking only a few decades to destroy it. No, not the reality which will hang on, unloved and isolated, but protected by its massive arsenal (that is infinitely better than the alternative). It’s the dream I’m talking about.
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:
At Harvard, the Jewish student group Hillel was barred from co-sponsoring a discussion with a Palestinian student group. At Binghamton University, a Hillel student leader was forced to resign his position after showing a film about Palestinians and inviting the filmmaker’s brother to speak. And on many other campuses, Hillel chapters have been instructed to reject collaboration with left-leaning Jewish groups.
Just when President Obama was starting to believe that it was safe to go back into the water, the lobby has come out with a new Iran sanctions bill designed to torpedo negotiations with Iran. And, once that is accomplished, it provides for automatic U.S military backing for Israel if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to bomb. This may be the lobby’s most brazen attempt yet at subverting negotiations and, in Andrew Sullivan’s words, “handing over American foreign policy on a matter as grave as war and peace to a foreign government….”
The resolution, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mark Kirk(R-IL), seemingly responds positively to President Obama’s request that Congress hold off on new sanctions during the negotiations. It does that by giving Obama the authority to waive its proposed new sanctions until the two sides successfully reach an agreement. It is only at that point, with the agreement in hand, that the new sanctions would go into effect, effectively killing the deal.