The Israel Lobby has truly gotten out of control. The Obama administration is close to an agreement with the Iranian government to achieve a decade’s long goal. Iran would give up any plans it might have to develop nuclear weapons (verified by international inspections) in exchange for the lifting of some international sanctions that are doing significant damage to the Iranian economy. This development — the possibility of ending a possible Iranian nuclear threat and ultimately normalizing relations with Iran after a four decade freeze — was made possible by an event few anticipated. That was the election of a moderate Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who has been authorized by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, to explore if the United States (and the Europeans) are serious about peace in exchange for a no-weapons pledge.
It has never been as clear as it is today that Americans who support a secure State of Israel have an obligation to oppose the Netanyahu government. That is not as daring as it sounds. Opposing Prime Minister Netanyahu only requires backing the efforts of our own government to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and a nuclear deal with Iran. In the past few days Netanyahu has gone to war with the Obama administration on both fronts. Secretary of State John Kerry never had much of a chance to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
The media today is full of stories about AIPAC and its decision to push for a “yes” vote on Syria to ensure that President Obama initiates the war it really wants, with Iran. Check out this Washington Post story. There is simply no way AIPAC and its camp followers would do this for Syria. Israel has no problem with the Assad regime. The reason Israel (and its lobby) are going all out to push the United States to attack Syria is as a precedent for a much larger attack on Iran.
The New York Times has a pretty shocking revelation on page one today. White House correspondent Mark Landler reveals (after interviewing unnamed senior Obama aides) that the “most compelling ” reason the President is seeking Congressional authorization to strike Iran may be this:
…acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran. If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it? In other words, attacking Syria now makes it possible to attack Iran later. On the one hand, revealing this motivation will be a political plus with Congress which, following the lead of neocons and the Israel lobby, repeatedly and loudly declares that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is an option that must not be ruled out.
Something remarkable happened in London yesterday. Members of Parliament prevented Prime Minister Cameron from joining in a U.S.-led attack on Syria. For the first time since Vietnam, the British government, reflecting the views of the British people, is refusing to be led into war by the United States. Prime Minister David Cameron says “I get it.” The British don’t want to attack Syria which means he just can’t do it,
This is huge. But even more huge is the precedent it sets for Iran. If a relatively small action in the Middle East is rejected out of fear of a larger entanglement, what are the chances that the British people can be led into an infinitely larger war in Iran?
Initially it appeared that Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative was harmless. Although few Israelis, Palestinians or Americans expected it to accomplish anything, it was hard to make the case that it would do any damage. No more. And not just because the Israeli government keeps announcing the building of new settlements. Or that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues the litany of propaganda attacks on Palestinians, including the charge that the 23-year old “Arab Idol” winner, Gaza singer Mohammed Assaf, is a threat to Israel because he nostalgically sings about towns inside the 1967 lines.
Yesterday Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released the letter he sent to President Obama urging more sanctions on the Iranian people to prevent a nuclear Iran and, failing that, to get ready for war. It’s the same old, same old with the added element that AIPAC/Israel/Congress is doing this to deter any diplomacy that might resolve the issue now that Iran has a more moderate new president.
Sometimes I hear from readers who complain that I lay too much blame on AIPAC for our one-sided and failed Middle East policies. What can I say? I worked at AIPAC for almost six years (1973-1975, 1982-1986) so I know how it operates. Additionally, because I left AIPAC on good terms, I maintained friendships with its staff (no more!) and they filled me in on how the lobby was increasing its power over Congress. Of course, I saw that myself during 15 years as a House and Senate staffer.
It’s time to end the charade and that means pulling the plug on the peace process surrounding the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Doing so will have no effect on the Palestinians who already know that they are on their own. But it will send a clear message to the Israeli people that no one is going to bail them out of problems their government has created for them. The irony, of course, is that if the United States wanted to resolve the conflict, rather than to pretend to, it can.