Thursday, February 13, 2014

Obama's war on Aipac

on March 5, 2012. Photo by Joshua Roberts/ Reuters
Make no mistake: there's an organized campaign going on against AIPAC, and it is fueled by members of the Obama administration. So the plethora of articles and reports either calling to weaken AIPAC, or asking if AIPAC has already weakened, or reporting on the many recent failures of the organization – some real, some imaginary (AIPAC never opposed the appointment of Chuck Hagel) – is not a coincidence. It is a deliberate attempt to put the organization under stress, to force it to play defense, to keep it busy with having to take care of itself, rather than spending time on making life more difficult for the administration. The administration is busy with Iran negotiations and with an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and it wants AIPAC off its back. That's the natural tendency of every administration – to want its hands freed from legislative pressure. The campaign in the press is one way of getting to such a result.
Of course, the reports aren't all off the mark: AIPAC was recently forced into making concessions in its battle to pass more legislative sanctions against Iran. "Its top priority, a Senate bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, has stalled after stiff resistance from President Obama, and in what amounts to a tacit retreat, AIPAC has stopped pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for the bill", the New York Times reported. One can look at this and see a huge failure of historic proportions, as some observers have, or merely acknowledge that in political life you win some and you lose some and that it's not over yet.
So yes, an alteration of the agenda is needed. But no, "the illusion of its invincibility" has not "been shattered", as Trita Parsi suggested. It wasn't "shattered" since such illusions of invincibility never existed. At least not in the mind of those with memories long enough to remember past achievements and failures. Running a lobby like AIPAC is like running a marathon; it takes patience, endurance, and the ability not to become breathless over every setback – quite the opposite of punditry.
The fight over Iran sanctions was a tough one to begin with. AIPAC was battling not just an administration but also the zeitgeist, the weariness of the American people of any sign of more conflict (this part Parsi gets right). Thus, AIPAC failed twice: once with the attempt to win votes for the approval of a strike on Syria, back in September – when it worked for the Obama administration. And once with the attempt to have stronger sanctions on Iran – when it worked against the Obama administration. The current tide of public opinion makes it hard for AIPAC to advocate for certain causes.
Whether it should support more sanctions on Iran (or an attack on Syria) is another matter. A worthy debate. Yet assuming that AIPAC lost these battles because of its tendency to support misguided policies would be ridiculous. And making such a claim is just part of the campaign to weaken AIPAC, a campaign fueled by the government and assisted by groups of Jews who have little understanding of the topics and even lesser understanding of the long-term consequences for the Jewish world if AIPAC is truly weakened. Those Jews are also organized and are encouraged by political advocates close to the Obama administration. This isn't the first time they prove to be the most useful tool against AIPAC.
Some of those Jews wrote a letter to the mayor of New York claiming that AIPAC "speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us". Well: that's an impressive number of erroneous statements in just one sentence. Firstly, because Israel currently doesn't have a "hard line" government. Centrist YeshAtid and Hatnuah are important members of the Israeli coalition. Additionally, the government doesn't have only "right wing supporters". In fact, the government is quite popular with the majority of Israelis, most of whom don't see an alternative to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Current polls give the Israeli left barely a quarter of the vote (about a third of the vote including the Arab parties). In other words: the Jewish attackers of AIPAC don't have an issue with a "hard-line" government – they have an issue with the people, with Israelis. To them, we are all "hard-liners" and hence, I assume, undeserving of their support. David Suissa was right to call this stance a "narcissistic chutzpah of the highest order".
Of course, the critics of AIPAC would argue that for the organization to retain its power it has to alter its policies and be more "representative" of the views of most Jewish Americans. I truly don't know what this means – AIPAC officially supports the two state solution, like most American Jews do. It supports Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, like most American Jews do. It supports sanctions on Iran, like most American Jews do. Look at the polls: a (small) majority of American Jews even support – support! – a military attack on Iran if talks fail. So I have my suspicions: for many critics of AIPAC an alteration of its policies means that AIPAC should change its mission from generally supporting what Israelis support and believe is good for their security, to opposing every move and every policy of the Israeli government. Still, one failure of AIPAC I'm willing to concede is its failure to be more attentive to the voices of dissenters within the Jewish community, and to have a better strategy for embracing them rather than alienating them. AIPAC wasn't smart enough to prevent its opposition from becoming the fashionable and hip posture.
Still, those Jews on a quest to weaken AIPAC should know better. They aren't just weakening the support for Israel, they are also weakening the communal power of the American Jewish community. This community has had great achievements when it acted with a unified voice – just read the story about the battle to free Russian Jews from their forced imprisonment within their country. But a community that is fractured, that doesn't speak with one voice, that is constantly attacking its own immune system, will be a weakened community. If AIPAC is the most visible manifestation of unapologetic, self-confident Jewish political power in America, weakening it would come with a price tag – and not just for those who want to see a robust Jewish support for Israel. It would come with a price tag for the American Jewish community.
Attackers of AIPAC are members of one of two groups: those who don't understand this simple fact – and those who don't much care for having a Jewish community. So yes, it is good news (reported by Jonathan Tobin) that some members of the "community"are looking to fight back

Obama’s War on Israel

obama-kerry_2747856bIf the left’s foreign policy these days had a slogan, it would be, “Boycott Israel, not Iran.” The double standard, dishonest as it is ugly, is also the motto of Obama’s foreign policy, which benevolently blesses Iran’s nuclear program with one outstretched hand in the name of peace and chokes concessions out of Israel to the terrorists with the other also in the name of peace.
Both peace plans are going disastrously according to plan.
Iran has made it clear that it will dismantle nothing and that it will go on developing ballistic missiles and nuclear technology. Its military commanders threaten to attack the United States and boast that their ships are encroaching on America’s maritime borders.
The Palestinian Authority has shed the last vestiges of democracy as its leader begins the tenth year of a four-year term and its elected legislature has been discarded in favor of the PLO Council. Instead of a representative government, the Palestinian Authority has reverted back to what it always was; the PLO.
A Palestinian state has receded into the figment of a dream as elections have become a distant memory and Hamas continues to hold Gaza, leaving a PLO mafia in the West Bank to maintain its monopoly on cigarettes and other commodities while passing around Western aid money to its terrorist militias.
The more Kerry pressures Israel, the more bellicose PLO leaders have become. Fatah officials have accused Kerry of threatening to poison Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s current President-for-Life. The accusation is ridiculous, but the PLO, like Iran, is feeling emboldened by American weakness.
The softer American power gets, the harder its enemies hit.
Obama Inc. however has eyes only for Israel. Its officials and its allied media apparatus in New York and Washington have decided to hold Israel’s Prime Minister personally accountable for any criticism of Kerry and Obama not only by Israeli Jews … but also by American Jews.
An Obama Inc. official said that Obama and Kerry were disturbed over “Jewish activism in Congress” and that the administration had informed Israel of its displeasure over criticism of them by American Jews.  Holding Netanyahu accountable for the comments of American Jewish leaders is an ugly Alinskyite tactic in which Obama uses Israel as a hostage in order to silence domestic Jewish criticism.
“Shut up or the Jewish State gets it.”
The constant monitoring and suppression of Israeli criticism was so pervasive that Kerry’s handler, Jen Psaki, denounced a comedy video mocking his disastrous diplomacy put out by an Israeli political group, sight unseen, while discussing expectations that Israeli leaders would rein in criticism of Kerry.
Psaki described criticism of Kerry as “not an attack on him; that’s an attack on the process. And of course that kind of rhetoric we find unacceptable.” John Forbes Kerry had become the living embodiment of peace. The peace process, whether in Iran or Israel, had become reducible to peace. Opposing it meant opposing peace and supporting war. And Kerry had become reducible to the process and therefore to peace. Louis XIV had only claimed to embody the State. Kerry claims to embody peace.
Meanwhile Kerry makes poorly coded threats about international boycotts and intifadas to Israel while promising Jerusalem to the PLO.
The lack of options is the theme of both peace plans. Sanctions on Iran mean war, claims Obama. A failure to reach a deal that will let Iran keep its nuclear program also means war. And so, in true Chamberlainian fashion, the only alternative to war is to accept any offer that the enemy makes.
The willingness to accept any deal is the traditional negotiating posture of the losers of a war, but when any alternative to a peace deal is considered unacceptable, the peace negotiators come to the table as the losers of a war that was never even fought because they had already surrendered in all but name.
When the Senate attempted a little bit of bipartisan pressure on Iran, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes began denouncing the vast Jewish war conspiracy and the left-wing of an already left-wing media shrieked that we were about to be plunged into a war by the Zionist warmongerers. The same outlets that give a hearing to proposals to boycott Israel, chant in angry unison that any boycott of Iran is an act of war.
Every good progressive in Obama Inc. and in its media corps knows that Iran, which took American hostages and murdered hundreds of Americans, is a victim of American foreign policy, while Israel, which is being cut up into a completely indefensible, broken territory for a peace that will never come, is its beneficiary. The terrorist peace processes are unworkable, but they were never supposed to work.
The peace process with the Palestinian Authority has always failed because it was always meant to fail. Peace was the brass ring that Israel was supposed to reach for, but never actually get close enough to reach, carving itself to pieces under the bloody knives of the negotiators in the hopes of proving its moral worth to the world. Dying so that it might be allowed to live. The Iranian deal is more of the same.
Perhaps there is enough tie dye in Obama’s blood for him to genuinely want a world without nukes, but if the US is to retain its nuclear capability, then like Oppenheimer and the other scientists who helped the USSR get the bomb in the name of world peace, he wants Iran to have the bomb for world peace.
Prime Minister Netanyahu thought that he might be able to trade one peace process for another, but he hasn’t even been able to trade concessions to terrorists for sanctions on Iran. Instead he has made the worst possible bargain, trading a self-inflicted punch in the face for an enemy’s kick in the teeth. Israel has once again ended up with the worst of both worlds in the name of peace.
Obama’s dual peace processes have the same agenda. They are both meant to destroy Israel. If the PLO can’t get the job done with intermittent terrorism and negotiations, maybe a nuclear Iran will. The goal is to create enough threats to Israel that it either ceases to be a viable state or simply ceases to exist.
The destruction of Israel flows naturally from the destruction of American power. Israel has to be undone, just as Mubarak was undone, just as the United States military was undone, to heal the humiliations of the Muslim world. The United States had to lose in Afghanistan and Iraq, it had to destroy its allies in the Middle East, to make Muslims feel good about finally defeating the United States.

AIPAC and Iran’s war against America

aipac Caroline  Glick

For its decision to pull anchor last Friday on its bid to pass new sanctions on Iran, AIPAC has been accused of slavish devotion to bipartisanship. Although the criticism is not without foundation, it is probably undeserved in this case.

AIPAC did not cut and run from the Iran sanctions fight because it consecrates two-party initiatives. It walked away because it lost.

If the Republicans controlled the Senate, it’s possible that AIPAC would have maintained its support for the bill’s immediate passage even in the face of President Barack Obama’s pledge to veto any sanctions law. But since the Democrats control the Senate, the bill was dead without Democratic support.

Once President Obama coerced Senate Democrats into ending their support for the bill’s passage, he killed the bill. And he didn’t kill it by making it a partisan bill per se. He killed it by making it impossible to pass the bill through the Senate.

In truth, AIPAC’s retreat from the Iran sanctions bill is probably a good thing. The pro-Israel advocacy group’s high-profile role in the US debate about Iran’s nuclear weapons program has caused US policymakers to confuse the issue.

Due in part to AIPAC’s leadership role over the past decade in getting anti-Iran sanctions passed through Congress, most Americans perceive Iran’s nuclear weapons program as an Israeli security problem, not an American problem. Since AIPAC is a lightning rod for isolationists in both parties, and for anti-Israel forces in the Democratic Party, its leadership role in the debate reinforced that perception.

Certainly it is true that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is the most acute threat that Israel faces to its long term survival.

But it is also the most acute national security threat facing the United States.

The Obama administration exploits AIPAC’s high-profile role in the Iran sanctions debate to accomplish two goals. With the American public’s interest and patience for foreign affairs at a low point, the White House has used AIPAC’s central role in the Iranian nuclear issue to discredit AIPAC.

The administration views AIPA C, and the American Jewish community more generally as an adversary in its bid to reposition the US on the world stage, by among other things, downgrading the US relationship with Israel to the level of EU-Israel ties.

Since last November, when the administration forged the deal with Iran that clears the path for Tehran to complete its nuclear weapons development in peace, the White House has actively endorsed the claim that AIPAC, or “the Israel lobby,” is using its supernatural powers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that will force the US into war, for Israel.

This message was so incendiary that it became the focal point of news coverage of the Iranian nuclear weapons story.

And that in turn advanced the administration’s second goal.

That goal is to obfuscate the fact that Iran is working to acquire nuclear weapons, both as a means to become a regional hegemon, and to carry out its goal of destroying its enemies, including the United States.

Until Friday, the administration faced two obstacles toward achieving that goal: the Congressional sanctions bid, and Iranian behavior.

The sanctions bill wasn’t important as a sanctions bill per se. The sanctions placed on Iran’s economy over the past decade had either no impact or a marginal impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The sanctions bill was important because it demonstrated that it was the will of the American people, through their Congressional representatives, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. In other words, it said that Obama’s diplomatic fetish is not the be all and end all of American power.

By killing the bill, Obama did far more than weaken AIPAC. Indeed, the real impact so dwarfs whatever harm was caused to the hated Jewish group that it exposes the entire debate on AIPAC’s power or lack thereof as completely ridiculous.

By defeating the sanctions bill, Obama showed the mullahs that the domestic constituencies in the US that oppose Iran’s nuclear program are powerless to stop it. In other words, Obama told the Iranians that they have no reason to maintain even a pretense of good will or faith.

In truth, since Iran’s phony moderate Hassan Rohani was elected to the presidency last summer, Iran’s positive signals to the West have been so weak, that in a previous era, when reality played a greater role in US foreign policy, they would have been laughed off as pathetic feints.

But at least they were there.

No more.

Just hours after the Democrats withdrew support for sanctions, (and AIPAC declared defeat), Iranian television broadcast a documentary of a simulated military attack on Israel and on US military targets, replete with drone and missile strikes on the USS Abraham Lincoln, downing US aircraft, and striking US military installations in the Persian Gulf.

One of the interesting aspects of Friday’s broadcast of “The Nightmare of Vultures,” is that it follows a much shorter computer-simulated clip of Iranian attacks televised in early November.

That clip was broadcast a week before the conclusion of the interim deal, which enables Iran to complete it nuclear weapons program. Notably, the earlier clips only showcased Iranian strikes on Israeli cities.

The computer-simulated attacks on US targets were not included.

Friday’s dramatization of Iran’s war against America was followed on Saturday first with a verbal assault on the US by Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei.

In a speech before military officers, Khamenei referred to the US as Iran’s “enemy,” and he said that Americans are “controlling and meddlesome,” and that US officials are “lying” when they express friendship with the Iranian people and when they “tell our authorities that they are not after regime change in Iran.”

Hours after Khamenei rallied his military forces with his stirring “hate America” screed, Iranian Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad of Iran’s Northern Naval Fleet announced that the fleet was on its way across the Atlantic Ocean, headed for America.

In his words, “Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message.”

Then on Sunday, Iran dropped the bombshell.

Speaking to Iran’s ISNA news agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, said that Iran will not allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit the Parchin military nuclear complex.

Parchin is believed to be the site where Iran is combining the enriched uranium and other components of its nuclear program and building its actual arsenal.

Most recently, in August 2013, the private satellite imaging company Digital Globe published new photos of the Parchin facility. According to the Associated Press, those images indicated that Iran may be building nuclear bombs at the site.

One of the many flaws of the interim deal with Iran was that the US and EU did not insist on inspecting Parchin. Given that Parchin wasn’t included, there was no apparent reason for the Iranians to restate the known fact that Parchin was not part of the deal. And consequently, Kamalvandi’s statement cannot be viewed as posturing.

It has to be seen as a threat.

AIPAC’s withdrawal from the sanctions debate may or may not be good for AIPAC. But lawmakers – from both parties – would do their country a great service if they use the occasion of AIPAC’s departure to place the domestic US debate where it should have always been – on the dire threat Iran’s nuclear weapons program constitutes for the security of the United States of America.

The author’s new book, The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, will be released on March 4.

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