Tuesday, November 12, 2013

645 J Street a counterweight to AIPAC on Iran bill; ADL likens Economist cartoon to Protocols of Zion

J Street a counterweight to AIPAC on Iran bill; ADL likens Economist
cartoon to Protocols of Zion

Newsletter published on 26 January 2014

(1) J Street counters AIPAC pressure on Congress, to force Obama to war
on Iran
(2) NY mayor keeps a speech to AIPAC off his public itinerary, bars
Press coverage - Andrew Sullivan
(3) N.Y. mayor at closed AIPAC gala: Part of my job is to defend Israel
(4) J Street a counterweight to AIPAC on Iran bill
(5) AIPAC failing because "of 10 committee chairmen opposed to the bill,
four are Jewish"
(6) No longer invisible: NYT mentions AIPAC's lobbying of Congress on
Iran bill
(7) Obama needs to take on the Israel lobby over Iran - Gideon Rachman (FT)
(8) Media rises against lobby: Obama 'outraged' by
Schumer/Gillibrand/Booker deference to Netanyahu
(9) 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing
Star of David
(10) ADL Press Release likens Economist cartoon to Protocols of Zion
(11) ADL says Economist cartoon depicts "anti-Semitic canard of Jewish
control"
(12) James Petras on the Iran-US Interim Agreement
(13) Israel's secret nuclear arsenal - built with a minimum of
international outcry
(14) National Summit to Reassess U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship" -
National Press Club
(15) New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

(1) J Street counters AIPAC pressure on Congress, to force Obama to war
on Iran

- Peter Myers, January 26, 2014

In the wake of Netanyahu's annihilation of the Jewish Left in Israel,
his Jewish opponents have made common cause with "anti-semites" to stop
him from launching more wars. This forum is one such example.

But as he used AIPAC to push Likud policy onto the United States, the
most effective resistance has come from disaffected Jews, rather than
from "anti-semites".

The more moderate J Street has finally gained enough support to counter
AIPAC.

Even the Economist and the Financial Times have turned agaimst the Lobby.

But where is Chomsky? Still in denial of the Lobby's power. Search
Google for "chomsky aipac", restricting hits to the last week. Surely
his credibility is in tatters.

(2) NY mayor keeps a speech to AIPAC off his public itinerary, bars
Press coverage - Andrew Sullivan


http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/01/24/the-selective-secrecy-of-bill-de-blasio/

The Selective Secrecy Of Bill De Blasio

Jan 24 2014 @ 7:56pm

If you were to describe the Israel lobby as a secretive group that
enforces the policies of the Israeli government on American politicians
in private gatherings, you would be called an anti-Semite. The idea that
the Israel lobby is secretive and underhand plays into ancient
anti-Semitic tropes. If you were to say about AIPAC that "a lobby is a
night flower, it thrives in the dark and dies in the sun," you would be
regarded as an anti-Semite for the same reasons. If you were to note
that an AIPAC official once responded to the idea that the lobby had
been weakened by pushing a napkin across a table and said "You see this
napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy
senators on this napkin," you would be called an anti-Semite. If you
were to claim that AIPAC was "the most effective general interest group
… across the entire planet," you would be suspected of anti-Semitic
tendencies. (The source for these varied quotes is here.
<http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:American_Israel_Public_Affairs_Committee>)

And if you were to say that AIPAC was so powerful it could get a
left-liberal mayor of New York to give a speech so fulsome in its
cravenness and excess it adds whole universes of meaning to the word
"pander" and also insist that it be kept secret, even to the extent of
hauling a reporter out of the hall, then all bets would be off. Why,
after all, should AIPAC be in any way secretive about its completely
legitimate, even civic-minded, lobbying of American public officials on
behalf of the interests of a foreign government? The very idea is
anti-Semitic, is it not? Why should any defender of Israel want to keep
his remarks private? Even if you found nothing in the speech faintly
controversial, why on earth the secrecy?

And yet here we are, with the lofty, pizza-challenged mayor of New York
City, right after a landslide election, caught keeping a speech to AIPAC
off his public itinerary and barring any press coverage of it. Weird,
innit? What would he have to hide? Well here's an audio of the speech
that AIPAC, according to De Blasio, asked him to keep top-secret:

I'm not sure if that is the entirety of the speech, but let's just note
a few things. First up:

     There is a philosophical grounding to my belief in Israel and it is
my belief, it is our obligation, to defend Israel, but it is also
something that is elemental to being an American because there is no
greater ally on earth, and that's something we can say proudly.

"No greater ally on earth".

Just ponder that remark for a bit. How many troops did Israel send to
fight with Americans in Iraq? None. Forty other countries did, led by
the UK, Australia, and Poland. How many troops did Israel send to fight
with Americans in Afghanistan? None. Fifty-nine other countries helped,
also led by the UK. In both cases, this "greatest ally on earth" would
have been extraordinarily counter-productive if it had been involved.
That's how useful an ally the country is in confronting our common
enemies. Which allied defense minister recently publicly said of an
internal security plan for the West Bank, shared confidentially among
allies, that it was "not worth the paper it was written on" and that
"the only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel
Prize and leave us in peace." Israel's. Which allied prime minister in
recent years took the extraordinary step of lecturing the American
president in front of the world press in the White House itself?
Israel's. I cannot think of any allied prime minister ever thinking
about doing the same.

But this preposterous bullshit is what a left-liberal mayor felt obliged
to serve up. Then this:

     There is no deeper connection across boundaries than this
connection we share.

Not with France, the oldest ally of the US? Not with Britain, the
mother-country of the US? Not with any of the other countries whose sons
have spilt blood on the same battlefields as Americans? Not with those
who fought and died alongside Americans on D-Day? Then the astonishing
statement that "part of my job description is to be a defender of
Israel." Really? And there I was thinking he was mayor of New York City!
Would someone critical, say, of Israel's continued settlements on the
West Bank be barred as unqualified to be mayor of New York City? De
Blasio is not taking any chances:

     City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand
by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I'll answer
it happily 'cause that's my job.

Let me just leave you with the words of George Washington, who saw
things a little differently:

     The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or
an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its
animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it
astray from its duty and its interest …

     A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a
variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the
georgewashingtonillusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where
no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of
the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and
wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.

     It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges
denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the
concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been
retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to
retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And
it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote
themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the
interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with
popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of
obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable
zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition,
corruption, or infatuation."

(3) N.Y. mayor at closed AIPAC gala: Part of my job is to defend Israel
http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.570442

N.Y. mayor at closed AIPAC gala: Part of my job is to defend Israel

Mayor Bill de Blasio says 'there is no greater ally on earth' than
Israel, in speech to Israel lobby that did not appear on public schedule.

By Haaretz

| Jan. 25, 2014 | 8:24 AM

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a heartfelt speech praising Israel at
a private gala event hosted by AIPAC at the Hilton hotel in midtown
Manhattan Thursday night, the local website Capital New York reported.

According to an edited audio recording obtained by the site (below), de
Blasio said that "part of his job description is to defend Israel" and
that it is "elemental to being an American, because there is no greater
ally on earth, and that's something we can say proudly."

The Israel lobby's event was closed to journalists and the speech did
not appear on the mayor's public schedule, arousing suspicion and making
the event all the more intriguing. A reporter with Capital who tried to
get into the event was escorted out by security.

De Blasio said in his speech that he had visited Israel three times,
most recently with his wife and son, and that he was especially moved by
visiting Sderot, on the border with the Gaza Strip and often the target
of rocket attacks.

"You can't have an experience like that and not feel solidarity with the
people of Israel and know that they're on the front line of fighting
against so many challenges."

He closed the speech by announcing that "City Hall will always be open
to AIPAC," adding that it is his job to stand by the lobby in Washington.

(4) J Street a counterweight to AIPAC on Iran bill

http://www.nationaljournal.com/defense/how-a-weaker-aipac-makes-it-easier-to-vote-against-iran-sanctions-20140122

How a Weaker AIPAC Makes It Easier to Vote Against Iran Sanctions

Hope for a diplomatic solution and the growth of an alternative
pro-Israel lobbying group has changed the equation.

{photo} Vice President Joe Biden addresses the 4th National J Street
Conference September 30, 2013 in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Ron
Sachs-Pool/Getty Images) {end}

By Sara Sorcher and Elahe Izadi

January 22, 2014

The 59 senators who signed on to new Iran sanctions know President Obama
opposes them—and they did it anyway.

On the surface, the vote count—which includes 16 Democrats—looks grim
for the White House, which strongly opposes the threat of new sanctions,
in favor of diplomacy. But the tally is far from the 100-vote rebuke the
Senate handed to the White House on the issue in 2011.

The truth is that it is now easier to vote against Iran sanctions than
it has been in years past—and to oppose one of the strongest, most
influential lobbying groups in the country: the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee.

For two decades, AIPAC has made pressuring Iran its top issue, driving
Democrats today into an uncomfortable position, wedged between an
adamant White House and a powerful lobby trying to equate support for
sanctions with support for Israel.

"Being anti-Iran today is like being anti-Soviet during the Cold War,"
said Doug Bloomfield, the group's former legislative director. "Who
wants to be tagged by being called pro-Iranian and opposing [sanctions]?"

Officials at AIPAC declined to comment. But others, like Sen. Mark Kirk,
the Illinois Republican who coauthored the sanctions bill, have been
upfront about "heavy" contact with the pro-Israel community and
"regular" briefings with AIPAC leadership about the Nuclear Weapon Free
Iran Act, which includes measures to punish Iran's oil industry if it
breaches diplomatic commitments.

"[I'm] very happy that this has become the kind of test issue for the
pro-Israel community," he said. "The pro-Israel community is going to be
heavily present in most states. This is a chance for a senator to go
back and tell them that, 'I'm with you … on a critical issue, like the
survival of Israel in the 21st century.' "

Yet a significant minority of senators is declining that opportunity.

The rise of J Street, a younger pro-Israel lobby pushing hard against
the new sanctions, is serving as a counterweight to AIPAC on this issue.
Revived hope for a diplomatic breakthrough with new Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani helps J Street's cause. So does political pressure from
Obama. By decoupling support for Israel with support for new sanctions
against Iran, the group is making it easier for lawmakers inclined to
support the White House.

"We've been working diligently on Capitol Hill and in the
Jewish-American community to raise support for the president's
diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis Iran, and oppose any legislation which
would threaten it," said Dylan Williams, director of government affairs
at J Street. "We feel very strongly that the current bill in the Senate
would threaten diplomacy."

J Street's influence is also clear in the money it spends. Among
pro-Israel groups, JStreetPAC was the largest single political donor
during the 2008 and 2012 cycles, contributing nearly $2.7 million to
federal candidates, parties, and outside groups.

And some lawmakers supported by J Street have been vocal in support of
the group's position. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne
Feinstein, for instance, has spoken out strongly against the new Iran
sanctions.

As one congressional aide put it, "Those are the political calculations
that are made easier when a group like J Street gives you cover."

Legitimate Differences

Policymakers for and against sanctions have legitimate differences of
opinion on strategy to achieve the same goal: getting Iran to give up
its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The administration believes new sanctions now will interfere with the
final deal the U.S. and world powers are trying to negotiate with Iran.
Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and pro-Israel groups in
the U.S. supporting Israeli leadership on this issue, want to keep the
pressure tight during the interim deal, which does not fully dismantle
Tehran's nuclear program. AIPAC and the bill's supporters in Congress
believe the threat of new sanctions will actually strengthen the ongoing
negotiations. The legislation gives Iran a "clear choice," AIPAC's
director of policy and government affairs Brad Gordon said in a video on
the group's website. "Give up your pursuit of a nuclear-weapons
capability, or face further crippling economic sanctions."

On Capitol Hill, the debate is less over tactics than ideology.
Lawmakers are left in a tricky position: Those optimistic about
diplomacy or wanting to side with the White House are often left with
the impression that failing to back more sanctions against Tehran is
tantamount to breaking faith with the Jewish state.

"It's been a very clever lobbying campaign, because those who are
promoting [sanctions] … have framed the discussion: You're either for
Iran, or against Iran," Bloomfield said. "What the hell kind of choice
is that?"

The most direct influence AIPAC exerts on the Hill is via lobbying; the
group spent $2.2 million in 2013, more than three-fourths of the total
spent on pro-Israel lobbying that year. AIPAC's educational arm is one
of the biggest sponsors of congressional travel, too, spending about $9
million on nearly 900 lawmaker trips to Israel since 2000, according to
Legistorm.

Unlike J Street, AIPAC does not directly contribute to candidates.
However, donations from the organization's leadership have long been
tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics as pro-Israel political
contributions.

AIPAC's support for sanctions has sometimes forced lawmakers into verbal
acrobatics. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, for instance,
stresses how he has voted for "the strongest" sanctions in the past. If
negotiations fail, he said, "then I'm going to vote for even stronger
sanctions in the future. But at this point, I think negotiations are our
best hope of taking the nuclear weapons out of Iran and avoiding war."

Does he feel this a politically difficult position to take, given that
pro-Israel groups are pushing so hard? "Yes," Durbin said. He also
acknowledges the pressure is prevalent on Capitol Hill. As for how he's
felt it, he said, "I'm not going to get into that."

A Pro-Israel Alternative

Founded in 2008, J Street introduced an alternative definition to what,
exactly, it means to be pro-Israel.

"There was a very clear definition of what was considered to be part of
the mainstream Jewish community, and it basically had to do with
agreeing with most of the Israeli government's policies," the aide said.

Now there's a divide. "What J Street says is, 'We don't have to agree
with Bibi Netanyahu, when we agree with some of the opposition leaders
in Israel.' " the aide said. "They've definitely broadened the
definition, the boundaries, of what it means to be pro-Israel, and
they've empowered these voices, which exist in both the American-Jewish
community, in Israel—and in Congress."

The message is, apparently, resonating. Not one of the seven Senate
candidates that J Street officially endorsed in 2012 have signed onto
the recent sanctions bill. "Obviously we're excited to see when folks
take what we think is the best position," said Dan Kalik, J Street's
director of political affairs.

Of course, these senators are a minority. But it is significant that,
rather than avoiding cosponsoring sanctions or voting quietly against
them, some lawmakers—including Feinstein—are coming out to say publicly
they do not believe this is the time for new sanctions.

Introducing new sanctions now, Feinstein said on the Senate floor last
week, "defies logic, it threatens instant reverse, and it ends what has
been unprecedented diplomacy. Do we want to take that on our shoulders?
Candidly, in my view, it is a march toward war."

Feinstein received $82,171 through JStreetPAC during her 2012 run,
making the California Democrat the fifth-top recipient of the group's
money that cycle, and the group her second-largest individual donor.

Lobbying Ahead

In the battle for influence, groups supporting sanctions will continue
to highlight the Iranian threat. Ben Chouake, a physician who heads
NORPAC, a New Jersey-based group backing candidates committed to the
"strength, security, and survival" of Israel and that is pushing for
sanctions, said the message is well-received.

"When you go to a member of Congress and say, 'This is an existential
threat to the world,' you explain why, and it's a logical explanation,
people usually get it," he said. "And they understand their
responsibilities."

A major player among pro-Israel groups, NORPAC contributed nearly $2
million to federal candidates, parties, and outside groups in election
cycles from 2008 to 2012. While NORPAC offers no ultimatums in exchange
for monetary support, Chouake said, Iran "is clearly the No. 1 issue."

"What's on the table is the prospect of nuclear genocide," Chouake said.
"They want to do to the Jews in 12 minutes what Hitler did in 12 years.
You just can't let crazy people get nuclear weapons. There's nowhere to
hide."

Convincing presidents, however, can be a different story. "Virtually
every president hates these sanctions bills," said Chouake, who has been
at NORPAC for 15 years. "Clinton hated it; Bush fought it tooth and
nail. But every administration, after it was passed, took great
advantage of these sanctions and ultimately appreciated they could be
used as a tool to facilitate American policy."

In his last term, Obama was forced to learn to love the Iran sanctions
Congress muscled through. This time, he may not have to.

This article appears in the January 23, 2014, edition of NJ Daily.

(5) AIPAC failing because "of 10 committee chairmen opposed to the bill,
four are Jewish"


http://forward.com/articles/191352/is-aipac-shooting-itself-in-foot-with-quixotic-ira/?p=all

Is AIPAC Shooting Itself in Foot With Quixotic Iran Sanctions Push?

By Ron Kampeas

Published January 22, 2014.

Washington — (JTA) — In previous AIPAC-vs.-White House dustups, the
pro-Israel lobbying group's strategy was to speak softly and let
Congress carry the big stick.

But in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's face-off with the
Obama administration over new Iran sanctions, congressional support may
not be so readily available and keeping a low public profile is proving
impossible.

According to congressional insiders and some of the pro-Israel lobbying
group's former senior executives, AIPAC may soon face a tough choice:
Stick out the battle over sanctions and potentially face a
reputation-damaging defeat, or reach out to the White House and find a
way for both sides to save face.

"I don't believe this is sustainable, the confrontational posture," said
Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy chief known for his
hawkishness on Iran.

The Obama administration has taken a firm line against the sanctions
bill backed by AIPAC, warning that the legislation would harm prospects
for a achieving a diplomatic solution on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Meanwhile, the confrontation has landed AIPAC squarely in the media
spotlight and drawn pointed criticism from leading liberal commentators.

AIPAC has been stymied by a critical core of Senate Democrats who have
sided with the Obama administration in the fight. While AIPAC's bid to
build a veto-busting majority has reached 59 — eight short of the needed
67 — it has stalled there in part because Democrats have more or less
stopped signing on.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the bill's
sponsors, rounded up 15 Democrats when the bill was introduced on Dec.
19, just before Congress went on its Christmas recess. Since Congress
returned this month, however, they have added just one Democrat, Michael
Bennet of Colorado.

AIPAC, however, says its bid to pass sanctions is on track.

"Our top priority is stopping Iran's nuclear program, and consequently
we are very engaged in building support for the Menendez-Kirk bill which
now has the bi-partisan co-sponsorship of 59 senators," AIPAC's
spokesman, Marshall Wittman, wrote in an email to JTA. "This measure
would provide our negotiators with critical leverage in their efforts to
achieve a peaceful end to Iran's nuclear weapons program."

But in a recent interview with The New Yorker, President Obama appeared
confident that backers of the bill would not reach a veto-proof majority.

"I don't think a new sanctions bill will reach my desk during this
period, but if it did, I would veto it and expect it to be sustained,"
Obama said.

A source close to AIPAC said the stall in support for the legislation is
due in part to the fact that of 10 committee chairmen opposed to the
bill, four are Jewish and have histories of closeness to the pro-Israel
community.

Non-Jewish lawmakers tend to take their cues on Israel-related issues
from their Jewish colleagues — a common template with lawmakers from
other communities — and this is no different, the source said.

AIPAC's determined push on sanctions is drawing some anger from
Democrats. A number of party insiders say that staffers on Capitol Hill
are referring openly to AIPAC as an antagonist on the Iran issue in
private conversations.

"Now it just looks like AIPAC is backing a partisan bill rather than
pushing a bipartisan policy to stop Iran," said a former Democratic Hill
staffer who deals in Middle Eastern issues and, like many others, asked
not to be identified because of the issue's sensitivity.

AIPAC's efforts have spurred surprisingly blunt criticism from sources
that are more known for caution on such matters. The new director of the
National Jewish Democratic Council, Rabbi Jack Moline, earlier this
month in an interview with JTA accused AIPAC activists of using
"strong-arm" tactics on uncommitted senators.

Douglas Bloomfield, who served as AIPAC's legislative director in the
1980s and is now frequently critical of the group, warned that with most
Democrats inclined to back Obama on this issue, the confrontational
posture taken by AIPAC could wound its reputation down the road.

"There could be repercussions across the board with a lot of members of
Congress the next time they say they want them to go to the barricades,"
he said.

AIPAC already is taking some high-profile hits on TV, with liberal
commentators accusing the lobby of trying to scuttle a diplomatic
settlement with Iran.

"The senators from the great state of Israel are against it," comedian
Jon Stewart said last week on "The Daily Show,"accompanied by a graphic
of a map of Israel emblazoned with the AIPAC logo. MSNBC host Chris
Hayes said the 16 Democratic senators backing the sanctions bill are
"afraid" of AIPAC.

Rosen said that such exposure, while irritating to AIPAC, would not be a
factor in getting the lobby to shift course. More serious would be calls
from donors to the group who have ties to Democrats. AIPAC's reputation
as having bipartisan support — a critical element of its influence —
could be put at risk.

"AIPAC puts a premium on bipartisan consensus and maintaining
communication with the White House," said Rosen, who was fired by AIPAC
in 2005 after being investigated in a government leak probe, though the
resulting charges were dismissed and he later sued AIPAC unsuccessfully
for damages.

Rosen noted AIPAC's forthcoming policy conference in March; such
conferences routinely feature a top administration official — the
president or vice president, the secretary of state or defense. At least
one of these failing to appear "would be devastating to AIPAC's image of
bipartisanship," he said.

A way out for the group would be to quietly negotiate a compromise
behind the scenes with the White House, Rosen said.

"They don't want to be seen as backing down," he said of his former
employer, "but the White House is good at helping people backing down
without seeming to back down."

AIPAC hardly stands alone in advocating the sanctions, said an official
from another Jewish group, noting that support for the bill spanned the
breadth of the community from the right-wing Zionist Organization of
America to the consensus-oriented Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
None of these groups, including AIPAC, wanted a confrontation, the
official said.

"It's awkward, and the pro-Israel organizations have been looking for a
way to climb down from this question," said the official, who asked not
to be identified.

However, the official said, the Obama administration has taken a
confrontational approach. The official cited a pointed remark by
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan who suggested
earlier this month that congressional backers of the sanctions
legislation actually favor war with Iran and "should be up front with
the American public and say so."

"There seems to be a concerted effort by the White House to say we're
not going to blink," said the Jewish organizational official.

Notably, a top White House official in an off-the-record conference call
last week with Jewish leaders dialed back such accusations, saying that
backers and opponents of the bill both wanted a peaceful resolution to
the Iranian nuclear issue.

Others, however, argue that the conflict with the White House was not
necessarily bad for AIPAC.

"When they are being attacked, they come out on top from a fundraising
point of view," said a former AIPAC official speaking on condition of
anonymity.

An aide to a Republican senator who backs the sanctions said that in the
long run, AIPAC's better bet was to align itself with Congress rather
than the White House.

"Congress holds the foreign policy purse," the aide said. "The White
House will always have a new occupant. It is less important what the
White House thinks of any organization and far more important what
Congress thinks of any organization."

Morris Amitay, a former AIPAC executive director, said the lobby's
natural approach toward the executive branch was to influence its
adversary, Congress.

"AIPAC's relationship with the White House has never been kissy-kissy,"
said Amitay, who now leads a pro-Israel political action committee. "And
if you look at where Congress is today on Israel issues, the peace
process, Iran, AIPAC is doing a terrific job."

(6) No longer invisible: NYT mentions AIPAC's lobbying of Congress on
Iran bill


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/world/middleeast/obama-fights-a-push-to-add-iran-sanctions.html

Obama Fights a Push to Add Iran Sanctions

By MARK LANDLER and JONATHAN WEISMANJAN. 13, 2014

WASHINGTON — With the United States and Iran about to embark on a
critical phase of nuclear talks, President Obama is waging an intense
rear-guard action to prevent Senate Democrats from supporting strict new
sanctions that could upend his diplomatic efforts.

Sponsors of the bill, which would aim to drive Iran's oil exports down
to zero, have secured the backing of 59 senators, putting them within
striking distance of a two-thirds majority that could override Mr.
Obama's threatened veto. Republicans overwhelmingly support the bill. So
far 16 Democrats have broken with the president, and the bill's sponsors
hope to get more.

The struggle is casting a long shadow over the talks, which
administration officials say will be even harder than those that
resulted in the six-month interim agreement, signed Sunday, that will
temporarily freeze Iran's nuclear program in return for limited
sanctions relief.

Iranian officials have threatened to leave the bargaining table if the
United States enacts any new sanctions during the negotiations.

The White House has cast the issue in stark terms, saying that a vote
for new sanctions would be, in effect, a "march toward war" and
challenging those lawmakers who support the bill to acknowledge publicly
that they favor military action against Iran.

"It just stands to reason if you close the diplomatic option, you're
left with a difficult choice of waiting to see if sanctions cause Iran
to capitulate, which we don't think will happen, or considering military
action," said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser.

Yet senators from both parties angrily reject that characterization,
saying that congressional pressure to impose sanctions is what brought
Iran to the negotiating table to begin with. If anything, they said, the
West needs the specter of more sanctions as a "diplomatic insurance
policy," in case Iran reneges on the interim deal or the talks
ultimately fail.

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.

The signing of the interim agreement, congressional aides said, could
cut both ways. While some senators might be more inclined to give
diplomacy a chance, others might be troubled by the terms of the
six-month deal. The full text of the agreement has not yet been
released, arousing the suspicions of critics, though the White House
said on Monday that it would soon be made available to lawmakers.

Mr. Obama and other senior officials have met repeatedly with lawmakers
to defend their diplomatic efforts and to try to stop the rush to
sanctions. They cite an intelligence assessment that sanctions could
undermine the negotiations. And they argue that Congress can always act
swiftly to impose sanctions if the talks do collapse.

"My preference is for peace and diplomacy, and this is one of the
reasons why I've sent the message to Congress that now is not the time
for us to impose new sanctions," Mr. Obama said to reporters on Monday
after meeting with Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. "Now is the
time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work."

Much will depend on the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada,
who has so far resisted pressure to allow a vote on a sanctions bill.
Mr. Reid is balancing a record of robust support for Israel with an
equally strong alliance with the White House. Aides say Mr. Reid will
not bring a bill to the floor before the State of the Union address on
Jan. 28.

Democrats, they say, recognize the delicacy of Mr. Obama's signing a
veto on the Iran bill, especially if Congress delivers the first veto
override of his presidency on a matter that is so clearly a presidential
prerogative. But Democrats said the current lull can hold only for a
matter of weeks, not months.

Prominent Democrats like Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, the
chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, have recently
thrown their support behind the bill. Aides say enough Senate Democrats
would support the sanctions bill to override a presidential veto, and
the House probably has a veto-proof margin as well. [...]

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee
and a vocal opponent of the bill, said the signing of the accord
strengthened his position. "It should make it harder for people to act
in a way which might undermine the chances of there being a
comprehensive agreement," he said.

As the debate has intensified, some Democrats are taking umbrage at the
White House's tone, pointing to a statement last week from a National
Security Council official that said, "If certain members of Congress
want the United States to take military action, they should be up front
with the American public and say so."

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and a strong supporter
of the legislation, bristled at the White House's pressure, especially
its "march to war" language. "I think they should regret using that
language," he said. "The bad actor is Iran."

Correction: January 15, 2014

An article on Tuesday about President Obama's struggle to prevent Senate
Democrats from backing a bill that could thwart his diplomatic efforts
with Iran referred incorrectly to Mr. Obama's threatened veto of the
legislation. If he vetoes the bill, it will be the third veto of his
presidency, not the first. (He vetoed the Interstate Recognition of
Notarizations Act of 2010 and a Continuing Appropriations bill in 2009.)

A version of this article appears in print on January 14, 2014, on page
A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Obama Fights a Push to Add
Iran Sanctions.

(7) Obama needs to take on the Israel lobby over Iran - Gideon Rachman (FT)

Obama needs to take on the Israel lobby over Iran

By Gideon Rachman

Financial Times, November 25, 2013 7:49 pm

http://gonzaloraffoinfonews.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/obama-needs-to-take-on-israel-lobby.html

The outcome of a looming showdown between two leaders who loathe one
another will be critical

For Barack Obama, striking a nuclear deal with Iran may turn out to be
the easy part. The president's biggest struggle now is facing down
Israel and its supporters in the US as they attempt to rally opposition
to the deal. The administration knows this and it is quietly confident
that it can take on the Israel lobby in Congress – and win.

Beneath all the arcane details about centrifuges and break-out times,
the Israeli-American dispute over Iran is quite simple. The Israelis
want the complete dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear programme. The
Americans and their negotiating partners want to freeze it in the first
instance – and also recognise that any final deal will have to leave
Iran with some nuclear capacity.

The real alternative to the Geneva process, argue the Americans, is not
the better deal of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's dreams.
It is a breakdown in negotiations followed by an accelerated nuclear
programme in Iran – leading either to an Iranian bomb or to war. The
Obama administration believes that, by making this case, it can face
down Israel's formidable phalanx of supporters in Congress,
traditionally marshalled by the American Israel Public Affairs committee.

The debate in Congress is likely to focus on whether the legislature
will agree to a relaxation in sanctions – or whether, on the contrary,
congressional leaders press for toughened sanctions that would undercut
Mr Obama's negotiating stance. While the president can relax some
sanctions by executive order of the White House, sooner or later he is
going to need Congress to go along with an Iran deal.

The administration's confidence that it can win the argument over Iran
is bolstered by an opinion poll, taken before the Geneva agreement was
nailed down, which showed the American public was in favour of a nuclear
deal with Iran by 56 per cent to 39 per cent. The administration's
calculation is that the strong public desire to avoid further wars in
the Middle East will override the public's traditional sympathy with
Israel and antipathy towards Iran.

Aipac is a formidable lobbying organisation. But the recent fiasco over
Mr Obama's request to Congress to approve missile strikes on Syria
following the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad's regime showed
that the Israel lobby cannot always deliver victory on Capitol Hill.
Aipac lobbied hard in favour of strikes on Syria. But deep public
opposition to military action weighed more heavily with Congress.

However, the analogies may not be as reassuring as the administration
hopes. The route from a Syria vote to military action was clear and
direct. By contrast, rejection of an Iran deal is not explicitly a vote
for war. What is more, the fiasco over Mr Obama's healthcare reforms has
driven the president's approval ratings to new lows and weakened him.

If the Obama administration's domestic political strategy over Iran is
to work, therefore, its arguments in favour of the nuclear deal will
have to be able to withstand the fierce scrutiny that the Israelis and
others will subject them to. So do the arguments stack up?

Broadly speaking, they do. Important weaknesses in the earlier draft of
the agreement, a fortnight ago, have been addressed. In particular,
development of Iran's heavy water plant at Arak, southwest of Tehran,
which potentially opened an alternative route to a plutonium bomb, is
now to stop.

Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 per cent, which is
dangerously close to weapons-grade, will be diluted. Iran has agreed to
an intrusive regime of inspections, which will make it much harder for
it to violate a nuclear deal, as North Korea once did.

Iranian relief at this interim deal is palpable – and alarming to Israel
and Saudi Arabia. But the reality is that Iranians have not yet got very
much by way of sanctions relief. The biggest measures agreed are one-off
releases of frozen assets. The main financial sanctions remain in place
and continue to cost Iran dearly. The Obama administration has retained
considerable leverage as the two sides move to negotiate a full deal
over the next six months.

The Israelis point out that they are not the only US ally in the region
that is deeply wary of this deal. Saudi Arabia is also clearly angry.
But Saudi concern is only partly to do with the prospect of an Iranian
bomb. More broadly, the Saudis are engaged in a struggle for regional
and theological supremacy with Iran – which has led them to undermine
peace efforts in Syria. While both Israel and Saudi Arabia are close
American allies, their interests are not identical to those of the US.

As the Iran debate moves forward in America, so it will take on a
personal aspect. Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu detest each other. Now they
are about to stage a very public showdown. It would be a humiliation for
the US president if his Iran policy is pulled apart in Congress at the
behest of the Israelis. But the stakes are very high for Mr Netanyahu
and Israel, too – and victory could be as dangerous as defeat. If a
diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue is blocked and war
follows, Israel will be accused of dragging America into a conflict. But
if Mr Netanyahu confronts the Obama administration through the US
Congress – and loses – the fabled power of the Israel lobby may never be
quite the same again.

(8) Media rises against lobby: Obama 'outraged' by
Schumer/Gillibrand/Booker deference to Netanyahu


http://mondoweiss.net/2014/01/opposition-completely-community.html

Philip Weiss on January 22, 2014   18

The sanctions bill that would derail the Iranian deal has exposed the
Israel lobby as never before. It's getting a lot of coverage on the
Mainstream media. Peter Beinart takes on the Jewish "leaders" in a
report in Haaretz: "The new Iran sanctions effort, claims a well-placed
congressional aide, is 'totally and completely Jewish-community run.'"
(And Chuck Hagel got slammed for using the phrase "Jewish lobby," not
Israel lobby.)

Here are the latest straws in the wind. Only they are beams not straws.
A Jewish Telegraphic Agency story is being published widely, reporting
that the Israel lobby finds itself dangerously exposed because of its
confrontation with Obama over Iran:

{quote}
[K]eeping a low public profile is proving impossible.

According to congressional insiders and some of the pro-Israel lobbying
group's former senior executives, AIPAC may soon face a tough choice:
Stick out the battle over sanctions and potentially face a
reputation-damaging defeat, or reach out to the White House and find a
way for both sides to save face.

"I don't believe this is sustainable, the confrontational posture," said
Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy chief known for his
hawkishness on Iran.
{endquote}

JTA mentions Jon Stewart's mockery of AIPAC and other media exposure:

{quote}
the confrontation has landed AIPAC squarely in the media spotlight and
drawn pointed criticism from leading liberal commentators… AIPAC already
is taking some high-profile hits on TV…
{endquote}

It also says that the lobby has reached the limit of its political
influence–

{quote}
AIPAC has been stymied by a critical core of Senate Democrats who have
sided with the Obama administration in the fight. While AIPAC's bid to
build a veto-busting majority has reached 59 — eight short of the needed
67 — it has stalled there in part because Democrats have more or less
stopped signing on.
{endquote}

in part because powerful Jews aren't jumping on. Notice that JTA counts
the Jewish chairpeople who oppose the bill, and says this is making a
difference:

{quote}
A source close to AIPAC said the stall in support for the legislation is
due in part to the fact that of 10 committee chairmen opposed to the
bill, four are Jewish and have histories of closeness to the pro-Israel
community.

Non-Jewish lawmakers tend to take their cues on Israel-related issues
from their Jewish colleagues — a common template with lawmakers from
other communities — and this is no different, the source said.
{endquote}

The JTA says that while the lobby doesn't want a confrontation, it's not
bad for the source of its strength, the "purse." Now they tell us, it's
about money.

{quote}
Others, however, argue that the conflict with the White House was not
necessarily bad for AIPAC.

"When they are being attacked, they come out on top from a fundraising
point of view," said a former AIPAC official speaking on condition of
anonymity.

An aide to a Republican senator who backs the sanctions said that in the
long run, AIPAC's better bet was to align itself with Congress rather
than the White House.

"Congress holds the foreign policy purse," the aide said. "The White
House will always have a new occupant. It is less important what the
White House thinks of any organization and far more important what
Congress thinks of any organization."
{endquote}

More exposure: David Remnick was on All Things Considered yesterday to
talk about his profile of the president in The New Yorker. Remnick went
after the Tea Party by name and the Israel lobby implicitly (some
mystification there; senators don't fear the Saudi leadership). He said
that Obama is outraged by the deference to Netanyahu.

{quote}
I think [Obama]'s pretty outraged by the fact that there were so many
Democrats that seem more interested in the point of view of Bibi
Netanyahu and the Saudi leadership, than in their party leader and
president.

So that the morning after the Iran deal was signed, Chuck Schumer went
on the Sunday shows. And without any fear of punishment from the
president or the party leadership, simply pronounced that he was going
to possibly favor increased sanctions against Iran, which would really
be counterproductive for the deal as it is at this point. And he's not
the only one: Cory Booker, Gillibrand.

I mean there are a lot of Democrats that talk in this vein, forcing
Obama to say if such a bill came to his desk he'd have to veto it.
{endquote}

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says that Cory Booker is getting hammered by
Obama. The rabbi stands up for his protege in the Jerusalem Post, and
lashes out at Peter Beinart as a demon seed.

{quote}
US President Barack Obama has dropped the hammer on 16 Democratic
senators who have joined a bold Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey,
and Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, in co-sponsoring new legislation
that will increase sanctions against Ira…

One of those brave 16 is my close friend Sen. Cory Booker, who has had a
unique and special relationship with the Jewish community since I met
him as an undergraduate at Oxford University in 1992. As is well-known,
Cory served as president of my Oxford L'Chaim society, where he arguably
became the first African-American/Christian head of a major Jewish
organization in history. Cory and I then began studying Torah on a
regular basis, and he has probably been invited to lecture more American
Jewish communal venues than any other political figure in the US. What
Cory has seen, as have his other intrepid Senate colleagues, is that
Iran is an immense danger to the world in general, and to Israel and the
US in particular.

Beinart and his kind scapegoat Israel's settlers as principal obstacles
to Middle East peace, just as Khomeini himself scapegoated the US for
the same.
{endquote}

Meantime, Beinart has a piece in Haaretz that all but accuses the
leaders of the conservative Jewish organizations of a lack of loyalty.
"The only 'leader' who speaks for American Jews on Iran is Barack
Obama," is Beinart's headline. OK; tell that to Chuck Schumer and Cory
Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.

{quote}
AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the
Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North
America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations all support a sanctions bill that Obama insists will wreck
his chances of achieving a nuclear deal. In fact, "support" may be too
weak a word. The new Iran sanctions effort, claims a well-placed
congressional aide, is "totally and completely Jewish-community run."

That may be an exaggeration. And American Jewish "leaders" might argue
that they're not obligated to represent American Jews as a whole, only
the ones in their organizations. Still, it's extraordinary to watch
American Jewish "leaders" play such a prominent role in undermining an
Iran policy that, according to all the evidence, most American Jews support.
{endquote}

Update: Jewish Voice for Peace is lobbying against the bill, as a group
that includes Jews and that opposes the Israel lobby. "Stop AIPAC drive
to war over Iran."

{quote}
This AIPAC-backed bill would torpedo ongoing diplomatic efforts and open
the way to military action and further draconian sanctions. The results
could be disastrous—for everyone….

This legislation is being pushed by Israel lobby groups who want a
pretext for Israel to take military action against Iran. Remarkably, it
would pre-commit the United States to military involvement should Israel
attack.
{endquote}

(9) 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing
Star of David


From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2014 10:53:08 -0500

http://mondoweiss.net/2014/01/economist-shackled-congress.html

'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing
Star of David

Philip Weiss on January 21, 2014

{cartoon is at
http://f8wee1vvia32pdxo527grujy61.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/obama-635x357.jpg}

and at
http://f8wee1vvia32pdxo527grujy61.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/obama-635x357-580x326.jpg}

This cartoon was published by the Economist

{but has been removed; it was at
http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21594314-some-supporters-iran-deal-doubt-there-will-be-long-term-pact-big-gap}


to accompany an article about threats to the Iran deal. The cartoon
unleashed criticism. (Per the JTA
<http://www.jta.org/2014/01/21/news-opinion/united-states/the-economist-removes-anti-semitic-cartoon>


  and the Times of Israel
<http://www.timesofisrael.com/economist-removes-anti-semitic-cartoon-after-uproar/>).


And the Economist now has this afterword to the story:

"The print edition of this story had a cartoon which inadvertently
caused offense to some readers, so we have replaced it with a photograph."

The Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman called on the Economist to issue
a "full-throated apology" for publishing the cartoon.

{quote}
The Economist cannot repair the damage of publishing an anti-Semitic
image with only half-measures. …

This was nothing less than a visual representation of the age-old
anti-Semitic canard of Jewish control. And it conjures up yet another
classic anti-Semitic myth — the accusation that Jews have "dual loyalty"
and will act only on behalf of Israel to the detriment of their own
country.  This is the stuff of the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of
Zion," recycled for a modern-day audience with a wink and a nod to
Professors Mearsheimer and Walt and Jimmy Carter.

The Economist already has a credibility problem when it comes to Israel.
The fact that this cartoon passed editorial muster without raising red
flags raises serious questions about its editorial judgment and the
possibility of a more deeply ingrained bias against the Jewish State.
{endquote}
http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/anti-semitism-usa/adl-says-the-economist-owes.html


(10) ADL Press Release likens Economist cartoon to Protocols of Zion

http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/anti-semitism-usa/adl-says-the-economist-owes.html

Press Release

ADL Says The Economist Owes Full-Throated Apology for Printing Hateful
Anti-Semitic Cartoon

New York, NY, January 20, 2014

Saying the Economist "cannot repair the damage of publishing an
anti-Semitic image with only half-measures," the Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) today called on the editors to issue a full-throated apology for
an editorial cartoon depicting President Obama as hindered in his
efforts to reach an agreement with Iran by the machinations of a United
States Congress under the control of a nefarious Jewish lobby.

The cartoon by Peter Schrank added two Jewish Stars of David to the U.S.
congressional shield, clearly suggesting Jewish or Israeli control over
members of Congress. President Obama is shackled to the shield as he
reaches an outstretched hand to Iranian leaders. The cartoon was run as
an illustration to an article about the Iranian nuclear negotiations,
and pulled later in the day in response to complaints from readers.

While the cartoon was removed from the article "A big gap to close,"
Jan. 20, it still remained on the Economist's Middle East and Africa
landing page.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

The Economist cannot repair the damage of publishing an anti-Semitic
image with only half-measures. They owe their readers a full-throated
apology, which not only acknowledges the offensive nature of the cartoon
but explains to readers why this image implying Jewish control was so
outrageous and hurtful.

This was nothing less than a visual representation of the age-old
anti-Semitic canard of Jewish control. And it conjures up yet another
classic anti-Semitic myth -- the accusation that Jews have "dual
loyalty" and will act only on behalf of Israel to the detriment of their
own country.  This is the stuff of the "Protocols of the Learned Elders
of Zion," recycled for a modern-day audience with a wink and a nod to
Professors Mearsheimer and Walt and Jimmy Carter.

The Economist already has a credibility problem when it comes to Israel.
The fact that this cartoon passed editorial muster without raising red
flags raises serious questions about its editorial judgment and the
possibility of a more deeply ingrained bias against the Jewish State.

(11) ADL says Economist cartoon depicts "anti-Semitic canard of Jewish
control"


ADL blasts Economist magazine over 'anti-Semitic' cartoon

Image depicts Obama as being hindered by Israel lobby-controlled
Congress in dealing with Iran.

By Haaretz | Jan. 21, 2014 | 1:16 PM

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/.premium-1.569724

The Anti-Defamation League on Monday urged editors of The Economist
magazine to issue a "full-throated apology" for publishing an editorial
cartoon that observers have deemed anti-Semitic.

The renowned magazine "cannot repair the damage of publishing an
anti-Semitic image with only half-measures," the ADL said in a statement.

The cartoon depicts U.S. President Obama as "hindered in his efforts to
reach an agreement with Iran by the machinations of a United States
Congress under the control of a nefarious Jewish lobby," according to
the anti-racism watchdog group.

The Economist initially published the cartoon by Peter Schrank on
Saturday, but removed the offending image from the article following a
backlash from readers.

The website added an editor's note to the article, about the Obama
administration's efforts to reach a final nuclear deal with Iran, which
reads: "The print edition of this story had a cartoon which
inadvertently caused offence to some readers, so we have replaced it
with a photograph."

The cartoon still remained the top image on the site's Middle East &
Africa section on Tuesday morning (Israel time), but was removed in the
afternoon.

Meanwhile, Jewish groups said the editor's note does little to reverse
the damage.

"This was nothing less than a visual representation of the age-old
anti-Semitic canard of Jewish control," the ADL statement said. "And it
conjures up yet another classic anti-Semitic myth - the accusation that
Jews have 'dual loyalty' and will act only on behalf of Israel to the
detriment of their own country. This is the stuff of the 'Protocols of
the Learned Elders of Zion,' recycled for a modern-day audience."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center,
told the Algemeiner that "the cartoon fails to deliver anything but the
classic 'Israel controls Congress' stereotype."

"The cartoon's effect is to reinforce anti-Israel stereotypes," he was
quoted as saying.

The Economist has been accused of anti-Israel bias in the past and of
distorting matters related to Diaspora Jews and Israel.

(12) James Petras on the Iran-US Interim Agreement

James Petras <jpetras@binghamton.edu> 9 December 2013 10:32

Iran-US Interim Agreement: Historic Breakthrough or Historic Sellout?

James Petras

December 8, 2013

http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1964

Introduction

The recent interim accord between the six world powers and Iran has been
hailed as an "historic breakthrough", a "significant accomplishment" by
most leading politicians, editorialists and columnists (Financial Times,
(FT) 11/26/13, p. 2), the exceptions being notably Israeli leaders and
the Zionist power brokers in North America and Western Europe (FT
11/26/13, p. 3). [...]

The entire charade of Iran's 'nuclear weapons as a threat' has been
orchestrated by the Israeli regime and its army of 'Israel Firsters'
embedded in the US Executive, Congress and mass media. The 'Big Lie',
promoted by Israel's propaganda machine and network of agents, has been
repeatedly and thoroughly refuted by the sixteen major US Intelligence
Estimates or NIE's, especially in 2004 and 2007. These consensus
documents were based on extensive research, inside sources (spies) and
highly sophisticated surveillance. The NIEs categorically state that
Iran suspended all efforts toward a nuclear weapons program in 2003 and
has not made any decision or move to restart that program. However,
Israel has actively spread propaganda, based on fabricated intelligence
reports, claiming the contrary in order to trick and push the US into a
disastrous military confrontation with Israel's regional rival. And the
President of the United States ignores his own intelligence sources in
order to repeat Israel's 'Big Lie'!

Given the fact that Iran is not a 'nuclear threat', now or in the past,
and given that the US, European and Israeli leaders know this, why do
they continue and even increase the sanctions against Iran? Why do they
threaten to destroy Iran with pre-emptive attacks? Why the current
demands for even more concessions from Tehran? The current negotiations
and 'agreement' tell us a great deal about the 'ultimate' or final
strategic aims of the White House and its European allies.

The 'Interim Agreement': A Most Asymmetrical Compromise

Iran's negotiators conceded to the' 5 plus 1' all their major demands
while they received the most minimum of concessions, (FT 1/25/13, p. 2).

Iran agreed (1) to stop all enrichment to 20 percent, (2) reduce the
existing 20 percent enriched stockpile to zero, (3) convert all low
enriched uranium to a form that cannot be enriched to a higher level,
(4) halt progress on its enrichment capacity, (5) leave inoperable half
of its centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of those at Fordow, and
(6) freeze all activities at Arak heavy water facility which when built
could produce plutonium. Iran also agreed to end any plans to construct
a facility capable of reprocessing plutonium from spent fuel. The
Iranian negotiators agreed to the most pervasive and intensive
"inspections" of its most important strategic defense facilities by the
International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been closely allied with
the US and its EU counterparts. These "inspections" and data collection
will take place on a daily bases and include access to Natanz and
Fordow. The strategic military value of these inspections is inestimable
because it could provide data, heretofore unavailable, for any future
missile strike from the US or Israel when they decide to shift from
negotiations to the 'military option'. In addition, the IAEA inspectors
will be allowed to access other strategic facilities, including sites
for developing centrifuges, uranium mines and mills. Future
"negotiations" may open highly sensitive military defense sites such as
Parchin, where conventional missiles and warheads are stored. [...]

The Israeli-US Differences: A Question of Tactics and Timing

Israeli leaders and their Zionist agents, embedded in the US government,
howl, pull out their hair and bluster against the '5-plus-1'
transitional agreement with Iran. They downplay the enormous one-sided
concessions. They rant and rave about "hidden agenda", "deceit and
deception". They fabricate conspiracies and repeat lies about secret
"nuclear weapons programs" beyond the reach (and imagination) of any
non-Zionist inspector. But the reality is that the "historic
breakthrough" includes the dismantling of a major part of Iran's nuclear
infrastructure, while retaining sanctions – a huge victory of the
Zionists! The '5-plus-1' negotiated a deal which has secured deeper and
more extensive changes in Iran while strengthening Western power in the
Persian Gulf than all of Netanyahu's decade-long campaign of issuing
'military threats'.

Netanyahu and his brainwashed Zionist-Jewish defenders in the US insist
on new, even harsher sanctions because they want immediate war and
regime-change (a puppet regime). Echoing his Israeli boss Netanyahu, New
York Senator Chuck "the schmuck" Schumer, commenting on the interim
agreement brayed, "The disproportionality of this agreement makes it
more likely that Democrats and Republicans will pass additional
sanctions" (Barrons 12/2/13 p14) This is the same stupid policy that the
embedded Zionists in Washington pursued with Iraq. Under the Bush
Presidency, top neo-con Zionists, like Wolfowitz, Ross, Indyk, Feith,
Abrams and Libby, implemented Ariel Sharon's war dictates: (1) murdered
Saddam Hussein (regime change) (2) destroyed the Iraq's economy, society
and modern infrastructure, and (3) provoked ethnic fragmentation and
religious war – costing the US over 2 trillion dollars on the war,
thousands of US lives (millions of Iraqi lives) and at a cost of
hundreds of billions in high oil prices to US consumers – further
shattering the US domestic economy.

Among the few moderately intelligent and influential Zionist
journalists, Gideon Rachman, who realizes the strategic value of the
step-by-step approach of the Obama regime, has called for the White
House "to take on the Israel lobby over Iran" (FT, 11/26/13, p. 10).
Rachman knows that if Israel's howling stooges in the US Congress drag
the country into war, the American people will turn against the Israeli
lobby, its fellow travelers and, most likely, Israel. Rachman and a few
others with a grain of political sophistication know that the Rohani
regime in Tehran has just handed over key levers of power to the US.
They know that the negotiations are moving toward greater integration of
Iran into the US orbit. They know, in the final instance, that Obama's
step-by-step diplomatic approach will be less costly and more effective
than Netanyahu's military 'final solution'. And they know that,
ultimately, Obama's and Israel's goal is the same: a weak
neo-liberalized Iran, which cannot challenge Israel's military
dominance, nuclear weapons monopoly, annexation of Palestine and
aggression against Lebanon and Syria.

Conclusion

Having secured a "freeze" on Iran's consequential nuclear research and
having on site intelligence on all Iran's major national defense and
security facilities, the US can compile a data base for an offensive
military strategy whenever it likes. Iran, on the other hand, receives
no information or reports on US, European or Israeli military movement,
weapons facilities or offensive regional capabilities. This is despite
the fact that the '5-plus-1' countries and Israel have recently launched
numerous devastating offensive military operations and wars in the
region (Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya and Syria). Having set the
agenda for negotiations as one of further unilateral concessions from
Iran, the US can at any point, threaten to end negotiations – and follow
up with its 'military option'.

The next step in the unilateral disarmament of Iran will be the US
demand to close the strategic Arak heavy water plant. The US will demand
that Iran produce a basic minimum amount of uranium and retain a stock
pile to cover a few days or weeks for energy, research or medical
isotopes. Washington will strip Iran of its capacity to enrich by
imposing quantitative and qualitative limits on the centrifuges that
Iran can possess and operate. During the next round of negotiations, the
US will preclude Iran from undertaking the reprocessing of uranium at
Arak or any other site. The US will tell 'the Troika' that the "right"
(sic) to enrich does not extend to the right to reprocess. The US will
demand stringent "transparency" for Iran, while maintaining its own high
level secrecy, evasion and ambiguity with regard to its military,
diplomatic and economic sanctions policy.

In a word, the US will demand that Iran surrender its sovereignty and
subject itself to the colonial oversight of an imperial power, which has
yet to make a single move in even reducing economic sanctions. The loss
of sovereignty, the continued sanctions and the drive by the US to
curtail Iran's regional influence will certainly lead to popular
discontent in Iran – and a response from the nationalist and populist
military (Revolutionary Guards) and the working poor. The crisis
resulting from the Troika's adoption of the "Gorbachev Model" will lead
to an inevitable confrontation. Overtime the US will seek out an
Islamist strongman, an Iranian version of Yeltsin who can savage the
nationalists and popular movements and turn over the keys to the state,
treasury and oil fields to a "moderate and responsible" pro-Western
client regime.

The entire US strategy of degrading Iran's military defenses and
securing major neo-liberal "reforms" depends on President Rohani
remaining in power, which can only result from the Obama regime's
compliance in lifting some of the oil and banking sanctions (FT 12/1/13,
p. 6). Paradoxically, the greatest obstacle to achieving Washington's
strategic roll-back goal is Netanyahu's power to block sanction relief –
and impose even, harsher sanctions. The result of such an Israel Firster
victory in the US would be the end of negotiations, the strengthening of
Iran's nuclear program, the demise of the oil privatization program and
added support to regional nationalist movements and governments.
President Rohani desperately needs western imperial reassurance of the
benefits (sanction relief) of his initial giveaways. Otherwise his
credibility at home would be irreparably damaged.

The imperial prize of a militarily weakened and neo-liberalized Iran,
collaborating in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, is
enormous but it clashes with the Zionist Power Configuration, which
insists on all power to the Jewish state from the Suez to the Persian Gulf!

(13) Israel's secret nuclear arsenal - built with a minimum of
international outcry


From: Israel Shamir <adam@israelshamir.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 21:19:53 +0400
Subject: [shamireaders] The truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/15/truth-israels-secret-nuclear-arsenal

The truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal

Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since
the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a
blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if
the Israelis won't come clean?

Julian Borger

The Guardian, Thursday 16 January 2014 05.18 AEST

Deep beneath desert sands, an embattled Middle Eastern state has built a
covert nuclear bomb, using technology and materials provided by friendly
powers or stolen by a clandestine network of agents. It is the stuff of
pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the
worst fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. In reality, though,
neither US nor British intelligence believe Tehran has decided to build
a bomb, and Iran's atomic projects are under constant international
monitoring.

The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story,
though. It's just one that applies to another country. In an
extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire
underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par
with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century
ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public
awareness of what it was doing.

Despite the fact that the Israel's nuclear programme has been an open
secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the
whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to
confirm or deny its existence.

When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo
last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical
weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as "outdated
and childish" a rightwing group formally called for a police
investigation for treason.

Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of
"opacity" by avoiding all mention of the issue. In 2009, when a veteran
Washington reporter, Helen Thomas, asked Barack Obama in the first month
of his presidency if he knew of any country in the Middle East with
nuclear weapons, he dodged the trapdoor by saying only that he did not
wish to "speculate".

UK governments have generally followed suit. Asked in the House of Lords
in November about Israeli nuclear weapons, Baroness Warsi answered
tangentially. "Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We
have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of
nuclear-related issues," the minister said. "The government of Israel is
in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party
to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]."

But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details
continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from smuggled
parts and pilfered technology.

The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today's drawn-out
struggle over Iran's nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact –
Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not
violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear
tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting
the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise
to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft,
include today's staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US,
France, Germany, Britain and even Norway.

Meanwhile, Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and
state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most
sensitive industrial establishments in the world. This daring and
remarkably successful spy ring, known as Lakam, the Hebrew acronym for
the innocuous-sounding Science Liaison Bureau, included such colourful
figures as Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood producer behind such
hits as Pretty Woman, LA Confidential and 12 Years a Slave, who finally
admitted his role last month.

"Do you know what it's like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid [and]
his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting,"
he said in an Israeli documentary.

Milchan's life story is colourful, and unlikely enough to be the subject
of one of the blockbusters he bankrolls. In the documentary, Robert de
Niro recalls discussing Milchan's role in the illicit purchase of
nuclear-warhead triggers. "At some point I was asking something about
that, being friends, but not in an accusatory way. I just wanted to
know," De Niro says. "And he said: yeah I did that. Israel's my country."

Milchan was not shy about using Hollywood connections to help his
shadowy second career. At one point, he admits in the documentary, he
used the lure of a visit to actor Richard Dreyfuss's home to get a top
US nuclear scientist, Arthur Biehl, to join the board of one of his
companies.

According to Milchan's biography, by Israeli journalists Meir Doron and
Joseph Gelman, he was recruited in 1965 by Israel's current president,
Shimon Peres, who he met in a Tel Aviv nightclub (called Mandy's, named
after the hostess and owner's wife Mandy Rice-Davies, freshly notorious
for her role in the Profumo sex scandal). Milchan, who then ran the
family fertiliser company, never looked back, playing a central role in
Israel's clandestine acquisition programme.

He was responsible for securing vital uranium-enrichment technology,
photographing centrifuge blueprints that a German executive had been
bribed into temporarily "mislaying" in his kitchen. The same blueprints,
belonging to the European uranium enrichment consortium, Urenco, were
stolen a second time by a Pakistani employee, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who
used them to found his country's enrichment programme and to set up a
global nuclear smuggling business, selling the design to Libya, North
Korea and Iran.

For that reason, Israel's centrifuges are near-identical to Iran's, a
convergence that allowed Israeli to try out a computer worm, codenamed
Stuxnet, on its own centrifuges before unleashing it on Iran in 2010.

Arguably, Lakam's exploits were even more daring than Khan's. In 1968,
it organised the disappearance of an entire freighter full of uranium
ore in the middle of the Mediterranean. In what became known as the
Plumbat affair, the Israelis used a web of front companies to buy a
consignment of uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, in Antwerp. The
yellowcake was concealed in drums labelled "plumbat", a lead derivative,
and loaded onto a freighter leased by a phony Liberian company. The sale
was camouflaged as a transaction between German and Italian companies
with help from German officials, reportedly in return for an Israeli
offer to help the Germans with centrifuge technology.

When the ship, the Scheersberg A, docked in Rotterdam, the entire crew
was dismissed on the pretext that the vessel had been sold and an
Israeli crew took their place. The ship sailed into the Mediterranean
where, under Israeli naval guard, the cargo was transferred to another
vessel.

US and British documents declassified last year also revealed a
previously unknown Israeli purchase of about 100 tons of yellowcake from
Argentina in 1963 or 1964, without the safeguards typically used in
nuclear transactions to prevent the material being used in weapons.

Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and
materials, giving South Africa's apartheid regime help in developing its
own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of yellowcake.

Israel's nuclear reactor also required deuterium oxide, also known as
heavy water, to moderate the fissile reaction. For that, Israel turned
to Norway and Britain. In 1959, Israel managed to buy 20 tons of heavy
water that Norway had sold to the UK but was surplus to requirements for
the British nuclear programme. Both governments were suspicious that the
material would be used to make weapons, but decided to look the other
way. In documents seen by the BBC in 2005 British officials argued it
would be "over-zealous" to impose safeguards. For its part, Norway
carried out only one inspection visit, in 1961.

Israel's nuclear-weapons project could never have got off the ground,
though, without an enormous contribution from France. The country that
took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it came to Iran
helped lay the foundations of Israel's nuclear weapons programme, driven
by by a sense of guilt over letting Israel down in the 1956 Suez
conflict, sympathy from French-Jewish scientists, intelligence-sharing
over Algeria and a drive to sell French expertise and abroad.

"There was a tendency to try to export and there was a general feeling
of support for Israel," Andre Finkelstein, a former deputy commissioner
at France's Atomic Energy Commissariat and deputy director general at
the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Avner Cohen, an
Israeli-American nuclear historian.

France's first reactor went critical as early as 1948 but the decision
to build nuclear weapons seems to have been taken in 1954, after Pierre
Mendès France made his first trip to Washington as president of the
council of ministers of the chaotic Fourth Republic. On the way back he
told an aide: "It's exactly like a meeting of gangsters. Everyone is
putting his gun on the table, if you have no gun you are nobody. So we
must have a nuclear programme."

Mendès France gave the order to start building bombs in December 1954.
And as it built its arsenal, Paris solds material assistance to other
aspiring weapons states, not just Israel.

"[T]his went on for many, many years until we did some stupid exports,
including Iraq and the reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was crazy,"
Finkelstein recalled in an interview that can now be read in a
collection of Cohen's papers at the Wilson Centre thinktank in
Washington. "We have been the most irresponsible country on
nonproliferation."

In Dimona, French engineers poured in to help build Israel a nuclear
reactor and a far more secret reprocessing plant capable of separating
plutonium from spent reactor fuel. This was the real giveaway that
Israel's nuclear programme was aimed at producing weapons.

By the end of the 50s, there were 2,500 French citizens living in
Dimona, transforming it from a village to a cosmopolitan town, complete
with French lycées and streets full of Renaults, and yet the whole
endeavour was conducted under a thick veil of secrecy. The American
investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his book The Samson
Option: "French workers at Dimona were forbidden to write directly to
relatives and friends in France and elsewhere, but sent mail to a phony
post-office box in Latin America."

The British were kept out of the loop, being told at different times
that the huge construction site was a desert grasslands research
institute and a manganese processing plant. The Americans, also kept in
the dark by both Israel and France, flew U2 spy planes over Dimona in an
attempt to find out what they were up to.

The Israelis admitted to having a reactor but insisted it was for
entirely peaceful purposes. The spent fuel was sent to France for
reprocessing, they claimed, even providing film footage of it being
supposedly being loaded onto French freighters. Throughout the 60s it
flatly denied the existence of the underground reprocessing plant in
Dimona that was churning out plutonium for bombs.

Israel refused to countenance visits by the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), so in the early 1960s President Kennedy demanded they
accept American inspectors. US physicists were dispatched to Dimona but
were given the run-around from the start. Visits were never twice-yearly
as had been agreed with Kennedy and were subject to repeated
postponements. The US physicists sent to Dimona were not allowed to
bring their own equipment or collect samples. The lead American
inspector, Floyd Culler, an expert on plutonium extraction, noted in his
reports that there were newly plastered and painted walls in one of the
buildings. It turned out that before each American visit, the Israelis
had built false walls around the row of lifts that descended six levels
to the subterranean reprocessing plant.

As more and more evidence of Israel's weapons programme emerged, the US
role progressed from unwitting dupe to reluctant accomplice. In 1968 the
CIA director Richard Helms told President Johnson that Israel had indeed
managed to build nuclear weapons and that its air force had conducted
sorties to practise dropping them.

The timing could not have been worse. The NPT, intended to prevent too
many nuclear genies from escaping from their bottles, had just been
drawn up and if news broke that one of the supposedly
non-nuclear-weapons states had secretly made its own bomb, it would have
become a dead letter that many countries, especially Arab states, would
refuse to sign.

The Johnson White House decided to say nothing, and the decision was
formalised at a 1969 meeting between Richard Nixon and Golda Meir, at
which the US president agreed to not to pressure Israel into signing the
NPT, while the Israeli prime minister agreed her country would not be
the first to "introduce" nuclear weapons into the Middle East and not do
anything to make their existence public.

In fact, US involvement went deeper than mere silence. At a meeting in
1976 that has only recently become public knowledge, the CIA deputy
director Carl Duckett informed a dozen officials from the US Nuclear
Regulatory Commission that the agency suspected some of the fissile fuel
in Israel's bombs was weapons-grade uranium stolen under America's nose
from a processing plant in Pennsylvania.

Not only was an alarming amount of fissile material going missing at the
company, Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (Numec), but it had
been visited by a veritable who's-who of Israeli intelligence, including
Rafael Eitan, described by the firm as an Israeli defence ministry
"chemist", but, in fact, a top Mossad operative who went on to head Lakam.

"It was a shock. Everyody was open-mouthed," recalls Victor Gilinsky,
who was one of the American nuclear officials briefed by Duckett. "It
was one of the most glaring cases of diverted nuclear material but the
consequences appeared so awful for the people involved and for the US
than nobody really wanted to find out what was going on."

The investigation was shelved and no charges were made.

A few years later, on 22 September 1979, a US satellite, Vela 6911,
detected the double-flash typical of a nuclear weapon test off the coast
of South Africa. Leonard Weiss, a mathematician and an expert on nuclear
proliferation, was working as a Senate advisor at the time and after
being briefed on the incident by US intelligence agencies and the
country's nuclear weapons laboratories, he became convinced a nuclear
test, in contravention to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, had taken place.

It was only after both the Carter and then the Reagan administrations
attempted to gag him on the incident and tried to whitewash it with an
unconvincing panel of enquiry, that it dawned on Weiss that it was the
Israelis, rather than the South Africans, who had carried out the
detonation.

"I was told it would create a very serious foreign policy issue for the
US, if I said it was a test. Someone had let something off that US
didn't want anyone to know about," says Weiss.

Israeli sources told Hersh the flash picked up by the Vela satellite was
actually the third of a series of Indian Ocean nuclear tests that Israel
conducted in cooperation with South Africa.

"It was a fuck-up," one source told him. "There was a storm and we
figured it would block Vela, but there was a gap in the weather – a
window – and Vela got blinded by the flash."

The US policy of silence continues to this day, even though Israel
appears to be continuing to trade on the nuclear black market, albeit at
much reduced volumes. In a paper on the illegal trade in nuclear
material and technology published in October, the Washington-based
Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) noted: "Under US
pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel … decided to largely stop
its illicit procurement for its nuclear weapons programme. Today, there
is evidence that Israel may still make occasional illicit procurements –
US sting operations and legal cases show this."

Avner Cohen, the author of two books on Israel's bomb, said that policy
of opacity in both Israel and in Washington is kept in place now largely
by inertia. "At the political level, no one wants to deal with it for
fear of opening a Pandora's box. It has in many ways become a burden for
the US, but people in Washington, all the way up to Obama will not touch
it, because of the fear it could compromise the very basis of the
Israeli-US understanding."

In the Arab world and beyond, there is growing impatience with the
skewed nuclear status quo. Egypt in particular has threatened to walk
out of the NPT unless there is progress towards creating a nuclear-free
zone in the Middle East. The western powers promised to stage a
conference on the proposal in 2012 but it was called off, largely at
America's behest, to reduce the pressure on Israel to attend and declare
its nuclear arsenal.

"Somehow the kabuki goes on," Weiss says. "If it is admitted Israel has
nuclear weapons at least you can have an honest discussion. It seems to
me it's very difficult to get a resolution of the Iran issue without
being honest about that."

(14) National Summit to Reassess U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship" -
National Press Club


From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:07:15 -0500

http://www.natsummit.org/

January 2014

The Council for the National Interest has joined with three other groups
to host a first-ever National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel
"Special Relationship."

The aim of this unprecedented conference is to blow the lid off the
cover-up surrounding the Israel Lobby and the concept that the US "must"
support Israeli policies for reasons of American national security.

This conference is scheduled to take place at the National Press Club in
Washington, DC on March 7, 2014.
US financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israel has grown
significantly and steadily throughout the past sixty years and now
dwarfs annual American foreign assistance to any other nation. Research
indicates the U.S.-Israel "special relationship" is a major factor in
foreign hostility towards Americans. Some experts suggest that Israel
has been central to U.S. wars in the Middle East.

However, the huge public backlash against Israel lobby-generated
momentum for U.S. attacks on Syria and Iran indicates that Americans are
concerned about the direction of U.S. foreign policy, how it is made,
and those trying to make it. Despite such concerns, Congress has not
examined the impact of Israel lobbying influence on overall U.S.
national security and international standing since the 1960s. The time
has come for an expert review of these policies with broad American
citizen participation.

This historic summit will provide an in-depth, multifaceted inquiry into
this critical subject matter. Panelists will include former military and
diplomatic personnel, intelligence officers, scholars, economists,
researchers and a variety of other subject-matter experts and authors
often shut out of key discussions in public forums and news media
outlets. Confirmed speakers include Ambassador David Newton; former
Congressman Paul Findley; Former CIA Officers Paul Pillar, Michael
Scheuer, and Ray McGovern; Author Stephen Sniegoski; USS Liberty
survivor Ernie Gallo; as well a co-sponsors Alison Weir of CNI and If
Americans Knew, Grant Smith of IRMEP, and yours truly. Members of the
public will be able to ask the key questions and network with other
attendees.

Phil Giraldi
Executive Director
Council for the National Interest
Council for the National Interest Foundation
1350 Beverly Rd., Suite 115-100 · McLean, VA 22101
· 202.863.2951 · http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/

(15) New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/new-evangelical-movement-seeks-split-from-pro-israel-line

New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

Dissent within the fold. "This message is resonating with the rising
generation," says Brog. posted on January 14, 2014 at 12:18pm EST

McKay Coppins BuzzFeed Staff

WASHINGTON — Figures with deep roots in America's religious right have
launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away
from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased
solidarity with the Palestinians.

The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international
nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind
the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and
it's being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way
their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush
years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian
nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and
Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals' stance on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight
of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more
"balanced" view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the
Middle East.

The goal is to soften the bulletproof political alliance between
American Evangelicals and Israel — forged over decades of successful
courtship by Israeli governments and pro-Israel forces in the U.S. — and
to make room on the religious right for Palestinian sympathies. If the
movement is successful, it would represent a move toward mainline,
politically liberal Christian denominations that have long been aligned
with the Palestinian cause. The Presbyterian Church USA, for instance,
briefly adopted a policy of divesting from some companies doing business
in Israel.

The campaign has alarmed America's most committed Christian supporters
of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals' message is gaining momentum
within the church.

"This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not
always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and
imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian
suffering," said David Brog, executive director of Christians United For
Israel, a key group in rallying American Christians to the Jewish state.
"The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend.
So we're seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and
conferences. It's very much grasstops, not grassroots."

Brog said his rivals' fledgling success should push Zionists to engage
more actively in the evangelical debate over Israel.

"We're also seeing some signs that this message is resonating with the
rising generation of Evangelicals — the millennial Evangelicals," Brog
added. "So we can't afford to wait. We must speak out and correct the
record before more of our young people are led astray."

One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more "nuanced" view of the
conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State
Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to
the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade
Christians to turn against Israel, but rather "to affirm and support the
dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and
pro-Palestinian at the same time."

To achieve this, his group organizes about 15 trips to Israel every
year, where American participants — mostly Evangelicals determined to be
open-minded and influential in their respective communities — meet with
peace activists, victims of violence on both sides of the conflict, and
members of the Bethlehem Bible College, which trains Arab Christian
pastors. The objective, Deatherage says, is to "change the conversation"
among conservative Christians in the U.S.

"We want people to go on these trips and then go back and change others'
minds by talking about their own experience, taking the things they've
learned and using them to help others understand what it means to be
global citizens," he said.

Lynne Hybels, an evangelical writer and minister heavily engaged in what
she calls the "pro-peace" movement in Israel, was even more blunt about
their intentions. She said they hope to "build a political constituency
that supports peace and supports policymakers with the courage and
commitment to work for peace." As Hybels sees it, that means
occasionally standing up for Palestinians — and not allowing Christian
critics to get away with accusing them of "abandoning God's chosen
people." [...]

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