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Leading Former Official Says Israelis Won’t be Reassured by Obama’s Security Pledges Following Iran Agreement: Algemeiner, Apr. 7, 2015 — Former US Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams said it is unlikely Israel’s leadership will be moved by a string of assurances made by President Obama in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday on the recently announced nuclear framework agreement with Iran.
G.O.P.’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift: Eric Lipton, New York Times, Apr. 4, 2015— As the proposed agreement over Iran’s nuclear program is debated in coming weeks, President Obama will make his case to a Congress controlled by Republicans who are more fervently pro-Israel than ever, partly a result of ideology, but also a product of a surge in donations and campaign spending on their behalf by a small group of wealthy donors.
An Agreement Worse than Munich; American Jews Serve as Enablers: Jonathan Rosenblum, Mishpacha, Apr. 3, 2015 — The other night I woke up around 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat thinking about the Iran nuclear deal that the P5+1 is prepared to sign, if only Iran will agree.
Obama and Black-Jewish Relations: Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 31, 2015 — President Obama is trying the patience of Jewish Democrats in Congress, a dozen of whom took Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to the woodshed last week over the president’s continued criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Skeptical of Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel Calls for Changes: Isabel Kershner & David E. Sanger, New York Times, Apr. 6, 2015
Possible Failure of Iran Nuclear Deal Divides U.S., Israel: Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2015
Cracks Appear in Democratic-Jewish Alliance Over Iran Deal, Netanyahu: Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 3, 2015
Outline of Iran Nuclear Deal Sounds Different From Each Side: Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, Apr. 4, 2015
Apocalyptic Betrayals: Noah Beck, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2015
Algemeiner, Apr. 7, 2015
Former US Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams said it is unlikely Israel’s leadership will be moved by a string of assurances made by President Obama in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday on the recently announced nuclear framework agreement with Iran. “It is hard to believe that many Israelis will be reassured by the interview,” Abrams wrote in a blog for the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is now a senior fellow, “especially not if they read the Iranian press and see what, in their own interviews, Iranian officials are claiming they got out of the new nuclear agreement.”
Abrams, who served in the Republican administrations of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, quoted a number of paragraphs from the interview in which Obama voices sympathy for Israeli concerns over the framework agreement, but said the assurances were far too vague and failed to take into account the full extent of Israel’s grievances. “Several times in this interview the President went out of his way to suggest that he fully understands Israel’s security problems, but the full text suggests that he does not–because he believes that his statements that ‘if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there’ and would ‘stand by them’ actually solve any of those problems,” Abrams said. “Time alone undermines the value of those statements, because he will not be president in 22 months. The words he used are sufficiently vague to undermine their value as well.”
Abrams quoted Obama extensively, who said, “I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have, and I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
In response Abrams questioned, “What does ‘messes with Israel’ mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years. Is that ‘messing with Israel?’ Iran has tried to blow up several Israeli embassies, repeating the successful attack it made on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Fortunately Israel has foiled the more recent plots, but is attempting to bomb Israeli embassies ‘messing with Israel?’ Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that ‘messing with Israel?’ And what does the President mean by ‘America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?”
Abrams also addressed the President’s promise to stand by Israel if it “were to be attacked by any state” by pointing out that its most immediate enemies are Iran’s terror proxies Hamas and Hezbollah which can’t be classified as states. Additionally Abrams questioned Obama’s claim that “it has been personally difficult for me to hear … expressions that somehow … this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.” Abrams said, “This is the White House whose high officials called the prime minister of Israel a ‘chicken—-’ and a ‘coward,’ in interviews meant to be published–not off the record. And the officials who said those things remain in place; no effort was ever made to identify and discipline them.”
“But,” Abrams concluded, “the deeper problem is that the reassurances the President is offering to Israel…are simply not reassuring. Iran is already, right now, while under sanctions that are badly hurting its economy, spending vast amounts of money and effort to ‘mess with Israel.’ This administration’s reaction has been to seek a nuclear deal that will give Iran more economic resources to dedicate to its hatred and violence against Israel, but will in no way whatsoever limit Iran’s conventional weapons and its support for terrorism.”
New York Times, Apr. 4, 2015
As the proposed agreement over Iran’s nuclear program is debated in coming weeks, President Obama will make his case to a Congress controlled by Republicans who are more fervently pro-Israel than ever, partly a result of ideology, but also a product of a surge in donations and campaign spending on their behalf by a small group of wealthy donors.
One of the surprisingly high-profile critics is Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who burst to prominence with a letter signed by 46 Republican colleagues to leaders of Iran warning against a deal. Mr. Cotton, echoing criticism by Israeli leaders, swiftly denounced the framework reached on Thursday as “a list of dangerous U.S. concessions that will put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons” — words, his colleagues say, that expressed his deep concern about Iran’s threat to Israel’s security. But it is also true that Mr. Cotton and other Republicans benefited from millions in campaign spending in 2014 by several pro-Israel Republican billionaires and other influential American donors who helped them topple Democratic opponents.
Republicans currently in the Senate raised more money during the 2014 election cycle in direct, federally regulated campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees deemed pro-Israel than their Democratic counterparts, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and analyzed for The New York Times by a second nonprofit, MapLight. The Republican advantage was the first in more than a decade. The alliances in Congress that pro-Israel donors have built will certainly be tested as they lobby lawmakers to oppose the deal with Iran and perhaps even expand sanctions against the country, despite objections from the Obama administration.
Donors say the trend toward Republicans among wealthy, hawkish contributors is at least partly responsible for inspiring stronger support for Israel among party lawmakers who already had pro-Israel views. “Absolutely, it is a factor,” said Marc Felgoise, who manages the Philadelphia Israel Network, a campaign fund-raising group, and whose own contributions have shifted to Republicans, though he still supports many Democrats. “They are trying to cater to people who are ultimately going to support them.” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, saw his donations from pro-Israel donors soar to about $285,000 in the 2014 election cycle from less than $100,000 in 2008, during his previous election, the analysis by MapLight shows. Pro-Israel contributions to Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, plummeted to less than $150,000 in 2014, when he was also re-elected, from nearly $300,000 in 2008, according to this count.
But few candidates have benefited as much as Mr. Cotton. The Emergency Committee for Israel, led by William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, spent $960,000 to support Mr. Cotton. In that same race, Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire from New York and a leading donor to pro-Israel causes, contributed $250,000 to Arkansas Horizon, another independent expenditure group supporting Mr. Cotton. Seth Klarman, a Boston-based pro-Israel billionaire, contributed $100,000.
The political action committee run by John Bolton, the United Nations ambassador under President George W. Bush and an outspoken supporter of Israel, spent at least $825,000 to support Mr. Cotton. That PAC is in part financed by other major pro-Israel donors, including Irving and Cherna Moskowitz of Miami, who contributed 99 percent of their $1.1 million in 2012 races to Republican candidates and causes. Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, said this relatively small group of very wealthy Jewish-Americans distorted the views among Jews nationwide who remain supportive of the Democratic Party and a more nuanced relationship with Israel.
“The very, very limited set of people who do their politics simply through the lens of Israel — that small group is tilting more heavily Republican now,” he said, adding, “But it is dangerous for American politics as too many people do not understand that of the six million American Jews, this is only a handful.” The deepening support for Israel among congressional Republicans reflects a significant shift for the party that has been playing out for several decades, said Geoffrey Kabaservice, a Republican Party historian.
“Israel did not traditionally represent that kind of emotional focus for any element of the Republican Party,” he said. “But the feeling now is that it is a winning issue, as it helps them to appear strong on foreign policy.” Mr. Cotton declined to be interviewed, but his communications director, Caroline Rabbitt, said his aggressive support of Israel was based on longstanding beliefs, not any particular financial backer. “He knows Israel is one of the most important allies and a beacon of democracy in an otherwise perilous part of the world,” she said…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Mishpacha, Apr. 3, 2015
The other night I woke up around 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat thinking about the Iran nuclear deal that the P5+1 is prepared to sign, if only Iran will agree. As Prime Minister Netanyahu put it in his speech to Congress, the sunset provisions of the proposed accord ensure that Iran will attain nuclear arms capability even if they do not violate the terms of the agreement. And I for one take Iran's leaders seriously when they speak of the necessity of removing Israel from the map.
I don't worry that the Iranians would immediately employ a nuclear weapon. My concern (following Bret Stephens) is that if the theocrats in Teheran ever sensed that power was ebbing from their grasp, they would not go as quietly into the night as the Shah did. Being believers, after all, they might well decide that the time to earn their world-to-come had arrived, just as Hitler, ym"sh, a different kind of messianist, diverted crucial resources from the doomed German war effort to pursue his "final solution."
Given the number of restive ethnic minorities in Iran today and the alienation of most of the population from the mullahs, that moment when the regime teeters might not be that far off. Whether or not the Iranians ever employed their nukes, their mere possession would serve as an umbrella for Iran's highly aggressive foreign policy, in particular against Israel. Already today Iran is actively seeking to surround Israel from all sides – Lebanon, the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and most recently the Syrian Golan – with its well-armed proxies. Every lessening of the sanctions regime against Iran leaves Teheran with more money in its coffers for making mischief abroad.
The Obama administration's explicit decision to decouple nuclear negotiations with Iran from its aggressive support of terrorists around the globe, including playing host to numerous Al Qaeda operatives, observes Walter Russell Mead, is incoherent. That is the second great defect of the agreement now on the table. The final irony of the deal, if it goes through, is that President Obama, who came into office committed to dramatically reducing nuclear arms, will have triggered the most rapid explosion of nuclear states in history, in the world's most unstable region. Saudi Arabia has already paid for off-the-shelf nuclear weapons from Pakistan, and Turkey and Egypt would almost certainly follow suit. None of these regimes are so stable that conjuring up those weapons falling into the hands of radical Islamists is difficult.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, speaking recently to the French Foreign Affairs committee is reported by France's leading political weekly Le Canard Enchaine to have made clear his deep distrust ("contempt really," according to one member of parliament) for both John Kerry and Barack Obama, and their nuclear naivete. "The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians," another member of parliament reported Fabius as saying. What concerns the French most, reports Anne-Elisabeth Moutet of the Gatestone Institute, is the terrifying prospect that if the Saudis, Turks or Egyptians obtain nuclear weapons an irresponsible leader might use them or they might fall into the hands of a terrorist group.
I would argue that the proposed Iran deal is worse than that Britain and France entered into with Hitler at Munich for two reasons. Neville Chamberlain knew that Britain was not prepared to confront Germany militarily when he signed at Munich. By contrast, the United States enjoys overwhelming military superiority over Iran and could easily destroy its present nuclear facilities. Yet Obama treats military action as unthinkable. True, Iran would likely respond by unleashing its terrorist networks around the globe, but it would have plenty of other inviting targets for American bombers to deter it from proceeding too far down that lane.
But the even more distressing aspect of the comparison to Munich is that American Jewry has served as Obama's enabler on the path to legitimizing a nuclear Iran and placing six million Jews in Israel under mortal threat by twice voting for him in very high percentages. That Obama has no great affinity for Israel was clear from the beginning. His 2008 foreign policy team leaned heavily to the "realist" side – i.e., those who view the Palestinian problem as the crux of all that ails the Middle East. That view has been conclusively refuted by the unraveling of the region since Arab Spring, though the news has yet to reach Foggy Bottom or the White House.
Two of those early advisors were so toxic that they had to be dropped from the campaign lest American Jews get suspicious. One was Samantha Powers, who once called for American troops to defend Palestinians from murderous Israelis. The other was Robert Malley, whose father, one of the founders of the Egyptian Communist Party, counted Yasir Arafat as a friend. Malley was the only member of the U.S. team at Camp David, including President Clinton himself, not to blame Arafat for the breakdown of the talks by walking out without making so much as a counter-offer. Powers has now resurfaced as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Malley as the head of the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.
Early in his presidency, Obama told a group of American Jewish leaders that he intended to put distance between the United States and Israel. And he wasted no time. He and Secretary of State Clinton pretended that President Bush's commitment to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that any peace settlement would have to take into account the new reality on the ground of large settlement blocks was irrelevant, even though Bush's letter was the quid pro quo for the total Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Instead the administration treated Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem built since 1967 as no different than the most farflung settlement. (Iran take note of the binding force of executive agreements.)
At the outset of his second term, Obama made his disdain for Israel even clearer, just in case anyone had missed the point. He chose former senator Chuck Hagel, a man of no discernible qualifications, as Secretary of Defense. While in the Senate, Hagel had a well-earned reputation as the senator most hostile to Israel. At the time of his appointment, Hagel was a regular speaker on the American Muslim banquet circuit, lamenting the undue Jewish influence over American foreign policy. And even more ominously, he was closely connected to the Iranian lobby. As CIA director, Obama appointed John Brennan, a long-time apostle of the moderation of both the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an affiliate) and Hezbollah. In his previous task, as Obama's counter-terrorism director, Brennan devoted much of his energies to purging all references to Islam from the government's counter-terrorism manuals…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jason L. Riley
Wall Street Journal, Mar. 31, 2015
President Obama is trying the patience of Jewish Democrats in Congress, a dozen of whom took Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to the woodshed last week over the president’s continued criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Politico, the lawmakers complained to Mr. Rhodes that Mr. Obama is behaving as though the Israeli prime minister’s recent comment dismissing the chances for Palestinian statehood is all that is blocking the peace process, when the talks have been moribund for a year. The Democratic congressmen also noted that the president had refrained from criticizing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and had even hinted that he might back United Nations recognition of Palestine.
Of course, the Obama administration’s vindictive digs at Mr. Netanyahu are really about the Persians in Iran, not the Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. The president is trying to undermine Israeli criticism of U.S. nuclear talks with the mullahs. Mr. Netanyahu says Iran must be prevented from developing a nuclear weapon and is worried that the White House will cut a deal that doesn’t do that. Iranian leaders have said repeatedly that they want to annihilate Israel, which is home to about half of the world’s Jews. Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Netanyahu takes the Iranians at their word.
American Jews supported President Obama overwhelmingly in 2008 (with 78% of their votes) and 2012 (69%). Save for Jimmy Carter in 1980, every Democratic presidential candidate has won at least 65% of the Jewish vote for the past half-century. (Mr. Carter could only muster 45% against Ronald Reagan’s 39%.) To the extent that Mr. Obama was seen as the culmination of a decades-long civil-rights effort focused on increasing black political power, Jewish support for the president also makes sense:
Henry Moskowitz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, co-founded the NAACP in 1909. Jack Greenberg, a Jewish attorney, litigated Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in the 1950s and succeeded Thurgood Marshall as head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1961. Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a leading Jewish theologian, was a personal friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and marched with him in Selma. Rabbi Uri Miller recited the opening prayer at the March on Washington in 1963, and Rabbi Joachim Prinz spoke just before King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Some Jews made the ultimate sacrifice, as in 1964 when Klansmen murdered Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, along with James Chaney, for promoting black voter registration in Mississippi. This black-Jewish alliance became strained as the black left’s agenda moved away from equal treatment for everyone and toward special treatment for blacks. Jews who had experienced discrimination in the U.S. and elsewhere yet advanced by dint of individual talent and diligence were wary of group preferences. When blacks challenge “the systems of testing by which school principals and higher officials in the educational bureaucracy are selected and promoted, they are also challenging the very system under which Jews have done so well,” wrote the sociologist Nathan Glazer in a 1964 Commentary magazine article on black-Jewish relations. “And when they challenge the use of grades as the sole criterion for entry into special high schools and free colleges, they challenge the system which has enabled Jews to dominate these institutions for decades.”
Jews were also put off by the rise in black militancy beginning in the late 1960s, when groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee voted to expel whites—including several Jews—from leadership positions. Later, anti-Jewish black groups like Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam would gain prominence. Martin Luther King Jr. had equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, but in the 1970s black leaders like Jesse Jackson would openly embrace Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1984, Mr. Jackson told a black Washington Post reporter that he was being unfairly treated by the “hymies” who controlled the media. By the 1990s, Al Sharpton was wearing a King medallion around his neck while referring to Jews as “diamond merchants” and “interlopers” in Harlem. “If the Jews want to get it on,” he once told a black crowd, “tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” These days Mr. Sharpton spends a lot of time at Mr. Obama’s house, where he counsels the president on race relations when he’s not lecturing the country on civil discourse from his MSNBC anchor chair.
If you can judge a person by the company he keeps, this is worrisome. America’s relationship with Israel is in tatters, and Jewish Democrats are right to wonder whether Mr. Obama—who spent 20 years marinating in the sermons of a pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who has called the Jewish state “illegal” and “genocidal”—much cares. The historical irony of the first black U.S. president cutting a deal with the ayatollahs that jeopardizes the security of Israel isn’t lost on Jews.
Skeptical of Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel Calls for Changes: Isabel Kershner & David E. Sanger, New York Times, Apr. 6, 2015— Clearly unsatisfied with assurances from President Obama about the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel on Monday listed specific requirements that it declared were necessary in any final agreement.
Possible Failure of Iran Nuclear Deal Divides U.S., Israel: Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2015 —As profound as the disagreement is between Israel and the U.S. over the substance of the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran, the two countries disagree just as fundamentally over the consequences of failing to complete such a deal.
Cracks Appear in Democratic-Jewish Alliance Over Iran Deal, Netanyahu: Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 3, 2015 —Many U.S. Jewish leaders are unnerved both by the new Iran nuclear agreement and the public falling out between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, developments that are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
Outline of Iran Nuclear Deal Sounds Different From Each Side: Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, Apr. 4, 2015 —Negotiators at the nuclear talks in Switzerland emerged from marathon talks on Thursday with a surprisingly detailed outline of the agreement they now must work to finalize by the end of June.
Apocalyptic Betrayals: Noah Beck, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2015 —US President Barack Obama’s far-reaching efforts to facilitate Iran’s march to nukes amount to nothing less than apocalyptic betrayals of US voters and allies – betrayals that will make the world exponentially more dangerous.
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