By Phillip Weiss, www.mondoweiss.com
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman has a fine piece of reporting up about how the Israeli right is hoping that the Congress will change hands next week. The best part of the piece is where the Congressional Democrats protest, Hey we love Israel just as much, even more! Read this with your eyes open. I know, that’s hard. The juice comes at the end.
And tell me, will Gary Ackerman have to eat his words, or lose his job, ala Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas? Will Howard Berman, Henry Waxman, Sander Levin, or Barney Frank speak a word of criticism? Will the Obama administration?
And you ask why the Obama administration folded on settlements? Our politics are broken.
A Congressional Democratic staff member pointed also to the impact a switch to a Republican majority could have on coordination between the White House and Congress. Recently, the administration has worked closely on Iran sanctions legislation with Howard Berman, the Democratic chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. At the request of the White House, Berman delayed a vote on sanctions legislation, despite Republican pressure, until the administration completed international consultations that led to a United Nations resolution on this issue. It is not clear if Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to chair the committee if her party wins the majority, would act in the same way.
Citing the sanctions bill as an example, New York Democrat Gary Ackerman, argued that Israel’s best bet for addressing any concerns about Obama’s policy would be for Democrats to retain power. “I’m not saying that if the Republicans take the House it would be doomsday for Israel, but if they want positive influence on the White House, that’s us,” said Ackerman, who chairs the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Ackerman and other Jewish Democrats point to the forceful criticisms they conveyed to the White House when they thought that Obama was leaning too hard on Israel.
“If you need the president, you need us as chairs of the committees,” Ackerman said as he listed what he called the “first-class team” of Jewish pro-Israel Democrats who chair key House committees: Berman at Foreign Affairs, Barney Frank at Financial Services, Henry Waxman at the Energy and Commerce committee, Sander Levin at Ways and Means, and Ackerman himself in his role as head of the Middle East subcommittee. “We are all pro-Israel and we all have major, major, major influence in the executive branch.”