The Iran Deal and the End of the Israel Lobby

New York Magazine

The pro-Israel lobby was never the shadowy, government-controlling entity portrayed by its most paranoid critics. It was, however, an important influence on American politics. Zionism is to Jews what the civil-rights movement is to African-Americans, a political program organized to protect basic survivalist concerns. Jews participate disproportionately in political life in every way: voting, intellectual debate, donating, and organizing. The pro-Israel lobby organized an important constituency in American politics that shared a relatively unified understanding of its collective self-interest.

A month ago, that lobby was gearing up for a massive national campaign to block the Iran nuclear deal, using every medium at its disposal: television ads, face-to-face lobbying, impassioned pleas from the bimah and in the Jewish press. The campaign has not only failed, it has appeared almost completely ineffectual, and its failure has left its members stupefied. The deal’s anticlimactic success shows that the world has moved beyond them, and they fail to understand how or why this happened.

The miscalculations by opponents of the Iran deal began with a poor grasp of public opinion. They imagined they could foment a broad public backlash, and opponents frequently, and triumphantly, cited opinion polls showing more respondents disapproved than approved of the Iran deal. But the results of these polls varied widely. Small changes in wording produced wildly varying results, reflecting the fact that few people knew or cared much about the issue. Turning a foreign-policy issue with no immediate salience to American security — even a nuclear-armed Iran, a worst-case scenario, would not involve an attack on Americans at home or abroad — into an issue Americans would actively care about was never realistic.

A Republican leadership aide, speaking to the Los Angeles Times, blamed Donald Trump’s candidacy for distracting the public. (“The GOP leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the setback, said billionaire Donald Trump’s attention-grabbing presidential campaign, along with scrutiny of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email server, overshadowed all other issues this summer, making it harder for the Republicans’ message to attract attention.”) Their plan could have worked! If only the atmosphere had been, as they apparently assumed it would be, completely devoid of a presidential campaign or other news.

The deal’s opponents not only misjudged public opinion as a whole, but more astonishingly, they misjudged the state of American Jewish opinion in particular. Congress might have been moved to oppose the Iran deal if the American Jewish community had viewed it as an existential threat to Israel. But Jews did not, on the whole, take that view. A detailed survey of American Jewish opinion by The Jewish Journal found that American Jews support the deal, 53 percent to 35 percent. How could that be? Well, this chart shows how Jewish opinion breaks down:

Liberals like the deal, and conservatives don’t, by roughly equal margins. But most Jews are liberals. Rising polarization of American life has cleaved in two everything in its path. There is no more “Israel lobby”; there is a red Israel lobby and a blue one.

The implications of this cleavage made blocking the Iran deal hopeless from the outset. As a simple matter of political mechanics, acquiring a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress meant hawks needed liberal Democrats to take their side. But they did not have arguments that could appeal to liberals — even liberals with a deep emotional connection to Israel. Nonproliferation experts strongly supported the agreement as the best way out of a difficult circumstance. Even Israel’s security establishment disagreed with Benjamin Netanyahu and the pro-Israel right. The technical case for the strength of the inspections and the enforcement mechanism was strong; the case against leaned heavily on apocalypticism.

And this underscores the most important tectonic forces moving beneath the Israel lobby’s feet. Over the last 15 years, the foreign-policy debate in Israel has moved steadily rightward. (In the last election, left-of-center Israeli parties relied on domestic issues, rather than appealing for territorial compromise.) The Israeli right favors either permanent occupation of the West Bank, or an occupation that lasts until such time as the Palestinians produce a pro-Zionist government, which is functionally the same thing.

That perspective has become increasingly coterminous with the American “pro-Israel” view. At last year’s AIPAC conference, some 65 percent of the attendees were Republican. That skewed perspective has pushed the American Jewish establishment to the right of American Jewry as a whole. Jewish Republicans have always believed that forcing Jews to pick sides between a conservative Israeli government and a liberal American one would leave them with the larger share. Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration Middle East adviser, today defends the Israel lobby’s choice to launch an existential fight it could not win. “If AIPAC would not fight on this issue,” he concludes, “many of its supporters would wonder why it even exists.” Launching unwinnable fights — and then retroactively justifying the decision in spite of failure — is, of course, an ingrained neoconservative tactic. This is a movement that has no language to express the concept of a counterproductive fight on behalf of a worthy cause.

But there is more at work than simple pigheadedness or habitual aggression. Many conservative supporters of Israel do not necessarily regard the crack-up of American Jewish opinion as a problem. In their view, diplomacy with Iran is the prelude to Israel’s annihilation, and support for Netanyahu’s permanent occupation is the sine qua non of genuine support for Israel. It follows that the Iran debate essentially succeeded, by smoking out the fake Israel supporters. An almost giddy Jennifer Rubin concludes that the deal’s victory destroys “the myth of bipartisan support for Israel.” The crack-up of the Israel lobby is, for its most conservative members, not a failure at all but the fulfillment of a longtime dream.

  1. #1 by Mike on 09/08/2015 - 9:34

    Israel is a bloated tick on the ass of humanity.

  2. #2 by Peter on 09/08/2015 - 9:34

    I know I should read the whole article to “understand your enemies,” as the expression goes but once I read the “pro-Israel lobby was never the shadowy, government-controlling entity portrayed by its most paranoid critics” I could only read a few more sentences, but what do you expect from a magazine written by Jews, from New York no less.

    The thing most people don’t understand is lobbying for war or paying people to murder enemies is a Jewish strategy and there are countless examples of it, including examples that have shaped world history. I don’t know much about religion, even less when it’s not my own, but I’m wondering if these strategies might go back to Biblical times. For most people the thought of paying someone to murder someone else would never enter their mind. It seems cowardly and extreme, but for Jews it comes natural.

    “AIPAC” clearly is a lobby that has played a major part in fomenting wars that have killed over one million of Israel’s “enemies,” including large numbers of women, children, old men and other non-combatants. I’m glad some Americans have finally recognized that, although it’s over a million dead people too late. But Jews have been doing this (paying others to murder for them) for the last 100 years and I now wonder if it goes much further back than that.

    In WW I international Jewry represented by Zionism promised England to bring the USA into WWI on their side if England made a gesture in support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. That gesture came in the form of the Balfour Declaration, which was actually made after the US entered the war but that is why it was made. In correspondence between Churchill and Chaim Weizmann (facsimiles of the actual letters are on David Irving’s website) Weizmann is again lobbying England, this time promising to bring the USA into WW II if England does more for the Jews, this time creating a “Jewish Brigade” to fight in WW II so it can develop into an army eventually. Weizmann tells Churchill that many Englishmen had commented on the help Jews were in pulling the USA into WW I, he says Jews are the only group unified and powerful enough to push the USA into WW II if the British do what he wants. He says, from the lowliest peddler to the most powerful Jews in the country (he cites names like Governor Lehman of New York and others) every Jew wants the USA to enter the war and attack Germany. He says, I’ll paraphrase “we did it before and we can do it again.” Meanwhile wealthy Jews began paying Churchill huge sums of money to attack Germany beginning in the mid 1930’s (see David Irving’s speech “Churchill’s War” on youtube) or buy his book available on his website.

    More recently wealthy, slimy Jew billionaire Sheldon Adelson who made his money in casinos (and everything that goes along with that) said he would like to see an atomic bomb dropped on Iran. He is the leading contributor of money to the republican presidential candidates who all fawn over him and all promise to attack Iran as soon as they’re in office.

    Yet Jews get away with these things and they are never talked about, just like the speech Putin made two years ago saying the first Soviet gov’t was 80 to 85% Jewish, but most Americans think the expression “Jewish Bolshevism” is a “NAZI lie.” No, Putin and many other people have said it’s the absolute truth. But just as no mainstream media outlet reported Putin’s statement, which would be an earth shaking historical discovery if it hasn’t been said so many times already (but keeping it out of the public’s consciousness by never mentioning it in the media), the majority of people are not aware of the other facts I mentioned above and they’ll say it’s a “NAZI lie” if you inform them of it, just like if you tell them what Putin said.

    More recently (very recently) I was told two things which give further support to what I said are Jewish ways, above. When I was young and dumb (by listening to teachers and others) I thought Jews were peaceful, kind and of course victims of terrible people. Only two days ago an older Englishman told me of a member of “the Jewish community” (he’s being careful with his language to avoid the danger of being called “anti-semitic”) who is a wealthy owner of a big mall in the city where I am (in a third world country) who paid a group of blacks from the black area of this country to attack a group of workers that were on strike against the Jew’s company (I believe they were workmen erecting a building for him). The blacks travelled a long distance and beat up people that were probably about 2/3 their size judging by the size of the average person here.

    And then today Iran into a Jewish acquaintance here who was telling me of a recent business venture he had with someone who lost a significant amount of money in a bad business stiffed move and can’t or wont’s pay him back. He said he’s going to hire some people to break the man’s legs.

    I believe Jews used to be more secretive about their dirty tricks, but they’re much more open about things now. They are also the undisputed world’s leading power now, so the two go along.

  3. #3 by Isaac on 09/08/2015 - 9:34

    The fact is that the Jews do not even use their own money to go and massacre thousands of people. The Jews live by Proxy, they use others money, resources and lives to get rid of their enemies, their adversaries were taken by the British who got rid of the Ottoman Empire for the Zionists. Now they are using the blood and money of the American people to get rid of their adversaries. Shame on those stooges in Washington who aid and abate that criminal mafia.

  4. #4 by Vickie Jacobs on 09/09/2015 - 9:34


    You must of forgot Jeremiah 5:17; And they shall eat up mine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.”

    You have allowed the Jews to take and take and now what do you have in this country?

  5. #5 by Isaac on 09/09/2015 - 9:34

    That is the very truth. It is written in the Bible. Also its written that the Jews were damned, cursed, disowned, disinherited by Jehovah. Jesus did the same many times and the Jews did it to themselves when they cried to Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: