GMP product photo
The latest NCRI revelations of a new “Lavizan 3″ facility has been sent to the right wing and pro-war media and has been playing in the US non-stop. The group claims it has photo of a “steel door” designed to prevent radiation leaks. (Washington Post).
The report feature only one singular picture as proof, they say was taken from an underground bunker that is “anti nuclear radiation”. But the picture is from an Iranian safe company GMP It’s a product shot for their “explosive resistant” door.
Page 10 of NCRI Report, Feb 24, 2015
The NCRI is a front organization controlled by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a violent terrorist organization at war with Iran. It has targeted and killed many civilians including American citizens since the 1960’s. The group was listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 in the United States.
The cult-like group has also perpetrated human rights abuses against its own members. But in the post-Iraq invasion era, it has become a vocal supporter of military action by US and Israel. MEK participated in assassination of Iranian scientists and has an established relationship with Israel. Read this National Interest article for some of the details.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 statement at the UN, in which he warned the world of Iran being too close to making a nuclear bomb, allegedly contradicted his country’s intelligence assessments, according to leaked spy documents.
Netanyahu famously declared to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012 that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon,” and drew another “red line” at 90 percent, claiming Tehran’s first bomb would be ready “by next spring, at most by next summer.”
However, leaked Mossad documents suggest the country was much further from such development.
According to Spy Cables – a cache of hundreds of leaked secret intelligence papers from all over the world, published by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Guardian newspaper – at the time of Netanyahu’s statement, Israel’s intelligence service concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” estimating that Iran had 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent.
“Even though Iran has accumulated enough 5 percent enriched uranium for several bombs, and has enriched some of it to 20 percent, it does not appear to be ready to enrich it to higher levels. It is allocating some of it to produce nuclear fuel for the TRR [Tehran Research Reactor], and the amount of 20 percent enriched uranium is therefore not increasing,” said the secret report, which Mossad shared with South Africa’s State Security Agency a few weeks after the prime minister’s UN speech.
With world leaders worried by a possible nuclear threat, a series of political decisions led to Iran’s consent to neutralize or destroy its enriched uranium under an agreement with the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany – the so-called P5+1 group.
Talks between world leaders on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and uranium enrichment capacity have taken place since sanctions were imposed on Tehran in 2012.
Iran insists it has no nuclear weapons ambitions and seeks enrichment capabilities to develop reactor fuel, and for other peaceful purposes. However, the West believes Tehran has been using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for developing a bomb.
Since the parties failed to reach a conclusion by the previous deadline of November last year, Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers carry on. Iran and P5+1 countries are expected to reach a basic framework agreement by the end of March, with a final accord due by June 30. Netanyahu plans to address the US Congress next month to once again warn against a nuclear compromise with Tehran.
Iran has refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a centrifuge used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with six world powers, a UN report showed, allaying concerns it might be violating the accord.
An interim accord in 2013 between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia stipulated Tehran could continue its “current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices,” implying they should not be stepped up.
But a UN nuclear agency report in November said Iran had been feeding one of several new models under development, the so-called IR-5 centrifuge, with uranium gas, prompting a debate among analysts on whether this may have been a violation.
A confidential document by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), distributed among its member states on Thursday and obtained by Reuters, showed the IR-5 had been disconnected.
“The disconnection reflects Iran addressing concerns about its enrichment (of uranium),” said the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear program.
“The disconnection provides additional confidence that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the 2013 agreement.
International talks have been resumed in Geneva on Friday with the aim of narrowing remaining gaps in negotiations to end Iran’s 12-year standoff with the six powers.
Washington suspects Iran’s nuclear program is designed to develop nuclear weapons; Iran denies this, saying it is for peaceful purposes.
The deal sought by the powers would have Iran accept limits to its uranium enrichment capacity and open up to unfettered IAEA inspections.
In return, Iran would see a lifting of international trade and financial sanctions that hobbled its oil-based economy.
The IAEA document about the UN inquiry, which has run parallel to the big power talks, was issued to IAEA member states only weeks before a deadline in late March for a framework agreement between Iran and the powers.
They have set themselves a deadline for a final deal at the end of June. Two deadlines for a permanent agreement have already been missed since the November 2013 interim deal.
Negotiators are now working toward reaching a political framework by March 31, with the final technical details to be laid out in a comprehensive accord by June 30.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that his country would resist global sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, saying that Iran might respond to international pressure by cutting back gas exports.
“If sanctions are to be the way, the Iranian nation can also do it. A big collection of the world’s oil and gas is in Iran, so Iran if necessary can hold back on the gas that Europe and the world is so dependent on,” Khamenei said.
Disagreements in the talks between Iran and P5+1 center on the extent of nuclear activities Iran would be allowed to continue and the timetable for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear efforts.
When I was in college back in the 1960s a Jewish friend and I got into a discussion after Israel’s overwhelming victory in the June 1967 “Six day war.” I observed that many of the Jewish students who were exulting over kicking the crap out of the Arabs were at the same time leaders of the anti-war movement on campus, which opposed the Vietnam War. Admittedly media coverage of Vietnam was already becoming negative and the press descriptions of what had gone on in the Middle East falsely represented a beleaguered Israeli David by sheer grit and valor defeating an overwhelming Arab Goliath, so it was possible to distinguish in practical terms between the two conflicts. One was defense and the other was American imperialism, or so it could be construed by those who chose to see it that way.
As I knew that I was soon to be drafted I tried to rationalize within my own mind Vietnam, convincing myself that it was a war to stop the spread of communism, which at the time appeared to represent an existential threat directed against the United States. But I was still bothered by folks who claimed to oppose Vietnam on principle cheering on another war apparently based on their own ethnic affinity. My friend responded to my concerns by acknowledging the emotional tug represented by Israel but adding that the United States would always be much more important to him. It didn’t really answer the question but it came from a friend and it was good enough.
Well, that was then and this is now. Since the 1960s what Norman Finkelstein has described as the “Holocaust industry” has burgeoned, much of it used as an excuse to exonerate Israeli bad behavior. The Israel Lobby has also grown enormously in support of only one objective, which is binding Israel to the United States in such a fashion as to make Americans the enablers and uncritical supporters of Tel Aviv’s foreign and security policies.
Many American Jews, to their credit, have become weary of the tie that binds to Israel as they recognize that it is bad for both parties involved and enables an endless occupation of Arab land that is both cruel and immoral while fostering internal developments in Israel that might reasonably be described as fascistic. Other Jews have, however, gone in another direction, making the immunizing of Israel from any and all criticism while demonizing her enemies their life’s goal. In that they have largely succeeded, with Benjamin Netanyahu an honored guest of the U.S. Congress, a wannabe presidential candidate incorrectly describing Israel as a “most cherished ally,” and two Jewish billionaires openly lining up to be principal supporters of the upcoming Republican and Democratic presidential candidates as measured by their support of Israel.
Indeed, many supporters of Israel do not seem at all ashamed of openly putting Israel ahead of the United States, which is where I have a problem because, apart from enabling the skewing of America’s foreign policy, it raises the issue of where one has basic loyalty. Loyalty to a nation might well be passé in this day and age but it can have significant consequences when groups that are powerful promote detrimental policies that impact on everyone.
All of which brings me to the Super Bowl. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is a passionate supporter of Israel and all its works, to include its increasingly right wing governments over the past decades. He has visited the country more than 50 times. When his team won the Lombardi trophy in 2005 he personally carried it to Israel and presented it to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. To be sure Kraft appears to be a decent, well liked man who has funded institutes that foster better Christian-Jewish relations, but his bottom line always appears to be Israel.
Kraft’s recently deceased wife Myra once told the Jerusalem Post that if one of her sons wanted to join the Israeli Army “I would go with him. I always wanted to live here. As for joining the army, over Vietnam, I would have had an issue, because I didn’t believe in it. The same goes for the war in Iraq. I don’t know why we’re there. I would hate to have one of my sons fighting there. Iran’s the problem, not Iraq. But, as far as fighting for Israel is concerned, there is no problem.” For Myra Kraft even if one were serving to maintain an illegal occupation, Israel was always the “good war” while America’s wars were debatable. For what it’s worth, none of her four sons has ever been in anyone’s uniform. Nor has their father.
The Kraft family passion for the Israel Defense Forces extends to Robert’s recent writing of a personal letter to the family of Israeli-American soldier Max Steinberg. Steinberg was killed during Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza, in which 2,310 Palestinians, 500 of whom were children, died compared to 71 Israelis, 66 of whom were soldiers.
Kraft wrote “It is with a heavy heart that I write to you after having learned about your dear son and distinguished member of the Israel Defense Forces, Max. Although I didn’t have the privilege of knowing your son Max personally, I have taken the liberty of reaching out to you since I noticed him wearing a New England Patriots cap in one of the broadcasted photos. He represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe. His dedication and loyalty to Israel have not gone unnoticed and I am sure he has left behind a legacy of which you and your family can be proud.”
Why is all this important? It is important because Robert Kraft is a rich, powerful and politically well-connected man. What he says and does and the example he sets matter. Insofar as I could determine he has never written a letter to a fallen American soldier from either Boston or Massachusetts. Like his wife, he perhaps unintentionally sees something special in service to Israel that he does not find in service to the United States. And as for those who might perversely argue as Myra Kraft did that America’s wars are suspect while Israel’s conflicts are righteous self-defense, one might well note that Washington’s disastrous invasion of Iraq was intertwined with Israeli interests while Tel Aviv’s urging yet another war against Iran serves no U.S. national interest at all. Arguing in favor of Israel’s use of its armed forces as somehow more ethical than that of the United States is ridiculous, particularly as Tel Aviv’s military is mostly engaged in supporting an illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian territory.
The bottom line is that celebrating Israel’s apartheid regime and its wars is bad for both Israel the United States and it behooves moderate leaders like Robert Kraft to recognize that fact and state it openly.
This type of blinkered Israel-centric thinking leads to other extraordinary behavior, far beyond anything done by Kraft. The controversial impending visit by Benjamin Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress has brought the Lobby out in full force. Israeli former parliamentarian and journalist Yossi Sarid, who writes for Haaretz, notes how Republican Jewish organizations have “launched a campaign of intimidation against those lawmakers who have already announced the intent to skip the joint session.” He observes that “Netanyahu is determined to show the president once and for all who really rules in Washington, who is the landlord both here and there.” He cites Matthew Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who reportedly said “We will commit whatever resources we need to make sure that people are aware of the facts, that given the choice to stand with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu in opposition to a nuclear Iran, they chose partisan interests and to stand with President Obama.” Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America added “We will, of course, be publicly condemning any Democrats who don’t show up for the speech, unless they have a doctor’s note.”
Sarid concludes somewhat hyperbolically with an observation that no American newspaper would ever dare print: “In these very moments, the protocols are being rewritten. Rich Jews are writing them in their own handwriting. They, in their wealth, are confirming with their own signatures what anti-Semites used to slander them with in days gone by: We, the elders of Zion, pull the strings of Congress, and the congressmen are nothing but marionettes who do our will. If they don’t understand our words, they’ll understand our threats. And if in the past, we ran the show from behind the scenes, now we’re doing it openly, from center stage. And if you forget our donations, the wellspring will run dry.”
Benjamin Netanyahu has ignored demands that he alter the agenda of his visit to make it less confrontational. He recently said that he will be the “representative of the entire Jewish people” when he addresses Congress, an assertion that has made many American Jews very uncomfortable. He will also be speaking at the annual AIPAC summit and will attend a gala reception hosted by the Emergency Committee for Israel, headed by Bill Kristol. Kristol welcomes the visit of Netanyahu because “Obama left a few things out of SOTU. Bibi can help out by filling in some blanks–al Qaeda, radical Islam, Iran’s sponsorship of terror, etc.” In other words, Americans should be grateful for Netanyahu’s telling us how ignorant we all are.
And obsession with defending Israel also can lead to turning a blind eye to the celebration of the cruel deaths of Americans who do not share that infatuation. Debbie Schlussel, a popular talk radio host who describes herself as a “lifelong conservative Republican activist,” does not find the recent killing by ISIS of American aid worker Kayla Mueller a tragedy. Schlussel, who claims to be highly educated, describes Mueller as a “Jew hating, anti-Israel bitch,” and “an anti-Israel piece of crap who worked with HAMAS and helped Palestinians harass Israeli soldiers and block them from doing their job of keeping Islamic terrorists out of Israel.” Another advocate for Israel calls Mueller a “useful idiot” and “terrorist supporter.” That the rabid Schlussel is borderline mainstream in terms of her audience and access is astonishing and the comments on her website suggest, unfortunately, that she is not alone in her vitriolic hatred of anyone even vaguely perceived as being not friendly enough to Israel.
As Allan Brownfeld has argued very persuasively Judaism is a religion and the United States and Israel are both sovereign countries having different interests, which is something that Robert Kraft, Bill Kristol, Matthew Brooks, Debbie Schlussel and Mortimer Klein should just occasionally bear in mind. Ultimately, if you are being honest with yourself you can only be loyal to one country and if you are born, living and working in the United States that should be your default choice. If your religion, tribal solidarity or ethnic affinity makes you defer to the interests of Israel or indeed any other country, by all means move there.
Indeed, American citizens can have affection for as many countries as they choose but loyalty involves the responsibilities of citizenships and doing what is right for one’s own country which makes it quite a different issue. It is not a rhetorical conceit that the oath new American citizens take requires them to abjure any prior allegiances. No one is suggesting that American Jews should not be charitable to and express concern regarding the well-being of their co-religionists worldwide, but that charity and empathy should not extend to promoting the pernicious interests of a foreign government.
Our first President George Washington, whose birthday we celebrate this week, called such ties “passionate attachments” that create “the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists.”To my mind, it would not be possible to describe the lopsided special relationship between Israel and the United States, engineered by a powerful domestic lobby, any better than that.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has expressed deep concern over restrictions imposed on Iranian students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The university has decided to no longer admit Iranian nationals as students in certain engineering and science programs, claiming the move aims to avoid violating US sanctions against Iran.
The university announced it would no longer accept Iranian nationals into graduate programs in chemical, computer, and mechanical engineering as well as the natural sciences.
The university also requires all Iranian students certify their compliance with anti-Iran sanctions, explaining that the decision has been made based on a 2012 federal law, which declares Iranian citizens ineligible for US visas if they seek higher education in preparation for careers in Iran’s energy sector or any field related to nuclear power.
However, the NIAC, which is a US-based organization, said it is up to the State Department and Homeland Security to enforce US sanctions polices, not the university.
The NGO has called on the UMass to reverse its decision.
In 2012, US Congress enacted a broad sanctions bill that excludes Iranian citizens from education in the United States if they plan to focus on energy related research in Iran.
No change in federal policy
A US State Department official said the department was aware of the UMass decision, adding there had been no changes in federal policy regarding Iranian students.
He said the department will contact UMass to discuss the decision and will answer any questions from other academic institutions about the law.
“All visa applications are reviewed individually in accordance with the requirements of the US Immigration and Nationality Act and other relevant laws that establish detailed standards for determining eligibility for visas and admission to the United States,” the official said in an e-mail.
He added that Washington does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals from educating in science and engineering and noted that each application is reviewed on a “case-by-case” basis.
Every general election brings with it the irksome task of reading the manifestos of the political parties. Now the Board of Deputies of British Jews have launched their very own “Jewish Manifesto”. The 40-page document is intended to persuade policy-makers and politicians to promote key aspects of Jewish life in Britain and do some big favours for the abhorrent Zionist regime in Tel Aviv
“It will form the centrepiece of the Board’s drive to ensure that all the political parties take the concerns of Britain’s 300,000-strong Jewish community into account when setting out their own proposals for government.”
Favours we are asked to do for the Rogue State
At the heart of the Manifesto is a list of “policy asks”, some of which attempt to demonise Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran and portray them as Britain’s enemies as well as Israel’s.
Others aim to perpetuate Israeli dominance in the Holy Land at the Palestinians’ expense, like this one from the ‘Ten Commitments':
- “Advocate for a permanent, comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
The Board of Deputies explicitly state that the UK Jewish community is committed to equality for Israel and the Palestinians, yet here they want us to press for a “secure” Israel with Palestine only “viable”. And that has become the mantra among Israel’s stooges in the West. We know what it will mean on the ground, and it’s despicable. Why should the Palestinians, whose land it is, live in permanent fear and subjugation, defenceless among the shredded and disconnected remnants of their territory and not even in control of their borders? Let’s turn it round so we have “a secure Palestine alongside a viable Israeli state”. How do the Board of Deputies like the sound of that?
Here are a few more Manifesto gems…
- They want restitution for private property the Nazis stole during the Holocaust leaving many survivors living in dire poverty and without a legacy for the descendants.
This is a very cruel injustice. But what about all the land, homes, other property, infrastructure and natural resources the Jewish State confiscated from the Palestinians during the Nakba and continued to seize ever since? When will that be returned? According to the UN, last year alone Israel demolished the homes of 1,177 Palestinians in Jerusalem and West Bank (never mind the countless thousands of homes they reduced to rubble in Gaza).
They don’t like to see Israel boycotted.
- “We urge resistance of calls for boycotts of Israel. By their very nature, such measures attribute blame to only one side of the conflict, and through this stigmatisation they perpetuate a one-sided narrative.”
At the same time they want our help in boycotting Palestinians.
- The Manifesto urges the British government “to refuse to engage with Hamas politicians, officials or supporters until the movement agrees to recognise Israel, abide by previous diplomatic agreements, and desists from terrorist attacks”.
Are the Board of Deputies aware that Israel refuses to recognise the Palestinian State, has failed to honour previous agreements and never ceases its terrorist attacks? Are they also aware that the UK does not list Hamas’s political wing as a proscribed organisation, only its military wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassem brigades.
The boycott of Israel simply calls for non-violent measures that “should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
There’s nothing controversial. The same is required of Israel by international and humanitarian law.
Other bizarre “asks” include these:
- The Manifesto wants us to “promote awareness of the acute threats to Israeli and regional security, and encourage further security cooperation between the UK and Israel”.
Many experts conclude that the main threat to Middle East peace is Israel itself. It would be foolish to be drawn into closer co-operation. Our already slavish support for Israel (and indeed its protector, the US) undermines our own security, puts UK citizens in harm’s way and blackens our reputation. It is hard to see how this is in our national interest.
- The Manifesto says the world must ensure “no backsliding towards an Iranian military nuclear capability… it is vital that Iran knows that there is a credible military option to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons if diplomacy should fail”.
The Zionist regime is reckoned to have up to 400 nuclear warheads. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. In short, Israel is the neighbour from Hell.
These endless attempts to drive a wedge between Britain and Iran are tiresome. Israel would love to launch a war against Iran if support from the US and its EU lackeys was assured. Iran has no nuclear weapons and poses no threat to the UK. What’s more, our Iranian friends are menaced by an unrestrained nuclear-armed Israeli regime on their doorstep. UN Security Council resolution 487, in 1981, called on Israel “urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards”. Israel has defied it for 34 years. In 2009, the IAEA called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection. Israel still refuses while Iran has complied.
- “Years of disingenuity and obfuscation from the Iranian authorities should not be naively forgotten.”
So says the Manifesto, oblivious to the staggering hypocrisy.
The “violent nature” of Hezbollah
For a long time Israel has planned to annex Lebanon’s Litani River. Hezbollah (the ‘party of God’) was formed in response to the Israelis’ 1982 invasion and occupation. An international commission concluded that Israel’s aggression was contrary to international law, the government of Israel had no valid reasons for invading Lebanon and Israel was directly or indirectly responsible for the massacres in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, declared an act of genocide by the UN General Assembly.
So Hezbollah came into being for very good reasons. Israel began overflying Lebanese territory in 2000 after its troops vacated parts of southern Lebanon they had occupied since 1978. These flights are a constant provocation. In 2006 Israel launched another invasion and received a bloody nose from Hezbollah. The conflict killed over six thousand people and severely damaged Lebanese infrastructure. Much of Southern Lebanon was left uninhabitable due to unexploded Israeli cluster bombs.
The Jewish Manifesto talks of Hezbollah’s “violent nature” but in the circumstances how valid is this next “ask”?
- It wants Hezbollah in its entirety designated as a terrorist organisation, and asks the UK to take the lead in getting the whole EU to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing.
Lebanon’s Cabinet has confirmed Hezbollah as an armed organisation with the right to “liberate or recover occupied lands”. Israel routinely breaches UN Resolution 1701 by crossing the Blue Line or violating Lebanese airspace and still occupies the Shebaa Farms area. Hezbollah is hardly going to disband with Israel next door always poised to grab what isn’t theirs.
Why should the UK take on another of Israel’s enemies and try to weaken Lebanon’s defence against the Zionist predator?
In case we forget, the US defines terrorism as an activity that
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended
- to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
- to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
- to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.
Anyone spring immediately to mind?
- The Manifesto also asks Britain to maintain an expenditure of 0.7% of GNP on overseas development.
So that so we continue to subsidise the Zionists’ never-ending occupation of Palestine?
- It urges us to “support efforts to remember and understand the Holocaust and strive to prevent any future genocide”.
Most ordinary people in the UK (though not necessarily our politicians) have taken on-board the lessons of the Holocaust and don’t need constant reminding. How about the Israeli regime?
The ‘Israel problem’ a Jewish family matter
Finally, this ‘hot potato':
- July 2014 was the worst month for anti-semitism on record, presumably on account of another murderous assault on Gaza by the Israeli military. “A robust political and policing response is required when criticism of the policies of a government spills over in to hatred, intimidation or violence against a religious or ethnic group” ..
Prime Minister Cameron’s Holocaust Commission Report says: “The Community Security Trust, an organisation that looks after the safety and security needs of the Jewish community, recorded more than 1,000 incidents last year, making 2014 the worst year on record.”
Do Jewish leaders in the UK need reminding that Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land have suffered a high tide of hatred, intimidation, violence and worse for decades under Israel’s brutal occupation?
We’re told that anti-semitism is often bound up with perceptions of the political and military decisions of the Israeli government, and that Israel represents a fundamental component of Jewish identity. In that case, one would have thought, Israel’s appalling conduct – and damage to reputation – is something the global Jewish family would wish to deal with themselves. Wise heads have warned long enough that Jews worldwide will pay the price for Israel’s crimes. Many Jews, to their great credit, have taken heed and faced up to the moral challenge, and are now fiercely critical of the Israeli regime’s behaviour.
For example, over 400 rabbis from Israel, the USA, Canada, Britain and other countries have just signed a call to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop the practice of home demolitions. “Every year, hundreds of Palestinian homes are demolished due to discriminatory administrative plans created and implemented by the Israel military without significant Palestinian influence. Palestinians are very rarely allowed to build, even on their own land.”
Several pro-Israel lobby groups in the United States have threatened to “publicly condemn” Democrats who plan to skip the Israeli prime minister’s speech about Iran before Congress next month.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s well-funded Jewish conservative backers say they may use their funds to draw attention in the districts and states of any Democratic lawmaker who is not at the US Capitol to listen to Netanyahu on March 3.
Netanyahu has been invited by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress to speak about the “threat” of Iran’s nuclear energy program.
“This is, I think, a critical visit by the prime minister. If these Democrats would rather put partisan politics ahead of principle and walk out on the prime minister of Israel, then we have an obligation to make that known,” said Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a political lobbying group which promotes Jewish Republicans.
“We will commit whatever resources we need to make sure that people are aware of the facts,” Brooks said. He did not specify what methods this campaign would use, but promised that his group would do whatever it can.
Other Zionist organizations are sending similar messages. “We will, of course, be publicly condemning any Democrats who don’t show up for the speech, unless they have a doctor’s note,” said Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, a prominent pro-Israel group with 30,000 members.
“It’s really an anti-American, anti-patriotic position to take,” Klein added.
AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US, is encouraging members of Congress to attend the speech, although the group also has reservations because it is turning into a partisan event.
Growing criticism over Netanyahu speech
Democrats are angry over the Boehner’s invitation of the Israeli premier, which was planned without the knowledge of the Obama administration.
The event will take place just two weeks before the Israeli elections, which is seen by the White House and senior Democrats as particularly manipulative. The White House has called the invitation a breach of protocol.
President Barack Obama would not meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, according to the White House. Vice President Joe Biden’s office also confirmed on Friday that he would not be present during Netanyahu’s speech.
It seems Netanyahu plans to go ahead with the trip despite growing criticism both in Israel and the United States. The Israeli prime minister says he will address Congress to lobby against a “bad and dangerous” nuclear deal with Iran.
Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – are in talks to narrow their differences and pave the way for a final, long-term nuclear accord.
The Republican-controlled Congress, however, is pushing a new round of sanctions on Iran, despite the veto threat from the White House and warnings that additional sanctions at this juncture risked derailing the nuclear talks.
Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has attached special significance to the ongoing talks on Iran’s nuclear program, saying the negotiations serve as an opportunity that may not be repeated.
“The only way to resolve the issue is through negotiations,” Zarif said on Sunday at a press conference on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
“We have made quite a bit of success” during the negotiations to resolve remaining issues on Iran’s nuclear program “over the past many months,” Zarif said, adding that the talks are an “opportunity” to resolve the standoff between Iran and the West.
“This is the opportunity to do it and we need to seize this opportunity. It may not be repeated,” the Iranian foreign minister stated.
He said the first objective of the negotiations is to assure the opposite side that Iran’s nuclear program “remains exclusively peaceful,” adding, “It means that Iran should be able to exercise its right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes because without exercising that right it is impossible to make sure that it is peaceful.”
The second objective, Zarif went on to say, is the removal of all “unacceptable” sanctions imposed on Iran.
“We are prepared to reassure the international community and some of the negotiating partners that Iran’s nuclear energy is peaceful, but at the same time it is important the restrictions that have been imposed on Iranian people be lifted,” he stated.
“It is important for everybody to realize that the only way to deal with Iran is through respect and negotiations and meeting on a non-zero sum game.”
The Iranian foreign minister said those who insisted on imposing sanctions on Iran should now realize that the restrictions “did not achieve their intended result.”
“When the sanctions were imposed on Iran, Iran had less than 200 centrifuges. If the objective was to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear technology, they (sanctions) utterly failed because now we have 20,000 centrifuges.”
Commenting on a possible extension to the nuclear talks, Zarif said, “I do not think another extension is in the interest of anyone, as I do not believe this extension was either necessary or useful.”
Zarif also responded to a question on the possible consequences if the nuclear talks fail, saying, “If we don’t have an agreement, it is not the end of the world.”
Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – are seeking to reach a high-level political agreement by the end of March and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian foreign minister slammed the Tel Aviv regime’s claims that Iran is after a nuclear weapon.
“We do not have a weapons program,” he said, adding that the Israelis cannot hide their acts of aggression against Palestinians and others in the region through their hypothetical allegations.
Israel’s demands are not good for Americans
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be visiting Washington during the first week in March. His annual visit coincides with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit in Washington, at which he is expected to speak. He will also be addressing a joint session of Congress on March 3 rd as a guest of the new Republican majority. Per Speaker of the House John Boehner, Netanyahu will be providing additional insights regarding the threats posed by Iran and by Islamic terrorism, which the president had “papered over” in his State of the Union address. Boehner has in mind promotion of policies that would be contrary to those embraced by the White House, most particularly President Barack Obama’s intention to continue negotiations to come to an understanding over Iran’s nuclear program. That would mean Congress’s imposing new and intentionally deal breaking sanctions on Iran just to show it we are serious and a possible demand that any agreement with Tehran be subject to legislative approval.
Netanyahu has frequently warned that Iran’s construction of a nuclear arsenal is just around the corner. He has been making that claim regularly since 1996 and apparently is not particularly bothered that his warning has proven to be inaccurate since the Mullahs have yet to develop the long anticipated weapon of mass destruction. He will no doubt again express his view that there is a secret Iranian weapons program that imminently threatens both Israel and the United States. It is not clear if he will produce a cartoon showing a ticking bomb as he famously did at the United Nations in 2012.
Concerning the terrorist threat, Netanyahu will undoubtedly play the Charlie Hebdo card, insisting that it is the duty of the West united with Israel to oppose Islamic barbarism. It will be convenient dodge as it allows him to avoid answering for what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and it conveniently conflates all believers in a specific religion with political violence. No matter what Netanyahu says he will undoubtedly be cheered both when he speaks to Congress and also by the 1,500 attendees at AIPAC, which will include many Congressmen, journalists, and even Supreme Court justices. He will be treated like visiting royalty even though his message is essentially one of hate.
It is my understanding that a number of groups are organizing to protest both AIPAC and the Netanyahu visit. I hope they will be highly visible and noisy as hell, possibly forcing some of the summit attendees to think about just what they are supporting. I also urge the demonstrators to focus on Netanyahu’s actual message because everything that he has come to Washington to sell is essentially false.
Starting with Iran, the entire narrative of Iran as a nuclear threat is bogus, largely invented in Israel and the United States and in part based on manufactured evidence. I am not suggesting for a moment that Iran is a friend to the American people, but its malignancy has been much overstated by the Israel Lobby and its friends. It does not threaten the United States in any way and it hardly impacts on the security of countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which should be worrying about their viability based on their own behavior rather than due to an exaggerated Iranian menace. The reality is that the United States government has twice in 2007 and 2011 confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Even Israel’s Mossad agrees and both governments admit that Tehran has not made the essentially political decision to proceed with such a program.
Not only has Iran neither developed nor tested a nuclear device, she has never enriched her uranium stocks to anything approaching weapons-grade. Her Fordow “secret” plant and other nuclear sites now have IAEA inspectors in place, the heavy-water reactor at Arak is not operational and many centrifuges are not operating. Most Iranians and many Americans understand that a negotiated settlement over the program as an alternative to a major regional war is highly desirable.
Netanyahu’s second point will be that the world is threatened by Islamic terrorism, requiring democratic nations to stand by Israel. But standing by Israel and adopting the Israeli standards for dealing with terrorism are precisely the problem. The only places in the world where Islamists have the remotest ability to take power are in those countries where the United States adhered to the Israeli model and intervened militarily, leaving chaos in its wake. Today that would include Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Highly publicized terrorist attacks in Europe and in the United States have killed relatively few people and produced a predictably panicked response but do not threaten either a national security crisis or the stability of any government. In the U.S. since 9/11 there have been 69 deaths, either terrorist or criminal, that can plausibly be linked to Muslims or Islamic sensibilities, less than five a year. During the same time period 200,000 Americans have been murdered, making terrorism by local Muslims pretty much a statistical anomaly. For what it’s worth, the policies being pursued overseas by Washington during the same time period directly or indirectly contributed to the killing of as many as half a million Muslims while turning at least three million more into refugees, which inevitably fuels terrorism.
A third point that Netanyahu will not be making as he is a beneficiary of it is the astonishing power of the Israel Lobby in the United States. As John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt demonstrated in their book, the Lobby is in reality a loose aggregation that is bound together to promote what are perceived to be Israeli interests. It includes think tanks, PACS and other lobbying groups, journalists and media outlets, Christian evangelicals, leading figures in academia and it is all backed up by deep pocket donors who both fund political candidates and provide the fuel to keep everything moving. Pat Buchanan once described Congress as “Israeli occupied territory,” but to be sure he was being too kind and Tom Friedman’s observation that it is bought and paid for by the Lobby might actually be closer to the mark. In an actual occupation there would characteristically be at least some resistance but in the United States Congress there is virtually none now that Ron Paul is retired. If any daring congressmen stay home sick when Netanyahu speaks it will be a surprise and the only real question regarding the impending joint session address is how many standing ovations the Israeli leader will receive. Will it exceed the 29 he recorded last time around?
So there are three good reasons for saying “no” to Benjamin Netanyahu, or, even better, telling him to go away and stay away. First, he is striving mightily to involve the United States in a war with Iran for which there is no compelling national interest and which will cost Americans heavily in both lives and treasure. Second, he has poisoned Washington’s relationship with the Muslim world through the largely successful selling of his message that all believers in Islam are essentially terrorists. And third, he and his associates in the Israel Lobby are a cancer in our political system, using money and even coercion to bring about a “special relationship” that is hardly a relationship at all but is instead a mechanism to impel U.S. subordination to Israeli interests.
It is shameful that Netanyahu will be in Washington at all on a mission to tell the U.S. Congress what to do, but one can always hope that both he and Speaker Boehner have finally gone too far. Will this be a wake-up call for the American public, aware at last that it is being led by the nose by a foreign country aided by its own venal and corrupted quislings? One can always hope, and it might just be that Netanyahu will finally pay a price for his hubris with his own voters next month and be turned out of office. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say that we have seen the last of Benjamin Netanyahu?
The Forward recently released its annual list of top-earning heads of Jewish non-profit organizations and the results of an independent analysis revealing not only that they earned more than the top leadership of non-Jewish nonprofits, but that several were egregiously overpaid.
Not noted by the analysts is that most of them spend a considerable portion of their time clamoring for more and stricter sanctions against Iran, something that has little to do with their stated organizational mission statements that include social justice, equality, human rights, and the well-being of the Jewish people.
Several of these de facto Iran sanctions lobbyists earn more than the President of the United States ($400,000 per year). Five earn over half a million dollars a year.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), #2 on the Forward list, was paid $751,054 in 2012. Hier was ranked “by far the most overpaid CEO” according to the Forward‘s Salary Survey, earning more than twice what a head of an organization the size of SWC is expected to make. The Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance opened in 2003 “to challenge visitors to confront bigotry and racism and to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts.” But illustrating the old adage that “when you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Hier has been in the forefront of promoting analogies between contemporary Iran and Nazi Germany. Amid warnings that a 2006 rumor that Jews in Iran would be forced to wear yellow badges was untrue, Hier’s corroboration of its veracity reportedly served as the basis for the Canadian National Post publishing the bogus claim as though it were fact. (Jim Lobe was among the first to spot and discredit the National Post story, leading to its retraction.)
Hier has repeatedly denounced the idea of negotiations with Iran, mocked Iranian leaders, and accused Iran of emulating North Korea in its negotiations with the 6 world powers known as the P5+1. He has also placed the SWC in the forefront of opposition to a negotiated deal with Iran and in favor of imposing new sanctions as soon as possible.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is #5 on the list with a 2012 salary of $688,280. Forward‘s Salary Survey found Foxman to be overpaid by 70%. The National Director of the ADL since 1987, Foxman has been accused in recent years of diverting the ADL from its self-described mission of fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in the U.S. and abroad to putting the ADL “firmly on the side of bigotry and intolerance.” From dabbling briefly in Islamophobia during the Park 51 “Ground Zero Mosque” debate three years ago to the detriment of his organization, Foxman has since attempted to redeem himself by climbing on the Iran sanctions bandwagon.
After what was supposed to be an unpublicized meeting between the White House and the heads of prominent hawkish Jewish groups, Foxman, who was among them, seemed to confirm reports that Jewish organizational leaders, himself included, were willing to take a “time out” from vigorously campaigning for new and more crushing Iran sanctions. Less than two weeks later, however, Foxman blasted the Obama administration for an agreement Foxman claimed would not only roll back the sanctions regime prematurely but also “legitimize Iran as a threshold nuclear state.” While he said he wanted to give the Obama administration “a chance to demonstrate that they could make real progress on this issue,” Foxman took issue with “some of the points of the tentative agreement to be acted upon November 20 in Geneva.” Refraining from enacting additional sanctions was a “luxury” the U.S. did not have,” Foxman said.
On Dec. 6 Foxman told Haaretz that he was embarrassed “by how our government has accepted the threats of blackmail by the Iranians against even discussing new sanctions.” Berating the Obama administration’s “hysterical” reaction to the prospect of new anti-Iran sanctions, Foxman fumed, “I would have liked them to tell Tehran: we are a democracy, and you can’t tell our legislators or us what we can or cannot discuss.” Foxman has never expressed criticism of Israeli leaders for telling Americans and U.S. legislators what they may and may not discuss. On Thursday, Foxman came out in strong support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act which the White House has vowed to veto.
Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) since 1990 (#7), received a salary of $563,372 in 2012, an overpayment of 93% according to the Salary Survey. A cursory glance at the RJC website reveals the organization’s vitriol against Iran diplomacy and Democrats, foremost among them President Obama. Several times a week the RJC sends out e-mails touting the need for more sanctions and skewering the notion of any diplomatic approach to Iran. The RJC’s Chairman of the Board of Directors is multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who recently proposed that the U.S. attack Iran with nuclear weapons.
Howard Kohr, the Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) since 1996 and its CEO since 2013 (#8), pocketed at least $556,232 in 2012 from AIPAC, and, according to AIPAC’s IRS 990, $184,410 in additional compensation. While the public face and voice of AIPAC is usually its president (a philanthropic board of directors activist chosen for a two-year term), it is Kohr who actually runs the organization.
During Kohr’s 17-year tenure, “the Iranian threat” moved to the forefront of the AIPAC policy agenda. AIPAC was a driving force behind the formative Iran Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 and has claimed credit for the passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in 2009. In 2011, Kohr dismissed the “the Arab Spring” as a diversion and called upon AIPAC activists to refocus members of Congress on the centrality of the Iran issue. In June 2012, AIPAC declared the talks between Iran and the P5+1 a failure and demanded the acceleration of “crippling economic sanctions” by Congress.
AIPAC has since maintained its support for tightening sanctions, notwithstanding the historic Nov. 24 interim agreement between Iran and world powers. An AIPAC Policy Memo issued on Nov. 25 insisted that Iran should not be allowed any uranium enrichment capability whatsoever — a non-starter for Iran. It also demanded that Congress press the administration to fully enforce existing sanctions, prohibit any increase in Iranian oil sales, limit the repatriation of Iranian funds to $3-4 billion, sanction companies attempting to re-engage with Iran’s economy, and closely monitor humanitarian aid destined for Iran.
Kohr recently suggested that AIPAC could back away from confronting the Obama administration on sanctions and instead direct its energies toward shaping the terms of the final deal with Iran. Nevertheless, two of AIPAC’s favorite senators from both parties, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), are at this moment actively working with AIPAC to push for new sanctions, notwithstanding the warnings by the Obama administration that additional sanctions will violate the interim accord and put the entire diplomatic process at risk. In the House, Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Eric Cantor (R-VA), both among the top recipients of largess from AIPAC-linked pro-Israel PACs, have also threatened to impose new sanctions on Iran, though Hoyer appears to have acquiesced to appeals from the administration to hold off for now (see Jim Lobe’s recent piece).
AIPAC also pays $466,912 salary to Vice CEO Richard Fishman, who was managing director until 2013. Fishman also serves as executive director of the America Israel Educational Foundation (AIEF), a tax exempt organization that brings members of Congress on “educational” junkets to Israel.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for the past 23 years (#11), also tops the half million mark with a salary of $504,445. Iran has also moved to the center stage of the AJC’s agenda in recent years. Harris’s niche in a crowded field is alleged Iranian support for terrorism. On Jul. 1, a few weeks after Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s new President, Harris charged that Rouhani was implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires; this was more than a week after Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor in the AMIA case, had informed Times of Israel editor David Horovitz that Rouhani was neither under indictment nor accused of any involvement. Harris was the first of Jewish head honchos invited to the White House in late October to deny that any agreement had been reached with Jewish groups about lessening their pressure for sanctions.
As Mitchell Plitnick pointed out on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress on February 11, although now it appears that Bibi would like to put off the occasion until March 3, when AIPAC will be holding its annual policy conference and unleashing its 12,000-plus attendees on Capitol Hill. The lobby group presumably aims to persuade its members of Congress to do everything they can to sabotage a possible nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran—as well as bolster Bibi’s chances of retaining the premiership in the March 17 elections in Israel. Much has happened that is relevant to the visit in the last 24 hours, and a brief round-up, which unfortunately is all that I have time for today, seems in order.
The invitation was clearly arranged without any notification of or coordination with the White House, which, as Mitchell reported, noted that its handling appeared to be “a departure from protocol.” It also appears now that Boehner didn’t even consult Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who, in addition to complaining about the negative impact Netanyahu’s appearance might have on the negotiations, explained on Thursday that the common practice is for the two leaders from each party to agree before issuing an invitation to a foreign leader:
…[I]t’s out of the ordinary that the Speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a Joint Session without any bipartisan consultation. And of course, we always—our friendship with Israel is a very strong one. Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to the Joint Session two times already. And there are concerns about the fact that this—as I understand it from this morning—that this presentation will take place within two weeks of the election in Israel. I don’t think that’s appropriate for any country—that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that Obama won’t meet Netanyahu for the same reason: “As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told reporters in an emailed statement. Kerry won’t meet with Bibi either, according to the State Department.
Meanwhile, Obama’s position that Congress should give diplomacy a chance by not enacting new sanctions legislation got a key endorsement from the presumed front-runner in the 2016 Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton. Speaking at a conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she said:
If we’re the reason—through our Congress—that in effect gives Iran and others the excuse not to continue the negotiations, that would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error… Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations until we really know whether there’s something we can get out of them that will make the world safer [and] avoid an arms race in the Middle East?… [R]ight now, the status quo that we’re in is in my view in our interests and therefore I don’t want to do anything that disrupts the status quo until we have a better idea as to whether there’s something we can get out of it.
Clinton’s position, of course, should be quite helpful in keeping wavering Democrats in line. And, in the wake of Obama’s veto threat and Boehner’s invitation to Bibi, it seems that even some of the Democratic co-sponsors of the original Kirk-Menendez bill are moving in the White House’s direction. “I’m considering very seriously the very cogent points that he’s made in favor of delaying any congressional action,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told Politico. “I’m talking to colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I think they are thinking, and rethinking, their positions in light of the points that the president and his team are making to us.”
The fact that he would mention that some Republicans may also be “rethinking” their positions, while not provable yet, is significant, particularly in light of today’s Washington Post op-ed, “Give Diplomacy a Chance,” by the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Germany and the high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, with whom Kerry met on Wednesday. The four of them could not have been clearer:
Maintaining pressure on Iran through our existing sanctions is essential. But introducing new hurdles at this critical stage of the negotiations, including through additional nuclear-related sanctions legislation on Iran, would jeopardize our efforts at a critical juncture. While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal. We should not give them new arguments. New sanctions at this moment might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far. Rather than strengthening our negotiating position, new sanctions legislation at this point would set us back.
It’s worth remembering that the writers of that statement include the foreign ministers of Washington’s three closest European and NATO allies—the countries (at least Britain and France) that Americans normally think of when a politician, including the Republican variety, talks about building closer ties with “our traditional allies.” Asked to choose between Israel and Washington’s western allies that, unlike Israel, have suffered real casualties alongside U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, some Republicans may not find it to so easy to follow AIPAC’s lead, despite rich campaign rewards dangled by the billionaire donors in the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), notably its chairman, Sheldon Adelson. So, when Boehner told Politico Thursday, “Let’s send a clear message to the White House — and the world — about our commitment to Israel and our allies,” he failed to clarify which “allies” he was referring to.
Of course, Europe is also Israel’s biggest trading partner by far, and European leaders and parliaments have been expressing increasing frustration over the past year with Netanyahu’s positions on Israel-Palestine as well as the general rightward drift of Israeli politics. In his last foreign venture, Netanyahu made himself thoroughly obnoxious in France. By being seen as actively trying to sabotage an agreement with Iran that, if it is indeed concluded, will gain the strong backing of the president of the United States and the leaders of Washington’s closest European allies, Netanyahu will isolate Israel even more from its western supporters.
That may be part of the reason why Israel’s national-security professionals have apparently been willing to go “rogue,” as Josh Rogin and Eli Lake called it in their big story Wednesday on Bloomberg about dissent in the Israeli intelligence community regarding the potentially disastrous impact of new sanctions legislation on the Iran negotiations. The intelligence community did this before when Netanyahu and Ehud Barak were repeatedly threatening to attack Iran earlier this decade.
Although Mossad’s director issued an extremely unusual statement on Thursday denying any opposition to new sanctions, the phrasing indicated a certain lack of conviction.
Meanwhile, it will be very interesting to find out who initiated the idea that Netanyahu should be invited to address Congress at such a critical moment and to do so without any consultation with the State Department, the White House, or the minority leader in Congress. It’s hard to believe that either Boehner or McConnell would have the temperament or imagination to act on their own. One wonders whether Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer or someone at the RJC or Bill Kristol thought it was a great idea. Or maybe it was Bibi himself. Certainly the Emergency Committee for Israel welcomes the visit and plans to hold a reception for Bibi when he gets to Washington. Still, it’s hard to figure out how Israel’s relations with the United States or Europe are going to be improved by this.
AN ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I think mainstream Jewish organizations that place a high stock in maintaining their bipartisan identity — including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, and even AIPAC — are going to have a difficult time dealing with this situation due to the fact that Boehner has acted in such a transparently partisan manner. It’s important to remember that both Kristol’s ECI and Adelson’s favorite Zionist group, the Zionist Organization of America, implicitly attacked AIPAC last February for essentially throwing in the towel on the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill precisely because the powerful lobby group had run into a solid wall of Democratic opposition and didn’t want to risk its bipartisan image. As Kristol said at the time, “[I]t would be terrible if history’s judgment on the pro-Israel community was that it made a fetish of bipartisanship — and got a nuclear Iran.” If Democrats line up strongly against Boehner’s and Bibi’s little coup, that same community is going to have to make some hard decisions.