There may be a deeper cause behind the letter to Iran than Republican hatred of Obama. While racism was certainly a cause, nothing happens in politics without money to grease the political machinery, and if a recent report published on Mondoweiss is right, the story starts with campaign donations and ends with the Israel Lobby.
First a note: like most things, there is actually a lobby for Israel. There’s a lobby for just about everything anymore. And as you might guess, that lobby beings and ends with neocons who don’t care so much about Israel as they care about the potential Middle East adventures that Israel represents. Even in the wake of the letter, and the vociferous condemnation of it, the right-wing Israel Lobby count themselves among the loudest supporters — even louder than Tom Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas who wrote it.
Chief among the loudest supporters of the Israel Lobby is the worst prognosticator in the history of the United States, Bill Kristol. Kristol is part of the so-called “Emergency Committee for Israel,” and he wants everyone to know he supports the letter:
It’s a wonderful misrepresentation (what it really said is “you can’t trust the United States because we’re not going to be beholden to previous agreements;” what this means is that every single treaty in United States history is called into question — of course, that’d mean more wars, and Kristol would love that).
I mention Kristol’s connection to the Emergency Committee for Israel because this is the agency that gave Tom Cotton nearly $1 million during his Senate Race. The exact figure is $960,250, and it was for “supportive campaign advertising,” This was an eleventh hour save, since it came in during the last month of campaigning.
Cotton also got $165,000 from Elliott Management, which is the hedge fund for a billionaire named Paul Singer. Singer funds the Israel Project, and has tried to undermine President Obama’s efforts with Iran for some time.
Meanwhile, the Israel Project has also offered support for the letter, issuing an email that said:
Many analysts believe that without congressional approval, if a final deal with Iran is reached, it will not outlast President Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States. Without congressional involvement, the Obama administration would strike a deal with Iran through executive action which could signal to the Iranians that the “deal would be with the President alone,” writes Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith. He continues, “The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous. And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.”When it comes to the Iran negotiations, the Obama administration says that they only see a role for Congress when it comes to sanctions. If a final agreement is reached, they will eventually look to Congress for the lifting of sanctions. The White House said that Congress has had a role to play when it has drafted and passed the sanctions legislation that President Obama subsequently signed into law. The White House does not believe that an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program would require congressional approval.
The Israel Project is the effort of Josh Block, who took to Twitter to defend the letter as well:
The pictures that are attached are various polls and charts, pulled from Paragon Insights. Paragon Insights bills itself as “one of the most innovative public research firms specializing in public policy and analysis.” Not to call Paragon unreliable, but Paragon is noted for “breaking two cardinal rules” in online polling: “being transparent about research sampling methodology and avoiding bias in question wording and sequence.” Paragon published a similar poll last year, claiming that the “majority of Americans” blamed the Palestinians for the breakdown in peace talks.
Returning to Block, he used to work for AIPAC, or the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC hasn’t announced support for the letter yet, but they’re still pushing for further sanctions against Iran.
An interesting tweet lended credence to AIPAC being behind the letter, though; former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg posted that:
Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.
The tweet has since been removed. However, in a blog post, Rosenberg explained that:
Bottom line: the foreign aid bill is written and then enacted by AIPAC. And not just the Israel portions either. AIPAC (and Israel) also craft the parts dealing with Egypt, the #2 aid recipient after Israel. AIPAC also wrote the Iran sanctions laws. In fact, there have been no major laws or resolutions that did not originate at AIPAC.
It’s no different with a Congressional letter. If a legislator wants to write a letter to the president supporting something Israel wants, he must get AIPAC’s approval. AIPAC (1) will then either write the letter or edit it (2) decide if that particular legislator will be allowed to sponsor it and (3) decide whether or not the legislator can attract signers by saying it is AIPAC-approved.
On all matters related to Israel, Iran, Palestinians, etc, AIPAC support is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
I suppose it is possible that the Senators treason letter was written without AIPAC. I mean, it’s possible that a meteor will destroy all human life tomorrow, But, believe me, 47 senators are not going to undertake an initiative this serious on AIPAC’s #1 issue without the lobby’s approval. The letter would have disappeared into the ether if AIPAC did not want to undermine the president this way. No senator, let alone 47, would ever treat AIPAC like that. Never.
David Frum also supports the treasonous-in-spirit letter. Frum is a former Bush aide, and, like most right-wingers, he has no sense of hyperbole, saying of Saddam Hussein that, “It’s victory or Holocaust.” On Twitter, Frum said of the letter:
So is this network behind the letter? There’s evidence to suggest it. But without the media investigating, we’ll probably never know.
Even if they aren’t behind the letter, one can’t deny that there’s a huge network of pro-Israel forces that are working to shape American foreign policy, with many hawkish neocons like Bill Kristol at the fore. Kristol made the case for the war with Iraq; there’s not a war he won’t jump in bed with on the first date. And he wasn’t alone; a lot of names that appeared in this post were making the case for the war with Iraq.
So where’s the media? Surely, if they were liberal, they’d be all over this.
That they’re so incurious is proof they’re hardly “liberal.” But then, that’s nothing new.