I don’t understand why the Obama administration is attacking Senators Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal, as well as other Democrats and Republicans and accusing them of wanting to go to war with Iran when they are simply trying to backstop our negotiations with Iran. I don’t see the political gain in claiming that Israel and the “Jewish lobby” are trying to have undue influence over our legislative process. I don’t understand charging Americans who are questioning our policies with war mongering, while Iran gets a pass on threatening to withdraw from negotiations if we even have a vote. Iran is engaged in the blackmail here—not Israel or the American Jewish Community. To equate a legitimate discussion of future sanctions with wanting to go to war is factually wrong and morally unacceptable.
I normally don’t see anti-Semitism under every bed. Nor do I process every criticism of Israeli policies as being anti-Semitic. No one questions the efficacy of Israeli policies more passionately than Israelis. The line of legitimate criticism is crossed when the right of existence of the Jewish state is denied or attacked. Similarly one may criticize our domestic Jewish community. In fact no group is more critical of American Jews than American Jews. But the line is crossed when Jews are accused of controlling our Congress people, Senators and exerting undue political influence on our government.
This administration, some of its spokesmen and some liberal media have been launching vile and thinly veiled attacks on both Israel and our American Jewish community. They are charging Senators and Congressmen who are questioning our lifting of sanctions, with being under the spell of the Israeli lobby and the “powerful Jewish community” (Code for AIPAC). They are not implying but saying in very straight and offensive language that those who question our American policy of negotiating the lifting of sanctions and the freeing of Iranian money for Iran’s promise to stop enriching uranium to 20% are in favor of war with Iran. How does that follow?
There are arguments for trying to negotiate. There are equally legitimate arguments for pessimism and for backstopping these negotiations. The Senators and Congressmen who are discussing voting to impose greater sanctions if these talks fail, or if Iran doesn’t comply with the interim agreements, are not advocating war at all. It’s a lie, a smear and a gross canard to say otherwise. It’s not either right or politically useful to cast aspersions on the sanity, integrity and loyalty of those who differ in terms of which policies are more likely to lead to peace. To believe that favoring backup sanctions is the same as advocating war is a lie and a libel.
I have been a fervent supporter of Obama and this government. I have also been a staunch defender of his policies towards Israel and his relationship with the domestic Jewish Community. When my conservative friends charged the administration with being anti-Israel, I passionately countered, believing that in order to find peace people on both sides needed to be nudged, nuged and pushed. I understood that peacemakers might be blessed but they weren’t always popular.
I accepted that negotiating with Iran over nukes was a worthwhile, if probably futile, pursuit. This is preferable to war. However, there is scant reason for optimism. Their opening position is that they have no ambition to possess nuclear weapons. This is a clear and bold lie and therefore doesn’t portend great results. The record of their efforts is quite clear. This seems to be a stall—not to make a weapon per se but to have all the component parts in separate facilities and just a screwdriver and a week away from assembly.
Still, as Winston Churchill observed “Chaw chaw is better than war war.” It’s worth the time to try to find a peaceful way out—assuming that we are serious and will not allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. Frankly, I don’t think we are serious, nor do I believe we will go to war to protect Israel. Israel’s defense is pretty much up to Israel. Therefore to consider greater sanctions if this process fails, hardly seems like war mongering. Attacking American Jews and Israel for questioning our policies is inappropriate, hurtful and harmful. The irony that this administration is accepting Iran’s very bad faith threat to withdraw from negotiations if future sanctions are even voted (voted and not imposed!) really constitutes a totally unacceptable kowtowing to Iranian threats. Why is the good faith of the adversary seemingly assumed by this government and not the good faith of Israel and American Jews? This is perverse—as well as wrong.
Mr. President, continue talking with Iran. Insist on complete compliance with the inspection protocols before lifting further sanctions. But do not accuse Israel of asserting undue influence. Do not question the loyalty of the American Jewish community and do not accuse legislators of being intimidated by Jewish interests when they only acting in good faith and trying to build a safety net under your diplomatic high wire act.
©2014 Jonathan Dobrer
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @jondobrer
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