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Israel Lobbies Senators to Oppose U.S. Policy on Iran

mark kirk amir fakhrivar

Sen. Mark Kirk greeting “Iran’s Chalabi,” Amir Fakhravar

Man, if this doesn’t take the cake!  Buzzfeed reports that GOP senators publicly avowed that Israeli diplomats had lobbied them to oppose U.S. policy toward Iran.  While I don’t want to make the case that lobbies or lobbyists are evil incarnate since they seem to be as American as Wall Street (or apple pie); this strikes me as, if not a reasonable facsimile of treason, then at least a foreign government intruding on U.S. sovereignty.

Israel intensive and intrusive lobbying campaign against the Obama administration was precisely the reason why I published Shamai Leibowitz’s top secret documents, which confirmed these sorts of slimy Israeli government tactics in this country to gin up a war against Iran.

The Senate Banking committee is considering some of the harshest sanctions yet against Iran.  This legislation is opposed by the Obama administration since it’s on the verge of securing a nuclear agreement with Iran.  One aspect that would be necessary to implement the agreement would be softening some parts of the anti-Iran sanctions regime.  That’s why the Israeli government, which has all but called the agreement a ticket to World War III, wants even worse sanctions than currently exist.  This would tie Obama’s hands and prevent him from implementing any agreement with Iran.  That would be honky-dory for the Israelis who want no agreement and an eventual war against the Iranian regime.

As part of its campaign against the new sanctions, John Kerry, Joe Biden and chief nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman testified to the committee.  The GOP senators complained that the witnesses would tell them nothing about the deal that’s being offered.  First of all, you can read any decent newspaper and it will tell you the terms being discussed.  That’s not news.  Second, is it any surprise that Obama officials would not want to reveal to Republican senators who detest any possible agreement what its future terms might be?

Perhaps the most disturbing comments came from Mark Kirk, the Senator from Aipac:

Sen. Mark Kirk was even more forceful in criticizing the officials’ presentation:…“It was fairly anti-Israeli,” Kirk said to reporters after the briefing. “I was supposed to disbelieve everything the Israelis had just told me, and I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service.” He said the Israelis had told him that the “total changes proposed set back the program by 24 days.”

A Senate aide familiar with the meeting said that “every time anybody would say anything about ‘what would the Israelis say,’ they’d get cut off and Kerry would say, ‘You have to ignore what they’re telling you, stop listening to the Israelis on this.’”

There are a number of very troubling issues here: first, that Israel’s government has taken upon itself to lobby intensively for policies opposed by the current administration; second, that U.S. senators would readily attend such lobbying sessions with foreign government officials and use the briefing material offered them in order to shape their own views; third, that a U.S. senator would admit that he’d been briefed, even indirectly, by a foreign intelligence service; fourth, that a U.S. senator believes the Mossad’s views about the Iranian nuclear program represent those of a “pretty good intelligence service.”

Imagine the shoe on the other foot: Ambassador Dan Shapiro goes to the Knesset with a group of U.S. diplomats trailed by CIA analysts in order to lobby MKs on behalf of a Palestinian state or against further settlement expansion.  There would be such a hue and cry from both the far-right MKs and the Israeli populace, that Shapiro would be sent back to his embassy compound and made persona non grata.  But for Israel to do the same here is considered de rigueur.

Don’t know about you, but I’m with Kerry on this: he’s the U.S. secretary of state and every time he attempts to represent the U.S. administration’s view on the Iran talks or the dangers of more sanctions, he’s told by U.S. senators what the Israelis say or the Israelis want.  Why wouldn’t you tell them to stop listening to the Israelis?  In fact, is it the job of U.S. senators to represent Israeli interests or U.S. interests?  And would torpedoing a nuclear agreement be in Israel’s interests of America’s??  I know the answers to those questions and I assume you do too.  But apparently Bob Corker and Mark Kirk believe they were elected by the citizens of Israel to the U.S. senate.  I hope their actual constituents might bring them to their senses with a close primary or general election race.

If possible, this is an even more disturbing quotation from Kirk.  He actually claims that negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran will cause World War III:

“Today is the day I witnessed the future of nuclear war in the Middle East,” Kirk said, also comparing the administration to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who signed away the Sudetenland to Hitler’s Germany in 1938. “How do you define an Iranian moderate? An Iranian who is out of bullets and out of money.”

The Neville Chamberlain quote is lifted directly out of Bibi’s playbook.  Kirk just cut and pasted and didn’t even need to change a word.  As for the quip about Iranian moderates being out of bullets and money, I’d wager that one was cooked up either by the Israeli prime minister’s office or the Aipac public relations machine.

We’ve just spent a month of more watching the GOP abscond from the responsibility to rein in the Tea Party, which tried to drive the U.S. economy into the ground.  Now we are witnessing the GOP, similarly bereft of independent ideas or policies, absconding to the government of Israel and allowing it to drive (or attempt to drive) U.S. policy toward Iran.  This is beyond shameful.  I’d call it treason, but I don’t even think these senators are smart enough to understand that what they’re doing is a betrayal of American interests.

guy bechor lies

Yediot’s Guy Bechor compounds lies about John Kerry

The photo above pictures Kirk greeting anti-Iran dissident Amir Fakhravar, known as the ‘Iranian Chalabi’ (which may do a disservice to Chalabi).  He is popular with Israeli intelligence officials and the Israel Lobby, but reviled by Iranian-American activists, because he supports regime change and attacking Iran to end its nuclear program.

Israeli Journalists Continue Anti-Kerry Smears

Last night, I recounted a savage smear launched by Israeli far-right Maariv reporter, Ben Dror Yemini, against Secretary of State Kerry.  The Israeli journalist (I use that term advisedly) lied, claiming Kerry had supported the Gaza flotilla (he wrote a pro forma letter asking authorities to facilitate the travel of a humanitarian group, Gaza Freedom March, which sought to enter Gaza by land from Egypt).

Today, Yemini’s published a new column which regurgitates yesterday’s miasma of lies and adds an attack on my post.  He doesn’t refer to me by name, calling me the “internationally-famous blogger” (snark is not his strong suit).  Yemini repeats his lie that Ali Abunimah participated in the Gaza flotilla and that Kerry endorsed this project.

He also disingenuously claims that all of the material in his original column came from “anti-Israeli sources” themselves.  He’d have us believe that he trolls the “anti-Israel” internet seeking out such sources.  What’s disingenuous about this is that he clearly learned about these sources from the Israel official/s or Israel Lobby group which pitched the story to him. That’s the source to which I referred yesterday.

He cites as one example, Kerry’s letter, declaring that it originated from Electronic Intifada and that Abunimah himself publicized Kerry’s support.  While this may be true as far as it goes, it neglects the fact that Kerry never supported any Gaza flotilla and Abunimah never joined any flotilla as Yemini claims.

Yemini claims that Codepink itself publicized its meetings with Ahmadinejad and its opposition to sanctions.  While that may be true, Codepink never announced as part of any meeting with Ahmadinejad that it was forging a “common struggle” with Iran against U.S. sanctions.  That was a figment of the reporter’s imagination.  Not to mention that opposing U.S. sanctions is neither “anti-Israel” or “anti-American” as Yemini claims.  In fact, most progressives and liberal Democrats oppose sanctions.  That certainly doesn’t make us anti-American, nor, I believe, anti-Israel.

What is actually anti-Israel is the ongoing obsession with attacking Iran as a means of ridding the region of its nuclear program.  Also anti-Israel is the notion that more and more punitive sanctions will either bring the Iranian regime to its knees or cause it to be toppled by dissident Iranian groups.

Among the other things Yemini questions is my statement that U.S. senators routinely offer letters of safe passage to humanitarian missions whose delegations include their home state constituents.  In fact, if you have been on such missions and know of such letters written on your behalf by government officials, please send them to me.

Maariv continues its smear of Kerry by lying in its headline, claiming that Kirk said that the Kerry briefing was “one of the most anti-Israel I’ve heard to this day.”  In fact, as you can see above, Kirk said the briefing was “fairly anti-Israel.”  But hey, what’s a few lies among friends??!

Guy Bechor, another far-right columnist from Yediot has penned a new article in which he calls Kerry, “persona non grata” as far as Israel (or the particular ideological slice he represents) is concerned.  He accuses him of being a “traitor” to Israel and accuses him (again falsely) of supporting the Gaza flotilla.

The latest poll compiled by Israel’s Channel 2 finds that 31% of Israelis believe that Israel can trust the U.S. in its negotiations with Iran.  You certainly wouldn’t know that from the clamoring for Kerry’s head I’ve documented over the past two days.  Considering this shower of hate and incitement, I’m surprised the number’s even that high!

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Oui November 14, 2013, 3:23 AM

    As I understand the underlying new proposals, US Congress wants to get rid of the President’s waiver on Iran sanctions in the national security interest of the UNITED STATES. The legislatures want to transgress on the executive’s prerogative on foreign policy. Some to AIPAC linked representatives may prefer a clause “with approval of the PM of Israel.”

    Amendment to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations

    Pursuant to section 1245(d)(5) of the NDAA, the President may waive the imposition of sanctions in section 1245(d)(1) for a period of not more than 120 days, and may renew that waiver for additional periods of not more than 120 days, provided the President determines that such a waiver is in the national security interest of the United States and submits a report to Congress providing justification for the waiver and that includes any concrete cooperation that the President has received or expects to receive as a result of the waiver.

  • Oui November 14, 2013, 3:27 AM

    France, Iran and Decades of Nuclear Entanglement

    Linked from your tweet, an excellent analysis!

    France, Iran and the Lubricated Geneva Talks by Ali Reza Eshraghi

    A look back at France’s history vis-à-vis the nuclear issue reminds us of its Prometheus-like role in the region. In the late 1950s, it was France that helped Israel go nuclear. Two decades later, the French sold nuclear reactors to Iraq. During the term of the former French President, France signed a deal to build a nuclear reactor for the UAE, and the French have also offered Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco civil nuclear cooperation agreements. And this October, while referring to the “huge program the Saudi government wants to implement in the nuclear field”, the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia said, “France has a lot to bring.”

    In 2009, France insisted on being part of the “Fuel Swap” agreement that Saeed Jalili, the top Iranian negotiator at the time, was about to close. But Iran did not want France to be the provider of fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran’s excuse was that France cannot be trusted since it has refused to grant Iran rights to the Eurodif enrichment facility in which Iran is a shareholder. [See George Besse's murder - Oui]


    The current state of the Middle East, in the words of Hamlet, is “out of joint.” The power balance in the region has been upset after the US attack on Iraq and the subsequent Arab Spring. The Middle East has become embroiled in an unknown process of reconfiguring alliances. This condition is also strangely reminiscent of a post-modern situation: alliances have become unstable and floating. Turkey, for example, informs Iran about an Israeli spying ring while competing alongside Israel with Iran over Syria as well as its fighting against Saudi Arabia over influence in Egypt.

    That is not all. The pseudo-hegemony that the US had in the Persian Gulf throughout the 1990s and early 2000s has faded.

  • Oui November 14, 2013, 3:37 AM

    I expected this bare knuckle fight, it was coming …
    Settlement building has once again destroyed the talks for a Palestinian state. From a few days ago I fear the worst!

    Iranian FM Javid Zarif Accuses Secretary Kerry and FM Fabius

    “I have grave concern, the sabotage of the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 by France will have closed the small window of opportunity. The confidence build-up by President Rouhani has evaporated and accusations of who is to blame is doing the ultimate damage. Months of negotiations led to no deal when France FM Fabius flew into Geneva with orders from Hollande. With the threat of a French veto at the United Nations, all Kerry could do was to bow out and tell the lie of a united Western front to safe face. The Iranians are furous and Russian FM Lavrov tries to stay calm, hoping for another chance on November 20. IMO, no deal will be reached and the right-wingers will succeed to apply more sanctions on Iran.”

  • pabelmont November 14, 2013, 5:01 AM

    I will get to Israel and Iran.

    Money may not be the root of all evil, but BIG-MONEY (at least when spent as what I call “political action”) is the mechanism by which “popular democracy” is replaced (in the USA and many other places) by “oligarchic democracy”. For those who don’t suspect it, “oligarchic democracy” is the system whereby the policies of a government are determined (in proper democratic fashion, of course) by conversations (“votes”) among the oligarchs, alone, with “the people” left to twiddle their thumbs.

    Who can suppose that the F/P of the USA would be so Israel-centric as it is in a situation in which no entity could “take political action” (or pay to have it taken) other than citizens, and in which the citizens were limited in the cumulative amount they could spend (for the taking of political action) annually — say $5000 per person per calendar year for ALL political action. No more Koch brothers (whose Tea Party machinations and anti-science deviltry I despise)! No more wealthy candidates electing themselves. No more Bloomberg (even though I approve of his anti-gun political actions).

    And no more Israel lobby! (Or not so much of one). No more Israel trying to push the USA into yet another bankrupting war (bankrupting the USA, not the Lobby, and not Israel, of course.)

    And the possibility of direct and sustained action to reverse global warming — later as the effort, by this time, would have become (and already would be, today).

  • free man November 14, 2013, 5:28 AM

    what you write here: “Guy Bechor, another far-right
    columnist from Yediot has penned a new article in which he calls
    Kerry, “persona non grata” as far as Israel (or the particular
    ideological slice he represents) is concerned.” I do not know who
    translate it to you, or you just do not understand hebrew but this
    is not what Dr. Bechor wrote. He wrote that Keri has practically
    become personal-non-grata in many states in the region. He did not
    say he was such in Israel.

    • Ari Greenfield November 14, 2013, 1:52 PM

      Not to stray too far off topic but in your opinion (or others on this site), what is the best online source for Hebrew to English translations? Google translate is obviously the most popular but it leaves much to be desired. Thank you in advance.

      • Tal November 14, 2013, 2:49 PM

        Morfix is a good translation site: http://www.morfix.co.il/en/

      • Richard Silverstein November 15, 2013, 2:29 AM

        @ Ari Greenfield: What browser do you use? Firefox has some good translation extensions.

        • Ari Greenfield November 15, 2013, 7:56 AM

          @Richard Silverstein

          I use Safari or Chrome depending on where I am. I’ll check out both recommendations mentioned above, however, and thank you again for the suggestions.

    • Richard Silverstein November 14, 2013, 9:14 PM

      @ free man: I see. So Israel is not in “the region?” It exists in some other region than the Middle East? You & I both know that Bechor meant to say that Kerry is supposedly persona non grata in both Israel, the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia, all of which want war with Iran. He did not say, or mean to say he wasn’t persona non grata in Israel.

  • Muhammad November 14, 2013, 7:47 AM

    Fakhravar is not just an anti-Iran guy. He is a charlatan, and a pathetic liar. He was exposed by the people who were in prison at the time he was. He was not a political prisoner in Iran, but presents himself as such. He is a turncoat that will do anything to earn a living. He is despised even by right-wing Iranians in Diaspora.

  • yankel November 14, 2013, 8:54 AM

    A comment and a correction regarding the last paragraph, in reference to “Channel 2″ poll.

    1. Propagation of shameless lies and preposterous half-truths should be expected from Aipac, Bechor, Yemini and their ilk. It’s the tool of their trade.
    This blog’s credibility, though, requires faithful adherence to available facts.
    You write: “31% of Israelis believe that Israel can trust the U.S. in its negotiations with Iran”, but fail to mention that “55% of those surveyed believe that Israel cannot rely on the US to take care of its security in the nuclear negotiations with Iran” (from the link you provide).

    2. You associate the poll with “Israel’s Channel 2″ which normally refers to Israel’s (TV) Channel 2.
    The poll was actually conducted by Israel’s (Radio) Channel B.

    • Richard Silverstein November 14, 2013, 9:12 PM

      I didn’t add the ‘55%’ number because I wanted to focus on the disparity between the media smears against Kerry and the fact that 31% of Israelis support U.S. talks with Iran. The fact that only 55% of Israelis mistrust U.S. motives in these talks is quite miraculous considering the anti-Obama/anti-U.S. drumbeat coming from Bibi & his pals in the media.

      You are correct that I made a mistake about attributing the poll to Israeli TV’s Channel 2 rather than the Radio Channel B.

  • Oui November 14, 2013, 12:54 PM
  • dickerson3870 November 14, 2013, 1:59 PM

    RE: “The Senate Banking committee is considering some of the harshest sanctions yet against Iran. This legislation is opposed by the Obama administration since it’s on the verge of securing a nuclear agreement with Iran.” ~ R.S.

    TAKE ACTION! TAKE ACTION! TAKE ACTION!

    Tell Your Senators: No More Sanctions

    When Iran got down to the real business of talking with the US and other countries on October 15, it was clear that they were interested in more than a ‘charm offensive.’ US diplomats optimistically noted that the tone and substance of talks had changed. There’s promise for a negotiated deal, but that good news could turn bad if the Senate isn’t careful.

    Take action before next week’s talks to help diplomacy win.

    Despite the positive signs coming out of the first round of negotiations, some Senators want to move forward with additional sanctions. The Obama administration has asked Congress to hold off, but there are loud, powerful groups pushing for Congress to play ‘bad cop’ in the game of diplomacy. Sheldon Adelson, a GOP megadonor, went so far as to suggest that the US launch a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran.

    Will Congress stand with President Obama or with extremist hawks?

    The next round of talks is happening at the beginning of November. More punishment from the US before the November talks could empower hardliners in Iran and make it harder for Iran’s president to negotiate. When you undermine diplomatic solutions, you head toward war.

    Tell your Senators not to undermine diplomacy with Iran.

    ● TO SEND AN EMAIL OPPOSING ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS DURING THE NEGOTIATIONS – http://www.winwithoutwar.org/page/speakout/no-more-sanctions

    • dickerson3870 November 14, 2013, 2:03 PM

      P.S. ALSO SIGN THE J STREET PETITION!

      TELL YOUR SENATORS: DON’T UNDERMINE IRAN NEGOTIATIONS WITH NEW SANCTIONS

      While 62% of American Jews support the way President Obama is handling Iran’s nuclear program, organizations that claim to represent the American Jewish community are undermining his approach by pushing for new and harsher penalties against Iran.
      The outcome of the talks set to resume in Geneva on November 20 is far from certain, but new sanctions will definitively bring the process to a halt.
      Hawkish organizations working to undermine a nuclear agreement are making their voices heard. Let’s make sure that the voice of the pro-diplomacy majority rings louder. Tell your Senators that now is not the time for new sanctions.

      ● TO SIGN THE J STREET PETITION – http://act.jstreet.org/sign/iran_negotiations/

  • Oui November 14, 2013, 2:32 PM

    A well “balanced” view of ally United States, President Obama and Secretary Kerry …
    Guy Bechor’s blog and his Op-eds in Ynet News.

  • Davey November 14, 2013, 6:58 PM

    Organizations that purport to represent American Jews do not. We all know this. Yet, they are vital link in the Zionist project. How does this come about? One can suppose asymmetric funding of course, but there is another consideration. A friend recently opined that until Jews were neatly assimilated into American civil society they depended upon institutions of their own making, the Jewish Federations and all the other ones. Just as Israel was emerging so also were Jews becoming more accepted by mainstream civil American life and these organizations became less relevant to the Jewish community. As all organizations seek continuation and power, they attached themselves to the new state with a passion and have been riding that wave ever since. There is an inordinate number (and inter-leaving) of such organizations and virtually all of them are fiercely Zionist. Just a side thought.

  • Daniel November 14, 2013, 9:35 PM

    Let me get this straight. The Israelis are bad because they try to influence American policy? What about an administration that forces Israel to start “peace” talks with its enemies, and makes Israel release murderers from prison? Does this fall under subversive interference as well? This president and his administration have proved again and again that they are not trustworthy, and will betray our allies (Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, the Czech Republic, Poland, Georgia, and the list goes on and on…) before Secretary Kerry can say “mavi marmara”.

    • Oui November 15, 2013, 5:20 AM

      You consider the Palestinian people your enemies? How come? Israel is an occupying power in accordance with International Law, the Palestinians are a neighboring people. Why are you building settlements on their territory and destroying their livelyhood and olive groves.

      It’s about time the global community follow the responsibility as intented by the Security Council of the U.N. President George H. Bush and James Baker III were the most recent administration that tried to be an honest broker in the Middle East. Does Israel expect security in their state combined with never-ending hostility and war? Get real. The Arab states hopefully want a political solution for Jerusalem and the Palestinian territory in a statehood alongside the Jewish nation of Israel. Deal with it and accept the US as an honest broker. Further settlement building is illegal.

  • Mr Po November 15, 2013, 1:29 AM

    You Sir, have lost all your journalistic values
    this isnt news,this isnt opinions, this is an anti Israeli obsession

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