A liberal Zionist, two-state solution NGO announced that it had secured the endorsement (full statement) of 36 ex-security chiefs from the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet for the Iran nuclear deal. In truth, the endorsement was not fulsome. There wasn’t even an explicit, “we support the Iran nuclear deal” statement. Essentially they took the position that it’s a done deal, so why not take advantage of it to get other things Israel needs?
Blue White Future, the NGO, appears to be a typical liberal Zionist group which focuses solely on Israel’s interests and ignores the interests of Israel’s frontline neighbors with whom it will eventually need to make peace. Though I have little in common with its agenda, there’s no doubt that a document such as this is very important and useful.
Today, the first three Democratic senators also endorsed the agreement. They were Sens. Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson. What’s helpful about the support of Kaine and Nelson is that both are from the southern moderate wing of the Party. Kaine is an independent who’s willing to oppose the administration on some issues. Nelson’s constituency is heavily Jewish and he can’t be making lots of friends with this stance. The fact that he’s willing to stake out this position this early indicates to me that he’s confident the president is going to win.
The senator who concerns me most is Chuck Schumer. The GOP-leaning Politico tried to stake out a claim that Schumer was leaning against the deal. He has an even more Jewish electorate than Nelson. Schumer is a water-carrier for Aipac and entertains close relations with wealthy pro-Israel Wall Street donors. It would be difficult for him to brook them. On the other hand, how can the future Democratic Senate leader stand against his own president? On what basis should he have any support for his expected promotion from either the president or his Democratic peers?
Seven former U.S. ambassadors to Israel have also endorsed the nuclear agreement. it’s interesting that neither Martin Indyk nor Dennis Ross have spoken up. Indyk is both a former ambassador to Israel and a former negotiator on Kerry’s team for the Israel-Palestine peace talks. Doubtless, both are part of the same Israel Lobby consulting gravy train. Since the Lobby has gone “all in” against the deal, they would jeopardize their turn at the trough if they endorsed it.
The NY Times reports that John Kerry has been spending his time profitably with the Gulf state leaders, who he’s succeeded in persuading to support the deal as well. This could be one of the most important of all these developments. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states have no love for Iran. And they have a developing relationship with Israel based on their shared enmity for Iran. But that hasn’t stopped them from seeing the handwriting on the wall. The fact that they have been brought around to support the deal says a great deal about their ultimate pragmatism, and the reasonableness of the deal itself.
Bibi Speaks to the Converted
Netanyahu, the leading opponent of the deal, has been otherwise engaged putting out Jewish terrorist fires in Israel. It hasn’t allowed him to pivot toward the deal in order to denounce it as fervently as he otherwise might. Last week, Israel announced with great fanfare that Bibi would record a speech for the world’s Jews to use to drum up opposition to the deal. But two horrible murders distracted both Netanyahu and the world from the speech, which was released on video today. I’ve been looking for the video for the past half hour and it isn’t available in the usual places or on YouTube. Apparently, the strategy is to release it through the Jewish federations and assume it will reach the rest of us eventually: Trickle-Down Zionism perhaps? Whatever the concept, it doesn’t appear to be working very well.
As Maariv’s New York correspondent Shlomo Shamir writes, this is the old paradigm for Israel-U.S. Jewish relations (he calls it “archaic”). The prime minister gives you your marching orders. You salute and carry out the mission with the leadership leading and the grassroots following. No longer. Now, American Jews get their news and information about Israel from a far more diverse set of sources (and thank God for that) than Aipac or the local Jewish newspaper. There are social media, blogs, online forums and media, video, in addition to the old-fashioned outlets.
Bibi, in today’s video, spoke to the converted. Not to the rank and file. In the past, the converted amounted to a large portion of the Jewish community. That’s no longer the case. Especially among younger Jews.
Dermer Out in the Cold
Kol Israel radio reported today that the Obama administration told an Israeli journalist that Israel’s U.S. ambassador, who’s currently scouring the halls of Congress for support for his government’s position on the deal, has been refused numerous times in attempts to meet with the National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. He hasn’t met with her since December 2013. Normally, U.S. administrations take great pains to ensure that NSA staff work closely with Israel’s ambassadors. Not this time. And you can be sure there are no plans to change that approach. Dermer is persona non grata in the White House. For any other country, it would be enough to send him packing. But the Bibi-Show knows no shame.
Obama held a two-hour meeting with Israel Lobby groups largely opposed to the deal including Aipac. Included within the invitees was a lone group supporting the deal, J Street. Interestingly, polls show that the Jewish communal leadership is completely divorced from the Jewish mainstream on this issue, with a plurality of Jews supporting it.
Every new development in this campaign seems to be another nail in the coffin for Bibi and his cohort. The odds are stacked pretty heavily in Obama’s favor, which is the way the president likes it. There remains a chance that things can go off the rails. But something truly horrific would have to happen to bring that result. It’s highly unlikely. Bibi is about to get yet another defeat at the hands of a political operative far smarter and far more pragmatic than he.