Friedman on the Israel lobby’s effort to block a deal with Iran

Thomas Friedman writes: Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.

That said, I don’t mind Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia going ballistic — in stereo — over this proposed deal. It gives Kerry more leverage. Kerry can tell the Iranians: “Look, our friends are craaaaaazzzy. And one of them has a big air force. You better sign quick.”

No, I don’t begrudge Israel and the Arabs their skepticism, but we still should not let them stop a deal. If you’re not skeptical about Iran, you’re not paying attention. Iran has lied and cheated its way to the precipice of building a bomb, and without tough economic sanctions — sanctions that President Obama engineered but which Netanyahu and the Arab states played a key role in driving — Iran would not be at the negotiating table.

It’s good to see Friedman again acknowledging the influence of the Israel lobby and not surprising that like so many others he repeats the trope that sanctions forced Iran to negotiate, but as Hossein Mousavian points out, the actual effect of sanctions has been the opposite of their intended effect:

Contrary to the claims of some US lawmakers and Israeli officials, sanctions only caused a dramatic rise in nuclear capability, as Tehran sought to show it would not respond to pressure. Before, Iran was enriching uranium to below 5 per cent at one site with 3,000 centrifuges and possessed a minute stockpile of enriched uranium. Today, it is enriching to 20 per cent at two sites with 19,000 centrifuges. It has a stockpile of 8,000kg of enriched uranium and more sophisticated centrifuges.

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3 thoughts on “Friedman on the Israel lobby’s effort to block a deal with Iran

  1. Norman

    Does anyone know the exact amount of Jewish voters here in the U.S. and what $$$$ amount they give, to cause the Congress to sell out their own country?

  2. Paul Woodward

    This comment illustrates how easily the term “Israel lobby” serves as catnip for antisemitism. Walt and Mearsheimer, who popularized the term, made a point of emphasizing that it’s the Israel lobby, not the Jewish lobby, because it doesn’t speak for the American Jewish population — merely that segment who put Israel first. Hence M.J. Rosenberg uses the more precise and provocative term, “Israel firsters.”

    Anyone who starts pointing fingers at Jewish voters can reasonably be accused of being antisemitic, since being Jewish is not in and of itself a reliable indicator of how someone will vote or whether they have unflinching support for Zionism. Not all Jews are Zionists and neither are all Zionists Jews. And whether Zionism is inherently racist is another debate in itself.

    Friedman himself is being a bit sloppy in suggesting that this is about garnering Jewish votes and campaign contributions. As far as Congress is concerned, this is really all about staying on the right side of AIPAC. It has less to do with being rewarded for supporting Israel than fear of being punished for acts of “disloyalty”. Since Congress is filled with spineless dolts, AIPAC has an easy time herding them.

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