Not to be outdone by the Tablet article labeling Obama a “Jew baiter,” Joel Pollak writing in Breitbart came out with “Barack Obama’s Anti-Semitic Rant on the Iran Deal: President Barack Obama is using anti-Jewish language to sell the Iran deal.”
On Thursday, Obama led a conference call with left-wing activists in which he repeatedly railed against his political opponents by using the old canard of rich Jews using their money to exert control.
Accusing critics of the deal of being “opposed to any deal with Iran”–i.e. of advocating war–Obama railed against “well-financed” lobbyists, as well as the “big check writers to political campaigns,” and “billionaires who happily finance super-PACs.” He complained about “$20 million” being spent on ads against the deal—a subtle reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC–whose support he had repeatedly courted when running for office).
Some of Obama’s references were thinly-veiled attacks on specific (Jewish) individuals—columnist Bill Kristol, for example, the Weekly Standard publisher and former New York Times resident conservative who served in the George H.W. Bush administration, and also helps run the Emergency Committee for Israel, which opposes the Iran deal; or billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is a prodigious Republican benefactor, super PAC donor, and well-known hawk on Israel issues.
So now merely referring to the fact that the opposition to the Iran deal is well-funded makes Obama’s statements into an “anti-Semitic rant.” Calling attention to the deep pockets of political opponents is fair game with a long history in American politics. But if Jews are the ones with the deep pockets, suddenly, it’s “anti-Semitism” — defined I guess as “something Jews dislike because it brings attention to their actions.”
Pollak also brings up Obama’s claim that the same people opposing the Iran deal supported the war in Iraq, claiming against all evidence that such a claim is “largely false.”
On the call, Obama twice accused his opponents of being the same people “responsible for us getting into the Iraq war.“ That sweeping, and largely false, characterization of the opponents of the Iran deal repeats the sensational accusations of The Israel Lobby, a widely discredited 2007 book that accused a group of pro-Israel, and largely Jewish, individuals and organizations of pushing the U.S. into war with Iraq, and seeking to drag America into a new war with Iran.
Nathan Guttman, of the left-leaning Forward, which covers Jewish issues, wrote of the call that “what many liberals hear as a powerful rallying call to avoid entering another military quagmire in the Middle East could seem tone deaf to some in the organized Jewish community.” Obama’s claims about the Iraq War, he added, were “likely to make many in the community feel uneasy.”
Uneasy because they are essentially true and everyone who is paying attention knows it. It’s okay to call attention to Jewish accomplishments and their influence on culture, as Joe Biden did (although even that was less than welcomed by the ADL), but there must never be any suggestion that Jews have used their power to advance their interests in a way that ends up being a disaster for America while at the same time benefiting Israel. Again, activist Jews essentially want a situation where Jews can act as Jews in the political process, supporting Jewish causes that are not necessarily in anyone else’s interests, but where it is illegitimate to ever talk about this. The fact that they have largely succeeded in this goal is an excellent marker of Jewish power.
And isn’t it amazing that simply calling attention to how well funded the effort is amounts to anti-Semitism. And yes, it’s amazing even if the other side has some funding as well, as Pollak tries to argue. (According to JTA in a July 23 article, AIPAC has raised $30 million for the effort and is flying in hundreds of activists to Washington, compared to a $2 million campaign for J Street, aided by prominent Israelis who endorse the deal).
None other than Bill Kristol picked up the theme on Twitter in a reference to the Tablet article:
Obama the incipient Nazi!
The problem the Lobby now has is mainly the left. On the cuckservative right, there is nothing but unanimity in opposition to the deal. And yes, you are far more likely to hear the truth about Jewish power at a White power rally than from anywhere else on the political spectrum.
Pollak (and Kristol would doubtless agree) goes on to label J Street a “radical group” and writes that Thomas Friedman’s use of the term “Israel lobby” (even without a capital L) is a “vicious slur” by linking to an article in an ultra-nationalist Israeli news service that “argues” against the existence of an Israel Lobby simply by saying that any such thought is simply “conjured up” and therefore nothing more than a figment of the fevered imagination of “anti-Semites.”
This is not the first time Friedman has conjured up the ugly, anti-Semitic specter of a nefarious “lobby” that uses Jewish money and votes to corrupt American lawmakers in order to mold U.S. policy to Israel’s benefit and American harm. Two years ago, the columnist aroused the ire of elected U.S. representatives with similar offensive charges that denigrated those expressing support for the Jewish state as having been “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
It’s so easy to argue when you can simply throw out accusations with no need to deal with what actually is happening. No need to go patiently deal with the evidence on where the Israel Lobby money actually goes as writers like Mearsheimer and Walt and many other critics of the Lobby do.
The effort to scuttle the Iran deal is an example of what happens when a powerful segment of the Jewish community becomes aroused to activism. The already very strong, everyday pressure on policy exerted by the Lobby has been ticked up a few notches, now including wild charges of “anti-Semitism” against the “first Jewish president.” This seems to me to be a risky strategy unless they think that the US is completely immune to a serious public examination of Jewish power — which it probably is given Jewish power in the media and the ability of the ADL to punish those who start to publicly connect the dots.
Right now Congress is beset by armies of Jewish lobbyists and thousands of phone calls from Jews opposed to the deal. It’s a full court press, not unlike that which occurred in 1992 when George H. W. Bush attempted to withhold loan guarantees for Israeli housing over the West Bank Settlement issue — merely confirming policy that every US government since Carter has paid lip service to. Bush eventually backed down after famously saying “I’m one lonely little guy” up against “some powerful political forces” made up of “a thousand lobbyists on the Hill.”
Obama probably feels the same way right now, but, unlike Bush (who seems to believe that his defeat in the 1992 election stemmed from this action), he needn’t fear that this uproar will prevent his reelection.
But win or lose (and most observers think the effort against the deal will fail to override Obama’s veto), after this battle, the lobby will move on to the presidential election. The fact that Hillary Clinton has endorsed the deal must worry the Lobby, even if she seems less dovish than Obama and has fanatically Zionist supporters like Haim Saban who would love to bomb Iran. The Republicans seem a much surer bet for the Lobby. At this point, they’re probably thinking that anyone would be better than Obama.