By Alan Hart
A longer version of my headline would be this. How President Obama could take on and defeat the Zionist lobby and secure for himself the freedom to put America’s own best interests first in the Middle East and wider Muslim world.
In the course of a prime time address to his fellow Americans, Obama could do it with just one sentence. This one.
“To our Jewish citizens I have to say the time has come for you to decide whether you are Americans first or not.”
More on that in a moment.
At the time of writing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress (I think they are best described as traitors) are on a collision course with the Obama administration.
The issue is the determination of Netanyahu and his collaborators to wreck the prospect of a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme. The wrecking mechanism is a new bill under discussion for more sanctions on Iran.
Here’s what Obama said on this subject in his State of the Nation address (my emphasis added).
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
Hours later Republican John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, issued an invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress (the House and the Senate) for the unstated purpose of mobilizing enough senators to override an Obama veto of a new bill for more sanctions on Iran. (There are 100 senators and to override an Obama veto the Republican majority with 54 seats would need the support of 13 of the 44 Democrats and 2 Independents).
When Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress in May 2011 he got 29 standing ovations, four more than Obama was given during his State of the Nation address earlier that year. (The loudest and most prolonged applause was for Netanyahu’s declarations that Israel will not return to the 1967 borders; that there will be no right of return for the Palestinians; and that an undivided Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel).
According to the very well informed Robert E. Hunter, Boehner was set up to invite Netanyahu by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. If so it’s more than reasonable to assume that Netanyahu himself was the originator of the idea.
When he addresses both Houses of Congress on 3 March he will have two main objectives.
One will be to put fire into the bellies of enough members of Congress to guarantee that, if necessary, an Obama veto on a bill for more sanctions on Iran will be overridden. In other words he will be seeking to demonstrate that he not the president is the boss.
The other will be to improve his chances of remaining prime minister after Israel’s forthcoming elections by taking some wind out of the opposition’s sails. That wind is being generated by a significant number of Israeli Jews who don’t want Netanyahu to continue as prime minister because they believe, with very good reason, that he is putting Israel’s special relationship with America at great risk. When he returns to Israel he imagines he will be able to say something like, “It’s true that my relationship with President Obama is not so good, but I command much more support than he does where it matters most – in Congress.”
Behind closed doors at the White House, which was not consulted, the invitation for Netanyahu to address both Houses of Congress provoked extreme anger. One unnamed official told Ha’aretz that Netanyahu had “spat ” in President Obama’s face. (Two weeks previously Obama telephoned Netanyahu to demand that he toned down his pro-sanctions rhetoric). Also revealed was that the “chickenshit” epithet with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s intentions came in.
The reasons why Obama wants a comprehensive agreement with Iran, which I believe is there for the taking subject only to America agreeing not to drag out the ending of all sanctions on Iran, include the following.
* He knows that Iran is NOT developing nuclear weapons and does not want to develop them. (It follows that he also knows Netanyahu has been playing the Iranian nuclear threat card with great success to take attention away from Israel’s on-going colonization of the occupied West Bank).
* He fears, with very good reason, that if the prospects for a comprehensive agreement with Iran are sabotaged, its hardliners may well demand that Iran changes course and develops nuclear weapons for deterrence. (These hardliners know that the Bush-Blair war on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq would not have happened if it had possessed nuclear weapons). In other words, and as Obama also knows, the sabotaging of a comprehensive agreement with Iran could set in motion a doomsday scenario in which an American president could be manipulated into going to war with Iran, a war that would have catastrophic consequences for the region and, almost certainly, the whole world.
* He knows that America needs Iran’s assistance if ISIS and other forms of violent Islamic fundamentalism are to be contained and ultimately defeated.
* He knows that American big business wants a comprehensive agreement with Iran because it is fully aware that European big business is fed up with the sanctions on Iran and could well break ranks with the U.S. and do wealth-generating and job-creating business with it if a comprehensive agreement is sabotaged by Zionism and its stooges in Congress and the mainstream media. In that event Europe not America would have the lion’s share of the lucrative business to be done with Iran for many years to come.
In summary Zionist lobby prisoner Obama has a complete understanding of why it is in the best interests of America that a comprehensive deal with Iran is done.
If the time comes when it seems that the Zionist lobby will have the Senate votes needed to override a presidential veto on a new bill for more sanctions on Iran, Obama will have a choice: either to surrender to Zionism’s will and become complicit by default in the betrayal of America’s own best interests, or, to take the Zionist lobby on and defeat it.
My view is that he could set in motion a change of political dynamics to ensure the Zionist lobby’s defeat by taking to the bully pulpit – going over the heads of Congress with a prime time television and radio address in which he would spell out, explicitly, why it is in America’s own best that a comprehensive deal with Iran be done.
He could also point out that even if the day did come when Iran possessed nuclear bombs, the notion that it would use them to launch a first strike on Israel is ludicrous because doing so would invite Iran’s complete destruction. On this point he could add that those in Congress who insist that Iran poses a threat to Israel’s existence are recycling Zionist propaganda nonsense.
That said Obama could then deploy his rhetorical nuclear bomb – a statement to the effect that it is time for American Jews to decide whether they are Americans first or not.
And he could put flesh on that bone by adding something like this.
“The question our American Jewish citizens need to come to grips with is the following. Is it acceptable that a lobby which represents the views of less than a quarter of America’s Jews, and by no means speaks for all Israeli Jews, can cause Congress to defy policies enunciated by the elected president of the United states and commander-in-chief of its armed forces?”
If I was drafting a bully pulpit speech for Obama I would have him add that while he understood and empathised with American and European Jewish fears that anti-Semitism is on the rise, he could not leave unsaid the fact that the prime cause of the creeping transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism is Israel’s behaviour – its defiance of international law and all that comes with it, including on-going colonization of the occupied West Bank and brutal rejection of the Palestinian claim for an acceptable amount of justice.
QUESTION. How would Jewish Americans respond if the Zionist lobby continues its campaign to kill the prospect of a comprehensive agreement with Iran and President Obama confronted it in the way I have suggested above?
While I was thinking about the answer I read an open letter to President Obama by the Jewish American writer David Harris-Gershon. As published by Tikkun Daily it reads as follows (my emphasis added).
You don’t know my name, though you know the names of those who represent hundreds of thousands of American Jews who, like me, publicly support your diplomatic efforts with Iran.
And while you don’t know my name, you know that I and those like me represent 52 percent of U.S. Jews who support your diplomatic efforts over those presented by Congressional Republicans and Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who are now shamelessly working, behind your back, in concert to undermine your administration’s historic gains.
As the leader of Israel, Netanyahu often claims to speak for all Jews, absurdly conflating his political ideals with those of American Jewry. But he does not speak for most of us. Indeed, there are over three million American Jews for whom he does not speak. Over three million voices in the American Jewish community who reject current efforts to scuttle historic nuclear negotiations with Iran. Who reject efforts to undermine peaceful diplomacy. And who reject John Boehner’s outrageous breach of protocol by inviting a foreign leader to deliver a response to your State of the Union address.
I know you are rightly outraged, viewing Netanyahu as having spat in your face after your consistent defence of Israel on the international stage. I know that you and officials in your administration feel as though there should be consequences for what is about to transpire on March 3, when Netanyahu will rise before Congress as the leader of a foreign ‘ally’ and publicly reject your diplomatic efforts for political gain back home.
This, in my view, should be the consequence: the amplification of ‘pro-Israel’ voices like mine in the American Jewish community who reject Netanyahu, be it for his desire to bomb Iran, his desire to continue Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians or his expansion of settlements and rejection of peace.
I’m not actually asking for a personal invitation to the White House, though I would certainly not turn one down. What I’m asking is that you invite American Jewish leaders and activists to the White House on March 3 to publicly amplify those liberal and progressive voices Netanyahu claims to represent. I’m asking that you use this as an opportunity to reveal to the American public that most American Jews see Netanyahu as a harmful force, both in Israel, in the Middle East and in the world. I’m asking that you give us a chance to support your diplomatic efforts with Iran passionately and eloquently as Congress rises repeatedly to applaud Netanyahu’s damaging rhetoric.
And after you have done so, I ask that you invite civil leaders and activists in the Iranian-American and Palestinian-American communities in order to amplify their pro-diplomacy, pro-peace voices.
The New York Times calls what Israel and the GOP have done to be a disrespectful “breach of sense and diplomacy.” What NYT editors did not say is that this breach is an opportunity, now that the hole is gaping, for you to counter Netanyahu’s voice with powerful ones which exist within the nation you lead.
I ask that you let us help you lead.
An American Jew
I agree with Harris-Gershon. Netanyahu, the Zionist lobby and Boehner have overplayed their hand to such an extent that they have created an opportunity for Obama to take them on. If he does the result will be what Harris-Gershon is calling for – an amplification of American Jewish voices which reject Netanyahu and all he represents and the support of a significant (possibly overwhelming) majority of America’s Jews for Obama’s efforts to secure a comprehensive agreement with Iran. And that would be a major and very public defeat for the Zionist lobby, a defeat which I think would mark the beginning of the end of its ability to call the policy shots.
It should be noted that even Fox News (repeat even Fox News!) lashed out at Netanyahu for his “egregious snub of Obama”. Anchorman Chris Wallace said he was shocked and called Netanyahu’s move “wicked.” He also said he thought Netanyahu’s strategy was “very risky”.
It is but I hope it’s a risk Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby won’t back away from because they can be beaten, thanks to the incredibly arrogant and stupid way they have overplayed their hand.
In the Fox News discussion with Chris Wallace from which I quoted anchorman Shep Smith made the following comment.
George Bush used to say “You must stop the expansion of the settlements,” so what does Israel do? They move on with expanding the settlements. This president says, “You gotta stop expanding the settlements,” and they just keep expanding the settlements.” It seems like they think we don’t pay attention and that we’re just a bunch of complete morons.
That was more or less my opinion of the Fox News presenters, but if they are now coming to grips with the fact that Netanyahu is dangerously deluded and is, as Harris-Gershon put it, harmful in Israel, the Middle East and the world, I’ll revise my opinion.
Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who has covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. His Latest book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Vol. 1: The False Messiah, is a three-volume epic in its American edition. He blogs on AlanHart.com.