by Jim Lobe
Yossi Sarid, the former head of Israel’s Meretz Party and leader of the opposition in the Knesset from 2001 to 2003, has just written a very blunt—far too blunt for “acceptable” political discourse in Washington, DC—op-ed published Sunday by Haaretz. Unfortunately, it’s behind a pay wall, so the most I can do is extract a few excerpts. The title is straightforward: “Beware: Republican Jews on the Warpath,” and Sarid, who also served as minister of education under Ehud Barak, doesn’t pull any punches about what Boehner’s fraudulent invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is really all about.
Now it’s no longer a “crisis in the relationship” that they try to paper over; now it’s no longer just “tensions with the White House” that they’re making every effort to reduce in between meetings; now, it’s an open war with the United States. It’s Sheldon Adelson versus Barack Obama, and Israel is caught in the cross-fire.
After Vice President Joe Biden, our greatest friend over there, announced an unspecified trip abroad that will prevent him from being in Congress at the fateful hour, Republican Jewish organizations launched a campaign of intimidation against those lawmakers who had already announced their intent to skip the joint session: Their political fate will be bitter.
…Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, in the service of his master, is rallying his troops and launching a combined assault on Capitol Hill. Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to show the president once and for all who really rules in Washington, who is the landlord both here and there.
One Matthew Brooks – the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who does the will of its financial backers – explained over the weekend, “We will commit whatever resources we need to make sure that people are aware of the facts, that given the choice to stand with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu in opposition to a nuclear Iran, they chose partisan interests and to stand with President Obama.” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, added unambiguously, “We will, of course, be publicly condemning any Democrats who don’t show up for the speech — unless they have a doctor’s note.” Doctor, this man is sick and urgently needs tranquilizers.
Israel, which until now was a cornerstone of bipartisanship, has become loathsome to its traditional supporters. Benjamin Nitay Netanyahu, the Israeli-American, has made it into something that reeks, even among its longtime supporters.
In these very moments, the protocols are being rewritten. Rich Jews are writing them in their own handwriting. They, in their wealth, are confirming with their own signatures what anti-Semites used to slander them with in days gone by: We, the elders of Zion, pull the strings of Congress, and the congressmen are nothing but marionettes who do our will. If they don’t understand our words, they’ll understand our threats. And if in the past, we ran the show from behind the scenes, now we’re doing it openly, from center stage. And if you forget our donations, the wellspring will run dry.
You’ll remember that Obama, during an off-the-record meeting with Democratic senators three weeks ago, reportedly appealed to them to resist “donors and others” who opposed a deal with Iran and were pushing for new sanctions legislation that risked sabotaging the nuclear-focused talks with Iran and an eventual deal. Sen. Robert Menendez, who has been pushing for such legislation for more than a year, reportedly replied that he took “personal offense” at Obama’s remarks about donors, apparently interpreting Obama’s comments as suggesting that Menendez’s position was motivated by his desire and need for campaign cash.
The New York Times helpfully noted in a profile of Menendez that the New Jersey senator had received $341,170 from hard-line pro-Israel groups over the past seven years, “more than any other Democrat in the Senate.” (In fact, he received more money than any other Senate candidate—Democratic or Republican—in the 2012 elections, while his Republican comrade-in-arms and co-sponsor for sanctions legislation, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, has received more campaign cash from pro-Israel political actions committees (PACs) associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) than any other member of Congress over the past decade. And that doesn’t necessarily include all the much-harder-to-track money provided by donors like Adelson, who chairs Brooks’s RJC, through super PACS and other vehicles.) Indeed, there’s no doubt that Obama’s reference to “donors” touched a very sensitive nerve with Menendez.
Sarid, whose op-ed is most unlikely to appear in any mainstream U.S. publication, has now pounded it with a sledgehammer.
Photo Credit: Jolanda Flubacher