by Jim Lobe
Here’s a very quick follow-up to the post about the comments made to Chris Nelson by an unidentified “former AIPAC official.”
About one month after the signing of the November 2013 Joint Program of Action (JPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 in Geneva, I interviewed Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s former chief lobbyist. We talked about the organization’s effort to get new sanctions legislation through Congress despite the administration’s strong opposition and the legislation’s (Kirk-Menendez) clear violation of the JPOA’s terms. I concluded the resulting article, “Iran Sanctions Bill Big Test of Israel Lobby Power,” by quoting Bloomfield and another former AIPAC staffer, Keith Weissman:
For some observers, [AIPAC’s] opposition [to the JPOA] is difficult to understand, particularly because key members of the Israeli national security establishment have conspicuously declined to join Netanyahu in denouncing the Geneva deal.
“I’m amazed that they’ve taken it this far,” said Keith Weissman, a former AIPAC specialist on Iran. “Bottom line is that if the Iranians comply with the terms of the deal – which it seems like they are doing so far, despite some internal resistance – they are further from breakout capacity [to produce a nuclear weapon] than they were before the deal.”
But Douglas Bloomfield, a former senior AIPAC executive, suggested the motivation may be of a more practical nature. “It’s good for business,” he told IPS. “AIPAC has spent the last 20 years very, very effectively making a strong case against Iran, and Iran has been a great asset to them.”
“They want to show they’re not going to give up on this; they’ve built a huge financial and political base on it. …Most of the Jewish groups and all of Congress have been on auto-pilot on Iran; nobody ever thought you might actually get a deal… In AIPAC’s case, they’re terrified they’re going to lose their major fund-raising appeal.”
So it appears that AIPAC, which, after calling for careful study of the JCPOA, urged Congress to reject it just over 24 hours later, may see the deal’s survival as an “existential threat” to …itself, more than anything else.