by Jim Lobe
For those who want to keep up with the Bibi-Boehner fiasco and prospects for an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran by the end of March, there has been some good reading material published on the Web in the last few days.
First, The Forward’s Natan Guttman put out an excellent piece a week ago entitled “Why Israel Lobby is Biggest Casualty of Feud Over Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech,” which appears to bear out my initial reaction to Boehner’s announced speech. Now Peter Beinart has written on the same theme in his column in Haaretz: “Netanyahu’s Real Victims: The American Jewish Establishment.”
Also on the Bibi speech, CNN Wednesday released the results of a poll conducted last weekend that found that nearly two-thirds of respondents considered Boehner’s invitation—in the absence of consulting first with Obama—to have been a mistake. Only one third said it was the right thing to do. And only 52% of self-identified Republicans thought it was the right thing.
Remarkably, Josh Rogin at Bloomberg News released the results of another poll specially commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP) which, given its sponsorship, unsurprisingly found much more support for Netanyahu. You can judge for yourself the validity of this poll, but I found the questions—one of which called Bibi “one of the world’s most knowledgeable leaders on the Middle East and Iranian nuclear program” (recall his expertise on Iraq’s nuclear program in 2002)—highly tendentious, to say the least. I was surprised and disappointed that Rogin, an accomplished reporter who established his reputation at Foreign Policy‘s “Cable” blog, apparently agreed with TIP to serve as the vehicle for releasing this poll despite both its clearly political sponsorship and its questionable content. The poll was also conducted by Nathan Klein, who has been a pollster for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the inimitable Laura Rozen.
Finally, Barbara Slavin, who, like Laura, writes for Al-Monitor most of the time and occasionally for LobeLog and IPS, published an excellent op-ed, entitled “Effort to Thwart Iran Deal Won’t Have Intended Effect,” on Netanyahu’s gambit and the state of play in the P5+1 negotiations on Voice of America’s website Wednesday.