AIPAC tries to blame Netanyahu for Iran deal's passageblaming Prime Minister Netanyahu for the apparent passage of the President's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Netanyahu’s speech in Congress made the Iranian issue a partisan one,” the AIPAC official told Israel’s Walla news. “As soon as he insisted on going ahead with this move, which was perceived as a Republican maneuver against the president, we lost a significant part of the Democratic party, without which it was impossible to block the agreement,” said the official, who asked not to be named.AIPAC is disavowing the anonymous official.
AIPAC’s spokesman Marshall Wittmann dissociated the organization from the remarks. “The comments by the purported ‘AIPAC official’ to Walla News about the prime minister do not represent or reflect the views of our organization and were not authorized by us,” he told The Times of Israel. Ahead of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, he also noted, AIPAC made plain it firmly supported the prime minister’s address. “AIPAC welcomes the prime minister’s speech to Congress and we believe that this is a very important address,” Wittmann said at the time. “We have been actively encouraging senators and representatives to attend and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from both sides of the aisle.”It's no secret that AIPAC opposed the speech and that a number of Democratic members of Congress (the Times of Israel puts it at 50) did not show up for Netanyahu's speech. But that's not what made this a partisan issue. President Hussein Obama railroads the Democrats in Congress as if they were part of a parliamentary coalition voting in no-confidence votes, and he has made Netanyahu and Israel a target since the day he took office. It's Obama who has turned the US-Israel relationship into a partisan one, not Netanyahu.
Netanyahu can also be credited for the fact that two thirds of the American people oppose the sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran, regardless of what their Leftist dominated media is telling them. It will be interesting to see whether that opposition translates into trouble at the polls for the Democrats in 2016. Here's Elliott Abrams.
Netanyahu has always seen the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program as existential for Israel. In that case, how could he not try to change the political calculus in the United States? Should he have pulled his punches, said less, made this a smaller issue—not tried, that is, to win the argument?
Actually, Netanyahu has won the argument: most Americans are highly skeptical of the Iran deal and don’t like it, and it will be disapproved in both houses of Congress. In the last months opinion has shifted against the deal, and he can take some credit for that. But his critics don’t blame him for losing, they blame him for trying--damaging Israel’s relations with the United States and its own credibility.
As to relations with the United States, there are no polls suggesting any damage at all. Americans don’t appear to blame an Israeli prime minister who argues about his country’s security. Israeli political enemies of Netanyahu talk all the time about this being the worst crisis ever in U.S.-Israel relations, which is nonsense. They appear to have forgotten Suez in 1956, or the argument over Saudi AWACS in 1981, or the denial of loan guarantees in 1992, for example.
So what are we talking about here? We are talking about damaging relations with the Obama administration.
To that argument there are two answers. First, it’s a diminishing problem, because we are already in the election season. At worst, Netanyahu risked another year of bad relations with Obama to fight for his country’s security. Hard to call that a bad decision. Second, it is also hard to believe that relations with Obama will actually be worsened—only because they are already so bad. The personal chemistry between the two men is awful, and has been from 2009. That won’t change. And Obama’s policies in the Middle East and toward Israel—explained in full in Michael Oren’s memoir of his years as Israel’s ambassador in Washington during the Obama first term, Ally—have been harmful to Israel from day one, and those policies won’t change either.
Moreover, AIPAC bet all its cards on the Corker-Cardin bill which reversed the treaty process by requiring that only 34 Senators vote in favor of the sellout rather than 67. Yes, I know, the Supreme Court would not get involved anyway if Obama insisted it's not a treaty. But that argument would have lacked credibility if it were not for the Senate affirming that to be the case. Abrams also sees a possible redemption of AIPAC in the future.
Third, what AIPAC has lost or gained in reputation cannot yet be judged. The campaign against Obama’s Iran deal has substantially delegitimized the deal. If the next president abandons the Iran agreement, AIPAC can take a good deal of credit. If the United States acts in the next year or two to tighten the agreement with new demands on Iran, or increases sanctions on Iran, AIPAC can take a good deal of credit. If members of Congress who should have known better but voted with Obama are defeated in the 2016 elections, AIPAC will very likely be given a good deal of credit. The argument that a losing fight undermines and weakens AIPAC was heard way back in 1981 when the organization opposed selling those AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia. It lost that fight and the planes were sold—but U.S.-Israel relations prospered and AIPAC grew stronger.Well, yeah. But unless the next President carries an R as his party affiliation, it doesn't appear likely that the deal will be abandoned.
In any event, blaming Netanyahu for the deal's passage is wrong-headed. Netanyahu had no choice but to behave as he did. Those who are blaming him are from the opposition parties and they are trying to unseat him. Most Israelis - including the opposition parties - agree that the deal is a bad deal.