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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

J Street endorses Berman's Iran sanctions bill

In a mildly surprising move, J Street has endorsed Representative Howard Berman's (D-Cal) bill to impose sanctions against Iran.
As a correspondent notes, with negotiations failing to get serious, the daylight on Iran seems to be dimming a bit even between AIPAC and the Jewish left:
“J Street has consistently supported President Obama in his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically and to resolve issues relating to its nuclear program through negotiations,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s Executive Director. “However, in the face of Iran’s continued defiance of the international community and its rejection of the most recent diplomatic offer on nuclear enrichment, we believe the time has come to pass the Iran sanctions legislation currently pending in the House of Representatives.
Some people on the Left feel that J Street is caving in to the organized Jewish community, but Shmuel Rosner argues that this is actually consistent with what J Street said all along.
Here's the interview I did with Ben Ami quite a long time ago - an interview in which he had promised to do exactly what J Street was doing today:
Serious diplomatic engagement should include direct high-level negotiations with Iran to address all issues of mutual concern, covering, in addition to the nuclear issue, an end to Iranian opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process and to its support to groups using violence against the US and Israel in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. Most important, the diplomatic track would need to offer Iran "carrots" - positive incentives for moving down this path in addition to the implicit "sticks" should the talks fail.

We all share the goal of avoiding - if possible - a nuclear-armed Iran. However, should the diplomatic offensive fail, the US could then pursue a policy of smarter and more effective containment coupled with strong, multilateral sanctions. First of all, a real attempt at diplomacy would put the US in a much better position to rally the international community to endorse and enforce a tough regimen of sanctions and other containment measures against Iran.
So - "engagement" failed, and J Street is now supporting more sanctions. Even unilateral sanctions.
Maybe. But it took J Street way too long to acknowledge that 'engagement' failed (although not as long as the Obama administration, which is still trying to avoid admitting the obvious), and the reference to "a policy of smarter and more effective containment" tells me that like the Obama administration, J Street is not willing to support a serious military option - even as a stick to back up sanctions - and will support no military measures designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Like the American side in this past weekend's 'simulation,' J Street's goal is to avoid war at all costs, including the cost of a nuclear-armed Iran that will only - God forbid - lead to a worse war (including a nuclear attack) later.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.


At 8:10 AM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...

J Street doesn't have a mind of its own. It is a front group for Obama.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


You may be right. But if you are, it's surprising that J Street came out in favor of the Berman bill. I don't think Obama has yet reached the conclusion that 'engagement' won't work.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...

I think Obama will announce some mild sanctions in January, in order to remove the military option. Of course, sanctions won't stop the Iranian nukes at this point.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Sanctions won't work. Even if the US implements them, they won't be able to stop Iran unless the US is prepared to blockade the Straits Of Hormuz and impose a ban on flights to Iran. The chances of that enforcement happening are zero with Obama as President.


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