Special post: “When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter. . .” (W. H. Auden)

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) (R) prior to a meeting at the U.S. Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) (R) prior to a meeting at the U.S. Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.
(repost of entire article)
James North and Philip Weiss
April 16, 2015

The New York Times has a piece up titled “Iran Assails U.S. Plan for a Vote in Congress,” saying that the Senate’s interference in the Iran negotiations is already having a negative effect, just as the National Iranian American Council warned us that it would.

We faulted the Times yesterday for leaving the Israel angle out of the Congressional deliberations, but today it touches on that question. The last three paragraphs of the story quote an Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, saying that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu effected the the bill that was passed unanimously by Senate Foreign Relations on Tuesday, granting Congress time to review the deal, by giving that speech to Congress on March 3:

In Israel, officials welcomed the compromise reached in Washington, with Yuval Steinitz, the minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, describing the congressional move as “an achievement for Israeli policy.”

He credited the March 3 speech in Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “decisive” in developing the bill, which Mr. Steinitz called “a very important element in preventing a bad deal.”

And yet the Times also gives credence to the Senators’ reservations about the deal:

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, highly suspicious of Iran’s motivations, have expressed worry that provisions of the framework agreement are too lenient toward Iran and would leave it with the capacity to divert nuclear energy enrichment to make bombs, despite Iran’s guarantees that its purposes are peaceful.

Are the senators genuinely that worried about Iran’s motivations? Or do they have their own motivations?

Later on in the same newspaper, we discover that Senator Robert Menendez, a member of Senate Foreign Relations and a force in the congressional pressure on the Iran deal, has raised $431,000 for his defense fund against federal bribery charges– “from an array of political interests, including real estate developers, Cuban-American political donors and pro-Israel activists.”

On the Times list of contributors is “David Steiner, who was president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, a pro-Israel group.”

The New Jersey Record reported last month that pro-Israel activists were coming out in droves for Menendez because he was taking Obama on over Iran:

Several pro-Israel activists said people were motivated by the possibility that anonymously sourced reports of Menendez’s facing criminal charges are linked to the Paramus Democrat’s criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of nuclear talks with Iran and relaxation of restrictions on Cuba.

“The majority of people I’ve spoken with feel he’s getting a bad rap, that the prosecution has political overtones to it,” said Ben Chouake, president of Englewood Cliffs-based NORPAC, a committee that raises money for Democrats and Republicans who support Israel. “On this particular matter, even Republicans will be supporting Bob Menendez.”

Menendez already raised nearly $900,000 for legal costs between April and December last year, and more than $100,000 of that came from ardent Israel supporters.

This raises a real question about the Times’s coverage of the Congressional opposition to the Iran deal. Do these legislators all want political contributions from the Israel lobby?

Rachel Maddow asked a similar question the other night and didn’t answer it.

“It is kind of exciting just in structural terms to see Congress decide to care. But why this and only this? Constitutionally the administration sets foreign policy of the Untied States and negotiates on behalf of our country… It is strange, though, deeply strange that they [Congress] have only discovered this interest in getting involved when it comes to the administration’s efforts to avert a new war.”

Americans are seeing this corruption before their eyes and speculating about its causes. Journalists owe it to their audiences to begin exposing why Congress is so responsive to a foreign power.

“Epitaph on a Tyrant,”  W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)
Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

from HAARETZ – (Israel’s oldest newspaper; online in English and Hebrew; paper circulation–65,000 daily)

American groveling before Israel reaches new low

The brain refuses to believe what the eyes read: Israel will push Congress to pass a bill, Israel will lobby the Congress. Imagine the scandal the reverse headline would ignite.

The top headline of Haaretz in Hebrew on Tuesday should have reverberated in Washington and shocked America. It also should have worried many Israelis. One day it might even be taught in history class in our schools, marking the time that Israel crossed all of the red lines. A headline is only a headline, but in this instance nothing could better reflect the level of distortion that has been reached in relations between the two world powers: the one that has been revealed as being genuine, Israel, and the one that seems to be increasingly bogus and ridiculous, the United States.

If America’s elected representatives had any self-respect and sensitivity to their country’s democracy, they should have taken immediate action to put an end to this farce. It’s bad for America and its democracy and it’s bad for Israel. The farce has reached its nadir. It will end in an explosive break in relations between the countries, and Israel will pay the price for its arrogance.

“Israel to pressure Congress to thwart Iranian nuclear deal” ran the headline in the English-language print edition. Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official as saying that Israel “will lobby the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would make it difficult, or even impossible, to approve a comprehensive deal with Iran.”

The brain refuses to believe what the eyes read: Israel will push Congress to pass a bill, Israel will lobby the Congress. It’s enough to imagine the reverse headline — America will push the Knesset to pass a bill — and the scandal it would ignite. But gods may do what cattle may not, and Israel may certainly do what America may not.

The most astonishing thing about the whole story is that the headline passed as if it never were: The distortion has become an accepted norm, the chutzpah correctness, the megalomania proportionality. Even wealthy Jews, first among them Sheldon Adelson, of course, pitched in: They are greasing the palms of congressional representatives with hundreds of millions of dollars, as revealed by The New York Times, so that they will vote against the agreement — and that too slides by in America, to hell with democracy or national interests.

The foreign ministers of all the world powers reached understandings with Iran, in advance of a final agreement. No country objected, save for Israel. Of course it has the right to disagree, to oppose, to fight, to try to persuade or change. But it has no right to undermine sovereign decisions. The United States, which knows a thing or two about undermining governments, should have been the first to recognize that a foreign state was trying to subvert its elected institutions.

Israeli interference in Washington is not new, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought it to unimaginable dimensions. Netanyahu? No. Sole responsibility lies with the enablers, U.S. elected officials. President Barack Obama, ostensibly the most powerful and influential man in the world, now looks like someone whose world has crashed around him: Israel opposes the agreement. In embarrassing interviews, he gives groveling a bad name. He promises Israel the sky, if only it will be satisfied. He is somber-faced, insulted by the insinuation that he would dare to criticize Israel. In a press conference after the agreement was reached, Obama breezily named the partner states — China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France — before moving on and then moved on to what was really important, Netanyahu’s position. Obama hasn’t learned a thing: After six years of carrots and sucking up that achieved nothing except for Israel’s persistent, blatant contempt for all his positions and requests, Obama steers the same course, while the only tack to take toward Israel is the opposite tack.

Israel hath roared, who will not fear? To Israeli ears, it might sound like proof of its might. But these fake or power-drunk thugs always come to a bad end: One day someone is bound to rip off their masks — and take revenge.

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