By Jeff Ballabon
Can the Democrats in the Senate be “turned” on the Iran Deal?
If the establishment “Israel lobby” and Jewish leadership were focused on winning–actually winning instead of posturing–senators like Schumer, Gillibrand, Mikulski, Stabenow, Cardin, and Coons would be leading the fiercest of oppositions to the Iran deal, both in public and behind closed doors. And every other senator would be made to understand that failure to oppose this deal means a permanent legacy of turning against Israel in her hour of need and our total dedication to ousting them in their next election.
Enough with the P.T. Barnum “pro-Israel” agenda of money and support in exchange for dinners and photo-ops. How about some actual policy demands, backed by political power?
Instead of covering for the legislators who are weak on Israel for the sake of meaningless “access” and phony “bipartisanship,” how about some real red lines?
Enough boasting about hundreds of Capitol Hill meetings when those meetings are all utter, abject failures.
Instead of chest-thumping about raising tens of millions of dollars to take out anti-deal ads (in the process supporting the Israel-hating New York Times and others like them), all these pro-Israel groups should declare that they are pooling resources to create a $50Â million or $100Â million war chest dedicated to making support for this deal a political career-ender. Start with Schumer, whose cynical “no” is completely undermined by his working the phones to make sure other Senate Democrats–and the press and the general public–are all well advised that he won’t lift a finger to actually oppose the deal.
And, by the way, if that happened–if a real war chest were used to back real demands; if Schumer suddenly was fighting for his political life–the impact wouldn’t just be on the Iran deal. You’d see the United States get crystal-clear, real fast, about its priorities in the United Nations and in fighting international BDS and anti-Semitism.
That’s why we’ve registered and plan to soon roll out the Iron Dome Alliance, the only super-PAC dedicated to making Israel a major issue in the 2016 elections. No more “win-win” pretense: Israel policy is no different than any other issue in Washington–control of Congress matters; who sits in the White House matters. Anyone who claims otherwise either doesn’t understand Washington or has their own agenda.
Let’s not fool ourselves that if the current “pro-Israel” establishment had any real clout this would even be a tough call for these senators. The United States is going to make sure “Death to America, death to Israel!” jihadist Iran gets $150 billion–more than Israel has received cumulatively from the United States since 1948? Why? So that the mullahs can foment and fund more terror and finally get those 12,000-km-range ICBMs to be able to reach New York and Miami and Chicago and St. Louis when they–inevitably–go nuclear? Is this some kind of joke?
Democrats should be jockeying for the privilege of leading the charge against Obama’s deal. You don’t even have to look far back to see the last time that happened. Just a few weeks ago, Senate Democrats completely rejected Obama’s desire for major legacy legislation on trade authority and forced him and Republicans back to the table for substantive changes. And, unlike the Asia trade issue, the Iran deal is hugely unpopular with the public–with recent polls showing Americans opposing it two-to-one.
This is an epic failure of the dominant “pro-Israel” strategy of access by appeasement. Democratic senators AIPAC has endorsed and supported for years–including many Jewish senators with large Jewish constituencies–are confronted with a literally existential issue for Israel. Instead of outdoing themselves to show their commitments to Israel, they are completely AWOL.
Can we “turn” senators? Can we win? You bet we can. But not with carrots. Time to haul out a stick.