In response to the successful conclusion of the P5+1 talks in Vienna, the Israeli government, leading members of the congressional “war party” and an influential claque of neoconservative journalists have joined forces, working overtime to torpedo the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran.
The Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, has staged an aggressive lobbying campaign against the JCPOA. Last Wednesday, Dermer met with 40 House Republicans to lobby against the deal. According to Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, Dermer told them that the deal “changes the destiny of the world.”
And on Monday of this week, Dermer addressed a meeting of the Republican House leadership at the behest of Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Readers may recall that Dermer had previously teamed up with the House leadership to engineer an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in March.
In that address, Netanyahu deployed his trademark subtlety and declared that Iran was a “threat to the entire world.”
Indeed, the Israelis have been sounding the alarm over the dangers of a deal long before the deal was even reached. On March 25, The New York Times reported that at a dinner Dermer hosted for several members of Congress, the ambassador “made it clear that there would be a clash if a nuclear agreement with Iran was reached.”
Yet it should be pointed out that the clash that has ensued is most assuredly not between the American Jewish community (for whom Netanyahu presumptuously assumes the right to speak) and the Obama administration. A poll conducted by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, an independent, nonprofit media outlet, shows that the American Jewish community supports the JCPOA by a margin of 20 percentage points.
Nevertheless, as The Washington Post reported in the days immediately following the announcement of the deal, AIPAC is funding a new group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which is “expected to spend $20 million to $40 million on advertising and campaigns in 30 to 40 states to mobilize opponents of the deal.”
AIPAC can, as usual, expect plenty of help from the US Congress. House Speaker John Boehner has vowed that Congress will “do anything possible” to torpedo the JCPOA, and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman recently appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to say that “this is a bad deal for America, a bad deal for Iran’s neighbors in the Middle East and a bad deal for the world.”