Conflicted Interests

One of the more important issues in the news lately has been the deal made between the  Obama administration (and its European allies) and the Iranian regime. The deal in and of itself leaves much to be desired. In return for Iran “committing” to roll back its nuclear program — but not abandoning it, the “West” will provide billions of dollars in “sanctions relief” while promising not to add new sanctions.

While the deal as promoted by the administration sounds bad enough, there seems to be some sort of disagreement between the White House and the ruling party in Iran regarding what, exactly, the deal necessitates on the part of Iran. A key sticking point is whether Iran needs to dismantle any parts of its nuclear infrastructure. The administration says that they do. However, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the country’s state-run media that “We will in no way, never, dismantle our [nuclear] centrifuges.” When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was pressed on this, he dismissed it as Iran’s political spin intended for its domestic audience. But Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif then told CNN that the White House is mischaracterizing the Joint Plan of Action by suggesting it requires Tehran to dismantle any of their nuclear infrastructures.

The almost Kafkaesque way this entire deal is going down — including the fact that there is a refusal to release the text of the JPA agreement even to the U.S. senators who have requested it — gives many people cause for concern. When Iran announced that if there would be more sanctions imposed it would back out of the agreement, senators from both sides of the aisle hurried to put together a sanction package — with the all-but-stated intent of dooming the deal.

Senator Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, teamed up with two other longtime defenders of Israel, Senator Menendez and Senator Schumer, both Democrats. And while it seems as though the White House managed to stave off that threat for now, it is their reaction to this proposed bill that exposed many people in the political arena. We can now see that these people, when faced with a conflict between this administration and the security of the Jewish state, choose the president and the Democratic Party over their Jewish brethren in Israel.

Some people’s reactions were to be expected. J Street came out strongly against Kirk-Menendez, saying it “could close the door to diplomacy with Iran.” (As if that’s a bad thing.) And UCLA professor Mark Kleiman urged his readers to, “Yell at Senate Democrats who support the Iran sanctions bill … especially strongly if you’re Jewish, or have a Jewish-sounding name.” Kleiman said that when he saw some of the Democrats supporting the bill he “want[ed] to weep” and that they must be “afraid of Sheldon Adelson and the AIPAC goon squad.” When questioned about what he meant by a “Jewish-sounding name” by Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo, Kleiman told him to “go play in traffic.”

But Kredo had also uncovered another, more troubling truth about DNC chairperson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz had been lobbying hard against the sanctions bill and was even identified by sources as the “key Democrat” convincing others to come out against the bill. And when AIPAC activists in her district sent around a letter with Kredo’s report, John Hudson of Foreign Policy quoted AIPAC National Council member Bruce Levy disparaging the Free Beacon report, and Adam Kredo personally.

What made that interesting was that Bruce Levy — who was quoted as a pro-sanctions voice — was later found by the Free Beacon to be a donor to the president and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Levy himself, as the Free Beacon pointed out, said that there is a “conflict” because “[s]he’s representing a large constituency in South Florida and the DNC at the same time.” Apparently he feels that fealty to the Democratic Party is good enough reason to sell the security of Israel and its citizens down the river.

Levy and Wasserman Schultz aren’t the only ones faced with this conflict who are making the wrong decisions.

Jack Moline is the head of the National Jewish Democratic Council. When faced with a decision whether to back the sanctions bill or not, Moline lashed out at AIPAC and AJC, accusing them of “strong-arm tactics, essentially threatening people that if they don’t vote a particular way, that somehow that makes them anti-Israel or means the abandonment of the Jewish community.” (Moline later apologized to AJC for his comments.) And when people close to AIPAC were asked for comment by JTA Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas, they accurately described it, not unlike Mr. Levy, as “an honest difference of opinion between Democrats and AIPAC.”

But the NJDC claims to be something different. Their Mission Statement reads: “NJDC maximizes Jewish support for Democrats at the federal and state levels of government. NJDC also educates Democratic elected officials and candidates to increase support for Jewish domestic and foreign policy priorities. We do this to promote both social justice in America and a secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel.”

A more accurate description of their activities, and those of Kleiman, Levy, Moline and Wasserman Schultz, would require the removal of the second and third sentences. It is not by chance that the first sentence of their mission statement correlates with what seems to be their primary — and possibly only — focus. Namely, exploiting their Jewishness (and in Kleiman’s case, their Jewish-sounding names) and taking advantage of the Jewish community to the benefit of the Democratic Party.