05 March 2012

News Desk: The Emergency Committee for Israel Cries Wolf : The New Yorker

In the last few days, just before the highly-charged meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, and, also, the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, where both Netanyahu and Obama were to address about fourteen thousand Israel supporters, the Emergency Committee for Israel moved into high gear. E.C.I., which aims to be the most pro-Israel of all pro-Israel groups—and is the brainchild of Bill Kristol, a leading neoconservative—has a Super PAC, and it has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this most recent advocacy, in what is surely a kickoff for the coming campaign months. In a two-pronged maneuver, E.C.I. sought to intimidate critics of Netanyahu, and of Israel’s most powerful American backers, for the escalating drive to war with Iran, and to damage Obama.

First, in a full-page ad in the New York Times—featuring an image of a particularly malevolent-looking wolf, attired in a suit and tie, and holding a sheep mask—E.C.I. attacked two liberal advocacy organizations, the Center for American Progress (closely aligned with the White House) and Media Matters. It quoted the American Jewish Committee; the Anti-Defamation League; Alan Dershowitz, of Harvard Law School; and others, denouncing the groups’ work as anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic. Listing some of CAP’s and Media Matters’ donors, and their phone numbers, E.C.I. demanded, “Call these foundations and ask them: Why are you funding bigotry and anti-Israel extremism?” Second, E.C.I. launched an attack on Obama in a thirty-minute video, seemingly designed to ratchet up the pressure on him to support a preĆ«mptive Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities or military action by the U.S.—and, in any event, to peel away Jewish voters from Obama in the election. (The apparent ratcheting tactic failed, judging by President Obama’s speech on Sunday to AIPAC.

He described the lengths to which he has gone to satisfy Israel’s needs and requests, as evidence of his unequivocal support, and also said that he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. But he insisted that he believes “an opportunity still remains for diplomacy,” and made plain that he wouldn’t be pressured into military action at this time, saying that “as part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I will only use force when the time and circumstances demand it.”)

A trailer for the E.C.I. video, entitled, “Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel,” shows Obama and Netanyahu together, with a commentary that refers to a “public shaming,” and “slap in the face,” of Netanyahu; Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden in a convivial moment with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; and Obama, declaring, “It’s time for these settlements to stop.” The trailer ends with a clip of President Obama at his town hall meeting with Turkish students in Istanbul in April 2009, saying, “I want to make sure that we end before the call to prayer.” That President Obama is biased against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians is the video’s explicit message; that he may, secretly, be Muslim himself is its insinuation. (Noah Pollak, E.C.I.’s executive director, has said that the idea that E.C.I. is questioning Obama’s religious affiliation is “ludicrous.”)...

Unfortunately there are a lot of traitors in DC who, because of their fundamentalist Christian faith, put the needs of Israel ahead of the needs of this country. That the public doesn't act to remove these zealots from power is telling. I am neither pro or anti Israel or Muslim or anyone else but enough is enough, especially now. A war with Iran would be an incredible mistake yet, as the children sleeping with sugar plums in their dreams on Christmas Eve, fundamentalists on both the right and left of the aisle see Second Comings and Armageddons. It's the 21st century and our foreign policy is being decided by 2000 year old myth. If that doesn't make you fearful for the future of this nation, I don't know what will.

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