Thursday, January 23, 2014

Saying "No!" to Netanyahu, No War Against Iran!

 A JEWISH peace campaign group in the United States has joined others warning against new sanctions on Iran, and is urging supporters to petition senators to resist the drive towards war.

"As I write this, the U.S. Senate is just eight votes shy of a veto-proof bill that could send the U.S. to war over Iran," writes Stephanie Fox, of the West Coast-based Jewish Voice for Peace(JVP) organisation. "This AIPAC-backed bill would torpedo ongoing diplomatic efforts and open the way to military action and further draconian sanctions. The results could be disastrous—for everyone." 

The Obama administration wants to ease sanctions in return for Iran's agreement to curb nuclear development. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has rejected the Iranian pledge even though his own intelligence chiefs advised that it was a good agreement.

AIPAC, which the peace campaigners see backing the bill to keep up hostility to Iran, is the well-heeled American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Zionist lobby in Washington which has been used to getting its way.

Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports Palestinian rights and opposes Israeli occupation, has the watchword "Israelis and Palestinians, Two Peoples, One Future", but right now it sees the threat of war on Iran as looming large, just when there's a chance of detente. 

  "The good news is that outrage is growing, and 21 senators have come out against pro-war bill S.1881.", says JVP's Stephanie Fox. " But there is a chance it could reach a veto-proof majority. Unless we act now, the 20 senators who have not signed yet could succumb to the march to war. Can you sign this petition to tell them to stand strong?

"This legislation is being pushed by Israel lobby groups who want a pretext for Israel to take military action against Iran. Remarkably, it would pre-commit the United States to military involvement should Israel attack.

"An interim deal brokered by the U.N. Security Council has already begun implementation, with Iran taking steps to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.  But S.1881 (the "Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act of 2013") has the support of 59 of 60 co-sponsors needed for it to pass. Eight more and the President won’t be able to veto."

JVP is hoping for at least 15,000 signatures on its petition, and says it will take out ads in a major political news outlet "to show that American Jews and our allies oppose the bill, and support diplomacy over war. "

Jewish Voice for Peace may be only one small voice from American Jewry, and it certainly enjoys but a tiny fraction of the resources and publicity which AIPAC and other lobby organisations command.
But how far can the bigger and better-known organisations claim to be speaking for American Jews on this issue?

In a recent article in Ha'aretz, Chemi Shalev pointed out that in demanding Palestinians recognise the "Jewish" character of the State of Israel as a condition for peace, the Israeli premier was not just denying the rights and status of non-Jewish Israeli citizens, but blurring the distinction between the Israeli nation and the Jewish people worldwide.
'That’s why Netanyahu can tell the U.S. Congress “I speak on behalf of the Jewish people,” That’s how he can openly call on U.S. Jews to “stand up and be counted” in his campaign against U.S. policies on Iran. That’s why he made no effort to correct David Gregory who anointed him “Leader of the Jewish people” on Meet the Press last year.'

(Ben Gurion didn't recognize Israel as the nation state of the entire Jewish people
And why Lieberman’s proposals on ceding 300,000 Israeli Arabs only strengthen Palestinian suspicions of the demand to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish State.'

By Chemi Shalev    Ha'aretz | Jan. 8, 2014  )

This was something Ben Gurion, the founder of the State, was diplomatically careful to avoid, though it became inherant with the Zionist declaration that Israel was the state "of the Jewish people", and insistence on the centrality of Israel to Jewish life. It may be acceptable, or go without complaint for AIPAC and other bodies claiming to lead Jewish people, but the Iran sanctions and war threat is good as any a time to call their bluff.

Here is an opinion piece in Ha'aretz from Peter Beinart:
The only 'leader’ who speaks for American Jews on Iran is Barack Obama
Most American Jews support Obama’s policies on Iran - so in whose name are their so-called 'leaders’ sabotaging his nuclear diplomacy?

Why does this matter? Because in recent months, the press has been filled with headlines like: “White House Briefs Jewish Leaders on Iran Nuclear Deal,” “American Jewish Leaders Censure Nuclear Deal,” and “Obama Urges Jewish Leaders Not to Back Iran Sanctions.”

The implication is that there’s a conflict between the White House, which want a softer line on Iran, and American Jews who - represented by their “leaders” - want a tougher one. It’s an influential storyline. And it’s utter nonsense.

In truth, the only person who can legitimately claim to speak for American Jews on the subject of Iran is the very guy American Jewish “leaders” oppose: Barack Obama. Look at the evidence. In 2012, Mitt Romney slammed Obama for not supporting tougher sanctions against Iran and for not more explicitly pledging that, if sanctions fail to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, the U.S. will attack. In so doing, Romney road-tested the critique leveled by Benjamin Netanyahu and many American Jewish “leaders.”

The result? Obama won 69 percent of the Jewish vote. According to an exit poll by J Street (the only organization to ask such a question), Jewish voters preferred Obama to Romney on Iran by a margin of 58 to 26 percent.

More recent surveys reveal basically the same thing. A Pew Research Center poll last October found that 52 percent of American Jews approve of Obama’s Iran policy while 35 percent disapprove.

An American Jewish Committee survey that same month found that American Jews support Obama’s “handling Iran’s Nuclear Program” 62-36 percent.

So maybe JVP from being a small minority can claim to be speaking for the "silent majority" this time, at least!

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