An edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.
A protester from Code Pink outside the National Leadership Assembly for Israel.
On Monday, I attended the National Leadership Assembly for Israel. The gathering was more than a little disquieting.
The names in attendance were big ones. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, House Speaker John Boehner, Former Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, current Chairman Ed Royce, Senator Ben Cardin, Ambassador Dennis Stephens of Canada, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer as well as leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (COPJ), AIPAC, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and others all spoke. One of the most troubling aspects of it was that they mostly all had the same thing to say.
Some speakers went farther than others. Paul De Vries, the evangelical preacher and president of the New York Divinity School, called Hamas “evil” and said that ISIS was Hamas’ “twin.” While most statements were not that stark, every speaker placed full blame for all the casualties in Gaza on Hamas. Israel was defended completely uncritically, with not a hint from anyone that maybe, just maybe, the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children might mean that Israel is not quite taking enough care to avoid harming civilians. Continue reading
This piece was initially published at LobeLog. Please check it out, as it’s an indispensable source for foreign policy news and analysis. You won’t regret it!
The annual Israel-Congress orgy dubbed as the AIPAC Policy Conference kicked off today. It might just as well be called the War on Iran conference — that’s sure to be the
President Obama speaking at a previous AIPAC conference, He won’t be there this year.
issue that dominates the proceedings. The US-Israel relationship is taking the second spot. And the Palestinians? More than ever before, they will be invisible.
There are a few sessions at the conference that deal with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in very general terms. But Iran will be the focus, as evidenced by related bills which AIPAC had some of its most loyal members of Congress introduce in advance of their lobbying day. Those bills work to give Israel a green light to attack Iran if it feels the need to and puts the “special relationship” between the US and Israel on paper.
Last week a Senate resolution was introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The two senators are widely known as AIPAC favorites and have led bipartisan actions like this in the past, working with AIPAC quite closely to develop legislation favorable to the lobbying organization. The resolution states that if Israel decides to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon, this would be considered an act of self-defense and that “…the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel…”
The bill is a “sense of Congress” resolution, so it is not binding; hence the word “should” rather than “will” is used. Still, it is a very clear expression that the Senate expects and desires that President Obama provide a full range of support to Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. It certainly sends a signal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will have Congress behind him if Obama tries to restrain Israel from taking such a step. While the bill’s wording clarifies that it should not be understood as a declaration of war in the event of an Israeli attack, a commitment to military support of Israel in the event of a purely Israeli decision to attack Iran could well amount to the same thing. Continue reading