It’s like a scene out of “The Godfather.” During a two-hour meeting White House meeting with his pick of Jewish leaders, President Obama told AIPAC the Iran deal is an offer they can’t refuse at least in public.
Attendees at the came from Jewish organizations such as the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) , AIPAC, J Street, ADL, Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Congress (AJC) , Orthodox Union (OU) , The Jewish Federation (TJF) , Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), Reform Movement, UJA, and the World Jewish Congress (WJC). Most of these organization prioritize progressive politics in front of their group’s mission.
According to Greg Rosenbaum of the NJDC, the President began the meeting by going through the arguments against the agreement and responding to each point thereby causing several of the attendees to switch their questions for the Q&A.
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Lee Rosenberg of AIPAC questioned Obama’s statement comparing people who object to the Iran deal to those who supported the invasion of Iraq because many anti-Semites claim the Jews pushed Bush into invading Iraq. Obama explained that Netanyahu supported the Iraq invasion (true). What the president left out was that prime minister at the time Ariel Sharon strongly urged Bush not to invade. Obama also forgot to mention that his vice president Joe Biden, both of his secretaries of state Kerry and Clinton, and his biggest ally in the senate Minority Leader Harry Reid all supported the invasion of Iraq in congress and now support his flawed Iraq deal.
The President attacked the fact sheet AIPAC was distributing as ‘inaccurate.’ He said he understood that AIPAC was going to spend the money they raised to run ads but he asked that the ads be accurate and the arguments based on the merits.
The Washington Post added some detail to this confrontation:
Obama pointedly noted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was spending $20 million in an ad campaign to denounce the deal. The activists countered that Obama was unfairly characterizing opponents of the deal as preferring a military confrontation, according to people in the room.
Obama suggested to AIPAC that they should be “silent” about their objections, “if you guys would back down, I would back down from some of the things I’m doing,” said the person involved in the discussion, who added, “I don’t think AIPAC will take him up on it.”
Obama said that if the deal were to fall apart, he would likely face calls within three to six months to use military strikes to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “To the president’s credit, he kept acknowledging the legitimacy of the concerns of the critics,” the person in the room said. “He wasn’t saying that the concerns and criticisms were not warranted. Iran is a terrible actor on one hand; he wasn’t going to the point of saying, ‘You guys are just crazy,’ but he was saying, ‘To suggest there’s a better way to do this is not realistic.’ ”
Not every member of the P5+1 team agrees with Obama’s assessment. Last the news came out that a top French diplomatic official Jacques Audibert, who led the French diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 made the exact same point, that if Congress rejects the agreement, Iran will complain for a while, but they will eventually want new talks and the P5+1 can negotiate a better agreement because in the end Iran needs the deal more than the rest of the world.
Will Obama’s hand-picked Jewish leaders hear the demand made of AIPAC and guarantee their organizations remain quiet? J Street and the NJDC are basically Democratic Party spokesmen so they will continue supporting the deal. Others including the Reform and Conservative (RA) movements, the ADL, TJF, AJC to name a few are strong supporters of progressive politics, in fact many of them did all they can to re-elect Obama in 2012.
I would not be surprised that in the end, the only groups speaking out against the deal will be AIPAC and the OU.