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Time for a March in Washington, D.C. to Stop the Iran Nuke Deal

President Obama may be on a vacation with the family, however his West Wing political operatives are busily trying to line up Democrat votes in both the Senate and House enabling him to veto anticipated Republican majority resolutions.

While New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer has come out against the pact, he demurred from active advocacy of his position. The Hill noted in its Whip List count that Rep. Pete Roskam (R-IL) has signed up 218 of 243 Republican colleagues for a resolution opposing the Iran nuclear pact. The Hill Whip List vote tally, as of  August 14, 2015, on the Democrat side of aisle shows Democrats divided with 48 “Yes”, 16 leaning in that direction, 11 “No,”  2 leaning towards “No” and 58 “undecideds.”  The resolutions are likely to be voted on by both Chambers before September 17th following Congress reconvening just after Labor Day.

The ultimate choice of which way the undecideds will go will depend on what they learn from Town Hall meetings and constituent calls, tweets and emails.  If respected polls are any indication, millions of Americans have voiced concerns that Iran’s track record as a cheater on nuclear weapons developments and state support for terrorism preclude trusting it.  The JCPOA will immediately release tens of billions for Iran to expand hegemony in the Middle East. In  10 years it will add over 1 trillion dollars in additional sanctions relief to Iran and the Mullahs that run it.

Already the international sanctions regime has been shredded by Iranian Quds Force commander Soleimani’s  violation  of travel bans and purchases of Russian advanced air defense systems and Chinese stealth  fighter jets. Italian, French and other Foreign Ministers have led trade delegations to Tehran to ink billions in pre-approval deals. Just this week, the Swiss lifted some of their financial sanctions, doubtless both the Russians and Chinese will follow suit, as their sequestered funds comprise the majority of off shore resources .  Moreover, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is endeavoring to broker the Syrian Crisis.  With the nuclear deal, the Islamic regime is gaining traction in the Middle East courtesy of Obama’s outreach and the pending nuclear pact.

While many Congressional Democrats and liberal media pundits contend that the nuclear pact is not perfect, they suggest it is better than the alternative.  Orde Kittrie, Senior Fellow and leading expert on non proliferation law and policy at the Washington, DC Foundation for Defense of Democracies  in a Wall Street Journal  opinion piece, yesterday  contends that  the unsigned political agreement can be and should be amended by Congress. He cites as evidence  the 200 plus incidents, include ing nuclear test ban and arms control agreements with Russia during the Cold War era. There is also the recent 2009 nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates, where Congress demanded changes and material improvement to international agreements before granting consent.

Eli Broad, Matthew Weiner and Norman Lear

Eli Broad, Matthew Weiner and Norman Lear Hollywood Jewish Backers of Iran Nuclear Pact Source: Hollywood Reporter.

Testimonials from Prominent Hollywood Jewish Backers of Iran Nuclear Deal

The White House has been bombarding media with ‘testimonials’ in favor of the Iran nuclear deal. There was one from three dozen retired generals and admirals, another from 29 of the nation’s leading scientists, and still yet another from 100 former ambassadors.   The argument from the former senior officers in the military was the agreement is “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” The scientists called the Iran deal “technically sound, stringent and innovative”.

The other voice heard from was the liberal Jewish Hollywood mogul crowd and J Street rabbis’ who bought an ad in the L.A Jewish Journal, and other newspapers of record. Israel National News (INN) noted  among them were leading campaign financial bundlers for Obama’s Presidential elections:

Among the seven lead signatories are billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad; Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry; and legendary TV writer-producer Norman Lear.

[…]

“I just felt that some of the mainstream Jewish organizations weren’t speaking on behalf of a large segment of the community that has a different point of view,” Matthew Velkes told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that LA’s Jewish population is “as diverse a community as one might imagine.”

INN drew attention to the letter signed by these Hollywood Jewish supporters of Obama published in the Hollywood Reporter:

We appreciate that many have reasonable concerns about the risks of a complex nuclear weapons development agreement with an untrustworthy adversary like Iran. We too hold these concerns, but the deal that was reached is not founded on trust; it is grounded in rigorous inspections and monitoring.

They view killing the deal as a “tragic mistake.”

us energy secretray

U.S. Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz

Secretary of Energy Moniz discusses the Iran deal on a National Jewish Federation Webcast

I watched a National Jewish Federation live interview with Secretary of Energy, Dr. Earnest Moniz, extolling the virtues of the Iran nuclear deal from technical aspects. Retired MIT physics professor Moniz knows the subject well.  He was an official in the Clinton Administration during the failed attempt to reign in North Korea from achieving nuclear breakout. The on-line audience was a third of the 10,000 viewers  when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expounded his thesis about why the nuclear pact was a bad deal given existential threats to both the US and Israel.

The Hill cited Moniz saying on the webcast that the Iran nuclear deal “would aid in fighting terrorism.”  The Administration’s primary concern he said was to cut off all paths for Iran from achieving a bomb. A path, he acknowledged, currently would take less than two to three months to achieve with the 80 tons of fissile material on hand.  However, he suggested that when the existing stock of fissile material was reduced by 98 percent under the current proposal it would set back by a decade  industrializing nuclear development.  He also told the on-line audience that there were no secret side deals.  Rather he characterized them as confidential arrangements between the IAEA and Iran that would allow for close monitoring of Iran nuclear developments.  He suggested, when asked by viewer, not to worry about the Parchin military test site, as the Energy Department’s labs have developed the technical means of identifying even trace amounts of nuclear residue. The Problem is the Ayatollah has barred the IAEA and any US inspectors from visiting Parchin and ‘known’ military development sites.   Further, Moniz suggested the US was supplying the 24/7 monitoring technology to the IAEA covering the entire Iranian nuclear production pathway from mine through enrichment.

Watch Secretary Moniz’s Jewish National Federation Vimeo video presentation:

ambassidor yoriWhat the polls of Americans show.

Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli Congressional liaison with the rank of Ambassador, in an  Israel Hayom column highlighted the findings of several polls. They reflected Americans’ deep concern about the nuclear deal with Iran.  Here are the highlights of what Ettinger addressed in his Israel Hayom column:

According to RealClearPolitics’ most recent polls, a major wedge has evolved between the US constituents, on the one hand, and US policy-makers, on the other hand, when it comes to foreign policy and national security: a mere 38.5% approval rating of President Obama’s foreign policy.  For instance, a CNN poll documented a majority disapproval of Obama’s handling of Islamic terrorism, and a majority backing the use of military force against ISIS.

The voters’ deep distrust of the Ayatollahs is documented by the annual Gallup poll of Country Rating.  …  Iran is rated as the second least favored country by Americans with 11% favorability, ahead of North Korea – 9% and behind Afghanistan (14%), Syria (14%) and the Palestinian Authority (17%), compared with Israel’s 70%.

In addition, Gallup shows that 77% and 84% of US constituents regard nuclearized Ayatollahs and international terrorism, respectively, as “critical threats.”  Gallup indicates that “Americans’ views on [the Ayatollahs] have remained unchanged for 26 years.”

According to the August 3, 2015 poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, “American voters oppose the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran 57 to 28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition for Republicans and independent voters.”

nyt times front page

New York Times Front Page April 16, 2002.

The 2002 Washington Rally to Stand with Israel.

I recently exchanged thoughts with the AIPAC Florida regional director about a possible march in Washington, just after Labor Day when Congress reconvenes to address the looming vote on the Iran deal. I recalled vividly my personal impressions of being in the multitude estimated at over 100,000 at the Stand with Israel Rally on April 15, 2002 gathered to hear speakers on the back lawn of the US Capitol.  The rally was the genius of current executive vice chairman of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein, that despite daunting logistics and busing arrangements organized the event in less than five days.

That rally occurred in the wake of the Second Intifada that witnessed the horrific suicide bombing on March 27, 2002, the Passover Massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel.  30 elderly holocaust survivors were killed and over 140 injured and maimed.  The Washington Rally in 2002 was directed at Palestinian terrorism occurring less than a year after 9/11 in lower Manhattan.  Clearly, there was solidarity among Christians and Jews gathered in support of Israel who listened to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and  Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), now departing Senate Minority leader. The small contingent of pro-Palestinian advocates were swamped, but not abused by the attentive crowd.  Pictures and reports of the rally were front page items the following day in newspapers of record like the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and the New York Times. In the wake of the 2002 Washington Rally Christians United for Israel was formed.   I suggested to the Florida AIPAC regional director, we needed to do that again, now.

The March to Save America in Washington, September 9, 2015

Serendipitously, Tom Harb, an Orlando businessman and leader in the Lebanese diaspora, sent me an email introducing the group currently organizing a March to Save America for which it has been given a permit in Washington, scheduled for Wednesday, September 9th. That led to a discussion with a  Los Angeles-based spokesperson for the March.  She indicated that starting this weekend and early next week, the March organizers will issue press releases and break news of the March on a major cable news network.  She referred me to their website at: www.marchtosaveamerica.org with a statement from founding Committee Chairman, Barry Nussbaum. Here are some key excerpts:

Congress is about to vote on a deal with Iran that essentially consents to their belligerent military goals, with some delays specified.  …. There is no historical precedent for Iran’s compliance.  Nor, does the deal require “anytime, anywhere” inspection.  Rigorous verification of Iran’s adherence to the deal is virtually impossible.

[…]

The deal does not require Iran to materially dismantle its nuclear infrastructure while it includes, practically speaking,  the irreversible dismantling of the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.  Easy circumvention of the deal’s restrictions can only lead to the war that Iran has promised.  A majority of Americans (2/3 as of August 2015) have learned enough details to oppose it.

[…]

The only way to stop the deal, at this stage, is to put major pressure on Congress to reject it.  While many organizations are working tirelessly through lobbying individual Members of Congress to stop the deal, we feel that the strongest statement America can make is to unite through a march on Washington: The March To Save America, September 9, 2015.

Stay tuned for developments! Watch this brief YouTube video on The March to Save America:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Obama’s NPR Interview Raises Troubling Questions About Normalization of Relations with Iran

President Obama held a year end  interview with NPR’s  Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on December 17, 2014 that aired on December 30th. During the interview Obama  was questioned about possible normalization of relations with Iran. He coyly said , “ I never say never.”  He also said  that he might like  to see the Islamic regime become  a “successful  regional power in the region.” All while the  P5+1 beavers away trying to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the last time we looked, is still called  a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department  Read the transcript here.

This sounds like legacy building akin to his dramatic announcement of a renewal of relations with Communist Cuba.

Today’s  concerning remarks are in juxtaposition to his signing into law on December 19, 2014, The US Israel Strategic Partnership Act, H.B. 938  which passed after a year of debate by Congress allegedly deepening trade and military support for Israel. The Times of Israel reported:

Obama said his administration will interpret certain sections in a manner that does not interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy. That includes a section requiring the administration to provide Congress with certain diplomatic communications.

The US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act increases the value of emergency US weaponry kept in Israel by $200 million, to a total of $1.8 billion. It promotes closer US-Israeli links in energy, water, homeland security, alternative fuel technology and cybersecurity.

It also offers a verbal guarantee of Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

The law also expands cooperation on research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics.

Perhaps the December 19, 2014  signing of the US Israel Strategic Partnership Act was to bolster the Labor- Hatnua alliance in the March 17, 2015 snap election for a new Knesset. The leftist alliance position is that the right in Israel have abused the partnership with the US  through approval of settlement building authorizations undermining possible two state peace arrangements with the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile the PA supported by Arab League  is rushing to file a resolution for a vote by the  UN Security Council  demanding a peace deal with Israel within a year for and the end of alleged Israeli occupation of the West Bank by 2017. The PA, the Arab League and sponsor of the proposed resolution, Jordan  have been  emboldened by the Recent actions of the European Parliaments and several EU member states passing symbolic Palestinian statehood resolutions. There has been an indication from Secretary Kerry that the US might veto the Palestinian resolution  as it might jeopardize  the March 2017 Israeli snap elections result. Meaning that Israeli leftist allies might hopefully form a new  ruling coalition more amenable to a peace deal . There have also been leaks that the US might threaten to  abstain from such a resolution. The PA believes it may have sufficient votes on the Security Council to pass such a resolution.

Today’s State Department Press Briefing evinced concerns over the President NPR interview in an exchange between Jeff Rathke, Director of the Department’s Press Office and AP’s Matt Lee who covers both the White House and State Daily Press Briefings.

Omri Ceren of The Israel Project in a post this evening drew attention to concerns over the President’s NPR interview comments and a recent wave of support in Washington among advocates for normalization of relations with the Islamic Republic. He  wrote:

He said two things about an Iran nuke deal that are getting talked about: (1) it “would serve as the basis for us trying to improve relations over time” beyond the nuclear issue and (2) it would allow Iran to become “be a very successful regional power.”

The AP’s Matt Lee asked about both of those at today’s briefing: whether negotiations are designed to “bring Iran back into the fold” and whether the White House would reverse 35 years of Iran policy “designed to keep it from becoming a successful regional power.

There’s a separate reason why the normalization comments are getting so much attention: pro-engagement advocates have been flooding the zone with the argument. Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council said on Friday that “a deal with [the] US would be transformative.” Robin Wright from the Wilson Center toldFace the Nation on Sunday that for the “first time in 35 years, Iran and United States are on the same page at the same time.”.

The push has raised some eyebrows, because the Iranians – including and especially Khamenei – have been saying the exact opposite and rejecting any possibility of post-deal normalization.

Since taking office, President Obama has written four letters to Ayatollah Khamenei. All have been dismissed by the Supreme Ruler. The fourth and latest ‘secret’ October  2014 letter suggesting that the US and Iran had common interests regarding the Islamic State came amidst P5+1 efforts to obtain a final agreement by the deadline of November 24, 2014. That failed  to interest Khamenei leading to  the P5+1 to set a new  date for June 2015. Obama was roundly criticized by both querulous Arab allies and Israeli PM  Netanyahu  as constituting appeasement of this state sponsor of terrorism. Joseph Puder in a FrontPage Magazine article on November 17, 2014 wrote:

Ayatollah Khamenei rejected Obama’s overtures for improved relations, and in the words of Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the latest letter smacks of “Obama chasing after Khamenei in the undignified and counterproductive manner of a frustrated suitor.”

Watch this C-Span Excerpt we prepared of the exchange between Rathke of State and AP’s Matt Lee:

Below is an excerpt from the transcript of today’s State Department Press Briefing:

Matt Lee: Well, no, I mean normally I would ask the people at the White House, since it was the President’s words. But is that this building’s understanding of the way the negotiations, the nuclear talks with Iran are going on? They’re not an end to themselves IE to get to get rid of any ability Iran might have to build a nuclear weapon, but they are actually aiming towards normalization of the sort that you are looking for, that the President is looking for with Cuba?

Jeff Rathke: Well I think I would encourage folks to read the entire text of the president’s interview in particular with respect to Iran. He was, in response to a question about the possible opening of a U.S. embassy, he said, “I never say never,” and then he proceeded to lay out the fact that right now the focus is on getting the nuclear issue resolved and that’s a question of whether Iran is willing to seize the opportunity that the nuclear talks represent. So, and then he describes that as the first big step and then there would then perhaps be a basis over time to improve relations. But I think reading the President’s answer to that question, it’s quite clear that the focus is on the nuclear negotiations and that is…

Matt Lee: But my question is that, given his comments, is the specific, the nuclear negotiation, is that just a part of what the administration hopes will be a broader reconciliation or rapprochement with Iran that ends up with normalization of relations by 2016 when the president leaves office?

Jeff Rathke: Well as the administration has said, we are not closing any doors, but our concerns on Iran are well-known and our focus now is on resolving the nuclear issue. There is a chance to do that but that’s a question of Iran taking that, taking that opportunity.

Matt Lee: Another thing he said in the interview on Iran is that if they went ahead and reached an agreement, if they got a deal, a nuclear deal, and if the Iranians actually comply, that Iran would be in a position to become a successful regional power and suggested that that’s something that the United States would like to see. And you guys have made no secret of the fact that it’s not just the nuclear issue that is a problem for you with Iran, that there are numerous other things including the fact that it is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, as identified by you guys. I’m just wondering does the administration want to see Iran become a “successful regional power,” given the fact that since 1979, American foreign policy, with respect to Iran, has been designed to keep it from becoming a successful regional power, has been designed to keep it from exerting its strength over your or exerting pressure on your allies in the region, both Israel and the Arab states?

Jeff Rathke: Well, again, the President’s answer to the question and U.S. policy is focused on resolving the nuclear issue. That is our focus and that’s why we have the P5+1 talks going on.

Matt Lee: Well right, but then why bring all this other stuff in then? If the focus is just on the nuclear issue, why even broach the idea that you want to see Iran become a successful regional power and leave the door open to you know, normalization of relations to the point where you could open an embassy?

Jeff Rathke:  Well, I think the point is that Iran’s behavior is the factor that drives that, and it’s, Iran’s behavior needs to change, not only on the nuclear issue where we have been involved in the negotiation process, but in other respects as well.

Matt Lee: I get all that but I’m just wondering why, and I guess someone needs to ask the president why he answered the questions the way he did, to leave this thing open because it sounds as though that, it sounds as though the administration sees or at least he sees the nuclear negotiations as a path to bring Iran back into the fold, back into the fold and not just the United States, but…

Jeff Rathke: That’s not the way I interpret the transcript. I think it’s quite clear that focus is on dealing with the nuclear issue.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.