Jewish Journal


November 21, 2013

Obama, Iran, Israel, and the Jewish “Appetite for Blood”



Labor party leader, Shelly Yachimowich
photo by Reuters/ Nir Elias


For a writer, and a writer's ego, admitting defeat isn't always easy. Yet I must say that Lee Smith made more impression writing this week about American Jews and Iran than I did writing about the same topic. Two days ago I explained that "the clash over Iran might be the toughest gap ever to face these two communities of Jews". And I still think it was an important thing to recognize, both for American Jewish supporters of Israel, but also, just as importantly, for Israeli policy makers who have to carefully utilize this support.

Smith's angle is different and much more controversial (and some would say: preposterously partisan). I'm not sure if I agree with everything he says, but he makes a very powerful case in an article that is at times not easy to read. In short, he identifies the intricate ways in which the Obama administration is trying to separate Israel from its American Jewish supporters. If you buy his theory, and there's a slim chance that all readers will buy it, the Obama administration is running a campaign to weaken Jewish pro-Israel influence in Washington.

In other words: Smith portends to expose the intentional attempt, and the scare tactics, with which the administration is making it uneasy for Jewish Americans to oppose the Iran agreement - while I merely predict that Obama's effort will bear fruit (namely, that a majority of American Jews will ultimately support the President's Iran-policy).

If you have to read just one of these two articles, read Smith. You are likely to get uneasy or annoyed by it – especially so if you're an avid Jewish Obama supporter – but some measure of article-prompted annoyance is good for your health:

American officials apparently feel that trafficking in stereotypes about Jewish deceptiveness and appetite for blood is fair play because of the size of the stakes involved—peace and a historical reconciliation with Iran, which has been one of the collective dreams of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment for 34 years. In part, the White House’s confrontation with the pro-Israel community is clearly intentional, and another part is simply structural, the result of a larger, more comprehensive effort to downsize American power generally by withdrawing from the Middle East. 


House cleaning department: If you're really into Israeli gossip, or want to know what Israelis have really been talking about in the past week – and no, the water-cooler conversations aren't about Iran – try this short NYT article. It is the story about how a whole country talked for a whole week about a famous singer and his excessively wild night life. The name of the singer involved, Eyal Golan, was officially revealed on Wednesday, long after every one in Israel knew who it was.


Israel's Labor party will be choosing its leader for the coming years today. Two candidates, current leader Shelly Yacimovitz and former minister Yitzhak Herzog, are on the ballot (Friday Update: Herzog is the new Labor leader). And if this political battle fails to ignite much interest, it is mainly because both aren't seen as probable candidates for Prime Minister. That is, no matter what happens today at the Labor Party, the chances of having a Labor PM succeeding PM Netanyahu seem quite slim at the moment.

On the other hand, as you can see in our Israel Poll Trend tracker, the decline of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party does make the Labor Party, once again, the second largest party in Israeli politics. At least for now.

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