Tuesday, July 28, 2015

O Israel, My Israel

It seems we have a bunch of Old Testament Christians, as Israel has become the shining light of the Republican Party, the beacon by which they are guided in all things domestic and foreign.  How else to explain this great love for Israel, which has really only sprung up in the last two decades?

Mike Huckabee was so upset over the new Iranian nuclear deal that he felt Obama was marching Israel to the "door of the oven."  I suppose if Donald Trump can get away with such hyperbolic remarks why can't he, but here was not only the President but just about every Jewish league in America chastising Huck for such obscene references on the campaign trail.

For many Republicans Israel represents our only ally, as right wing conservatives seem to have missed the part that virtually the whole world approves of this international agreement, as it was ratified unanimously by the United Nations.  Netanyahu has been one of the few world leaders to speak out against the agreement.  The others being a handful of Arab leaders who aren't too keen to see Iran challenge their hegemony in the region.

Bibi knows which side of his bread is buttered and has dispatched his "big guns" to Washington to lobby Congress against the Iranian nuclear deal.  For the better part of two decades Bibi has acted as a "Shadow Senator" in Congress, calling upon his conservative allies in Washington to side with him as he runs roughshod over UN resolutions concerning Palestine.  The encroachment on the West Bank has largely been during his administrations.  From time to time, he's raised the specter of Iran, usually in apocalyptic terms, which resonates with the Dominionists in Congress who believe that Armageddon is upon us in the form of this nuclear deal.

Not that a single one of them has read this agreement, mind you, much less offered an intelligent opinion on it.  They have lashed out against it, hoping that they can convince 13 Democrats to join them against a promised veto by President Obama.  The guy they are going to go after is Chuck Schumer, who has already said he is against it, but he may be having second thoughts, because unlike these yahoos he will probably read it before rendering a final opinion.

It's going to take a lot of cajoling and maybe a few trips to Chuck's favorite diner to get him onboard this unprecedented attempt to override the President on foreign policy.  Any reasonable interpretation of the nuclear agreement would suggest that it puts off Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons, not "pave the way" as Bibi suggests.

After all, Bibi has been crying for two decades that Iran is on the cusp of a nuclear warhead, but unless they have a doomsday bomb buried in the mountains somewhere none has been forthcoming.  So, why would this agreement speed up the process, as Iran already has the ability to enrich plutonium, as well as missiles to carry the payload, if it chose to?  Doubling down on sanctions, as the Donald has suggested, isn't going to stop Iran.

Unfortunately, Republicans these days aren't known for deductive reasoning, but rather for hyperbolic venting.  Take Tom Cotton, who seems to fancy himself an expert on Iran.  He's the one who crafted that "open letter" to the Iranian foreign minister a few months back.  He has now compared John Kerry to Pontius Pilate and has advocated military action against Iran to deal with the nuclear question once and for all. The junior Senator has made quite a name for himself in his first year in office.

Ted Cruz took the attacks up another notch by calling President Obama the "leading financier of terrorism against Americans in the World."  No public censure here, as the Republicans did when Cruz called Mitch McConnell a liar or Donald Trump questioned John McCain's hero status.  Not a peep from the Republican majority, not even Senator McCain.  This after John Kerry defended McCain against Trump.  It's like the very mention of Iran leads to an aneurysm in the Republican brain and all they see is red.

I don't know how one communicates with them on the subject.  There have been Senate hearings, but you get the sense the Republicans didn't listen to a word spoken by John Kerry, Jack Lew and Ernest Moniz.  Instead,  Republican committee members used the event as a stage to voice their own misinformed opinions.  Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said bluntly to Kerry, "I believe you've been fleeced."  This is the same guy who wanted to nix these negotiations before they even got started.

Meanwhile, Obama and Kerry are forced to respond to these outbursts at press conferences in foreign countries.  The President had to take time out from his historic visit to Ethiopia to address these absurd statements.  These shameful displays are what tarnish the American image abroad, not President Obama, who has to explain to the international press that these outlandish opinions don't reflect on the nation as a whole.

The Republicans are so busy appealing to their very narrow party base that they've lost all sight of a greater world.  You might as well sink all the continents underwater and just have the Red States of America and Israel popping above water.  This is their political map of the world.

The irony is that Netanyahu is loathed in Israel.  His party, Likud, didn't even win 25 per cent of the vote in the country, and was forced into alliances with hard line religious parties to form a very thin ruling majority in the Knesset.  He is attacked by the state newspapers and was forced to apologize for his outlandish comments leading up to the March election.   He hangs on as Prime Minister by his finger nails, yet seems to have convinced the Republicans and for that matter the Press in America that he represents Israel.

The other irony is that the vast majority of Jews in America vote Democratic.  Nearly 70 per cent of American Jews voted for Obama in 2012, down about 10 per cent from previous Presidential elections.  In fact, American Jews didn't even vote for Reagan.  Here's a breakdown of Jewish voting since 1916, and not once have Jews ever voted for a Republican Presidential candidate.

It gives you a pretty good idea of the fantasy world the Republicans have created and managed to impart on a large part of the American electorate.  It's kind of a Game of Thrones for them, whatever basis in reality this world view has can only be found in the Old Testament, as you won't find any modern-day parallels, other than those that reinforce their antiquated opinions.  They believe they have Israel's best interests in mind, when all they really want is another war to show their valor in combat.  Why not the rump state of ancient Persia?  Who knows maybe Tom Cotton will even don his fatigues again to go into battle himself like an Old Testament King.

Sadly, this is how deluded the Republican Party has become.

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