Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jewish Lobbying and Colorado’s 2016 Election

President Truman, reflecting on the lobbying during the creation of State of Israel in 1948, stated: “The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionists leaders – activated by political motives and engaging in political threats – disturbed and annoyed me.”

No doubt, the Obama administration was annoyed by the heavy lobbying of various Jewish groups and individuals against his signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear agreement. But, the Israeli lobbying juggernaut, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his highly controversial March speech to Congress, suffered a significant defeat.

Needless to say, whoever becomes the Republican senate nominee in Colorado, Bennet’s Iran vote will be an issue. And while it will no doubt be in the queue of election issues, it is not clear it will be salient a year from now.

Valerie Richardson in the Colorado Statesman report quoted (9-4-15):
Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli called the decision “a raging river that he had to cross, and I think he got across it.”
“Will he see this issue in the election? Yes. And is there some possibility that Iran will do something so egregious that a year from now — in other words, September, when we actually start to think about this — that this becomes a liability? Yes, that was part of that raging river,” Ciruli said.
“But in my opinion, the safer politics is what he did. To reduce the risk, go with what appears to be the sort of the world sentiment at the moment and certainly the Democrats’ position,” Ciruli said.
The question now becomes what’s next for the Jewish lobby, especially AIPAC, which has been seen as highly aligned with the Republican Party in this fight? After spending millions in Colorado on anti-nuclear deal advertisements, do they go on to oppose deal supporter Senator Michael Bennet’s re-election? Netanyahu and much of the Jewish lobby campaign were labeled as very partisan and Republican.

There are reasons to believe AIPAC and other groups will not be overtly in on an anti-Bennet campaign.
  • There are still many friends of Israel among Democrats in Congress and their leadership.
  • The Israeli interest failed in this fight, but there are many issues Israel wants Democratic support on. It was clear support for Israel’s military position was strengthened by many senators, especially Democrats, in this effort.
  • Individual Jewish, business and civic leaders are unlikely to pursue an anti-Bennet strategy solely on the basis of his Iran vote. They not only want his future support for Israel, but they have a host of other issues that are of importance, such as tax and trade policy.
The person who may suffer the most politically is not U.S. politicians, but the prime minister. This was a major blow to his reputation and legacy. At some point their gamble could cost Likud its majority.

The Independent: Israel lobby’s power waning after AIPAC failure to block Iran deal
The American Conservative: American Jews reject the Israel lobby, - and support the Iran deal

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