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Steven Richard Sheffey's

Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

Calling balls and strikes for the pro-Israel community since 2006

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September 11, 2022

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

  • President Biden was right to point out that MAGA Republicans are semi-fascists.
  • The blame lies not with Biden for pointing out the truth, but with non-MAGA Republicans for continuing to support a party that is fascist in all but name.
  • Jews don't fare well under fascism, and unlike the Democratic Party, the GOP regularly nominates antisemites for statewide and national office. Yet AIPAC has not rescinded its endorsements of 109 Republicans who voted to overturn the lawful results of a democratic election.
  • Return to the Iran Deal is on hold due to Iranian intransigence. Perhaps opponents of reentering the JCPOA can explain why, if their claims that Iran will net gazillions of dollars in sanctions relief and still be able to cheat are true, Iran isn't racing to get back in. Or could it be that in the fact-based world, the U.S. and its allies stand to benefit from getting back in?
  • Nevertheless, the GOP will try (and fail) to sabotage the deal in a House Foreign Affairs Committee vote this coming week.
  • Read to the end for upcoming events and fun stuff, including an event with climate change expert Eric Sorenson, running for an open seat in Illinois.

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Hi Steve,

Matthew Dowd noticed that ABC, CBS, and NBC covered King Charles's speech live but none of them carried President Biden’s primetime address on threats to our democracy. If the media has its priorities wrong, then that's all the more reason to get our priorities right.

President Biden spoke the truth about Republican fascist tendencies. The question is whether anyone who still supports Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans is ready to hear the truth. But even if they aren't, we should be inspired to do all we can to stop the Republican assault on American democracy, which means working for Democratic victories in November.

Biden said that "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic" and that "there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country." 

Professor Tom Mockaitis outlined the undeniable parallels between MAGA and fascism, concluding that "based on years of writing about extremism and teaching a course on 'Germany under the Third Reich' I must agree with Biden’s comparison. Not all MAGA supporters are fascists, but the movement’s ideology certainly is. "

The battle for the soul of our nation is not a friendly game of softball or mahjong. The Republican Party has become a fascist party in all but name. Jews don't fare well under fascist governments or under governments that promote or condone antisemitism, yet some Jews--admittedly not many, only about 25%--continue to vote Republican (as one pollster quipped, the only problem Democrats have with Jewish voters is that there aren't enough of them). 

But why do any Jews still vote Republican? At this point, I don't know. But I know that elections matter. If you agree that elections matter, then you have to agree that it matters who your friends vote for. Elections are decided by votes. If you have friends planning to vote Republican, talk to them--don't dissolve your friendship or forget their good qualities--but talk to them.

Remind them of Jewish history and what is at stake for our country in this election: Voting Republican is voting to make abortion illegal, keep assault weapons legal, replace democracy with fascism, and replace tolerance with antisemitism and racism. If they are your friends, they should at least be willing to have a respectful conversation. Why do we have to walk on tip-toes? If you don't want to talk to your friends, you don't have much right to get upset about how they vote--and about how their votes could seal your fate.

Greg Sargent asks the question our Republican friends cannot answer: "What exactly in Biden’s speech was wrong?" (Spoiler Alert: Nothing.) But, gasp and whine our Republican friends, Biden was divisive. Jamelle Bouie responds that "if Trump is leading an assault on the institutions of American self-government and if that assault implicates much of the Republican Party, then there’s no way that Biden can make his defense of the constitutional order without dividing people. What matters is the nature of the divide. To divide against a radical minority that would attack and undermine democratic self-government is to divide along the most inclusive lines possible." In other words, Biden is guilty only of describing the GOP accurately.

Charles Blow writes that "Democrats have to stop falling for the line that calling out the dangers that some voters present to the country is somehow a divisive, offensive, unfair attack on the innocent. No person who voted for Trump or supports him now is above being named and shamed. Biden doesn’t owe Republicans an apology; they owe the country an apology."

AIPAC endorsed 109 of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Whatever it means to be "pro-Israel," undermining our democracy hours after rioters incited by Trump stormed our Capitol ain't it. As Rabbi John Rosove wrote, "an organization that claims to care about a democratic Jewish state in Israel cannot in good faith endorse candidates for office who undermine American democracy."

A return to the JCPOA is not imminent. Iran is clearly not interested in a deal now, and it is unlikely a deal will be reached before November. That leads to another question opponents of the JCPOA cannot answer: If this deal is such a boondoggle for Iran, loaded with gazillions of dollars for terrorism and hardly any restraints on their nuclear program, why isn't Iran champing at the bit to get back in? The longer they wait the longer they defer sanctions relief and the greater the risk to Iran of getting no deal at all (Republicans have been known to win presidential elections).

On September 9, proving yet again that the Biden administration will continue to battle Iran's malign activities even as it continues to constrain Iran's nuclear program via a return to the JCPOA, the U.S. designated Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Minister of Intelligence, Esmail Khatib, for engaging in cyber-enabled activities against the United States and its allies.

Imagine if Iran's malign activities occurred under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. As State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said last week, We have never sought to insinuate that a mutual return to compliance of the JCPOA will address every single activity that we find problematic that Iran undertakes...But what we do know is that an Iran with a nuclear weapon makes all of these problems a lot worse."

Meanwhile, Republicans are attempting to undermine diplomacy by forcing the U.S. to negotiate in public. This coming week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on a resolution that would require the Biden administration to provide documents under negotiation to Congress. Even Democrats skeptical of the Iran Deal will vote against it because it makes no sense to effectively negotiate in public. Should a deal be reached, Congress will review it and vote on it. But for the GOP and its right-wing allies in the pro-Israel community, no opportunity for grandstanding can be passed up.

Last week's newsletter.


Tweet of the Week. Emily Hauser.

Facebook Post of the Week. Rabbi Shai Held

Video Clips of the Week. David Bowie & Peter Frampton look for a bar in Spain and Politics Girl.

Upcoming Events. Politics with Dana and Steve, the #1 Jewish political advocacy group in the Chicago area, is co-hosting Illinois congressional candidate Eric Sorenson on Sunday, September 18 at 4:00 pm in Highland Park (outside). Our co-host for this event is Advocates for Change. The event is free, but contributions are encouraged. RSVP here.

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The Fine Print: This newsletter usually runs on Sunday mornings. If you receive it as an ICYMI on Wednesday it's because you didn't open the one sent on Sunday. Unless stated otherwise, my views do not necessarily reflect the views of any candidates or organizations that I support or am associated with. I reserve the right to change my mind as I learn more. I am willing to sacrifice intellectual consistency for intellectual honesty. I might be wrong: Read opposing views and decide for yourself. A link to an article doesn't mean that I agree with everything its author has ever said or that I even agree with everything in the article; it means that the article supports or elaborates on the point I was making. I take pride in accurately reporting the facts on which I base my opinions. Tell me if you spot inaccuracies, typos, or other mistakes so that I can correct them in the next newsletter (and give you credit if you want it). Advertisements reflect the views of the advertisers, not necessarily of me, and advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. I read, value, and encourage replies to my newsletters, but I don't always have time to acknowledge replies or engage in one-on-one discussion. I'm happy to read anything, but please don't expect me to watch videos of any length--send me a transcript if the content is that important. Don't expect a reply if your message is uncivil or if it's clear from your message that you haven't read the newsletter or clicked on the relevant links. Dedicated to Ariel Sheffey, Ayelet Sheffey, and Orli Sheffey z''l. ©2022 Steve Sheffey. All rights reserved.