Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

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

May 29, 2022

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

  • Every week brings another outrage and the common denominator is the Republican Party. This is all about politics, not thoughts and prayers.
  • As Rabbi Sharon Brous wrote, the Texas gunman acted with every Republican Senator and at least one Democrat, among others.
  • Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley put any doubts about the efficacy of the JCPOA to rest during his testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • No newsletter next Sunday because of Shavuot. Look for the next newsletter on June 12.
  • Read to the end for upcoming events and fun stuff.

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Every week brings a new outrage--attacks on our democracy, attacks on abortion, attacks on our children--on top of the problems we know we must solve but let fester: climate change, inadequate health care, racial justice, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The common denominator is the Republican Party, standing athwart history and yelling "No" to what we know should be "Yes." What will it take to shake us out of slumber and realize that elections matter?

The outrage we felt about the repeal of Roe v. Wade was real. The outrage we felt when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, fought the police, and desecrated the Congress was real. The outrage we felt hours later, 147 Republicans voted to overturn the election, was real. Yet it seems like yesterday's news and it's depressing to wake up every day not knowing what new outrage will confront us. No words will comfort the families of the children in Texas who were murdered by a gunman who should not have had a gun while the police stood by. Gov. Greg Abbott won't even try because he can't admit his policies, and the policies of his party, failed those children and those families. He should listen to Gov. JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) before talking more nonsense.

The best cure for hopelessness is a feeling of agency, a feeling that we have some control over a world that seems meaningless, a world where we don't know if we will see our kids alive at the end of the day. Let's stop pretending that elections don't matter, that it's all a cynical game, and that both parties are two sides of the same coin. They are not. On all of these issues, the GOP says no to change, no to reform, no to progress. Paul Waldman writes that the Republican Party "has leveraged its minority rule to make sure virtually no limits are imposed on guns, which it fetishizes and worships and celebrates."

Channel your outrage into action by vowing to do all you can to elect Democrats who refuse to take it anymore. You might not like it, you might think it should not be this way, but acknowledge that party labels not only matter, but are the single most important criterion in determining whom to support. Dan Pfeiffer reminds us that "while progress may seem impossible, it is actually within our reach. We are two Senate votes away from eliminating the filibuster and sending gun safety legislation to the President’s desk."

The question is not when Congress will act. Democrats in Congress are ready to pass legislation. The question is when Republicans will act. The answer is never. It doesn't matter whether it's Covid, guns, or climate change. Unless it's about lowering taxes for the wealthy, deregulating corporations, or dictating decisions about abortions, Republicans will just say no, as they did last week on domestic terrorism, regardless of the cost in human lives. No words can comfort a parent who lost a child, but five words can comfort parents worried about losing their child: Vote Republicans out of office.

The Texas shooter did not act alone. Rabbi Sharon Brous is right: "He acted with every Republican Senator and at least one Democrat, who feverishly block all attempts at gun violence prevention" and the others she lists in her thread.

The gunman murdered at least 19 fourth-graders and two adults one week after the Buffalo gun massacre. Maybe we didn't offer enough thoughts and prayers after last week's gun massacre. C'mon America! Really think! Really pray!

Or better yet, vote out Republicans and elect enough real Democrats to the Senate so that we can eliminate the filibuster and pass gun safety legislation (and so much other needed legislation) by a simple majority. If the rest of the world can figure out how to live without guns, so should we.

Democrats passed legislation in the House that Senate Republicans refuse to pass. But until Republicans love their children more than they love their guns, our only option is to vote Democratic if we expect any meaningful change.

Time to seal the deal. If you had any doubts about the efficacy of the JCPOA, Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley put them to rest during his testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. If you don't have time to watch the full hearing, at least watch Sen. Chris Murphy's (D-CT) one-minute exchange with Malley and read Laura Rozen's summary.

Malley refuted the Republican talking point about Russia's role in the negotiations, saying that "There has been a lot written about Russia’s role in the JCPOA negotiations, and this is a fantasy: they have not played a central role in the negotiations. Our European allies are the ones in the driver’s seat here, they’re the ones who have been negotiating."

Watch this 90-second exchange between Malley and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who compared rejecting an imperfect deal to giving up three quarters of a cheeseburger because you were so hungry that you wanted a whole cheeseburger--and therefore would rather have nothing than something. Schatz added that "the answer to the sunsets should have been longer in the future is not let’s sunset it now.”

Sen. Jeff Merkely's (D-OR) brief statement sums up the hearing perfectly.

Separately, one of Israel’s most senior defense officials said that the U.S. made a mistake by withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018. If you're confused about Israel's views on the Iran Deal, that's because you've been paying attention.

The Biden administration imposed sanctions on a smuggling network supporting the IRGC and Hizballah. Biden's reported decision to keep the FTO designation on the IRGC removes a major, albeit irrational, political objection to reentering the JCPOA.

But what about that Wall Street Journal article? Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a story with a scary headline that provided more details about previously reported events that happened nearly two decades ago, based on documentation uncovered four years ago. It was timed to come out in advance of last week's hearings to remind us that Iran cannot be trusted (which no one, not even the strongest proponents of the deal, disputes).

It's no secret that Iran had a nuclear weapons program and that they took great efforts to cover it up. Sam Hickey notes that "these new details only re-enforce the reason the U.S. needs the Iran Deal. Iran cannot be trusted so we negotiated an agreement with the most invasive verification ever negotiated to ensure we know what they are doing."

As Boris Johnson wrote in 2018 (that's how old this story is), this program "actually underscores the importance of maintaining the restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, including the I.A.E.A.’s ability to inspect key facilities." And this article from 2018, which opponents of the deal hope you've forgotten, remains relevant and is well-worth (re)reading.

Joe Cirincione and Geoff Wilson wrote that the "JCPOA is one of the strongest non-proliferation agreements ever negotiated. It closed all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb for decades. Iran agreed to rip out more than two-thirds of its centrifuges, ship out all but a token amount of its once huge stockpile of uranium gas, remove the core of its plutonium reactor, drill it full of holes and fill it with concrete. It then agreed to put its entire nuclear complex under the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated." That's what Trump walked away from.

The passage of time has allowed us to see how wrong Trump was and why we should reenter the JCPOA. As Malley said last week, "we have gone through several years of a real-life experiment in the very policy approach critics of the JCPOA advocated: a so-called maximum pressure policy, designed to strangle revenue for the Iranian regime, in hopes of getting Iran to accept far greater nuclear restrictions and engage in far less aggressive behavior...

"Rather than compelling them to make concessions, the prior administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign resulted in Iran’s maximum non-nuclear provocations...attacks by Iran-backed militia in Iraq increased by 400% between 2019 and 2020 – the years when maximum U.S. pressure was supposed to result in maximum Iranian restraint. 'Maximum pressure' did not produce longer and stronger but rather shorter and weaker -- so short, indeed, that, in the absence of the JCPOA, many of the nuclear steps the deal’s critics worried Iran might take in the future are being taken by Iran right now; so weak in fact that Iran’s nuclear program today is operating essentially without any constraints at all on its size and technological advancement."

If you have further questions, they are likely answered here.

Briefly, because these are important but we are running out of space:

  • Separate AP and CNN analyses concluded that journalist and American citizen Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by the Israeli military. The IDF is now saying that no Israeli soldier "deliberately" fired at her. Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of Israel concluding its investigation last week. Being pro-Israel means rejecting knee-jerk criticism of Israel before the evidence is in. Being an effective advocate for Israel means not damaging your credibility by leaping to believe what you want to believe before the evidence is in and not engaging in counterproductive Noa Tishby style hasbarah. If the AP and CNN are wrong it can only be because their analysis is wrong, not because we want them to be wrong. We can reevaluate if Israel's investigation reaches a different conclusion.
  • If you support reproductive freedom and you are concerned that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, work to elect Democrats at the state and federal levels. Otherwise, abortion will become unsafe, illegal, and no less rare.
  • If you value American democracy, work to elect Democrats at the state and federal level and don't support organizations that support insurrectionists. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that pro-Israel is the same as pro-AIPAC. By supporting 109 insurrectionists, AIPAC is undermining our democracy and the values that underly the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Last week's newsletter. This link is to the version JDCA sent to its subscribers last week--if you didn't receive it, then sign up for JDCA's newsletter.

ICYMI. What part of ‘Just kill them’ does the world not understand? If you wonder what you would have done to stop the Holocaust, ask what you are doing to stop China’s Uyghur genocide. That's your answer.

Tweets of the Week. Steve Kerr and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on the Texas shooting.

Twitter Thread of the Week. Jack Kimble.

Video Clips of the Week. Jim Jefferies on gun control, Part 1 and Part 2.

This is the newsletter even Republicans have to read. And it's the original source of the viral Top Ten Signs You Might be at a Republican Seder.

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