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Menendez to AIPAC: You Have My Hand in Friendship and the Power of My Office, Shalom

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James Traub, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, responded to Menendez on the Foreign Policy website:

"In an op-ed in USA Today, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained why he had defied the administration's urgent request that Congress hang fire on further sanctions:

"'Iran is on the ropes because of its intransigent policies and our collective will... Tougher sanctions will serve as an incentive for Iran to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program.'

"'s an unarguable fact that sanctions on Iran's oil sales and financial system, imposed by the European Union as well as Congress, have forced the Iranians to take the nuclear negotiations more seriously than they have in the past, and may even have helped elect the moderate president Hassan Rouhani.

"So why is the White House insisting that Menendez and his colleagues on the left and right are provoking 'a march to war?' The obvious answer, furnished by Secretary of State John Kerry, among others, is that Iran would view additional sanctions imposed in the middle of the most delicate negotiations as a sign of bad faith.

"More to the point, a punitive response by the West would undermine the moderates on Rouhani's team, and prove to Iranian hard-liners -- including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei -- that the United States and its allies are an intransigent adversary intent on humiliating Iran and ultimately overthrowing its Islamic regime.

"...The reason why Menendez and others really are marching on a path to war is that they are demanding an outcome which Iran manifestly will not accept: zero enrichment.

"As Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, puts it, 'This is a strategy based upon hope that is not supported by the evidence of Iranian actions over the past decade, its past statements, or common sense.'"

On the British web edition of the Guardian,  Michael Cohen points to "flash points" that have "strained" U.S.-Israel relations:

"The most notable flash point between the US and Israel is quite obviously Iran. Since taking office, President Obama has sought a deal to end Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons. While this is clearly in Israel's interest, it's the outlines of a possible agreement that is the problem.

"The Israeli position of no uranium enrichment, even for peaceful purposes, the removal of all enriched uranium from Iran and the shutting down of all enrichment facilities is a negotiation non-starter -- and stands in sharp contrast to the US position. ... Netanyahu appears focused on trying to torpedo any chance of an agreement, altogether. This is a dangerous game that if successful would not only create a fundamental breach between the US and Israel, but would almost certainly increase the likelihood of Iran actually getting a clear nuclear capability."

By choosing Israel's side in these negotiations, Senator Menendez accepts Israel's negotiating methodology: Make impossible demands to guarantee that no agreement is possible.

This is the same method Israel uses in the second "flash point" that Michael Cohen identifies in his Guardian column, the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Israel has participated for decades in these talks while stealing Palestinian land and tightening its control of the Palestinian population.

The "impossible scenario" is Israel's modus operandi. Will it work with Iran? Senator Menendez must believe it will.

Act Blue assures us Senator Menendez "is truly a friend to Israel." Is promoting war with Iran a friendly act? Maybe it is time for Act Blue to tell the Senator that "friends don't let friends drive drunk."

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)

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