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Iran Deal aftermath brings warnings of donor backlash against Dems

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Reprinted from Mondoweiss

The New York Times has an article on the "stinging defeat" to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which failed so colossally in its opposition to the Iran Deal. Unfortunately, the article leaves the news to the last couple paragraphs: a donnybrook in the next election, with big donors plotting retribution against those who supported the deal, and the pro-Deal group J Street recruiting money to help those who backed the deal. Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis is all but explicit about the role played by Jewish donors.

"[J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami] predicted that after the 2016 elections, lawmakers who backed the deal "will feel like they had the political support that they needed from the Jewish community to win re-election...

"Opponents of the accord were not so sure.

"'I think you may see donors withholding or not wanting to write a check to people because they feel betrayed, and there's going to have to be some accountability here,' said Josh Block, the president of The Israel Project, a pro-Israel public relations group. 'There's no question in my mind that people's votes on the Iran deal are going to be an issue in the next election cycle, and the one after that, and the one after that, and they'll be held accountable.'"

The same reference to the "Jewish community" appears in a Politico piece on the deal's aftermath: "GOP aims to make Democrats pay politically for Iran vote."

"'It will be very harmful to their chances,' said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

"'I don't know what else the Democrats could do to chase the pro-Israel community in the United States any further in the Republican direction,' said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former NRSC chairman."

Jeremy Ben-Ami and John Cornyn mean the same thing when they say "Jewish community." They are not just talking about votes -- Jews are just 5.8 percent of New Jersey voters, 3.3 percent of Florida's -- but money. West Virginia's Joe Manchin, one of four Dems who opposed the deal, tells Politico:

"'The smart move would have been for me to announce immediately I'm opposed to it,' Manchin said. 'If you're playing politics, it's a no-brainer.'"

Jews make up 1/10th of a percent of West Virginia's population. Manchin is talking about money: as Eli Clifton showed the other day, he is dependent on out-of-state contributions from supporters of Israel, which Clifton surmises guided his decision.

There is obviously a difference between Jewish donors and Jewish voters -- 57 percent of Jews support Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as first choice in the current presidential crop! Jeb Bush and Trump come in way behind. That's polling from the American Jewish Committee. And American Jews support the Iran Deal to a far greater extent than non-Jews. This is Jeremy Ben-Ami's bet; and the Times should have quoted him much higher in the story, higher than Dennis Ross, certainly, on what is going on here. Do those Jews have money? Are they younger? Do they care? Etc.

Jewish donors are again a theme in Mother Jones's story on -- Guess who is being resuscitated by the Jeb Bush campaign. First it was Paul Wolfowitz, now it's W. Yes, George W. Bush is addressing NY donors, on his brother's behalf.

"George W. Bush has been conspicuously absent from his younger brother's presidential campaign, but Jeb Bush is putting him to use -- at least in private. This morning the former president was scheduled to meet in New York City behind closed doors with some of Jeb Bush's top donors. The topic of this pay-to-attend exclusive luncheon session with W was to be the United States' 'special relationship' with Israel, according to an invitation to the event reviewed by Mother Jones."

The piece lists the names of members of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

It's time for the press to get honest and specific about how much Jewish money is in the political process. From Sheldon Adelson to Haim Saban to Norman Braman to Bernard Marcus, this seems to be the prize, and Republicans seem to believe it's in play. These are ardent supporters of Israel who are voting with their wallets. They are not reflective of Jews generally, and it's affecting our foreign policy.

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Philip Weiss is a longtime writer and journalist in New York. He co-edits a website on Israel/Palestine,, which he founded in order to foster the movement for greater fairness and justice for Palestinians in American foreign policy. He is currently working on a novel about the US in Australia during WW2.

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