Reprinted from To The Point Analyses
On 13 August 2015 the New York Times (NYT) carried a front page article entitled "Donors Descend on Schumer and Others in Debate on Iran." The article opened a window on the activities of big money donors in the Congress of the United States.
Take for instance the case of Senator Charles Schumer, the senior senator from New York. According to the NYT story, Schumer had been consulting with John Shapiro, a wealthy financier and "longtime benefactor" of the senator and other Democratic politicians. Shapiro is also the head of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), an organization that claims 100,000 members and that, since 2009, has described itself as "a center for Jewish and Israel global advocacy," thereby misleadingly tying these two interests -- Jewish advocacy and Israeli advocacy -- together. Shapiro's position with AJC also means that, when it comes to Middle East foreign policy, there is no real difference between his position and that of the Israeli government. This identification is reflected in the AJC's "unity pledge" concerning the Zionist state.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Shapiro told Schumer what Israeli-inspired analyses to read before he made his decision on the nuclear deal. According to the NYT, Shapiro also informed the senator that the Egyptian "president" Abdel Fattah el-Sisi felt sure that the deal would "increase regional terrorism." It can be assumed that Shapiro failed to mention that this was an opinion that differed from the public position taken by the Egyptian foreign minister.
Soon thereafter Schumer announced that he would oppose President Obama's negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran. One can find multiple critiques on the web of Schumer's reasons for taking this position, so we won't go into it here. For our purpose the important point is that Shapiro wasn't the only Jewish donor trying to pressure legislators and, in fact, many were urging not rejection but acceptance of the Iran deal.
Part II -- American Jewish Support for the Iran Agreement
The NYT article identifies several wealthy Jewish donors who were lobbying in support of the Iran agreement but doesn't tell us if they have been as successful as Shapiro. These include the billionaire entrepreneur S. Daniel Abraham, TV producer Norman Lear (founder of People for the American Way) and the famous George Soros.
There are several additional points that can be added to this aspect of the NYT story:
-- There are a good number of Israeli intelligence professionals (to say nothing of their American counterparts) who "have very positive views of the nuclear agreement." Despite efforts by the Netanyahu government to silence them, their positions are now coming out in the media.
-- Hundreds of prominent American Jews have publicly supported the agreement in a NYT ad and open letter to Congress.
-- Recent polls show that most American Jews support the deal with Iran. According to a poll conducted by the LA Jewish Journal Survey, "by a wide margin, American Jews support the recently concluded agreement with Iran." Indeed, according to this poll, even a majority (51%) of those who described themselves as "very attached emotionally to Israel want Congress to approve the deal."
Part III -- The Myth of a United Jewry
All this information undermines the myth that Israel (or worse yet, Benjamin Netanyahu) speaks for the Jews. This has always been untrue, yet Israel's persistent insistence that it is true constitutes a typical "big lie" which, repeated over and over again, takes hold in the popular mind and comes to appear as a reflection of reality.
It is the resulting pseudo-truth that helps men like John Shapiro be so persuasive. Along with all the money he can bring to the table, he can claim that he speaks simultaneously for Israel and American Jewry. His political benefactors will believe this because it is consistent with an established myth.
That is why it is important to point out, at every opportunity, instances that undermine the myth. The case of the Iran nuclear agreement is just such an instance.