The Iran deal has triggered a “civil war” in the American Jewish community.
While Israelis, left and right, are overwhelmingly opposed to the deal, American Jews are torn between their general support for President Barack Obama–only black voters have been more loyal–and the reality of what the deal will do to strengthen Iran and threaten both American and Israeli security.
The divisions are mostly among Democrats, as Republicans–about a third of the community–are solidly against the deal. But they are affecting the community as a whole.
Divisions among American Jews have become deeper over the past few decades. The Oslo peace process in Israel sparked a backlash from the far-right of the community, and the second intifada in the Middle East inspired a new generation of radical leftist Jews to challenge their community’s traditional support for Israel.
Yet it was the rise of Obama that caused the deepest split. Using the Mearshemer-and-Walt-inspired, Soros-funded J Street, Obama broke the community’s institutional unity on Israel and forced the Democratic Party to move left.
The internal turmoil could be covered up as long as the community could be convinced that Obama would protect Israel. A beaming delegate to the 2008 conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) told me at the time that candidate Obama, who spoke to the group, had put “everything on the table” to stop Iran, including the military option.
But as Alan Dershowitz writes in his new book, The Case Against the Iran Deal, Obama later reneged on that promise, and may never have meant it. The weak terms of the Iran deal are proof.
Some Jewish Democrats, like Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), are speaking out against the deal. Others, like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), say it is better than the alternative. The key voice, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who fancies himself Israel’s “guardian” in Congress, has caused an uproar by remaining silent.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the community via webcast. Then Jewish leaders will meet with Obama, who plans to “speak to” (not “listen to”) them. Then the fight–what some call “almost…fratricide“–will go on.