By Mike Victor
AIPAC and any other national Jewish organization that has come out against the deal, PLEASE STOP the intense emails and lobbying. Your aggressive and thoughtless approach is selfish and dividing our community.
When I was 8 years old I was taught the game of chess by an elderly friend of the family. His no nonsense approach to teaching me the game taught me many things. It taught me patience and discipline. It taught me to focus and to not be distracted from the ultimate goal of beating my opponent. However the greatest lesson he taught me was to be strategic and think at least 5 moves ahead at all times. Being strategic meant, that usually, I could beat anyone I played against with relative ease. However what it also taught me was when I knew I was going to lose, to lose with grace and to make the most of the situation by trying to take as many of my opponent’s pieces as possible. That’s the thing about chess, good players know when they are going to lose way before the end of the game and like quicksand there is nothing you can do.
Even before the ink was dry on the p5+1 deal with Iran, the President and his advisors knew that they were going to win. They knew they had the votes in congress to ratify the agreement and if by some miracle that the President didn’t, then he has the veto with no possibility of it being overturned by a two thirds majority. He knew it, many experts and political pundits knew it, the UN knew it and so did the other countries that were part of the negotiations. It seems that the only people who didn’t know it, (or chose not to listen to the end game) are doing everything in their power to try a persuade members of Congress to vote against the deal. The question that needs to be asked is, why? Why pull out all the stops lobbying, when you know deep down that you are beaten? They only answer that I can muster is, in your eventual defeat, your desperate grasp to be relevant to your donor base has you drunk. Strategy has clearly gone out of the window and you are throwing Hail Mary’s at a wide receiver that’s never going to get to the end zone. This is why you have to stop and think. Recognize that you are defeated and go to plan B.
After the agreement was announced, I wished AIPAC and others would release statements like this:
‘After much discussion and deliberation, we are disappointed and dismayed with the agreement that was reached by the P5+1. We recognize that it would be virtually impossible to overturn the President’s veto in Congress even with an intensive and expensive lobbying campaign. It has always been our commitment to advocate for Israel’s safety and security. To continue to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Israel. It is therefore our strategy to lobby congress to help guarantee with the passing of the deal with Iran that the following is also adopted;
- A renewed commitment of support for Israel.
- A doubling of military aid to Israel for the next 15 years.
- Sharing of military technology and intelligence at the very highest level.
- Unwavering support for Israel at the United Nations.
- A brokered peace deal with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Countries that would dramatically increase trade of oil and gas and technology with Israel.
- A congressional committee to look into and combat BDS both domestically and abroad.
- Special visa, green card and citizenship dispensation given to European Jews who feel threatened by the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe a fast track immigration to the United States.
Even if one of these lobbying attempts were successful, it would have been worth it and something that the overwhelming majority of Jewish organizations and American Jewry could have stood behind and lobbied for. We could have come together in the most powerful way. Instead, organizations that have selfish agendas have ripped us apart.
On the other side of the spectrum, JStreet released a statement within an hour or so of the deal being announced, praising it and supporting it. It had no way of analyzing it and making a critical analysis. That kind of reckless, spur of the moment decision making, hurts the community. There was no in depth thought process to its statement. It treated the deal as if your big brother tells you to do something and you do it. It will claim victory when the deal is passed even though it had little to do with it. I bet on someone’s email draft folder raring to go is an already written statement claiming victory. JStreet is just the player who suited up for the game, was never used, sat on the bench the entire championship winning season and will go home with a ring and show all their friends.
Leadership is thinking and analyzing. It’s about rising to the occasion. It’s also about knowing when you are checkmated and then trying to make the best of the situation. To go into the next game wiser having learnt something from the last one. It’s also about long term thinking.
I am pleading with these organizations, that with what little time we have left before congress votes, to get together and unite for the greater good and lobby for tangible agreements that help Israel and world Jewry and bring our community back together.
Mike Victor is Executive Director of a Jewish Communal Organization.