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How Isolated Can You Get?

At JTA Ami Eden writes:

J Street has sent out a mass e-mail opposing a bipartisan push in Congress for tougher sanctions on Iran. Here’s the relevant passage:

On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough — but the chances of success won’t be helped by Congress imposing tight timelines or a new round of sanctions at this moment.

Yet, just this week, the Orwellian-named “Iran Diplomacy Enhancement Act” was introduced in the House — a bill that in reality does nothing to “enhance diplomacy” but instead imposes further sanctions on Iran, directly undercutting the President’s diplomatic message.

The only thing Orwellian here is J Street’s implication that lawmakers are undercutting the Obama administration by pushing for sanctions.

[. . .]

It’s always possible that Obama will end up filp-flopping on this issue, now that he is the one sitting in the Oval Office, but until then… J Street may or may not be right that the mostly good cop approach is better than the carrots-and-sticks strategy, but this much is clear: By coming out against sanctions, J Street is the one undermining Obama’s Iran policy.

Ouch. But it’s not just Obama’s policy that J Street is undermining. The bipartisan effort by Congress includes Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Kit Bond (R-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), James Risch (R-ID), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

How far out of the mainstream of public opinion is J Street that they find themselves at loggerheads with Obama, Dennis Ross, the State Department, and a group of some of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate? Way out…

One is left to conclude that J Street simply doesn’t want any pressure applied to Iran. Nor does it favor any policy with a reasonable chance of blocking Iran’s nuclear ambition. Is this out of sympathy for the mullahs’ desire for self-esteem? Or do they cherish seeing Israel left with no option but a military one to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran? Hard to say. But one thing is certain: it’s no easy trick getting so utterly isolated from every respectable player in American politics. But the kids on J Street pulled it off.



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