Commentary Magazine


Topic: Howard Kohr

AIPAC Head to Obama: Do More on Iran

In a fiery speech at the AIPAC conference this morning, executive director Howard Kohr praised the Obama administration for its efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but warned that the progress so far “has not been enough.”

President Obama and his administration are to be commended. They have – more than any other administration — more than any other country – brought unprecedented pressure to bear on Tehran through the use of biting economic sanctions. …

The problem is–progress is not enough.  … The reality today is that the Iranian regime is not frightened enough. We must increase the pressures on the mullahs to the point where they fear failure to comply will lead to their downfall.

That is why we must bring even more pressure to bear. Four tracks are critical: tough, principled diplomacy, truly crippling sanctions, disruptive measures and establishing a credible threat to use force. All four are necessary. All four are essential, to underscore, beyond any doubt, that the United States and the west are serious – serious about stopping Iran. And all four, taken together, offer the best chance to avoid a war that no one – not the United States, not Israel — seeks.

That is why all U.S. officials must speak with one voice – so Tehran clearly hears that America is unified in its determination to prevent a nuclear capable Iran.

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In a fiery speech at the AIPAC conference this morning, executive director Howard Kohr praised the Obama administration for its efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but warned that the progress so far “has not been enough.”

President Obama and his administration are to be commended. They have – more than any other administration — more than any other country – brought unprecedented pressure to bear on Tehran through the use of biting economic sanctions. …

The problem is–progress is not enough.  … The reality today is that the Iranian regime is not frightened enough. We must increase the pressures on the mullahs to the point where they fear failure to comply will lead to their downfall.

That is why we must bring even more pressure to bear. Four tracks are critical: tough, principled diplomacy, truly crippling sanctions, disruptive measures and establishing a credible threat to use force. All four are necessary. All four are essential, to underscore, beyond any doubt, that the United States and the west are serious – serious about stopping Iran. And all four, taken together, offer the best chance to avoid a war that no one – not the United States, not Israel — seeks.

That is why all U.S. officials must speak with one voice – so Tehran clearly hears that America is unified in its determination to prevent a nuclear capable Iran.

Kohr’s speech, which focused solely on the Iranian nuclear threat, highlighted how AIPAC’s priorities have shifted since just last spring. The Palestinian conflict has faded into the background, and preventing a nuclear Iran has been the main concern since the conference began yesterday.

Specifically, Kohr called on the administration to support even tougher sanctions and demand that Iran freeze its program before any potential diplomacy can begin. His requests are backed up by immediate political muscle: tomorrow AIPAC heads to Capitol Hill for its annual public lobbying day, and these issues will be its top focus.

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Actions vs. a Pretty AIPAC Speech

Let’s talk about the gulf between Obama’s policies and rhetoric. On the one hand, the Obami reversed a Bush-era decision to exit the notorious UN Human Rights Council, where the likes of Libya (and maybe Iran!) will make pronouncements on Israel’s human-rights record. Today this report emphasizes the antics of three-ring circus that now carries the U.S. stamp of legitimacy:

Israel charged Monday that the United Nations Human Rights Council does not believe it has the right to self defense against the rockets which Gaza Palestinians launch against its citizens on the southern border.

“You have done nothing about it and you expect that Israel do nothing either,” said Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Roni Leshno Yaar.

He spoke during a day-long debate about Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Later this week the council is expected to vote on four resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One resolution affirms the Palestinian right to self determination. A second initiates the creation of an independent committee to monitor compliance by Israel and the Palestinians with the Goldstone Report call for both parties to hold independent transparent investigations into human rights abuses during Israel’s military incursion in Gaza in January 2009 and the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli citizens.

Two other resolutions accuse Israel of a host of human rights abuses against Palestinians and take it to task for continued settlement building, including east Jerusalem.

Hillary today waxed lyrical about standing with Israel and declared: “The United States has also led the fight in international institutions against anti-Semitism and efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy. We led the boycott of the Durban Conference and repeatedly voted against the deeply flawed Goldstone Report. This administration will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself.” But by their policy choices, the Obami have — in fact — empowered the ”efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.” Why not walk out of the UN Human Rights Council once and for all? Or is that too great a price to pay for being a friend to Israel?

AIPAC is encouraging the administration to take issues of concern behind closed doors. Fair enough. No ally deserves to be publicly humiliated. But the real goal, to which Howard Kohr alluded, should be something far more ambitious. The administration has to end its bad policies, not simply its hysterical rhetoric. Until it recognizes that the policy of ingratiating ourselves with the Muslim World and distancing ourselves from Israel is fundamentally flawed, the rest is just atmospherics.

Let’s talk about the gulf between Obama’s policies and rhetoric. On the one hand, the Obami reversed a Bush-era decision to exit the notorious UN Human Rights Council, where the likes of Libya (and maybe Iran!) will make pronouncements on Israel’s human-rights record. Today this report emphasizes the antics of three-ring circus that now carries the U.S. stamp of legitimacy:

Israel charged Monday that the United Nations Human Rights Council does not believe it has the right to self defense against the rockets which Gaza Palestinians launch against its citizens on the southern border.

“You have done nothing about it and you expect that Israel do nothing either,” said Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Roni Leshno Yaar.

He spoke during a day-long debate about Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Later this week the council is expected to vote on four resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One resolution affirms the Palestinian right to self determination. A second initiates the creation of an independent committee to monitor compliance by Israel and the Palestinians with the Goldstone Report call for both parties to hold independent transparent investigations into human rights abuses during Israel’s military incursion in Gaza in January 2009 and the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli citizens.

Two other resolutions accuse Israel of a host of human rights abuses against Palestinians and take it to task for continued settlement building, including east Jerusalem.

Hillary today waxed lyrical about standing with Israel and declared: “The United States has also led the fight in international institutions against anti-Semitism and efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy. We led the boycott of the Durban Conference and repeatedly voted against the deeply flawed Goldstone Report. This administration will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself.” But by their policy choices, the Obami have — in fact — empowered the ”efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.” Why not walk out of the UN Human Rights Council once and for all? Or is that too great a price to pay for being a friend to Israel?

AIPAC is encouraging the administration to take issues of concern behind closed doors. Fair enough. No ally deserves to be publicly humiliated. But the real goal, to which Howard Kohr alluded, should be something far more ambitious. The administration has to end its bad policies, not simply its hysterical rhetoric. Until it recognizes that the policy of ingratiating ourselves with the Muslim World and distancing ourselves from Israel is fundamentally flawed, the rest is just atmospherics.

Read Less