Jewish groups want Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to apologize for comments about the Iran sanctions bill that they say are just feeding anti-Israel and anti-Semitic opponents.
Feinstein expressed opposition last week on the Senate floor to the sanctions bill by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), which says in part, “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”
Feinstein called the bill, co-sponsored by 59 senators, a “march toward war.”
“While I recognize and share Israel’s concern, we cannot let Israel determine when and where the United States goes to war,” she said. “By stating that the United States should provide military support to Israel in a formal resolution should it attack Iran, I fear that is how this bill is going to be interpreted.”
Republican Jewish Committee executive director Matt Brooks said Feinstein is “within her rights to disagree with a bipartisan majority of her colleagues who support Kirk-Menendez, but her suggestion that those colleagues have ceded control over ‘when and where the United States goes to war’ to Israel is outrageous, inflammatory and completely baseless.”
“The ‘provision’ of S. 1881 that Feinstein points to is carefully crafted and subject to a special additional provision making it clear that it does not provide an authorization for war in any contingency,” Brooks continued. “Moreover, the language of the provision Senator Feinstein cited is identical to language contained in S. Res. 65, which passed the Senate unanimously – and which Senator Feinstein cosponsored!”
“We are deeply troubled to see Senator Feinstein making such incendiary and inaccurate remarks on the Senate floor. We call on her to retract this reckless and false charge and apologize to her colleagues and to the millions of Americans who support a comprehensive, robust strategy to prevent the Tehran regime from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.”
The Zionist Organization of America pointed out that the support for Israel clause is a sense of the Congress, not a foreign policy law.
“Given that fact, Senator Feinstein’s remark is offensive and astonishing –– and wrong. Her statement plays to the anti-Semitic stereotype that the Jewish lobby manipulates America into doing Israel’s bidding to the detriment of U.S. interests,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said.
“This bill does not legislatively require U.S. to go to war against Iran, nor is Iran only a threat to Israel. It is a threat to America. Let us not forget that, only in the past month, the top Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, before a crowd at a rally shouting ‘Death to America,’ called the U.S. the Great Satan’ and ‘an enemy who smiles,’ while the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif, laid a wreath at the tomb of a leader of the terrorist group Hizballah, which in 1983 murdered 242 U.S. marines in Lebanon,” Klein continued.
“I had expected the sort of statement Senator Feinstein made to come from anti-Semitic Jewish lobby conspiracy theorists like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt or Pat Buchanan, not Senator Feinstein. In fact, an article in the Pat Buchanan-founded American Conservative magazine, which regularly features authors and articles hostile to Israel and the U.S./Israel relationship, has enthusiastically welcomed Senator Feinstein’s speech.”
Moreover, Klein continued, “why does Senator Feinstein object to a sense of Congress statement that the U.S. should support Israel in the event of hostilities brought about by a threat to Israel’s existence?”
“The U.S. should express support for its allies under such circumstances,” he added. “We urge Senator Feinstein to apologize for and retract this false and unworthy allegation.”
Feinstein accepted the endorsement of the pro-Palestinian group J Street in 2012.