In what's often being called a "post-truth" Trump era, pro-Israel advocates must keep top of mind three truths:
1. The Iran Agreement will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons for more than 10-15 years. No reasonable person disagrees that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has bought us at least 10-15 years. But as Secretary of State John Kerry explained at the Saban Forum:
I happen to believe it's a lifetime because we will know if and when they ever enrich to X degree above 3.67 percent. We'll know instantaneously if they have more uranium mines because we're tracking the mining, and that's a 25-year component of the agreement, and then afterwards there's a lifetime agreement with respect to inspections and the advance protocol of the IAEA. So I'm confident personally. Our IAEA is confident. Our intel community is confident. Our Defense Department is confident. We will know if they tick up. Now, that doesn't mean they won't tick up - in which case every option that we have today is available to us then.
One of the silliest complaints about the JCPOA is that Iran continues to misbehave. The purpose of the JCPOA was not to turn Iran's leaders into angels. It is precisely because Iran is a bad actor and will continue to be a bad actor that we must deprive Iran of nuclear weapons. That's all the deal was supposed to do. And it's working. Backing out of the deal now would leave Iran with the money it received for compliance and leave us with no leverage, the worst of all possible worlds.
2. President Barak Obama has steadfastly stood with Israel. As Kerry reminded us:
We, the Obama administration, have put $23.5 billion on the line for foreign military financing. More than 50 percent of the total that we give to the entire world has gone to Israel. We have just signed an agreement for $38 billion over 10 years, $3.8 billion a year, up from 3.1. And we have never, ever shied away from vetoing a resolution or standing up against an unfair and biased resolution at the UN, at the Human Rights Council, at UNESCO, you name it. And we - and many times, my friends, alone, the only nation in the world.
And yet Congress wastes its time telling the administration with the best record in history of standing up for Israel at the U.N. not to support anti-Israel resolutions. Telling President Obama to support Israel at the U.N. is like telling Steph Curry to shoot three-pointers. Good advice, but completely unnecessary.
3. Settlements are not the cause of the conflict, but they are obstacles to peace. Kerry explains:
Now, leaders again in Israel, certain leaders, are fond of saying, well, the settlements aren't the reason and the cause for the crisis. No, they're not. I'm not pretending they are. I'm not here to tell you that the settlements are the reason for the conflict. No, they're not. No, they're not.
But I also cannot accept the notion that they don't affect the peace process, that they aren't a barrier to the capacity to have peace. And I'll tell you why I know that: because the left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace, and the right that supports it openly supports it because they don't want peace. They believe it's the greater Israel. They are pursuing a policy of greater Judea Samaria building out into the West Bank because they believe it belongs to them. And they want it to block the peace because they want those places to belong to Israel. That's the history of the settler movement, my friends.
As I previously explained, if you accept the imperative of a two-state solution, then it no longer matters whether Israel's claim to the West Bank is superior to the Arab claim, because a two-state solution necessarily means Israel relinquishing nearly all of the West Bank. Settlement growth impedes a two-state solution and could lead to permanent occupation -- and the end of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state.
But as Ambassador Dan Shapiro said last week, "No Israeli prime minister could, would, or should sign onto a peace agreement that does not meet Israel's security needs and ensure Israel's ability to defend itself. The Israeli public would never accept it. The experience of Gaza must never be replicated in the West Bank."
Liberal smugness? Hillary Clinton received about 2.6 million more votes than Donald Trump, receiving more total votes than any candidate in history except Barack Obama in 2008, but she lost in the Electoral College by about 78,000 votes spread over three states. Does this mean that the Democrats should overhaul their strategy or their message?
A Democratic candidate who was better on the campaign trail or did not have the baggage Hillary carried probably would have won with the same message and the same strategy. Hillary herself might have won if she had executed better on her strategy in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. She might also have won if she had realized how many voters are uninformed or have an unexpectedly high tolerance for bigotry and misogyny and figured out how to reach them in those three states (many white racists live in deep red states that no Democrat could ever win). Read this before you accuse me of liberal smugness.