If Israel pulls the trigger, will the US supply the bullets? As bipartisan support in Washington ramps up for war with Iran, Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is leading the charge. Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council reports:
New legislation introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) calls for the U.S. to provide military, economic, and diplomatic support for Israel should its government decide to launch military strikes on Iran. The measure would effectively signal that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can decide not just whether to enter Israel into war with Iran, but whether the United States enters such a war. It comes as tentative diplomatic progress was reported from negotiations involving the U.S. and Iran.
The unprecedented measure is being unveiled as part of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference this weekend in Washington, DC, that will bring thousands of the group’s supporters to push the measure on Capitol Hill. The group will also support a new sanctions bill in the House that could authorize the U.S. to sanction companies, including in Europe and Asia, for any commercial dealings with Iran. That measure has raised concerns about further exacerbating medicine shortages impacting the people of Iran.
The Graham resolution is framed as a non-binding measure aimed at encouraging the President to implement and escalate sanctions on Iran. But the final clause “urges that, if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”
The bill will likely please one of Menendez’s largest donors, NORPAC (ninth), which advocates for foreign aid to Israel and sanctions on Iran, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. NORPAC — the North Jersey Political Action Committee — acts as the campaign arm of AIPAC, which lobbies for and against legislation. Marsha Cohen of Lobe Log describes them this way:
Although the two organizations have remained separate and distinct, there’s been an overlap of talking points, priorities and modus operandi. NORPAC’s leaders describe it as a “single issue” organization, dedicated exclusively to promulgating the passage of Israel-related legislation, of which anti-Iran sanctions have become an integral part.
So who else gives money to Menendez? According to OpenSecrets.org, the two top industries donating to Menendez are law and real estate, with many of the individual contributors coming from in-state. The New Jersey Senator’s top donor, contributing nearly $300,000 to his campaigns since 1992, is corporate law firm Lowenstein Sandler, which originated in Newark and now has its headquarters in Roseland. Teaneck’s general service firm DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole ranked second with $172,000. International partnership Greenberg Traurig (fifth) gave $141,000, while Secaucus real estate law and litigation experts Waters McPherson McNeill (17th) put in $83,500. Hackensack contractors J. Fletcher Creamer & Son (seventh) added $120,000.
Financial companies deposit plenty of funds into Menedez’s accounts. These include multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs (third), insurance giant Prudential Financial (fourth), and Swiss banking titan UBS (12th). In addition, the Senator receives backing from some of the country’s largest unions: the AFL-CIO-affiliated Laborers International Union (14th), the Teamsters (15th), and government workers’ union AFSCME (20th).
Quite a few of his major contributors, aside from the law firms mentioned above, originate in or are New Jersey-based. These include Newark gas and electric utility Public Service Enterprise Group (eighth) and Hackensack’s United Water (18th); the Spanish Broadcasting System (tenth), founded in Newark; Maher Terminals (11th), which ships from the Port of New York and New Jersey; and pharmaceutical corporation Schering-Plough (19th), based in Kenilworth.