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March 2, 2015 9:48 pm

At AIPAC, Embattled Susan Rice Finds Herself at Odds With Audience on Iran

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US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: State Department.

WASHINGTON, DC—Amid a rocky week for the relationship between U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the pro-Israel community, Rice’s assessment of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers put her at odds with attendees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday night.

After Rice noted that some members in the AIPAC audience would be going to Congress to urge that a nuclear deal suspend all of Iran’s enrichment capacity, she followed a round of applause for that concept by stating, “As desirable as that would be, it is neither realistic or achievable.” If a complete halt to Iranian enrichment is the goal, Rice said, America would lose its negotiating partners within the P5+1 nations and sanctions against Iran would be undermined.

Regarding sanctions, Rice again referenced members of the AIPAC crowd by acknowledging that some of them would suggest that “we should just impose sanctions and walk away.” That concept, too, received a round of applause, prompting a visibly frustrated Rice to throw her arms up in the air.

Rice said, “We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal [with Iran].” Sanctions, she said, “have never stopped Iran from advancing its [nuclear] program.” New sanctions “would blow up the talks, divide the international community,” and cause the U.S. to be blamed for causing negotiations with Iran to fail, she said.

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The national security advisor’s discord with the AIPAC audience comes in the aftermath of an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS in which she called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to a joint session of Congress on March 3 “destructive of the fabric” of the U.S.-Israel relationship. A subsequent advertisement in the New York Times by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s This World: The Jewish Values Network said, “Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide. Both the Jewish people’s and Rwanda’s.” The ad was widely condemned by Jewish organizations.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who spoke after Rice at the AIPAC conference on Monday night, said that while he agrees “with some Democrats that the political timing of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress tomorrow may have been unfortunate,” he “must disagree” with those who say the speech is “destructive” to U.S.-Israel relations—a specific reference to Rice’s comments.

Naturally, Menendez also presented a sharp contrast to Rice on the issue of Iran—given that he is the co-author of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, which would impose new sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic does not reach an agreement with the P5+1 powers by March 24. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto that legislation if it passes in Congress.

“Iran needs to understand that there are consequences to an impasse and those consequences are additional consequential sanctions,” Menendez told the AIPAC crowd, adding that Iran must choose between a nuclear weapons program or the welfare of its people.

Menendez called for legislation ensuring the oversight of any nuclear deal the Obama administration reaches with Iran, both before and after a deal goes into effect. Congress, said the senator, is the body that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, through sanctions.

“As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me… Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon,” Menendez said. “It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to star a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch.”

While Menendez’s speech received a series of thunderous rounds of applause, Rice’s talking points on Iran also pleased the AIPAC crowd before the two standing ovations for viewpoints she opposed.

“Given Iran’s support for terrorism, the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region, and the danger to the entire global non-proliferation regime, Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it’s also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America,” Rice said.

“Now I want to be very clear: a bad deal is worse than no deal,” the national security advisor said. “And if that is the choice, there will be no deal.”

Rice said that the U.S. is “not taking anything on trust” in the nuclear talks. “What matters are Iran’s actions, not its words,” she said.

“We’ve kept the pressure on Iran,” said Rice. “Today, even with limited sanctions relief, Iran’s economy remains isolated from the international system and cut off from the vast majority of its foreign-currency reserves. … All told, sanctions have deprived Iran of more than $200 billion in lost oil revenue.”

But Rice’s remarks then pivoted, going down the path of arguing against increased sanctions on Iran. She said Congress “shouldn’t play the spoiler now” by imposing new sanctions.

“We can always bring consequences to bear for the sake of our (Israel and the U.S.) shared security,” Rice said. “Harsh consequences. But precisely because this is such a serious issue, we must weigh the different options for us, and choose the best one. Sound bites won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Strong diplomacy backed by pressure can. And if diplomacy fails, let’s make it clear to the world that it is Iran’s responsibility.”

Leading up to the AIPAC conference, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) questioned Rice’s suitability as a speaker for the gathering, citing her recent characterization of Netanyahu’s Congress speech as “destructive.”

“Should a major Jewish pro-Israel group like AIPAC ignore Rice’s vicious comments against the Jewish state of Israel and the Israeli prime minister and welcome her appearance and give her a podium? Is Susan Rice entitled to such respect from the Jewish community? … Should there be no consequences for her threats that the U.S./Israeli relations are now badly damaged, even destroyed?” ZOA said in a press release.

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  • ed

    ABC News executive producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, National Security Adviser.

    CBS President David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.

    ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman is married to former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

    ABC News and Univision reporter Matthew Jaffe is married to Katie Hogan, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary

    ABC President Ben Sherwood is the brother of Obama’s Special Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood

    CNN President Virginia Moseley is married to former Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Secretary Tom Nides.

    And now you know why it’s no surprise the media usually goes so easy on Obama’s many errors.

  • Irwin Zeplowitz

    I doubt I will convince anyone who hates and/or distrusts the President, but I take both at their word – and that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama do not disagree that:
    1. Iran s an evil, dangerous and rogue regime,
    2. The so-called “Islamic Republic” should be trusted (in fact, at AIPAC Rice said the attitude in negotiations is “distrust and verify”),
    3. Iran major enemy of Israel and the US – and the chief sponsor of terror in the world, or
    4. This is a nation that must be prevented from obtaining the capacity for nuclear weapons.
    The disagreement is NOT about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but how to best achieve that goal.
    So … let’s say Netanyahu and those who want to “sanction Iran and walk away” get exactly that. Then what? The Prime Minster claims that such an approach is best – and will enfeeble Iran so much that it must return to the negotiating table, and a much better deal will be obtained. Some claim that the sanctions will lead to “regime change”, angering Iranians enough to want to overthrow the mullahs.
    I don’t buy it. Will such a tyrannical regime, one that terrorizes its own population and is committed to the spread of radical Islam, really be pushed by sanctions to the table? Have sanctions stopped North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons? Even Hamas – which has few resources in comparison to Iran – directed an inordinate amount of resources into the tunnels meant to attack Israel. To push Iran away from ongoing inspections and the watchful eye of other nations will only lead it to less accountability and greater ease for covert actions that will accelerate its march to having nuclear bombs. There is a place for sanctions – and the process should not loosen them unless Iran complies – but sanctions alone will only lead Iran to turn to other dangerous nations to get what they want.
    I loved the Jewish pride the Prime Minister expressed … and he spoke passionately and well. But I fear his approach will actually bring the very thing he fears (and I agree we all ought to fear) – a nuclear Iran – closer.

  • michael schuman

    Why doesn’t Obama advocate for Green solutions here? Al Gore demands that we not build nuclear facitilites in the USA and instead utilize solar power generators. The cars and homes in Iran should be made to run on solar power like Europe or the US in a US/Iran deal not nukes! Why not be consistent Obama?

  • emile harari

    I am very surprised that AIPAC invited Susan Rice which is at the fore front of the Anti Israel, Pro Arab Obama
    administration.
    I understand we should be aware of the position of Israel.s
    enemies so that Israel can better prepare it’s defense,but to give this vitriolic anti Israel element such a platform
    was not in my opinion a good decision

  • noellsq

    I am ashamed at out POTUS for being such an anti Semetic person. If a bad negotiation happens with Iran the world will end as we know it.

    • MARK L. BRECKER, ESQ.

      OBAMA IS NOT ANTI-SEMITIC. HE LOVES ARABS [a group which constitutes 80% of the world’s Semites; Ethiopians 10%, and the 10% remaining scattered among many groupings]. A FREILICHER PURIM.
      MARK LEWIS BRECKER, ESQ.
      RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER
      ETHIOPIA III

  • ed

    Susan Rice is a two face liar at best

  • Arthur Hausman

    Susan Rice was sent as Obama’s mouthpiece to AIPAC. She’s lied before and will continue to lie again. A known leftist who continues to opine for Obama, who has shown total disinterest in talking to AIPAC. Obama is just awful as the president and more interested in opining for the Muslims.

    • geoff Berns

      It appears to me that the POTUS is hostile to Israel and seeks to weaken its position at every turn and favour the islamic countries. His legacy, which he is desperate to leave to history, will be that he will have weakened his own country and the entire western world and strengthened the followers of islam and its terrorists. History will judge him as one of the weakest Presidents of the USA in history, along with Carter.

  • Richard

    The president and Mr. Kerry want what they want regardless of the will of all the American people. Not just those with investment in middle east oil. Mr. Obama needs to stop supporting the rich investors and do what’s right for America,Israel AND Her people.

  • Lynne T

    Ok. So seeing as one of the P5+1 is Russia, currently carrying out an insurgency against neighbouring Ukraine and China continuing to protect North Korea, how credulous must Ms. Rice be to claim that the US is simply deferring to the wishes of other members of the group to avoid “[losing] its negotiating partners”.

  • Dean

    In my opinion, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, Samatha Power, and others in Obama’s harem of political sycophants understand the liar-for-hire roles they occupy in this current administration. What they are doing is enabling jihad, terrorism and nuclear war (one bomb could wipe out Israel if dropped in the Mediterranean to create a tsunami).

    What they also represent is a suppression of free speech and promotion of the mullahs and the Muslim Brotherhood on the world stage.

    Obama is rearranging the chess players to favor the bad guys as he forces the USA to sit on the sidelines as a conquered pawn in his game. He is the great booster of Islamism in the world today.

  • Dean

    In my opinion, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, Samatha Power, and others in Obama’s harem of political sycophants understand the role they play in the liar-for-hire roles they occupy in this current administration. What they are doing is enabling jihad, terrorism and nuclear war (one bomb could wipe out Israel if dropped in the Mediterranean to create a tsunami).

    What they also represent is a suppression of free speech and promotion of the mullahs and the Muslim Brotherhood on the world stage.

    Obama is rearranging the chess players to favor the bad guys as he forces the USA to sit on the sidelines as a conquered pawn in his game. He is the great booster of Islamism in the world today.

  • In the 1930’s the problem was the Nazi’s and Europe, and now the problem is Islam and the world.
    The proliferation of the mass destruction must be stopped at any price.
    Sanctions and only sanctions is the only solution.
    A no deal is better than a bad deal.

    • Iran like North Korea will stare it’s population to achieve nuclear capability.
      Sanctions have a limited impact, for money someone will supply food and basic necessities.
      We are naive about oil, where there is demand someone will buy.
      The only positive deterrant is a joint action by Israel with its allies to locate each and every research facility that Iran has, and jointly eliminate them.
      Use bunker bombs and set their research by to the stone age in which they live.
      Shalom

  • martin

    if anyone believes iran I got a good deal on the Brooklyn bridge

  • Naive totally Naive, Sanctions, limited Sanctions…Deal or no Deal…none of these will deter Iran from its path to having a Nuclear capibility.
    They will Lie,promise, conjol,agree to anything.
    And within in a year test on their soil, an Atomic bomb !
    How such supposedly educated,informed people can be so gullible to the insidious machinations of this theocraticly myopic totalitarian regime, shocks me beyond my compacity to be amazed.
    Obama having been so unconsiablely rude,dismissive to Isaerls valid concerns is at the least… Pro Iran, Pro Islamalic expansion that it would not surprise many that he is a closet muslim !
    He surrounds himself with more Muslim advisors, appointed more muslims to positions of power in the U.S. Then any previous President.
    Even to the point of interfering in Isareli elections to influence the election of the Prime Minister !
    A shanda, Hashem willing we must pray that this does not come to fruition.
    Shalom

  • U.S and Israel should not allow themselves to be divided.Although U.S is bigger in size and in everything, yet she needs to move along side by side with Isreal in every decision. Iran had earlier made it clear that “it is building a nuclear weapon to wipe out the map of Israel from the map of the world”,this the reason why Bibi Netanyahu is very desperate to halt the situation,nonetheless,Bibi needs to adapt a strategy to preserve the precious friendship that exist between them and the U.S. Bibi Netanyahu, my advise to you is that,always recall the words of Prophet ISAIAH “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn”.

  • U.S and Israel should not allow themselves to be divided.Although U.S is bigger in size and in everything, yet she needs to move along side by side with Isreal in every decision. Iran had earlier made it clear that “it is building a nuclear weapon to wipe out the map of Israel from the map of the world”,this the reason why Bibi Netanyahu is very desperate to halt the situation,nonetheless,Bibi needs to adapt a strategy to preserve the precious friendship that exist between them and the U.S. Bibi Netanyahu, my advise to you is that,always revile the words of Prophet ISAIAH “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn”.

  • Jonah

    She talks a good game…she is an Obama clone. When they see a mushroom over Israel will the applause at the White House be deafening?

  • Diogenes

    Odd that you neglected to mention that Rice received a standing ovation from AIPAC.

  • Melanie Lawrence

    Do not believe one word she says. Susan Rice is a clownish, ludicrous amateur, along with Kerry and Hussein Obama. Just look at her in the photo shaking hands with Prime Minister Natanyahu. Like most liberal democrats, she thinks most people are stupid. Certainly too stupid to formulate their own opinions and certainly too stupid to see how false and arrogant she is.

  • Reform School

    Susan Rice is Obama’s recipe for Israel as Sushi en Tushie.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Israel always has problems with American Rices.

    Despite their tragic history of slavery and submission they can not seem to grasp Israel’s desire to defend itself in order to retain its own freedom from slavery and submission and annihilation.

  • Signe Knapp

    Mrs. Rice is a defiant and disrespectful individual and has once again been shown , We aren’t buying her lies, nor do we share her views on Iran or Israel. She got what she deserved.

  • Efram

    I thought rice was supposed to be a binder?

    Of course we can all tell the world WHEN Iran reneges on the agreement, we can point to the world and blame Iran. BIG DEAL! We can also launch nuclear weapons at Iran once it attacks the US with theirs, but with mushroom clouds rising in many parts of the world, it will be of small consolation that it was Iran who broke the agreement. The intelligent answer, which Obama and Rice abhor, is to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, not give them a sweetheart deal and claiming it was the best we could do. Rice is a confirmed Antisemite, just like her boss. They would both celebrate if Israel ceased to exist. Indeed, it has been Obama’s goal right from the start, and I am sure Rice’s as well.

  • Arty Cohn

    Rice spoke on 5 Sunday news programs lying about Benghazi. Now she is lying again. How can Obama think that Rice has any credibility?

  • Susan Rice is an embarrassment to America and to all Jews in the world. She has a history of lying and covering up for her boss, Barack Obama, who with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have made their stance against Israel and the best interests of us Jews evident ever since Obama demanded that Netanyahu negotiate with Hamas. Negotiate what? The terms of our death?

    Rice did not make her “destructive” comment without Obama’s command that she do so. No question about that. He pulls all the strings. It was vicious and intentional. Feh.

  • Yale

    I don’t know what would scare me more, knowing that the Obama administration is willfully enabling the Iranians to obtain nuclear weapons or realizing that they don’t know that that is where their approach is taking us.

  • Peace and coexistence between Israel and its Arab neighbors would be a dream come true!

    I do not think that anyone could comprehend what a true peace and coexistence would bring to Israel and the Middle East.
    As long as the Arab-Palestinians incite the masses to terrorize and commit violence against Israel and each other, peace and coexistence will stay a dream.
    The Arab Palestinians must start by educating their children and the masses that violence begets violence and that the only way to improve their lives is to pursue peace and coexistence.
    Stop celebrating and rewarding terrorists and those who commit violence and destruction. If the Arab-Palestinians truly want peace they must practice it. The leaders the Imams and anyone who has influence on the masses.
    Both sides will have to be careful not to let the extremists jeopardize this approach and direction. There will always be someone who will try to sabotage any conciliatory coexistence. Both sides will have to set up a joint working group to address safety and security. Plan and implement the economic future of all the people. It is not going to be easy after a century of hostilities, but if there is a will there is a way and it can be done.
    Both sides must learn to respect each other. It will help greatly in bridging the differences and bringing about the tranquility that is so greatly desired.
    It must start by taking small steps and confidence building between the Israelis and the Arab-Palestinians. As the confidence building steps are accomplished, the flow of cooperation will increase, the animosity will decrease and the friendship and cooperation will increase. These will bring an economic prosperity and monumental surge in the standard of living.
    Funds and resources that were used for advancing the conflict will be diverted to the economy and the advancement in the quality of life for all the inhabitants in the region.
    A true peace will bring a tremendous economic prosperity to the region, which all the people in the region will benefit from.
    YJ Draiman

  • Harvard L. Armus

    Rice is merely the mouthpiece for Obama, who is perfectly willing to let Iran get nuclear weapons, not in a year or two, but after he leaves office so that he can claim to have prevented that while he was president. I didn’t trust him, but voted for him anyway – a mistake!

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