Speed Reads

Iran nuclear deal

Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to scare Democrats on the Iran deal apparently backfired

On Aug. 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cleared his calendar and sat down with 22 U.S. Democratic lawmakers who had been flown to Israel by a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The topic was the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu didn't ask any of the lawmakers to oppose the deal, some of those lawmakers tell The Wall Street Journal, but he answered their questions, explained his opposition to the accord and why he thought it dangerous to Israel, called their upcoming vote a "moral" choice, and at one point drew a picture of a "nuclear gun" with "nuclear bullets." It didn't work: Of the lawmakers at the meeting who have announced how they will vote, seven will support the deal and two will oppose it. There are now enough Democrats to ensure the accord goes into effect.

Characterizing their potential support for the Iran deal as immoral turned off some of the lawmakers, they told The Journal, and others said they didn't appreciate it when Netanyahu said that if the deal were enacted, Iran would soon have ICBMs aimed at the U.S. "Where he lost me was where I thought he was trying to provoke fear," explained Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).

The final straw for other lawmakers at the meeting was Netanyahu's lack of a viable Plan B. The prime minister said that a better deal would be if Iran dismantled all its nuclear facilities in return for a gradual easing of sanctions, but when one of the members of Congress asked about his plans if the deal goes through, Netanyahu reportedly replied, "We will figure out what we do if we lose the vote."

Still other Democrats say Netanyahu overplayed his hand from the beginning, by accepting a GOP invitation to address Congress without informing the White House. "The unfortunate problem with Prime Minister Netanyahu is that he prides himself on being the Israeli who knows America the best," former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) tells The Washington Post. "Where he's mistaken is, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows the America that elected Ronald Reagan president. He's completely unfamiliar with the America that elected Barack Obama president. And they are in fact very different Americas."