American Jewish Reaction To Agreement Splits On Political Lines
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American Jewish Reaction To Agreement Splits On Political Lines

Right wing condemns Iran nuclear deal, left wing praises it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several rightwing American Jewish organizations today condemned the nuclear deal announced between the United States and Iran. Some reacted with cautious skepticism, but leftwing Jewish groups in the U.S. praised the agreement.

The agreement, reached after extensive negotiations between the US, Iran and the Obama administration’s P5+1 partners – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China – requires Iran to roll back and limit its nuclear program. “Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off,” President Obama said in a speech from the White House this morning.

Netanyahu called the agreement, which includes a lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran, “an historic mistake for the world. When you are willing to make an agreement at any cost, this is the result.”

Opponents of the agreement will hold a “Stop Iran Now Mega Rally” on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Times Square. The rally (#StopIranRally) is one of the sponsors of the demonstration, whose speakers will include Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, attorney and Jewish activist Alan Dershowitz, and former CIA director James Woolsey.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress said in a statement “we may have entered into an agreement that revives the Iranian economy but won’t stop this regime from developing nuclear arms in the long term.” He called the nuclear deal, which needs ratification by the US Congress, “just a piece of paper … not a legally binding treaty.”

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs called the threat posed by a nuclear Iran “a matter of the greatest concern,” and stressed the importance of world leaders staying “focused on the ultimate goal: preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The sixty-day Congressional review window opens a critical period to examine the agreement and ensure that it has the rigorous inspection and compliance components that are necessary.”

Similarly, American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said, “It is now incumbent on the United States Congress … to thoroughly review, debate, and, ultimately, vote it up or down. “

“The nuclear deal concluded in Vienna does not appear to address other extremely troubling aspects of Iranian behavior,” Harris said – “Iran’s ICBM program … its repeated calls, including in recent days, for the annihilation of Israel … its direct involvement in terrorism and support for terrorist groups.”

Americans for Peace Now President Debra DeLee praised the deal. “The achievement of this landmark deal demonstrates that where there is a sufficient political will, diplomacy can work,” she said, adding that “key elements” of the agreement “will make Israel, the region and the world more secure.”

J Street said it welcomed the deal, which it said “appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of the US and international non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”

The deal, said The Jewish Voice for Peace, represents “the only way to alleviate international concern about Iran’s nuclear program and avert war.”

Douglas Bloomfield, a syndicated columnist and former legislative director for AIPAC, wrote that a focus of Congressional debate on the agreement will by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has given himself the title “Shomer Yisrael” (guardian of Israel), for his record of protecting the interests of the Jewish state. “Many of his colleagues … will be watching to see what Schumer does,” Bloomfield wrote this week. “He will be the canary in the coalmine who will give the first signals as to whether the deal can survive or will quickly run out of air.”

"This deal meets zero of the criteria for a good deal – it is not enforceable, verifiable, or in America's national security interest,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. " Unless Congress stops it, the world will be less safe as the United States will remove sanctions on Iran, and in return, Iran will still pursue nuclear weapons. If it passes, it will mark a low point for American foreign relations and worldwide security."

steve@jewishweek.org

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