Administration tries to reassure American-Jewish groups
November 25th, 2013
06:58 PM ET
9 years ago

Administration tries to reassure American-Jewish groups

Washington (CNN) – White House officials have held at least three conference calls with various leaders of the American-Jewish community to reassure them since the nuclear deal between Iran and the major Western powers was announced, CNN has learned.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken as well as other national security official, Sunday afternoon talked with top officials of such key groups as Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Separately administration officials held calls on Monday with some of these groups, one American-Jewish community leader familiar with the calls told CNN.

"Questions have been aggressive" but courteous the community leader said.

The administration defended the deal privately in much the same way it has publicly explained it was in the security interest of the United States to pursue it, and American officials know they need to make sure Iran's promised actions to curb its nuclear program are verified.

The community leader said there is a "great deal of hesitation" within much of the American-Jewish community to the deal and to any extending of trust to the Iranians because of their hatred of Israel.

"Literally, everyone is up in arms" is how one American-Jewish leader described the reaction within the community to the deal.

Some American-Jewish officials, however, recognize this interim agreement is done - "the deal is cut" is one how leader put it - and therefore are looking ahead to what happens during the period of the deal and afterward.

"There is a six-month horizon" to look at, the community leader said, emphasizing there will be much scrutiny of Iran's actions.

"Given this history and the … lack of trust," the world powers "will need to be ever vigilant in determining whether Iranian leaders are, in fact, sincere and will fulfill their part of the deal, or will rather play for time while trying to advance their nuclear program," the American Jewish Committee said in a statement.

For its part, Aipac, one of the most influential groups, issued a memo on Monday with the headline: "U.S. Must Prevent a Nuclear-Capable Iran."

It said America must make sure Iran fully complies with the terms of the interim agreement and also insist any final deal does not give the country a nuclear weapons capability.

The group also said Congress should consider additional sanctions – something the administration is strenuously trying to avoid behind the scenes although members of the Senate from both parties are not promising to support such a move.

"Congress should establish clear consequences – by legislating additional sanctions – should Iran violate this agreement or fail to agree to an acceptable final deal," said the group in its memo.

Other groups went out of their way not to criticize President Barack Obama for reaching the deal.

"The record of President Obama in supporting Israel's security concerns is stellar, according to the Israeli government itself. We have confidence that if Iran's nuclear development is not stopped, that the President will stand in its self-defense and preventing a nuclear armed Iran," the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement.

One American-Jewish group, J Street, which is somewhat more liberal than other organizations, has been more supportive of the outreach to Iran and said the deal shows Obama is "on the right path."

"The alternatives to diplomacy were more sanctions and/or military action which would only have delayed, but not destroyed the Iranian program, but which would have plunged the Middle East into turmoil and possibly dragged the United States and Israel into a costly and bloody war," J Street said in a statement.

Filed under: AIPAC • Iran • Obama administration
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    Tell them to shut up and quit whining!

    November 25, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. ladies first

    People around the world want Peace it is evident

    November 25, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    They voted for Obama........let them reap the rewards.

    November 25, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. nader

    Obama is friend of dictator regimes of Iran and Syria. They saved both?!

    November 25, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    Oh please, Netenyahou(sp?) is still mad that his buddy the twit didn't win the election.
    Calm down everyone. Diplomacy first.
    I was watching a show yesterday and one of the questions was where would we be in the old man was in the WH?
    The answer was on our third or fourth war with some other country.

    November 26, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |