Despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to assure American Jews about the Iran deal, one of the largest and most influential Jewish organizations in the United States announced Wednesday that it opposes the agreement.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said in a statement that his organization had “engaged in a very intensive, open-minded, and thorough process of external consultations and internal deliberations, involving many lay and staff leaders” but ultimately “concluded overwhelmingly that we must oppose this deal.”
“Much as we respect those in the P5+1, led by the United States, who painstakingly negotiated the agreement over the span of years, and who confronted one challenge after another with Iran and also, it should be noted, had to manage the complex interaction within the P5+1 itself, there are too many risks, concerns, and ambiguities for us to lend our support,” said Harris.
“By abandoning the earlier negotiating posture of dismantling sanctions in exchange for Iranian dismantlement of its nuclear infrastructure, and instead replacing it with what is essentially a temporary freeze on its program, the P5+1 has indeed validated Iran's future status as a nuclear threshold state, a point that President Obama himself acknowledged in a media interview,” he continued.
“Given the nature of the Iranian regime and its defining ideology, AJC cannot accept this prospect,” stated Harris. “It is too ominous, too precedent-setting, and too likely to trigger a response from Iran's understandably anxious neighbors who may seek nuclear-weapons capacity themselves, as well as, more immediately and still more certainly, advanced conventional arms, adding an entirely new level of menace to the most volatile and arms-laden region in the world. Surely, this cannot be in America's long-term security interests.”
“We understand that opposing this deal raises important questions about the future that no one can answer today with certainty, much as we believe that, faced with strong American leadership, Iran would find it in its own best interests to return to the negotiating table sooner or later. But we know with greater certainty that this deal raises still more ominous questions about the future,” he added, calling on members of Congress to object to the deal as well.
The AJC statement came hours after Obama met with some 20 prominent Jewish leaders and activists for a two-hour session during which he explained why he thinks they deal with Iran should receive their support.
The White House said that Obama described the deal as historic, and emphasized to the Jewish leaders that it would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also made it clear that the U.S. will continue to support and help strengthen Israel's security.
Obama’s meeting with the Jewish leaders came hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a live webcast with American Jewish leaders, in which he warned against the deal again.
Speaking in the webcast hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents, broadcast to 10,000 people, Netanyahu hit out at unnamed opponents who misrepresented the deal and Israel's stance against it.
On Wednesday, Obama addressed the American nation as a whole. In that speech, he sniped repeatedly at Israel's opposition to the deal until finally taking several open shots at Netanyahu, who has been the deal's most vocal critic.
Obama claimed that Israel is alone in opposing the deal – ignoring opposition by Gulf Arab states.
"Every nation in the world which has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has supported it," he said.