AIPAC Pushes Tough Line on Iran as Nuclear Thaw Picks Up Pace

Will Abortive Syria Battle Affect Lobby's Effort?

Charmer? AIPAC plans to push back hard in the face of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive. Will the group’s stumble on Syria affect its new effort?
Getty Images
Charmer? AIPAC plans to push back hard in the face of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive. Will the group’s stumble on Syria affect its new effort?

By Nathan Guttman

Published September 27, 2013, issue of October 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

The September 20 memo AIPAC circulated to its supporters conveyed the same sense of distrust. In it, the lobby detailed the terms and conditions that, from its view, need to be met before reaching a deal with Iran.

Those conditions include compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that Iran suspend its production of highly enriched uranium, stop the installation of new centrifuges devoted to this enrichment and grant access to international monitors seeking to examine its nuclear sites.

“The United States should synchronize its approach to sanctions with Iran’s compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions,” AIPAC stressed. The lobby called on Washington to meet Iranian suspension of nuclear activity with suspension of new sanctions and, on the other hand, to step up sanctions if Tehran continues to advance its nuclear program.

Simultaneously, AIPAC prepared to lobby for a new round of legislation in the Senate, targeting Iran’s financial system. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella organization dealing with policy issues, also intends to call on Jewish groups across the country to support legislation toughening the sanctions regime against Iran.

In its memo, AIPAC urged the administration to “strengthen the credibility of military action” against Iran’s nuclear program and to “support Israel’s right to act against Iran if it feels compelled, in its own legitimate self-defense, to act.”

The question remains, how will Congress and the public respond to AIPAC’s second call in less than a month to allow the use of force in the Middle East? The lobby launched its drive on Syria in response to a call from the White House in September. But uncharacteristically, the push was stymied by a reluctant Congress, which itself faced an aroused American public strongly opposed to taking military action yet again in the Middle East following more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan with dubious results.

The prospect of an epic failure in Congress was averted only by the last minute diplomatic deal reached between the United States and Russia to try to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons via diplomatic means.

Now, as much of the world, including America, appears to be pushing the other way, AIPAC faces the task of advocating caution toward diplomacy on Iran, and maintenance of a military threat towards it.

“The debate over whether or not to engage Iran is over, because it is accepted now that diplomacy is a viable route to resolve these issues,” said Joel Rubin, director of policy and government affairs at the dovish-leaning Ploughshares Fund. “Syria has broken the taboo for a lot of people.”

Negotiations should now be recognized as an integral part of the “full set of tools at our disposal,” Rubin argued.

But Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the JCPA, said that Americans make a clear distinction between the Syrian case and that of Iran. “No one is enthused about going to war, but Iran is a different situation than Syria,” he said.

Gutow asserted that the American public views a nuclear Iran as a threat to the United States while Syria was not perceived as such. “I don’t think the American people are divided in regards to Iran,” he said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.