A closed-door meeting meant to iron out differences between the Obama administration and the Jewish community on Iran has instead exposed previously unseen cracks in the wall of unity that mainstream Jewish groups have maintained on the issue.
Emerging from the October 29 White House meeting, the Anti-Defamation League decided to break ranks with other mainstream Jewish organizations and accept the administration’s view that new sanctions against Iran should be put on hold for a couple of months to give ongoing negotiations with Iran a chance. Other participants, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which carries the most lobbying weight with Congress, turned down the idea.
Officials from the administration side and from Congress argued that the apparent rift would have little significance in the battle to get the Senate to pass new sanctions against Iran over the administration’s objections in the near future. On that front, several officials agreed, the pressure from pro-Israel advocates has yet to reach a level likely to overcome the administration’s stand.
“There is no real change in activity,” one Senate staff member observed. Another noted that pro-Israel advocacy for passage of new sanctions does not seem to exceed the lobby’s “regular level of activity.”
The officials would speak only on condition of anonymity so that they could comment candidly about the ongoing lobbying without fear of consequences from either side of the struggle.
These and other sources also noted that while AIPAC is still making the case for pushing the legislation out of the Senate Banking Committee, it has not mobilized its supporters to lobby for the bill in a way seen only weeks ago, when it pressured Congress, unsuccessfully, to authorize the use of military force against Syria
The October 29 meeting was called as part of broad administration strategy — described by one insider as a “blitz” — to garner support for a pause in pressure on Iran while the United States and other members of the international community try to reach a diplomatic deal with the Islamic Republic. The United States and other member countries of the United Nations Security Council, along with Germany, are currently negotiating with Iran to curb its nuclear program, which many believe Iran is using to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians deny this.