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The AJC’s executive director, David Harris, joined this position, writing in an op-ed that pressing on with new sanctions would “send a clear signal that, while the U.S. is prepared to negotiate earnestly, as long as there is no clear evidence of Iran’s change of behavior, the sanctions will continue to be tightened.”
The Jewish groups’ differences could be explained, to a certain extent, by the divergent nature of their internal needs and constituencies.
The ADL arrived at the meeting during a week in which its strong ties with the administration had just been highlighted. The group’s centennial anniversary, celebrated at a hotel in New York, featured two top Cabinet members giving their first public addresses to the Jewish community: Hagel and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. It was a show of good will by the Obama administration, following a tough patch in relations with the ADL during the debate over Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary.
AIPAC, on the other hand, has little room to compromise or to show flexibility on Iran. For more than a decade, it has made defeating Iran’s nuclear ambitions its key objective. This has attracted to its membership rolls a base of hardcore supporters and donors who, while varying in their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, share a very hawkish view on Iran. The issue, and AIPAC’s stand on it, have become the lobby’s primary raison d’etre, leaving it little wiggle room.
Contact Nathan Guttman at email@example.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman