Jewish Groups Back Away From All-Out Fight Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Seek To Influence Final Pact, Despite Israel Opposition

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By Nathan Guttman

Published November 27, 2013, issue of December 06, 2013.
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American Jewish organizations have taken a step back from the barricades in the emergent conflict between Israel and the United States over the interim agreement with Iran on its contested nuclear program.

Even as Israel has fiercely attacked the agreement, signed by the United States and five other countries with Iran, the Jewish organizations have carefully sought a middle ground between Israel and America in their dispute over the six-month accord. The groups’ nuanced approach has extended even to their positioning on a final, comprehensive agreement that the parties hope to negotiate with Iran by the end of the interim agreement’s term.

By and large, mainstream pro-Israel organizations have accepted the six-month accord as a fait accompli. Most notably, they have backed down from attempts to get Congress to pass new economic sanctions against Iran during this period, a move the Obama administration warned would derail the interim nuclear deal. That was a development that the Jewish groups apparently decided they did not wish to be held responsible for.

The groups’ main focus is instead now directed at shaping the final accord between Iran and the group of six world powers negotiating with it to ensure Tehran’s civilian nuclear program cannot be used to create nuclear weapons. But here too, Jewish organizations are carrying out a difficult balancing act, trying to push the administration to impose the toughest possible conditions on Iran, but stopping short of posing demands that would be seen as making such an agreement impossible.

“We pray that the best intentions and hopes of those United States and Western officials who struck this deal are realized and that our skepticism and fears are misplaced,” said the Orthodox Union in a statement reflecting the general mood in the pro-Israel community. “Nothing short of the lives of millions of innocents hang in the balance.”


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