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 officials deny that they recognized any Iranian ‘right’ to enrich, but appear to have conceded as a practical matter that Iran will be allowed some enrichment capacity,” AIPAC stated.

Mainstream Jewish organizations have, by and large, expressed similar thoughts about the Iranian deal, injecting a dose of skepticism over the prospects of a deal without shutting the door on the possibility that an accord can be struck. The Anti-Defamation League, for example, while expressing “deep concerns” over the interim agreement, commended the administration and stressed the need for Israel and the United States to work together to ensure a permanent deal answers all concerns.

Jewish groups on the right and on the left, chose to set nuances aside in favor of broad brush strokes. The Zionist Organization of America called the agreement “our era’s Munich” and compared president Obama to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who signed an agreement for “peace in our time” with Adolf Hitler just before Germany invaded Poland, setting off World War II.

On the left, J Street and Americans for Peace Now praised the agreement and urged Congress to “get behind it.”

The approach taken by the leading Jewish organizations reflects a reluctance to enter major battles in which their chances of succeeding are slim. The last time AIPAC willingly took on an American administration to fight for a cause supported by the Israeli government was in 1992, when the administration of George H. W. Bush refused to transfer $10 billion in loan guarantees to Israel unless it halted its expansion of Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. In the bitter fight that ensued in Congress, the lobby – and Israel – lost, creating an even deeper rift with the American administration. Since then, AIPAC and most pro-Israel organizations have avoided these types of battles, making sure they do not put themselves in an all-or-nothing position with the administration.

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


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