26 Top Jewish Leaders Back Iran Deal in New York Times Ad

Jewish supporters of the Iran nuclear deal have published a full-page New York Times ad backing the agreement signed by 26 current and former prominent communal leaders.

The signers include heads of national Jewish organizations, leaders from major federations and former lawmakers, all calling on Congress to approve the deal.

“While not perfect, this deal is the best available option to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” they state.

Among the Jewish leaders joining the call are three former chairs of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is a national umbrella group representing the community on foreign policy issues.

“I would like for those engaged in public discussion as well as for members of Congress to understand that the community doesn’t have a single view on this issue,” said Alan Solow, former chairman of the Presidents’ Conference who is among the signers. “It’s important for them to know there is a variety of opinions on this issue among supporters of Israel.”

Also signing on are four former leaders of major Jewish federations, from New York, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles. All these federations, except New York, have issued statements opposing the Iran deal and have called on their members to lobby against the agreement. Also on the list is Tom Dine, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC,) which is now leading the campaign to derail the agreement.

“My hope is that it will give comfort to those who are in favor of the deal with Iran,” said Tom Dine, former AIPAC executive director. Dine added that a deal could serve as a way to engage with Iran and “have a more fluid relationship between Iran and it’s neighbors and between Iran and the world.” Dine also noted that many of the Jewish leaders who had joined this pro-deal initiative had served in the past on AIPAC’s executive committee.

Former Michigan senator Carl Levin and former Democratic members of Congress Mel Levine and Robert Wexler have also signed on.

“Each of us has devoted decades to building and enhancing Israel’s security and strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance. Our commitment to Israel is everlasting,” the signers stated in the ad.

The list of major Jewish leaders behind this initiative is expected to serve as a counterweight to the otherwise broad array of Jewish organizations that have spoken out against the accord. Most of the major national organizations and some of the nation’s largest federations have spoken out against the deal.

Mel Levine, a former California Democratic congressman who signed today’s New York Times ad, said the organized Jewish community’s push against the deal could come back to haunt it once the debate is over.

“I think it will only weaken the Jewish organizations because it has become clear throughout this process that these organizations do not speak for the Jewish community,” Levine said.

This latest initiative comes on the heels of a call issued by 340 American rabbis who had written an open letter in support of the deal earlier this week. “We are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement,” the letter stated, “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”

But while many of the signers came from Reform congregations, the Reform movement as a whole chose a middle road when dealing with the nuclear accord.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the group remained refrained from calling on its members to either support or oppose the deal.

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Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at guttman@forward.com, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman

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