WASHINGTON (JTA) – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has come out against the Iran nuclear deal.
Among mainstream national Jewish organizations in the United States, AJC joins the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Orthodox Union in opposing the deal. A broad range of mainstream groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, have yet to offer an opinion.
AJC’s statement comes after U.S. President Barack Obama met with 22 Jewish groups at the White House to discuss the deal. An AJC statement said the organization had carefully considered both sides before coming to its decision.
“In the end, AJC’s leadership concluded overwhelmingly that we must oppose this deal,” its statement said.
“By abandoning the earlier negotiating posture of dismantling sanctions in exchange for Iranian dismantlement of its nuclear infrastructure, and instead replacing it with what is essentially a temporary freeze on its program, the P5+1 has indeed validated Iran’s future status as a nuclear threshold state, a point that President Obama himself acknowledged in a media interview,” the AJC said, using the abbreviation for the six major powers who reached the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal with Iran on July 14.
“Given the nature of the Iranian regime and its defining ideology, AJC cannot accept this prospect,” the group said.
The U.S. Congress has until late September to consider whether to reject the deal. Should such a rejection be sustained in a vote to override Obama’s promised veto, it would kill the deal.
The statement came out the same day Obama made his case for the deal in a major policy speech at American University in Washington.
“You are going to hear a lot of arguments this deal backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising,” Obama said, alluding to an AIPAC affiliate that has pledged to spend $20 to $40 million in advertising against the deal. “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
Obama said the deal had worldwide backing. “Every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support,” he said.
So far, 14 regional Jewish umbrella bodies have come out against the deal, most recently the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
“The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington remains vehemently opposed to a nuclear Iran,” it said in a statement. “The JCRC shares the goal of achieving a negotiated, peaceful solution, and emphatically rejects the notion that objecting to this proposed deal is a call for war.”
The same day, Aug. 3, that the Washington JCRC came out against its deal, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Susie Gelman, joined two other Jewish leaders in calling on U.S. Jews to abandon their active opposition to the plan.
“We must deal with the world that we have,” said the op-ed signed by Gelman, Peter Joseph and Charles Bronfman, which appeared in three Jewish papers, including the Washington Jewish Week. “The international community has reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Let us now work together to shape a post-deal environment that advances important U.S. national interests, especially the security of Israel and our other regional allies.”
The op-ed was written in the capacity of the three writers as officers of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). Joseph is the group’s chairman, Bronfman, a noted philanthropist, is the chairman of its advisory committee, and Gelman, a part-owner of the Washington Jewish Week, is a member of the IPF board.