'Netanyahu preferred settlements over joining forces with Obama on Iran'

“The Jews in the United States will not turn into Obama-haters because of their reservations over the Iran deal,” Rabbi Eric H. Joffie said.

April 9, 2015 20:07
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his sons ride camels as they vacation in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his sons ride camels as they vacation in Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The American Jewish community is concerned. Like many Americans, it is concerned by the nuclear framework agreement with Iran. It is also, however, concerned in a way that is “unique” and “exclusive” to its members, namely by the fallout from the poor relationship between Washington, which views the Iran agreement as historic, and Jerusalem, which has rejected the deal outright.

“The Jews in the United States will not turn into Obama-haters because of their reservations over the Iran deal,” Rabbi Eric H. Joffie, the former head of the Reform Movement, told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication Ma’ariv.

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“Like many Americans, the Jews don’t exactly understand all of the details of the agreement with Iran,” he said. “It’s a mainly technical agreement, but they know that Iran hates Jews, and that’s enough to justify their reservations over the agreement.”

Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, rejected criticism against the Iran deal. He has also expressed his doubts about the effectiveness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public lobbying against the agreement.

“The Jews have a tendency to go overboard when reacting negatively and to minimize when reacting positively,” he said. “When President Obama reacted negatively to the prime minister’s statements that he had backtracked on a two-state solution, the Jews were furious. But when Obama profusely expressed his admiration for Israel and concern for its security during an interview with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, the Jews kept quiet.”

Foxman, who enjoys close ties with the White House, cautions that “the US is the only important thing that Israel has, and it must deal with the US with wisdom, appreciation, and respect.”

Jewish officials in the US are unhappy with Netanyahu’s vocal campaign against the framework deal.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu shares a good deal of blame for the fact that the agreement is not a good one,” Yoffie said. “Netanyahu could’ve been a loyal ally to Obama, thus putting him in a better position to exert influence on the contents of the deal. But in the six years he has been in office as prime minister, instead of working with the president and positioning Israel as a faithful ally to America, Netanyahu preferred to cater to the settlements. That’s why no one listened to him and no one took his positions into account.”

Another senior Jewish official who preferred to remain anonymous blasted Netanyahu’s conduct.

“I’m concerned for the State of Israel, not for America,” the official said. “I can’t figure out how on the first day that the agreement was announced, the prime minister rushed to attack it in such a sweeping manner. In terms of his behavior toward President Obama, Netanyahu has made every possible mistake.”

“Instead of handling these matters quietly and discretely, instead of investigating what Israel could get from the US in response to these developments, he reacted hysterically,” the official said.

What is even worse, according to the official, is that “Netanyahu is now trying to lobby Congress against the deal.”

“He’s playing with fire,” the official said. “There are three months left until a final agreement is signed. Relations between Israel and the US will only get worse because the prime minister will work with the Republicans in hopes of changing or preventing the deal.”

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