(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Elkin, a member of the security cabinet, criticized a large group of American rabbis who sent a letter to Congressmen Tuesday urging that they support the Iranian nuclear deal.
Elkin, who is one of the politicians closest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he was disappointed that the rabbis have not joined efforts to persuade Congress to reject the deal next month when it votes on the controversial agreement.
“The American Jewish community has always been proud that it defends the State of Israel and represents it,” Elkin told Army Radio.
“If the Jews of America did not attain their strength [for this], for what else?” Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich said the US was a democratic country in which everyone had a right to their opinion. and downplayed the letter.
“It is clear to me that the overwhelming majority of American Jews oppose the deal and think as I do that it is dangerous for Israel,” Smotrich said.
The letter was signed by 340 rabbis from all streams of Judaism and sent to all members of Congress.
“The Obama administration has successfully brought together the major international powers to confront Iran over its nuclear ambitions,” the rabbis wrote. “The broad international sanctions moved Iran to enter this historic agreement. Should this agreement be rejected by the US Congress, those sanctions will end. There will be no new negotiations as the other member countries are fully in favor of this agreement and have no desire to renegotiate.”
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The rabbis said they understand that the agreement does not deal with Iran’s support for terrorism, but they said that was never the purpose of the negotiations.
“Now that a nuclear agreement has been reached, we call on the United States and its international partners to strengthen their resolve and dedicate additional resources to confront Iranian threats to Israel and other states,” they wrote. “Most especially, we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”
Rabbi Steven Bob of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, who was the founder of the organization “Rabbis for Obama,” advanced the letter along with his brother Kenneth Bob, the national president of Ameinu, the progressive Labor Zionist organization.
Rabbi Rachel Mikva of Chicago, who was one of the initiators of the letter, told The Jerusalem Post it was important to prove that there is robust debate in the Jewish community on the Iran deal and negate the impression that American Jews are united against it. She downplayed Elkin’s criticism, saying it was not the first time a current Israeli minister had issued a statement attacking reform Jews, referring to comments last month by Religious Services Minister and Shas MK David Azoulay.
“The best alternative is for the US to work with its allies to guarantee Israeli security and American interests,” Mikva said.
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