Former US Senator Joe Lieberman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former US senator Joseph Lieberman has accepted the chairmanship of an organization dedicated to opposing President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with the Iranians.
Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who ran unsuccessfully for vice president as a Democrat in 2000, will play a key role in United Against Nuclear Iran’s “efforts to educate and inform the American public regarding the serious shortcomings” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the group said on Monday.
“UANI is honored to have senator Lieberman, a longtime UANI Advisory Board member and close friend, assume a leadership role at this critical time,” said CEO Mark D. Wallace, a former US ambassador to the UN. “Senator Lieberman’s foreign policy and national security expertise is highly respected and renowned around the world. We could have no better leader as the American people consider this flawed Iran agreement.”
Lieberman’s appointment comes a day after the group – which plans to run advertisements against the accord – announced that its president, Gary Samore, a former top arms control adviser for the White House, was stepping down because he “ultimately supports the agreement” and does not want to conflict with UANI’s work opposing it.
Some American Jews have expressed reservations regarding the rhetoric employed by the Obama administration and its supporters in addressing the agreement’s opponents – who include the Jewish Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York).
One magazine ran a cartoon accusing Schumer of being a “traitor” and portraying him as a woodchuck standing in front of an Israeli flag. The editors of Tablet Magazine – some of whom have expressed support for the deal – recently ran an editorial decrying the “use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it.”
According to Abe Foxman, the former head of the Anti-Defamation League, while Obama is not anti-Semitic, some of his statements may be misconstrued in a dangerous manner.
“I know the president, I’ve heard him, I’ve met him. I don’t think any of it is intentional,” CNN reported Foxman as saying.
“[But] some of us in the community are troubled the messaging will be used and abused by bigots.”
Noted US attorney and constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz, meanwhile, took Obama to task on Tuesday for saying earlier this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has interjected himself into a US foreign policy debate in an unprecedented manner.
In a piece on The Hill website, Dershowitz said Obama’s accusations were “absurd and dangerous,” and that foreign leaders “from Lafayette to Churchill” have tried with varying degrees of success to influence US foreign policy. This was something foreign leaders should do “when their national interests are at stake,” he said.
“Israel has a considerable stake in the Iran deal – a stake far greater than the members of the P5+1 that negotiated the deal – and yet it was excluded from the negotiation,” Dershowitz wrote. “It would be irresponsible for any democratically elected leader of Israel not to try to influence the congressional debate over the deal.
“Rather than attacking Netanyahu for advancing his nation’s legitimate national security interests, the Obama administration should encourage all interested parties to voice their opinions on this important issue,” he added. “This is the time for a great debate on the substance of the Iran deal rather than for making personal attacks on its critics.”