Hoenlein: On Iran, US and Israeli Jews should get involved in each other's politics

CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations says American Jewry should focus on Iran's threat to the US.

August 6, 2015 20:29
2 minute read.
Israel US flags

Israel US flags. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The leader of a major US Jewish organization has backed Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s call for American Jews to speak out and take action over the Iran accord.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said on Thursday that while in general the Israeli government should not tell American Jews what to do with their government and American Jews should behave the same way to Israel, sometimes there are unique circumstances.

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Speaking to a delegation of Israeli diplomatic reporters, Hoenlein’s remarks echoed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on Tuesday for American Jewry to speak out against the Iran accord.

The situation with Iran is one that we haven’t seen in decades, Hoenlein said, adding, “You have to take the threats of dictators seriously.”
Iran deal in a nutshell

Israeli officials should make the case against the accord “on the content, on the substance, and we will do the job of translating it into activity,” Hoenlein said.

Netanyahu has an obligation to speak out against something he feels is an existential danger to Israel, and Israelis should want him to do so, Hoenlein said.

He said, however, that it would be better if the focus on the Iranian threat in the US should be on the danger it poses to the US rather than to Israel.

Hoenlein declined to predict how Congress will vote on the issue. The political situation is fluid, there is still a lot of time before the vote, and other information could come up which could affect the course of the debate, he said.

A major challenge, he said, will be “to keep the issue at the forefront [of the agenda] for another eight weeks.”

Hoenlein would not venture a guess as to how New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will vote, other than to say that his vote will be influential and could sway others.

Hoenlein said that he has spoken to a number of Arab leaders in private meetings and that they speak strongly against the accord. He has also heard from European officials – including some from countries that comprise the P5+1 – who have told him the deal is flawed. He said that they also feel uncomfortable with it but that their countries are following the US lead on the matter.

The US Jewish community must now prepare for the day after the Iran debate ends, including considering what steps could be taken, Hoenlein said. Such steps could occur at the level of state legislatures not lifting their sanctions against Iran in order to blunt the blow of a deal, he said.

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