Hundreds of US rabbis sign letter against Iran deal

The American-Jewish community has been split over the deal, with many communal organizations coming out against it despite a majority of Jews being broadly supportive of the administration.

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August 26, 2015 04:01
2 minute read.
Iran nuclear deal

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Hundreds of American rabbis have signed an open letter calling on Congress to reject the Obama administration’s deal intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, adding their voices to an increasingly strident debate splitting the American-Jewish community.

“We, the undersigned rabbis, write as a unified voice across religious denominations to express our concerns with the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran,” they wrote in an online petition signed by 871 people.

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“We have weighed the various implications of supporting – or opposing – this agreement. Together, we are deeply troubled by the proposed deal, and believe this agreement will harm the short-term and longterm interests of both the United States and our allies, particularly Israel.”

“Even after flooding Iran with an influx of funds, this deal will not subject Iran to an airtight, comprehensive inspections structure – granting the regime the means to violate the agreement and develop a covert nuclear program,” the rabbis continued.

“The deal would also lift key arms embargoes, so that in eight years Iran will be given international legitimacy to arm terror groups with conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.”

According to Rabbis Kalman Topp and Yonah Bookstein, who organized the letter, 750 of the signatories have been confirmed as rabbis and include senior members of the Rabbinical Council of America as well as the Reform and Conservative movements.

“In my view, this agreement kicks the can down the road, and this is not a harmless can but a ticking bomb. In a little more than a decade, we will be confronting an Iran that is stronger, wealthier, emboldened and has nuclear capability with virtually zero breakout time,” Topp, the rabbi of the Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills, told The Jerusalem Post.

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“We have now verified over 750 of the names as rabbis. We’re still working to verify the remaining signatures,” he replied when asked about the legitimacy of the signatures.

“We are reviewing all the names to verify to the best of our ability that they are ordained rabbis living in America.We’ve already removed 30-40 signatures of people who are not rabbis or who are living abroad. We’re still working on this to insure accuracy.”

The American-Jewish community has been split over the deal, with many communal organizations coming out against it despite a majority of Jews being broadly supportive of the administration.

Last week 340 US rabbis from the major streams of Judaism expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal in their own letter.

Noting that “we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American-Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement,” the letter stated that “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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