Is Iran accord tearing US Jewry apart?

“We have passed the point of civil discussion, and now are almost at fratricide,” said Greg Rosenbaum, the chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

August 3, 2015 06:17
2 minute read.
US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington

US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – The American Jewish community is so split over the Iranian nuclear deal that meetings of some organizations dealing with communal issues are being canceled because people don’t want to argue about the accord, Greg Rosenbaum, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said Sunday.

Rosenbaum, speaking to a delegation of Israeli diplomatic journalists visiting the US, said that this is an issue that is threatening to tear apart the Jewish community there.

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“We have passed the point of civil discussion, and now are almost at fratricide [over this issue],” he said. ”I am not sure we can repair the rift,” he said, adding that his long term worry is that American Jews will not be able to deal with communal issues because of disagreements surrounding the accord. He said he knows that some Jewish organizations are not holding meetings on other issues “because they fear they are going to get into a discussion on Iran, that will then go haywire.”

Rosenbaum was joined on the panel from the other side of the political spectrum by Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. Although they disagreed sharply on the merits of the accord, both concluded that it is likely that Congress will vote against the agreement after the 60-day review period is over, but would then not be able to muster sufficient votes to override a presidential veto that US President Barack Obama has pledged to use.

Pollak said there would be practical significance to Congress voting against the accord, even if it cannot then override the presidential veto.

“This would delegitimize the deal,” he said, making it a “wounded animal.” The next president would thereby have an easier time rolling back the accord.

Rosenbaum, however, rejected this notion, saying that nobody thinks that Obamacare – Obama’s signature healthcare reform – is not legitimate, even though Congress voted against it on a number of occasions.

Pollak said that even if Congress cannot override the veto, there is a possibility that some state legislatures, controlled by the Republicans, could vote to impose their own sanctions against Iran.

The Emergency Committee for Israel has over the past few elections targeted members of Congress it feels are not supportive of Israel and have funded aggressive television ads against them. Pollak said that US lawmakers voting for the Iran deal should know that if they support the deal, they will be held responsible if and when problems emerge with Iran in the future.

The future political opponents of those voting for the accord will say to those supporting it in the future, “this is your fault,” he said, adding that he is already thinking of the language that can be used in future ad campaigns against these lawmakers.

Pollak predicted that Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer, an influential legislator whose position on this issue is being carefully scrutinized, will vote against it initially, thereby being able to say to his voters that he was opposed, but then not vote to override a presidential veto.

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