'US Jews can't hide disappointment with New Jersey Democrat for backing Iran deal'

Senator Cory Booker sided with President Barack Obama in supporting 'flawed' nuclear agreement.

September 4, 2015 18:47
2 minute read.
Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte

Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Some of the biggest names in the American Jewish community expressed their disappointment in New Jersey Senator Cory Booker for his decision to side with President Barack Obama in supporting the Iran nuclear deal.

According to the online magazine Politico, Booker's long-standing ties to the Jewish community, which is manifest in his years-long friendship with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, fueled expectations that the former Newark mayor would break with Obama and vote against the nuclear agreement.

But in a long essay posted on the Web on Thursday, Booker said that while the agreement is imperfect, it is still "the better of two flawed options."

Booker, who issued a statement explaining his position, brings to 35 the list of senators supporting the deal. All of them are Obama's fellow Democrats or independents who typically vote with them.

Obama won a foreign policy victory on Wednesday when Senator Barbara Mikulski became the 34th senator to back the nuclear deal. Thirty-four votes in the Senate guarantees that Congress cannot override Obama's veto of any resolution of disapproval against the agreement.

Booker, who represents New Jersey, a state with a large Jewish population, had been seen as a Democrat who might vote against the deal, given the Israeli government's strong opposition to it.

"Make no mistake, this deal, while falling short of permanently eliminating Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon, succeeds in either delaying it or giving us the credible ability to detect significant cheating on their part and respond accordingly," Booker said in a statement that also described a variety of deep reservations about the accord.

New Jersey's senior senator, Robert Menendez, is one of only two Senate Democrats who has announced he opposes the nuclear agreement.

Booker's announcement left nine undecided Democrats in the Senate.

Deal backers are now trying to muster 41 votes in the Senate, which would let supporters block a disapproval resolution and keep Obama from having to use his veto power.

In response to Booker's decision, Joseph Lieberman, the former Connecticut senator and vice presidential candidate, voiced his displeasure.

"He really disappointed all of us,” Lieberman told Politico. “And I speak as an admirer and friend.”

“Cory’s whole life is about excellence," Lieberman said. "He’s held himself to a high standard, and he settled for a lot less than the best in supporting this deal today.”

Boteach, whose relationship with Booker dates back over 20 years when both men were at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, said the New Jersey Democrat made a "troubling and tragic choice."

“How on earth could he participate in making Iran’s nuclear program kosher amid their never-ending pledge to carry out a second holocaust?" Boteach told Bloomberg News.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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