US Jewish groups back Netanyahu, downplay rift between Washington and Jerusalem over Iran

ADL's Foxman had called on Netanyahu to cancel speech, but hopes it will help bring a deal that "fundamentally eliminates the danger posed by Iran to the region and to international security."

Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, shows the book "The Bible, the Jews, and the Death of Jesus"  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, shows the book "The Bible, the Jews, and the Death of Jesus"
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A number of American Jewish organizations came out in favor of the points raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his controversial congressional address in which he panned US President Barack Obama for looking to make a “very bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear program.
“My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it,” Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress, asserting that the Islamic Republic’s “nuclear program can be rolled back well beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.”
“One of the most significant elements of the speech was the message sent to Iran, both by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by the support he received from members of Congress, that there are serious and legitimate concerns about the direction of the negotiations and that the Iranian regime should not assume it will get its way,” said Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman.
Foxman, who had previously entreated Netanyahu to call off his address in the face of partisan tensions surrounding it, said that he hoped that the speech and “continued bilateral conversations and consultations will help bolster efforts to ensure that any deal reached fundamentally eliminates the danger posed by Iran to the region and to international security.”
“We recognize the good intentions of President Obama and his administration on this issue, and take seriously, while not necessarily agreeing with, their concerns about what the alternatives may be to reaching an agreement,” he said.
Netanyahu made a “compelling case,” the Jewish Federations of North America asserted in a statement following the address, adding that it encouraged Israel and the United States to continue working together “to ensure that any deal with Iran prevents them from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities.
“In addition, Iran must halt its aggression to its neighbors, end its support for global terrorism and stop threatening to annihilate Israel,” the organization said.
“The prime minister reminded the world that Iran is a master at ‘hide and cheat’ and that nuclear inspectors failed to stop North Korea from becoming a nuclear power, and that inspectors alone will not stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“Therefore, a bad deal is worse than no deal. Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed the hope that any future deal with Iran would be a deal that Israel and her neighbors can literally live with,” he continued.
“So I’m worried. Want Bibi to be wrong; fear he is right.
Just don’t see how any scenario ends well for any one but Iran. Oye,” Rabbi Steven Wernick, a senior official in the Conservative movement, posted on Facebook.
Calling Iran the “world’s largest state sponsor of global terrorism,” B’nai B’rith International stated that it concurred with Netanyahu’s concern over Iranian aggression and that the group “welcomed” his contribution to the discussions surrounding the negotiations.
“A nuclear-ready Iran has consequences that would resonate far beyond Israel and the United States. It is incumbent on the negotiators to consider this and not enter into a bad deal, one that puts Iran a giant leap closer to nuclear weapons capability,” the group added.
“Netanyahu clearly noted that the alternative to a bad deal is a better deal. B’nai B’rith agrees that restrictions on Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons must be securely in place and that the points he raised to strengthen a deal be seriously considered by the negotiators while there is still time to effectuate the change.“ Following the speech, the National Jewish Democratic Council thanked Netanyahu for recognizing Obama’s efforts to ensure Israel’s security, but it reiterated criticism of Republican House Speaker John Boehner for arranging the speech without prior consultation with the White House.
“While every member of the Democratic caucus faced a difficult decision regarding today’s address, we recognize that each one made the appropriate decision for themselves. It was a shame that House Speaker John Boehner put members of Congress in this position by playing partisan politics with the US-Israel relationship. Israel’s security is at its strongest when it remains a bipartisan issue, and we are deeply disappointed that Speaker Boehner chose to put politics ahead of principle in this situation,” the NJDC said in a statement.
“Despite our issues with how today’s speech came about, we were pleased that Prime Minister Netanyahu recognized that President Obama and his administration have always steadfastly supported Israel’s security,” it added, stating that it would work with the Obama administration so that all options remain on the table in dealing with Iran, although it added that additional sanctions at this time would be counterproductive.
“We maintain that a diplomatic accord is the best option in ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon, and we support President Obama and the administration in working to achieve that goal.”
J Street, which had lobbied against Netanyahu addressing Congress, said that his speech had “offered no new ideas and no realistic strategy to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.”
“The Israeli prime minister has insisted that, despite the inappropriate timing of his address, the American people needed to hear what he had to say. But the speech he delivered is one we’ve heard many times before. There is no disagreement with the Obama administration or proponents of a diplomatic agreement that a nuclear Iran would be unacceptable. The difference is that the president is pursuing serious diplomacy to prevent that outcome, while Netanyahu offers no credible solutions.”