B’nai B’rith International lobbies Congress to reject Iran nuclear deal

There is no middle ground – stakes are far too high to ignore Islamic Republic’s history of deception, organization’s executive VP says.

A man holds up a sign as he and several thousand other protestors demonstrate during a rally opposing the nuclear deal with Iran in Times Square (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man holds up a sign as he and several thousand other protestors demonstrate during a rally opposing the nuclear deal with Iran in Times Square
(photo credit: REUTERS)
B’nai B’rith International became the latest Jewish organization to come out against the Obama administration’s rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, issuing a lengthy statement calling on Congress to reject the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action intended to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program.
Congress is reviewing the deal ahead of a vote to approve or disapprove the agreement in September.
The Jewish organization has been largely silent on the deal since it was signed in Vienna last month, although it did note at the time that it was “impossible to look at Iran’s track record and trust the regime to adhere to the terms of this pact.”
While thanking the White House for providing opportunities to hear the administration’s side, B’nai B’rith ultimately decided to oppose the deal because its endorsement would require “an unprecedented suspension of disbelief” that Iran’s nuclear aims were peaceful.
“Given its decades of dissembling, it is infeasible to conclude that Tehran will honor its obligations under this agreement,” the group asserted.
According to B’nai B’rith president Allan J. Jacobs, “We listened, we read, we analyzed and we have concluded that we can - not support this deal with Iran. We have doubts about elevating the international status of Iran, which has done nothing to prove it will keep its word.”
The group’s executive vice president, Daniel S. Mariaschin, said there was “no middle ground.”
“Iran’s credibility is illusory,” Mariaschin stated. “The stakes are far too high to ignore Tehran’s history of deception by accepting this deal.”
The B’nai B’rith leadership cited a number of incidents it said indicated Iran’s unreliability, including calls for death to America and Israel immediately prior to the signing of the accord, and Tehran’s continuing support for regional terror.
Jacobs and Mariaschin also displayed incredulity regarding the strength of the inspections regime given Iran’s history of dissimulation, stating that the JCPOA would “never obtain the unmanaged, unfettered or spontaneous access necessary to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites.”
The two also said they “firmly reject the notion” that the sole alternative to the deal was war, as has been intimated by US President Barack Obama.
“We have long advocated that the best means of ensuring Iran’s compliance with international demands is pressure – in the form of ever-tightening sanctions combined with diplomatic isolation and the credible threat of military force,” they said. “The international community should respond to Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons by increasing, rather than relieving, pressure on the regime until it has produced meaningful results.”
The B’nai B’rith statement came only a day after Chicago’s large and influential Jewish Federation came out against the deal, joining at least 17 other Jewish community groups in outright opposition, along with many others that are skeptical but not yet opposed, and several that are undecided.
Polls, including one conducted by Jewish sociologist Steven M. Cohen for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal , indicate that “a clear majority of Jews wants Congress to approve the deal,” highlighting a disconnect between them and the organized Jewish establishment.
Writing in the Washington Post , Cohen explained that the Jewish leadership was “somewhat older and more conservative than Jews on the whole” and skewed more toward the wealthy end of the socio-economic spectrum.
“Plainly, the idea that American Jews speak as a monolithic bloc needs very early retirement.... So does the notion that unrepresentative ‘leaders’ speak for American Jews generally on the urgent matter of nuclear arms in the Middle East. They may speak for their donors, leaders and members, but they certainly do not speak for the American Jewish public at large and, in particular, the large population of American Jewish liberals who overwhelmingly support the deal and want their senators and representatives to approve it next month.”
JTA contributed to this report