Rabbis urge Congress to back Iran deal

Three hundred and forty rabbis from all streams of Judaism send a letter to members of Congress urging them to support the agreement between the international community and Iran on the Iranian nuclear program.

“We commend the US and the other negotiating teams for their dedication to reaching an agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. This deal is good for the United States and our allies in the region, and is the best arrangement possible given current international realities,” declares Rabbi Steven Bob of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Rabbi Rachel Mikva of Chicago adds, “A wide array of views about the nuclear deal exist among American Jews, as demonstrated in the recent Jewish Journal poll that showed 49% approving of the agreement (31% opposed) and 53% wanting Congress to approve it (35% opposed). However many Jewish Federations, AIPAC and other leading national Jewish organizations are campaigning in opposition, which is being interpreted to mean that American Jews want to see the deal scrapped. This is a false and dangerous message that we as rabbis hope to counter with our letter to Congress.”

“If Congress ultimately rejects the deal, the consequences for the United States, Israel, the Jewish community and the world will be significant. We fear that the outcome will be the collapse of the international sanctions regime, an Iranian race for nuclear weapons and an associated arms race in the Middle East and isolation of Israel and the United States from international partners,” says Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Wilmette, Illinois.

President Barack Obama speaking about the Iran nuclear agreement at American University in Washington, DC, Aug. 5, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/JTA)
President Barack Obama speaking about the Iran nuclear agreement at American University in Washington, DC, Aug. 5, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/JTA)

“While we believe the deal is a positive approach to the Iranian nuclear issue, we remain gravely concerned about Iranian support for terrorist groups and other destabilizing actions in the region. These threats must be countered aggressively by the international community. The misguided campaign to scuttle the nuclear deal harms the ability of Israel to join with the United States and regional allies to create a powerful coalition against Iran,” Rabbi Burton Visotzky of New York City concludes.

The full text of the letter:

Members of the US House of Representatives

Members of the US Senate

As rabbis, we support the agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran– The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We encourage the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to endorse this agreement.

The Obama administration has successfully brought together the major international powers to confront Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The broad international sanctions moved Iran to enter this historic agreement. Should this agreement be rejected by the U.S. congress, those sanctions will end. There will be no new negotiations, as the other member countries are fully in favor of this agreement and have no desire to re-negotiate.

We understand that while this agreement blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb, we recognize it does not deal with Iran’s support for terror, but that was never the purpose of these talks. Now that a nuclear agreement has been reached, we call on the United States and its international partners to strengthen their resolve and dedicate additional resources to confront Iranian threats to Israel and other states.

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

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