US Jewish Groups Convey Caution, Hope on Iran Deal

White House officials reach out to American Jewish organizations in hopes of allaying concerns about Iran deal.

Tova Dvorin ,

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman
Flash 90

Several pro-Israel groups appear to be on board - if reluctantly - with the interim deal reached between western powers and Iran this week, which exchanges the lifting of select sanctions for reduction of Iran's nuclear production, Bloomberg reports Tuesday.

Since the deal was reached Sunday, the Obama Administration has held briefings for representatives from organizations including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in an attempt to allay concerns that the six-month agreement would give Iran time to develop a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel.

Israel has long maintained that the agreement is a "bad deal". Most American Jewish leaders have been cautious, but still optimistic; while many accept the interim deal as a fait accompli, some leaders said the agreement would only work if Iran kept its end of the agreement and expressed concerns that the deal might backfire. 

AIPAC said in a statement Monday that there are “serious concerns” about being able to reach a final accord that would ensure Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear weapon, though it stopped short of urging immediate new sanctions, which it said should only be adopted should Iran "violate this agreement or fail to agree to an acceptable final deal.”

“The real test is implementation, to see what they are going to do to live up to this,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “We expressed concern they will use this as they have in the past just to have cover.”

Other groups have been more receptive. Among the groups expressing at least limited backing for Obama’s position was the American Jewish Committee, whose executive director, David Harris, issued a statement calling the deal “a potentially important development” even as Iran “has maintained an indisputable posture of deceit and defiance” toward the rest of the world. The ADL, too, called the negotiations “an important step forward.”

“Given the many questions and concerns in the pro-Israel community about the Iran agreement, it is very smart of the Obama administration to reach out to explain their take on the deal and the steps ahead,” said William Daroff, chief lobbyist for the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).