President Barack Obama
President Barack ObamaReuters

President Barack Obama met with Jewish American leaders at the White House in two sessions on Monday in a bid to “defuse antagonism toward him,” and to improve the chances that the deal being finalized with Iran will pass in Congress, writes the Washington Post.

At the first meeting, the president spent an hour with the leaders of major Jewish organizations. He then left and the meeting continued with Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice; Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Colin Kahl; and three other senior officials.

At the second session, Obama met with Jewish “community leaders,” many of whom are major political contributors. White House press secretary Josh Earnest described them as “outspoken advocates who may not hold official positions or leadership positions... but are, in their own right, effective advocates.”

Haim Saban, the Israeli American entertainment mogul who has been a major donor to Democrats, was reportedly among the leaders at the second meeting.

The Post quoted one person who attended the first meeting as saying it was a positive one, in which Obama was “heartfelt about his connection to Israel.”

Another participant said that “the president talked about how deeply he feels about Israel and the Jewish people and anti-Semitism. It was not just about Iran. It was much, much deeper in terms of the president sharing with us how he felt.”