Seattle Jewish Federation Should Take A Stand For Israel
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be voting in September whether to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between the P5 + 1 powers and Iran. The U.S. Constitution requires that the U.S. Senate has the opportunity to ratify a treaty with a two-thirds vote – or 67 senators. However, in this situation, Congress has set up an alternative process that requires both the House and Senate to approve or disapprove of the agreement – with a simple majority.
It is very likely that the JCPOA will not be approved by either the Senate or House. However, President Obama has threatened to veto the measure. If that occurs, it would require Congress to override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote by both chambers — 67 in the Senate and roughly 290 in the House. Otherwise, the deal stands.
There are no “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, no limitations on the development of ballistic missile technology, and no restraint on what Iran will do with the up to $150 billion windfall it receives.
There is an intense debate going on in this country about the deal with Iran, and polls consistently demonstrate that the majority of Americans are against it. Most people recognize that the deal is extremely dangerous, not only for the United States but certainly for Israel. Among other things, the agreement essentially assures that the theocratic regime of Iran will obtain nuclear weapons within ten to fifteen years. Furthermore, there are no “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, no limitations on the development of ballistic missile technology, and no restraint on what Iran will do with the up to $150 billion windfall it receives as a result of this agreement and the lifting of sanctions. Even if a tiny fraction of this money is diverted to help fund Assad in Syria, Hamas or Hezbollah, thousands and thousands of innocent lives are put at risk.
To assure that the deal is defeated, it is crucial that our organized Jewish community use its influence on our members of Congress.
To assure that the deal is defeated, it is crucial that our organized Jewish community use its influence on our members of Congress. Many Jewish Federations throughout the United States have announced their opposition to the Iran deal, including the following Federations from major cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, two major mainstream Jewish communal organizations – the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Anti Defamation League (ADL) – are also publicly opposing the agreement. In sharp contrast, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle issued a vague statement on July 14 that, while showing strong concern over the agreement, simply urged Congress “to look critically at this deal and ask tough questions.”
Both of Washington State’s senators are currently identified as “uncommitted.” Additionally, several of Washington State’s members of Congress are also undecided. This agreement with Iran presents an existential crisis for the State of Israel and is of immense concern to many Jews throughout the United States and Israel. Influencing Washington’s senators and members of the House to vote against the deal may be crucial to override a presidential veto should that become necessary. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has developed strong ties to Washington’s Congressional delegation, and if there is any time to exercise its persuasive influence that time is now.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has developed strong ties to Washington’s Congressional delegation, and if there is any time to exercise its persuasive influence that time is now.
Why is it that the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle can support a state initiative on gun control and pass a resolution supporting marriage equality, but cannot publicly oppose an extremely flawed agreement with Iran that is already opposed by many Jewish Federations throughout the United States as well as many other Jewish advocacy groups? The time to ask tough questions has now passed. Now it is time to advocate against the Iran deal with Washington’s two U.S. senators and Congressional delegation – and it cannot happen soon enough.
Steve Hemmat is an attorney and a former board member and chair of the Planning and Allocations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. This writing does not reflect the position of any institution or person other than the author.
- Chicago Jewish Federation Opposes Iran Deal
- ADL Position on the Iran Deal
- AJC Position on the Iran Deal
- Seattle Jewish Federation statement on the Iran Deal
- Analysis of the Iran Deal by Nevet Basker of Seattle based “Broader View”