Jewish groups are all over the map on the Iran deal
(JTA)—Across the United States, Jewish community groups have appeared unsure about exactly how to respond to the Iran nuclear deal. Consider Massachusetts. Three groups in the state last month attempted to coordinate a single statement on the Iran nuclear deal now under consideration by Congress. The underlying sentiment: Working with Congress, the Obama administration should find a way to “address serious questions about the vulnerabilities” of the deal.
As planned, almost identical statements were released by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston on July 21, the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts on July 23 and the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts on July 24.
Almost. The central Massachusetts federation modified a critical line in its statement away from the texts of the other two groups.
The Boston and western Massachusetts groups each concluded by urging “the Massachusetts delegation to fully investigate the flaws noted above and to not endorse the deal absent significant, specific and binding solutions to the concerns that we, and so many in our community, have about this agreement.”
The central Massachusetts federation, representing 10,000 Jews in the Worcester area, instead urged “the Massachusetts delegation to fully investigate and address the specific concerns that we, and so many in our community, have about this deal.”
“Do not endorse, absent solutions” and “fully investigate and address concerns” are significantly different postures.
Vexing things further, another Boston-area Jewish group, Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies, outright counseled lawmakers to reject the deal the week previous, on July 17.
As Massachusetts goes, so goes the (Jewish) nation: confused.
When the agreement between major powers and Iran was released on July 14, some Jewish groups came out against it almost immediately, while a month later, others have yet to weigh in. Some blared their decision on their website or Facebook page, others sent out emails unsearchable on the Internet. Some counsel a unified message, others said everyone should shout out their views.
Some statements were long, personal and anguished; others seemed to be the result of consultation with other groups, featuring almost identical language. “Utmost scrutiny” kept popping up. The Jewish federation of Birmingham, Alabama, acknowledged using the Houston federation’s statement opposing the deal as a template.
Some groups delivered mixed messages. The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, New York, urged making one’s voice heard, whatever one’s opinions—and then counseled attending a “Stop Iran” rally against the deal.
Here in Central Florida, The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando seems to stand in the camp of those who want the Administration to work with Congress, stating, “The agreement at hand appears to give Iran the ability to be a nuclear threshold state at the end of the agreement’s term... We urge Congress to fulfill its duty and look critically at all aspects and potential consequences of this idea before approving it. Congress must require the administration to justify the agreement in detail.”
Here’s a survey of the statements of 51 Jewish groups from all corners of the United States. There are 20 opposed to the deal, a lot of skeptics who are not opposed for now and a couple of just-don’t-knows. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs counted 125 regional public policy agencies across the country. JTA’s list includes those whose statements could be found.
Baltimore Jewish Council—opposed
Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies—opposed
Birmingham Jewish Federation, Ala.—opposed
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago—opposed:
Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Federation of Cincinnati—opposed
Jewish Federation of Cleveland—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas—opposed
Jewish Federation of Delaware—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, Iowa—“opposed, may reconsider”
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Houston—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, N.J.—opposed
Greater Miami Jewish Federation—opposed
Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey—opposed
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia—opposed
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington—opposed
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Fla.—opposed
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix—opposed
Those who would like to see Administration work with Congress
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta—“work with the Administration to redraft the JCPOA”:
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston—“do not endorse the deal absent binding solutions”
Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts—“find a path forward”
Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso, Texas—“welcome Congressional and public debate”
Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts—“do not endorse absent binding solutions”
Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, N.J.—“engage in a critical review”
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle—“ask tough questions”
Those who express serious concern
Jewish Federation of Broward County, Fla.—“seriously question”
Charleston Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council, S.C.—“utmost scrutiny
Jewish Federation of Nashville—“utmost scrutiny” and “consider rejecting”:
Jewish Federation of New Orleans—“close scrutiny by Congress”
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh—“close scrutiny”
Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley—“utmost scrutiny”
Jewish Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Columbus, Ohio -- “concerned the deal may be insufficient
Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, Pa.—“deep concerns with the vulnerabilities
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville, Ky.—“wary and concerned”
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York—“serious shortcomings”
UJA-Federation of New York—“serious concerns”
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Fla.—“objectionable”
Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, N.Y.—“extremely troublesome”
United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and its Community Relations Council, Va.—“cause for grave concern”
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco—“cautious hope” and “deep concern”
Those who do not take a specific stand
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas—ponders whether the deal is “deserving of bipartisan Congressional support?”
Jewish Federation of Omaha, Neb.—fact sheet: “The Omaha federation does not deliver an opinion, but summarizes the pros and cons in a fact sheet “in the hope that it provides structure and substance to the many Jewish Omaha conversations taking place today and in the weeks ahead.”
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Ore.—“engaged in a thoughtful examination”
Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and its Jewish Community Relations Committee—“hope this accord will qualify”
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis—“Iran not deserving of our trust”
Jewish Federation of San Diego County—“neither oppose nor support”
Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Fla.—“may be insufficient”
Jewish Community Relations Council of Milwaukee Jewish Federation—“will require continued vigilance”