Jewish federations around the country are responding to this month’s Iran nuclear deal with words such as “worried,” “mistrustful,” “fearful” and “grave concerns.” Most are counseling their communities to use the 60-day congressional review period to learn about the agreement and share their opinions with elected officials.
“There is a plethora of diverse opinions,” said Gregg Roman, director of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “For the Federation to come out with a position would be irresponsible. We’re not going to pretend we’re nuclear experts.”
Some federations have come to the opposite conclusion: Eight federations — including Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, South Palm Beach, Fla., Miami, Houston, Dallas and Detroit — have come out in opposition to the Iran deal.
“We cannot be silent in our opposition to an agreement that takes far too many risks with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes,” said the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in a statement.
In Pittsburgh, though, the CRC doesn’t want to get ahead of Congress. “The administration is only beginning its testimony on the Hill. It’s a fluid process,” Roman said.
To help community members learn about the agreement, the CRC is hosting Patrick Clawson, director of the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for a discussion on July 30, at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
Roman said consideration of the agreement will be a “lay-leader driven process allowing all opinions. This is not going to be decided in a closed room.”
The Pittsburgh Federation also is looking ahead to what will happen after Congress votes on the agreement, Roman said. Policy positions include: Israel should receive security guarantees through legislation; Israel and pro-American Arab regimes should be allowed to maintain their military qualitative edge; and “U.S. and Israel need to move forward to assure that there is a vibrant relationship by negotiating a 10-year aid package,” Roman said.
David Holzel is a senior writer for Washington Jewish Week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.