Contact: David Drimer, 212-481-1500
NEW YORK, December 3 — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has questioned the positions taken by AIPAC CEO, Howard Kohr, in opposing any American Jewish criticism of President Obama or anyone in his Administration for the deal signed with Iran in Geneva and stating that the Obama Administration only has a “difference of strategy” with Israel and American Jewry on how to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We are also troubled that Mr. Kohr declared that the only path that should be taken now is more sanctions, refusing to accept a questioner’s statement that military action must now be seriously considered. Mr. Kohr took these positions in a meeting of AIPAC leaders and activists last week.
The Obama Administration Iran deal is a very dangerous act of appeasement that leaves intact all the vital elements of Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program. It dismantles nothing and allows continued uranium enrichment and construction of Iran’s Arak plutonium facility, which gives Iran an alternative means for developing nuclear weapons, while providing it with $10-30 billion in sanctions relief.
The AIPAC position clearly implies that the Obama strategy is a legitimate position, simply an alternative path that can be taken. AIPAC has ignored that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized President Obama and his Administration for making this “very, very dangerous … historic mistake.” So much for AIPAC claiming that it always supports the positions of the democratically-elected Israeli government.
It tells you all you need to know that Iranian president Hasan Rouhani has crowed that “In this agreement, the right of Iranian nation to enrich uranium was accepted by world powers … With this agreement … the architecture of sanctions will begin to break down.” Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, observes, “As Iran’s chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US$23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his ‘full support for this step.’ President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as ‘the best path for securing peace and stability.’ Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri of Lebanon called it the ‘deal of the century.’ And Hezbollah considered the agreement a ‘great victory for Iran.’”
The Iran deal is not merely the product of a “difference in strategy,” it is a deal that will clearly facilitate Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. Respected Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens has written that the Geneva deal “has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris [peace accord with North Vietnam]. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects.” The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer has said that “This is a sham from beginning to end. It’s the worse deal since Munich.” Even liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz has said that the Geneva deal “could turn out to be a cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions.” By calling this merely a “difference in strategy,” AIPAC seems to be whitewashing and camouflaging this act of appeasement as a legitimate path with which most pro-Israel supporters disagree. AIPAC should not only be calling for more sanctions, which, if passed, would not be implemented for at least 6 to 7 months, they should be explicitly criticizing the Obama deal as a horrific and intolerable mistake. Such an AIPAC position would inspire more Members of Congress to do the same and better understand the reality of this frightening situation.
The ZOA has released the following public statement: “We express deep disappointment at, and are perplexed by, AIPAC’s imprudent, deeply troubling words, that are odds with Israel’s position. This is not a deal — it’s a disaster, an act of appeasement that threatens us all.
“This is not a mere ‘difference of strategy’ — of that let there be no mistake. The Iran deal is a repudiation of the need to stop Iran, not simply another way of attempting to stop Iran with which we happen to disagree. We must be unalterably opposed to it and say why, loudly and clearly, not prattle about mere disagreements. The pro-Israel community must speak out against this policy and thus against President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Wendy Sherman and the other officials who negotiated, and are responsible for, this deal.
“How can one have a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear weapons program if the Geneva deal specifies no requirements and machinery for ascertaining the extent and nature of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile research and development?
“If we can’t obtain a comprehensive agreement on ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program –which is the goal — when sanctions now are at their peak, causing Iran great economic pain, how can we expect Iran to end its nuclear weapons program later, when sanctions have been significantly eroded? We must speak out against this deal.
“As Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kettrie of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies explain in the Wall Street Journal, ‘even if Iran faithfully implements each of its commitments under the [Geneva deal], it could find itself, in May 2014, a mere month further away than it is now from having weapons-grade uranium-but six months closer to having the rest of a deliverable nuclear weapon.’
“Last week, in fact, during the negotiations leading to the deal, Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Israel a ‘rabid dog’ and declared that ‘Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals …The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.’ He has called America an ‘enemy that smiles.’ He also promised that Tehran would not step back ‘one iota’ from what he called Iran’s nuclear rights; and professed to be interested in American friendship even while his militiamen chanted ‘Death to America.’ Who on earth can persuade themselves to believe that this is a regime willing to cease its march to becoming a nuclear power and acting on its many threats to destroy Israel? We must speak out.
“American Jews, and American pro-Israel and Jewish organizations are under no obligation to keep silent when they see an agreement concluded with Iran that facilitates, rather than impedes, Iran’s march towards possessing nuclear weapons.
“On the contrary, they are obligated to speak out if — as we do — they believe the deal is bad and dangerous for the U.S. and Israel. What could possibly be AIPAC’s rationale at this time of immense danger to Israel, most likely unprecedented at any time in its history, including 1948, 1967 and 1973?
“The ZOA disagrees with AIPAC’s directive to American Jewry to be silent, except for pushing for more sanctions. It is apparent that AIPAC wants all in the pro-Israel community to believe that the U.S./Israel relationship is as good as it always was. It is AIPAC’s raison d’etre to maintain strong U.S./Israel relations. We appreciate that it is difficult for AIPAC to acknowledge that this relationship has been eroded in recent years, but this truth must be told, not least by AIPAC itself, in order to alert American Jewry and friends of Israel to better understand what steps must now be taken.
Many Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, strongly disagree with AIPAC that the Geneva deal marks merely “a difference in strategy.” They are speaking out; why isn’t AIPAC explicitly criticizing this Iran deal?
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “Past Iranian conduct gives little cause for hope. Without strong sanctions, tough enforcement and vigilant monitoring and inspection, my fear is that even this interim agreement may encourage or embolden countries or companies that seek to exploit loopholes or weaknesses in the existing sanctions”
Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven’t gained anything.”
John McCain (R-AZ): “I am … concerned by particular elements of this agreement and some other elements that are left out. For example, this agreement does not require Iran to resolve some of the outstanding concerns of the IAEA, which has rigorously documented Iran’s pattern of lies and deceptions regarding its nuclear program. Iran also would not have to stop building completely its Arak nuclear facility and may never have to destroy it altogether… Problems and omissions such as these are compounded by an easing of sanctions that could make it harder to sustain the international will and cooperation to continue enforcing existing sanctions … I am concerned this agreement could be a dangerous step that degrades our pressure on the Iranian regime without demonstrable actions on Iran’s part to end its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability – a situation that would be reminiscent of our experience over two decades with North Korea.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):”I remain concerned that this deal does not adequately halt Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the full suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities, so it is troubling that this agreement still permits the Iranians to continue enriching.”
Tom Cotton (R-AR): “With this agreement, the United States has suffered an unmitigated, humiliating defeat and Iran has won a total victory. The United States will ease sanctions and give the mullahs billions of dollars in return for their empty promises. Iran will keep enriching uranium, keep its stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, keep its plutonium-producing reactor, and keep its missile program…”
Michele Bachmann (R-MN): “The Obama negotiators have virtually turned the hinge of history, by guaranteeing a nuclear Iran with the near certainty of future threatened nuclear strikes. Usually two parties enter into a deal to improve their respective situations. In the case of the recent Iran agreement, it appears U.S. negotiators forgot which nation’s best interests they were looking to secure. One can find virtually no benefit in this agreement for either the U.S. or any nation, other than Iran. That may force Israel into the unenviable position of taking action to stop Iran’s stated intentions of effecting a nuclear holocaust.”
Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Foreign Affairs Committee member: “It’s disappointing to me that Iran is still going to be allowed to enrich [uranium)] while they’re talking. I would have thought that that should be a prerequisite to any kind of talks.”
Mike Rogers (R-MI): “We may — we may have just encouraged more violence in the future than we have stopped. That’s why I hope we reconsider where we’re at, certainly in six months. You have now given them a permission slip to continue enrichment. That’s what the whole world was trying to stop them from doing.”
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): “The agreement accepted by the Administration simply does not go far enough to ensure our national security interests and those of our allies, like the democratic Jewish State of Israel. I’m particularly troubled by this agreement’s failure to force Tehran to completely stop uranium enrichment and dismantle its existing centrifuges, whose operation can be resumed quickly, allowing Iran to potentially reach nuclear capacity in a brief amount of time …This deal falls short of our primary national security objectives, and it puts into unnecessary danger the security of our friends and allies.”
Ed Royce (R-CA): “I have serious concerns that this agreement does not meet the standards necessary to protect the United States and our allies. Instead of rolling back Iran’s program, Tehran would be able to keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet we are the ones doing the dismantling — relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years. This sanctions relief is more lifeline than ‘modest.’ Secretary Kerry should soon come before the Foreign Affairs Committee to address the many concerns with this agreement.”
Charles Schumer (D-NY) complained about the “disproportionality of this agreement.”
Scott Garrett (R-NJ): “President Obama’s ‘deal’ with Iran is no deal for the United States or our ally, Israel. Rather, it continues this administration’s pattern of negotiation, where the United States gives but receives nothing in return. I am deeply dismayed that we are so quick to free up billions of dollars in assets and revenue streams that Iran can use to further finance international terror or restart its nuclear program. If, months from now, Iran wants to renege on this ‘deal’ and resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it won’t be any further from developing a bomb than it is today. Once again, President Obama’s foreign policy ‘win’ weakens America, her allies, and our position in the world.”
Buck McKeon (R-CA): “Apparently, America has not learned its lesson from 1994 when North Korea fooled the world. I am skeptical that this agreement will end differently.”
Luke Messer (R-IN): “We all want a world free from a nuclear Iran. Unfortunately, the deal announced yesterday may make that less likely. The deal provides billions of dollars of sanctions relief to the Iranian regime while requiring only cosmetic changes in their nuclear program.”
Mike Pompeo (R-KS): “The negotiated deal with Iran, which allows Iran to keep developing nuclear materials, is a major step backwards for America’s national security and the safety of the American people. Iran now has more time to enrich its uranium stockpiles, as well as researching weaponization and fabrication, which are not covered under this deal. Iran has also gained legitimacy, despite bankrolling international terrorism and proliferating nuclear weapons. And Iran has also gained at least $7 billion thanks to the easing of sanctions that were intended as punishment for violating the regime’s nuclear pledges in the first place. Promising the Iranians that they can keep their nuclear weapons is not a foreign policy. It’s surrender.”
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About the ZOA
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org.