American Rabbi Jack Moline, incoming director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said Friday that he thinks that some pro-Israel groups are pushing too hard for the Senate to pass new sanctions on Iran.
In an interview with JTA, Moline accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee of using “strong-arm tactics.” He described the Israel lobby as creating the feeling among senators that voting against the new sanctions would "make them anti-Israel or mean the abandonment of the Jewish community.”
Moline is a conservative rabbi and political activist. He supported U.S. President Barak Obama's presidential campagin, helping to organize "rabbis for Obama. In 2010, Moline confronted the Obama administration for its perceived cold-shouldering of Israel.
“It isn’t the business of any organization to be setting up a litmus test on a piece of legislation,” Moline said.
The tone of Moline’s remarks is unusual coming from the NJDC, which generally refrains from pointed criticism of leading pro-Israel groups.
David Harris, the AJC’s executive director, said he was “shocked” by Moline’s allegations.
“We support the Iran sanctions bill, as do a bipartisan majority of U.S. senators,” he said. “Can a group differ with him on a critically important issue like Iran, where potentially existential issues are at stake, without being maligned or misrepresented, or is that the price we’re supposed to pay for honest disagreement?”
A spokesman for AIPAC declined to comment.
The bill for enhanced sanctions on Iran currently has the support of 58 co-sponsors, still short of the 67 votes needed to bust U.S. President Obama’s promised veto.
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