Obama to U.S. Jews: On Iran, Keep in Mind We're All pro-Israel

In live webcast address, U.S. president criticizes heated rhetoric on side of nuclear deal's opponents, calls attacks on Rep. Nadler 'appalling.'

President Barack Obama speaks at the AIPAC convention in Washington Sunday, May 22, 2011.
President Barack Obama speaks at the AIPAC convention in Washington Sunday, May 22, 2011. Credit: AP

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a live online address to U.S. Jews on Friday that those debating the nuclear deal with Iran must keep in mind that "we're all pro-Israel," in a criticism of verbal attacks against lawmakers who have voiced their support of the deal.

"I challenge those who say there was heated rhetoric from both sides," Obama said, pointing out the "appalling" attacks Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) suffered after he announced his support for the deal last week.

"The commitment to Israel is sacrosanct, non-partisan, and always will be," Obama said in the webcast, co-hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

"The bond between the U.S. and Israel isn't political, isn't an alliance of convenience. It is grows out of family ties. Bonds that stretch back generations," Obama said.

Obama reiterated that the nuclear deal will improve security in the region, listing the various limits which will be placed on Tehran's nuclear program according to the agreement. Regarding statements made by Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, Obama said that he is "less interested in what Khamenei says about me, and more interested in how Iran implements the deal."

Obama said Washington and Israel have been in talks "for months" about getting security talks back on track, and those talks could include the next-generation missile defense and improved intelligence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of the nuclear deal, in which six world powers agreed to ease economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran curtailing its nuclear program.

Netanyahu's government, and some U.S. pro-Israel groups, have lobbied fiercely against the agreement, potentially a core foreign policy achievement of Obama's presidency if successful.

During a question-and-answer session after the address, Obama said the relationship between Israel and the U.S. will improve quickly after the deal is approved.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a similar webcast, calling on U.S. Jews to publicly oppose the nuclear deal.

Congress has the power within the next two months to kill the July 14 agreement between world powers and Iran, which gives Iran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. But opponents of the deal must muster two-thirds majorities in both chambers of Congress to override the veto Obama has promised of any would-be deal-killing bill.

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