Lifting Iran Sanctions Would Undermine Region's Regimes, Hoenlein Warns

U.S. Jewish leader criticizes nuclear deal for allowing Iran to become nuclear threshold state in decade; two major Jewish federations call members to tell elected representatives to vote against deal.

Avi Hayun

The deal between Iran and the world powers would enable the Islamic Republic to become a nuclear threshold state in a decade, U.S. Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein said in a radio interview on Sunday, warning further that lifting the sanctions would aid Iran's sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East.

“We’re going to release these tens of billions of dollars that will allow them to undermine all these regimes in the region,” the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on AM 970 in New York, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, two major Jewish federations, in Boston and Miami, were urging local Jews to oppose the Iran nuclear deal by contacting their representative in Congress.

“We encourage members of the community to reach out to their elected representatives in the House and the Senate to express their deep concern, and to urge them to vote against this deal,” the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston said in a message Friday to Boston-area Jews.

The message the same day from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation appeared to call on community members who might not oppose the deal to suppress their dissents.

 “We acknowledge that there are diverse views within our community, but ultimately this issue must remain above politics and reflect our collective determination to ensure moral clarity and absolute resolve in dealing with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes,” the message said.

The nuclear deal reached last week between Iran and the major powers swaps sanctions relief for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities. Israel’s government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the premiere pro-Israel lobby, say it does not go far enough and leaves Iran a nuclear threshold state.

Congress may disapprove the plan, and if a disapproval vote passes and then garners the necessary two-thirds majorities in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to survive a presidential veto, it would kill the deal.

Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the deal, leaving Democrats, particularly in states where they are prevalent and where there are large Jewish communities, like Florida and Massachusetts, key targets for lobbying.

Groups that oppose the plan, led by AIPAC, are leading a nationwide campaign against the nuclear deal, countered by a similar campaign from groups that back it, including J Street.

President Barack Obama issued a call to support the deal in his weekly radio address.

“There’s a reason this deal took so long to negotiate,” said Obama, who plans to defend the deal Tuesday in a major speech to U.S. veterans. “Because we refused to accept a bad deal. We held out for a deal that met every one of our bottom lines. And we got it.”