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L.A. Federation issues strong opposition to Iran nuclear deal

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles released a statement July 21 expressing strong opposition to the recent nuclear agreement reached in Vienna on July 14 between Iran and the United States, European powers and China, also known as the P5+1.
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July 23, 2015

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles released a statement July 21 expressing strong opposition to the recent nuclear agreement reached in Vienna on July 14 between Iran and the United States, European powers and China, also known as the P5+1.

“We encourage members of our community to raise their voices in opposition to this agreement by contacting their elected representatives to urge them to oppose this deal,” Federation’s statement said.

The email sent out by Federation came four days after two other major Jewish Federations — in Boston and Miami — urged Congress to reject the agreement and asked community members to urge their elected representatives to scuttle the bill. Congress has until mid-September to vote on the nuclear agreement. 

If the agreement is approved, the U.S. would join the United Nations and European Union in lifting nuclear-related sanctions against Iran in return for a temporary curb on that nation’s nuclear weapons program. If it is rejected, Obama would almost certainly veto the bill, which would then require a two-thirds majority in Congress to override the veto. If Congress reached that two-thirds majority, then all U.S. sanctions against Iran would remain in place even though the U.N. and E.U. ones would be lifted.


“No matter what happens, we felt it was important to make a strong statement at this critical time. It’s important to sometimes stand up.” — Jay Sanderson, Federation president and CEO

The L.A. Federation’s public opposition to the nuclear agreement particularly stood out given that it rarely takes such explicit stands on major issues. Federation president and CEO Jay Sanderson said during a telephone call just before he boarded a flight on July 21 that this is the first time he remembers Federation taking a public stand on such a major issue since his tenure began in 2010.

“This is a very unique time,” Sanderson said. “After reading it several times and talking to leadership, we felt like it was important for our Federation to make a statement about how we feel about this, its impact on the United States of America and its potential negative impact on the State of Israel.”

The email sent out was five paragraphs long and urged Congress “to oppose the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program.” 

The Federation’s statement also said that while it wants a “diplomatic solution” to Iran’s nuclear program, the terms of the deal “will hasten the creation of an Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.”

“The proposed agreement allows Iran to remain a threshold nuclear state, does not allow for ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, and offers immediate rather than gradual sanctions relief without requiring Iran to address the military dimensions of its nuclear program,” the statement read. “The proposed agreement releases Iran from arms embargos in five years and ballistic missile sanctions in eight years.”

On July 14, after the agreement’s announcement by the P5+1 and Iran, the Jewish Federations of North America released a statement that neither endorsed nor opposed the agreement but instead urged Congress “to give this accord its utmost scrutiny.”

Sanderson said the L.A. Federation decided to publicly oppose the agreement after he and other officials had time to read the bill and consult with outside experts, including local politicians, whom Sanderson declined to name.

“We’ve been concerned and monitoring the situation for a very long time and spending time talking to our local Congress people and to other people involved in this process,” Sanderson said. “We only did this now when we felt this was an important moment for our community.”

Asked how he thinks a congressional vote (and veto override) to reject the nuclear agreement with Iran would impact the political landscape, Sanderson responded, “I’m not in a position to comment on what if Congress takes this agreement down and what happens afterward.

“No matter what happens, we felt it was important to make a strong statement at this critical time,” Sanderson continued. “It’s important to sometimes stand up.”

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