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Jewish and Christian Leaders Publish Their Support for President Obama's Iran Deal
Some Jewish organizations oppose the Iran nuclear deal, but they do not represent a majority of the Jewish community. Key leaders in both the Christian and Jewish community support the deal.
Editor's Note: If you only listen to major television media you would think most Jews are opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. But the truth is the majority of Jews support the deal along with many key leaders in the Jewish community who recently published an ad in the New York Times. And the heads of major organizations representing Christians are sending a letter of support to congress today. See a brief article by Nathan Guttman on the Jewish statement below followed by the statement of Christian leaders.
Jewish supporters of the Iran nuclear deal have published a full-page New York Times ad backing the agreement signed by 26 current and former prominent communal leaders.
The signers include heads of national Jewish organizations, leaders from major federations and former lawmakers, all calling on Congress to approve the deal.
"While not perfect, this deal is the best available option to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program," they state.
Among the Jewish leaders joining the call are three former chairs of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is a national umbrella group representing the community on foreign policy issues.
"I would like for those engaged in public discussion as well as for members of Congress to understand that the community doesn't have a single view on this issue," said Alan Solow, former chairman of the Presidents' Conference who is among the signers. "It's important for them to know there is a variety of opinions on this issue among supporters of Israel."
Also signing on are four former leaders of major Jewish federations, from New York, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles. All these federations, except New York, have issued statements opposing the Iran deal and have called on their members to lobby against the agreement. Also on the list is Tom Dine, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC,) which is now leading the campaign to derail the agreement.
"My hope is that it will give comfort to those who are in favor of the deal with Iran," said Tom Dine, former AIPAC executive director. Dine added that a deal could serve as a way to engage with Iran and "have a more fluid relationship between Iran and it's neighbors and between Iran and the world." Dine also noted that many of the Jewish leaders who had joined this pro-deal initiative had served in the past on AIPAC's executive committee.
Former Michigan senator Carl Levin and former Democratic members of Congress Mel Levine and Robert Wexler have also signed on.
"Each of us has devoted decades to building and enhancing Israel's security and strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance. Our commitment to Israel is everlasting," the signers stated in the ad.
The list of major Jewish leaders behind this initiative is expected to serve as a counterweight to the otherwise broad array of Jewish organizations that have spoken out against the accord. Most of the major national organizations and some of the nation's largest federations have spoken out against the deal.
Mel Levine, a former California Democratic congressman who signed today's New York Times ad, said the organized Jewish community's push against the deal could come back to haunt it once the debate is over.
"I think it will only weaken the Jewish organizations because it has become clear throughout this process that these organizations do not speak for the Jewish community," Levine said.
This latest initiative comes on the heels of a call issued by 340 American rabbis who had written an open letter in support of the deal earlier this week. "We are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement," the letter stated, "We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord."
But while many of the signers came from Reform congregations, the Reform movement as a whole chose a middle road when dealing with the nuclear accord.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the group remained refrained from calling on its members to either support or oppose the deal.
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward's Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha'aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This article appeared at The Jewish Daily Forward.
Date: August 25, 2015
Contact: Steven D. Martin, National Council of Churches: firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-412-4323
The following letter, signed by over 50 national Christian faith leaders, will be distributed among members of Congress on August 25, 2015:
Christian Leaders Urge Congress to Vote for Diplomatic Agreement with Iran
Dear Member of Congress:
As Christian leaders in the United States, we are writing to urge you to vote in support of the negotiated settlement over Iran's nuclear program. We live by God’s call to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14). After decades of hostility, the international community has crafted a nuclear accord to limit Iran’s nuclear program and prevent the United States from moving closer toward another devastating war in the Middle East.
The July 2015 diplomatic agreement with Iran will dramatically shrink and impose unprecedented constraints on Iran's nuclear program. In exchange, the international community will begin to lift sanctions on Iran. It also establishes the most robust monitoring and inspection regime ever negotiated to verify Iran’s compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program.
As Christians, we feel called to speak out for the possibility of peace. As faith leaders from the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons in war, we have a particular responsibility to speak boldly when opportunities arise that lead to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at home and around the world. This historic accord moves us one small step closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.
This agreement helps de-escalate tension in a region that is already suffering the effects of war and violence in ways unimaginable to most of us in the United States. It is also a testament to the effectiveness of diplomacy to take countries from the brink of war and resolve concerns peacefully.
This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).This agreement moves us further away from the possibility of war and another nuclear-armed nation. There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it. Rejection of this deal would be a rejection of the historic progress our diplomats have made to make this world a safer place.
The stakes on this matter have never been higher. That is why more than forty national organizations, including more than a dozen faith-based groups, wrote a letter earlier this year urging lawmakers to vote in support of this deal. The groups noted that this "will be among the most consequential national security votes taken by Congress since the decision to authorize the invasion of Iraq.”
As people of faith, we urge you to support the international agreement with Iran and reject legislation to undermine the deal. We will be praying for you.
Paul Nathan Alexander, PhD, Director, The Sider Center, President, Evangelicals for Social Action
Rev. Donald H Ashmall, Council Minister, International Council of Community Churches
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate, Armenian Orthodox Church
Bishop Warner H. Brown, President, The Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church
Rev Julia Brown Karimu, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
J Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee
Sister Patricia Chappell, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
Shane Claiborne, Founder, The Simple Way/Red Letter Christians
Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Director of Partnership Relations, Alliance of Baptists
Shan Cretin, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Rev. Thomas De Vries, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America
Adam Estle, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Rev. Raymond Finch, MM, Superior General, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Very Rev. Jim Greenfield OSFS, President, Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Sr. Antoinette Guntzler, MM, President, Maryknoll Sisters
John Hartley*, Executive Director, Pathways for Mutual Respect
Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren
Jon Huckins*, Co-Founding Director, The Global Immersion Project
Dr. Joel C. Hunter*, Senior Pastor, Northland A Church Distributed
Rev. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, President Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
Francis E. Kreps, Presiding Bishop Elect, Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Rev. Carlos Malave*, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together
Ed Martin*, Director, Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service
Sister Patricia McDermott RSM, President Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA
Rev. Dr James Moos, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Bishop W. Darin Moore, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Very Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM, Provincial Superior, Holy Name Province, Franciscans
Rev. Timothy Mulroy, SSC, U.S. Regional Director, Missionary Society of St. Columban
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren
Rev. Grayde Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Fred Rotondaro, Chairman, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Colin Saxton *, General Secretary, Friends United Meeting
Stephen Schneck, Director, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, Catholic University of America
Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Sidorak, Ecumenical Staff Officer, The United Methodist Church
Sam Stanton, President, Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Joan Marie Stedman, CSC , Executive Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ecumenical Officer of the Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church
Bishop Geevarghese Mar Theodosius, Diocesan Bishop, Mar Thoma Church
Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches
* Affiliation listed for identification purposes only
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation. NCC News contact: Steven D. Martin: 202-544-2350 ext 231 (o), 202-412-4323 (c) email@example.com.
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