November 26, 2013

Nuclear deal strains Obama's relations with big Jewish donors

The U.S.-led agreement — endorsed by France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia — has attracted criticism from Democratic allies of Israel, including Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

The timing of the pact set the stage for awkward moments at a scheduled Democratic fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., Monday night. Obama attended an event, hosted by Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media mogul.

Obama told about 120 donors who paid $16,200 per person to attend the dinner at Saban’s sprawling estate that the agreement with Iran opens “the prospect that we’ll be able to, through peaceful, diplomatic means, remove this cloud that has hovered over the Middle East that had the potential and continues to have the potential of triggering a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.”

“It’s good for the United States, it’s good for our allies, it’s good for Israel,” he added.  “Because I’ve said, and I will repeat, that I don’t take any options off the table as commander in chief when it comes to the security of the United States or our allies.” 

Rob Fox, a Democratic fundraiser who supports federal candidates in Pennsylvania, slammed the deal.

 “I think that Iran has demonstrated for over 30 years that they’re not to be trusted. They have not allowed any inspections. The entire sanctions regime is a function of the fact that they have not been a member of the international community. They are the major sponsor of terrorism in the entire Middle East and the world,” he said.
 “I see no good reasons given those circumstances you would negotiate an interim deal that gives them any relief,” he added.

Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, predicted the “disproportionality” of the agreement would spur Congress to pass additional sanctions against Iran.

“It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table. And any reduction relieves the pressure of sanction and gives them the hope that they will be able to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Jeff Robbins, a Democratic lawyer and fundraiser based in Boston, said many Jewish Democrats agree with Schumer. 

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