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RJC vs. NJDC on upgrading Iran sanctions

There’s a tussle between the White House and members of Congress over whether to advance enhanced Iran sanctions now, or whether to wait for the next round of talks between Iran and the major powers.

The divide isn’t quite partisan — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, favors advancing the sanctions, and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a prominent GOP House moderate, is a leading advocate for waiting to see how the talks go.

Some pro-Israel groups favor adding the new sanctions, ASAP. These include AIPAC, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. J Street opposes advancing the new sanctions.

So where do the two parties’ Jewish affiliates stand on the issue?

The Republican Jewish Coalition wants sanctions advanced, stat:

When the Senate reconvenes next week, we hope that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson and Majority Leader Harry Reid will press forward on strong sanctions against Iran. We cannot soften the U.S. position on sanctions unless and until the Iranian regime stops talking and takes measurable, concrete action to end the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The National Jewish Democratic Council has not posted any view on the matter — so I solicited one from its new director, Rabbi Jack Moline. Summing it up is hard, but there’s no clear call to pass new sanctions now. Here it is, in toto:

NJDC believes that preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapon capabilities is the top priority of our foreign policy. We are in favor of policies that are effective, and to date crippling sanctions seem to be having their desired effect. President Obama has not taken any option off the table, including intensified sanctions, diplomacy and even necessary military action. Part of Congress’s responsibility is to partner in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives, and we think it is a positive development that the government of Iran understands that the President’s willingness to explore a diplomatic opportunity has not reduced the determination even of his supporters to back him up if increased sanctions or direct intervention is necessary.

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