NJDC chief raps AIPAC, AJC on Iran sanctions lobbying

Some influential pro-Israel groups are pushing hard for the passage of a Senate bill for enhanced Iran sanctions, which currently has the support of 58 co-sponsors — short of the 67 votes needed to bust President Obama’s promised veto.

But Rabbi Jack Moline, the incoming director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, thinks some of the pro-Israel groups are pushing too hard, and he is not mincing words in saying so.

In an interview with JTA, he accused  the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee of imposing a “litmus test” on senators and using “strong-arm tactics.”

“It isn’t the business of any organization to be setting up a litmus test on a piece of legislation,” Moline said.

The tone of Moline’s remarks is unusual coming from the NJDC, which generally refrains from pointed criticism of leading pro-Israel groups.

Here is the relevant passage from my story today:

Rabbi Jack Moline, the NJDC’s executive director, accused AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee of “strong-arm tactics, essentially threatening people that if they don’t vote a particular way, that somehow that makes them anti-Israel or means the abandonment of the Jewish community.”

David Harris, the AJC’s executive director, said he was “shocked” by Moline’s allegations.

“We support the Iran sanctions bill, as do a bipartisan majority of U.S. senators,” he said. “Can a group differ with him on a critically important issue like Iran, where potentially existential issues are at stake, without being maligned or misrepresented, or is that the price we’re supposed to pay for honest disagreement?”

A spokesman for AIPAC declined to comment.

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