Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel have both come out in the past week calling for wide-ranging negotiations between Iran and the United States as an alternative to the stick-only sanctions-focused approach of the Bush administration.
Jewish organizations have been major proponents of tightening the economic screws on Tehran in an effort to get the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear program. Will any of the key groups move to embrace an equally robust diplomatic offensive along the lines proposed by Obama and Hagel?
I caught up with Likud leader and prime ministerial frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu last Friday at a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Bibi did not object to sweeping talks between Iran and the U.S., but dismissed the notion that anything but an “increase of pressure” would work. The executive vice-chairman of the Conference, Malcolm Hoenlein, was more critical, arguing that Iran had previously used negotiations as a tool for playing the Europeans, and suggesting that talks at this point would serve to undercut internal opponents of the regime.
Also last week, at the ADL’s national convention, the organization adopted a new resolution on Iran that simply calls for tougher international sanctions.