Reform movement: No position on Iran deal; Jewish congressman supports


(JTA) — The Reform movement released a statement neither supporting nor opposing the recently signed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D – Tenn.), who is Jewish , said he would support the deal, which lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. He noted, though, that the deal has flaws and that “perfection simply isn’t an option.”

“Through my intense study of this agreement, I am convinced that it is the most effective way to ensure Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The agreement represents global consensus on that point as well, and its long-term success relies on the ongoing support and hard work of all involved nations, who I am convinced will continue to work together to guarantee compliance.”

The Reform movement statement Wednesday thanked President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their diplomatic efforts, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his focus on the dangers of a nuclear Iran. It expressed several concerns related to the agreement and called on parties on both sides of the debate to “tamp down their rhetoric.”

But the statement said the movement was divided, and that there were valid arguments both for and against the agreement, which it referred to using the abbreviation JCPOA.

“We recognize that these arguments have merit,” the statement, released Wednesday, read. “The JCPOA does present a way forward, there are real dangers to rejecting it, and it does not foreclose Iran’s ability to become a nuclear weapons threshold state.”

The statement continued, “there is simply no clarity that would support taking a position ‘for’ or ‘against’ the JCPOA itself.”

The statement expressed concerns with certain elements of the agreement and of Iran’s activity. It called on Obama to make clear that the United State would not allow an Iranian nuclear weapon; urged the U.S. to combat Iran’s support for terror groups; voiced concerns about the agreement’s inspections regimen; condemned Iran’s violation of human rights; and encouraged the U.S. to continue strongly supporting Israel.

The statement also called on Obama and Netanyahu to improve relations between their two governments, although they disagree about the Iran accord.

“We are deeply concerned about the tension, and the harsh rhetoric, in the discourse between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the statement said. “We fervently hope that both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will take concrete steps, transcending politics, to repair the rifts that impede this relationship between longstanding and essential allies.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the deal’s most vocal opponents, and many centrist Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, have come out against the deal.

On Monday, 340 American rabbis signed a letter to Congress urging it to vote in favor of the deal

While most Republicans are against the deal, negotiated between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Democrats have mostly supported it.

Congress has until late September to decide whether to reject the agreement. President Obama has pledged to veto a rejection.

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