(JTA) — U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said he has faced hurtful personal attacks from Orthodox precincts since he announced his support of the Iran nuclear deal.
Nadler, D-N.Y., told the Israeli daily Haaretz this week that the attacks have come from the religiously and politically conservative precincts in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
He noted also that he has received emails and calls of support since he announced his backing for what he called the “flawed” deal on Friday in a more than 5,000-word statement, citing as a major reason his support for Israel. He is the sole Jewish lawmaker from his state to support the deal.
Of the attacks, Nadler told Haaretz, “Of course it hurts. It’s emotional.”
“Most hurtful is people asserting, shouting, that somehow I am anti-Israel,” he said. “I’ve been a supporter of Israel my whole life.”
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is Orthodox, has threatened to raise millions of dollars to mount a primary challenge to Nadler, according to the report.
“The political consequences are concerning, but I had to” support the deal,” Nadler told Haaretz. “How could I live with myself if I voted against it knowing that would increase the chances of a bomb in Iranian hands? How could I do that?
“What bothers me about this debate is its incivility, excoriating people as traitors or dual loyalists.”
The agreement, in which the United States and five other world powers offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back its nuclear program, “for all its flaws, gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Nadler wrote in his statement on Friday.
“I am also deeply disturbed that some opponents of the agreement have taken to questioning the sincerity of people’s support for Israel (or their ‘Jewishness,’ if it applies) if that person believes” in the agreement, he added.
Nadler decided to support the deal after receiving a letter from President Barack Obama answering his critical questions about it. The letter, which Nadler shared on his website, promises to increase military aid for Israel’s defense and to keep pressure on Iran for its support of terrorist groups.