Chicago federation takes stand against Iran deal

Andrew Tobin

Chicago’s influential Jewish federation has come out against the Iran deal.

After a three-hour discussion by the board of directors, “a majority opinion emerged and was adopted: to call on Congress to oppose the JCPOA as originally submitted, and to ask legislators to work with the Administration to produce better solutions addressing Iran’s nuclear program,” the board said in a statement released Saturday.

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is a major philanthropic nonprofit organization, advertising that it funds a network of nearly 70 agencies and programs and provides assistance to 300,000 Chicagoans of all faiths and 2 millions Jews in Israel and around the world.

In the statement, released a full month after the deal was announced, the board claimed to represent “the diversity of our beloved Chicago Jewish community.” Almost 300,000 Jews are estimated to live in metropolitan Chicago, a small fraction of whom is affiliated with the federation.

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To reach its decision on the Iran deal, the board said it met with officials from President Barack Obama’s administration, Israel, the Illinois congressional delegation and independent experts, as well as listening to the views of “many hundreds” of its community members. Its executive committee met and its Jewish Community Relations Council held two sessions, it said.

The board expressed gratitude for the Obama administration’s focus on the Iranian nuclear threat, but went on to say the July 14 agreement between world powers and Iran should be strengthened, war is not the only alternative to the deal (something Obama has suggested) and Israel is being singled out.

Moving forward, the board pledged the federation would continue its past work against Iran, which it said saw the creation of advocacy group United Against A Nuclear Iran and passage of Iran divestment legislation by Illinois, Cook County and Chicago.

The board further said it would push the U.S. to strengthen the military option against Iran, to intensify international efforts against Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and to upgrade military cooperation with Israel, including possibly making Israel a NATO member. From both Chicago and New York, the board said it would advocate for the United Nations to crack down on Iran’s Holocaust denial and genocidal statements.

Even as it took the potentially divisive stand against the Iran deal, which Congress is reviewing ahead of a vote to approve or disapprove in September, the board repeatedly called for “communal unity” – saying, “No matter your views, you are us, and we are you.

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago joins at least 17 other Jewish community groups that oppose the deal, along with many who are skeptical but not yet opposed and a couple that are just unsure.