Orthodox rabbis flying to Washington to lobby against Iran deal

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Orthodox Union is asking hundreds of rabbis to fly to Washington in September to lobby against the Iran nuclear deal.

“We are confident that hundreds of rabbis traveling to Washington on the eve of this vote and just days before Rosh Hashanah will have a highly visible and real impact upon this fateful vote in Congress,” said a save-the-date notice sent this week by the Orthodox Union’s Washington office to rabbis affiliated with the umbrella group and with the Rabbinical Council of America. “We will only have this impact with your participation.

The scheduled date for the fly-in is Sept. 9. Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of Sept. 13. Congress has until mid-to-late September to consider whether to kill the deal.

President Barack Obama meanwhile is speaking on a phone call about the deal on Thursday evening. Invitations to call in went out through liberal groups backing the deal, including J Street, a Jewish Middle East policy group.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the deal, will be addressing Americans through a live webcast next Monday organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Much of the jockeying is aimed at Congress, where opponents must muster two-thirds majorities in both chambers to kill the deal.

A key target is congressional Democrats; most Republicans are already declared against the deal. Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., whose Queens-area district has a heavy Jewish presence, on Wednesday said she would oppose the deal.

“I am deeply concerned that almost all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would remain intact,” Meng said in her statement. “This leads me to believe Iran would simply resume its pursuit of a nuclear weapon at the conclusion of the deal in a decade’s time.”

Earlier this week, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the longest serving Jew in Congress, said he backed the deal. Also backing the deal is Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who represents a heavily Jewish Chicago-area district and who is chief deputy whip for the minority Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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