Presidents Conference head denies report he criticized Netanyahu

Julie Wiener

NEW YORK (JTA) — Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is denying a report in Haaretz saying he had criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for urging American Jews to fight the Iran deal.

In an interview Thursday with JTA, Hoenlein said the article “could not be more inaccurate.”

According to Haaretz, Hoenlein offered his criticism in a meeting Thursday with several Israeli reporters.

“I think that Israeli officials should make the case on the content and the substance of the Iran deal and we will do a good job translating it into activity,” Hoenlein was quoted as saying by the Israeli daily. “I acknowledge that there is discomfort [in the American Jewish community] … The Israeli government should not be telling U.S Jews what they should do vis-a-vis their government.”

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Hoenlein told JTA that while noting he said in general “we don’t believe Israelis should interfere in American politics or that Americans should interfere with Israeli politics,” the Presidents Conference leader said he then said that for an existential issue like the Iran deal, the prime minister “has an obligation, not just the right” to appeal to American Jews for assistance.

Hoenlein shares Netanyahu’s opposition to the deal.

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