New sanctions surge could lead to new dilemmas for groups that have banked on issue.
James D. Besser
Recent breakthroughs in the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Iran could change the political calculus for American Jewish groups that have benefited hugely from their decades-old focus on Iran — and which have largely succeeded in making Iran’s threat to both U.S. and Israeli interests a top policy for Congress and the White House.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration appears to be rebuffing calls from some Jewish groups for the United States to be more assertive and public in defending Israel regarding the flotilla incident.
The bluntest appeal for a more pronounced pro-Israel posture came from Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, who is in Israel meeting with the Israeli leadership.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- In a sign of closer White House-congressional coordination on Iran, Congress is delaying an Iran sanctions bill several weeks to give the Obama administration time to shepherd new sanctions through the U.N. Security Council.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee blessed the delay, in part because an array of parallel measures are under consideration that would stiffen existing sanctions aimed at getting the Iranian regime to stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Broad international sanctions aimed at thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions could be a step closer, thanks to a U.S.-brokered deal that includes Russia and China, countries that have balked at tough economic penalties.
“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday. “We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire [UN] Security Council today.”
You gotta feel a little bad for Jewish leaders here, who were sandbagged by last week's announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in New York on Monday for, of all things, the UN's nuclear nonproliferation talks.
The last-minute announcement by the Iranians meant there wasn't enough time for the customary debate over the best communal response, inevitably followed by the various Jewish organization going their own way, anyway.
And when you come down to it, what can Jewish organizations do?
(JTA) — China will join efforts to sanction Iran, U.S. officials said. Obama administration officials announced the breakthrough Monday during a summit in Washington on containing the threat of nuclear terrorism. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to the White House, said a new set of U.N. Security Council sanctions would be ready within “a matter of weeks.”
The announcements came after President Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The Obama administration’s willingness to expand its involvement in the United Nations has not attracted strong criticism from pro-Israel groups, despite the longstanding belief that the international body is decidedly anti-Israel.
In recent days, Washington has signaled a new effort to try to effect change from within the UN and its agencies, and Jewish leaders here, though somewhat skeptical, seem prepared to give the administration some latitude.
Israel, which has made it a point not to walk out of the United Nations despite all of the abuse hurled at it from member nations over the years, will be pointedly absent when the General Assembly convenes on Monday, Yom Kippur.
So will President Bill Clinton. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, said this is the first time an American president has not spoken at the start of the General Assembly's general debate. He will speak Tuesday instead.