Leaders line up for, against Iran deal

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said President Barack Obama’s arguments in defense of the Iran nuclear deal are simplistic.

“Overstating the case for the agreement belies the gravity of the issue and does more to breed distrust than win support,” the former New York mayor, now reinstalled at the helm of his media empire, said Aug. 11 in a Bloomberg column. He said he was still weighing whether to support the pact.

On Aug. 10, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, became the 10th of 27 Jewish Democrats in Congress to back the deal.

“Iran must never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, and that is why I support this agreement,” he said in a statement. “It is what is best for the United States, Israel, and peace in the region.

As of Aug 11, another six Jewish Democrats had declared against the deal, chief among them Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in line for his party’s leadership in the Senate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led opposition to the deal, told 22 Democrats touring Israel that he would not tell them how to vote.

“He didn’t tell them to vote one way or another,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the minority whip in the House of Representatives who is leading the tour of 21 freshmen, told Haaretz, describing the Aug. 9 meeting. “But it was clear he hopes they will vote against the agreement because it is a bad deal that will allow Iran to have a path to a nuclear bomb in 13 years.”

Among mainstream U.S. Jewish organizations, B’nai B’rith International on Aug. 10 joined AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee in opposing the deal.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Aug. 7 announced his support for the deal following a telephone conversation with Obama, who addressed some of his concerns, Sanders said.

In his statement, Sanders said, “The test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner.” — jta