Obama and Biden walk together after Obama announced that the United States, with five other major world powers, and Iran have reached a nuclear deal (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “Two years into the deal, I think that the indications are that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. That is beneficial to Israel and the parties to the JCPOA. I believe that there is a very high likelihood that we are going to continue to see the deal complied with and that as a result of that, and developments that will occur in the future, it is highly unlikely that Iran will try to break out and get a nuclear weapon. And if they do – either during the duration of the JCPOA or afterward – that those who oppose Iran getting a nuclear weapon will have the resources in place to prohibit that from happening. I have no regrets about supporting the Iran deal and I believe that the implementation period to date has borne out my expectations.”
Solow on what the Jewish community should learn from the Iran deal fight: “Some of the controversy over the proposed agreement was, I think, overblown and unnecessary. I always respected the views of people that were different than mine and tried to listen to them, and I remain friends with a lot of people who I had a different point of view, and I expect to remain friends with those people. I don’t think that they are going to regret the position that they took any more than I can regret the position that I took. Look, we had an honest disagreement. I hope that what people do is not regret the position that they took but that all of us continue to look at it honestly as it moves forward over the years.”
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “The revelations just in the last days about what they have uncovered in Germany and the extent to which Iran has been seeking components for conventional and non-conventional missiles and their nuclear program there and elsewhere indicates that they in fact have not given up on their aspirations to have a nuclear weapon and the program didn’t end with the signing of the JCPOA. We know that they have advanced their ballistic missile program, their delivery capacity, have much faster centrifuges that are already operative or could be implemented very quickly, which means that they could cut the breakout time significantly. All of it shows that a lot has happened in the past two years. It is not that things have remained stagnant.”
Hoenlein on what the Jewish community should learn from the Iran deal fight: “I think that the assessments at the time were distorted about the role of the Jewish community. The American Jewish community by and large – there were some differences – stood in opposition to the Iran deal because they felt it didn’t go far enough, and I think a lot of those concerns have just been vindicated over time. When you ask what lessons should be learned, I don’t know what there is to be determined. One lesson that we learned is that we have to do a constant education of the American people, but by in large, the American people, the polls show that they got it. They understood it. And I think you saw some of that reaction in the last election that the people were not happy with the Iran deal. It is a myth that was created that the Jewish community was defeated or lost.”
Democratic donor Andrew Weinstein: “Looking back over the last two years, there can be no question that the Iran Deal was a success. The agreement eliminated the gravest threat to Israel’s security, avoided almost certain military action, and showed the world what could be accomplished through diplomacy. Though there was certainly principled opposition to the deal, there was also divisive rhetoric, not entirely based in fact, which caused unnecessary harm to our community. There were those who spread misinformation for partisan purposes and others who simply wished to deny President Obama and his team a victory. Now two years later, the IAEA and, begrudgingly, even the Trump administration has acknowledged Iran’s compliance with the deal. Many Israeli officials have privately praised the deal as well as it allows Israel to focus its efforts and resources elsewhere.
“I am very proud to have worked with the Obama administration in promoting the deal. Like almost any agreement, this is a good deal, but not a perfect one. Iran remains a disruptive force in the region and we must be vigilant in guarding against the threat that they pose. However, they are no longer a nuclear threat and that alone is an accomplishment of enormous consequence.”
Weinstein on what the Jewish community should learn from the Iran deal fight: “Though it bears pointing out that the Obama administration was right to pursue the deal, I don’t see much value in opening old wounds to reassess the specifics of the campaigns against the deal. What is important, now more than ever, is that the American Jewish community stand together both in support of Israel and in opposition to the rising anti-Semitism, BDS efforts, and regional foes that threaten our people ceaselessly. If there is a lesson to be learned from the Iran deal campaigns, it is that an informed argument based in fact is usually superior to an emotional one and that when we disagree, as we surely will again, our disagreements should be respectful and never personal. The common bond that unites our community matters more than that which divides us.”