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April 17, 2015     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 17, 2015 YouTube On "Meet the Press," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the recent Iran agreement to the 1994 deal between the United States and North Korea. The NBC news show's moderator, Chuck Todd, is at left. By Ben Harris (JTA)--Israel and the Obama administration have stepped up their war of words over the framework agree- ment that aims to limit Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for a gradual rollback of sanc- tions. President Barack Obama made his most detailed effort yet to persuade skeptics of the accord reached last week in Switzerland in a weekend interview with The New York Times, asserting that the deal is the "best bet" to prevent Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon and promising to "stand by" Israel in the event of Iranian aggression. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his skepticism of the deal undi- minished, made the rounds of American talk shows on Sunday morning to denounce a deal that he said gives Iran a "free path" to the bomb. And on Monday, Israel's minister of strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, in an effort to rebut claims that Israel had offered no alternative to a military campaign against Iran, pre- sented reporters in Jerusalem with a list of modifications he said would make the agree- ment "more reasonable." Steinitz's requirements included the closing of the underground nuclear facil- ity at Fordo, a commitment to ship uranium stockpiles out of the country and an inspections regime thatwould allow international monitors the ability to go "anywhere, anytime" in Iran. Under the terms of the framework accord reached April 2 in Lausanne, the Fordo facility would be reconfigured and would not enrich uranium, but it would not be shuttered entirely. Iran also would be permitted to continue to enrich uranium using its first- generation IR-1 centrifuges at its facility in Natanz. The ac- cord requires Iran to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency access to investigate allegations of covert activity "anywhere in the country." In his interviewwith Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said the deal is a"once- in-a-lifetime" opportunity to open a new chapter with Iran while preserving all American options and capabilities in the event that Iran fails to uphold its end of the bargain. "Iran may change," Obama said. "If it doesn't, our de- terrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place." He added, "We're not re- linquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn't we test it?" Obama acknowledged that Israel is far more vulnerable to Tehran, and he sought to offer assurances that the United Stateswould maintain Israel's qualitative military edge and come to its aid in the event of attack. The United States, Obama said, "is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there." Yet on Monday, Obama indicated there were limits to how far he would go with respect to Israel, rejecting a demand issued last Friday by Netanyahu that a final deal require Iran to recognize Israel's right to exist, calling the notion a "fundamental misjudgment." "The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifi- able deal on Iran recogniz- ing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms," Obama said in an interview with NPR. "And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment. Iwant to return to this point: We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons pre- cisely because we can't bank on the nature of the regime changing." Obama still faces an uphill climb in Congress. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chair- man of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has proposed a bill that would grant Congress the right to review the deal. The commit- tee is due to vote on the bill April 14. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is expected to be- come Senate minority leader when Harry Reid (D-Nev.) retires at the end of the year, said this week that he would support Corker's legislation. "I strongly believe Con- gress should have the right to disapprove any agreement, and I support the Corker bill, which would allow that to occur," Schumer told Politico on Monday. American Jewish groups are also skeptical of the ac- cord. The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is- sued statements following the conclusion of the agreement last week expressing hope for a peaceful diplomatic resolu- tion to the standoff. But the groups also expressed doubt that Iran could be trusted to faithfully execute its end of the bargain. "Given the nature of the Iranian regime, its pattern of seeking to deceive the international community on its nuclear program, its support for global terror and its regional hegemonic ambi- tions, its repeated calls for a world without Israel, and its clandestine weapons efforts, AJC is deeply concerned about whether Iran will abide by any undertaking it makes, and if any inspections regime will be sufficient to monitor Iran's full compliance," the Ameri- can Jewish Committee said. In an appearance Sunday on NBC' s "Meet the Press," Netan- yahu compared the agreement to the 1994 deal between the United States and North Korea. That deal, too, Netanyahu said, was "deemed to be a great breakthrough," but it did not prevent the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran, the prime minister said, "is a great deal more dangerous than North Korea." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D- Calif.) told CNN's"State of the Union" on Sunday morning that the agreement does not threaten Israel's survival and that Netanyahu should "con- tain himself because he has put out no real alternative. In his speech to the Congress-- no real alternative. Since then--no real alternative." Steinitz pushed back against that criticism on Monday, saying the notion that war is the alternative to the Obama deal "is wrong." "The alternative is not necessarily to declare war on Iran," he said. "It is to increase pressure on Iran and stand firm and make Iran make serious concessions and have a much better deal," JNS.org--Criticism by US lawmakers of the Iran nuclear framework deal announced on Thursday is mounting as President Barack Obama faces a possible showdown with Congress over its role 'reviewing the agreement when it returns from recess on April 14. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) ripped apart the nuclear deal with Iran, arguing that Presi- dent Obama's negotiation team was worse than Great Britain's pre-war Prime Min- D ister Neville Chamberlain's garding Iran's intentions and attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938. "Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran," Kirk said in reference to Obama's top State Department negotia- tor on the Iran deal, Politico reported. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that we "must remain clear-eyed" re- "long history of covert nuclear weapons programs, support of terrorism, destabilizing the Middle East." Corker, who is a co-sponsor of the Iran NuclearAgreement Review Act of 2015 requir- ing any final agreement to be submitted to Congress for a 60-day review period before U.S. sanctions on Iran could be waived or lifted, said that he is "confident of a strong vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes it up on April 14." While Senate Repub- licans support the Iran review bill, Democrats have been under intense pressure from the White House not to support it. Republicans would need at least a two-thirds majority if they seek to override a potential Obama veto. The top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said that while Congress has the right to review the agreement, he didn't want to undermine the president. "I want it to strengthen the president, not weaken the president, I don't want it to undermine negotiations," Cardin said on Thursday, Po- litico reported. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is lead- ing a congressional delegation to Israel this week, said that the parameters of the deal are an "alarming departure from the White House;s initial goals." "After visiting with our partners on the ground in the Middle East this week, my concerns about Iran's ef- forts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown," Boehner said in a statement. "It would be na 've to sug- gest the Iranian regime will not continue to use its nuclear program, and any economic relief, to further destabilize the region," he said. assover s On Friday night, for the seventh year in a row, Presi- dent and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House seder. The seder provides an opportunity for the First Family to join in retelling the story of the Israelites' arduous journey through the desert from slavery in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land. In recounting the story, they joined their guests in per- forming the seder rituals and THE T RING CENTER Pete Souza President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April3, 2015. followed the Haggadah's com- mand thatwe see ourselves as though we personally were liberated from EgypL And they acknowledged how this story has inspired generations of Americans in the struggle for civil rights. In a special video message, President Obama offered his warmest wishes to people across the country and around the world celebrating the Easter and PaSsover holidays. He reflected on Friday night's seder and the story of the Ex/odus, and talked about the hope that this season brings. "Whether we're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, or Buddhist; whether faith in God shapes our daily lives completely or not at all, we believe that with common effort, and shared sacrifice, a brighter future is just around the bend," the President said. "And we embrace our obliga- tion to do something mean- ingful, something lasting, with the precious time we've been allotted on this Earth." The president also encour- aged all AmeriCans to "pause and give thanks for the chance to live in a country where everyone has the right to worship and pray and love as they choose."