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Word on the Street: Final Push on the Iran Deal

Alan Elsner JSTREET1The political battle to ensure that Congress does not prevent President Obama’s landmark agreement to block all of Iran’s pathways to developing a nuclear weapon is reaching a climax – and our victory is within reach.

On Friday, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware became the 30th Democrat in the Senate to support the deal – with only two publicly against. We need four more to ensure that the President will have the votes he needs to sustain his veto – and we still think we have an outside chance of getting to 41 – which would prevent the issue coming to the floor in the US Senate and make a presidential veto unnecessary.

In the US House, we’re around halfway to the 146 votes needed to sustain a veto and the number keeps rising steadily day by day. We are not writing off a single vote in either chamber.

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Congress is expected to begin debating and voting on the agreement when it returns from its recess the day after Labor Day. That gives us just over one more week to make a difference – and we are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the President receives the backing he needs and deserves from his own party in Congress.

This week, we will launch a new ad in swing states where important senators and members of the House have yet to declare their position – places like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan and Colorado.

Next week, we’re bringing Brig. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Eilam, the former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Agency, to meet with lawmakers in Michigan, Illinois and the state of Washington. Uzi has an amazing record of service at the highest levels of the Israeli defense establishment, including terms as a commanding officer in the paratroopers and military R&D at IDF headquarters. When someone of that caliber speaks in favor of the agreement – making the argument that it is in Israel’s security interests – people must take note.

The following week, as Congress reconvenes, we’re bringing four more very distinguished Israeli experts to Washington DC: former minister of internal security Shlomo Ben-Ami; Ambassador Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli Consul-General in New York; current Knesset member Omer Bar-Lev of the Zionist Union and a former commander of an elite special forces unit; and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amiram Levin, a former deputy director of the Mossad.

We’ve also been helping you, our supporters, place op-ods and letters to the editor in key newspapers. If you would like to write a letter and need help, please contact me at

Your role remains crucial. If you haven’t already called your Senator or Representative urging them to support the agreement, please do so now. And ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues to do the same. Members of Congress need to hear from our community on this issue – the more the better.

This is a battle that will have important implications for all of our work going forward. In Israel, commentators are already asking why and how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu misjudged the mood of America so badly. Author Ari Shavit provided one answer in a thought-provoking article in Haaretz in which he wrote:

“Over the past six years the Israeli government has insisted on turning Israel into another red (Republican) state…Netanyahu and his patron, Sheldon Adelson, have forged a dangerous link between Zionist issues and conservatism (while) Israel-loving Democrats feel battered by Israel’s policies (occupation, settlement, exclusion of women and discrimination against minorities).”
We strongly hope that the end of this battle is followed by some soul-searching in Israel and among the American Jewish organizations which followed Netanyahu’s lead so blindly. But all that lies ahead. Right now, we need to nail down our victory – so let’s keep working for every vote.

Alan Elsner,
Vice President for Communications, J Street



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