Recently, US Senators and Representatives, as well as White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, insisted that any deal with Iran must be verifiable and prevent the regime from developing nuclear weapons.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America—through its OU Advocacy Center—brought 120 national and congregational leaders to Washington to advocate for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps nonprofits, such as synagogues and day schools, make their buildings more secure; the proposed Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which will help nonprofits make their buildings more energy efficient and lower their operating costs; and the advancement of Israel’s security.
Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, opened the program with a briefing on Iran. “There is only one true existential threat to Israel—the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said. He explained that Israel’s concern about the deal is not that the Iranian regime will violate the terms of the deal, but that they will comply with the deal while continuing to develop ballistic missiles. In a decade, they’ll have a stockpile of ballistic missiles, and no constraints on their nuclear weapons program.
The delegates met in small groups with 30 members of Congress, including Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the House of Representatives.
At a luncheon in the Senate, the Orthodox Union delegation was joined by many Senators, including Cory Booker, James Lankford, Debbie Stabenow, Ben Cardin, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Rob Portman, Joe Manchin, Chris Coons, John Hoeven and Chuck Schumer.
The Orthodox leaders then travelled to the White House where they met with Chief of Staff McDonough and focused primarily on the Iran negotiations. They also met with Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Frank Taylor to discuss homeland security issues of concern to the Jewish community.
The Orthodox Union closed its productive day of meetings with a focus on the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, with a meeting with French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud. France is implementing new tools to fight anti-Semitism, particularly working with Internet providers to remove anti-Semitic content. “The Internet is changing the way hate is spread,” said Ambassador Araud. “Anti-Semitism is not a French problem, nor a European problem. It‘s a global problem that requires a global strategy,” he added.
“Today was the most spectacular advocacy mission the Orthodox Union has had,” said Allen Fagin, CEO of the Orthodox Union, noting the number of legislators who met with delegates and the impact the group’s presence in Washington can have on the issues.
As he opened the day, Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Executive Director for Public Policy, reminded the group at the close of the day that the relationships they developed with legislators are just the beginning of their important advocacy work. “The conversations must continue. Our legislators need to hear from us—their constituents—about the issues that are important to us as a community on an ongoing basis.”