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“The Jews aren’t coming here to ask the administration to bomb Iran, but I also don’t think they’re coming here specifically asking for sanctions, either, because we know sanctions haven’t worked,” said JINSA’s Shoshana Bryen.
Several hundred Jewish leaders from around the country will spill into Washington on Thursday for a “national leadership advocacy day on Iran” that many hope will spark a genuine grass-roots movement akin to the Soviet Jewry movement of the 1980s.
And while one ostensible goal of the fly-in is to press for new sanctions legislation pending in Congress, there is a broader, unspoken purpose: to ensure strong official U.S. support if Israel feels compelled to use military force to damage Iran’s nuclear program.
Beneath the surface, this week’s action is “designed to impress upon people in Washington that somebody has to deal with the problem — and that all the moves up until this point have clearly not addressed the problem in a satisfactory way,” said Shoshana Bryen, senior director for security policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). “The Jews aren’t coming here to ask the administration to bomb Iran, but I also don’t think they’re coming here specifically asking for sanctions, either, because we know sanctions haven’t worked. What we’re left with is that they’re preparing the ground so that no matter what happens, nobody can say they weren’t warned.”
The stepped-up Iran action by Jewish groups comes as the International Atomic Energy Agency admits that the UN monitoring group is in “stalemate” with Iran and amid reports Iran is beefing up its anti-aircraft missile program — perhaps in anticipation of an Israeli strike.
It also comes as the early September international deadline for progress on the diplomatic front passes — with Iran’s leaders saying that while they’re happy to negotiate, their nuclear program won’t be on the table.
The most specific item on Thursday’s agenda is lobbying on behalf of the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act, but organizers stress that sanctions are just part of the overall action plan.