Obama to rabbis: No ‘set of conditions’ on Iran

By Jerusalem Post

US president tells US rabbis that Netanyahu too would not set conditions, as “no leader ties his hands.”

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama told 1,200 American rabbis Friday that he was not willing to impose a “set of conditions” on how he would handle Iran, according to participants on the call.

Obama’s comments come amidst tensions between the US and Israel in recent days on whether America would set red lines for when it would take military action if Tehran didn’t halt its nuclear activities.

Netanyahu has been pushing for such deadlines to be made clear.

On the call, though, Obama also said that Netanyahu himself would not put in place such conditions, as “no leader ties his hands.”

Obama also said there was “no space” between the United States and Israel on Iran, and that Iran’s leaders should not doubt American resolve or Israel’s right to defend itself, participants said.

While Obama said that “there may come a time when we have to take military action,” he stressed that there was still time for diplomacy, and said the dual track approach emphasizing sanctions was currently working as Iran felt an increasing economic crunch.

But he added, “It won’t be easy.”

He had a similar message on the Arab Spring, which he also said wouldn’t be easy.

In addition, as anti-American riots swirled in the Middle East, Obama pointed to “strains of extremism” in Islam, including anti-Semitism, and that the US rejected all bigotry.

“Given the events of the last weeks, his strong and clear statement of his commitment to thwarting Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons was very important,” said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s director of public policy.

Conservative Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt noted Obama’s emphasis on dealing with Iran and the US-Israel relationship.

“It seemed to me he wanted to go out of his way to emphasize the cooperation and how seriously the threat is taken,” he said.

Another Conservative rabbi, Julie Shonfeld, head of the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, introduced the call, which was held with major Jewish streams in honor of Rosh Hashana.

She noted that Obama has made a tradition of holding these calls with the Jewish community.

Obama also released a Rosh Hashana video greeting Thursday night in which he said that “one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation.”

He spoke about harsh divisions in society and social discourse, and bridging those divides.

He concluded by speaking of renewing “the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies – including the State of Israel.”

Earlier in the week, Vice President Joe Biden held a Rosh Hashana reception with Jewish leaders in which he also spoke to the close US-Israel relationship and coordination on Iran.


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