HUNTINGTON – He might not have brought slides from his recent trip overseas, but the audience didn’t care.
They were there to listen and learn.
A packed crowd ate pie and listened intently to Huntington resident and U.S.Congressman Evan Jenkins, who gave his perspectives on Israel and the Middle East on Sunday at B’nai Sholom, 949 10th Ave.
A first-year congressman, Jenkins is fresh back from a seven-day trip organized by the Israel Allies Foundation with fellow U.S. representatives Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Keith Rothfus, R-Pa. While in Israel and Egypt, they met with foreign officials, including Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, concerning the recent nuclear deal with Iran.
The trip came at a strategic time as Jenkins said Congress, once they return from summer recess after Labor Day, will vote whether or not to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
It is an agreement signed July 14 in Vienna between Iran and what is called the the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany and the European Union).
According to the Associated Press, the Republican-controlled House and Senate are expected to turn down the deal. However, Obama has pledged to veto a disapproval. The question has turned to whether Congress could muster the votes to override him in what would be a stinging bipartisan vote of no-confidence against the president. And Obama would forfeit the authority he now enjoys to waive sanctions that Congress has imposed.
But Democrats and Republicans have predicted that his expected veto will be sustained – that opponents lack the votes to one-up Obama. More than half of the Senate Democrats and Independents of the 34 needed to sustain a veto are backing the deal. There is one notable defection so far – New York’s Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate and the party leader-in-waiting.
Jenkins said to overcome the veto they need 290 votes in the House and 67 in the Senate. He said that vote should take place by Sept. 15.
Jenkins said he is voting for a resolution of disapproval (against the deal) because he does not feel the guideposts were met for a good deal such as “anytime, anywhere” inspections, relief only after sanctions are met and a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear arsenal.
Jenkins said meeting with Netanyahu cemented his support against the new deal.
“Netanyahu said, ‘I am glad to have you here, and this is a worse deal than what we thought,’ ” Jenkins said. “He said that he feels this is their first existential threat. They are only about the size of New Jersey, so it’s a one-bomb country, and this idea that it is this deal or war is a false choice.”
Jenkins said he was inspired after meeting some young members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
“We talked with four IDF soldiers and thanked them and told them who we were. One of the soldiers said he always felt like Israel and the U.S. have always been beacons of democracy in the world, but if Israel has to do it alone we will,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins took a wide range of questions and encouraged everyone to reach out to their Congressmen and women and Senators and let their opinions be heard before the September vote.
Retired Huntington resident Jim McClelland said he thinks it is good for citizens to be informed to what our local representatives are learning as they weigh their decision as to whether or not to vote for or against the recently negotiated deal with Iran.
“Whatever the result is, it will effect everyone,” McClelland said, “It will have tremendous repercussions on what is done, so it is everyone’s challenge to explore the problem.”
Since the Congregation’s Sabbath is on Saturday, Rabbi Jean Eglinton said a Sunday evening discourse on such a hot topic issue was something they invited.
“I just had some people who said they’ve been walking in the neighborhood for 40 years but had never been here and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was,” Eglinton said.