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March 4, 2015 5:53 pm

Major Jewish Group Slams ‘Despicable’ New York Times Claim That Netanyahu Speech Asks Democrats to Choose Between Obama and Israel


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The New York Times claimed that after Netanyahu's speech, Democrats will now have to choose between Obama and "their loyalty to the Jewish state." Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Major Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed disgust at The New York Times on Wednesday for claiming that the debate over Iran’s nuclear program boils down to a question of loyalty to either President Obama or Israel.

“It’s despicable. On every level it’s an insidious editorial comment and beyond that, it’s also 1,000 percent wrong,” Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner a day after Netanyahu addressed Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat. “It’s not just Israel that is in the cross-hairs of a nuclearized Iran.”

“For anymore – before, during or after this speech – to reduce this to some personal grudge match between [the] Israeli Prime Minister and President Obama is just doing everybody a disservice and is not dealing with the facts,” he added. “It is just a political mindset that wants to narrow the field of discussion.”

The New York Times article alleged that for Democrats, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday “sought to impress upon them the likelihood that they will eventually need to make an awkward, painful choice between the president of their country and their loyalty to the Jewish state.”

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The Times claimed: “Mr. Netanyahu’s hotly disputed address constituted a remarkable moment in Washington: a foreign leader taking the podium before members of the House and Senate to argue against the policies of the sitting American president. In doing so, the Israeli leader was essentially urging lawmakers to trust him — not Mr. Obama — when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Cooper, who called the speech “a historic moment,” defended Netanyahu’s talk and sought to clarify what the prime minister had said at the podium. Quoting the Israeli leader, Cooper affirmed that Israel is not against a deal with Iran, but that the Jewish state and its neighbors instead want a deal they can “literally live with.”

“He’s talking about an existential threat to his people and some of the Democrats that I heard, they think that this is a spectator sport. Outrageous,” Cooper told The Algemeiner. “It has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It’s life or death.”

Cooper offered “personal testimony” as to why he believes the Times claim to be “fundamentally wrong.” He said his organization has held numerous meeting with Arab leaders, including those in the Gulf states, who expressed deep concern regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. He noted regarding the countries he was referring to that “you won’t find too many Zionists hiding out over there.”

“One particular official, I wont say in which country, but someone who calls the shots, pointed out the window of his office and said ‘Look over right next to the water there’s a small island.’ He said ‘the Iranians already stole that and beyond that is Iran.’ And he said ‘If we have a nuclear Iran, our entire world is going to change.'”

“As the prime minister said in his speech, and I was there, there is no question that when they go nuclear, the entire neighborhood is going to nuclearize,” Cooper continued. “Now we’re talking also of having a nuclearized neighborhood. The Saudis for sure are gonna pick one up and the other countries as well. Making the region, going from a source of deep concern and some instability, to literally a flashpoint. God forbid who knows what could happen.”

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