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August 25, 2015 4:43 pm

Prominent New York Rabbi Calls on Congregation to Lobby Congresswoman Over Iran Deal

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Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and students of the Ramaz Upper School lighting memorial candles for Ehud (36), Ruth (35), Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months) Fogel.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and students of the Ramaz Upper School lighting memorial candles for Ehud (36), Ruth (35), Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months) Fogel.

Prominent New York Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein has told his community members they would be “doing a mitzvah” by lobbying Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to vote no on the Iran deal this September.

He offered members of his Synagogue, Kehilath Jeshurun, in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, two options to perform this “mitzvah”: signing a petition he said had more than 700 signatures already encouraging Maloney to oppose the deal, or directly calling her office to voice that opinion of the Iran nuclear deal, which opponents have vowed to fight to overturn in Congress when lawmakers return from summer recess.

“All you have to do is simply state that you would like her to vote AGAINST [sic] the Iran deal,” Lookstein wrote.

In a letter to congregants, Lookstein noted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as well as officials across the political spectrum in Israel have taken a strong stance against the nuclear deal.

“I believe that it is the right thing for American Jews to support AIPAC – imagine how different our world might have been had there been an AIPAC from 1933 to 1945 –  and, certainly, to support the broadly held position of the political leadership in Israel,” he wrote.

Explaining that he wrote his dissertation on how American Jews were unable to effectively lobby against Nazi atrocities in World War II, Lookstein said he was “grateful” for the voice AIPAC has given American Jews and the political community of Israel, “which I believe we should support.”

He insisted Maloney could be swayed to vote “no” on the deal, understanding that she would lose significant backing from the Kehilath Jeshurun community in upcoming elections.

AIPAC is spending an estimated $40 million on efforts to kill the Iran nuclear deal in Congress, though many opponents have conceded that efforts to overturn President Barack Obama’s promised veto of a congressional rejection of the Vienna pact is unlikely to succeed.

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