WASHINGTON — A range of both liberal and conservative Jewish-American groups met with President Barack Obama and other top White House officials Monday to hear the administration’s pitch on its nuclear deal with Iran.
During two separate meetings at the White House, Obama tried to address the questions and concerns from officials representing a dozen of the nation’s top Jewish American organizations, according to a tally of the groups provided by a source inside one of the gatherings.
The president spoke for 45 minutes before taking questions at the first of the two meetings. That first gathering lasted two hours, doubling its expected length of one hour.
Obama demonstrated the “depth of his commitment to Israel,” said one source who is supportive of the president’s efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. But he also heard from participants “expressing fear and anxiety in the Jewish community” about the current framework agreement announced on April 2.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the meetings were intended to “make the case to [the groups] that this agreement is one that is clearly in the best interests of the United States of America.”
“The president also believes it’s clearly in the best interests of our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel,” Earnest added.
According to a list of the participants obtained by CNN, Obama met with representatives from J Street, the National Council of Jewish Women, Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, AJC, Anti Defamation League, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, Bnai Brith International, Orthodox Union, and the Rabbinical Assembly.
A source at Monday’s meetings said several of the groups and their representatives have had numerous discussions with White House officials to gather insights on the nuclear deal.
White House officials declined to give a readout of the meeting, nor provide a list of the groups in attendance.
The outreach to Jewish American groups is only one aspect of the administration’s broad sales pitch of the Iran deal. Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz were scheduled to brief House lawmakers about the framework agreement Monday evening.