The PJ Tatler

U.S. Nuke Negotiator 'Always Struck' by How Much Obama Feels Connected to Jews and Israel

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who has been at the negotiating table with the Iranians, told a friendly Jewish audience Monday that she’s “always struck about how personally” President Obama feels about issues that matter to American Jews “and how personally he feels about his connection to the Jewish people and to Israel.”

“This deep-seated feeling is what drives his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and his desire to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state,” Sherman said at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Biennial Leadership Policy Conference in Arlington.

“It’s also what drives this administration’s approach to the Iran nuclear threat. We understand that Israel is in a tough neighborhood. That’s why we have given Israel more security assistance than any other administration in history,” she continued. “And that’s why we’re doing everything we can to ensure that that neighborhood doesn’t become even tougher with a nuclear-armed Iran. We believe that the parameters, announced two weeks ago in Lausanne, offer the best chance at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and just as importantly, that the alternatives fall far short of what we’ll have if we’re able to turn the political framework into a comprehensive agreement.”

Sherman said she knows “the Iranian nuclear issue is at the forefront of the Jewish community’s concerns, but I also know that there are other important concerns as well.”

“First, as you know, we have always had Israel’s back in the international arena, and we have repeatedly stood up against efforts to delegitimize Israel or single Israel out unfairly, even when it meant standing alone. That has been the case and will continue to be the case,” she said. “…If the new Israeli government is seen as stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution, something that all of you and a vast majority of American Jews supports, that makes our job in the international arena a lot tougher. Because our ability to push back on efforts to internationalize efforts to address Israeli-Palestinian issues has depended on our insistence that the best course in achieving a two-solution is through direct negotiation between the parties.”

Sherman argued that sanctions “are not effective at preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon” and the “only thing” that works is the Joint Plan of Action.

“Many people say – and I understand the impulse, because you get frustrated and there’s so much going on in the region that is it not good – that people say, ‘Take military action against Iran.’ Actually, our intelligence community has assessed and said publicly that if we took military action against Iran, it would only take away their program for maybe two years. They have mastered the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and you can’t bomb away knowledge. So even if we destroyed their facilities, they could re-create it.”