Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced his backing for the Iran nuclear deal just hours before a scheduled Jewish community meeting in his home state to urge the senator to oppose the accord.
The community gathering is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, N.J. Speakers will include Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, N.J., Aylon Berger, chairman of New Jersey High School Democrats and national campaigns director for the High School Democrats of America, and former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran.
Sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the community gathering will “discuss the fundamentally flawed proposed nuclear deal with Iran and learn how to encourage members of Congress to reject the deal” and “urge Senator Cory Booker to reject the nuclear agreement with Iran.” New Jersey’s other senator, Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), is a vocal opponent of the deal.
Two nights ago, an AIPAC-sponsored rally against the deal at a Baltimore-area synagogue drew a packed house of young and old. They were asked to call their lawmakers when congressional lines opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday; retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) announced her “yes” vote — putting President Obama over the top to block a veto override — at about 10 a.m.
But Booker isn’t giving participants of tonight’s Jewish constituent rally that chance.
In an essay-length statement posted online this afternoon, Booker said there was no alternative and “despite its significant shortcomings, we have passed a point of no return… that we should have never reached, leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options.”
“Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse. Thus, I will vote in support of the deal. But the United States must recognize that to make this deal work, we must be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression,” he said.
Booker acknowledged that “with this deal, we are legitimizing a vast and expanding nuclear program in Iran.”
“With the deal, the Iranian economy stands to grow five percent annually, creating a potentially more reliable and steady pipeline of funding and resources for destabilizing activities and terrorism. Easing sanctions will further put our allies at risk and demand a far greater level of engagement and investment in the security of the region, particularly our critical ally Israel,” he continued.
The senator added that “rejecting this deal is a legitimate policy choice that should not be condemned or casually dismissed by those of us who support the deal.”
“…The reality is that rejecting the deal leads to a world in which a better deal is highly improbable, sanctions are greatly reduced in strength, the Iranian economy picks up some steam, and few if any of the benefits of the deal are in place. We need to be honest about our choices — they are bad — and pursue the path that is more likely to provide security for the United States and its allies and best prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Progressive activist group CREDO lauded Booker for supporting the deal “despite enormous pressure from those lobbying for endless war.”
“Sen. Booker’s support for the deal shows real leadership in light of the fact that New Jersey’s senior senator, Robert Menendez, is one of the most aggressive warmongers in the Democratic senate caucus,” CREDO campaign manager Zack Malitz said. “Sen. Menendez is already under indictment and is now more isolated than ever thanks to his aggressive opposition to President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.”