98 Prominent Hollywood Jews Back Iran Nuclear Deal in Open Letter (Exclusive)
Matthew Weiner, Eli Broad, Norman Lear and Frank Gehry are among those who warn of a "tragic mistake" should Congress kill the agreement.
A coalition of 98 prominent members of Los Angeles' Jewish community — most with ties to Hollywood — have signed an open letter supporting the proposed nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers led by the United States.
Identifying themselves as "American Jewish supporters of Israel" in the full-page ad, which will appear in the Thursday edition of L.A.'s Jewish Journal, the group urges Congress to approve the agreement because it "is in the best interest of the United States and Israel."
"We appreciate that many have reasonable concerns about the risks of a complex nuclear weapons development agreement with an untrustworthy adversary like Iran," the letter states. "We too hold these concerns, but the deal that was reached is not founded on trust; it is grounded in rigorous inspections and monitoring."
The letter warns that killing the deal, as many Republican lawmakers have pledged to do — and even one Democrat, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, considered one of Congress' most influential Jewish voices — would be a "tragic mistake."
Among the seven lead signatories are billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad; Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry; and legendary TV writer-producer Norman Lear. Other signatories include Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner; film producers Lawrence Bender and Mike Medavoy; UTA agent Peter Benedek; WME agent Rick Rosen; Game of Thrones executive producer Carolyn Strauss; Matthew Velkes, COO of Village Roadshow; and TV director Daniel Attias.
"I just felt that some of the mainstream Jewish organizations weren't speaking on behalf of a large segment of the community that has a different point of view," Velkes tells The Hollywood Reporter, adding that LA's Jewish population is "as diverse a community as one might imagine."
The ad provides an email address – LAJewishLeadersForIranDeal@gmail.com – for "more information, resources and to express your support."
The letter is similar in message to one published Tuesday in The Washington Post by 36 retired U.S. generals and admirals and another sent by 29 top American nuclear scientists and arms control experts to President Barack Obama. The latter praised the deal as "innovative" and "stringent" in advancing the cause of peace in the Middle East.
Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on a resolution of disapproval on the deal. Should the naysayers win (a likelihood as Republicans control both chambers), Obama's ability to waive economic sanctions imposed on Iran — a key deal point — would be blocked, scuttling the agreement. Obama has pledged to veto such a resolution if it passes Congress.
Among Israelis, opinion is heavily weighted toward those who oppose. Recent polls conducted by Israel's Channel 10 found that 69 percent of Israeli citizens are against the deal, 10 percent are in favor and 21 percent are undecided, according to Haaretz. The same poll found that opinion was split down the middle on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign against the deal. Thirty-seven percent thought the leader — who has vociferously opposed the measure — has failed to adequately block its passage, while 34 percent feel he has done a good job.
In the U.S., a CBS News poll conducted earlier this month found that 53 percent of respondents felt the agreement will not be effective in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But a Jewish Journal poll in July of American Jews found that 49 percent favored the deal despite misgivings while 31 percent opposed it.
The full ad is below:
The full list of signatories:
Mel Levine, Mickey Kantor, Eli Broad, Norman Lear, Frank Gehry, Stanley Gold, Irwin Jacobs
David Abel, James Adler, Daniel Attias, Elaine Mitchell Attias, Lawrence Bender, Peter and Barbara Benedek, Michael Berenbaum, Donna Bojarksy, Peter Braun, Rabbi Sharon Brous, David Bubis, Rabbi Ken Chasen, Eli Chernow, Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, Bruce and Toni Corwin, Geoffrey Cowan, Bert Deixler, David Fisher, William and Patricia Flumenbaum, Terry Friedman, Abner Goldstine, Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Arthur Greenberg, Earl Greinetz, Richard and Lois Gunther, Stephen Gunther, Janet Halbert, Michael Hrischfeld, Elaine Hoffman, Jane Jelenjo and Bill Norris, Charles Kaplan, Marty Kaplan, Steven Kaplan and Janet Levine, Glenn and Miriam Krinksy, Luis and Lee Lainer, Mark Lainer, Peter Landesman, Shawn Landres, Shari Leinwand, Irwin Levin, Peachy Levy, Rabbi Richard N. Levy, Mike Medavoy, Douglass Mirell, Charles Mostov, Allan and Nicole Mutchnik, David N. Myers, Mark and Marsha Novak, Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, Carolyn Ramsay, Gene Reynolds, Victoria Riski and David W. Rintels, Fredric D. Rosen, Rick Rosen, Monica and Philip Rosenthal, Ranni John Rosove, Thomas Safran, Dena Schechter, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Larry Shapiro, Abby Sher, Richard Siegel, Glenn Sonnenberg, Carolyn Strauss, Bradley Tabach-Bank and De Dee Dorksind, David A. Thorpe, Larry Title and Ellen Shavelson, Matthew Velkes, Hope Warschaw, Rick Wartzman, Matthew Winer, Sandford and Karen Wiener, Daniel Weiss, Marcie and Howard Zelikow and Michael Ziering.