340 rabbis urge Congress to support Iran nuclear deal

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Over 300 rabbis sent a letter to Congress on Monday declaring their support for the Iran nuclear deal and urging lawmakers to endorse it. 

"We encourage the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to endorse this agreement," read the Aug. 17 letter signed by 340 rabbis. 

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The letter was distributed by Ameinu, which describes itself as a "national, multi-generational community of progressive Jews in North America."

The group in a statement described the signatories as rabbis "from all streams of Judaism." The letter also sought to dispel the idea that all Jewish-American community leaders oppose the deal. 

"Most especially, we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord," it said. 

Eyes have turned to Jewish lawmakers and their constituents, as Congress prepares to vote on the controversial deal with Iran in September and as the White House seeks to shore up Democratic support. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a vocal critic of the deal with Iran, whose leaders have threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." 

Groups on each side of the deal have stepped up their lobbying efforts, as lawmakers are back in their home districts.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), the third-highest-ranking Democratic senator and longest-serving Jewish lawmaker currently in Congress, delivered a blow to the administration's efforts when he came out against the deal two weeks ago. 

"Under this agreement, Iran would receive at least $50 billion dollars in the near future and would undoubtedly use some of that money to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East, and, perhaps, beyond," Schumer said in his explanation. 

But the rabbis who signed Monday's letter to Congress argued that the consequences of rejecting the deal would be greater. 

"We fear that the outcome will be the collapse of the international sanctions regime, an Iranian race for nuclear weapons and an associated arms race in the Middle East and isolation of Israel and the United States from international partners,” said Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Wilmette, Ill., in a statement.