U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) ended weeks of intense speculation by declaring his support for the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “the better of two flawed options.”
In a lengthy statement sent Sept. 3, Booker was deeply critical of the deal, saying it leaves “our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous, and uncertain options” — meaning a flawed deal versus a “debilitated sanctions regime.”
Nevertheless, he said, “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.”
His announcement came a day after Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) announced support for the deal, providing the White House the votes it needs to prevent Republicans from scuttling the agreement.
Booker, a first-term senator, was under intense pressure from opponents of the deal, who hoped he would follow New Jersey’s senior senator, Robert Menendez, a fellow Democrat, in voting against it. New Jersey, where 6 percent of residents are Jews, is tied with New York in terms of Jewish population per capita.
This evening the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is to host a “community gathering” in Livingston whose original goal was to “Encourage Citizens to Urge Senator Cory Booker to Reject the Nuclear Agreement with Iran.” Scheduled speakers are former Senator Joseph Lieberman, Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel of South Orange, and Aylon Berger, Chairman of New Jersey High School Democrats.
Booker referred to some of these pressures in the statement, saying “[s]ome of the most painful, difficult and influential conversations I have had about this deal have been with valued and trusted friends from the Jewish community who have family members who survived or died in the Holocaust.”
He also recalled his first visit at age 25 to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. “I’ve traveled the world, visited graves, memorials, and museums, but none has ever affected me like that first visit,” he said. “And though the museum was full of stories of righteous men and women, Jews and non-Jews, who answered calls for help, fought against evil, and saved lives among the deaths of millions, a clear lesson is that this monumental tragedy was preventable if only more people recognized evil and took action to stop it.”
He concurred with Jewish friends, he said, who believe “Iran is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.”
“While I may differ with many friends on the choice this deal presents us – and I do believe that this deal presents the better path of two options to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – we share precisely the same goal. I am united with all who are determined to ensure that we never again see genocide in the world. That means not allowing Iran to ever obtain a nuclear weapon, period, regardless of what it takes.”