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Major Jewish Peace Group Calls on Bush to Engage with Iran

APN called on the Bush Administration to change course on Iran in favor of limited, constructive engagement, characterized by a combination of carrots and sticks.

CONTACT: Ori Nir - (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today called on the Bush Administration to change course on Iran and abandon its longstanding sanctions-only policy in favor of limited, constructive engagement, characterized by a combination of carrots and sticks.

"As a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to achieving peace and security for Israel, we believe that we have a responsibility to speak out regarding current U.S. policy on Iran. How the U.S. deals with Iran has a very real impact on Israel, in terms of not only the direct existential threat to Israel an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would pose, but also in terms of the threat of Iranian retaliation against Israel in the case of a U.S. military action against it, and in terms of continued Iranian support for terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Syria, and, increasingly, the West Bank and Gaza," said Franklin M. Fisher, chairman of APN's board.

"For a number of years, some organizations and members of the American Jewish community have taken a very public, leading role in pressing the Administration to pursue and escalate its current policy vis-à-vis Iran - a policy which, in our view, is inconsistent with the best interests of both Israel and the United States. As a well-established and respected member of the organized Jewish community, representing large numbers of Jewish, pro-Israel Americans, we believe APN has a responsibility to make clear that the American Jewish community is not united behind this policy," Fisher explained.

Urging "U.S.-led diplomacy and engagement with Iran," APN's recommendations include:

Adopting a policy of limited, constructive engagement: ".Together with the Europeans and other relevant parties, the U.S. should develop a basket of meaningful diplomatic and economic carrots and sticks sufficient to persuade Iran to halt further development of its nuclear program."

Enhancing bilateral relations: "The U.S. must end its dogmatic and myopic focus on President Ahmedinijad. Ahmedinijad is only one player on the Iranian political stage.There are other important actors on the Iranian political stage, both in and out of government. The U.S. and the international community should work together to engage these actors, marginalizing Ahmedinijad and bolstering the more moderate voices in Iran, making clear that better leaders could deliver more to their people and improve Iran's relations with the international community."

Enhancing regional diplomacy: "The threat Iran poses to the region is in large part linked to Iran's ongoing influence and interference in various countries of the Middle East.. An enlightened policy toward Iran would include active efforts to chip away at Iran's sphere of influence in the Middle East. Improving U.S.-Syria relations, and in particular making progress toward Syria-Israel peace, could remove several important cards from Iran's hand. Similarly, progress on the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts would also strengthen other regional actors vis-à-vis Iran, giving them a stronger hand to deal with Iran's destabilizing behavior within their own borders."

Reaching out to Iranian civil Society: "Iran is a country with a strong civil society in the areas of academia, non-governmental organizations and the media. As in the context of civil society dialogue between the U.S. and USSR before the fall of the Soviet Union, serious dialogue between civil society organizations of the United States and Iran could be helpful in building an understanding that the development of nuclear weapons and other belligerent policies can only hurt Iran. Similarly, U.S. interests can be served by further U.S. understanding of Iranian perceptions of their own national interests as the U.S. develops its policies toward Iran."

For a full text of APN's new policy position on, please contact Ori Nir:
Email: Tel: 202-728-1893