Thursday, 26 May 2016
J-Street, the American liberal Jewish group, was given more than half a million dollars to promote President Barack Obama's controversial nuclear deal with Iran in the face of fierce opposition from Israel, it has emerged.
The group, which declares itself pro-Israel, was given the money by the Ploughshares Fund, the main organisation used by the White House to advocate for the deal.
Last year, the United States, along with other world powers, including the UK, agreed to lift nuclear-related sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran terminating its programme to build a nuclear warhead.
Israel was strongly against the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that "it actually paves Iran's path to the bomb".
Groups representing American Jews also came out against the agreement.
According to Associated Press, the Ploughshare Fund's 2015 annual report reveals several organisations were given thousands of dollars to back the deal, with J-Street - regarded as Mr Obama's mouthpiece in the American Jewish community - receiving $576,500 (around £400,000), the largest amount paid out.
J-Street responded that it "worked to advance the nuclear agreement with Iran out of the belief that this is an important agreement which contributes mightily to Israel's security.
"This is a belief that is shared with many officials in both the Obama administration as well as the Israeli defence establishment and among many in the US Jewish community."
In a recent interview with the New York Times, top White House aide Ben Rhodes explained how the administration worked with NGOs, proliferation experts and even friendly reporters to build support for the Iran deal.
"We created an echo chamber," said Mr Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, adding that "outside groups like Ploughshares" helped put across the administration's message.