SVN 7 News
Biden defends Iran nuclear deal before local Jewish leaders
DAVIE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Vice President Joe Biden made his case for the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran to an audience of South Florida Jewish community leaders, Thursday morning. Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators outside argued the agreement leaves Israel vulnerable to the Islamic nation.
More than 40 officials from congregations, Jewish family services, top fundraisers and other groups attended the lengthy closed-door meeting, which started at around 9 a.m. at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie and was led by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. Participants were asked to turn off their phones, assuring the details of the meeting would remain private.
After the roundtable discussion ended, Biden and Wasserman Schultz met with the press and reiterated their defense of the plan. "This is a good deal, first and foremost, for the United States," said Biden. "It's a good deal for the world, the region, and it's a good deal for Israel and the Gulf Cooperation states."
Biden acknowledged the nuclear agreement with Iran could be a tough sell for the Jewish community. "I fully understand how someone could reach the conclusion that, 'No way can I be for an agreement that engages this regime at all,'" he said.
The deal provides for inspections in exchange for the lifting of billions of dollars in sanctions. "If we can take the nuclear bomb off the table, it's better to deal with those bad guys than if we're dealing with the bad guys and the nuclear bomb is on the table." he said.
Wasserman Schultz said she is still making up her mind about the agreement. "I am not afraid to make this decision," she said. "This is a decision, not only to be made based on your head, but one that will be made with my Jewish heart."
Critics of the plans said the inspections are not tough enough, and the money flowing into Iran will help fuel terrorism. Speaking with 7News on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is also running for president, expressed his misgivings about this deal. "I believe the Jewish community in South Florida and across the country should be profoundly concerned," he said. "The one threat on the face of the planet capable of once again murdering six million Jews is the threat of a nuclear Iran."
Across the street from the Davie JCC, nearly 800 protesters voiced their outrage over the possibility of the deal going through. The large crowd moved to the front entrance and held up signs and flags, shouting, "We need a better deal."
Demonstrators said their goal was to be seen and heard by Biden. "We all recognize the importance of being here and standing up and being counted, and that's what we really saw come together," said protester Sharona Whisler.
Protester Evan Nierman said the deal is not in the Jewish community's best interests. "America doesn't want this deal, Floridians don't want this deal," he said. "We want Congress to vote to disapprove it, and we want the administration to ensure that all of our representatives in Congress have an opportunity to vote on it."
Demonstrators also argued the deal only benefits Iran, supports terrorism and threatens the U.S. "I would urge all people to make up their mind," said Kenneth Bricker. "This deal is publicly available online. Look at it, and you'll see what we're giving away. It's a very, very risky deal."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who stopped in South Florida on Thursday, also weighed in on the agreement. "We can't be continuing to do business with countries that don't believe in democracy, that don't believe in freedom, that are supporting terrorists," he said. "We have to continue to support Israel."
Next week, Congress will begin debating a resolution that would disapprove of the agreement. However, the Obama administration appears to have secured the amount of votes needed to make sure it passes.