Washington - Rep. Steve Israel and two other New York Democrats have issued a plea to keep the often emotional debate over the Iran nuclear deal civil, and denounced "vitriolic rhetoric and threats" made by some on both sides.
Prompted by heated discussions that likely will get only hotter after Congress returns from recess on Sept. 8 and begins debate over the agreement, the three opponents of the deal said they felt they had to call for a "serious debate" based on the merits, not emotion.
"We remain concerned that individuals on both sides of the debate have resorted to ad hominem attacks and threats against those who don't share their opinions. This is unacceptable," said the statement by Rep. Israel of Huntington and Reps. Eliot Engel of the Bronx and Nita Lowey of Westchester.
"It is especially egregious to attribute malicious intent to decision-makers who are thoughtfully debating the details and effects of the agreement," it continued. "No matter where you stand on the Iran deal, comparisons to the Holocaust, the darkest chapter in human history, questioning the credentials of long-standing advocates for Israel, and accusations of dual loyalty are inappropriate."
Their plea comes after Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) last Friday announced he would support the deal in a 5,200-word statement that details his thinking, but also condemns what he called "the public discourse."
"I have become increasingly disturbed by the rhetoric being used by some on both sides of the debate," wrote Nadler, who said he has "personally experienced this dangerous dynamic of poisonous rhetoric before."
"I am outraged that some on the Left are making anti-Semitic accusations of dual loyalty or treason when someone, particularly a Jewish member of Congress, decides to oppose the agreement," Nadler wrote.
"I am also deeply disturbed that some opponents of the agreement have taken to questioning the sincerity of people's support for Israel (or their own 'Jewishness,' if it applies) if that person believes the [Iran nuclear deal] is the best option."