Lew, who is an Orthodox Jew, represented the Obama administration at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York City. He said he agreed to speak with the group to “pierce through all the noise and set forth clearly why the United States is pursuing this agreement, and what we are doing to effectively guarantee that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.”
But it was Lew’s continued promise of the White House’s allegiance to Israel that prompted the most heckling. “I would only ask that you listen to me as we listen to you,” he said, breaking from script.
Negotiators have a June 30 deadline to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Lew argued that the sanctions against Iran have badly hurt its economy, and that even if sanctions are lifted as part of the deal, it would take a long time for Iran to get out of its “incredibly deep hole.”
Lew left the stage to a mix of applause and boos.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz described Lew’s appearance as “one of the surliest receptions ever accorded to such a high-ranking administration official by a Jewish audience in the United States.”