It has now been a few days since the P5+1 Nuclear Deal with Iran was reached and the debate has opened between our community and those who we send to Congress to review it. I understand that people have mixed views on the deal, people may still be trying to interpret the 159 pages of the publicly released Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and we’re still on the first week of the U.S. Congressional 60 day window to debate and discuss the merits of the proposal.
As a Gather the Jews blogger, it is not my intent to simply share my views on the deal. Men and women far smarter than me are doing that already from the left and from the right. Instead this blog’s intention is to share our community’s response. So here is the hyperlocal Jewish response from the greater DC metropolitan area with selected highlighted voices from members of our community and those who represent us in Congress.
After discussing a game plan with Gather’s rockstar director, Rachel, I posted on my Facebook wall a request for my “FB Friends” to share their opinions on the deal. I offered individuals the ability to share anonymously because I didn’t want people – both for and against the proposal – to be afraid to make their voices heard. Some volunteered their comments to be with attribution. Others choose to share them privately but agreed that they could be posted as long as they were done so anonymously. Others had a lot of curse words in their responses that wouldn’t be appropriate for publication. I sought individuals from DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Josh Neirman, who self-identifies as being pretty mainstream in the DC Jewish world, said that he was a supporter of the deal because “it finally gives diplomacy a chance.” Josh continued by saying “as a millennial all I can remember is being in constant wars from Kosovo to Iraq, Afghanistan to now dealing with ISIS. I’m tired of ongoing war or the threats of war and I believe this is a step in the right direction.” He additionally believes “that actions speak louder than words so once the verification of everything that was agreed to happens then I feel like things are settled.”
An Arlington based young professional, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed with Josh’s stance in favor of the deal. “I support the deal and hope others respect that this support is because I believe the deal has a better chance to make us and Israel secure. I just don’t see an alternative other than living with the bomb or war…and we can do that later if they cheat. That being said, only time will tell if this gamble pays off,” said the Virginian.
But not all agree. Some who spoke against the proposed deal criticized the negotiated compromises. Others directly criticized the Obama Administration. Others were undecided.
A very active member of the DC and national Jewish community said, “The struggle that I have had in many community members response is a sense that Iran should have given up their nuclear program, implemented the most rigorous inspection regime still while maintaining unbelievably strict sanctions, and offering nothing in return.” He continued by sharing that, “I see three options now. 1) We have a deal and we accept it; 2) we maintain the status quo which has only seen Iran capabilities grow rapidly and seen foreign governments not interested in maintaining the sanctions; or 3) military options.” He believed that the military option is off the table because “if there was a military option Israel would have carried it out ages ago as they have in Iraq and Syria.”
Hilla Ben-Hamo, an Israeli former University of Maryland researcher and local resident who is now back in Israel shared the following (note unedited for grammar), “I will start with a short story, in a Jewish community a question was raised, is there a custom to stand while reading the Torah. The Rabbi searched the holy books, looking for the answer. Eventually he replied, there is no such a custom. So the community asked then what should we do? We keep arguing about it. The Rabbi answered: Good, because this is a custom. This story represents the famous saying where you have two Jewish people you will find three opinions. This indicates the Israeli political opinion spectrum. People from the same party can have different opinions. Just to emphasis it, how many parties are in the Unites States (2 per 240 M people) versus Israel (lost count… per 7 M). However, when it comes to the proposed Iranian Nuclear Deal there is a consensus: IT’S BAD!”
An anonymous Washingtonian shares Hilla’s concerns. “I am deeply concerned that Obama has a very poor history of enforcing military red lines, with Syria being the prime example. Iran has already been caught hiding their nuclear program twice, and this is likely to continue,” said the DC resident who was raised in a Virginia suburb.
The individual continued the criticism by sharing “the main feeling I have is disappointment that Obama does not recognize the threat to Jews. He is quick to call behavior racist in the U.S. when it involves an African-American, and his concerns are valid. However he refuses to grant the same courtesy to Jews” such as “in France with his comments on ‘randomly shooting up a supermarket’” – referencing President Obama’s remarks earlier in the year where he and White House and State Department officials wouldn’t call the attack on the Hypercacher Jewish Market in Paris to be an act motivated by anti-Semitism.
He concluded his remarks by saying, “the future of the Jewish people is too important to be left up to the outside chance that Iran, for the first time in modern history, acts as a peaceful nation.”
I won’t share much of my own opinion, but I will volunteer from my personal perspective, that as a Washingtonian young professional Jewish-American – I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel. I have visited the nation numerous times. I volunteer to support the development of Israel. I find the Israeli people to be welcoming, friendly, intelligent, and maybe I have a thing for cute Israeli women from Tel Aviv. Just saying.
I also believe that the bonds between the American people and the Israeli people are unbreakable. We share democratic principles. We share values. We share a desire for our nations to prosper and our people to be free, independent, and prosperous. I do not believe that this bond between the American people and the Israeli people can be broken. I don’t consider this to be an opinion because I interpret this as an undeniable fact.
Additionally, I cannot claim to be an expert in nuclear physics or atomic energy and I have only made a small dent in reading the 159 pages of the proposed deal. I have reviewed a great deal of secondary sources and from what I have read, what I have heard, and what I understand – I do not see the proposed deal in purely a black or white state. It isn’t just a positive or a negative. I recognize it was a compromise and with a compromise those negotiating are pushing and pulling. I though interpret the compromise to have far more bad in it than good in it. I personally do not see its intended purpose being reached. I do not believe this proposed deal restricts Iran’s capacities to be a nuclear threshold state or a part of the family of Nuclear Weapon States. I would have personally preferred no deal to this deal and/or a continuation of negotiations to reach a better deal.
I could write another 2,000 words about my feeling of what a better deal could encompass, but for brevity sake, I’d say that NO DEAL should have lifted the arms embargo. That’s a red line for me and if Russia does sell Iran a S-300 advanced missile defense system, as it looks like they will, it weakens American and Israeli’s abilities to respond – should Iran break promises and ignore the verification processes.
Outside of these perspectives, as the next step in the process is the 60 day Congressional review, I felt it worthwhile to compile and share some of the responses of DMV Public Officials on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. The following are from public comments released on July 14th from Virginia, Maryland, and DC officials:
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
“I applaud the U.S. negotiating team for its hard work to find a diplomatic solution to peacefully limit Iran’s nuclear program. A nation’s commitment to diplomacy is every bit as important as its commitment to military strength. Now that the negotiations have concluded, Congress must give the deal a thorough and independent review to ensure it cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.
“One of the key reasons I co-authored the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, even over the initial objections of many in my party and the Administration, was to provide Congress a clear and constructive way to review a final nuclear deal. Given that the deal largely hinges on what Iran must do to get relief from sanctions imposed by Congress, the American public deserves to have its elected representatives review any final deal to ensure it is in our national security interest. In the days and weeks ahead, I look forward to discussing the terms of the agreement in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and examining the details before making a decision to either approve or disapprove the deal, which will provide Iran significant relief from economic sanctions. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to analyze this deal in the days and weeks ahead.”
U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
“I will review this agreement with the utmost attention to detail, given the incredible importance of getting an agreement of this magnitude right. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which I supported, Congress will have 60 days to analyze this agreement and carefully consider whether it substantially advances the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. In particular, I will pay close attention to the dismantling of Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program; ensuring an intrusive and reliable verification process; and ensuring a graduated process of sanctions relief entirely dependent upon Iran’s compliance, along with a process for re-imposing U.S. and international sanctions if Iran violates terms of the agreement.”
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
“It is in America’s national security interest that Iran is blocked from ever having a nuclear weapon. Congress has an obligation to vigorously and judiciously review the deal announced today with a seriousness of purpose. Negotiators have spent painstaking time and untold effort working on this accord. Congress in turn must fulfill its oversight responsibilities and conduct a thorough, rigorous, and evenhanded review. There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments. Congress faces a solemn charge that I expect will be fulfilled to the best of our abilities and at the highest of standards beginning today.”
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)
<<No public comments exist on Senator Mikulski’s website or social media channels as of the time of this blog being published. We emailed her communications director for comment and has not received a response yet. Stay tuned…>>
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
At a Democratic Caucus meeting with Secretary Hillary Clinton, Rep. Eleanor Holmes North (D-DC) expressed in a public comment shared on July 14th that she and the caucus, “learned about [Secretary Clinton’s] significant role in the lead up to today’s Iran–P5+1 nuclear agreement. For example, it was Secretary Clinton who put together the coalition, including China and Russia, which led to the unity that makes this agreement so strong, and in my judgment, difficult to refute or oppose.”
FINAL NOTE*: please share your own thoughts in the comments section of this blog. Online bullying or personally antagonistic statements will not be accepted and will be removed from the page. We intend to open an honest dialogue about issues without name calling and questioning how we each choose to support the Jewish Democratic State of Israel. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my own personal views with any reader over coffee, on FB chat, or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect the opinion of Gather the Jews