A call for respect despite our differences

A call for respect despite our differences

Our elected officials have recently faced a difficult dilemma in determining their support for the diplomatic agreement between the United States, five other countries, and Iran. In particular, those lawmakers with deep spiritual and personal ties to Israel and the Jewish people have been faced with greater scrutiny. 

Advocates on both sides of the debate have offered rational explanations. Intelligent Jews with well-researched and reasoned positions — politicians, military officials, rabbis, and other Jewish leaders — disagree on whether or not to support the Plan. Based on the facts of this deal, we believe approving the agreement is the United States’ and the international community’s best hope of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

This deal will create the most robust international monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program to date, while reducing its uranium stockpile and its breakout time. And the deal has mechanisms in place to ensure that if Iran is caught cheating, it will face real consequences in the snapback of sanctions. We believe, as do countless American and Israeli experts, that this deal offers the best strategy to limit Iran’s nuclear abilities for the next 15 years. 

We are proud of our Sen. Booker’s decision to support this diplomatic agreement. We are certain of his unquestionable commitment to the security of the United States, Israel, and our allies. We are confident that he — and those who have chosen to support the deal — will maintain their commitment to ensuring that the United States and its international partners hold Iran accountable. 

Sadly, this disagreement has fueled vitriol, anger, and baseless accusations. Mirroring our national scene, the American-Jewish community has become increasingly polarized, making it difficult — sometimes impossible — to have thoughtful conversations about weighty topics. Fear often drives us more than the deepest principles of our heritage. We can and must do better.

We recognize that there are both proponents and opponents of this agreement who have exercised tolerance and respect in this debate. We applaud the civility with which they have approached their decisions. 

This is an important debate for our country and a critical decision for our elected representatives. Recently, Sen. Booker gathered with constituents at a New Jersey synagogue and imparted this wisdom: “Leave here and decide in your mind that ‘I’m going to be more gentle with people who disagree with me…I’m going to treat them with respect.’”

As rabbis who are intensely devoted Americans and life-long supporters of the State of Israel, we agree. And we commend him for the thoughtful civility with which he has approached this conversation. 

As we move forward as a state and as a country, we must do two things. We must insist that this plan is monitored and implemented in a way that ensures the security of the United States, Israel, and our allies. And we must find it in ourselves to approach those who differ in their beliefs with greater tolerance. This is in our best interest as a country — and for the security of our allies — to support this agreement, and to support each other as Americans.

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