Despite sweltering heat, more than 200 people gathered in Edison July 19 to oppose the proposed nuclear disarmament deal reached with Iran.
Held on the playground of Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, the rally was sponsored by Central Jersey Stands for Israel, a local grassroots pro-Israel advocacy group.
Speakers encouraged those in attendance to urge Congress to vote against the agreement, saying it threatens Israel’s future while doing little to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Central NJ Stands for Israel opposes the nuclear agreement with Iran, as it leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, provides only temporary restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and gives the Iranian regime access to $150 billion that may flow to its terror proxies,” said rally co-organizer Michael Gordon of Highland Park.
Congress has 60 days to review the agreement, but needs to muster two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and House to override President Obama’s expected veto of a vote to reject the deal.
Rabbi Steven Miodownik of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park drew an analogy between Haman, the Persian villain of the Book of Esther, and Iranian leaders who have never backed down from their vow of annihilating Israel.
“The Purim story taught us to never underestimate the lengths someone will go to propagate evil,” he said. “We must believe what our enemies say. Hitler’s intentions were no secret, but the world did not believe him.”
Miodownik ran through a list of issues that he said place Israel and the world in peril, from the unfreezing of Iranian assets that could be used to find terrorism by Hizbullah and Hamas, to Iran’s continued access to stockpiles of enriched uranium. He punctuated the list with the Hebrew phrase “dayenu” — it would have been enough.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a vocal opponent of the deal, sent a letter of support that was read to the crowd. The state’s other Democratic senator, Cory Booker, hasn’t committed, said Jeff Schreiber of Highland Park, an active NORPAC member who cochaired the pro-Israel lobbying group’s recent mission to Washington.
Signs urged Booker and Menendez and Reps. Frank Pallone (D-Dist. 6) and Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-Dist. 12) to vote against the deal.
Rally participants lined up large cardboard posters, which will be delivered to their legislators’ offices as well as to the White House.
Schreiber, who served as rally host, described the opposition to the deal being mounted by such Jewish organizations as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Orthodox Union.
AIPAC is running a multi-pronged effort, including TV ads by a new AIPAC-backed nonprofit, aimed at killing the agreement. Leading support for the deal among Jewish groups is J Street, which is running TV and newspaper ads of its own and bringing in prominent Israelis who back the agreement, including Alon Pinkas, a former consul general in New York, and former Knesset member Amram Mitzna.
“Every single one of you who is pro-Israel and pro-security knows this is a bad deal,” Schreiber said, adding that he believes that many, if not all, Republicans, would vote against the deal and is convinced that enough Democrats can be persuaded to turn it down to override the president’s promised veto.
“We can’t take anyone for granted because President Obama has a full court press on,” said Schreiber. “One thing about this president that from his record is clear is that he does not deal well with those who oppose him on something he thinks is good for the country.”
Among the deal’s flaws, said Schreiber, was that “absent any cheating,” restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment would sunset “in a short 10 years,” allowing breakout time to “drop to zero with the blessing and active assistance of the international community.”
In addition to the threat posed to Israel, Schreiber said, by signing the agreement the United States would be “surrendering our national right to act unilaterally, including militarily, to protect our national security interests.”
Any disputes would be taken before a joint commission, which would include Iran, Russia, China, the European Union, and France, none of them reliable allies, Schreiber said. Germany and Great Britain would also be on the commission.
“If the Iranians decide to do so, they can take $150 billion, cheat on the agreement, while tying America up with the joint commission” because, Schreiber said, “unlike our adversary, America generally abides by its agreements.”
Yair White, 20, of Highland Park said he came to the rally because he believes a nuclear Iran “will try and destroy the world and will attack the U.S. and Israel without question.”
Cheryl Kornfeld of Highland Park said she thought “this was a really bad deal, and no deal was better than this one.”
“This deal is ridiculous,” said Miriam Ravitz of Edison. “It doesn’t help anyone except Iran, and they’re laughing in our faces. Obama is selling out America. It’s just bad for everyone.”