Inspired by a recent talk about the danger of Iran’s acquiring nuclear capabilities, some local teens have launched their own awareness-raising campaign on the issue.
Spearheaded by its chair, Danielle Flaum, 17, the Teen Advocacy Program of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Essex County Section has set up a Facebook site on the issue and started selling magnets the members have designed to go on car oil caps. It carries their campaign slogan: “No Nukes for Iran.”
Flaum, a junior at Millburn High School, said she got interested in Iran because of her interest in Israeli politics, and her love for history. She is planning to go to Israel this summer as a fellow of the Diller Teen Foundation, a national initiative designed to develop youth leadership.
In response to e-mailed questions from NJ Jewish News, she wrote, “When I was asked to chair the Teen Advocacy Program from NCJW, I brainstormed what would be a current political issue that teens could get involved in and make a difference. I didn’t have to look very far — the threat of nuclear weapons launched at Israel is a huge issue, something that Israelis are worried about every day.
“As Americans we’re also very concerned about this threat, both for Israel and for us. I believe we need to use our political voices to let our government know how we feel. I did some research and brought the issue of Iran to our first planning meeting, and everyone agreed it was a prevalent issue.”
This is TAP’s second year, though Danielle’s first with the group. “We currently have 20 girls in the group, and it is growing every week,” she wrote.
Their first event, which Flaum organized together with Melanie Harrison, also 17, drew 16 girls. They put it together with assistance from their mothers, Nancy Kislin Flaum, the group’s adviser, and Shari Harrison, the Essex County Section’s community services vice president. It was held Oct. 18 at the Flaums’ Short Hills home and featured local community activist Jim Daniels to give the participants a new understanding of the complexity of the current Iran situation.
Daniels, who serves as chair of the Task Force on Iran of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest, was born in Iran and lived there till he was 15. He told the young advocates about Muslim-Jewish relations in Iran and surrounding Middle Eastern countries.
Daniels described what life was like for an Iranian Jew in the 1940s and ’50s and the history of the Iranian-Jewish community, a mixed bag of “ups and mostly downs” that saw the Jewish population shrink from a high of perhaps one million to today’s estimated 25,000.
Not only are the country’s current fundamentalist leaders even more corrupt than their predecessors, Daniels said, they are indifferent to human rights and practically anything that represents the Western way of life.
To make matters worse, he continued, they aim to wipe Israel off the map “and they are serious about this.”
The ultimate goal of Iran’s leaders, said Daniels, is to dominate the Middle East. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric suggests that the threat of a nuclear Iran is not only a Jewish issue but a global issue, he said. The United States government and the State of Israel are in a “race against time” to educate other countries and build consensus on the issue.
“We all must do our very best to ensure the survival of Israel as a Jewish state,” Daniels told the teens. “What other choice do we have?”
Danielle said the group will be selling their “No Nukes for Iran” magnets at MetroWest’s Super Sunday — Dec. 6 at the Aidekman campus in Whippany — and they’re hoping to sell hundreds.
“We welcome new members,” she added. Anyone interested in joining TAP can e-mail Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org.