We believe we speak for many in the New Jersey Jewish community in voicing our deep disappointment with the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ over the decision of its Board of Trustees to oppose the recently negotiated deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
This is a divisive issue with strong opinions on both sides within our community. Polling suggests that a solid majority of American Jews support the president and the agreement. Nonetheless, it would have been better for the federation to follow the example of most Jewish federations across our nation by not taking a position, knowing that whichever stance it took would effectively disenfranchise a considerable proportion of its members and supporters.
The federation’s mission statement states that it “cares for people in need, builds Jewish life, and saves the world, one person at a time, every day.” The federation’s ability to carry out this mission depends on the support of the entire Jewish community it represents. Its ability to do so is severely jeopardized by the federation’s taking a contentious political position that divides that community. The federation states of its Board of Trustees, which approved its position, that its members “reflect the diversity of the Greater MetroWest Jewish community.” On this issue, they do not.
Since the Board of Trustees unilaterally chose to go ahead, it is incumbent on us to state, firstly, that the Board does not speak for us, and secondly to put forward the counter argument for the deal which we strongly believe is essential to US interests as well as Israel’s security.
Contrary to what opponents claim, there is no realistically possible “better deal.” Rejecting this deal in the hope of a better one is risky and reckless.
As Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has written, reflecting the view of the overwhelming majority of experts, “If the U.S. Congress rejects this agreement and proposes sending Secretary of State John Kerry back to the negotiating table, Kerry will most likely find no one else there…The international coalition will splinter and the sanctions regime will collapse, with Russia and China leading the way, but with France and Germany not far behind.”
Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy, who supports the agreement, concurs: “Without an agreement, Iran will be free to do as it pleases, while the sanctions regime will…crumble… There will be no other agreement and no other negotiations. What is better, a signed agreement or no agreement?”
Rejecting the agreement, according to a great many experts, is highly likely to result in the worst of both worlds: the collapse of international sanctions against Iran and the absence of any agreement to restrain its nuclear program.
We believe that rejecting the deal will free Iran to advance towards a nuclear weapon, making war more likely. As Robert Jervis, the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University, has explained, the terms demanded by the agreement’s critics “are terms that can only be imposed on a country that has been militarily defeated.”
With no agreement, Iran is likely to continue on the path to a nuclear weapon, making it more likely that Israel and the U.S. will feel compelled to stop Iran’s development of nuclear arms by force. A military strike will only delay Iran’s nuclear capabilities by two to three years; this agreement will set it back by 15 years.
We therefore urge our Members of Congress to approve the deal, and hope that the Board of Trustees of the federation will reverse this ill-considered and harmful stance.