We were very disappointed to read the statement from the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ that came out against the Iran deal. We want you to know that the federation does not speak for us, nor does it speak for many others in this community.
In the statement itself, it said, “It is incumbent upon us as Americans, as Jews, and as people who love both Israel and the United States to take a public stance at this historic moment.” Well, our public stance is to support the Iran agreement. We stand alongside other American Jews and strong supporters of Israel. Our position is shared by many policymakers as well as members of the intelligence and military communities in Israel and the United States.
We understand that the deal is not perfect. A negotiated deal between parties that are diametrically opposed to each other never is. But it does succeed in deterring the imminent nuclear threat that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has been telling us is one year away from a nuclear breakout. Below is a brief critique of the arguments in MetroWest’s statement.
“Iran must not become a nuclear threshold in 15 years or ever.” Once knowledge has been obtained, it cannot be forgotten. Therefore all one can do is take action that deters use of the knowledge acquired. This plan does just that.
“The infusion of cash from sanctions relief must not fund an increase in terrorist activities.” This is an agreement to limit the nuclear capability of Iran. It is not and never was supposed to limit Iran’s nefarious activity as a state sponsor of terrorism. Again, it is not realistic to assume that Iran would be willing to bundle state sponsorship of terrorism with the nuclear limitation treaty. One issue has nothing to do with the other.
However, it is also important to remember that this agreement does not limit the United States from interdicting illegal Iranian arms shipments to terrorist organizations. The United States has every right, and in fact obligation, to act against such activity, something it has been loath to do. Once the treaty is in place, however, this is an issue worth pursuing with the administration.
“The United States must participate in inspections.” This is another misnomer. Is it really surprising that Iran has agreed that only countries that have diplomatic relations with Iran would be allowed to participate in facilities inspections? If we are partners in a multilateral agreement, then we need to allow our friends to play a role in this agreement.
Just because we support this deal does not mean that we do not have concerns. We do not trust the Iranians and we concur that the snapback provisions may be hard to implement. But we ask you, what happens when Congress rejects this agreement? Nations that helped reach the agreement will not support the current sanctions regime if Congress rejects this agreement. Does anyone actually think that the Russians and the Chinese are going to obey sanctions if this deal falls? It is far more prudent for us to work with them under the agreement than to have them increasing their role in the Iranian economy and doing it behind our backs.
Greater MetroWest is not alone in condemning this agreement. What we find so surprising is that all who oppose it offer no realistic alternative to this agreement.
At the end of the day, we must remember that the people of the United States are not prepared to go to war with Iran unless absolutely necessary. The U.S. government is still committed to protecting her allies in the region. A large naval fleet and military presence remains in the Gulf, and the U.S. government has already indicated its intent to not only continue, but increase its military and defense support to the area, notably into Israel and Saudi Arabia. This presence will remind Iran that the United States is willing to act against terrorism and a nuclear threat.
A negotiated agreement combined with our presence in the region is our best option.
Israeli policymakers should be working on ways to strengthen Israel after this deal is in play. While Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly told those in the Israeli intelligence and military to stop working on a list of what to ask from the United States to strengthen their defense systems, this is exactly what he should be doing. It is time for Netanyahu to strengthen his relations with the United States. Call it diplomacy or call it common sense, but if we all agree that we have concerns with this agreement, then we need to work together now more than ever.