We are now in the period just beyond Tisha B’Av, the holiday that commemorates the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem and other disasters that befell our people through the generations. The reason usually given for the Second Temple’s destruction is that the Jews had baseless hatred for one another. Perhaps because of this historic lesson, Jews commonly believe that when bad things happen, it must be because of something we did to ourselves.
But sometimes the Jews have real enemies. Iran is one.
The good news is that in the face of the evil that is the Iranian regime and the appeasement of the evil that is the P5+1 deal with the mullahs, the people of Israel have found a rare unity: A poll published last month in the Israeli newspaper Maariv found that 71 percent of Israelis believe the deal brings Iran closer to getting a nuclear weapon. Further good news is that American Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few outliers, have united to oppose this terrible deal. From the center-left American Jewish Committee to the right-wing ZOA to the centrist AIPAC to Jewish Federations across the country, American Jews have studied the deal with Iran and found it sadly lacking.
Since its contents were released, nuclear and legal experts have lacerated the details of the agreement. But perhaps the most compelling refutation comes from the Obama administration itself, whose negotiators over the past two years have outlined those features that would make for a good deal. Among them are dismantling of the enrichment process, a baseline examination of past weapons work, “anywhere-anytime” inspections and denying any long-term path to a bomb. On all these counts, the agreement fails.
Do we even need to recount Iran’s oppression of its own citizens, its subjugation of women, its murder of gay people? And that’s just its behavior at home. This is a country that is fueling unrest across the Middle East through its bankrolling of Hamas and Hezbollah and murder of Jewish civilians and American soldiers around the world. Can you think of anyone else more deserving of $150 billion?
Unable to defend the particulars of this deal, the Obama administration and its allies have taken to ad hominem attacks on the deal’s opponents, saying that they are no different from “hardliners” in Iran. Apparently those who make “common cause” with Iranians who shout “Death to America” include Leon Wieseltier, Alan Dershowitz and Sen. Chuck Schumer. We think that the psychiatric term for this is “projection.”
In an already infamous speech at American University, the president last week singled out Israel, the party most threatened by nuclear Iran, for being the only nation to oppose the deal. “Because this is such a strong deal,” he said, “every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.” The repugnant insinuation is that Israel is the sole obstacle to peace with Iran.
What other option is there to this deal? The president says war is the only option. Nonsense. The U.S. could secure a better deal, as defined by the original standards laid out by this administration. The Orwellian reality of the current deal is that, like Neville Chamberlain’s deal with the Nazis, it promises peace but almost guarantees war. Whatever happened to “no deal is better than a bad deal?”
What are we to do? One course of action is to keep our heads down, as many American Jews did in the late 1930s and early ’40s.
More ancient Jewish history provides a better model: At the key moment of the Purim story, Mordecai comes to Esther and requests that she intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews of Persia, who were then threatened with annihilation. Today, we have no king. We have a Congress. And each of us is now Queen Esther.
Rather than putting on sackcloth and ashes, pick up the phone and make a call. Sen. Pat Toomey and Congressmen Keith Rothfus, Mike Kelley and Tim Murphy have come out against the deal. Call and thank them. Sen. Bob Casey and Congressman Mike Doyle are still evaluating the deal. Call them and encourage them to vote against it. The phone number for the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.
When you call, remember Mordechai’s warning to Esther: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s household will perish.”
Lou Weiss is a local businessman and a fellow at the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He has led several missions to Israel.