American Jewish Life, American Jewish Life and Politics, Ethics, Israel/Zionism, Jewish History, Jewish Identity
On July 21 the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Board sent an appeal to our community to urge Congress to oppose the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program saying the following:
“The proposed agreement with Iran is not a partisan issue; it impacts the security of the United States, the stability of the Middle East, the future of the State of Israel and the safety of every Jewish family and community around the world. This Iran deal threatens the mission of our Federation as we exist to assure the continuity of the Jewish people. Support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad and mobilize on issues of concerns.”
The letter calls upon our community members “to raise their voices in opposition to this agreement by contacting their elected representatives to urge them to oppose this deal.”
There is an impression being promoted by many in the organized American Jewish community as well as many in the American and Israeli media that there is unanimity in Israel that this Iran deal fundamentally undermines Israel’s security.
This is not true.
The following are statements from leading Israeli security experts who offer a more nuanced view of the Iran agreement, and while acknowledging that there are imperfections, have come to the conclusion that this Iran deal is an important step forward in enhancing Israel’s security.
Ami Ayalon: Former head of the Shin Bet and former Navy commander-in-chief:
“[The Agreement] is the best possible alternative from Israel’s point of view, given the other available alternatives…In the Middle East, 10 to 15 years is an eternity, and I don’t believe that 10 or 15 years from now the world will stand by and watch Iran acquire nuclear weapons.”
The Peace and Security Association representing hundreds of Israeli security experts, IDF veterans, Mossad, Shin Bet and Police:
“Although the agreement signed in Vienna between the world powers and Iran is not optimal, it should remove the immediate threat of an Iranian breakthrough leading to a nuclear military capability within a few months.”
Efraim Halevy: Former Mossad Director and former Head of the National Security Council:
“Without an agreement, Iran will be free to act as it wishes, whereas the sanctions regime against it will crumble in any case…if the nuclear issue is of cardinal existential importance, what is the point of canceling an agreement that distances Iran from the bomb?”
Chuck Freilich: Former Israeli Deputy National Security Advisor:
“This is the agreement that was reached – and despite its faults, it is not a bad one. Crucially, it will contribute to Israel’s security.”
Yitzhak Ben-Israel: Chair of Israel’s Space Agency and a former IDF general:
“The agreement is not bad at all, it is even good for Israel…It prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for 15 years.”
Uzi Even: Former lead scientist at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor:
“I am sure the deal that was signed is preferable to the current situation because it delays Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb by at least 15 years and in practice ends it nuclear aspirations.”
Eran Etzion: Former Deputy Head of the Israel National Security Council and a former Head of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“The agreement prevents Israel from obtaining a nuclear weapon for 10-15 years. Obama says and he is right—this agreement is not about trust, it’s about verification. No agreement can be perfect. We live in the real world and it is the best agreement that they could reach.”
Israel Ziv: Former Israeli Major General:
“This agreement is the best among all other alternatives, and any military strike – as successful as it may be – would not have delayed even 20% of what the agreement will delay.”
Eli Levite: Former Deputy Director General of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission:
“In the next 15 years, if Iran will respect its obligations, Iran’ won’t be a nuclear country. Period. They won’t have the materials. The question is whether they will respect their obligation, and that is the hard question.”
Good and intelligent people will disagree. However, the LA Jewish Federation cannot speak for all Jews and ought to account for other legitimate American Jewish community views on this deal.
As a long-time contributor to the LA Jewish Federation, I take exception to the insinuation that if one really cares about Israeli security then there is only one responsible choice – to oppose this agreement.
As a Zionist and ohev m’dinat Yisrael, I support this agreement, even with its flaws.
Should this deal fail now as a result of a veto-proof congressional vote, not only would sanctions immediately fall apart, but Iran will have nothing to stop its forward march to nuclear capability in short order. Many political and diplomatic experts agree that realistically, no other deal is possible.
Consequently, if the deal fails, the only way to stop Iran’s march to a nuclear bomb would be to bomb all its sites. Should that happen Israel will likely be the recipient of thousands of Hezbollah rockets aimed at Tel Aviv, Haifa and everything in between sparking a regional war the likes of which we may have never witnessed before.
I am disappointed and confused by our Federation Board that claims to represent all the Jews of Los Angeles when it is clearly not so. If you agree with the position articulated by the Israeli experts above, then I suggest that you write to and call your Congressional Representatives today and let them know of your approval of the Iran agreement. Also, I suggest that you express to the Federation Board your dismay with its letter and its presumption that it represents your views.
It’s not just the Federation we should be concerned about.
Most of our Congressional representatives in Southern California are Democrats, as well as Boxer and Feinstein (though never can tell how she will vote); it’s the Republican base in Washington that is the worry – they want to speak from their prospective to the security of Israel. Right now they may have the votes to block the deal.