Monday, August 31, 2015

On Iran Part II

As some of you know, I am very much involved in AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Contrary to some assumptions, it is not a Political Action Committee as it does not solicit funds to support candidates for office. Instead it is a bi-partisan organization that works with both houses of Congress to further strengthen the ties between Israel and the United States.

Now a word about Israel. Israel is the only lasting democratic nation in the Middle East. This is not to say she is not without her flaws, but Israel has been a steadfast partner with the United States since its founding in 1948. This partnership has faced its tensions, and admittedly right now it is a time of greater tension. But this is not the first administration nor the last to disagree with the US administration.

I applaud the administration for working so hard to try to accomplish something so significant through negotiations rather than through war. All that being said, in my opinion, this agreement does not go far enough.

What makes this situation so important is of course the Iranian Nuclear Deal. However, as I have examined it, I think a better term for it is the Iranian Normalization Deal. This deal aspires to normalize geopolitical relationships with Iran where at the same time curbing Iranian nuclear ambitions.

However, I feel, one of the key problems is that there is very little demanded of Iran. Iran provides major funds to various terrorist organizations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Iran has hegemonic ambitions, and Iran represents a very real threat to what is already a dangerously unstable region.

Admittedly, the US seems to be motivated by a desire to disengage in the Middle East, and instead turn its attentions towards the Far East to curb China's growing ambitions. The reality is however whether or not we wish to be involved in the Middle East, as the world's only superpower, we have little choice. If we disengage, the problems will come to us as they have already in the past.

Now I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on Nuclear Agreements. I know very little about centrifuges, low grade plutonium and the like. But what I do know is that this agreement does not go far enough in demanding concessions from Iran to not only curb its nuclear ambitions, but also to curb its greater ambitions as well. One thing is for sure, if Iran continues on this path, whether now or fifteen years from now, the Middle East will see a nuclear arms race. And given that Syria is a state in name only, Jordan could fall from its influx of refugees, and Egypt is a single bullet away from chaos, introducing nuclear weapons into this environment scares the heck out of me.

There are many of us who feel this deal does not go far enough, and it needs to be renegotiated not only in the interests of Israel, but in the greater interests of the United States and the world. This is not simply an Israel problem. If Iran is welcomed back into the league of nations without the demands of any change in its behavior, then nothing will ultimately change.

I, as a private concerned citizen 1, will be attending a rally this Tuesday September 1, 2015 at 7pm at Beth Tefiloh against this agreement. Anyone else who is also concerned about this deal is also welcome attend if you wish. Help us show our national representatives that they can demand a better deal.

You can watch the following video for more information:

A Better Deal

All that being said, as a rabbi, I encourage you to become informed about this key issue, and no matter how to you feel about it, to contact your national legislators to let them know how you feel. There will be a tomorrow no matter what transpires. I for one have tremendous respect for my colleagues and friends who are in support of this deal, and though we may disagree on a policy issue, we all agree in our love and support of the United States and Israel.

Please bear in mind that this is my position only. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Har Sinai Congregation, the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, or other entities to which I am affiliated.