Tag Archives: Iran Deal

More than the Iran Agreement

We continue to debate the pros and cons of the Iran deal during the 60-day review period preceding the vote in Congress. I read the article about the rabbis signing a letter opposing the Nuclear Agreement and the interesting points made by my colleagues. I am among those rabbis who signed the other public letter in support of the Nuclear Agreement, based on what I believe was a thoughtful deliberative process. But beyond pro and cons, there are three very important Jewish issues that spring from this situation and they not include who has more signers and join my voice to the growing number who share these concerns.

 First, we have close to two thousand rabbis now, who care deeply enough about the issue to place their names publicly identifying how they feel.   Secondly we have the opportunity to raise the quality of the debate. Third, we need to discuss how we constructively move forward in the aftermath of this process.

 I am pleased that we live in a place where we feel comfortable enough with our station to engage in a political conversation that affects us as Americans and Jews and supporters of Israel. This ability to actively and vocally participate in the public square is one of the great blessings of living in the United States.

 Second, I have been deeply concerned that the discussions about the deal have devolved into a nasty shouting match filled with vitriol. Therefore the shouting detracts from us as Klal Yisrael. As President Lincoln declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and so too it is with us. As a people we have always wrestled with issues. Our holiest texts engage us in these contests with other people and often with the Divine. It is a proud tradition that compels us to grow because we are required to listen to the counter argument or alternative interpretation. Our Talmud preserves the minority view for a distinct purpose, namely for us to learn from the disputation process, that even the ultimately rejected view carries weight and is deserving of respect. We are elevated when our conversations are “for the sake of heaven, Makhloket l’Shem Shamyim,” and we are debased when they are not.

 Third and finally, regardless of our individual positions, the United States will move forward in one way or the other. We need to start reaching out to each other now to rebuild the bonds of fellowship that have been deeply shaken. We also must be practical and pragmatic working on behalf of the things we care about, namely the United States and Israel, ensuring this alliance remains unshakable and both are fully capable of defending itself from all threats, including from Iran.

 Despite the passion that so many have on this issue, at the end of the day, we are one people. Now is a very good time for us to remind ourselves of this. We must not let the differences of opinions detract from our responsibility to respect each other. This is a pledge we all can sign.

I support the Iran Agreement.

I support the Iran Agreement.

 I believe this agreement is in the best interests of the United States, Israel and to promote peace. I have read the agreement. I have carefully listened to the analyses presented by those in favor of the deal, those against the deal and those without an agenda but trying to understand the deal.

 The deal comes with substantial complications. Compliance requires the ongoing monitoring and vigilance of the IAEA, the UN and signers to the agreement particularly the United States. And we must be ready to enforce compliance with action in the event that Iran does not live up to all the obligations of the agreement (i.e., cheat). Iran remains an adversary to both the United States and Israel. We still have much work to do to thwart Iranian plans against the US and Israel.   I welcome President Obama’s offer to further enhance Israel’s defenses. Ultimately, there is the possibility to bring Iran into the community of nations. That will take time and immense effort and is far from assured. However with all that, we have through this agreement taken away Iran’s access to a nuclear device.

 I share this for two reasons. First, this is a considered decision on my part based on a deep love of country, both the United States and Israel. I believe the agreement sets out to do what it is intended to do. It is the best agreement we can achieve. The alternatives to this agreement are appreciably worse.

 Second, the legitimate differences in our opinions, even deeply held beliefs we have, should not destroy our community. The rifts in our community are getting deeper and the vitriol is terribly destructive. I hope that we can disagree with each other’s considered opinions without losing respect or fomenting hatred of another person because of their opinions. So I reach out to my community with the hopes that we can respectfully disagree with each other but remain committed to each other. We are Klal Yisrael only as long as we believe in that vision and work to achieve it.