Israel is once again united. And as in the past, it comes as a byproduct of significant threats to the country; this time from Iran.
Even the leaders of Israel’s opposition denounced in the harshest terms the nuclear deal announced on Tuesday, and chided Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to prevent it. Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog went so far as to describe himself as “more extreme” than Netanyahu on matters of security.
The threats from Iran and the wrongheaded approach of the international community are broad, pervasive and multilateral.
The White House’s apparatchiks keep parroting the claims that Israel is safer under the deal, and that no better alternative has been offered. But they have yet to explain how the agreement will actually prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the likely event that it fails to abide by the terms of the deal.
The absence of anytime, anywhere inspections means advance notice of a race to the bomb cannot be guaranteed, and the mechanisms to combat such an Iranian attempt are vastly insufficient to be effective. Simply, the stated purpose of the negotiations has not been achieved.
For Israel to live under the specter of imminent nuclear breakout, which could be initiated at any time, is simply untenable. No prime minister, minister, Knesset member, or person of conscience could accept the yoke that the international community has just placed around the neck of the Jewish State.
The fact that the U.S. president is willing to countenance this scenario is, in and of itself, a matter of alarm. The fact that his Administration is so callously dismissive of Israel’s existential concerns, described by John Kerry as “way over the top,” is downright unconscionable.
Under these conditions, Israel’s choices are limited. The oft hinted military option remains, but will come at significant cost. For now, all eyes are on Congress, which will soon voice its approval or disapproval of the deal.
It is true that the threat the agreement poses to the Jewish State should mean it is incumbent upon the U.S. Jewish community to stand at the forefront of the charge of opposition. But it is not only because of the threat to Israel that Jews must oppose this deal; it is also because Jews are duty bound to serve as a voice of moral conscience to humankind, and this deal is profoundly immoral.
It is immoral because it leaves many lives at risk, and there is no greater moral duty than the preservation of human life.
It is immoral because it is unjust. It comes with the betrayal of longtime allies who have stood loyally at the side of the U.S. and have in turn depended on its protective umbrella.
It is immoral because it tolerates the torrent of hate, of unadulterated, unrestrained bigotry flowing in great rivers from Tehran, against Bahá’ís, women, gays, Jews, Christians, Americans, Israelis, Sunni Muslims, survivors of the Holocaust and others.
It is immoral because it provides Iran with a windfall of billions of dollars that will be used to fund its campaign of terror and expansionism in the Middle East and beyond.
It is immoral because it stands on a foundation of untruths. It belies who Iran’s rulers are and what they stand for. It pretends to protect world peace, but in fact it endangers it.
The White House will strive to frame the debate in partisan terms and paint all who oppose the deal as aligned with the Republican opposition. But our principles should supersede our politics, and allegiance to a moral code should override party loyalty.
In Israel, the partisan barriers have already fallen. The same can be accomplished in the U.S.
No doubt the fight to oppose the deal will be bruising, but the time for niceties is over. There is too much at stake. The Administration has been relentless in working to undermine critics, stifle opposition, repackage the uglier points of the deal, and paint dissenters as war mongers. To be effective, the organized Jewish community will need to match this forthright and aggressive attitude.
Leading the charge should be AIPAC, a group that typically has shied away from direct confrontation with a sitting president. But it is for times like these that AIPAC was built. It is easy to lobby when there is little resistance, but now is when it is needed most.
History is on your side AIPAC, and so are the American people. It is time to man the ramparts, take aim, and charge. There is nothing to fear from the President. He has already done his worst. He has shown that he doesn’t respond to pleasantries. He will only respond to the stiffest opposition we can muster.
But it is not just the duty of the major Jewish groups. Every member of our community, from institutional leaders to grassroots activists, and even those who are usually unaffiliated must strive to ensure that their voice is heard.
Shlomo Hamelech famously said, “There is a time for peace and a time for war.” Now we must go to war against this deal so that in the future, hopefully, we may have peace.
The author is the Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner and director of the Gershon Jacobson Foundation. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.