© 2014 Temple Beth Torah, Fremont, CA

A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 7/31/15

July 31, 2015

One key issue occupying my attention at this time is the recently concluded Nuclear Agreement with Iran. I cannot recall an issue in public life that is more fraught with the potential for catastrophe or a pathway for a reduction of hostilities.
 
My initial response to this agreement is favorable. I side with the viewpoint that a diplomatic accord with Iran delays the possibility of it developing a nuclear weapon. The reduction of sanctions against Iran may serve to not only benefit the people of Iran but also support efforts within the country to bring it into wider contact with the Western world. It seems to me that that the only alternative to this agreement would be for the United States to use military might – and after our country’s disastrous invasion of Iraq and our troops’ deployment in the quagmire of Afghanistan – the American people lack the will to go to war once again.    
 
But deep reservations about this agreement are warranted. Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan.  For many years it has supported terrorist activities around the globe.  Its leaders have repeatedly expressed a desire to destroy Israel – and unlike other nations that have been hostile to the Jewish state, Iran has the potential to deliver on this terrifying threat. There are many reasons to not trust Iran – and it is not clear at all whether this agreement contains sufficient provisions and safeguards that will prevent Iran from unleashing destruction not only upon Israel, but throughout the world.
 
Reactions to this agreement within the Jewish world have been extremely mixed. Not surprisingly, Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been a vociferous opponent of this accord. However, it is important to know that there is a broad consensus among Israeli leaders across the political spectrum that this agreement is a bad deal.
 
Here in the United States, there is real division among Jewish leaders and organizations regarding the agreement. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has taken a position of strong opposition. In contrast, J Street, an organization that views itself as progressive, supports the accord.  
 
At the moment, I am in favor of this diplomatic agreement.  However, I know that I need to study this issue more thoroughly.  To this end, I want to share with you two resources so that you can engage in your own process of reflection.  AIPAC has produced online resources and analysis which you can find at http://www.aipac.org/
 
For a different view, I encourage you to read about J Street’s perspective at http://jstreet.org/irandealresources 
 
The debate over the agreement will not be resolved in a matter of days or even weeks.  However, as always, it is to all of our benefit that we learn as much as we can so that we can bring an informed perspective to this critically important issue.  

 
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