Thursday, December 5, 2013

American Jewish Groups Dropped Ball on the Iran Deal

by Sammy Levine

When I visited Israel in the summer of 2012 and the American Presidential campaign was in full swing, my group met with an anonymous source who told us that the highest levels of the Netanyahu government, possibly including the Prime Minister himself, considered an Obama victory to be “a nightmarish scenario” for the Jewish State. Now, that nightmare has become a reality.
The P5 + 1 reached an interim agreement last week with the Iranian government, whose leader Khameini recently said, “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them…the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.” This deal will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and will only slow down its race to the bomb by a couple months, according to most estimates, as the Mullah’s will maintain their capability to enrich uranium. In return, the Iranians are getting major sanctions relief in the form of at least $13 billion now available to them. The tough sanctions regime, which took decades of tough diplomacy to build up, will now be shattered.

The Mullah’s in Iran are rejoicing. Iranian President Rouhani has proclaimed: “The results of these talks is that the 5+1…have officially recognized Iran’s nuclear rights… the right to enrich [uranium] on Iranian soil is the right of the Iranian nation, and everyone can interpret it as they wish… The text states explicitly that Iran will continue to enrich [uranium], and for this reason I say to the Iranian nation that the uranium enrichment activity in Iran will continue as in the past… In this six-month agreement, our [uranium enrichment] facilities at Natanz, Fordo, the Arak [plutonium reactor], [the uranium conversion facility at] Isfahan, and Bandar Abbas [i.e. the Bushehr reactor] will continue their activity.” Supreme Leader Khameini added, “The absolute achievements of this initial agreement are official recognition of Iran’s nuclear rights, and preservation of the nuclear achievements of the sons of this nation.” It has just come to light that Iran is planning to construct a second nuclear reactor in the province of Bushehr.

Former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton calls this deal an “abject surrender” for the United States. Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens calls it, “Worse Than Munich.” Prime Minister Netanyahu calls it “an historic mistake…this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.” Naftali Bennett, Chairman of the Jewish Home Party in Israel warns, “If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal signed this morning.” Even Israeli left-leaning Tzipi Livni said, “This is a terrible deal that will threaten not only us [Israel], but the entire world.” At ZOA, we believe this deal is our eras “Munich” and Obama and Kerry the new “Chamberlain.”

It is important to note that an Iranian nuclear weapon is not just a threat to Israel, but to the United States and the rest of the world. U.S. intelligence states Iran will have ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) that can reach our homeland by 2015. Furthermore, Iran already has operational missile sites in Venezuela, virtually in the United State’s backyard.

For those of us who are politically sober and realistic, we saw this day coming, the capitulation of America to Iran. The Obama administration has proven time and again that it is not serious about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. As ZOA National President Mortot Klein stated: “President Obama has not laid down any red lines beyond which the U.S. will not permit Iran to advance in its quest for nuclear weapons. This open-ended policy suggests that there is in fact no point at which President Obama would act militarily to stop Iran developing a weapon. Such suspicions can only be compounded by President Obama’s recent failure to act militarily on a red line that he actually did lay down, that is, the use of chemical or biological weapons by Syria against its own people.”

There are many Jewish and pro-Israel groups who are expressing dismay at the Iranian nuclear deal, but frankly, they are a little late to the party. The ZOA has been warning about this administration’s weakness for years.

Where were the myriad Jewish and pro-Israel organizations when the President chose notorious Israel hater and proponent of containing Iran, Chuck Hagel, to be Secretary of Defense? After all, Hagel’s selection, and subsequent confirmation by the Senate, and the Jewish communities general apathy, laid the groundwork for America’s appeasement of the Mullahs in Iran last week. The overwhelming silence of the Jewish community at the Hagel pick gave tacit approval to his anti-Israel, pro-containment views on Iran, which gave the administration an opening to pursue the disastrous deal reached last week.

Secretary of State John Kerry still maintains that there is “no daylight” between the United States and Israel. Who is he kidding?

In light of last week’s news, American Jews should ask themselves if the Jewish and pro-Israel groups they belong to are truly serving their interests.

Sam Levine is the Executive Director of the Western Region for the Zionist Organization of America. He can be reached at


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