Let’s turn the tables for a moment.
Imagine if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was threatening to murder all blacks in the Middle East. What if he tweeted regularly that people of dark skin are of the devil and must be annihilated. Would the American government be negotiating with him? Or would the US face international opprobrium for legitimizing a government with racist, genocidal intent against an identifiable ethnic group.
Or what if he was threatening to murder every fifth woman in the Middle East due to some ritualistic, orgiastic requirement of his demented worldview. Would the US be treating with this man absent his repudiation of such murderous intent?
Why is it that threatening to murder the Jews is acceptable?
Khamenei has threatened to annihilate 6 million Jews in Israel at least as many times as Hitler threatened the extermination of European Jews in the 1920s and ‘30s. In November he tweeted that “there is no cure for Israel utter than annihilation.” And here we are witnesses to the world’s foremost republic and sole superpower negotiating with a government with a clearly defined agenda of carrying out a second Holocaust.
On MSNBC’s The Ed Show this week, I debated Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund about the Iran deal. We’ve had many debates on MSNBC over the last few weeks. He is an honorable opponent. But I made this point: How can we be legitimizing a government that openly and repeatedly calls for the extermination of all Israel’s Jews? Would we do the same if the Iranians called for the annihilation of another ethnic group, say, blacks in the Middle East? Gays in the Middle East? (Oh, Iran is already doing that). Joe got upset and worked up. “Now wait just a minute.” But he didn’t answer the question.
There’s got to be one redline in world negotiations today and that line has to be genocide. Any government that is engaged in genocide or that is building weapons to carry out a genocide or that is actively calling for a genocide cannot receive international legitimacy. It’s the reason we don’t talk to Islamic State. Aside from its obvious brutality and beheadings, which Iran also practices, it is engaged in the wholesale slaughter of Yazidis and Christians. So why does the president of Iran get a phone call from President Barack Obama joking about New York traffic when his government is repeatedly calling for the liquidation of all Jews?
And this is just one of the mystifying aspects of President Obama’s engagement in the Iran deal. The other: How could a leader who showed such courage and resolve in taking out America’s foremost enemy, Osama bin Laden, now surrender, capitulate to, and appease its foremost threat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the terrorist overlord who just last recently yet again promised “Death to America.”
In full-page ads that our organization, The World Values Network, took out in The New York Times and The Washington Post, we put in a bold headline: “Mr. President, fighting al-Qaida made you like Churchill. Appeasing Iran will make you like Chamberlain.”
In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed he could satisfy Hitler’s ravenous ambitions with the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia in the infamous Munich Pact. The doomed agreement was endorsed by the New York Times as “the price for peace.” A more lamentable, discrediting editorial has seldom been written. The price turned out to be 60 million lives.
Today, the United States is on the verge of concluding a pact that will enable the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism to become a nuclear power, leaving Iran with a military-grade, 6,500-centrifuge-strong uranium enrichment capability, along with long-range missiles. Here is today’s “price for peace.”
But just as there was no “peace for our time” in appeasing Hitler in the 1930s, there will no peace by appeasing the Hitler-wannabe Khamenei in the 2010s.
The comparison is not extreme. Hitler publicly promised the extermination of the world’s Jews. Khamenei promises exactly the same.
President Obama is a historic figure, the first African-American president. Every year he honorably conducts a Passover Seder in the White House. He is very familiar with the long, painful history of the Jewish people, later mirrored in the painful African-American experience.
I do not doubt that President Obama is a friend of the Jewish people, even as he has shown unfortunate and undisguised loathing for Israel’s elected leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. But the president is a witness to how Jews today are being murdered all the world over. He likewise understands that just 70 years ago, one out of every three Jews on earth was shot, or gassed and cremated.
We need him to stand up for us. We need him to fight evil. Signing this calamitous Iran deal does precisely the opposite.
The president must demand that Khamenei personally and publicly repudiate all genocidal threats against Israel.
Second, he should demand that Iran, which has murdered thousands of American troops through Shi’a proxies and is called by his State Department the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism,” cease all support of terrorism worldwide.
Third, the president should condemn the stoning of women and the hangings of gays before any deal is signed. America cannot legitimize a government engaged in such barbarity.
Finally, the United States cannot sign a deal with a catastrophic one-year weapons-breakout period which endangers America, Israel and the world.
Iran now has control of five Middle Eastern capitals. President Obama himself said that its obtaining a nuclear weapon is “a game changer” for the world. Faced with a threat of this magnitude, the American people deserve the right to have the final say on any deal with Iran by allowing their elected leaders in Congress to vote, rather than the current plan of taking it to the United Nations Security Council where Vladimir Putin’s veto will decide.
There are currently some 65 senators prepared to vote for the Corker-Menendez-Schumer bill that will require Senate review of the president’s arms control treaty with Iran. In all of American history there has never been an arm-control treaty that was not ratified by the Senate. This would be the first one.
There are also 367 members of the US House of Representatives from both parties, and many of Iran’s neighbors, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, that have expressed grave concern about the Iran deal.
Winston Churchill prophetically warned Neville Chamberlain: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”
The shortest road to war is always the path of appeasement. It is a road we dare not choose, so that we are not confronted shortly with a much more ruinous Middle East war. Iran cannot be allowed to become a nuclear power.Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.