PEOPLE DEMONSTRATE in favor of the Iran nuclear deal in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday. Netanyahu was expected to do his best to mend fences after the nasty fight over the Iran nuclear deal and to discuss how to minimize the damage of that agreement and enhance Israel’s military deterrent.
As prime minister, it is Netanyahu’s job to make the best of a bad situation and move past the disagreement in the interest of repairing relations with the administration.
American Jews, however, are not Israeli citizens and, as Americans, we should not be so quick to forgive the administration or the members of Congress who sided with the president because our first concern must be standing up for Jewish and American values that are being flouted by Iran.
The concern with Iran is not limited to its nuclear program; we all should be appalled by Iran’s continuing violation of the human rights of Baha’is, gays, women, journalists and political dissidents. Furthermore, Iran routinely violates the Genocide Convention, to which the United States is a signatory, by its repeated genocidal threats and incitement directed against Israel.
Even if this administration isn’t willing to speak out (where are you Samantha Power, former critic of genocide) against all of these abuses, you would think the president would be outraged over the conviction of an American reporter and arrest of another American, which are just the latest examples of the Iranian leadership showing contempt for Obama to remind the world that Iran has no intention of changing its behavior in light of the nuclear agreement.
As The Washington Post
editorialized: “Obama has frequently suggested that the nuclear deal would prompt a relaxation of barriers between Iran and the West. So far, the opposite appears to be happening. While anticipating the collection of up to $100 billion in frozen assets, Iran’s military and security services are acting to ensure that there is no further detente. In that they have the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Tuesday celebrated the anniversary of the seizing of hostages at the US Embassy by proclaiming that the slogan ‘death to America’ will live forever. The Obama administration has reacted to these provocations, including the new arrests, with the equivalent of a shrug.”
I agree with the Post’s prescription that if the Americans are not soon released, new sanctions should be imposed on Iran, but this is not enough.
Our leaders, Obama and his supporters in Congress, betrayed us by putting political expediency ahead of American values and opposition to public calls for mass murder. By their words and deeds they have legitimized Iran as a nuclear threshold state and given Iran license to threaten and instigate genocide. This is intolerable.
We must send a strong message to our representatives that it is unacceptable to treat the vile Iranian regime as a partner in stabilizing the Middle East. Deal or no deal, Iran should be considered a pariah that merits ostracism and punishment rather than a financial and political windfall.
Obligations inherent in the deal should not deter us from imposing punitive measures against Iran based on its domestic human rights violations, sponsorship of terrorism and threats of genocide. If Obama will not act, Congress should take steps to see that Iran’s leaders are prosecuted under the Genocide Convention for the crime of advocating genocide, cut off aid to UN agencies and other international bodies that allow Iran membership, call for a ban on Iranian participation in international sporting events (where Iranian athletes refuse to compete against Israelis) and sanction members of the Iranian regime involved in human rights abuses.
Congress should also call for arrest warrants against Iranians who participate in the illegal abduction and imprisonment of American citizens. Compensation for the victims as well as reparations should be deducted before any frozen assets are released to Iran as part of the nuclear deal.
We cannot simply forgive and forget those members of Congress, including our friends, who turned their backs on us when we needed them most. They must act now to mitigate the damage of the catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal and hold Iran accountable for its words and deeds. Only then should the pro-Israel community accept them back into the fold. And those who are not willing to atone and stand up to Iran’s genocidal intent against Israel and America should pay an electoral price. They should not receive financial backing from donors. Why would we support elected officials who vote to confer legitimacy on the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers? Those who stood beside us in this fight, like Senator Robert Menendez, Israel’s great friend from New Jersey, deserve our thanks and support.
TOO MANY members of Congress take our support for granted, as we learned from the fight over the nuclear deal. That makes us politically weak, and such weakness can lead to the failure to protect Jewish and American values. And history has taught us that powerlessness can have devastating consequences for the Jewish people. As Jews, we believe in forgiving those who atone, but to simply overlook those who played politics with Israel’s survival? I hope that Netanyahu gets what he asks for from the president in terms of military assistance for Israel.
But no conceivable arms package can compensate for allowing Iran to remain an existential threat to the Jewish state. And no conceivable aid package can make up for legitimizing a government that brutalizes its citizens to an horrific degree. I also trust that Obama will not force Netanyahu to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians at the very moment when incitement by their leaders is once again making Jewish blood run in the streets. Instead, Netanyahu should demand that the president unequivocally condemn the Palestinians lest the mullahs in Iran be given further evidence that this administration will not take sufficient steps to stop the murder of Jews and to stand up for democratic principles.
The author is the founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including his most recent, The Israel Warriors Handbook. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.