Israel and the Iran Nuclear Deal

choicesThere has been very little reporting in the U.S. media about what Israelis think of the Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as it is formally known. In fact, given the media’s persistent focus on Prime Minister Netanyhu’s condemnation of the deal, it is tempting to think that every Jew inside Israel is also against the deal. But this is far from true.

I only hinted at this in a previous post about the nuclear agreement, so I thought it would be good to say more about the notable leaders from across the spectrum in Israel who cautiously support the agreement. But I’m not going to do that in my own words. I want you to hear from someone else, someone whose “first personal encounter with Iran left me surrounded by death and destruction.” Read: Someone who could easily justify a view that opposed the nuclear deal, instead cautiously supports it. Why?

This someone is Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff. I realize there is controversy and contention over the nuclear agreement even among friends, so I urge you to read his article, published in The Jerusalem Post on the eve of the agreement’s assured passage through the U.S. Congress. It is “in large part because of my memories [that] I stand with the growing number of Israelis and Americans, including many Jewish Americans, who support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran,” Resnicoff writes.

Sukkot structure with ladsIn the interest of full disclosure, Rabbi Resnicoff is a friend, but that is not why I want you to hear him. I have read a lot views about the deal, as I’m sure many of you have, but his article may be the best of the lot: in its sensitivity to both sides, its insider’s street cred, and the wise lesson that the solemn Jewish holiday of Sukkot can teach us about the nuclear deal.

Like the walls of the sukkot, Rabbi Resnicoff writes, the agreement is “a little shaky, and it might not last, but if it is the best that we can build right now – and I agree with the Israeli and American experts who say that it is – then build it we must.”

“[M]any Jewish groups have been trying to create the impression of consensus against the deal across the American Jewish community. But polling shatters that illusion, revealing that 63 percent of respondents who have an opinion on the deal are in favor of it. Top pro-Israel members of Congress from the past four decades have spoken out in favor of the deal. I was among more than 400 rabbis from across America’s denominational spectrum who signed a letter recommending support for the deal, at the same time urging increased efforts to fight Iran’s actions against Israel and other nations.”

“In Israel, too, the myth of the anti-deal consensus has been shattered. A pivotal point was the release of a letter in favor of the deal signed by dozens of the deans of Israel’s defense and intelligence elite, from former heads of the Mossad, Shin Bet and the Israeli nuclear program, to generals and admirals from all branches of the military.”

Read his entire article in The Jerusalem Post for full story of why Rabbi Resnicoff supports the deal. And then let’s have some conversation about it (use “Leave a Reply” at the end of this post).

©2015 by Charles Strohmer

Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, captain, USN (ret.), is a former special assistant on values and vision to the secretary and chief of staff of the US Air Force. He is a former national director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee and was the first rabbi to study at the US Naval War College.

Charles Strohmer is a frequent writer on politics, religion, and international relations. He is the author of several books and many articles and is the founding director of The Wisdom Project.

Top image by William Ward (via Creative Commons). Lower image from atzimmes (via Creative Commons).

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