Less than 36 hours before the announcement of a deal between Iran and the West, I attended an event at the B'nai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation in Towson, Maryland. The speaker was David Hazony, the senior editor of the Tower Magazine, and a senior member of The Israel Project. The speech is available in its entirety at David Hazony from The Israel Project: Israel and Iran, including a few closing words from their rabbi, Rabbi Hauer.
Hazony gave a sobering speech on Israel's two-front war (the battlefield and the media), the threat concerning Iran's nuclear program, the new challenges facing Israel, and he was supposed to offer ways that the pro-Israel community can address those challenges.
As I looked around the sanctuary, I noticed various levels of "orthodoxy" judging by the attire of those in attendance. I am sure that I wasn't the only gentile in attendance. One thing that everyone wore was a face set firm with deep concern. This was an attentive audience.
He began by stating the obvious--politicians will spin information-- in order to explain what he does in his position at TIP. He said that he has the difficult job of helping the public and those in the media understand when they are being played. He stated:
He believes that beginning with Israel's war last summer with Hamas and the Palestinians, Israel is fighting on two fronts: the battlefield and the media. While Israel consistently wins on the battlefield, she loses in the media. His theory of why Hamas continued to fire on Israel even though the iron dome was blocking their missiles is that they wanted Israel to react so that they could take the battle to the media. They did and it was effective. This lead to the discussion about the Iranian negotiations because there has been an information war surrounding those as well."I've always believed that all you have to do is say the truth in a deep enough and compelling way...and you'll win." [Bless his heart.]
The negotiations were first presented to Israel and the American public as an alternative to war. War was the buzz word meant to neutralize those who were for increasing sanctions and against the negotiations. If you disagreed, you must be a war monger. You must want war. The original premise of the negotiations was the dismantling of Iran's nuclear program first, followed by the lifting of sanctions, with all options on the table in the absence of an agreement. After about a year an a half, the U.S. stopped using the word dismantle and took the use of military force off the table.
Hazony predicted that the deal will be significantly worse than the one agreed upon in Switzerland, which in itself he thought was a very bad deal. They have had good information and have been proven right about what's been going on in the negotiations all along."The Americans and the West were progressively capitulating on very crucial elements of what a reasonable nuclear deal had to be...one after another, after another, of what they themselves declared to be red lines."
He began by defining three parts to the deal:
- What the Iranians must give up
- What the Iranians receive
- What does not change at all
What the Iranians Give UpThe Iranians give us a commitment to not develop a nuclear program that is unverifiable, unenforceable, temporary, and dangerous. The negotiations began with an expectation of anywhere-anytime-access, which has been capitulated to something called managed access. If the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wants access they have to ask the Iranians. There is no easy mechanism to reinstate the sanctions if they do not comply. Instead there is a political process where all of the countries involved in this deal come together to discuss and vote on it. Some of those votes are predictable. The U.S. vote will depend on who is in office.
What the Iranians ReceiveThe Iranians receive money, the lifting of the arms embargo, they retain the infrastructure of their nuclear program, complete legitimization, and a success for this regime. It is estimated that their upfront signing bonus alone will be between $50B-$150B. If they receive only the $50B and spent only 20 percent ($10B) towards expansionism and terror that will double their current annual budget for their aggressive activities in the world (estimated now to be approximately $6B-$12B). Lifting the arms embargo will flood the most volatile region in the world with weapons. Retaining the infrastructure of their nuclear program will enable them to quickly restore and expand after 10 years or covertly without ceasing. Until now their nuclear program has been illegal. Now it will be legitimized and difficult if not impossible to get the UN Security Council to act against them. Hazony believes the most dangerous thing that we are giving the Iranians is a success for the current regime for them to tout to their people and to the world.
What Does Not Change at AllWhat does not change at all are human rights abuses, support for terrorism in the world, their expansionism, and their open hatred of the West, the U.S., and Israel.
"No, it is not a good deal; it is not a bad deal. It is a catastrophic deal."
Q&AThe answers are direct quotes from Hazony.
1. How do we stop it?
The deck is stacked against stopping it through congressional action. They have 60 days to review the deal. If they vote against it, the president can and will veto it. Then it would take a 2/3 vote to overturn the veto. We can work really hard to make sure that Congress knows the facts and understands what's at stake. For public opinion and the media we have to make a lot of noise. There was a time when we would take it to the streets, but I understand that this has become old-fashioned. We need to show how much we care during that 60-day period.
2. What about the other countries?
The Russians want the deal in order to shrink the power of the U.S. in the world. The Germans won't stand up to the Russians because of oil. The U.S. has already decided for it. The British and the French won't standup against the U.S. The U.S. initially lead the charge for the sanctions and has a large influence on global economies, so it is pretty much up to the U.S.
3. (a) Why does this administration and this so-called president want this deal?
I can give my personal theory. The president was elected to stop U.S. overreach in the world. The Middle East is chaotic and Iran at least appears orderly. I think that the president has made a decision to empower Iran.
(b) How will they try to sell this deal? What will be the spin?
This will be sold as a "historic agreement" and a "defining moment" in history. The word "war" will be used a lot as if that is the only alternative and to try to scare people into accepting the deal.
4. Do you think that Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan could collaborate regarding Iran?
They already are behind the scenes and publically in small ways as never seen before. It is a little trickier for Saudi Arabia because of the Palestinian issue. That is a hurdle to overcome, but they are already showing signs of willingness.
5. What would make Kerry walk away from the negotiating table?
It is too late for him to walk away. He had warned, "We won't sit here forever". In the Middle East that is a very weak threat.
6. Would Hillary Clinton be any different than Obama?
Democratic candidates cannot stand up to a Democratic president. Later in the campaign they will have to somewhat in order to defeat the Republicans. [stuttering and stammering] I give people the benefit of the doubt. She has given me no reason to doubt her.
A Word from the RabbiThe rabbi encouraged everyone to call their representatives in Congress. He told them not to write letters (USPS) or email, but to call. He told them to speak calmly and try not to sound like a "nut case". He discouraged rallies and marches saying those were for a more broader and organized Jewish community and not for their local community.
Great Speech but Short On ActionIt said on the flier for this event that Hazony "would offer ways for the pro-Israel community to address those [new] challenges". I was disappointed when he finished his speech without doing so. To me, the call to action should have been the most important part of his speech. If indeed this is a catastrophic deal, why talk for an hour without a desperate plea to act? He stated that the likelihood of the U.S. voting to reinstate sanctions should Iran not comply "depends on who is in office". This would have been a great time to make it clear that Progressive Democrats are turning their loyalties towards the Palestinians. He could have pointed out how many times our Democratic president has acted against the interests of Israel. This would have been the perfect time to tell them that elections count, and that they need to ask themselves why statistically the Jews voted for Obama and typically vote Democrat. He could have explained how the Progressives have changed the Democratic Party. He didn't.
He could not avoid it entirely because the first question during Q&A was how do we stop this deal? He accurately described the unlikelihood of Congress overturning Obama's certain veto, but he failed to say it is because the 2/3 vote needed would not happen because the Democrats will vote with Obama. He then went on to make rallies and marches seem unseemly. He did say that they need to make some noise to let Congress know that they care. I guess by noise he meant telephones ringing? In a word...lame.
He was asked directly during Q&A if he thought that Hillary would be any different than Obama? This was an open door to explain Progressivism. He stuttered and stammered so much trying to avoid the truth that Hillary is very likely not to be any different than Obama regarding Israel. How many Jewish people will vote straight Democrat in 2016? His failure to "explain to them how they are being played," as he described his job function, will not lead to a better outcome in 2016.
The Rabbi also asked them to call their representatives in Congress. He told them not to write letters or emails, but to just call. He didn't encourage his congregation to unite with a broader more organized Jewish community for rallies and marches, etc.
I was heartsick when it ended without any solutions or ways to fight back. Everyone looked more pensive than at the start. I felt a heaviness in my chest, and I wanted to stand up and admonish them. Let me make it as simple as I can: vote Conservative, call your representatives, email your representatives, FAX your representatives, snail mail your representatives, unite with other Jewish communities, rally, and march. Flood your social media with pro-Israel information. Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers. Be careful to whom you give your donations. Do not financially support politicians, groups, or schools who do not absolutely stand with Israel. Do your homework and be informed. If you are able but not willing to do these things, you might as well have stayed home and skipped the speech. Just saying.