David FriedmanThe writer serves as the President of American Friends of Bet El. He is a practicing trial lawyer in New York and maintains a residence in Jerusalem.
The JCPOA is not going to be thwarted by Congress. Even if the Senate musters the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and reject the deal, there is no chance that it will produce enough votes to override a presidential veto. So for the near term, the United States will be a party to this reckless act of appeasement.
Our political leaders, especially the Jewish ones, have failed us. Jerry Nadler, an outspoken supporter of Israel and a long time congressman from one of New York’s most Jewish districts, proved to be all talk and no action. Obama had him at hello. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from a heavily Jewish district in South Florida and head of the Democratic National Committee, elevated politics over principle. Over and over again, she went on the airwaves to defend the Iran deal, spouting the nonsensical talking points fed her by the administration. Other Jewish legislators were no better. Even Chuck Schumer, who will vote against the deal, did nothing to exercise the considerable influence he has over his colleagues.
Our non-political leadership failed us as well. While there were notable exceptions, many prominent American Jews – in the rabbinate, academia, the arts and elsewhere – were all too quick to support the Iran deal. In the face of united opposition to the deal from the State of Israel – spanning the far left to the far right – many American Jews, none with any expertise in military security, nonetheless honored their loyalty to Obama above all else. Incredibly, a greater percentage of American Jews support the Iran deal than the population at large.
We must now confront the painful reality that Israel currently cannot trust a Democratic administration nor a majority of the American Jewish community to side with it on critical and existential matters of security. That is not to say that the relationship between the two countries is, God forbid, irreconcilably broken. A Republican administration will hopefully emerge that will share Israel’s world view, and, even under a Democratic administration, military cooperation and coordination between the USA and Israel is at a very high level (in the interests of both sides) and does not appear to be in jeopardy (at least not yet). But it is unfortunately apparent that many of Israel’s friends in America have disappointed us and proven unreliable in observing their pledges of loyalty and support when needed the most.
Incredibly, a greater percentage of American Jews support the Iran deal than the population at large.
Among the perilous consequences of the current situation is the potential loss of Israel’s power of deterrence against its enemies. Terrorist organizations read the same newspapers that we do, and they are gleeful in their perception that the United States, including its Jewish leaders, has abandoned Israel in its time of need. As they see Israel in an increasingly weakened state, their aggression is likely to increase proportionately.
Israel must respond to its rejection by the United States and send a clear message to its enemies who undoubtedly are salivating over their good fortune. If I were Bibi Netanyahu, I might write a letter that looks something like this:
You have acted in a manner that you deem in the best interests of your country. Now Israel must do the same.
For decades, Israel has shown great restraint against its hostile neighbors to accommodate the geopolitical goals of the United States. In the First Gulf War, Israel was besieged by scud missiles from Iraq but held its fire to permit the United States to maintain a coalition with Arab countries. Following each of its defensive wars, Israel has returned land validly captured at the request of the American administration. More recently, Israel has responded to indiscriminate rocket fire into its population centers with the type of limited force that no other country would consider, all at the request of our American ally.
"Ten years ago, Israel evacuated 8000 Jews from Gaza with the support of the United States in an attempt to demonstrate its commitment to Palestinian self-determination. The evacuation almost split the country in half and ultimately proved disastrous, but it was at least accompanied by a letter from then-president George W. Bush that recognized the permanence of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ripped up that letter virtually the day you appointed her.
Israel thus has proven, time and time again, that it is willing to make great sacrifices on account of its friendship with, and loyalty to, the United States, with only mixed results in return. But never have Israel’s concerns been so completely rejected as in the case of the Iran agreement. Your intent to implement a deal with Iran at all costs puts my country at an untenable risk, both in the short and the long term. In the short term, you will be funding Hezbollah and Hamas with billions of dollars to terrorize our population. In the long term – only 10 years from now – you will have created a nuclear Iran. As our enemies rejoice in their good fortune and predictions of Israel’s demise – all a direct result of the JCPOA -- Israel must re-calibrate its security platform in response.
With our enemies expected to grow stronger with enhanced weapons, and more emboldened by the return of Iran to the community of nations, we can no longer follow a path of 'proportionate force' in response to attacks against our people -- attacks that American leaders have acknowledged will result from the implementation of the JCPOA. Such proportionality, followed to its logical conclusion, will only encourage further militancy and ultimately lead to our destruction. Rather, we are respectfully informing the leadership of the United States, our greatest friend, as well as all of our enemies, that any further attacks on Israel, whether by rocket, by tunnel, by incursion or otherwise, will be met with entirely disproportionate force – the type of force every other nation has used and will use under comparable circumstances -- designed to immediately end the battle and discourage and deter further misconduct. You have left us with no other choice.
Winston Churchill is considered by many to be the greatest leader of his generation. To defeat the Nazis, Churchill, in coordination with American forces, bombed population centers in Dresden, Germany and elsewhere in early 1945. Civilian life was lost but the war quickly ended, Nazism was defeated and Churchill was regaled as a hero. No one holds life to be more precious than the People of Israel and we will never target civilians. But we will no longer permit human shields to limit our self-defense and we will send a clear message to deter the terrorist attacks that we know are coming. We will not be held to a different standard than the United States, we will not bow to the world’s hypocrisy and we will defeat Islamic terrorism by any and all means necessary.
I hope this clarifies our position in response to the JCPOA’s approval.