350 Rabbis Urge Congress: Oppose Iran Nuclear Deal

Following liberal rabbis' letter urging Congress to support Iran deal, prominent Orthodox rabbis push back: 'This is your defining moment.'

Ari Soffer ,

John Kerry meets Iranian FM Javad Zarif in Geneva
John Kerry meets Iranian FM Javad Zarif in Geneva

A group of 350 prominent rabbis have written to the US Congress urging them to oppose the deal recently reached with Iran over its nuclear program.

Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP), which is composed of over 350 prominent rabbis in Israel and the Jewish diaspora, sent the letter to US Legislators on Capitol Hill, warning them of "the terrorist, national security and economic threats - posed by the agreement - to the US, the leader of the Free World, upon whom depends global safety."

The letter comes in the same week as 340 liberal rabbis - most hailing from the Reform and Conservative movements - signed a letter urging Congress to support the deal.

The RCP, in contrast, is comprised of leading Orthodox rabbis.

"Your vote on the agreement... will either facilitate a nuclear war or spare humanity of a nuclear war," the letter continues, underlining concerns by the deal's opponents that it emboldens Iran and actually guarantees the Iranian regime will eventually obtain nuclear weapons, rather than prevent it from doing so.

Specifically, the rabbis warned of the threat posed by Iran's many terrorist proxies, who are expected to gain million of dollars or more from sanctions relief granted to the Islamic Republic under the deal.

The Obama administration has itself admitted at least "some" of the sanctions relief will go towards funding terrorism, while terrorist groups such as Hezbollah are already openly gloating at the prospect of greater Iranian financial support as a result of the deal.

The RCP warned of Iranian-sponsored terrorist "sleeper cells" in the US, something counterterrorism experts have repeatedly voiced concern over, and which Iranian officials have boasted of in the past.

The letter continues by quoting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the nuclear deal's most vocal critic: "The Iranians aren't even trying to hide the fact that they will use the hundreds of billions that they will receive under this agreement in order to arm their terror machine and they are clearly saying that they will continue their struggle against the US and its allies, first among them being Israel, of course.

"Today Iran is arming terrorist organizations with missiles – tomorrow they will have the ability to arm them and themselves with much deadlier weapons. The agreement that was signed paves Iran's way to arm itself with nuclear weapons within a decade, if Iran decides to honor the agreement, and before then if it decides to violate it, as it is usually does."

"It is therefore crystal clear the infusion of billions of dollars in sanctions relief will finance Iran’s ongoing global campaign of terror against Israel and other U.S. allies, and be used to further exert its influence across the Middle East thereby harming U.S. interests," the letter continues.

"We fail to understand President Obama's and the European countries' irrational obsession with encouraging and protecting Iran's nuclear program, which ultimately poses a threat to them as well as Israel. 

Further noting that "the current agreement with Iran jeopardizes not only American interests but threatens the very existence of the State of Israel," the rabbis added that in their view staying silent would be "a grave sin."

"Over two thousand years ago, in ancient Persia – present day Iran – Jews faced a similar situation. An "ayatollah" by the name of Haman set a scheme in motion that would have annihilated the entire Jewish nation in a single day. Mordechai, the Jewish leader, turned to his niece Queen Esther, the wife of the Persian king and the highest ranking Jewish official at that time, and appealed to her to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people and ask the king to nullify the decree.

"Esther hesitated, however, and claimed that her actions would not only fail to help, but would make matters worse. Mordechai retorted that this was her defining moment: “If you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from somewhere else, but you will have forfeited this privilege. Who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained your royal position."

"Mordechai's eternal words ring true today, as well. We have reached a defining moment in the history of Israel and the U.S., and in the lives of those who support her. If you keep silent at a time like this, by not opposing the agreement, relief and deliverance will come to Israel and the U.S. from elsewhere, but you will have forfeited the privilege of standing by them. And who knows -- perhaps it was just for such a moment that you were elected to Congress or Senate of the great United States of America."

The petition ends by appealing directly to members of congress: "We urge you: Oppose this dangerous deal!"