How Jews Are Reacting to New Era of Ties With Iran

Now that the United States and European Union have lifted economic sanctions on Iran, how are Jewish observers — from America to Israel, and across the political spectrum — reacting? And where do they believe we should go from here? We’ve gathered a few ideas, many excerpted from longer pieces (follow the links to read them in full):

Institute for National Security Studies’s Emily B. Landau:

“Instead of shoring up the nonproliferation regime, the Iran deal is likely to dangerously undermine it… Problems of verification weaken the ability to effectively monitor Iran’s nuclear program, but there are also implications for other cases. There is no reason to expect that in dealing with future violators of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, these states will not refer back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a benchmark for verification. If Iran doesn’t have to open military facilities or allow snap inspections, why should anyone else? As such, the JCPOA actually creates a new loophole. If a state wants to build a military nuclear capability in violation of the NPT, but wants to fool the international community and remain within the treaty, the place to build such a program would obviously be at a military site… Does Washington recognize the holes in the deal, is it ignoring them, or does it believe they are not important, or perhaps less important than being able to present a deal?”

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin:

“Obama has set a very low standard for Iranian good behavior. As much as Americans should be glad about the sailors going free, they need to understand that on other issues of substance that speak to Iran’s ability to impose an axis of its allies across the region, the U.S. has gotten nothing for all of the gifts it is bestowing on the Islamist regime in the nuclear deal. The post-deal environment is one in which Iran has gotten stronger. A strong Iran doesn’t need to hold sailors. It’s already picked America’s pocket.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt:

“It is a positive step that the regime freed four Americans held on false charges. We hope that the regime will soon release American prisoner Robert Levinson, who has been held captive in Iran for nearly nine years and whose fate remains unknown. The true test of Iranian behavior on the nuclear deal will come in the months and years ahead, now that the sanctions are being removed. It’s a positive step, but it is crucial for the international community to remain vigilant and ensure continued compliance going forward.

“Unfortunately, in the broadest sense, Iran’s behavior since the nuclear deal has not instilled confidence in its desire to return to the family of nations, as evidenced by its testing of advanced ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. policies; its institutionalized discrimination against its own religious, ethnic and LGBT minorities; its continued aggressions in the region including Lebanon, Yemen and Syria where its support of the brutal Assad regime has contributed to the Syrian civil war and disastrous refugee crisis; and in its continued anti-Israel and anti-Semitic policies, such as its latest Holocaust cartoon contest, a forum for Holocaust denial that is unacceptable in any circumstance.”

CNN Political Commentator Sally Kohn:

American Jewish Committee:

“We are concerned about Iran’s ability to deceive the international community, as it has in the past (and as other countries, including North Korea and Syria, have done). The international community should establish clear benchmarks (beyond the provisions of the JCPOA) about what would constitute violations of Iran’s obligations under the deal and what would be the penalties imposed on Iran in response to such violations; Iran must be under no illusions that it can evade constraints without invoking sanctions ‘snap-back.’

“In October and November last year, Iran conducted ballistic missile tests, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and in December – in a reckless act – it fired a missile within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz. We call on the UNSC to take the necessary measures to uphold its resolutions, and the U.S. administration to respond appropriately to Iranian military provocations; at a minimum, promised new missile-related sanctions should be imposed.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Israel’s policy is exactly as it has been — not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. What is clear is that Iran will now have more resources to divert to terrorism and its aggression in the region and around the world, and Israel is prepared to deal with any threat… [Discussions between Israel and the Obama administration are] currently being completed on a document of understandings for the coming decade regarding security assistance to the State of Israel. This is an important part of permanent policy between us and the United States, our ally, and it is important in order to repel threats in the region, especially the Iranian threat.”

Iran-Israel Expert Meir Javedanfar:

J Street:

“For the first time in nearly a decade, Iran does not have the nuclear material needed to build even a single bomb. That makes Americans, Israelis and the Iranian people themselves immeasurably safer… That Iran has completed these steps—and granted international inspectors the unprecedented access necessary to verify and continuously monitor compliance on an ongoing basis—in an unexpectedly short period of time is further proof of the power of tough, effective diplomacy in addressing some of our most serious security concerns. It is also a reminder that opponents of diplomacy who predicted recalcitrance, noncompliance and failure at every stage of negotiations and implementation were flat-out wrong.”

Emmy-Winning Actor Harry Shearer:

Outgoing Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo:

“There is no existential threat to Israel. Everyone knows that Israel is a very strong country. The era is past when Israel, as a young country, had to cope with existential threats.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.


Forward Staff

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

How Jews Are Reacting to New Era of Ties With Iran

Thank you!

This article has been sent!