U.S. to protect Iran?

A key clause of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal (part 10 on page 142) includes a promise by America for “Cooperation to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect, and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems.” So if Israel tries to threaten Iran’s nuclear bomb facilities with a computer virus, will America be obligated to protect Iran from it? If Israel must send warplanes to destroy nuclear facilities, will President Obama respond to this threat and order the Israeli planes shot out of the sky?

Scott Abramson   |   San Mateo


Facts argue against pact

The arguments for the Iran nuclear pact are all based on unverifiable spin. The arguments against the pact are based on facts. It is factual that Iran will receive funding of over 100 billion dollars initially, with even more coming later as financial constraints are removed. This funding will be used to support more fully the Muslim terrorist anti-Israel groups, such as Hezbollah, that Iran has supported for years. The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a new volume titled “Palestine,” has outlined his strategy to annihilate Israel.

Whether the pact will slow Iran’s development of nuclear weapons is based on believing Iran will truly follow the pact, or that the International Atomic Energy Agency can and will enforce it. We do not even fully know what agreements the IAEA has with Iran, and it is highly doubtful that the IAEA has any effective enforcement mechanism. Iran has been continuously lying when it says it has no nuclear weapons program. And we are supposed to believe that it will truthfully follow the pact’s constraints.

This pact should undoubtedly be voted down!

Arthur Cohn   |   Portola Valley


Not silent, just thinking before shouting

Contrary to letter writer Scott Abramson’s assertion (July 31), Democratic Jewish senators and representatives have not been silent on the Iran agreement.

As Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., the longest-serving Jewish member of the House, said, “In my view, the only anchors in public life are to dig deeply into the facts and consult broadly and then to say what you believe.” As Edmund Burke wrote, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

The GOP presidential candidates did a great disservice to the entire world when they rushed to the media microphone (before the agreement was even released) to set brush fires in people’s minds by making inflammatory statements, intended to pray on people’s fears and worst inclinations. Talk of marching Jews to the ovens and declaring the president of the United States a leading sponsor of terrorism has no place in our public discourse. Samuel Adams wrote, “Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.” We should endeavor to prove him wrong.

As the sister of Amir Hekmati (one of the Americans held in Iranian prison) said of her congressional representative (Dan Kildee, D-Mich., who is in favor of the agreement), he personifies “how a public servant should represent his constituents.”  

Our Democratic Jewish senators and representatives honor and pay great respect to the Jewish people and our values and traditions by giving serious matters the thoughtful deliberation they deserve. I am proud of them. Perhaps GOP candidates should consider this when they seek the Jewish vote.

Michael Feiner   |   Albany


Big questions about Iran pact

Almost everything the administration assured us was critical when the Iran negotiations began has been lost in a cascade of concessions. Even worse, as Ruth Wisse has written in the Wall Street Journal, “This is the first time the U.S. will have deliberately entered into a pact with a country committed to annihilating another people — a pact that doesn’t even require formal repudiation of the country’s genocidal aims.”

The Bay Area Jewish community, which the federation says it is trying to bring together, would be “further divided” by opposition to the Iran deal? If this is the case, then unlike the many other federations voicing opposition to the “deal,” there may be nothing substantive around which our community actually can unite.

Julia Lutch   |   Davis


Arson didn’t happen in a vacuum

In a perverse expression of Jewish nationalism, extremists firebomb a family’s home, murdering an infant and severely injuring others. A himmel-geshrai! A broch! A churban! Abhorrent. Sickening. There are no words …

It is tempting to regard this as an act of madmen. But as Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak indicated, in the case against Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, we must consider who is responsible for creating the context in which this act was incubated. A long stream of attacks against mosques, churches, and Palestinians — with pathetically few prosecutions. Stabbings of six people, one fatally, at the Jerusalem Pride Parade. We also see resistance to broadcasting women’s voices and to women reading Torah at the Kotel. The government backtracks on provisions to reduce the Orthodox monopoly on conversion. Politically, virtually every mainstream Jewish political party reflexively opposes the deal with Iran, despite significant support and/or acceptance by many Israeli security experts. And, of course, there is the long-standing encroachment on Palestinian lands.

These are not the same phenomena. But they are manifestations along a continuum of fear and distrust — often justified — that metastasizes into hatred, denying the “other’s” humanity, and ultimately leading to violence. Naturally, Palestinians have their own narrative, leading to a similar cycle. We on the outside must try to abort these cycles.

History teaches that we disregard threats to annihilate us at our peril. But ignoring signs of a nation lurching toward nationalist extremes is also foolhardy. Thus, we must do all we can to effect change. Politically, we must support Israel’s security while searching for diplomatic solutions; economically, we should transfer our support to organizations supporting progressive agendas, such as J Street, New Israel Fund, and Israel Religious Action Center; socially, we must tell Israelis we fear they are sliding down the abyss. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Yonkel Goldstein   |   San Carlos