January 27th, known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the date that marks the liberation of Auschwitz. This year, to commemorate the occasion, President Obama said that the United States resolves “…to stay true to the principle of ‘Never Again.’” Now, as Iran races to develop nuclear weapons , we must ask ourselves the question: What have we done to live up to the words, “Never Again”?
As Americans, we can be proud that over the past several years, the U.S. government has instituted increasingly tougher sanctions on Iran. Today, American companies, including their foreign subsidiaries, are prohibited from doing business in Iran with the exception of the sale of food and medicine. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our foreign friends and allies.
The truth is that with the exception of the European Union’s boycott on Iranian oil, for much of the world it remains business as usual with Iran. China, Russia, South Korea, and India might say the right things, but they simply aren’t taking substantial action to curtail their commerce with Iran. And for many of the world’s corporate actors, business with Iran has never been better. What can concerned Americans do?
It is time to ask ourselves some tough questions, and take action. Are we aware that our taxpayer dollars fund government contracts with foreign companies doing business in Iran? Are we aware that manufacturers of the foreign cars we buy – like Nissan and Mazda – are actually producing cars in Iran? Why are our pensions invested in foreign companies doing business in Iran that help to enrich the regime?
These questions are very troubling given the facts about Iran. Iran is illegitimately ruled by a regime responsible for the murder of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and civilians in Israel. It is a regime responsible for assisting its close ally, Syria, in its brutal repression that has cost the lives of over 60,000 civilians. It is a regime guilty of the most egregious abuses of human rights including the rape, torture, and murder of political and religious dissidents. And it is a regime that continues to openly threaten genocide against Israel.
If that is Iran without a nuclear weapon, imagine it with one.
Where is the outrage? What happened to “Never Again”?
As Americans, we cannot go to foreign countries and tell them who they can do business with. Yet we can tell them something else: If you, as a company, do business in Iran, you should not count on earning our hard-earned taxpayer dollars through government contracts. If you produce or sell cars in Iran, we will not buy your cars. And if your company helps to enrich a regime that kills Americans and threatens the destruction of Israel, we will not invest in your company.
The CEO of the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), Ambassador Mark Wallace, said it most succinctly: “We need to bring Iran to the point where it will have to choose between having the bomb or having a functioning economy.”
Those of us at UANI regularly pressure companies to leave Iran, and advocate tougher sanctions against the regime. By visiting our website, Americans can take action, and inform the world’s bad actors that their irresponsible corporate behavior must stop.
Experts have warned us that 2013 could be the year that Iran gets the bomb unless it is persuaded to end its race toward nuclear weapons.
It will also be the year that we are put to the test: Have we truly learned the lessons of Auschwitz? Are we willing to take action on the words, “Never Again”?
Let us commit to making this year, 2013, the year of “Never Again,” and do whatever we can to economically pressure this brutal and dangerous regime to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)