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August 26, 2015 11:41 am

Why Rabbis Have an Obligation to Oppose the Iran Deal

avatar by Pinchas Allouche

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Fifty-two percent of Americans believe Congress should reject the nuclear agreement. Photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Capitol. Photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It was a meeting I will never forget.

Some 20 years ago, after receiving my rabbinic ordination, I sought the advice of my dear mentor and world-renowned scholar, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, on the role and responsibilities of rabbis today. Among his many gems of wisdom, one stood out:

“The Talmud states that ‘the seal of God is truth,’” he mentioned. “So, if God is to partner with you as you assume the role of a rabbi, you must ensure that His seal of truth becomes your compass in your every endeavor and in your every decision.”

I was reminded of my mentor’s advice as I read, with great pain, the letter that was signed by 340 rabbis last week, urging Congress to support the Iran deal. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I consider some of these rabbis friends, whom I honor and respect. In spite of this, I sharply and strongly disagree with them and their co-signers.

Firstly, some of their claims are simply untrue.

The letter states that “this agreement blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb.” This could not be further from the truth. In fact, this deal only brings Iran closer to a nuclear bomb, for it does not require the dismantlement of Iran’s many existing centrifuges and nuclear facilities, and it leaves almost all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact. At the end of this 15-year deal, Iran’s breakout capability will be much shorter than it is now.

In another instance, their letter states that “should this agreement be rejected by the U.S. Congress, the sanctions will end.” That, too, is false. If this agreement will indeed be rejected by the U.S. Congress, the United States will be able to maintain all of the congressionally enacted sanctions, putting continued pressure on Iran and providing leverage to restart multilateral negotiations.

Secondly, this letter fails to recognize “the elephant in the room”: Iran’s leadership remains as evil-minded as ever.

Just a few days after the deal was announced in Vienna, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared: “Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change.”

So how can we negotiate with enemies that continue to seek our destruction? Can we not recognize that the hand we are shaking stems from the same being whose other hand continues to hold tight to the ruthless reigns of terrorism, and whose mouth relentlessly calls for our annihilation?

“Peace is made with enemies; not friends,” some may say. True. But only if these enemies first demonstrate that their evil ways have radically changed. Isn’t that the reason why evil-perpetrators, such as burglars and sex-offenders, are required to enroll in a variety of rehabilitation programs before their re-integration into society? And if these rehabilitation programs are required of individuals in order to manifest their real change of heart, shouldn’t this also be required of nations whose potential power for damage is far deeper and greater?

Finally, at the very heart of this letter lies an approach that is deeply naive and potentially dangerous: For too long, many have succumbed to emotion, and relied on baseless “hope” to silence our concerns and solve our problems, albeit seldom successfully.

Alas, what some rabbis and leaders seem to misunderstand is that hope unaccompanied by realism – by facts on the ground – is doomed to fail. We cannot communicate with our enemies and reach decisions on vague hope alone that callous regimes will automatically change their evil ways. Such an approach will only strengthen them and weaken us. Terrorist nations love to terrorize. And they thrive when their negotiating partners radiate ambiguity.

We live in tumultuous times, in which the future remains unknown. But it is not too late to act and change the course of history. Each of us can buttress our collective hope by urging our senators and members of Congress to consider the many dangers that this agreement poses to the United States and its many allies, and to vote in opposition to this deal.

Together, we can make this deal a better deal. Together, we can make our world a better world. Together, we can partner with God, and ensure that His seal of truth ultimately prevails.

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  • Glenn Taubman

    Thank you Rabbi Allouche. Your response to the 340 rabbis who signed that false letter is insightful and correct, while omitting name calling and invective. Yasher Koach. As for me and many others in the pro-Israel community, it is difficult to see so many democrats (who call themselves pro-Israel) and Jews (like the 340 rabbis) stick their heads in the sand and sell out Israel and the West on the altar of Obama’s appeasement and “kumbaya” with the murderous mullahs of Iran. Thank you Rabbi Allouche for speaking out.

  • Any Jew and more importantly any Rabbi that is for the deal, goes against GOD’s teaching and wishes!!!

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Rabbi Allouche, it appears that even though the majority of the American people and the majority of American rabbis agree with your assessment of this Iran deal, the number of Democratic Congressmen and women will probably be insufficient to block an Obama veto. Thus even if Congress does, indeed, vote against the deal, the president will veto the vote and, as it presently appears, there will not be enough votes among the Democrats to override his veto. Deplorably, several Jewish Democrats will be among those who support the deal and even possibly make the difference in the final tally. I personally wonder where their conscience lies, where their truth resides, how they will be able to sleep at night in the future if the unthinkable occurs–that Iran cheats on this deal sometime before the fifteen-year period or Iran does not cheat but becomes a nuclear power of hundreds of atom bombs very quickly after the end of the fifteen-year moratorium.

  • Otto Schiff

    The last sentence is correct.
    We need to make and enforce a deal that shows some promise.


    why does kerry seem so concerned that the world-at-large sanctions will disintegrate? is that true? or is it that obama has absolutely no taste for militarily confronting iran and feels that this lousy deal is the only one possible? and how is it that any in the world would do business with a regime that preaches hatred and islamic domination? i just don’t get it. ‘hope’ that they’ll change is not a worthy approach. it doesn’t work in china, nor n. korea nor anywhere else. this deal smacks of appeasement. where are the churchill’s??

  • Michael Garfinkel

    “Together, we can make this deal a better deal. Together, we can make our world a better world. Together, we can partner with God, and ensure that His seal of truth ultimately prevails.

    kumbaya to you too, rabbi.

    Unfortunately, this is not Zionist summer camp.

    Regardless of the predilection of Leftist Jews for sedition, as we see here, the problem facing the state of Israel is terrible – but the solution, if we don’t flinch from it, is straight forward.

    There is no “better deal.”

    The Iranian nuclear-industrial complex must be destroyed.

  • Ephraim

    From your lips to G-d’s ear.

  • Max

    >>In another instance, their letter states that “should this agreement be rejected by the U.S. Congress, the sanctions will end.”

    They’re right about that. Obama will simply declare the sanctions regime null and void regardless of what Congress does.

    Either way, this deal means the end to any effort to employ sanctions to bring Iran back into the fold of nations.

    We must now consider whether Obama isn’t challenging the Congress to impeach him. Given Daniel Greenfield’s article on politicians who have taken money from Iranian agents(

    the question of treason must now be raised.

    If impeached, Obama would almost certainly call for riots in the streets and refuse to allow law enforcement to stop them. He may be closer to bringing about the destruction of America than his Iranian contributors have ever been.

  • Expatriate in SE ASIA

    Expatriate in SE ASIA God Bless Israel