The Jewish communities and individual Jews living in the Diaspora, in the United States and the Western world particularly are currently faced with having to make a difficult and almost fateful decision regarding the signing of an admittedly bad deal with Iran. As t his would pave the way for that nation to become a nuclear power in the very foreseeable future, does continued Jewish opposition to the deal contribute to Jewish interests worldwide?
To put the matter more boldly and painfully, is it right and necessary to advocate a Jewish interest over the national policy of governments of nations where Jews are citizens but are only a rather small minority?
There is no question that Iran is not only an enemy of the State of Israel but that it openly and repeatedly declares that its intention is to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the world map. Experience, bitter experience, has taught the Jewish people that we should take these threats at face value. Enabling Iran, with the blessings of the West, to possess nuclear weapons is an existential threat to the survival of the State of Israel.
Even Thomas Friedman, never noted for his favorable reviews regarding Israel generally and Netanyahu personally, has written that if he were living in Israel he would have just cause for concern over this deal with Iran. So now the moment of test and truth has arisen for American Jewry. Its loyalty to the policies of the United States and especially its blind faith in President Obama and the Democratic Party is well known and proven over the past electoral cycles.
In the face of the Hobbesian choice now presented before it, American Jewry has split badly. And this split reflects not only policy regarding Iran but reveals the deeper divide that exists within American Jews and the conflicts that this rift engenders.
J Street has been exposed as being the anti-Israel lobby that it always was from its inception. The fact that it is now headed by a Moslem woman only contributes to the comedic façade of it somehow attempting to defend Jewish interests and the State of Israel. Now it naturally defends the Iranian deal at all costs.
A substantial number of Reform rabbis have written the American Congress to express their support for the Iranian uranium and nuclear deal. These people have always proven themselves to be socially liberal first and, at best, Jewish second. Reform was a bitter opponent of Zionism until the Six Day War and their DNA still contains vestiges of their great slogan of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that “Berlin is our Jerusalem!”
They blithely believe that they are safe and that their fate and future is somehow not tied up with the State of Israel and its welfare and security. Their own long road of encouraging assimilation, intermarriage and a religion of radical liberalism have brought them to this state of self deception. Whatever they do stand for, they do not stand for the Jewish people!
The Orthodox world has its own anti-Jewish detractors. The ferociously anti-Zionist factions within Orthodoxy, while not necessarily espousing support for the Iran deal, proclaim that Jews have no right to publicly oppose the policy of President Obama and the United States government.
The problem with these groups is that the main tenet of their faith is to deny and decry the existence of the State of Israel. They allowed this issue - and this issue solely - to define their society and their behavior. No recital of realistic facts, no empiric observation of the realities of the Jewish world today will change their minds, policies or behavior. They are the ultimate true believers. And their belief in Judaism is somehow obsessively founded on their dismay and disappointment that the Jewish state has arisen and is successful…..and will always remain controversial. So they are anti-Israel first and Jewish second.
All of those who are Jewish second, who are sunshine patriots and not willing to stand up for the Jewish people in unpopular circumstances, are always judged harshly in Jewish history. In 1933, the Orthodox Jewish rabbinate in Germany sent a letter of congratulations to Adolf Hitler when he assumed the post of the Chancellor of Germany.
Reading that letter today, in perfect historic hindsight, makes one weep. But as Lincoln said, “we should not judge lest we be judged.” But there is no question in my mind that Jews throughout the world will be judged by history as to their reaction to this Iranian nuclear deal.