Ad-Hominem Advocacy: Obama’s Harm Offensive on Iran

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known to all as the Iran deal, is a moral and strategic capitulation to the virulently anti-American, anti-Israel and antisemitic leadership of Iran.  It fails to achieve its core purpose of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, has a laughably insufficient inspection regime, allows continued enrichment with drastically limited inspections, and will allow hundreds of millions of dollars to flow to the world’s leading sponsor of terror with no strings attached.

Small wonder, then, that Americans oppose the deal 2-1, and polls show that the more people know about the deal, the more adverse to it they become.  In Israel, where citizen-soldiers are more than aware of the risks should diplomacy fail, opposition to the deal is nearly universal, for once uniting Israelis across political parties and left-right fault lines.

The US Administration is pulling out all the stops to fight for Congress’s approval.  From delivering major speeches to extensive lobbying on the Hill, from threatening wayward politicians to mass mobilization of party loyalists, no effort or expense is being spared to advance the President’s signature foreign policy goal. The fact that such effort is needed when the deal will proceed if even one third of Congress fails to reject it demonstrates how little real support there is for this awful compromise with an evil regime.

The moral implications of the agreement are part of the reason why.  Some still cling to the fantasy that Iran will comply, even when the  $150 billion in funds released immediately are in their coffers, the crushing economic sanctions are withdrawn, and her economy thrives. But none can dispute the fundamental immorality of leaving US hostages in Iran’s prisons and glossing over human rights abuses while legitimizing the dictatorial regime that even post-signing continues to call for ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’ Even the Administration itself acknowledges that millions if not billions of dollars more will be available for state sponsored terror. The risks to the world, and particularly the US and Israel, go far beyond the nuclear issues.

Appallingly, part of the Administrations tactics have been to try to delegitimize Israel and her American supporters for opposing a deal that the majority of Americans and their representatives in Congress also reject. There has been a distinct turn from the “charm offensive” outreach to Jewish groups last spring, to a “harm offensive” that vilifies the deal’s opponents using rhetoric drawn from classic antisemitic tropes, something the self-labelled “first Jewish President” should surely recognize.

President Obama himself has made false accusations of dual loyalty, and suggestions that the deal’s opponents put Israel’s security before the interests of the US. He has called opponents warmongers, and suggested that moneyed interests are using their overwhelming wealth to buy influence, a classic anti-Jewish slur. And he, along with Secretary Kerry and others, have repeated attempted to isolate Israel and suggest that her opposition to the deal pits her against the entire Middle East and, in fact, the entire world.  These arguments, none of which address the merits of the deal itself, are reminiscent of antisemitic arguments throughout history. The Jewish community should call out all who resort to such tactics and demand better.

We must not be fooled by the argument that Congress’s vote won’t matter, or could even cause harm.  Nonsense. If Congress votes down the deal, US sanctions will stay in place.  Iran’s billions of dollars of frozen assets will remain in US institutions and out of the hands of the Revolutionary Guard.  Economic development will remain arrested, even if, as critics assert, Russia and China abandon the sanctions regime.  It is no small thing to lose US markets, and the US still regulates the international system for electronic financial transactions and can prevent its use by Iran, effectively cutting off the means for Iran to pay or get paid. Moreover, it will send a clear message that America will not legitimize Iran’s hateful dictatorship to the detriment of the Iranian people, our allies, and ourselves.

Although the minority supporting the deal would have you believe otherwise, this battle can be won. Despite enormous pressure from the Administration, relatively few Representatives and Senators have come out in favor of the deal, and many have resisted that pressure and spoken out against it. Senator Schumer’s decision to oppose the deal, and his long and thoughtful statement of his reasoning, is especially significant. Hopefully this will provide inspiration to others still on the fence.

We must continue to exercise our democratic rights to fight for our beliefs. If you are not doing so already, start your day with three calls, to the offices of your Senators and Representative.  Engage your friends, neighbors, and fellow congregants to do the same. The deal will be defeated if we hold accountable our leaders and ourselves.

About the Author
Laura Fein is an attorney and non-profit consultant. She speaks frequently on Israel, BDS, and the impact of government and intergroup relations on the Jewish community.
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