Meir Feldman
Founder Project 97b

Congressional game changers & Israel’s security

Prime Minister Netanyahu is right that with this international agreement, the threat of lethal terror from Hezbollah and Hamas will be drastically more serious than before the agreement.  Every serious observer knows, and the Ayatollah has said it publicly, that with the billions that shortly will flow into Iranian coffers, Hezbollah and Hamas will benefit by significant increases in the military support they receive from Iran.

President Obama says that he is profoundly and sincerely invested in Israel’s well-being.  He claims to be deeply concerned about the new risks that Israel will face, as a result of the P-5+1 agreement in which Iran will receive billions and send $100’s of millions to its proxies.

Congress has a game-changing opportunity to help President Obama prove his deep and heart-felt concern for the Jewish state.  Congress, the President and Prime Minister, and all of Israel’s  advocates, have an opportunity to change the game we’ve known for the last 100 years, and to fundamentally enhance Israel’s security.

Maybe there was a compelling logic to limiting the P-5+1 agreement solely to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.  Maybe there were reasons not to condition that agreement on a transformation of Iran vis-a-vis its hatred toward Israel and its constant threats to annihilate Israel.

But the time has come for some game-changing Congressional action.  In a powerful and rare instance of bi-partisan work, Congress should formally declare to Iran and the world that: An attack against Israel is an attack against the United States.  Any attack against Israel, by Hezbollah and/or Hamas (read Iran), from the north or the south, is an attack against the United States.  Thus, if (and only if) the Israeli government should make the request, the United States military, including ground troops, will be dispatched to defend Israel against Iran and her proxies, to the north and south of Israel.  Disputes between Iran and the Jewish state will not be resolved by violent Iranian aggression (read Hezbollah/Hamas) against Israel.”  Congress should recognize its power to immediately enhance Israel’s security.

There is little logic for vast numbers of American troops in Iraq and Syria.  If (and only if) Israel were to request it, there is compelling logic for American troops to be on Israeli soil.  Hamas and Hezbollah must know that to attack Israel is to attack the United States.  The people of Beirut and Gaza City and of Tehran must know that using new money to intimidate and murder Israelis, will come with the highest price tag — the full force of the United States military.  Congress is uniquely capable of delivering this message.

There’s one more game-changer.  Now is the time for not only the United States, but for of all the P-5+1 countries to publicly and explicitly recognize the existential threat that this nuclear agreement creates for Israel.  Philip Ackerman, Germany’s second ranking diplomat in America has just stated that this deal is good for Israel.   “We are convinced that this deal makes Israel safer. . .  It is really our conviction that Israel comes out safer as a result of this deal.”

P-5+1 countries have a huge opportunity to make clear that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians will absolutely not be settled by Iranian sponsored violence against Israel.  Congress should pressure Germany and all of the P-5+1 countries to declare their support for Israel.  These countries should make it explicit to Iran, and her proxies who regularly threaten Israel’s very existence, that violent attacks against Israel will generate massive quantities of new military support for Israel.

Since 2006, Israel has had to fight a war against Iran — read Hezbollah and Hamas — almost every other year (2006, 2008, 2011, 2014).  Who could possibly doubt that the next war will wait even until 2020!

Israel has been extraordinary over its lifetime at finding great opportunities in the midst of seemingly dire realities.  Israeli game-changers have come about virtually every decade.  With Congress’ vigorous vision and leadership, this moment must be no different than so many others that have come before.

Now is the time for Congress to lead, to ensure that this becomes a game-changing moment.  Now is the time for Congress, the President and the  Prime Minister, to do everything in their powers to ensure that Iran’s proxies will face the full weight of the American military if they attack Israel.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, help the American Congress do everything in its power to ensure that the P-5+1 countries transform their public words of concern for Israel into very concrete promises.  Israel’s security can be strengthened at this moment.

Congress, do everything in your power to make these game-changers happen.  Ensure that Iran knows that violence against Israel will only bring greater support for the Jewish state, from America and from the most powerful nations in the world.  Messrs. President and Prime Minister, change the game.  American Congress, opportunity, not just crisis, is knocking.

About the Author
One of the most profound and inspiring experiences of my life was attending the Wednesday night Bible Study class at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. That was July 1, 2015, just 2 weeks after the tragic and horrific murder of the Charleston 9. The pain and faith, the heartbreak and hope of the grieving family members we met (and hold as dear friends to this day) was one of the most uplifting religious experiences of my life. Alongside Rabbi Tara Feldman, I served as a congregational rabbi for over 20 years, including the last 13 years at our beloved Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, New York. There were so many highs throughout those years -- one of them was to bring 8 amazing sisters of Myra Thompson to Great Neck. What I now know is that for many years as a law student and attorney, long before my rabbinical journey, I yearned for a different sense of meaning and purpose. That was what I discovered in my second mountain, in my steep and beautiful climb into a passionate Jewish life (taking a term from David Brooks). And now, having made aliyah with my wife and children, I think that I am experiencing the blessing of a third mountain. That is what Israel, Jerusalem and Project 97b feel like – yet another inspiring and deeply challenging ascent to a beautiful and unattainable peak.
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