Jason Langsner

Iran Deal Ripple Effect – My Last Days as a Democratic Voter and the Day after the JCPOA

For my entire adult life I have voted for Democratic candidates that have shared my ideals and values. I have identified as a Jewish Democrat and voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama (twice). I have additionally supported Democratic state and federal candidates while being a registered voter in New Jersey, my home state, and now I have voted for Democrats as a DC voter.

As an independent blogger for The Times of Israel and B’nai B’rith International’s former head of digital strategy, I voice my opinion as many in my generation do – across new and social media. Last month, I posted a blog, “Iran Deal: Good, Bad, or Flawed?” sharing my perspective – then as a Democrat – that this deal isn’t necessarily subjectively good or subjectively bad, but it is objectively flawed. I followed that piece this month with, “The Policy v Politics of the Iran Deal (Where is DWS?).”

From both of these pieces and for sharing my support for Senator Schumer’s early opposition on this objectively flawed deal on social meida – the name calling began. Some challenged my arguments on policy grounds. I respected those honest debates and those individuals’ views. But for every one respectful disagreement was a flurry of hateful word grenades thrown at me by individuals whom I thought shared my same ideals and values.

Unfortunately with “political friends” like these, who needs “political enemies”? Therefore, I have been pushed out of the party and will be an independent voter moving forward.

Gallup released a poll earlier this year that said in 2008, 71% of Jewish Americans identified as Democrats. I was one of them.  In 2014, that number dropped down to 61%. I was still one of them, but I was just holding on by a thread. In 2015, I can no longer identify as a Democrat with some of the policies of this party (or at least the party leader). At best I can identify as a Dershowitz Democrat, but I don’t believe that is an option when I change my voter registration form this week.

I’ve been watching the whip count in the House and the Senate on the Iran Deal.  I fear that this objectively flawed deal that is considered a bad deal by a 2:1 margin of Americans – as compared to those who think it is a good deal – is on the path to become U.S. law.  The House is appearing to have the numbers to override a Presidential veto.  The Senate may still be able to hold its ground and I encourage those Senators from my former party that have reservations of the deal to join Senators Schumer and Menendez and make a principled stand based on your conscious and the voices of your constituents to oppose the deal.  I encourage all of them to send the Resolution of Disapproval back to the President with an amendment that includes what x, y, and z they would require for this to be an acceptable deal.

But it is also time, like Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has said, to think about the day after the JCPOA becomes law.  As much as I still want this bad deal to be voted down with an overwhelming bipartisan support joining in and signing onto the Resolutions of Disapproval in the House and Senate, the math is the math.  And by a 34-40% margin, the House will be able to uphold the veto (I presume).  The majority of Congress will join with the majority of the American public in opposing this deal, but it appears that it will still become law by a razor thin – by partisan margin – rather than bi-partisan message that Congress demands a better deal that isn’t as riddled with flaws and holes; and that doesn’t provide legitimacy to Iran’s nuclear program and provides a legal path for their building of a bomb.

So, what does Israel need from my government to showcase that the American people and the American government still stands for Israel’s right to be secure and to prosper?  What message does America need to send to the world community that although this flawed deal has become law that the American people have not abandoned its leading ally in the Middle East?

First, on the Diplomatic stage, America must come out with a resounding show of strength to highlight that our country hasn’t turned our back on the Israeli people.  As an American tax payer and citizen, I am going to advocate to my elected officials that we must first – before any other action is taken – recognize the unified Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.  And second, on the diplomatic front, we must officially move our embassy to Jerusalem.  This will show the world that America has not abandoned our most important ally in the Middle East.  It is a message that needs to be sent to both nations and non-state actors, who may consider the JCPOA as a signpost that America no longer supports Israel.   And the message should be delivered before the 2015 United Nations General Assembly Meeting.

Second, the President and our government have made many statements that we will defend Israel.  As our ally, we must defend Israel.  Many, including myself, view this deal in a negative light.  And in that negative light it makes the region and the world a more dangerous place.  So in addition to a diplomatic message that must be sent to the world, America must send an equally strong military message to the rest of the world.  First, America should commit to opening a U.S. Air Force Base in the Negev and commit to transferring the 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to that base.

Israel is looking to build a new international airport near Eilat.  Similar to Sde Dov having a military and commercial presence, this new airport will be mostly commercial but will have a separate hangar and separate landing strips for U.S. military preparedness should Iran or any other bad actor threaten Israel existentially.  American support for this project will expedite the airport’s coming online and making Eilat a global hub of commerce of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Asia) markets and the African market.

A strong Israel economically is a strong Israel, which can defend itself, should it need to.

Third, not on the day after the JCPOA, but on the same day that Congress votes on the Iran Deal, they should also schedule a vote for the 2015 Bipartisan Ally Act.  This bill will authorize the construction of the U.S. Air Force base, it will transfer the MOP to be physically located in Israel, and it will establish in U.S. law that any act of terrorism by a non-state actor on any U.S. ally will be considered an act of terror on America and any act of war by a state actor on any U.S. ally will be considered an act of war against America.

The legislation will also require Iran to free the four Americans that they are holding as hostages by the implementation date of the JCPOA’s sanction relief.  If the four Americans are not freed, by the implementation date or sooner, the U.S. Congress will impose new (non-nuclear) sanctions, on humanitarian grounds, against Iran that will be deeper than the nuclear sanctions that are being lifted.  And for every month the Americans are not freed after the implementation date, additional sanctions will be levied.  This will continue until the Americans are freed.  The Administration will then sign the legislation without a veto, or veto threat, in a sign of good faith to the Israeli people.

If the President and his Cabinet are confident that this deal blocks all of Iran’s paths to the bomb and if they are confident that this deal makes the world a safer place, the Administration should not be opposed to making these three statements.

I watched President Obama’s webcast today to the Jewish Federations of North America. He made many comments showing that he and America care deeply about the unbreakable bond between America and Israel. These three actions will show the American Jewish community that has become fractured due to this Iran Deal that the Administration supports them.  These three actions will show the American public that this Administration truly does support diplomacy over war – as these protective measures will protect Israel from harm from state actors and non-state actors.  And these three actions would make me reconsider my falling out of the Democratic party.


About the Author
Jason Langsner is an active member of the American young Jewish professional community. He is a published author about Israel and American-Israeli affairs and regularly blogs and speaks at conferences about the intersection of communication, culture, politics, and technology. He formerly ran the digital strategy for B'nai B'rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, and currently serves as a lay leader with various pro-Israel organizations. Mr. Langsner received a Masters at Georgetown University and studied International Business Management at the University of Oxford.
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