Richard Friedman
Jewish Federation director, Journalist

Why Our Jewish Federation Opposes The Iran Deal

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA — At a somber, well-attended Birmingham Jewish Federation Board of Directors meeting August 6, members of the board unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Iran agreement, amid fears that it could be highly dangerous for our country, Israel and the entire world.

“This is a defining moment,” the resolution stated.  “As Americans, as Jews and as people who love and support Israel, we are deeply concerned that this agreement leaves the entire Middle East less stable and the entire world more vulnerable to Iran’s radical agenda.”

The resolution was modeled on a similar resolution passed recently by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. About a dozen other Jewish Federations throughout the country, including some of the largest ones, have passed such resolutions. Other Federations are in the process of considering such measures.

During the meeting,  board members were pensive, listening to one another respectfully, as a wide range of people shared their views, with virtually all of them opposing the nuclear agreement with Iran.  Among those encouraging board members to oppose the Iran agreement was Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Jonathan Miller, a Reform rabbi who met with Members of Congress in Washington recently to urge them to vote against the accord.

At the meeting, Temple Beth-El Rabbi Randall Konigsburg, a Conservative rabbi, questioned whether adopting such a resolution  was the best strategy right now.  He said he feared that the intensifying debate over the Iran deal  has “pitted the Jewish community against the White House,” something that could result in negative consequences. Others shared his concern but felt that the potential danger of the deal justified taking that risk.

A question was raised as to whether passing such a resolution would alienate members of the Jewish community who support the Iran deal. Board member Lisa Engel, a veteran volunteer leader, answered by explaining that the resolution did not purport to speak for the Birmingham Jewish community but rather to only express the sentiments of The Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors.

Federation President Jerry Held led the meeting, stressing the historic nature of the issue and providing ample time for everyone to speak.  When the time came to vote, it  passed unanimously.   The resolution will be sent to Alabama’s Members of Congress, the general Alabama media and Jewish Federations of North America, our Federation’s  national organization.

At the start of the meeting, Jerry told the board that the Executive Committee felt adopting such a resolution was important to demonstrate to our elected officials and the general public how our Federation board feels about the Iran deal.


The Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors believes the proposed nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is cause for great concern; we are deeply disappointed with the details of the plan.  Regretfully, we have no choice but to oppose it, and we urge others to join us.

We share the goal of achieving a negotiated peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear activities.  Additionally, we support the efforts of the United States and its allies to arrive at a diplomatic solution, and we are grateful for their efforts.

We also acknowledge that there are diverse views within our community, but ultimately this issue must remain above politics and reflect our collective determination to ensure a stronger agreement with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes.

There is simply too much at stake, not only for Israel, but also for the United States and indeed the world, to remain silent about our concerns.

The proposed agreement, the success of which is dependent on questionable verification of Iranian compliance, puts Israel and others in harm’s way against a sworn enemy in the world’s most volatile region.

As it currently stands, the proposed agreement only serves to delay critical aspects of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, affirming Iran’s place as a threshold nuclear state.  We must heed the large, diverse and growing number of independent and nonpartisan experts and organizations who have raised serious concerns since the release of the details of the agreement.

In particular, critical issues have been raised relating to inspections and verification, weaponization activity, dismantlement of nuclear infrastructure, and the duration of some of the most sensitive components in the agreement.  These issues, and the resulting vulnerabilities, are sufficient reasons to let our elected officials know that the existing agreement is too risky to approve and tougher terms will be needed.  Therefore, it is critical that we urge their disapproval of the agreement.

The Iranian regime has clearly stated and acted on its desire to wipe Israel off the map by providing potentially devastating and increasingly sophisticated, accurate and powerful missile technology to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Its intentions were also apparent at public rallies calling for Israel’s destruction and “death to America.”  These very real dangers seem to have been ignored in the negotiation to curb Iran’s nuclear weapon-building capacity.

Leaders from across the Israeli political spectrum, from Labor Party head Yitzhak Herzog to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed grave concerns about the proposed deal and what it could mean for Israel’s security.  In the very short term, lifting sanctions on Iran will mean a boon for Hamas and Hezbollah and will provide even more money to fuel even greater Iranian sponsored terrorism around the world.

This is a defining moment.  As Americans, as Jews and as people who love and support Israel, we are deeply concerned that this agreement leaves the entire Middle East less stable and the entire world more vulnerable to Iran’s radical agenda.

About the Author
Richard Friedman is Executive Director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation in Alabama. He also is a well-known Alabama journalist.
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