July 16, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
On Tuesday, negotiators from the U.S., Great Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany finalized an agreement with Iran that aims to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.
While many are hailing it as a “landmark deal” that will radically improve relations between Iran and the West, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has long been an opponent of a deal with Iran that allows any room for Iran to develop nuclear weapons – and who has been vocal in calling the world’s attention to Iran’s longstanding sponsorship of terrorism – was, to say the least, not so optimistic. Writing on his Facebook page, he called it “a bad deal” and “a stunning historic mistake.”
Dr. Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., a renowned historian, and one of the shrewdest observers of the Middle East in the world today, echoed the Prime Minister. “The nuclear deal signed today with Iran is a danger to the international community,” he wrote. “This is a very bad deal that threatens Israel existentially and – to tell from the pictures of Iranian mobs burning U.S. flags and chanting ‘Death to America’ – imperils the West. Over the next 60 days, during which the U.S. Congress will decide whether to approve of the deal, Israel will do its utmost to make its most fundamental security interests known. That is our duty to our children and to generations of Israelis to come.”
The Prime Minister and Dr. Oren have every reason to be concerned, as do all Israelis and friends of the Jewish state. Let us never forget that Iran has repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel, and nuclear weapons would give it the means to do so. A nuclear Iran would be a disaster of catastrophic proportions, not just for Israel, but the entire free world. And Iran’s history of support for terror, along with its history of duplicity and deception in negotiations, should have caused the six countries involved in negotiations to require much more of Iran before signing off on an agreement.
There are also those who have been forgotten in this “landmark deal.” One of them, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is an Iranian-American Christian who was imprisoned during a 2012 trip to Iran and sentenced to eight years for holding worship services in private homes and “attempting to sway youth away from Islam.” Despite impassioned pleas to the Obama administration from his family, Pastor Abedini’s release – along with the release of other American citizens held by Iran – was not made a condition of negotiations.
In an address to his countrymen following the conclusion of the deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true.” The questions are: Is Rouhani praying for true peace, or for the continuation of terror and even the destruction of Israel? And can any deal that Iran considers “a good agreement” possibly be considered a good agreement for Israel, or the West as a whole?
Time alone will tell. And if conflict erupts, Israel will be on the front lines. Meanwhile, we at The Fellowship will not be silent, but will stand with Israel in the critical days ahead.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President