March 4, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
This past Tuesday, all eyes were on Washington, D.C., where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought his case against a nuclear Iran – and, specifically, warning against what he in no uncertain terms called “a very bad deal” that may be struck between Iran, the U.S., and several other world powers aimed at limiting Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities.
The prime minister went to the U.S. because it is Israel’s closest ally, and because the U.S. Congress is, in his words, “the most important legislative body in the world.” But, first and foremost, he came to plead Israel’s case because “no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes [the Iranian nuclear] threat.” Indeed, Israel is a tiny country, surrounded by hostile neighbors. It is a strong country, but uniquely vulnerable because of its location and its size. This is something that can be difficult for Americans – except for those who have visited the Holy Land and experienced how little time it takes to drive the length of the country – to truly understand. For Israel, a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat.
It is no secret to anyone who has been following the news that the prime minister’s speech was controversial, and was even boycotted by a small number of members of Congress. But it was heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception the prime minister received from the vast majority of members present – on both sides of the aisle. And his willingness to deliver his critically important message despite the controversy only heightened its urgency.
His summation of Iran’s decades-long sponsorship of terrorism, the Islamic Republic’s duplicity in dealing with international attempts to regulate its nuclear program, its open calls for “death to America” and “death to Israel” are all messages we have heard before. But they desperately need to be heard again – and to be acted upon. In his speech, the prime minister was truly acting as a voice of clarity in a world too often dominated by petty politics and confusion.
At the end of his speech, the prime minister quoted Moses words’ to the people of Israel from the book of Deuteronomy, words which he said “have steeled the resolve” of the Jewish people for thousands of years: “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
My dear Fellowship friends and partners, as Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Purim – a holiday that recalls the deliverance of our people from the hands of evildoers many years ago – I thank God that Israel is blessed with strong, resolute leaders such as our prime minister. I’m grateful for the strength, resilience, and fearlessness of the Israeli people, who continue to build a thriving nation despite all the challenges we face, and despite hostile neighbors who refuse to accept our existence. And I thank God, too, for the historic alliance between Israel and the U.S., two nations whose friendship will endure because it is based on a kinship of common values that goes far beyond politics.
I strongly urge you to watch the prime minister’s full speech online – and see what real leadership looks like.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President