Dear Friends,

 

I am proud to be an American. I live in a country that cherishes democracy, and that has as its ideal the equality of all human beings. Furthermore, I am proud that at different points in history, America has stood up to the “bullies” of our world and been the champion of human rights and moral decency.

 

I am proud to be a Jew. Ours is an ancient heritage that has always sought to make our world more humane. So it has been said that “the quest for justice speaks with a Hebrew accent.” And I am proud to be a Jew because of all that Israel represents to our world: democracy, opportunity, the ingathering of people who were rejected by their native countries. And today, Israel continues to be one of the most humane and just countries in the world as its people are granted virtually unlimited rights of expression and opportunity unknown in that part of the world.

 

And so it is that as an American and as a Jew that I feel a sense of confusion, if not disappointment over the “agreement” that has been reached with Iran.  For I ask myself: How and why can we trust a country that has sponsored and supported so much evil up until the present?  And what good is any agreement if the parties cannot trust each other? 

 

Many Iranians rushed onto the streets of Tehran and other cities the other night to celebrate what they see as a great victory–an agreement on the country’s nuclear program that would leave Iran a significant portion of its capabilities and remove the sanctions that are choking the economy and impacting adversely upon the Iranian people. But some 2,000 miles away, leaders in Jerusalem are warning that the agreement will preserve Iran’s nuclear capabilities, while making effective supervision very difficult, if not impossible. An Israeli government official said the other day that “according to the agreement, Iran can be warned up to 24 days before being visited by inspectors. It’s as if police who want to raid a drug lab would give the criminals 24 days warning–it is inconceivable.” 

 

And what am I to think when I consider the recent statement of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah who asked rhetorically, “If Iran gets back this money, what will it do with it?” He then left little to the imagination by saying: “A rich and strong Iran…will be able to stand by its allies and friends, and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.” Small wonder Arab and Israeli leaders are deeply concerned that the nuclear deal will trigger increasing threats against them.

 

No, based upon what I know of the “agreement,” I do not support it. I can only hope that we will see new signs and gestures and behaviors from this heretofore “evil empire.” And that is what Iran has surely been to all people who yearn for a peaceful and just world. And as a Jew who loves and supports Israel, I know that we have entered a new chapter of realities in the Middle East. Would that Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist groups not be the beneficiaries of America’s good intentions. Yes, I regret that we live in a dangerous world. I only hope that it has not become even more dangerous.  

 

Shabbat shalom,   

         Rabbi David Greenberg