Mazal Tov on Overcoming the Fearful & the War Mongers on the Iran Nuclear Deal
Thank you so very much for your help in making it possible for the the major powers of the world, the U.N. and most of the people of the world to confirm the deal with Iran which will prevent them from developing nuclear weapons for the next ten to fifteen years.
Your support for the Tikkun position, (a position we articulated in full page ads we bought in the NY Times, the Hill magazine read by most Congressional people and staffers), plus your willingness to share your reasons for supporting the nuclear deal, eventually became part of a powerful surge of voices that created the context critical to the ability of Democratic Senators to feel that they could reject the pressure from the right-wing of the Jewish world, represented by AIPAC, The Conference of Presidents of Major (sic) Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Congress, and many local Jewish Federations and synagogues and instead embrace a deal which, while flawed in some ways, was far better than any achievable alternative. (See, sometimes us little guys can make a difference if we pool our energies and resources.)
It was sad for us to see the Reform movement in Judaism unable to take a stand on this issue–the movement that had once proudly proclaimed itself a voice for tikkun olam, but we can have compassion for the leadership that feared it might lose some of its support in being in favor of a deal that raised fears among many Jews who had been influenced by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s manipulation of PTSD flashbacks from the Holocaust. Yet this is the same reason why so many Jewish leaders and rabbis fail to take courageous stands countering Israel’s horrendous treatment of the Palestinian people, behavior in sharp violation of the Torah’s commands “Do Not Oppress the Stranger/the Other.” The excuse of fear of breaking your organization apart or losing some of their supporters starts to wear thin, don’t you think, as we approach the 50th year of Occupation (in 2017)? It would be great if American Jews could push for an end to the Occupation (not just for less abuses inside the Occupation) with a focus on demanding that it be ended by 2017. And, as in the campaign for the nuclear treaty, such a campaign would necessarily require powerful involvement of non-Jews and the next President of the U.S. so check to see if your candidate, whoever that might be, would join such a campaign (the terms of a peace treaty to end the Occupation are spelled out in detail in my book Embracing israel/Palestine which you can get on Kindle from Amazon.com or in print from www.tikkun.org/eip).
As we made clear all along, we detest the regime of the mullahs in Iran for their denial of human and civil rights to their own people, their torture and imprisonment of those who demonstrate against their repressive regime, their constant articulated hope to see Israel disappear from the face of the earth and the anti-Semitism that accompanies their attacks on Zionism, their horrendous treatment of their Baha’i minority and other religious minorities, and their support for terrorism. We hope that this nuclear deal will strengthen the forces in Iran that wish to have an accommodation with the rest of the world, and that that will lead to empowering the democratic forces in Iran that at the moment have effectively been silenced. But we will not join with those who want to villify all Iranians, not realizing that the vast majority of Iranians are very decent people who are in no way represented by their current repressive rulers, and are not Jew-haters or US-haters or supporters of terrorism.
We do not expect that this deal with eventually lead to a nuclear-free Iran. As we’ve argued, as long as so many others have atomic weapons, including India, Pakistan and Israel, not to mention the US and the Western powers, Iran has every right to have such weapons. But even the craziest of the mullahs knows that using such weapons without having first been struck by an enemy using those weapons against Iran, would lead quickly, almost overnight, with the wiping out of Iran from the face of the earth by Israel, the US, and probably other powers as well. There is not a shred of evidence that the mullahs want to see their regime wiped out and known in history as the group that eliminated the Iranian people and the Muslim regime there from the planet.
There are those who think that this deal will now usher in an era of peace. I doubt that. President Obama, insanely, has decided that to legitmate his stance for this nuclear deal and to show that he is not “really” anti-Israel (an absurd charge made by Israelis and right-wing Jews in the U.S. but now responded to defensively the Obama Administration), is now discussing delivering to Israel powerful new offensive weapons which Israel could use to attack Iran and bomb what Israeli rightwingers claim are locations where the nuclear ban is secretly being violated by Iran while the supposedly lame Obama Administration looks on passively. This kind of description of Obama is made plausible precisely because of Obama not having stood up to Netanyahu and Israel’s right wing and denied them the blank check of military hardware they demand. So a terrifying but conceivable hypothesis is that after a year or two, perhaps in the interim between the 2016 elections and the new president taking power, using the new weapons Obama is preparing to give Israel, Israel attacks Iranian alleged nuclear violation sites, Iran strikes back at Israel, and the U.S. then enters the struggle against Iran, fulfilling Netanyahu’s dream to have the U.S. be the proxy fighting Iran in place of Israelis whose lives the Israelis value. If this doesn’t happen, what will block it from happening is only a strong president who acts with the backbone Israel has not experienced from the U.S. since the first Bush presidency refused to give them loan guarantees until they ended the expansion of West Bank settlements (they didn’t, but the Clinton administration had no backbone to stand up to the rightwing Israeli governments that emerged after its peace oriented government was derailed by the rightwing settlers managing to create the climate in which a right-wing religous Jew murdered Prime Minister Rabin).
Ok, we haven’t yet succeeded in de-legitimating the “power over others” ideology I call the Strategy of Domination and instead legitimating a Strategy of Generosity which would begin with the launching of the kind of Domestic and Global Marshall Plan that Tikkun and our Network of Spiritual Progressives believe would be the most likely path to homeland and global security (please reread it by downloading the full version at www.tikkun.org/gmp ). And as I have argued in my previous column which appeared on Huffington Post’s front page on Wednesday and which you can still read on the Tikkun home page, such a Global Marshall Plan is also the most rational way to end the conditions which continue to create millions of refugees desperate for a place to live in safety.
But this little victory of getting the nuclear deal through is a step in the right direction, and YOU helped make it possible by your support for Tikkun and our Network of Spiritual Progressives, your joining with the many other groups on the political left in this country, and hundreds of peace-oriented rabbis, and dozens of former American and Israeli military and intelligence personnel, all of whom concluded that it would be insane to not take this deal with Iran. That we all won an important though partial victory is something worth celebrating as we enter this New Year 5776.
I’ll be writing to you more about this New Year, what’s happening in our world, at Tikkun, and in my life, in a letter I’ll be sending you in the mail (please open it when it arrives, possibly before or just after Yom Kippur–you can see my red handwriting on the envelope), and have a blessed New Year. You are also invited, in the meantime, to look at the Repentance (Tshuva) workbook exercises we’ve developed (which are useful to anyone of any faith or no faith who is open to inner transformative work). You can use and modify it to fit your own thinking — you can find it at www.tikkun.org/nextgen/guide-to-repentance-and-transformation/
Rabbi Michael Lerner firstname.lastname@example.org