Readers Respond to Our Conference Call with Obama

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On July 30th, the Tikkun and Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) community, along with a variety of other groups, was invited to a conference call with President Obama. During the call he spoke about the nuclear agreement reached with Iran and urged us to become active in supporting that deal in light of the ferocious opposition of the Republicans, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and many national American Jewish organizations. President Obama referenced the failure of peace-oriented people to stop the disastrous war in Iraq and urged us to become visibly engaged in supporting this agreement, which he said would prevent the only other possible alternative for those who want a denuclearized Iran, namely a war with Iran.
Of course, I had hoped that there would be a chance to engage directly with Obama, but he simply continued to do what he has done ever since we helped to elect him, namely talk tous but not with us. Still, many members of our Tikkun and NSP community tuned in for the talk and then sent their responses to me. Below is a representative sample of what I received in the ensuing hours.
– Rabbi Michael Lerner

Dear Tikkun,
Thank you for your stalwart witness for peace, for Israel and its neighbors.
I thought for sure that, after the Iraq War debt helped collapse our US economy, even right-wingers would get it: war can’t give peace and security to anyone. It sows chaos. In the 21st century the whole globe is armed.

When US legislators oppose the Iran deal with cries that, first, “Iran must change its behavior!” they cast an entire country in the role of unruly adolescent, and themselves as strict fathers whose “tough love” – a good sound bombing? – would “change” the child’s “behavior.” This narcissistic insanity is embarrassing, not to mention terrifying.

Opponents benefit only bigots and war profiteers. Who would these legislators send to fight? Their own children? Or will they vote to ship Israel body bags and sympathy?
Warmongers, it’s time for you to recognize a triumph for the US and Israel that was achieved in this nuclear deal. We’ve won a peace – if we’re strong enough to keep it.
Mimi Kennedy
Van Nuys, CA
The writer is Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America

Dear Editor,
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
When you boil it all down, the acceptance or rejection of the Iranian nuclear deal is a choice between peacemaking and warmongering. I believe that the vast majority of Americans will choose peacemaking. But there are two powerful interest groups who would prefer war.
One is the Israeli faction, led by Benjamin Netanyahu which believes that the path to security for their country is the preemptive use of overwhelming military force to annihilate potential future threats. For this faction the nuclear deal with Iran grants their enemy a status within the world community which might lead to the dispelling of the long-cultivated image of Iran as “a rogue state.” Plus, Israel is the only country in the region with nuclear weapons; from the Israeli perspective the of curtailing Iran’s nuclear capability sets a threatening precedence. If a coalition of nations including the U.S., the U.K, Russia, China, France and Germany can negotiate the roll back of Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, might not Israel’s nuclear program be next?
The other interest group which prefers war is the global arms merchants. For the defense industry there is no such thing as a bad war, and peacemaking is an impediment to profit. The worst possible thing for them would be for their products to be rendered obsolete because of successful disarmament agreements. They have mobilized their fear mongering lobbyists and their media machine to convince the public that the diplomatic path is the way of weakness and that the expenditure of billions of dollars for their weaponry, to decimate, humiliate and drive a desperate Iran to the one remaining avenue of vengeance, terrorism, is preferable to allowing peaceful Iranian nuclear power.
The Israeli hawks and the arms merchants tell us that this is “a bad deal.” But it looks pretty one-sided to me. Iran has not demanded that either the U.S. or Israel roll back their nuclear arsenals proportionally. All they get out of the deal is the freeing up of their own money, and an internationally monitored, peaceful, nuclear power program.
Doug Holdread
Trinidad, Colorado
Member, Network of Spiritual Progressives

Dear Rabbi Lerner,
The President delivered a good message, but one had to filter out that part which was intended to placate those hell bent on sabotaging the nuclear agreement with Iran, and therefore the languaging of that part, presumably for political reasons, was one which actually is in part made up of a set of myths which have been perpetuated by rote repetitiveness.
As the writer of the Argentum Post and as a researcher and activist in support of peace through justice based on historical facts which are cleansed of propagandistic inflammatory and disinformation narratives as relates specifically politically motivated Iran vilification perpetuation, I was naturally at some point disappointed with the President’s message, but what matters is that his message will enhance the job to render the would – be saboteurs of his diplomacy, irrelevant, particularly as the alternatives would be immeasurably harmful to our national best interests, as well as to the best interests of all sincerely concerned.
To sum up, the continuously used and abused characterization of Iran’s negative objectives, without any contextualization as well as description of the historical genesis of the crimes committed by Britain and the U.S. against Ira when in 1953 its Mossadegh democracy via the Tudeh (socialist) party was crushed by the intervention of Churchill, Eisenhower, the Dulles brothers, the CIA and other actors, is specious and mostly mythical.
Iran is not out to “wipe off the map” Israel. Even the Washington Post Fact Checker in 2004 declared that Pinocchiosare due to everyone, including the Washington Post, who have “blithely repeated the phrase without putting it into context”.
Iran does not now have, nor is there any proof that it was or is attempting to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons, in contradisticintion to Israel which in 1969 as a result of a secret agreement between PM Golda Meyer and President Nixon, started to develop such an arsenal, and furthermore, unlike Iran, Israel never signed on the NPT treaty AND in the 80’s has proliferated the weaponization of nuclear energy technology to the white supremacist regime os South Africa.
Finally, Iran is NOT a “terrorism sponsoring” country. As MikoPeled, the son of Israeli Major General Matti Peled has clearly documented, Iran has reached out the Shiite communities in Southern Lebanon and in Gaza as they were attacked and invaded by Israel. It so happened that the former community created its Hezbollah militia to protect themselves form the Israeli aggression and occupation which lasted years, and the that the latter community democratically elected Hamas to govern it and protect is from Israel aggression.
Iran, unlike Israel, is not occupying in defiance of international law, the land of others, and in fact for the last 250 years Iran has never invaded any country, but it had to defend itself from the Iraqi invasion by Sadam Hussein who was then supported militarily by the United States. Donald Rumsfeld literally and metaphorically embraced Sadam Hussein during that 8 year against Iran.
As you know, dear Rabbi Lerner, I am not of Iranian background. I am of German/Brazilian background and the son of parents who were declared stateless by the Nazis and managed at the last hour to escape to Bolivia where I was born and whence they emigrated to Brazil to only then once more feel that the time had come for them to leave just before the military coup in 1964 which was U.S. supported and which crushed Brazilian democracy and ushered in an era of torture and economical stagnation. Said democracy was crushed just like the Iranian democracy was by Anglo/American interventionism and just like on 9/11 of 1973 the Chilean democracy of Dr. Salvador Allende was crushed in Chile with active support of the President Nixon, Henry Kissinger and the CIA, when two Chilean Air Force planes bombed the Moneda Palace in Santiago.
The point I am trying to make, Rabbi Lerner, we today continue to support hegemonism, survival of the fittest, and might makes right by our unconditional support of criminal regimes in Israel while also ignoring the crimes against humanity of our so-called “allies” namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain who are nothing but murderous authoritarian dictatorships. But, relentlessly, since 1979 when the Iranian people cast themselves off the yoke of the Shan tyranny which was U.S. supported and with which Israel had excellent relations, the U.S. has continuously vilified Iran as it chose a development path which was not approved by the West. The same was the case with Cuba for 52 years.
Finally President Obama has shown the strength of principle and had the courage to start the process of engaging with Cuba and Iran diplomatically. He must highly be commended for this. These are achievements which will immeasurably enrich his legacy if they are move forward notwithstanding the right-wing Congressional saboteurs.
To constantly vilify Iran and glorify Israel is also to only postpone the consequence of such a bizarre policy which is bound to lead to an even more catastrophic popular explosion in the region than the one which already exists.
As legendary Phyllis Bennis of IPS recently stated, what we now need is to demand that the present Apartheid Israel to become a nuclear weapons free zone, in addition to forcing it by the peaceful BDS means, of the kind which we imposed on Iran, to once for all withdraw from its illegally occupied lands of the authocthonous Palestinians.
Given the current state of affairs in the Middle East, if the P5+1, now having succeeded in the Iran nuclear issue can be moved to non-interentionistically and non-militarily move the two only major stable nations in the Middle East, namely relatively moderate Sunni Turkey and relatively moderate Shiite Iran to pool resources and thereby contain and defuse Daesh, then this Sunni -Shiite cooperation with Western backing could potentially evolve into type of nucleating agent which may crystallize inspirationally a new dynamic for trans sectarian reconciliation and reconstruction.
Once the decadent Netanyahu and co-conspirators regime collapses and younger rational and progressive humanist Jews declare and end to the so-called exclusivist “Jewish Character” of Israel, then Israel can become a very welcomed player in such vibrantly revitalized Middle East mosaic.
We cannot and must not characterize Iran ad nauseam and absurdum an “adversary” and on the same token we cannot and must not characterize the present Israel as an “ally” when it is part of the problem as the Gaza massacres last summer vividly proved and as the continuing blockade of Gaza further ads literal insult to injury.
I salute you, Rabbi Lerner, for your devoted, loving, sensitive, principled great work in support of peace and justice and respect for human rights and sovereignty of nations.
Best wishes!
Alfred Gluecksmann