Upwards of 50 people gathered for a rally Wednesday night on North Charles Street in front of Penn Station to send a message to Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski: Vote no to the Iran deal.
With the deadline approaching for Congress to either approve or disapprove of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which President Barack Obama has promised to defend by vetoing any congressional action against its implementation, protestors affiliated with the Baltimore Zionist District arrived at Penn Station holding signs reading “Iran has O-bomb-A,” “Keep Sanctions on Iran,” and “Sanctions Relief = More Terrorism.”
Jay Bernstein, the chair of the public affairs committee for BZD and the organizer of the rally, said the goal was to tell Maryland’s congressional delegation “the deal that was negotiated has too many flaws and they should vote no.”
Robert Slatkin, president of BZD, began the rally by referencing Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who came out against the deal late last week saying, “The temporary restrictions of the agreement would pave the way for Iran to become a nuclear threshold state.”
Keynote speakers for the rally included Lauri Regan, president of the New York chapter of the Endowment for Middle East Truth and Dr. Jeffrey Herf, history professor at the University of Maryland College Park.
“There is only one reason why Iran needs intercontinental ballistic missiles; it is not to reach Israel,” said Regan. “It is to reach the United States.”
Following many of the speeches, the crowd began chanting, “Take a stand,” “Just vote no,” and “Negotiate a better deal.”
Herf began his speech by referencing his students, who he said complain because of how much reading he assigns them. His message to the senators and congressional delegation was similar to what he tells his students.
“[The deal] is complex but it is not incomprehensible,” Herf said of the 109-page document. “Do your homework and read the deal.”
Baltimore City Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, who represents the 5th District, emphasized that Iranians have continually chanted “Death to America,” and that any deal that empowers them is unacceptable.
Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Maryland, said that “although we oppose the deal for America’s sake, we are also not ashamed to say we oppose it for Israel’s sake.
“The minds and hearts of leaders and kings are in the hands of God,” added Kaplan. “Our standing here together as Jews in unity is a way to bring God’s attention and blessing upon us here and all of the Jewish people around the world.”
Kaplan also noted that the current month of the Jewish calendar, Elul, is a month of introspection. Accordingly, he blew the shofar as a way for attendees to be mindful of their behavior and conduct.
Other speakers included David Gerstman, associate editor of Tower Magazine for the Israel Project; Brian Sacks, BZD board member; Binghamton University graduate and pro-Israel activist Justin Hayet; Berly Hershkovitz and Eli Gold, vice president of the London Center for Policy Research.
While each rally speaker had a clear message for the congressional delegation, attendees were equally as enthusiastic.
“I think it’s very important for Americans to understand that this bad deal is not just a bad deal for Israel and Israelis and Jews; it’s a bad deal for Americans. They have vowed to kill Americans,” said June Karlin, who attended a similar rally in New York last month. “I have children and grandchildren who live in this country. I’m concerned for their safety.”