Henkin Murders: What American Jews Can Do

The heartbreaking murder of Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife, Naama, gunned down by Palestinian terrorists in front of their children, will generate tear-filled eulogies and anguished recitations of Psalms throughout the Jewish world. As they should.

But then what?

The depressingly familiar post-terrorist attack ritual is already unfolding before our eyes. The Obama administration issued a formalistic condemnation, adding its standard, amoral appeal: “We urge all sides to maintain calm.” (As if “all sides” are to blame for disrupting the “calm” in the first place.)

The news media will portray the murders as a response to something that some Israeli did or is suspected of doing or might have done, somewhere, at some point. And the United Nations will, of course, remain silent. Palestinian murders of Jews don’t interest anybody in that august building.

American Jews will watch all this in anguish and frustration. There will be some angry news releases, some heartfelt tears and more Psalms. As there should be. (It’s also a particularly personal cause for my own family, which has supported the Henkins’ work at the Torah-study institute Nishmat by endowing the Alisa Flatow Program for International Students in memory of my daughter, who was also a victim of Palestinian terrorism.)

What usually happens next, however, is that the news of the murders retreats from the headlines, the memories of the victims fade from public consciousness, and we all collectively turn the page and shift our attentions elsewhere.

But it shouldn’t be that way. There are concrete actions that American Jews can take in response to the Henkin murders:

First, urge President Barack Obama to put Fatah on the official terror list.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is the military division of Fatah, has publicly boasted that it committed the murders. Fatah is the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the parent body of the Palestinian Authority. (Mahmoud Abbas is chairman of all three: Fatah, the PLO and the P.A.) When the State Department first created its official list of “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations” in 1997, it left Fatah off. It’s time to urge Obama to put it on the list.

Next, support the Meehan Bill for terror victims. The House of Representatives this month overwhelmingly approved legislation to take $43 billion from frozen Iranian assets and give it to American victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism who were awarded that amount by U.S. courts. The Obama administration would like to just give the money to the Iranians. The bill now heads to the Senate. American Jewish organizations should be making it their top lobbying priority.

We can also advocate for action against killers of Americans.

Yes, this is a time for tears and prayers. But it must also be a time for action by American Jews. Let’s contact our Jewish leaders and our elected representatives and make it clear that the time for business as usual is over.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His family has established the Alisa Flatow Program for International Students at Nishmat and dedicated Nishmat’s building in Alisa’s memory.

The Drive to Inspire Kindness in the World

In this day and age, doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. Although the concept of tikkun olam is rooted in Jewish texts and traditions, its importance and application transcend the Jewish community and can be applied to achieve change in the world at large.

Every fall, during the holiday period, I find myself re-reflecting on the meaning behind a message from Rabbi Hillel I have across from my desk at work: ”In a place where there is no humanity,” he wrote, “strive thou to be human.” These words serve as a reminder of my father and the sense of compassion he instilled in me and my three siblings. He taught us that kindness and empathy are the foundations on which humanity will stand or fall. For this reason, and many others, he was my mentor, best friend, hero and also one of the inspirations for KIND — the brand I conceived 12 years ago.

But before he was any of these things, my dad was a 9-year-old boy who had to live through one of the darkest periods in human history. When World War II started, my father was living with his parents and his 14-year-old brother in Kovno, Lithuania. Eventually, he, his brother and my grandfather were sent to Dachau, where they were left to starve in subhuman conditions and forced into slave labor.

But, as evidenced by my father’s experiences there, the human spirit shows itself even amid the worst circumstances. My father never forgot a German soldier who risked serious punishment by throwing a rotten potato at my dad’s feet when others were not watching, providing him the sustenance to endure and offering him a glimpse of humanity in the midst of such darkness.

When we look for it, we see the transformative power of kindness around us, too. Small acts of kindness are happening everywhere, all the time, each one contributing toward shared efforts of tikkun olam, or repairing the world. Collectively, these acts of kindness — both big and small — make this world a better, more tolerant place to live.

In creating KIND, I drew on the principles of tikkun olam in a 21st- century environment. Despite early setbacks (of which there were many), I never lost faith in my commitment to developing KIND as a “not-only-for-profit” business that sells healthy and tasty products while also doing its small part to positively impact society. I started my first “not-only-for-profit,” PeaceWorks, in 1994 to foster joint ventures among neighbors striving to coexist in conflict regions. At KIND, we have a different model but a similar intention. Our social mission, known as the KIND Movement, is to spread and inspire kindness in the world, and it has been part of our DNA since 2004.

As I reflect on the past 12 years, I realize how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to honor my dad’s memory. I was inspired by the lessons he left behind to conceive KIND in his honor.

These same lessons have made me increasingly and acutely aware of our shared responsibility, as human beings, to leave this world a better place than we found it.

Daniel Lubetzky is the CEO and founder of KIND Snacks and author of The New York Times best-seller “Do the KIND Thing.” A version of this column first appeared in the The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

How to Change a Life

Nancy Kohn Rabin

Nancy Kohn Rabin

Whose life will you change today? We all have the power to do it. Sometimes it’s the simple act of reaching out to a friend in need at precisely the right time. Or perhaps it’s the kindness you show a stranger during a chance encounter.

What if you could change thousands of lives with a single act of kindness? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to make a difference?

Nina Rosenzwog

Nina Rosenzwog

In our community, we can make that happen with one generous gesture. A gift to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore helps so many: from families, teens, young adults, people with disabilities and older individuals here in Baltimore, to homebound Jews struggling for survival in the former Soviet Union and to young adults exploring their Jewish heritage in Odessa, to teens in Ashkelon connecting to their peers in Baltimore and new immigrants to Israel acclimating to their adopted homeland, and to any Jew anywhere who needs support, rescue or relief or the chance to explore our shared heritage.

This year, we serve as annual campaign chair and women’s campaign chair, respectively, for The Associated. These volunteer positions are both rewarding and demanding. In these roles, we have willingly signed on to ask our friends, relatives and fellow community members to make a donation to the Annual Campaign.

It is not easy to ask people for money. It is a job from which many people shy away. We happily accepted these positions because we believe so deeply in the strength of The Associated and its vital role in our community. We are fortunate that many others share our passion for The Associated and have also embraced their roles as fundraisers and leaders in our community.

We are both mothers who have raised our families here. We have benefited from the vibrancy of Jewish Baltimore; we have felt embraced by our community in our times of need. That strength comes from the solid foundation built in Jewish Baltimore by generations of concerned and generous individuals and families. We want our children and grandchildren to know that what we are building today will be here for them tomorrow.

We are so committed to ensuring a bright future that we have personally issued a 110-day challenge. Why 110 days?  Because we are asking everyone to give 110 percent — both of their effort and dollars.  If we all take the 110-day challenge, we will secure the necessary resources for our community. We are matching new gifts and increases through the first 110 days, or Dec. 31.  We plan to give 110 percent of ourselves this campaign year. Won’t you join us?

There is much work to do to keep our community moving forward in a positive way. We have the hopes and dreams in place, and all we need are the resources to make them happen. When Jewish Baltimore is strong, we are all uplifted.

Throughout the next few months, you may hear from a volunteer or professional from The Associated who will give you the opportunity to invest in our community and ensure its vibrancy for years to come. Please think of all the good that can come when we all join together to support and nurture each other.

Nancy Kohn Rabin and Nina Rosenzwog are the annual campaign chair and the women’s campaign chair, respectively, for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Help support our community at associated.org/give.

What I Saw on the Migrants’ Road to Budapest

As our car rolled slowly toward Budapest, we saw a huge group heading in the opposite direction on the highway just outside the city: Hundreds of people quietly walking in the breakdown lane, marching toward freedom and peace.

I couldn’t tell if the other drivers were lifting their heads or not, but I couldn’t look away, paralyzed by a scene that reminded me of the stories my grandfather told me about his march from Budapest to the concentration camp at Mauthausen.

Barbed wire fences are again being built in Europe to stop the flow of refugees. Thousands of men, women and children drowned at sea on their way to Europe across the Mediterranean. In Budapest, refugees were led to trains they were promised would bring them to the West, but instead were taken to a so-called registration camp. In the Czech Republic, refugees had identification numbers written on their hands until the process was stopped amid a public outcry, the procedure too reminiscent of the tattooed numbers on concentration camp prisoners. And European political leaders, foremost among them Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, warn of the refugees overflowing Europe with their “different” cultures and religions.

These scenes from Europe in 2015 sound like echoes of the Holocaust. But Europe’s biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II makes many Europeans blind in their historical eye, which in turn provokes concern among European Jewish leaders. At a recent demonstration in Budapest against the inhumane handling of this crisis by the Hungarian government, anti-Semitic insults where shouted by right-wing counterdemonstrators. When a group of people is stigmatized and isolated in refugee camps and abused for the political purposes of right-wing parties, we are not far from the images of Auschwitz and Theresienstadt.

Recent events pose challenges to the Jewish communities of Europe, so it is perhaps not surprising that many Jewish leaders and individuals are actively involved in providing aid to the refugees. Personally, when I see how people are fished out of trains on the basis of their racial profile or locked up in camps behind barbed wire, I’m grateful for my own life, for my healthy child, warm home and the love of family and friends.

But I also can’t sit at home and look away. As a journalist, I try to raise as much awareness as I can.

Since last month, when I joined the volunteers — many of them Jewish — helping refugees in Budapest, I’ve come to realize how many need someone to listen to them as much as they need the medicine, blankets and kosher (hence, also halal) food that we distribute among them. When you look into their eyes, their plight stops being a demographic issue.

The refugees are mostly fleeing ISIS barbarism — our common enemy. If we Jews help them, our actions could build bridges to a more secure future. Maybe I’m being naive, but I need to be if I am to help make a bright future for my 6-year-old son.

Julia Kaldori is the editor of Wina, a monthly magazine serving the Viennese Jewish  community. She was born in Hungary.

A Missed Opportunity for Healing

I read with interest the “Personal Statement of Apology” made by Rabbi Barry Freundel in the Sept. 11th Balitmore Jewish Times. As a social worker with 30 years of clinical experience, I had hoped the rabbi might have explained, especially to the victims and the Jewish community in which he was revered, what drove him for many years to risk his family life and stature by sexually traumatizing so many women who so deeply trusted him.

Freundel is not the first nor the last person of great stature to abuse his or her power in such a heinous way. I was saddened, frustrated and angry that the statement was so simplistic and seemed especially lacking in self-awareness about his motivations and the indelible mark he has left on the vulnerable women who were his victims. It is not how many times the rabbi apologizes, but rather how he understands what he is apologizing for that makes all the difference.

Here is what he could have shared that would have meaning to those he deceived and abused. First, he could have acknowledged that he sexually abused his victims. Nowhere in the statement did the rabbi describe what he did as sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. He used these women for his own erotic pleasure without their consent. Moreover, he did this repeatedly, over years, continually misusing the power of his position and the trust of his victims for the purpose of taking sexual advantage of them.

Victims of sexual exploitation carry deep shame because they feel they were in part to blame for the abuse. This shame can profoundly affect their ability to trust themselves and others for a lifetime because they somehow “let it happen.” The rabbi could have said, “To all that I have sexually exploited and abused, I know you feel shame, as though you were somehow complicit. I want to take back the shame that you carry. I bathed you in my shame. I used my role in the Jewish community and my authority to take advantage of you. You did nothing to deserve what I did to you.”

Finally, Freundel didn’t expose any personal vulnerability in his public apology. As a perpetrator, he groomed victims over time and set up situations to gain his own prurient pleasure at the victims’ expense.

The rabbi could have used his public apology as an opportunity to reveal what he is beginning to understand about his own life experience that may have led him to sexually prey on others. Such a disclosure would be an indicator that he is
taking real responsibility for his actions and would have educated the religious and larger public community about abuse of power and sexual exploitation.

This kind of personal statement would take real courage and self-awareness.

It could have made a difference in the lives of the women he abused and in furthering the healing process in the Jewish community.

Roz Beroza is a Silver Spring, Md.-based licensed social worker.

Nights in the Sukkah

In America, Sukkot is a meteorologically challenged holiday, and our family experienced the whole panoply of challenges. From my wife’s native Omaha, Neb., with its bitter cold October nights to my native New York’s torrential rains to the oppressively hot Miami, where we lived for six years before making aliyah in 1997, Sukkot, though characterized by meals outside, was often no picnic. In Israel, on the other hand, Sukkot meals very much do resemble pleasant picnics, as the weather is usually quite temperate.

Of course, life is never simple, and there just has to be a fly in the ointment — or a bee in the honey, since we’re speaking about Sukkot. If you are tempted to conclude that the mitzvah of sukkah is easy to observe in Israel, you need to know one thing: There are plenty of people who will tell you that the mitzvah is to live as much as possible in the sukkah for seven days — not just to take one’s meals in the sukkah, but to study, play and sleep in the sukkah as well. The sukkah according to these people (aka “killjoys”) is not just a temporary dining room but a temporary dwelling. [Truth be told, they have Jewish tradition on their side. While the relevant biblical verse literally reads, “You shall sit in booths seven days” (Lev. 23.42), the Talmud reads “sit” as “dwell”; see Tractate Sukkah 28b.] If you don’t sleep in the sukkah in Israel you are sometimes made to feel as if you have hardly observed the mitzvah. If you really want to show your love for the tradition on the holiday, sleep in your sukkah.

At this point you might be asking yourself: If sleeping in the sukkah is so praiseworthy, how come it is not emphasized in the diaspora? Two answers: We are not expected to be miserable in the sukkah, and sleeping outside in inclement weather would have us risk that; We are afraid that those who hate Jews will come and do bad things to us.

What happens in practice? If you are expecting me at this point to say that only ultra-Orthodox Jews sleep in their sukkot on the holiday you would be wrong. While the ultra-Orthodox often go to great lengths to give their sukkah a feeling of a “dwelling,” dragging out their regular dining-room tables and bureaus into their sukkah, plenty of the national religious (the modern Orthodox equivalent in Israel) can be found on mattresses and sleeping bags in their sukkot. These will usually be men since women are technically released from the mitzvah of Sukkah (a time-bound commandment). And while women have obligated themselves to eating in the sukkah, because of
reasons of modesty, they are not expected to sleep outside.

On a few occasions, I have joined my sons and slept in our sukkah. In truth, it can be a fun experience (especially with the comforting feeling of that tiny sleeping pill at the ready in the palm of my hand). Perhaps I’m not fulfilling the commandment correctly, and perhaps I’m missing out on getting the full rich experience of the mitzvah by not sleeping in my sukkah all seven nights? Perhaps. Happy Sukkot!

Teddy Weinberger made aliyah with his family in 1997. He and his wife, Sarah Jane Ross, live in Givat Ze’ev, a suburb of Jerusalem just over the Green Line. They have five children.

Yom Kippur Message: Take Nothing for Granted

On Tuesday last week, exactly one week before Rosh Hashanah, Israel awoke to a blinding sandstorm which strangely emanated from the east, from Syria and Iraq. Local meteorologists said that in the 75 years they had been keeping records, they had never seen a sandstorm coming from that direction.

Generally we are affected by such storms from time to time that have their source in the Sahara, to the west. But this particular event, which continues even until today, albeit somewhat abated, was stronger than most. It was impossible to see the sun during the day and, at times, even impossible to see the building next door through our windows.

What are we to make of that? As a traditional Jew, and somewhat of a mystic as well, I could see this as a direct message from God. After all, this was not a natural occurrence in meteorological terms, no one could remember such a thing happening previously and even the intensity of the storm was stronger than one would expect here. So there are a number of possibilities.

The first is that the good Lord is not so happy about the way his children are taking care of his world and is sending us a message: If you don’t take proper care of My world, including observing My directions to you personally and as a community, I will make it impossible for you to see even that which is front of your eyes.

There is a second possibility. God is simply but forcefully reminding us that we should take nothing for granted.

After all, everything we do in our lives that depends on sight has been impacted this by the sandstorm.

This, therefore, is indeed the essential message of this period of introspection, that we should absolutely take nothing for granted. Not our health which can deteriorate in a heartbeat (or lack thereof), not our families for whom we should be grateful every moment, not our livelihoods which can be negatively affected by forces out of our control, and certainly not our relationship to God and his earth, which is already showing significant effects of our misuse of the planet.

So next week when we traditional Jews spend endless hours in the synagogue beseeching the One above to grant us another year of life, and we make all those promises about how we will change our lives, perhaps we should make a series of other, equally important commitments. That is, to be more mindful of how we take care of ourselves, to express our love for family more often, to be kinder and more considerate of our business associates, to be more mindful of how we treat the planet and, of course, there is no end to this list.

For at the end of the day, we all want sunshine in our lives, and would prefer not to be blinded by sandstorms independent of how they may have generated.

Is Migration Crisis Really a Holocaust Comparison?

Chaim Landau is past president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and rabbi emeritus at Ner Tamid Congregation.

Chaim Landau is past president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and rabbi emeritus at Ner Tamid Congregation.

I have written previously of this crisis with the warning that the millions of Muslim migrants that Europe allows to enter its borders could very well radically change the entire continent, changing the cultural, social and indeed religious foundation of Christian Europe as we know it.

And now the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Saks, my teacher, mentor and paradigm of not only a Jewish leader, but of a spiritual leader for the world, has written that we Jews should feel the strongest toward these people because of our unique tragic Holocaust experience. The Hungarian chief rabbi remarked:

“It was horrifying where I saw these images (of migrants in Europe). It reminded me of Auschwitz.”

Others, too, have jumped onto the band-wagon of the Holocaust to intimidate others, especially Jews into doing all they can to assist the sorry plight of these hundreds of thousands (soon to be millions) of human cargo.

I must disagree. They are truly all wrong, and any comparison with the Shoah desecrates the souls of the 6 million who were gassed, tortured, shot, raped and annihilated in terms too horrific to comprehend.

Let’s remember that Jews were rounded up by Nazis all over Europe for the sole and focused intention of being exterminated en masse by whatever methods then available to the murderers. The refugees of Syria, Libya and others are leaving their countries because their own governments have turned on them.

They are leaving voluntarily for economic betterment, to prevent themselves being further statistics in the Middle East disaster that continues to claim so many lives. There is no Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or Majdanek to temporarily keep them before gassing them all; there are no gangs of SS killers to shoot entire families in the tens of thousands in a horrific paradigm of mass murder.

Rather, Europeans have appeared at train stations around Europe where these individuals have been dropped off and have brought anything they can buy, find or collect in order to help alleviate the conditions of the migrants. And this is to remind us of the Holocaust? Are these so-called leaders absolutely off their rocker?

Most of the migrants are from Muslim countries, and they have been brought up on a diet of hatred for the Western civilization, hatred of America, hatred of Israel, hatred of Jews, hatred of Christians. And you want Christian Europe to absorb the stratospheric numbers of these people?

The critical question no one has asked is: Why are these migrants choosing to go to Christian Europe … and not Muslim dominated countries such as Morocco, Tunisia or even the oil-rich states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates? What is the moral obligation of Europe to accept them? It seems all comparisons with the Holocaust have psyched them into action that may put their future, and the lives of their people, at great risk.

Any further comparison with our Holocaust must be neutralized and expunged, because there is absolutely no comparison. It truly is a sorry picture watching the ever-increasing numbers of these unfortunates; but it is an even bigger tragedy thinking that the crisis deserves a parallel comparison with the Holocaust. Nothing could ever be so further from the truth.

Let’s Not Repeat the Europe of 1940

Susie Gelman is a part owner of Mid-Atlantic Media, publisher of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Susie Gelman is a part owner of Mid-Atlantic Media, publisher of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

The images of Syrian refugees attempting to flee the unrelenting efforts by the Assad government to murder its own people in a civil war that has gone on for more than four years, resulting in one of the largest population upheavals since World War II, are searing, unforgettable and heartbreaking. Eleven million Syrians (half of the pre-war population) are displaced; 4 million are currently living in five neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey); and hundreds of thousands are attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece, a very dangerous and life-threatening journey.

As a people whose collective memory is marked by serial efforts to annihilate us over the millennia, most notably during the Holocaust, we have particular reason to identify with the Syrian refugees.

As a people whose collective memory is marked by serial efforts to annihilate us over the millennia, most notably during the Holocaust, we have particular reason to identify with the Syrian refugees.  The world stood by when Hitler and his nefarious accomplices wiped out the Jews of Europe.  While Bashar al-Assad is not necessarily the modern equivalent of Hitler and the Syrian civil war is not equivalent to the “final solution” to rid Europe of its Jews, the parallels in human suffering are manifest.  Unlike 75 years ago, today’s world is instantly united via the Internet, by the access to images and videos in real time, leaving the extent of human suffering undeniable.  The image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi­­­­­­s lifeless body being carried ashore by a Turkish policeman captured the world’s attention — if only for a moment. The question is how to prevent more needless loss of life and how to give these refugees a safe haven in which to begin their lives anew.

In the 1930s and early 1940s, a similarly desperate population tried to escape Nazi Germany and the surrounding countries as they fell quickly to Nazi rule. The White Paper of 1939, promulgated by the British government under then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine to a maximum of 75,000 between the years of 1940 and 1944 — precisely the time when the ability to make aliyah was most needed.  More than 100,000 Jews attempted to illegally enter Palestine by boat under Aliyah Bet between 1939 and 1948.

Most refugees were intercepted by the British and sent to camps in Cyprus; some were sent back to their countries of origin; others drowned at sea; and only a few hundred actually managed to make it ashore to the Holy Land.  The United States was equally culpable of restricting immigration before and during the war years — a notorious example was the S.S. St. Louis, which left Hamburg, Germany, in May 1939 with nearly 1,000 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany on board.  After only a few passengers were allowed to disembark in Havana, the United States refused to allow the remaining passengers to enter via Miami, and the boat was sent back to Europe in June of 1939.

Given our own collective experience, how can we Jews turn our backs on an equally desperate population of refugees?  Our tradition teaches us that we know how it feels to be a foreigner, because [we] were once foreigners in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9).  The exodus from Syria is a global problem, but the United States can do its part to welcome some of the refugees who seek asylum, safety and a new life, and we can join in a Jewish response to this humanitarian disaster by supporting the ongoing efforts of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, being administered by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

As we enter the Days of Awe, the Yamim Nora’im, and contemplate what we can do to make the world a better place in the months and years ahead — we can start by helping those most desperately in need, who inhabit our living rooms every evening on the national news.  Let us not turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, lest our own painful history be repeated with our fellow human beings — lest Europe of 2015 become Europe of 1940.

Supporting the Deal Is Our Best Tool in Stopping Iran

We all owe Sen. Ben Cardin a debt of thanks for ensuring that the P5+1 nuclear weapons agreement President Barrack Obama negotiated with Iran will receive 60 days of careful examination by our elected representatives.

Now, with just a couple weeks to go before Congress must vote on the agreement, Cardin, the senior member of Obama’s own party on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has clearly stated the serious nature of the decision he and his colleagues face.

“This is not a matter of loyalty to a political party,” Cardin reminded constituents last month. “This is a matter of what you think is in the best interests of America, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.”

With the goal of denying Iran a nuclear weapon as their guiding principle, we hope that Cardin and other undecideds vote to approve the deal — which remains our best available means to do so.

The agreement imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program at every level.

It neutralizes crucial components of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, including uranium mining and the plutonium-producing Arak reactor. Without uranium or plutonium, Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.

The deal does not depend on trusting the Iranians. Its unprecedented verification provisions allow inspectors full access to all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program — ensuring that if Iran makes a move toward the bomb, we’ll know about it.

It’s true, as skeptics have noted, that the deal does not address the non-nuclear activities in which Iran engages to destabilize the Middle East, harm American interests and threaten allies such as Israel. But these activities are a reason to support the deal, not reject it. A nuclear-armed Iran could wreak far more havoc than an Iran under the watchful eye of international inspectors.

Iran might indeed attempt to violate the deal in secret, or to develop a bomb once core measures of the agreement expire over the next 15 years. But if they do, the agreement only makes us stronger. Even when some of the deal’s provisions expire, Iran will still be bound by stricter limits on its nuclear program, and under greater supervision, than it is without the deal. It will be permanently committed to never develop a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, over the same period, our knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program — and how to target it if necessary — will grow exponentially.

As Cardin surely understands, the question facing undecided Democrats is not whether the deal is an ideal solution, but whether it is our best chance at preventing an unacceptable outcome.

By preventing the Iranians from building a bomb, opening their nuclear program to unprecedented inspections and keeping all of our options on the table, the P5+1-Iran nuclear agreement does exactly that.

We trust that Cardin will look thoughtfully at the agreement and will ultimately conclude that the deal will make us and our allies safer and vote to support it, in his words, “in the best interests of America.”