A Dangerously Bad Deal

The Iran deal that President Barack Obama is promoting seems to be a danger to the United States and its Middle East allies, including Israel (“What Happens Next?” Aug. 21). This deal only lasts 10 to 15 years regarding Iran’s obligation to stop working on nuclear weapons capabilities when the breakout time would be near zero, In the short term, Iran would receive $100 billion, which it is going to be able to use to send missiles and other aid to Hamas, the Islamic Jihad movement and Hezbollah and to strengthen its own military might; $100 billion is more than  33 times the annual military aid Israel receives from the United States.

In a few years, ballistic missile work would be permitted as well, so by a decade under this deal Iran may have missiles armed with nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. And Iran may have international legitimacy to be a nuclear and conventional military power.

Sen. Cardin, please follow the brave example of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to stand up to the pressure from the president and be as Queen Esther, who stood up to protect her people against Haman’s plot. This is a clear threat to millions in Israel and indeed the world. Sen. Cardin, please oppose this deal as it is a dangerously bad one.

Editor’s Note: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) serves as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Black or White, No Minyan for a Woman

While I have no doubt the author has experienced racism as an African-American Orthodox woman, the question of being counted in a minyan is not applicable to her (“Confronting Racism in Orthodox World,” Aug. 14). It can be applicable to her male counterparts, but as a woman, Chava Shervington is not eligible to be counted in an Orthodox minyan. In this case, it has nothing to do with race, it has to do with gender. In other streams of Judaism, her being counted as part of a minyan is assumed.

As Gen. Lee Said:Put Away the Flag

I cannot stand by silently and allow Murray Resnick (Your Say, Aug. 19) as well as Carl Berenholtz (Your Say, Aug. 12) to spit in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s punim (face).

If, as Berenholtz contends, the Confederate battle flag is about “heritage, not hate,” then why was it that Gen. Robert E. Lee would have nothing to do with it once the Civil War was over? At the end of that horrible conflict, he counseled, “Furl this flag. Stow it away. Put it in your attics.” Indeed, Lee was never again seen in his Confederate uniform, and at his funeral in 1870, by his request, there were no Confederate flags or uniforms.

As to Berenholtz’s suggestion that “just because twisted, hateful people adopted it as their symbol does not dilute its true meaning for me and for other history lovers,” the same could be said of the swastika, aka the gammadion cross, which, according to Wikipedia, “is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.” And which the Nazis commandeered as their Aryan logo.

As a Jew, would Berenholtz be comfortable if a neighbor had a swastika prominently displayed on his property? That is the way African-Americans and other Americans view the Confederate battle flag.

If no less a figure than the general-in-chief of the Confederate Army had no qualms about relegating that emblem to the dustbin of history, so can a 2lst-century Copperhead such as Berenholtz. Anything less would be to dishonor and disrespect the memory and last wishes of Gen. Lee himself.

Young Jews: Stop Apologizing

I think that [newly elected president of the student arm of J Street] Amna Farooqi misses the point entirely (“What Do You Think I Should Do?” Aug 21). We have a serious issue with organizations such as J Street that seem to believe that only Israel should be criticized. She ignores that Israel is one of the few countries in the region that actually allows minorities to be involved in governing the country. Perhaps if young Jews were taught pride in their people, if they were shown that the story of their people is a brilliant example to indigenous people around the world, they might stop being apologetic for achieving what no other indigenous people has achieved.

The simple truth is that the reason there is no peace in the region is not because of “the occupation.” At some point, the culpability of the Arabs needs to be called out. The Jews didn’t cast out the Arabs to be perpetual refugees, denying them citizenship in order to weaponize them. They absorbed them into Israel. It’s time we started asking why the Arabs don’t do the same.

No Room for False Information

In the words of beloved President Ronald Reagan, “There he goes again”  (Marc Caroff’s Aug. 7 Your Say letter). Unable to Refute Stephen Arkan’s Unimpeachable Facts (Your  Say, July 17), the ZOA’s Caroff instead resorts to a Fox-TV-style engorged jihad of intimidation in an effort to silence opposing voices. Because for bullies, questions that are not flattering are seen as unfair (See Trump, Donald, first GOP presidential debate).

By contrast, President Barack Obama, speaking to American Jewish leaders on Aug. 4, made it clear  that “the (Iran agreement) debate is too important for the promotion of inaccuracies and misleading misrepresentations.”

Jewish Hysteria Unfounded on Iran

The hysteria among many in the Jewish community, both locally and nationally, in opposition to the Iran deal (“A Time to Act,” July 31) is unfounded and dangerous.  Let’s look at this rationally and dispassionately.  Without this agreement, Iran will have an atomic bomb in less than a year, according to the U.S.’s best intelligence. Yes, this is an imperfect agreement, but what international accord isn’t? Isn’t the possibility of a bomb in 10 to 15 years better than the certainty of one in six months to a year?  Furthermore, the verification protocols are much more stringent than opponents realize or care to admit.  A lot can happen before the agreement expires, including negotiations to extend the agreement and maybe, God willing, an end to the current Iranian regime.

Opponents offer several alternatives, all of them unrealistic, and one of them profoundly dangerous. First, as to a “better deal,” that won’t happen because the entire world supports the present agreement, and it is unlikely that anyone will come to the table after American credibility has been critically undermined by Congress. Second, sanctions won’t work anymore because the European and other powers who negotiated this agreement have made it clear that they won’t participate in sanctions if the deal is scrapped. The only other alternative offered is bombing.  A war with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the U.S., but especially for Israel and the entire Middle East. It will make the conflicts in Syria and Iraq look like warm-ups for the main act, and it won’t delay Iran’s program as many years as this agreement will. And the retaliation from Iran will be directed first toward Israel.  It is interesting that, despite widespread opposition to the agreement in Israel, the former director of Shin Bet and others in the Israeli security establishment have come out in favor of it.

Looked at rationally, it is clear that this is a good deal for both the U.S. and Israel, the hawks in Congress and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu notwithstanding.  The president and Secretary of State John Kerry, rather than being excoriated, should be congratulated on accomplishing what they set out to do: block Iran’s pathway to a bomb.  History will prove them right.

Forget Robert E. Lee; Name the Park Socrates

There seems to be some contentions regarding renaming Robert E. Lee Park (“Robert E. Lee Park to Receive New Name,” July 31). I suggest that the new name should be Socrates Park. Socrates has been respected and admired for thousands of years. He is politically neutral and not controversial since very few people (including me) have read his books. In addition, people calling for the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monuments across from the Museum of Art should consider replacing them with a statue  of Venus de Milo. It’s old and famous. That is good enough for me.

Adding Insult to Injury

President Barack Obama has considerable chutzpah when he tells the supporters of a very bad Iranian deal to get active, ignoring millions of dollars already pouring into that campaign (“Presidential Call,”  Aug. 7).  To add insult to injury, he has attacked his opponents by calling them ridiculous and even worse, as the full dimensions of the deal shows its folly. Let Congress act without interference from the president to at least rebuke for his vendetta against its opponents.

Right to Fly Flag Is the American Way

I am Carl Berenholtz’s brother-in-law (“Confederate Battle Flag Comes under Fire,” July 3), and over the past half-century I have disagreed with him as much as agreed with him. I read Jodie Zisow’s July 24 letter to the JT (“Mr. Berenholtz: Take Down That Flag”), and I feel compelled to speak up.

The Civil War was as much about a way of life, a region’s economics and the right to object to the actions of our government as it was about slavery. I agree that slavery was wrong just as I agree that the KKK was as evil as Germany and Hitler.

But democracy has shown that the right to question government leads to a free place to live. I agree that the Confederate flag should not be flown on government land, but to deny an American the right to fly any flag on his own property is not what America stands for. Would you deny a Jew the right to fly the flag of Israel in his yard or put Chanukah lights on his property?

We are blessed to live in this country. Appreciate what it has to offer.

BJC’s Opposition Offers No Alternative

I read with dismay of the decision by the Baltimore Jewish Council’s executive committee to oppose the agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany (“Good or Bad?”  July 24). As a rabbi and representative to the BJC, my objections are both substantive and procedural.

First, neither I nor the the BJC at-large was ever consulted about this most important policy decision. Inasmuch as the agreement enjoys majority support of the American Jewish community and of many former members of the Israeli security establishment, this decision is at best surprising and at worst unrepresentative of the community the BJC purports to represent.

Secondly, on the merits of the decision, the BJC position is quite likely wrong. When the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — with all of their intelligence and analytical wherewithal — agree on something, there had better be compelling evidence to refute their informed judgment. They, particularly the U.S. security establishment, are the experts. However, here there is no such evidence. All we’ve heard are conclusory statements deriding the agreement without providing an alternative.  Responsible citizenship means more than naysaying; it means articulating exactly why no agreement is better than this agreement.

There is no doubt that Iran poses a serious threat to Israel and the United States. That is not the issue. What is at issue is how best to arrest Iran’s nuclear development such that it can never threaten another country with nuclear annihilation. Sadly, the BJC executive board has failed to provide a viable alternative. Absent a broad consensus in the Jewish community, it should have taken no position on the agreement.