The letter below was sent to his congregation in Sacramento, CA, by Rabbi Reuven Taff. Rabbi Taff asks that everyone who reads it share it as widely as you possibly can. Send it to everyone on every list you have.
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM RABBI TAFF
ISRAEL ACTION ALERT---Please Take Action Now!
It is with a heavy heart that I write to ask for your help in sending a message to Members of Congress and to the President of the United States. Whether you are a registered Democrat, Republican, Independent or affiliated with any other political organization---whether you are a supporter of AIPAC, J Street or other groups, it is incumbent upon ALL of us to put our allegiance to political party and organization aside and stand together with ONE VOICE.
Last week's negotiated agreement in Vienna which was approved by the United States and the P-5+1 concluding a nuclear deal with Iran will go down in history as one of the worst capitulations to a country which is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism.
I read all 159 pages of the agreement. I found it mind boggling that there was nothing in the agreement stating that Iran will recognize Israel's right to exist, cease public statements calling for the destruction of Israel and stop the funding and arming of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.
The bottom line is this: Under the terms of the agreement, Iran will emerge as a nuclear threshold state. If Iran's belligerence towards Israel in the past was considered an existential issue for the Jewish state, then this agreement only solidifies that concern. The alternative to an agreement, the president argues, is a path of isolation and confrontation that is likely to lead to war. With Iran, he hopes to overturn old strategies of isolation and sanctions, drawing Iran into a web of cooperation that he thinks will end up improving their behavior. I respectfully disagree with our president and feel that with this agreement he and his administration have thrown Israel under the bus. And I am not the only one to feel this way.
The word from Israel is clear. Not only is the government of Israel opposed to this deal, but leaders in the opposition parties in Israel are united against this agreement.
Last week Israeli opposition leader and head of the Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog, announced that this deal "will unleash a lion from the cage, it will have a direct influence over the balance of power in our region, it's going to affect our borders, and it will affect the safety of my children." Herzog is expected to travel to Washington in the coming week to meet with members of Congress about the deal.
Ari Shavit who is a left-leaning columnist for Haaretz (and spoke here in Sacramento in 2014) and who has in the past been very critical of the Netanyahu government wrote a few days ago:
"Experience reveals a yawning gap between the way the United States and Europe understand the Middle East and the way the Middle East understands itself. Here on the ground, between Casablanca and Kabul, the Vienna agreement could be perceived as evidence that America is in retreat, Europe is declining and Shi'ite power is on the rise.
Hence the concern that in the long run a nuclear arms race will develop around us, in the short run a conventional arms race will emerge, and in the intermediate term neighboring powers like Hezbollah will strengthen and feel that their time has arrived. The move that is intended to bring peace for our time may lead to the opposite."
I have a long-time Jewish friend who is a producer in Washington with a national news agency. He told me a few days ago when I expressed my dismay with our President's actions to "give peace a chance." I told him to tell every Israeli citizen who has to face within months a vastly empowered and unshackled Iran in the Middle East to "give peace a chance."
The president formally submitted the deal to Congress, and Congress now has up to 60 days to carefully examine and review the agreement before voting to approve or disapprove.
I ask you to join me in raising our voices loudly to let our representatives in Washington know that this deal should not be ratified in its current form and to insist that our elected officials vote it down. And should that happen and should the president veto the House and Senate's actions, then we must insist that Congress votes to override the veto.
This has nothing to do with politics. This has everything to do with stopping
the sudden infusion of billions of dollars of sanctions relief to a terrorist regime, the effect of which will create as much of an existential threat to Israel as will a nuclear bomb. A few days ago National Public Radio reported that within 6 months, Iran will receive $100 billion in frozen oil sales funds (deposited in escrow by China, India, South Korea and Japan for oil they already purchased) once sanctions are lifted. And that is just one category of funds that will be released!
AIPAC has published two fact sheets outlining the many dangers of the proposed agreement. The first, "Analysis: An Unacceptable Deal,"
how the nuclear agreement falls short of the five requirements outlined by bipartisan majorities of Congress.
The second, "6 Unacceptable Consequences," highlights the dangerous ramifications of this deal on American interests and regional security. Please share these fact sheets with your Jewish and Christian friends and ask them to join you in contacting our representatives in Washington.
I also encourage you to read this article by Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, highlighting the many shortfalls in the agreement that "maps Iran's emergence as a regional power, with the full blessing-even support-of the United States and the international community."
I sincerely ask that all of you act by calling and emailing the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein and the offices of our elected officials in the House of Representatives. You can access their direct phone numbers and email information by going to: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
Because of the gravity of last week's agreement in Austria, next Tuesday and Wednesday I will be in Washington, D.C. to join some of my rabbinic colleagues from all over the United States in meetings with officials from AIPAC and private meetings with members of our local Congressional delegation. I am happy to carry with me and hand-deliver any and all personal letters from you to our two Senators and to the Member of Congress from your residential district. Just drop off your sealed letter addressed to your senators and congressman/congresswoman or mail it to me at the synagogue. I would need to receive them no later than Monday, July 27th by 4:00pm.
I think that this is certainly one of the darkest periods of strategic isolation for Israel - not unlike the time when President Eisenhower & Secretary of State Dulles teamed up with the Soviets in 1956-57 to force Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai. And yes, this is a sad and difficult time for Israel and the Jewish People. Perhaps it was long in coming, certainly not surprising, but shocking nonetheless. It's not just the horrible inadequate nuclear deal; it's the overall shift in American policy in the Middle East, and in the world.
Let us remember the words of Elie Wiesel: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
I thank you all for considering my request to not be silent and to take immediate action.
Rabbi Reuven Taff
PS: Please forward this email to family and friends and encourage them to also call and email their senators and members of congress.