New York, New York
It is out of the concern for these questions that AIFL decided to express our views at this early stage before the contemplated complex process possibly degenerates.
The American Israel Friendship League (AIFL) is concerned that the recently announced agreements between the United States and the P5+1 nations and Iran may increase the risk that Iran will not renounce its objective to acquire nuclear weapons capability. Although President Obama has publicly promised that the U.S. will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons there is no assurance that the new policies toward Iran will succeed. The newly announced policy will relieve Iran from a portion of the worldwide sanctions against Iran which have had a major effect on Iran.
Various texts of the released documents have introduced confusion among serious observers. Do they expressly or implicitly signal a possibility to permit Iran to possess a nuclear bomb? How will differences in rights, obligations, or interpretations be resolved? Are the terms of the agreements consistent with U.S. law or with resolutions of the Security Council of the U.N., or resolutions of the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate? Our discussion with experts leave us in doubt. What happens if, in the course of negotiations, Iran refuses to forswear its so-called right to enrichment of uranium or of an intention to seek nuclear weapons capability? And, in such a case, if Israel refuses to accept Iran’s refusal to so forswear will it decide to preempt and attack Iran? And, in such a case, what will be the U.S. response? If the negotiations fail to resolve the issues in six months, will sanctions against Iran expire, recede, or be removed?
Kenneth J. Bialkin, Chairman of AIFL, said:
Bialkin further added in a previous statement published in The Jewish Week:
The partnership of Israel and the United States is based on more than the common experience of their birth. From before the beginning of Israel in 1948, there has been a warm relationship between the people of Israel and of the United States. That relationship persists though less than 2% of Americans are Jewish. It is based on our common perceptions of the human rights of free peoples for which both countries have struggled, and a dedication and respect for the Bible, which so many of us share.
The people of America have seen the struggles that Israel has faced in defending its freedom and have admired Israel’s success against the overwhelming hatred of its attackers. America’s love for Israel has been shown by its leaders in each presidential administration and by its elected officials in the Congress and Senate. That love and respect was also reflected in 1947 when the U.S. president instructed our U.N. delegate to support the U.N. Partition Resolution in 1947, against the recommendation of that delegate, and that same president was the first to recognize de facto the newly-declared State of Israel in 1948, against the recommendation of its Secretary of State.
Today, the United States continues to fight the forces of Islamist Jihad in the Middle East and throughout the world. Among its allies in that fight Israel stands as the only democracy in the Middle East, and Israel’s contribution to that struggle in terms of intelligence, military technology and weaponry is essential to combat the forces of our enemies who initiated that conflict on September 11, 2001.
We are perplexed, therefore, by the recent apparent disposition of the United States to marginalize Israel in the present arrangements contemplated with Iran. It is not Israel alone whose way of life is threatened by Iran’s quest for nuclear arms and support of Islamist Jihadists. All of modern civilization is threatened by the terrorism which Iran finances and directs, but only Israel has been singled out for extinction. Surely, Israel should be included in the councils of those facing the Iranian threat.
In his comments at the Saban Forum at Washington, DC on December 7, 2013, President Obama restated his goal to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and said that the new arrangements are intended to keep all existing sanctions in place and to assure that Iran cannot and will not advance its nuclear program or add additional stockpiles of advanced uranium.
These are admirable objectives but they appear to be subject to the completion of negotiations to fill in the details. Unfortunately, the details apparently remain subject to the outcome of negotiations, and in the meantime, the sanctions which have been in place will be reduced and the ultimate impact of all the arrangements on Iran become less clear. The aspirations at a public conference do not provide the clarifications necessary to understand the implications of the new arrangements.
At the Saban Conference, when asked about the U.S. position, the President did not go beyond saying that “…if we cannot get the kind of comprehensive end state that satisfies us and the world community and the P5-plus-1, then the pressure that we’ve been applying on them and the options that I’ve made clear I can avail myself of, including a military option, is one that we would consider and prepare for. And we’ve always said that. So that does not change.”
The complexity of the present status of affairs involving Iran makes it difficult to recommend specific actions in combating the Iranian threat, but we respectfully offer the following recommendations:
The U.S. should make it clear that if Israel becomes involved in hostilities with Iran or its proxies, for any reason, whether initiated by Israel or not, the U.S. will provide appropriate military assistance to Israel. In the absence of any such assurance, it is not likely that Iran would take the U.S. position seriously and is unlikely to agree to abandon its nuclear ambitions. To date, Iran has regarded the U.S. as a paper tiger and not taken its statements seriously. A clearer position by the U.S. is more likely to produce a change.
Israel should be invited to participate with P5+1 and the U.S. in devising a coordinated response to the challenges of the present situation.
The United States Congress, whose members also represent the diverse opinions of the American people, and who have already taken action regarding the sanctions on Iran, should play an appropriate role in the situation and their views must be taken into consideration. It is important that the American people are fully informed about the dangers posed by a Jihadist Iran.
As presently structured, the U.S./P5+1 proposals which relieve Iran from some sanctions do not seem likely to convince Iran to give up the idea of acquiring nuclear weapons unless they are clarified and strengthened.
Daniella Rilov, Associate Executive Director
America-Israel Friendship League
(212) 213-8630, Ext. 226 or Drilov@aifl.org
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