Only in the Orwellian world of J Street would support for an agreement that will allow Iran’s genocidal mullahs to build a nuclear weapon be considered “pro-peace.” The Israeli government has been lobbying the United States for months to impose stricter limitations on Iran’s nuclear program than the original agreement (JCPOA) or to abandon it and pursue other options. Naturally, J Street is lobbying against the government. This is nothing new, but they can no longer hide behind the fig leaf of trying to save Israel from Benjamin Netanyahu. They’ve been opposing the broadest government coalition in Israel’s history for more than a year.
After AIPAC sent out a memo outlining the problems with the JCPOA, J Street was compelled to disseminate a seven-page rebuttal. I don’t have enough space to refute every point, but let’s look at a few of them.
J Street cherry-picks Israeli quotations by supporters of the pact to avoid acknowledging that it is opposing the government on its most vital security issue. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has said, “the current deal is a bad deal” and “does not meet the standards set by President Joe Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.” He also stated, “if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel.” He has repeatedly said Israel “will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”
J Street says Congress can review the agreement and that opponents failed in their attempt to block the JCPOA. That is because former President Barack Obama knew that if he submitted the deal as a treaty, as he should have, it would never have been ratified. Biden knows it would be rejected now, too, and is following Obama’s playbook to force the American people to accept a deal that endangers the security of the United States and its allies.
A reminder of why the agreement was a farce:
- Iranian hostility towards the United States never abated.
- Iran prevented “anywhere, anytime” inspections making verification impossible.
- Iran failed to disclose information about its prior nuclear activities.
- Iran continued to pursue a bomb.
J Street falsely claims that the agreement will be “longer and stronger,” which Biden promised. The president, however, almost immediately dropped that demand and no longer mentions it because Iran would never agree to such a deal. It’s also difficult to understand how the same agreement signed in 2015 would magically become longer or stronger.
J Street acknowledges Iran is closer to a bomb. In the words of the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran is “galloping ahead” towards nuclear capability. Not surprisingly, the left-wingers want to blame former President Donald Trump. The pro-Iran lobby ignores one minor detail: The United States pulled out of the deal, but Iran did not. Iran is still obligated to fulfill all the terms of the agreement. Hence, the IAEA has continued to report on Iranian violations.
J Street blames Trump for the fact that “there are virtually no restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, monitoring devices in Iran’s nuclear facilities have been shut off.” All infringements of the JCPOA unrelated to Trump. Iran has continued to flout the terms of the deal under Biden during negotiations to return to the JCPOA. The truth is that the agreement’s fundamental flaw is that it is unverifiable. The IAEA was never allowed to inspect military facilities where Iran is most likely to be doing weapons research; it did not know about secret facilities or projects until Israel or the Iranian opposition exposed them, and it may still be unaware of others, and it has been prevented from investigating Iran’s past nuclear weapons research.
Another problem: Obama promised the JCPOA would cut off all avenues to a bomb. So, how can Iran be days away from breakout? Obama admitted that breakout time would be almost zero in at most 15 years after the agreement was signed. That was more than seven years ago. Under the JCPOA, Obama anticipated Iran would be on the verge of having a nuclear capability no later than 2030.
J Street says “the disconnection and verified storage of most advanced centrifuges was a part of the original agreement.” The fact that Iran did not have to destroy all its centrifuges, as Israel wanted, was another critical defect. The agreement did not prevent Iran from developing and deploying sophisticated centrifuges that have allowed it to enrich uranium closer to weapons-quality purity.
Another key element in Obama’s case for the deal was that sanctions would snap back if Iran breached it. As J Street admits, our European allies have refused to reimpose sanctions despite Iran’s violations. Iran has faced no consequences for noncompliance and can now be confident that will be true even if the United States rejoins the JCPOA.
J Street also blames Trump for what it admits is Iran’s increased use of terrorism. This ignores the fact that the JCPOA gave Iran a financial bonanza allowing it to expand its malign activities throughout the region. Iran is so unafraid of the United States that Iranian-backed militias fire missiles at U.S. bases and Tehran plots the assassination of Americans.
Israel understandably fears a deal that would provide another windfall. Professor Shai Feldman, Raymond Frankel Chair of Israeli Politics and Society at Brandeis University, explained what will happen if J Street gets its way and sanctions are removed:
Aside from allowing Iran to resume its lucrative oil exports, the agreement would provide Tehran instant access to as much as $100 billion of financial assets currently frozen in banks around the globe. These resources are expected to allow Iran to exponentially increase its support to Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and to broaden and deepen its presence in Syria.
The “blame Trump” game even extends absurdly to Iran’s ballistic-missile activities. Obama and now Biden’s refusal to include curbs on Iran’s development of nuclear-capable missiles in the deal has exponentially increased the danger to Israel, the Gulf Arabs, the United States and Europe. U.S. forces have already been targeted by Iranian missiles. Imagine if they had nuclear warheads.
J Street claims Americans support the nuclear deal. In 2015, Pew found that 49% of Americans disapproved of the agreement, and only 21% approved. Presciently, 70% had little or no confidence that Iran would adhere to the agreement, and 51% had little or no confidence in U.S. and international agencies’ ability to monitor Iran’s compliance.
A 2021 Chicago Council survey did find that 59% support U.S. participation in a deal that lifts economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The question assumes a deal, unlike the JCPOA, would constrain Iran’s activities. The result was driven by the support of 72% of Democrats. Contrary to J Street’s claims (never believe their self-serving polls), 41%, not a majority of Republicans, agreed.
The survey also found that 84% supported diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from enriching uranium, but the same percentage agreed that the U.S. should impose tighter sanctions on Iran (an implicit endorsement of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign that J Street disparaged). More interestingly, 64% supported cyberattacks on Iran’s computer systems, 60% supported airstrikes against its nuclear facilities, and 49% supported sending U.S. troops to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. Evidently, Americans are prepared to take stronger measures, including using military force, against Iran.
To his credit, Biden has refused to give in to Iranian demands to accept an even weaker agreement than the JCPOA. Reportedly, Iran has backtracked on concessions, forcing him to at least temporarily give up the ambition to rejoin the deal. Iran is clearly playing for time as it “gallops” towards building a bomb. Already, it has the know-how no agreement can take away and a track record of duplicity.
The “pro-peace” lobby is sowing the seeds of war. As with most of J Street’s agenda, Israel will be more vulnerable if the administration and Congress take its advice. Hopefully, it will continue to have no influence on U.S. policy.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby,” “Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”