The Author

Iran is still Iran, a major supporter of terrorism – and the participants at the table were only there because they believed this. So why all the camaraderie?

The Iran deal, of course, concerns me. As an individual I recognize, though, that I do not really know for certain the facts behind the deal and, as such, whether it is actually a worrisome agreement or not. I do not have all the information and, while I have great reservations about this deal, I also know that, absent the information that only the participants at the table (and others with access to the most sophisticated intelligence operations) had at their disposal, my opinion really is inherently incomplete. I have my belief but I also know my limitations. Maybe President Obama has some information that can explain why the deal works. In fact, for the sake of the world, I can actually only hope and pray that this is really so given that the deal seems to be a reality. There is, however, one conclusion about this matter which I can definitely articulate. In any regard, this is not a time for camaraderie.

In the aftermath of the deal, I saw pictures of the participants on opposing sides in these negotiations being jovial with each other, expressing amiability. This was not some labor deal which was an aberration in the normal, good-natured workings of a company or industry. You then expect labor and management, at the conclusion of a deal, to “kiss and make-up.” In regard to Iran, though, the only reason the world is negotiating with them is because the world is concerned that, without a deal, Iran will develop nuclear weapons in the advancement of Iran’s hostile goals. The deal did not change Iran. In fact, the very fact that there is a deal only reinforces this reality. The world made the deal because they believed that only a deal could stop Iran from developing a bomb. Given no deal, Iran would develop a bomb and it is a country the world especially does not want to have a bomb. Again, Iran is still Iran, a major supporter of terrorism – and the participants at the table were only there because they believed this. So why all the camaraderie? It’s now okay to be friends?

A Difference in Human Values

It is this camaraderie that frightens me and raises my concerns. It reflects a perception of seeing everyone as basically the same, sharing the same human values. Differences are overridden under the perception that similarity eventually will be recognized and applied in the best interests of all humanity. This is actually not a thought to be summarily dismissed and adherence to such a perspective has indeed served humanity positively at many junctures in our history. Yet, such a perspective can also blind us to a reality that differences are not always overridden and that distinctions in ‘value’ perceptions do exist and must be confronted. This is such a case. Iran openly declares that it does not share the same human values as the Western countries with which it made this deal. In fact, it adheres to concepts which these countries find objectionable. That is, in fact, why these countries felt they needed a deal concerning nuclear power with Iran. But then to behave as if we are all friends? Something is wrong.

Donald Trump, in expressing negativity towards the deal, referred to the fact that the deal did not include the release of four U.S. prisoners in Iran. What this fact tells me, and should be telling everyone, is the nature of this principal with whom the world is dealing. Even just to show good faith, Iran could have included these releases as part of the deal. It thus tells me they are not the least bit concerned about such good faith. They are who they are – and they want the world to know this. This is with whom the world is dealing. If the people involved in the negotiations can then be friendly with such individuals at the conclusion of a deal, did they perhaps miss the full impact of this point? That truly raises my concern.

Article by Benjamin Hecht

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht is the founding director of Nishma, which fosters the critical investigation of contemporary issues. For further info, see nishma.org and nishmablog.blogspot.com. You can follow Rabbi Hecht on Twitter @NishmaTorah.