silverberg-more-recentThe debate regarding the proposed nuclear deal with Iran reminded me of a meeting I participated in with Daniel Kurtzer, then U.S. Ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush, at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in 2007. Though I’ve been to Israel several times, both before and after, our meeting stood out in my memory, helping me to separate politics from facts in considering the proposed nuclear deal.

The purpose of my 2007 visit to Israel was to join a delegation from Americans for Peace Now in a series of meetings with politicians, experts, analysts, and activists from across the spectrum of Israeli public and political opinion. Our group heard of the many challenges and possible solutions to the significant security, demographic, water, and civil issues that Israel faced. This trip to Israel and our meetings left me better informed, and even more motivated to devote my energies to defending Israel’s security and its essential Jewish and democratic character. Toward the end of our weeklong visit we met with Ambassador Kurtzer.

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There is an old truism that holds that the best defense is a good offense. Or, more colloquially, when you find yourself in hot water, flip the script and go on the attack. Allies of and apologists for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are today doing just that. They are peddling a new narrative that President Obama and others, by speaking openly and critically about the extraordinary efforts of the Israeli government and some U.S. Jewish groups to kill the Iran deal, are guilty of feeding anti-Semitism or smearing American Jews, or are unmasking themselves as anti-Semites.

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her support for the Iran nuclear deal last week — and that should come as no surprise. A thoughtful, dispassionate consideration of the agreement leads to the clear conclusion that it’s good for both the United States and for Israel.

Regrettably, however, there is tremendous pressure on the American public and on Congress to reject the deal. Some of that pressure is simply partisan: Many Republicans came out in opposition before the details were even announced.

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APN Board member Danny Goldberg in The Huffington Post: My Dad and Chuck Schumer

My father, Victor Goldberg was in 195th Field Artillery Battalion during World War Two, landing on Utah Beach nine days after D-Day. Like other members of his unit he was given Battle stars for being in five bloody battles against the Nazis in Normandy. Later he was among those American troops who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

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Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) – prominent Jewish members of Congress – announced they will oppose the deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States) to curb Iran’s nuclear program.  Earlier in the week, two other leading Jewish members of Congress, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), did likewise. All of these members of Congress should reconsider this misguided, flawed position.

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There's a lot of noise right now about the Iran nuclear deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some Jewish community organizations have declared war on the deal. They and their allies – including members of the right-wing Evangelical movement and point-scoring political partisans – are bombarding members of Congress, the public and the media with a barrage of anti-deal talking points and sound bites.
I fear that lost in this din are key facts that members of Congress – who will soon have the responsibility to vote whether to approve the deal – as well as the public at large, need to know.

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Nuanced views of Iran deal, in Yediot Ahronoth

Positive Energy

By Ariela Ringel Hoffman
Published July 17, 2015, in Yediot Ahronoth (Hebrew edition), translation by Israel News Today (INT)

The reactions were as expected: at press conferences brimming with satisfaction in the six signatory countries, particularly in the US, which spearheaded the effort, the agreement that was signed with Iran was dubbed “historic,” in the Iranian Republic people danced in the streets, made the V sign, sung songs of praise to “dear Zarif and beloved Rouhani,” while in Israel, one after the other, top officials from the security establishment faced the microphones to explain how bad the agreement is, how great the danger.

However, it turns out that there are a number of Israeli experts who think otherwise and who are also willing to say so. They are aware of the weak points of the agreement, the negative developments that it enables, but on the other hand, they point out the advantages of the new situation that has been created and the potential for positive change.

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Efraim Halevy on the Iran Deal

Before Making a Rush at Washington

Oped by Efraim Halevy
Published July 19, 2015 in Yedioth Ahronoth, p. 28 (Hebrew edition), translation by Israel News Today (INT)

The importance of the agreement drawn up in Vienna does not lie only in the detailed arrangements that are designed to block Iran’s path to a military nuclear [weapon] in the coming decade, but also—and no less importantly—in the fact that Russia and China have signed the document.  This is a rare moment in the complex relationship between the US and Tehran’s two close friends and its main arms suppliers.  It was not only Iran that made concessions in the tough negotiations that were conducted until the last moment.  Moscow and Beijing also committed themselves [to the agreement].

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APN's Intern Rosie Berman on Jewschool: The Elephant on the Bus

Shortly before I ended my sophomore year of college, I found myself in my advisor’s office with an important question:

“How can I participate in an activity when I profoundly disagree with much of its goals?”
You see, I was just about to leave for my Birthright trip, a free trip to Israel–all expenses paid–intended to strengthen the bond between young American Jews and Israel. I’d signed up because a lot of my friends were going, the Birthright coordinator at my school is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and I wanted to get back to Israel after having been there for a teen tour at the age of 17. 
Yet I had a lot of second thoughts. Since my last time there, I’d educated myself about the complex realities of the conflict. I understood that Birthright trips seek to promote an image of Israel among American Jews which, in addition to being dangerously inaccurate, disregards Israel’s democratic character in favor of promoting exclusionary nationalism. I am extremely proud of my Jewish heritage and believe the Jewish people have the right to self determination in our ancestral homeland. However, I find it difficult to reconcile myself with a conceptualization of Jewishness that contradicts both the Jewish values I grew up with and the progressive values I have come to cherish.
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Mr Ori Nir222x300Doron Rosenblum, one of Israel’s leading satirists, recently wrote on his Facebook page: “I got it. They (members of the ruling coalition) are defeating criticism and satire through using satire’s own power, as judokas do, by taking themselves beyond the absurd. Today, no satirist can outdo the insanity of" Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Indeed, Israel’s leading television satire show, Eretz Nehederet (What a Wonderful Country), recently ran a humorous quiz on its web site, in which participants were asked to guess whether quotes attributed to Likud Knesset Member Oren Hazan were true or false. I took the quiz and failed miserably. Hazan’s real quotes were much more outlandish than the made-up ones.

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