It is a truism in the world of church and synagogue dynamics that a dysfunctional leadership makes exceptionally poor decisions. Once a church or synagogue Board has collapsed into dysfunction and acrimony, virtually no decision can be trusted as healthy. This is why many congregations must hire an interim pastor or rabbi when there is grave dysfunction; the leadership needs to be replaced or to heal before a permanent spiritual leader can be found.
The acrimony over the Iran “deal” can be traced directly to over thirty years of dysfunction amongst our political leadership class (aided and abetted by an entertainment -oriented pundit class) and an increasingly foolish and vapid electorate. The fact is, our political system now functions so poorly that the bitter divide that exists over the Iran deal was inevitable. That the same dysfunction exists to a great extent in Israel itself only exacerbates this problem. Few Republicans were ever going to support the deal because it is now a political axiom that Obama must be opposed on Israel issues, and even many Democratic politicians are fearful of being seen as weak on the issue. The Netanyahu administration has directly injected itself into the political morass of American politics and has no doubt contributed to the division. The Obama administration has stumbled and made bad decisions regarding Israel in the past. I am more than slightly nauseated by the attempt to sway the American Jewish community both by the White House and by opponents of the deal. It smacks of manipulation.
It appears that many American Jewish community organizations are slowly aligning against the “deal”. Some because they genuinely feel it is harmful to israel. Some because they answer to contributors or constituents who demand it. Some because they simply do not want to be seen as “weak” on Israel’s security at a time when Israel remains in peril.
Here is my personal view. I think the “deal” is flawed. I think it is weak when it comes to oversight, weak when it comes to holding Iran accountable. I think Iran is a truly bad actor in the world and a sponsor of terror. War remains a possibility.
In the best of all worlds, reasonable people from all sides of the debate in America would have come together to work on an agreement that that has clear ramifications for our future and that of the world. In the best of all worlds, Republican and Democratic politicians would have worked to strengthen the agreement in Congress, putting aside partisan animosities for the sake of peace and stability. I wish that were so. The deal is flawed. It emerges from a dysfunctional political system. The politicians have left town. They are not going to work to make a flawed deal better. However, given two bad choices, I have learned to make the least “bad” choice. In my opinion, the deal should be supported with the understanding that it is deeply flawed and requires monitoring that goes beyond business as usual. The fate of world peace rides on an honest assessment of whether the Iranians comply. I know many of my fellow Jews will disagree with me. I truly respect and understand their view. But again, in my opinion we must be honest with ourselves. We can’t denounce the deal without recognizing the dysfunction that led us to this moment. We must be brutally honest with ourselves. We are reaping the bitter, rotten fruit of three decades of dysfunction in our political system and in our national discourse. We are partially to blame for that dysfunction, and it is up to us to repair it. There are two poor choices. I say, take the least bad and support the deal. I welcome your responses. (keep it civil, please)