Iran’s Looming Threat



Last week as I gathered with thousands of participants, including hundreds of Reform Jews, at the AIPAC conference, I was proud to see that Reform Jewish leaders are deeply involved in AIPAC and other organizations that work to strengthen and support Israel. These groups strive to move the peace process forward and address Israel’s internal challenges such as democracy, religious pluralism, women’s rights and human rights, as well as build bipartisan support to help ensure that the Jewish state is safe, strong and secure.  Increasingly, all groups working in support of Israel are alarmed by the threat posed by Iran.

Currently, the issues surrounding Iran are before the world. Iran’s nuclear ambition is undeniable, as is its hostile intent toward Israel, toward the United States, toward its Arab neighbors and toward so many of its own people. It is widely known that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. Preventing a nuclear Iran is no simple task. To date, it has required a major diplomatic undertaking by the Bush Administration and even greater efforts by the Obama Administration to mobilize the broad international economic and diplomatic sanctions that clearly are having an economic impact on Iran.

There are grave costs should we fail to deter Iran’s military nuclear ambitions. A nuclear-armed Iran would spur a nuclear arms race in the region, increase regional instability, weaken deterrence against Iranian adventurism, and increase the chances of nuclear war.  At the same time that we are committed to keeping all options on the table, we recognize that few analysts believe a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will provide a long-term solution; rather, many believe that such an attack will unleash military and economic consequences that will challenge the region and the world.

I believe that our Reform Movement is united in several key points:

  • Throughout the Reform Movement, there is deep appreciation and strong support for the intense efforts to expand economic and diplomatic pressure in pursuit of a non-military option. As  President Obama expressed so clearly in his recent AIPAC speech, we fully support Israel’s right, as an autonomous democracy, to make its own judgments and take its own actions to ensure its security. Based on shared values and commitments, we believe it is critical that there be continued cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
  • Both the House and the Senate have pending resolutions (HRes 568 and SRes 380), in a bipartisan manner, that reaffirm that the U.S. has a vital national interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability and call for yet stronger sanctions, and we support these efforts.
  • Although there is no doubt that the military option must be on the table, we believe that every other option should be exercised before military action is carried out; but we must also consider what a military option would look like and what the desired outcome would be.

At this moment, with such stark choices before us and before our nation, it is especially important that we gather together—as a Movement, in our congregations, in our communities and with one another, as well as with all Americans—to grapple  with the very tough and sometimes divisive issues before us, and to consider all the options before us in a wise and reasoned manner.

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

About Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the URJ. See his full bio and other writings on the URJ website.

2 Responses to “Iran’s Looming Threat”

  1. avatar

    Why do you deny that there is a 10 year history that economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran has not worked. Your words remind me of historic events during the late ’30′s and ’40′s. We know the results that attitude gave birth too. Shoah.

  2. avatar

    As one who has been a committed Jew all my life, I am so tired, to put it mildly, of those in the “leadership” (or to put it more accurately, those in the positions of power, since they do not lead me in any way) of the American Jewish community who not only, when the government of Israel says “Jump”, immediately respond “How high?”, but rather, even before the government of Israel says “Jump”, say that “Whenever you tell us to jump, and whatever you tell us to jump about, we’ll jump as high as you want.”

    Let me make it clear that I am not including Rabbi Jacobs here. I have never met Rabbi Jacobs, but I have absolutely no reason to doubt his integrity.

    As Rabbi Jacobs points out, the issue of Iran is “tough and divisive”. Thus I trust that if worst comes to worst and Israel does attack Iran militarily, the reform movement will *not* immediately and reflexively come out in support of such an action.

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