For starters, let me say I am a liberal in the great state of Massachusetts, where I registered to vote as a Democrat after moving from Connecticut because Elizabeth Warren is my heroine and inspiration (not hyperbole). I have two framed photos in my room of newspapers from the day after Obama won the presidency in 2008. In ninth grade, I got into a heated argument with a classmate and was reprimanded by my teacher after I called George W. Bush a “tyrant,” a sentence that probably came right from my father’s mouth and which I decided to share during a class discussion. After the Supreme Court came out with their decision on same-sex marriage in June, I wore my pair of rainbow-colored earrings all weekend while dutifully Instagramming and Snapchatting happy photos of rainbow flags.
All of this is to say I am left-wing all the way, and I very rarely budge from my stereotypically young person from New England, “I voted for Obama—twice!,” social justice and human rights minded point of view. Which is why this whole Iran deal has me frustrated, and, most of all, conflicted.
I love Israel. I think Tel Aviv is awesome, Jerusalem is historically fascinating, and Haifa is a place where coexistence seems to be, well, working. It upsets me to think of people who don’t see the value Israel—the internationally recognized Jewish state—adds to the world, and more than that, it hurts me to think of the regime in Iran, which hosts anti-Semitic demonstrations and has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. I can’t shake the feeling that this deal will empower terrorist groups such as Iran-funded Hezbollah, therefore putting the world, and Israel in particular, in danger.
When I was in Israel a few months ago, the group I was with heard from an Israeli negotiator, who mentioned that U.S. officials, and Westerners in general, suffer from “solutionism,” or the thought that the issues in the Middle East have a clear-cut solution, when in reality the issues are much more complicated than that. I have been thinking of the negotiator’s point often over the last few weeks, particularly when I heard President Obama’s full speech regarding the Iran deal: “A nuclear armed Iran is far more dangerous to Israel…than an Iran that benefits from sanctions relief.” To me, President Obama sounds naïve. What if this deal leads to Iran being nuclear armed and wealthy due to sanctions relief?
But I can see the points of view of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry as well. Without a deal, no matter how flawed it may be, Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a matter of months. If Congress rejects the deal and the U.S. strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities, I agree that Iran will retaliate by attacking Israel. That won’t be good for anybody, particularly since there’s already a war and mounting human rights crisis in Syria, Israel’s next-door neighbor.
No, this deal isn’t perfect, and it seems as though I change my mind about it every time I read a new article, such as this one by Thomas Friedman, which legitimately asks for a credible Plan B for a deal. The Iran deal is making me question my Democrat-minded principles; I think President Obama sounds naïve, but I don’t agree with Bibi Netanyahu and congressional Republicans either. At the end of the day, I believe in diplomacy before military action, and as a skeptical (at least on this issue) liberal, all I can hope is that President Obama is right, and that this deal will truly hinder Iran’s nuclear weapon capabilities.