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May 11, 2018
Earlier this week, President Trump announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, a/k/a the “Iran Deal”).
Norpac strongly opposed the JCPOA at the time it was reached in 2015 because, among other things, (a) it did not, as its supporters asserted, cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, (b) it did not address Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, (c) many of the constraints the agreement imposed on Iran’s nuclear program will sunset in eight years, (d) it failed to include any ability to respond to low level breaches by Iran of the deal (of which there have been many), (e) it lacked inspections at military sites, (f) it allowed Iran to continue its research into more advanced centrifuges and (g) it failed to prohibit development of ballistic missiles, whose primary purpose is to deliver nuclear bombs.
We applaud President Trump for seeking to address these issues and reach a multilateral agreement to fix these and other problems with the JCPOA. We also applaud his pointing out the obvious: that the JCPOA has seemed to encourage Iran’s support of terrorists and murderous regimes, rather than causing it to moderate its behavior.
In the post-JCPOA world, we hope that the President restarts negotiations with our allies soon with the aim of both reaching a multilateral agreement that addresses both the nuclear issue and Iran’s malign regional aggression.
On behalf of the NORPAC membership and its officers, we applaud the leadership of President Donald Trump in his announcement anticipated this afternoon recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the American embassy to that capital. This action fulfills the commitment made by Congress in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, a legislative effort that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
This move sends a strong message to the international community that Israel and the Jewish people have a legitimate and long-standing history and bond with the city of Jerusalem, a city that to this day allows a level of religious freedom found nowhere else in the Middle East. We strongly believe that recognition of the objective truth – that, beginning three thousand years ago, Jerusalem has been the capital of all Jewish states – will in the long run make peace more, rather than less, likely. The President’s announcement also reinforces to the world that America and the current President keeps its promises.
We congratulate Congress for the legislation that made this move possible as well as those in the Administration who have helped to make this move a reality: Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman, Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and most of all President Donald Trump.
We look forward to the embassy relocation scheduled to take place six months from now, and once again express our gratitude to the Administration for this very important and meaningful action.
God bless America, its great people, and its valiant leadership.
Ben Chouake, MD (Dr. Ben)
NORPAC National President
As you are aware, on December 23rd of last year, the UN Security Council (UNSC) voted in favor of Resolution 2334. Although not part of the text of the Resolution, implementation of the ideas behind this motion could make much of biblical Israel, including the holy sites in Jerusalem, off limits to Jews and probably to Christians as well. Given that the PA has stated there will be no Jews in a Palestinian State, and that they have already purged the vast majority of their Christian population from PA and Hamas-controlled territories, this is a very real threat.
The United States, in a reversal of decades-long policy to veto such one-sided resolutions targeted at delegitimizing Israel, abstained that day, permitting the passage of 2334, this anti-Semitic and anti-Christian resolution.
Yesterday the House of Representatives passed H.Res.11, codifying strong support and friendship between the United States and Israel through condemnation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, a recent, extreme and dangerous anti-Israel motion. The House Resolution repudiates 2334 and makes clear that a durable and sustainable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will only come through direct bilateral negotiations, not one-sided anti-Israel UN resolutions. Sens. Rubio (R-FL) and Cardin (D-MD) are expected to introduce parallel legislation in the Senate.
On Tuesday, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO5) introduced binding legislation against the anti-Israel UNSCR 2334. Lamborn’s bill goes further by clearly establishing that the Security Council resolution is null and void under US law.
NORPAC and its leadership have been working with other concerned leaders around the country to mitigate the effects of Resolution 2334. More importantly, it was our belief that the Kerry Speech on December 28th of last year, the upcoming Paris Conference scheduled for January 15th, and scheduled UNSC meeting on January 17th, was a cascade of events in which a pre-1967 partition plan would be drawn and a Palestinian State declared at the UN and approved by the Security Council.
Three officers of the American Jewish Congress, also of NORPAC – Jack Rosen, Dr. Munr Kazmir, and Ben Chouake – decided to go together to DC on January 3rd, the swearing-in day, and met with many Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to work on stopping the administration from implementing such a plan during its final days in office.
We spoke personally with the Senators we met at swearing-in ceremonies including Senators Bennet (D-CO), Wyden (D-OR), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warner (D-VA), and Stabenow (D-MI), and arranged for personal meetings in the offices of 9 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Chairman Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Cardin (D-MD), that day. We discussed actionable items to stop the UNSC from its untoward activity.
Resolutions, while quick and helpful, are largely ignored by the administration. Some of the ideas discussed as a response to the last UNSC resolution would be:
Immediately moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem;
Cutting discretionary spending at the UN (currently at 5 of 8 billion a year in America’s tab there);
Hold a Senate Hearing to look into the why and how of the American support and participation in this UNSC resolution;
Decreasing or halting funding to countries like Senegal, which voted for the UNSC Resolution, and having the Senate members express to the other UNSC members their displeasure at the last vote (which would mean the upcoming one)
My penultimate meeting that day was with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). He suggested to call members of the Democratic Caucus who were meeting with the President on the Affordable Care Act the following day, and he would also follow suit, to get a clear answer on the administration’s intentions on this matter until the end of the term.
We followed the the suggestion of Senator Menendez, but unfortunately the meeting with President Obama and the Democratic Congressional Caucus did not allow for those questions and answers.
Fortunately, on January 5th, Secretary Kerry had a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and both Senator Menendez and other Members pressed him on this issue. Senator Menendez was kind enough to call me after the meeting to inform me that Secretary Kerry clearly stated to the Committee that they do not believe the Paris Conference will amount to much on the Israel-PA issue, and that it is the intention of the United States to Veto any UNSC resolutions unfavorable to Israel that comes from the summit. When asked if that was the sentiment of the President as well, Secretary Kerry confirmed that it was.
This pledge from the Secretary of State is welcome news. We expect to continue to keep up our work to ensure, with Hashem’s blessing, that we are successful in thwarting further damage to Israel and the Peace Process in the coming weeks. We are only cautiously optimistic because this discussion was omitted on the State Department Press release on the closed meeting. We are grateful to Senator Menendez and others who have taken a lead role on stopping untoward Resolutions at the UNSC.
As we have stated in past emails, the last weeks of an administration
are fraught with peril. We thank everyone for their hard work, their confidence, and ask them to continue their prayers.
Ben Chouake, MD (Dr. Ben)
NORPAC National President
Read the new Op Ed by NORPAC President Dr. Ben Chouake on the candidacy of Rep. Keith Ellison for DNC Chair here.
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Please call your Representative and Senators, as well as any Members of Congress you may have hosted or met on the NORPAC Mission, and let them know that the deal struck on Tuesday poses a grave threat to our national security and interests. Contact information for Members of Congress is listed below.
Sample phone text:
I am calling to urge [Senator/Representative] [Last Name] to stand up and prevent the United States from making a catastrophic and dangerous mistake in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. This agreement will serve to enrich Tehran while enabling them to acquire and develop nuclear weapons with international support.
When Congress reviews the Iran agreement, I implore you to oppose it. The safety of our country, and the world, is in your hands! Please show leadership by standing up and demanding a better deal that ensures the safety of America.
On Tuesday we learned the details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached with Iran over its nuclear program. We have taken the past few days to analyze the agreement and consult with professionals on the details of the text. Our conclusion is that the deal struck between the P5+1 and Iran on July 14th is one which will not deter Tehran’s ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons, and will ultimately be harmful to America’s national security and to stability in the Middle East.
- Lack of true “anywhere, anytime” inspections. International inspectors could have to wait for 24 days to get access to suspect nuclear sites in Iran.
- The lifting of international arms embargoes in 5-8 years, allowing Iran to eventually buy and sell conventional weapons on the open market.
- Most crippling sanctions are released immediately on implementation day, rather than being “phased off” based on Iranian compliance. Over $100 billion in frozen bank assets will be made available to Iran on day one, making a “snapback” of sanctions highly ineffective.
- The bulk of the nuclear WMD infrastructure is left intact and allows further research and development on WMD and delivery systems.
- Lack of clarity on whether Iran has to answer for its work on prior weaponization efforts before the release of sanctions.