Op-Ed: The Line Between Disagreement and Hate

By Greg Rosenbaum, Chair of the NJDC Board of Directors

The following originally appeared in The Hill.

The nuclear weapons agreement reached last month by the P5+1 nations and Iran is a complex and vitally important one that requires careful study, analysis and debate. Regrettably, though, what we are seeing from the accord’s opponents is far from thoughtful, and much of the rhetoric coming from people against the agreement has been irresponsible, vicious and hateful — and warrants no place in civil society.

I’ve been pained in recent weeks to receive emails calling me a “kapo” and accusing me of helping to prepare for a second Holocaust. I’ve been shocked by the personal attacks on the president and on those of us who support the deal, with some of those attacks coming from within the Jewish community.

Mike Huckabee, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, joined the fray, saying that with the Iran deal, President Barack Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

That is a horrifying accusation made against the president — who time and again has demonstrated his strong support of Israel — as well as an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims and to the deal’s supporters. When given numerous opportunities to retract his statement, he has continued to stand by his rhetoric.

This is a deal supported by a remarkable number of experts from around the world. These people include Ami Ayalon, the former director of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, who called the accord “the best possible alternative from Israel’s point of view, given the other available alternatives”; Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli national security adviser, who said the deal “will contribute to Israel’s security”; Uzi Even, an Israeli nuclear scientist, who said that with this deal it is the Iranians who “have in fact swallowed a very bitter pill”; and Israel Ziv, a decorated Israeli military leader, who called the agreement “the best among all other alternatives.”

At the National Jewish Democratic Council, in fact, we are seeing tremendous endorsement for the nuclear agreement and for our position as a whole. Our leadership and our longtime supporters, as well as our new ones, stand with us on this issue. The accord also is broadly supported by the American Jewish community, as evidenced by a Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles poll that found backing for the nuclear agreement even stronger in the Jewish community than in the general population.

As a result of our support, however, we have been subject to beyond-the-pale language. Since endorsing the agreement, we have received emails calling us kapos, Holocaust supporters and even Nazis. Here is just a sampling of the more hateful responses we have received:

  • You are a disgrace to our people. Not unlike the Jews who worked with the Nazi's. (sic)
  • Only Kapo scum like you would support Obama's nuke deal for political benefit over the security of Israel AND the US. You have no moral core, only pro-Islam blather that parrot Obama's lies.
  • Just get in the BOXCAR, you'll be taken someplace lovely!
  • You Kapos sicken me. May HaShem punish you for your treacherous sell out.
  • Good for you for supporting an Iranian deal. I hope they'll come after you first.

One conservative columnist – a former candidate for public office – even wrote on a popular website that we “collaborate with the Nazis.”

Let’s take a deep breath. Supporting diplomatic solutions while keeping all options on the table in preventing a nuclear armed Iran — as the U.S. is doing, confirmed by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter — does not make us Nazis. In addition to NJDC, are these detractors also calling Ami Ayalon, Chuck Freilich, Uzi Even and Israel Zev Nazi collaborators?

Like these respected Israelis, we love Israel and have long supported halting Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon. We believe this deal will do exactly that, by blocking off all four of Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon, instituting stringent monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and reducing Iran’s installed centrifuges and stockpiles of enriched uranium.

We are for an open debate on the agreement’s merits and policy. Name-calling, ad hominem attacks and hateful language do nothing to advance that conversation.

We expect more of our presidential candidates. We expect more of those who care about a safe and secure world.

Greg Rosenbaum is chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council.