Yes, We Kaine

Hillary Clinton announced that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) will be her running mate. Kaine is a strong friend of Israel with close ties to the Jewish community. Here are five facts about Kaine's relationship to Judaism and Israel.

"It can't happen here" happened last week in Cleveland at the Republican Convention. My biggest fear is that we accept this as normal. It is unacceptable. But as much as some of us might wish that we had two parties, a center-left party and a center-right party, we don't. We have one party, the Democratic Party, all of whose positions we might not agree with but whose values align with ours and whose policies are within the mainstream of traditional American thought. But instead of the center-right alternative that existed prior to the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, we now have a Republican Party completely unmoored from any vision of America that we can share. 

It's sad, but Republicans who reject racism, ignorance, and hate have no choice but to vote Democratic, and it can't be easy because one can legitimately disagree with Democratic policy positions. But unless they want to delude themselves or abandon their core humanity, it's the only choice they have. Love will trump hate, but only if we vote for Hillary.

Forward this article (or better yet, this newsletter) to anyone still thinking of voting for Trump: Daniel Pipes: Why I Just Quit the Republican Party.

There is much more wrong with the Republican Party than just Donald Trump. Read the GOP platform. If you don't have time, at least read this New York Times editorial summary; the platform includes:

no exceptions for rape or women's health in cases of abortion; requiring the Bible to be taught in public high schools; selling coal as a "clean" energy source; demanding a return of federal lands to the states; insisting that legislators use religion as a guide in lawmaking; appointing "family values" judges; barring female soldiers from combat; and rejecting the need for stronger gun controls -- despite the mass shootings afflicting the nation every week.

The platform also makes homophobia and the denial of basic civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people a centerpiece. It repudiates same-sex marriage, despite strong support for this constitutional right in the nation at large. The party invokes "natural marriage" and states' rights for determining which bathrooms transgender people may use, and it defends merchants who would deny service to gay customers.

As much as you might wish it weren't so, that's the agenda you are supporting if you vote Republican. The problem is not just Trump.

The Republicans omitted two-state language from their platform - -even though support for a two-state solution is a bedrock tenet of pro-Israel advocacy. As Rabbi Rick Jacobs points out, "it seems axiomatic that the alternative to two states is one state," and a one-state solution means an Israel that is either not Jewish or not democratic. I'd like to think that the GOP platform is pro-Israel, but if it is, it is pro an Israel we probably would not recognize.

Marshall Breger, President Reagan's liaison to the Jewish community, explains that Trump's Israel policy is dangerous and irresponsible.

There are no "secret" Iran side-agreements. This statement from State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner is worth reading in its entirety:


There is no secret document or secret deal. As for breakout times after the initial ten years of the deal, we have always been clear about the fact that the breakout period comes down after year ten. The prohibition on Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon--and our ability to monitor the peaceful nature of its nuclear program--remains in effect indefinitely, however. The breakout time does not go off a cliff nor do we believe that it would be cut in half, to six months, by year 11. The JCPOA ensures that Iran's breakout timeline comes down gradually after year 10, in no small part due to the continued restriction on Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium until year 15.

The supposed "secret document" referred to in the Associated Press story appears to be Iran's long term enrichment R&D plan that was submitted by Iran to the IAEA as part of its initial Additional Protocol declaration. This document spells out Iran's plan for centrifuge research and development under the JCPOA, including past year ten. As an element of the JCPOA, for the duration of the long-term plan, the IAEA will confirm on an annual basis that the nature, scope, and scale of Iran's activities are in line with this plan. Not only did the JCPOA explicitly refer to this document, but the JCPOA also very clearly notes that "the IAEA will confirm on an annual basis, for the duration of the plan that the nature and scope and scale of Iran's enrichment and enrichment R&D activities are in line with this plan." This plan is an IAEA "safeguards confidential" document, meaning it is not public. However, the plan was closely reviewed by the P5+1 and Iran. We also made the substance available to Congress on multiple occasions-both before the deal was implemented and again once Iran submitted the plan to the IAEA earlier this year. The P5+1 reviewed this plan and we are confident that Iran's enrichment capacity in the years after the initial decade of the JCPOA will undergo measured, incremental growth consistent with a peaceful nuclear program. Iran is committed in the JCPOA to abide by this plan.

Without a deal, Iran would be free to pursue unconstrained R&D on advanced centrifuges and field second generation centrifuges within months and third generation centrifuges within years. Under the JCPOA, Iran is constrained to using only its first generation IR-1 centrifuges for the first 10 years. Moreover, under the deal, Iran has shipped out 98 percent of its enriched uranium, dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges, filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete, and adopted the most intrusive inspection and verification program ever negotiated for a nuclear program.

Sign up for Steve Sheffey's Pro-Israel Political Updates here.