|Zeinab Shahidi Marnani|
Two weeks ago, I covered for the Washington Jewish Week an event at the Middle East Institute with Iranian artist Zeinab Shahidi Marnani. She is a video and text artist who divides her time between Tehran and New York. Among other things, she said that "of course, I am for women's rights and equality," suggesting there is younger generation in Iran seeking change.
She was reluctant to talk about the nuclear deal or directly criticize the regime, but my impression was that she is proud of her Iranian roots and upbringing, and, at the same time, critical of the more restrictive elements of the Islamic Republic.
As Fareed Zakaria points out, the deal is likely to have a normalization effect on Iran. Indeed, history suggests that as countries get more integrated into the world and the global economy, they have fewer incentives to be spoilers and more to maintain stability. Iran won't change overnight, but we're likely see a new generation of moderate leaders who want to restore Iran to a more normal status.
I'm happy to see that Jews support the agreement by significant margins.
Two new polls show that around 60% of Jewish Americans want Congress to approve the deal. Just today, a new poll conducted by GBA Strategies found that 60% of Jewish Americans support this deal. Last week, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, an independent, nonprofit media company, found that 53% of American Jews want Congress to approve it, while only 35% oppose it.
But the warmongers like AIPAC - who enabled and pushed for the invasion and occupation of Iraq which resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqis and led to the creation of ISIS/ISIL - are planning to spend millions of dollars in advertising campaigns because they want to convince Congress that Americans oppose this deal. That's just not true.
I recognize that those who oppose the agreement and want to derail it have some valid concerns. But they offer no alternative, other than keeping the sanctions, and no international inspections. This will certainly lead to Iran's building a nuclear weapons program without any outside monitoring.
The pro-Netanyahu crowd is going to bombard us with half-truths and outright lies, using scare and intimidation tactics that have become a trademark of their campaigns. But their opposition arguments have been debunked (see Mitchell Plitnick's great article here).
Even Israel's former head of the Mossad and National Security Advisor, Efraim Halevy, has come out in favor of the deal, saying it's crucial for Israel's security.
So make your voice heard. I already called my Congressman, Chris Van Hollen. Have you called yours?