2015-09-16 / Voice at the Shore

Panel: With or without deal, Iran is a continuing threat

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore correspondent


From left: Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region; Nittin Chadd, National security council director for Iran for the White House; Congressman Frank LoBiondo; Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum; and Dr. Linda Maizels, director of Israel and International Affairs for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. From left: Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region; Nittin Chadd, National security council director for Iran for the White House; Congressman Frank LoBiondo; Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum; and Dr. Linda Maizels, director of Israel and International Affairs for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Members of the shore community came out in force for a panel discussion on the Iran Nuclear Deal on August 24 at the Katz Jewish Community Center in Margate. Roughly 300 people came to listen to a distinguished panel that included Nittin Chadd, national security director for Iran for the White House; Congressman Frank LoBiondo; Yaron Sideman, consul general of Israel to the Mid- Atlantic Region; Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia; and Dr. Linda Maizels, director of Israel and International Affairs for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., which represents numerous Jewish organizations throughout the country.

Though panelists’ views differed, all agreed that regardless of whether or not the deal went forward, Iran’s nuclear ambitions posed an ongoing threat to Israel and the United States that required constant vigilance.

According to Congressman LoBiondo, “Iranians have basically never told us the truth about anything over time.” For the past 20 years, the Iranian government has been a prime sponsor of terrorism around the world, he said. Although passage of the deal might temporarily curtail their sponsorship of terrorism, after 10 years, when the deal ended, they would continue to help their terrorist friends. Iran’s nuclear program for ten years. But then it expires. What does not have an expiration date is Iran’s desire to annihilate Israel and attack the U.S.”

Even the White House’s Chadd, the only panelist to support the Iran Deal, acknowledged that there is “no greater threat to Israel than a nuclear Iran,” and that “Iran is a regime with a history of deception”— a comment that drew applause from the audience. The deal was designed to manage this threat, he stressed. “As we sit here, Iran is two years away from building a bomb.” The Iran Deal given to Congress was designed to immediately forestall this, said Chadd, and did not prevent the United States from taking military action against Iran if warranted.

Both LoBiondo and the Middle East Forum’s Roman objected to the fact that in voting on the Iran deal, Congress had been asked to disapprove an executive action rather than to follow standard procedure for approving a treaty. “I believe this process is flawed,” LoBiondo explained.

Roman agreed. He also said that the deal effectively served to “welcome back Iran into the family of nations”—a welcome that they did not deserve, and which was unwise given their past “violent and horrific actions.”

Maizels said JCPA took no official position on the deal because the organizations it represented had been divided or undecided in their views. Yet one “common denominator” did exist. “No one wants to see an Iran with nuclear weapons,” she stressed. .

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