A year ago this week, we celebrated the greatest diplomatic achievement in a generation.
The international community reached an agreement with Iran to verifiably block all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. Incredibly, this was accomplished without firing a shot. Without young Americans being sent abroad to fight another war. Without Israeli families being forced to sleep in bomb shelters, as many of us remember happened during the first Gulf War.
Instead, thanks to the accomplishments of tough multilateral diplomacy, Iran is now subject to the most intrusive inspections regime in history.
Today we can definitively say: The Iran deal is working.
That’s something we can all take pride in. Vice President Biden himself expressed his gratitude to J Street for all of your hard work supporting and defending diplomacy, proclaiming “you have made the world a little safer.”
This victory was the culmination of the years of work we’ve put in to transform the broken politics on our issue. We’ve come a long way. And in this year’s elections, we’ll be able to demonstrate once and for all that support for diplomacy is not just smart policy — it’s also a recipe for political success.
It’s easy to forget now, but this could have gone a lot differently. A few years ago, Iran’s nuclear program was extensive and accelerating, leaving our leaders scrambling to respond. It looked like we were on a collision course for another war in the Middle East.
Fortunately, years of harsh sanctions and tough diplomacy spearheaded by President Obama brought real, vital progress. Iran was convinced to give up their pathways to a bomb. Yet even after the agreement was reached last summer, many in Congress fought hard to kill it. Prime Minister Netanyahu lobbied aggressively and publicly to scrap the agreement — even after experts warned that rejecting it would be calamitous.
Some of the deal’s opponents falsely claimed that most American Jews hated the deal. They attacked the deal’s supporters and threatened that they would would face dire electoral consequences.
They could’ve succeeded — but we were there to fight back.
Polling showed the majority of American Jews actually supported the deal. Though we couldn’t match the tens of millions spent by our opponents, we strategically used all of our resources to make sure that the voice of the majority was heard in the halls of Congress.
We neutralized one of the greatest myths in American politics: That there’s only one way to be pro-Israel, and that’s to stake out hawkish positions and echo the words of hardliners like Prime Minister Netanyahu.
We know that this myth couldn’t be more wrong. J Street brought several veteran Israeli security experts to speak to members of Congress in support of the agreement, proving that even those who had supervised Israel’s security at the highest levels supported the Iran deal as the best way to defend Israel.
Our efforts, along with the many other groups who worked with us, paid off. The deal went through — and it’s succeeding. While still a dangerous state, Iran has complied with its obligations. Israel’s own Atomic Energy Commission has endorsed the agreement.
Now we need to solidify these gains on Election Day. Through the work of JStreetPAC, that’s when we can demonstrate that pro-diplomacy candidates will reap political rewards — and make sure that some of the deal’s most reckless opponents pay a political price.
We’ve already seen evidence that the deal’s supporters will win out. NY Congressman Jerry Nadler faced a primary challenge from someone whose campaign was explicitly centered on opposition to the Iran deal. Rep. Nadler won in a landslide — in the most Jewish congressional district in the country.
On November 9, those who’ve spun the fiction of a single, hawkish pro-Israel voice will have to reckon with a new political reality. As American Jews back pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy champions, and frustrated security experts in Israel continue to speak out about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deeply flawed policies, it will become clearer than ever that supporting Israel doesn’t mean having to support its government’s every policy.
We’re going to make sure that the old, flawed political playbook on how best to support Israel is thrown out the window once and for all.
We couldn’t have made all this progress without you. And we hope you’ll continue to support us as we take the next step in transforming our politics — and redefining what it means to be pro-Israel.