NOTE: A version of this post went as an update to the JCRC Council earlier today, Sunday, December 1st.

One week ago the “P5 + 1” and Iran announced an interim accord on Iran’s nuclear program. Even as we continue to digest this agreement it is important that we now turn our attention to the process by which a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program will be crafted over the coming six months.

Understanding the Moment: 

Of course much still remains unclear and what we know about the interim deal does raise concerns. The Iranian and U.S. governments have asserted differing interpretations of what has been agreed upon. Iran is asserting that they have won recognition of a right to nuclear enrichment. The six-month clock toward a final deal has not yet started. This week the parties will again gather, this time to negotiate “technical aspects” of the deal that was announced last week.

  • The Times of Israel has this summary of where things are today. 

There have been many excellent pieces about the interim deal and what it means. Here are three that I found helpful and interesting:

Whatever one thinks of the interim accord, two salient points are coming through loudly:

  1. There is a larger re-alignment going on in the Middle East and this has been happening for a while now: In the U.S. relationship to longtime allies such as the Gulf States and Israel; In the role of other external actors in the region such as Russia, France et al; In the perceived willingness of outside allies to commit force as a measure of last resort. 
  2. This is only the interim accord. The final comprehensive agreement, when it comes, is critical.  For an excellent outline of recommendations for the community relations field I encourage you to read this piece by Martin Raffel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (our national coordinating body) in the New York Jewish Week:

The Road Ahead:

As I noted last week, JCRC’s efforts for the past several years in support of sanctions have been pursued with the ideal of achieving a negotiated diplomatic resolution that would deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability.  To that end we should acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of Secretary Kerry and the international partners to pursue a diplomatic agreement on this matter. We welcome the continued commitment by President Obama and others to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

In the months ahead we will continue to do all that we can to reach out to leaders in Boston and convey to them the critical importance of the final agreement:

  • We should convey our legitimate skepticism about a regime in Iran that continues to avow the elimination of the State of Israel and that cannot be trusted to acquire a “deterrent” nuclear capability. 
  • We must make clear that this is not just about Israel’s security but also about regional and global stability, including a potential arms race amongst Gulf states and the continuing efforts by Iran to export terrorism and weapons in Syria, Lebanon and around the world.  
  • We will work with our partners here and around the country to make the case for a strong, verifiable agreement with true accountability should Iran renege on its commitments – both now and in a final agreement.
  • We will continue to convey our belief that no option for preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power, including a military option, should be taken off the table.

A bipartisan group of Congressional leaders are currently drafting legislation that would keep pressure on Iran by authorizing new sanctions. These sanctions would be triggered by any failure on Iran’s part to abide by the current agreement or to reach an acceptable final deal.  While a revised bill will not be introduced until after the Thanksgiving break the Administration has signaled its opposition to such action at this time.  Most of our national Jewish agencies already support this sanctions effort.

In the coming weeks JCRC – through our Council’s Israel and Global Jewry Committee – will consider what attention we give to the debate in Washington over a new bipartisan sanctions bill as part of our particular contributions to communal efforts on the question of Iran.

As always, I encourage you to share this update with your organization and other leaders you interact with.  Encourage them to follow us on Twitter (@BurtonJM and @BostonJCRC) and Facebook for more regular clips and updates.  

The entire leadership of JCRC continues to invite your thoughts and input in the comments section below about what we can and should be doing in the weeks and months ahead to support our entire network’s efforts to support Israel in Boston’s public square.

P.S. Regarding what Israel should do now and what she can learn from the events of the past week I strongly encourage you to read this excellent piece in the Times of Israel by Rabbi Donniel Hartman that asks the question: Why is Iran about us? 

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