Opponents of The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Deal) between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic are making their voices heard – demanding Congress reject this plan they contend poses a grave threat to Israel, the Middle East and the United States.
On Sunday, well over a thousand people gathered outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles to demand that Congress vote “no” on the nuclear deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts that make up the E3/EU+3. The diverse crowd included members of the local Jewish and Christian communities, as well as a significant presence of Muslims who oppose the regime in Tehran.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, expressed the goal of the rally: “Tell Congress we need a better deal.”
“The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran,” Ms. Rothstein said. “Iran could be the first global power motivated by a radical religious doctrine, empowered with nuclear weapons. How can anyone think that Iran doesn’t have global aspirations? Iran now has a terrorist presence in 30 countries on five different continents. We are here to educate people well beyond this rally…the more people know about the deal, the less they are in favor of it. It will impact the security of the entire world. Iran is the world sponsor of terrorism. Imagine them with nukes.”
Talk Radio Host Dennis Prager offered a personal and historical perspective to the crowd.
“It is not left right, it’s right wrong. This is embarrassing. It’s one of the rare moments when I’m embarrassed to be American. And I’m a proud American. I have never encountered this sense is American. This is analogous to Munich. Ask Kerry what is the difference between Isis and Iran? First they kill Jews, then they kill you (Americans). They never stop with Jews. If you don’t know that, then you are an idiot. Iran is everyone’s problem. I’m not asking for troops. I’m calling for a war of sanctions.”
The threat posed by a nuclear weaponized Iran was not the only message of the rally. Signs reading “Iran Kills Gays” and pictures of gays being executed—lynched on cranes—were prominently displayed by various protesters, reminding the world of the Iranian regime’s barbaric treatment of the GLBTQ community.
Similar rallies organized by StandWithUS with over 700 protestors each have occurred in Toronto and San Diego. The California protests coincided with the Jewish observance of Tisha B’Av. Regarded as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av marks the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.
Earlier in the week the first organized Stop Iran Rally Coalition protest took place in New York City.
More than 12,000 people called for Congress to reject the agreement with Iran at an overflow rally in Times Square held during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, July 22. Originally planned for two hours, the rally actually took three hours in order to accommodate the long list of political, military, and community speakers.
“This is a bipartisan issue, not a political one,” said Richard Allen, head of the Stop Iran Rally volunteers. He demanded that Congress “rise to the occasion, pass a resolution of disapproval, and override President Obama’s threatened veto.”
Allen continued, “We are mobilizing nationwide to let our lawmakers know we will hold each and every one of them to account for the consequences of this dangerous deal being foisted on the American people.”
The New York City rally featured an impressive list of speakers that included Harvard Law Professor and liberal icon Alan Dershowitz; David Brog, Executive Director, Christians United for Israel; Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey and Deputy Managing Editor of The Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick, whose passionate speech has gone viral on YouTube.
Although the New York City rally was intended to be heard around the world, it was especially crucial to impress upon New York Senator Chuck Schumer the urgency and the passion of his constituents.
Rally organizer Jeff Wiesenfeld demanded that the three-term New York Senator stand against the “deal” and use his influence to encourage his fellow Democrats to vote for rejection. He reminded the crowd that former Senator Al D’Amato had been turned out of office after three terms, and noted that Mr. Schumer might need a new career if he failed to lead the battle against the deal. “If this deal is not stopped, New York voters will know whom to blame,” he declared.
Mr. Schumer, the presumptive next Democratic leader of the Senate, was the target of protestors the next morning as a small rally took place outside his Third Avenue office.
Protestor Janet Lehr told the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought, “The group protested in an orderly fashion. Many brought posters urging the senator to vote against the proposed Iran agreement. After about a half hour, a call went out asking for volunteers to ‘sit-in’ at the entrance to the building housing Schumer’s office.”
Warned by NYPD that they risked being arrested, a handful of anti-deal protesters sat cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the office tower.
Mr. Schumer’s fellow Democrat, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, led the sit-in. “Within five minutes they were handcuffed while seated, lifted to their feet, put in a patrol wagon, and taken to the precinct.”
Mr. Schumer has said he plans to carefully study the agreement before making an informed decision.
Additional protests have taken place in London and Phoenix with more expected over the next few weeks.
Maxine Dovere contributed to this report.
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.