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Prominent Iranian-Americans to Trump: Keep the nuclear deal

Thirty-seven leading Iranian Americans pen open letter to President-elect Trump, urging him to keep the Iran deal. Abandoning it, they write, will ‘once again put the United States and Iran on the path of war.’

By Jim Lobe

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on January 16, 2016, at the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna, Austria, before a meeting about the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action outlining the shape of Iran's nuclear program. (State Department photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on January 16, 2016, at the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna, Austria, before a meeting about the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action outlining the shape of Iran’s nuclear program. (State Department photo)

In a particularly eloquent and straightforward defense of the Iranian nuclear deal, 37 prominent Iranian Americans have appealed to Donald Trump to maintain U.S. compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran. The letter comes on the heels of an appeal to Trump by prominent U.S. scientists urging him to support the deal and a recent poll demonstrating that two-thirds of the U.S. public don’t want the Trump administration to withdraw from the deal.

Washington’s withdrawal from the deal, according to the signers of the open letter, would not only enhance the chances or war with Tehran. It would also strengthen hardliners in Iran who “can easily shut down democracy and human rights activism when they can unite the nation behind the threat of foreign aggression.” It would also “prove that the hardliners were correct to claim that the United States could never be trusted to up hold its end of any deal.”

Signers include, among others, historians Ervand Abrahamian and Roy Mottahadeh; actress Shohreh Aghdashloo; best-selling authors Reza Aslan and Firoozeh Dumas; Iran (and LobeLog contributor) political analyst Farideh Farhi; comedian Maz Jobrani; artists Shirin Neshat and Rahmanian; as well as a number of well-known musicians, singers, and prominent filmmakers, academics, and business leaders.

Letter to President-elect Trump

Dear President-elect Trump,

As Iranian-American artists, scientists, business leaders, human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, we all drew a sigh of relief when the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal was reached. To us, it meant ensuring that a disastrous war between the United States and Iran was avoided.

As prominent scientists and arms control experts in the United States and around the world have observed, this was a good deal because it dramatically reduced the chances of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

While the easing of sanctions that resulted from this deal has yet to have a tangible impact on the lives of ordinary people in Iran, it has without a doubt given millions hope that the country’s economy has backed away from the edge of the cliff.

This is precisely why we are worried about any effort to undo this agreement. As you have pointed out, the war in Iraq greatly destabilized the region and needlessly cost both the United States and Iraq dearly in blood and treasure. Instead of the flourishing of democracy that the advocates of that war promised, major parts of the Middle East continue to deal with sectarian violence and brutal suppression of dissent.

We respectfully ask that you not allow the same forces of war and conflict to worsen these already tragic circumstances by raising tensions with Iran.

Despite the fact that millions of Iranians disagree with many of the decisions made by their government, they welcomed the Iran nuclear deal. Furthermore, a majority of them believed that ending the cycle of confrontation with the United States would foster the political space in which they could raise their voices and demand change.

Only an indigenous movement from within Iran can lead to a more open society and a more accountable government. After all, hardliners and authoritarian forces can easily shut down democracy and human rights activism when they can unite the nation behind the threat of foreign aggression.

As we witnessed over the course of the last decade, sanctions and the threat of war only serve to empower Iran’s hardliners while harming ordinary citizens who represent the backbone of any possible positive change.

Abandoning the JCPOA would not only prove that the hardliners in Iran were correct to claim that the United States could never be trusted to uphold its end of any deal, it would also once again put the United States and Iran on the path of war. That would be a disaster for both nations.

More than any other time, the United States and Iran should pursue engagement and dialogue. This will be effective in furthering the cause of democracy in Iran while ensuring that you abide by your promise of reduced foreign entanglements and enhanced national security.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that you choose diplomacy over sanctions and war in your dealings with Iran and uphold the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal.

Sincerely,

  • Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of History, Cuny University on New York
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo, Actress
  • Mohammad Aghebati, Artist
  • Azam Ali, Composer
  • Yahya Alkhansa, Musician
  • Reza Aslan, Professor, University of California, Riverside
  • Narges Bajoghli, PhD, Watson Institute, Brown University
  • Narges Baniasadi, Vice President, Roche
  • Abdolali Bazargan, Architect, Author
  • Asef Bayat, Professor of Sociology, Illinois University
  • Dara Daraee, Musician
  • Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling Author
  • Kamran Elahian, Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners
  • Zohre Elahian, Managing Director, Global Catalyst Foundation
  • Farideh Farhi, Affiliate Graduate Faculty, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
  • Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Filmmaker
  • Maz Jobrani, Comedian
  • Tara Kamangar, Musician
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Professor of Persian, University of Maryland
  • Ahmad Kiarostami, Co-founder & CEO, Koantum
  • Mohsen Moazami, Managing Director, Columbus Nova Technology (Venture Capital)
  • Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Ebrahim Nabavi, Writer & Satirist, Winner of Prince Claus Award 2005
  • Ava Nazar, Musician
  • Shirin Neshat, Artist
  • Hamed Nikpay, Vocalist, Producer, & Songwriter
  • Neda Nobari, Nobari Foundation
  • Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
  • Hazhir Rahmandad, Associate Professor, MIT
  • Hamid Rahmanian, Artist
  • Somaya Ramezani, Architect, Artist
  • Khodadad Rezakhani, Historian, Princeton University
  • Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, Filmmaker and Professor, Columbia College Chicago
  • Melody Safavi, Singer-Songwriter
  • Mohammadsharif Tabebordbar, Biomedical Scientist, Harvard University
  • Ramin Loga Torkian, Composer
  • Caveh Zahedi, Filmmaker

A Farsi version of the letter can be found here.

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service. This article is reproduced with permission from lobelog.com.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      Keeping the Iran deal is in Israel’s interest too. Just not Bibi’s interests. But on the subject of American interests, on what any American president going forward will be dealing with globally, Israel in the scheme of things is increasingly just not that important:

      Increasingly, Supporting Israel No Longer Serves America’s Interests
      Obama’s UN abstention was only the most recent manifestation of ongoing strategic changes that Trump too won’t want or be able to reverse.

      Brent Sasley  Jan 07, 2017 
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.763443

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        We will see if the next American administration would see it your way Benny. I doubt it very much.

        Moreover, the tide is slowly but surely swinging to Israel’s favor elsewhere too.

        BREXIT started it all in Europe. Norway already shifted. Sweden may shift too. France will definitely shift. So will the Netherlands. India has shifted. A lot of African countries are flirting with Israel.

        The pendulum is slowly but surely shifting in Israel’s favor.

        That stupid UN resolution was Obama’s and Kery’s last hurrah. Congress formally condemned that stupid unhelpful resolution which will bite your Palestinian Arabs too because it will falsely embolden them, peace will be delayed with all that it implies for your Palestinian Arabs too. A significant number of Democrats too condemned the resolution. You must be beginning to feel lonely already, eh Benny?

        Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Proud of work you contributed to, Bruce?

            You are right about 2000 and after though. That was the year in which poor old Ehud Barak crossed many previous taboos and tried his luck by offering a far reaching peace deal to Arafat. What did he get in return? He got what he got after he decided to pull out of South Lebanon. In both cases the Arabs perceived it as a weakness and they promptly went on the offensive. Arafat started the second intifada in which thousands of Israelis were murdered or maimed. It lasted over 5 years. And stopped only after Sharon showed strength and hit back hard much later.

            But back to 2001. That’s when the Arabs orchestrated a shameful lynching mob in Durban SA. It was meant to be a conference on racism in general but the Arabs and their allies turned it into a shameful anti Israel tirade. Even the pro Palestinian, Mary Robinson, the then UN high commissioner for human rights, condemned the conference pronouncements as antisemitic. The delegates of the US and Israel walked out of it. That’s what Ehud Barak got as a reward for attempting to reach peace with the Palestinian Arabs. But you are right, Bruce, since then, Israel’s image has steadily worsened amongst many people who have been and are still being successfully fooled by expert propagandists and liars.

            But unfortunately, something else has happened in 2001. That shameful attack on New York, happened. And the after effects of that too are still being felt. As a result of that attack, and numerous other attacks since then against civilian targets all over the world by Jihadis, the world has felt on it’s own skin the Arab/Muslim way of fighting wars. They felt/feel on their own skin, what Israel has been subjected to for nearly 100 years.

            Consequently, slowly but surely, the tide has been shifting to our favor as I outlined in my previous post. Yes, you had quite a bit of success in your propaganda war against Israel, as a result of what you unleashed in Durban, but that has been steadily negated and is now being reversed by the events of 9/11. Ignore this counter trend at your own peril Bruce. Ignore it and it will bite the lot of you. Read my previous post if you don’t believe me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mikesailor

            When you produce a map of those “concessions” by Barak, then we might actually listen your BS. otherwise, all you spout is the same old lies, different day.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “At Camp David, Ross has said, there was no comprehensive final settlement offered. The Israeli and American negotiators put forth ideas regarding borders, Jerusalem, and land transfers. One of those was a Palestinian state comprised of four cantons. Arafat rejected these suggestions, but did not raise a single idea himself. Ben-Ami, who kept meticulous diaries of the proceedings, said that Clinton exploded at the Palestinians over their refusal to make a counteroffer. “‘A summit’s purpose,’ Clinton said, ‘is to have discussions that are based on sincere intentions and you, the Palestinians, did not come to this summit with sincere intentions.’ Then he got up and left the room.” [1]

            According to Ben-Ami, Israel tried to find a solution for Jerusalem that would be “a division in practice…that didn’t look like a division;” that is, Israel was willing to compromise on the issue, but needed a face-saving formula. The Palestinians, however, had no interest in helping the Israelis; to the contrary, they wanted to humiliate them.” Nevertheless, Ben-Ami said Israel dropped its refusal to divide Jerusalem and accepted “full Palestinian sovereignty” on the Temple Mount and asked the Palestinians only to recognize the site was also sacred to Jews.[1a]

            Arafat’s only contribution was the assertion that, in reality, no Jewish Temple ever existed on the Temple Mount, only an obelisk; the real Temple existed in Nablus, he said. Not only did he not make any accommodation to Israel, Ross said, “he denied the core of the Jewish faith.” [2] This stunning remark illustrated how Arafat had become caught up in the mythology he had created and indicated to the Americans that he was incapable of the psychological leap necessary — the one Anwar Sadat had made — to achieve peace. As a result, President Clinton’s press conference following the summit laid most of the blame for the outcome on Arafat. [3]”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ‘”Israel has offered the Palestinians everything but they have turned down every offer and walked away.” Those making this statement go on to say that at Camp David prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat the whole shop, but Arafat was not interested in making peace. Arafat refused to give up the right of return and was not interested in a Palestinian state. The truth is that at Camp David Barak offered Arafat 89 percent of the West Bank with full Israeli control of Palestine’s external borders – the Palestinians called it a sovereign cage. Barak’s proposal included two east-west corridors under full Israeli control, cutting the West Bank into three cantons. Barak did not offer the Palestinians a capital in east Jerusalem, but in Abu Dis, which is outside of Jerusalem, and perhaps some control of the outlying Palestinian neighborhoods. Israel would continue to control all of the main Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and the Old City. Barak demanded a place for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which is what led directly to the failure of Camp David. On the issue of refugees, a total of six hours of talks took place in two weeks, during which time Arafat said that there had to be a solution for the refugees and that he could not give up the right of return on behalf of the refugees. This was the essence of Barak’s “take it or leave it proposal.” There isn’t a Palestinian alive who could accept it.’
            Baskin
            http://m.jpost.com/Opinion/Encountering-Peace-Debunking-myths-428662#article=6017N0MyRjhGNzJBQzhDRDlGODRGNDZCMDE1OEVBQzY2RTQ=

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            ” There isn’t a Palestinian alive who could accept it.’”

            Now there is a good reason to surrender more of our interests, NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Can we turn this around? Can we too say:

            ” There isn’t an Israeli Jew alive who could accept it.’”?

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            …accept the terms of surrender which Abbas insists we must accept!!!

            Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Did you read Sasley’s argument? Doesn’t sound like it. It’s nothing about the “tides” you’re banking on. It’s about America’s real interests and needs (quaint notion huh?) and they are not what you imagine. Believe it or not, American leaders have other things on their minds and other priorities than those of Naftali Bennett and Lewis from Afula. I know, hard to believe.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “e. Believe it or not, American leaders have other things on their minds and other priorities than those of Naftali Bennett and Lewis from Afula.”

            Or those of yours and your “innocent darling Palestinian Arabs”, Benny dear.

            Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Obama and Kerry also pleaded with the Palestinians to make a counter offer. But, as Shlomo Ben-Ami stated years ago in an interview in Ha’aretz, they will never make a counter offer.Their goal is to place Israel in the dock as criminals. This is more important than getting a state in the West Bank and Gaza and east Jerusalem. They prefer the status quo than receiving an independent state.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Your language is telling. The Palestinians won’t achieve a state they will “receive” a state bestowed upon them by their overlords and if they don’t say “yes, Massa! Thank you Massa!” but hold out for something minimally decent and dignified then they are evil. And oh yes, but for a counter offer! The Israeli Right and the settlers pine for a counter offer, had made an offer that even met the threshold for a counteroffer, and were just so ready to meet it! Contradicting every single thing the Israeli Right and the settlers have ever said. Sure.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          “Your language is telling. The Palestinians won’t achieve a state they will “receive” a state bestowed upon them by their overlords”

          Do you mind if I ask you a personal question, Benny? I will anyway: No offense intended but are you retarded?

          _Ike criticised the Palestinians for not wanting to make a counter offer.

          How does that stack up against your distorted claim in the quotation above? Would a person with an “overlord” mentality be looking for a counter offer?

          Again, no offense intended, Benny, just askin’ ?

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Benny’s logic:

            Today is Monday. Ergo, tomorrow is Thursday.

            No it isn’t Benny darling. If today is Monday, then tomorrow is Tuesday. You may live in an upside down parellel world but most of the rest of us don’t. Good try though. Give yourself a high five, Benny ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Don’t worry. I’m not offended, I’m amused. To answer your question (Would a person with an “overlord” mentality be looking for a counter offer?): A posturing, pretending, prevaricating overlord who is “managing the conflict”? Sure, such an overlord would say they were “looking” for a counteroffer.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Oh really, Benny-leh?

            And pray, tell me, why wouldn’t your “peace loving” Palestinian Arab leader, the inimitable Yassir Arafat, be so reluctant to make a counter offer in order to call “the bluff of the posturing overlord” which you are talking about?

            AGAIN, THIS IS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED AT CAMP DAVID:

            “Arafat rejected these suggestions, but did not raise a single idea himself. Ben-Ami, who kept meticulous diaries of the proceedings, said that Clinton exploded at the Palestinians over their refusal to make a counteroffer. “‘A summit’s purpose,’ Clinton said, ‘is to have discussions that are based on sincere intentions and you, the Palestinians, did not come to this summit with sincere intentions.’ Then he got up and left the room.” [1]”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I have already provided you Gershon Baskin’s authoritative debunking of “Barak’s generous offer.” Seth Ackerman explains further the process of disinformation and myth creating you are eagerly participating in and debunks that. The occupation has always depended upon mountains of disinformation:

            The Myth of the Generous Offer
            Distorting the Camp David negotiations
            By Seth Ackerman
            http://fair.org/extra/the-myth-of-the-generous-offer/

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Poor Benny. He is trying sooooo hard to be right. He is pretending to have lost what I said and is point blank refusing to answer my following reasonable question:

            Why did Arafat refuse to make a counter offer?

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Arafat did not make a counter offer,

            ACCORDING TO BENNY’s SOURCES:

            Because, Arafat wanted to dictate terms of surrender to Ehud Barak.

            He didn’t want much (not too much). He just wanted Israel to:

            1. Return to the 1949 armistice lines. The Armistice which the Arabs broke after Jordan once again attacked Israel in 1967 (as it did in 1948) when they joined the war on Egypt’s side.

            2. Arafat wanted Israel to resolve the issue of the refugees. By allowing millions of descendants of refugees to “return” to Israel.

            3. By expecting Israel give up East Jerusalem completely and to relinquish Judaism’s holiest site to exclusive Arab rule.

            4. By evacuating hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes from places such as East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and other places.

            And in exchange for what? For a nebulous promise by Arafat that there would be peace.

            And when Ehud Barak did not offer quite that much, right up front, Arafat just baulked and the negotiations ended without Arafat making any counter offer.

            Excuse me Benny. But what kind of negotiation was that? Can Israel too play such a game? Can Israel too just let it be known in advance what it wants and walk away if Arafat or Abbas won’t offer quite as much?

            If Israel would adopt such an approach, you’d call it as Israel trying to dictate terms of surrender. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what you said in your earlier post.

            But you are perfectly happy with the notion that Arafat “was completely right” not to make a counter offer at Camp David because the hapless Ehud Barak did not quite offer as much as what Arafat’s known (according to you) expectations were.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            As for who did what to whom and who triggered the Intifada, read the following link:

            http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MFintifada.html

            The key thing to consider is this:

            Irrespective of whether Ehud Barak’s offer met Arab expectations, his offer included lots of concessions which Israel never offered before. In fact, many Israelis were extremely unhappy at the time with those concessions (read my earlier post). Therefore, the least that Israelis had the right to expect was to have further peaceful negotiations, not a kick in the guts like that bloody intifada.

            I’ll just mention my reaction to all of the above. Prior to those events, I supported Oslo, I supported Rabin, I supported Ehud Barak’s Camp David initiative.

            After that, after 5 years of the bloody Intifada, after the Ramallah lynching of two Jewish captives, after 5 years of suicide bombings, after the political lynching of Israel by the misnamed UN conference on racism in Durban (a farce in which the Arabs and their allies hijacked the agenda and figuratively lynched Israel and Jews in general), after all that, I dropped all hope of seeing peace in our time. After that, I switched my support to Sharon and I now support Bibi. And I won’t be changing my support till such time that I see real concrete evidence that the Palestinian Arabs want to live and let live. I have had enough of their hatred. I have had enough of their intransigence. And I have had enough of their game playing. I have now become them. I think we should do to the Palestinian Arabs what they have been doing to us. We should relate to them how they relate to us and we should play the same games that they play against us. The ball is in their court as far as I am concerned. We should change, when they show a willingness to change, but this time it has to be real. It can’t be a repeat of Oslo. In the meanwhile, though …. fill in the dots.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “I have now become them. I think we should do to the Palestinian Arabs what they have been doing to us.”

            Interesting proposition. I presume then they are going to do the same. So they’re going to start belligerently occupying large sections of the coastal plain and build massive settlements all over, and set up lots of checkpoints and nighttime raids and indefinite detention and torture; and tear up thousands of olive trees for access roads and set up “firing range” practices by throwing Israeli farmers off their land, and hog the water, and wax poetic-belligerent about the Land of Palestine, and tell the UN and the US to go f itself. And you guys are going to start doing a mix of peaceful protests that they shut down with ruger rifles and tear gas and skunk water, plus you’ll do lone teen knife attacks and car rammings in the West Bank? And have a big ol’ Jewish intifada? What an interesting exercise in mutual empathy and role reversal playing. How creative. When did you arrange this? Do you have logistics worked out?

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “I presume then they are going to do the same. So they’re going to start belligerently occupying large sections of the coastal plain and build massive settlements all over blah blah blah”

            Stop under estimating your Palestinian Arab friends. If they could, they would do much worse to us than we ever did to them. Hey, just ask Hamas. And the PLO is not better! Here is a quote from the Hamas charter:

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Covenant

            “our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious” and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[2] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.”

            In any case, Hamas is much stronger than the PLO, so without external assistance, Hamas would quickly take over the leadership of the Palestinian Arab people. So Hamas’s agenda would prevail. Look at how easily Hamas took Gaza away from the PLO!

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “And you guys are going to start doing a mix of peaceful protests”

            Wow Benny, are you this myopic? Are you this much in denial about history? Is that how you perceive the Palestinian Arabs?

            “Peaceful protests”? Who are you trying to kid? I perceive them as:

            1. Hateful.
            2. Murderous.
            3. Suicide bombers
            4. Intifada.
            5. Lynchers of Jewish prisoners
            6. Child murderers (see the Fogel family)
            7. Terrorists
            8. Petrol bomb throwers

            How myopic can you get. Your Palestinian Arabs have Perpetrated thousands horrific terrorist acts against us just in the last 15 years or so. And if we go back further, then they carried out old style pogroms against Jews as far back as 1929, before Jews even formed the Haganah, the Irgun and Lehi. You can protest all you want that “they are not ALL like that” but you can’t change history and you can’t change the fact that ENOUGH of them ARE like that to make a difference for the worse!

            More likely you are just a shameless propagandist who wilfully denies very recent history.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            And more likely you are just posting for the sake of posting any old inane thing that pops into your perverse mind to keep me busy on this thread. Right, Benny-leh?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The only difference between Israel today and the Haganah then, the only difference between the methods they employed and employ, is that Israel today is the occupying power similar to the Romans and the British before them, and the Haganah were occupied by a much stronger force and needed to use asymmetric techniques. And did. So did the Sicarii. In fact the Sicarii did just what the lone teens do today. (Except the Romans did not have guns and the Sicarii stood a much better chance.) Israel does not use asymmetric terror tactics only because it does not have to. Its tactics in the West Bank are in fact symmetric, conventional army-based terror tactics. They are no different than the Romans—they just tailor it to what can be gotten away with in the modern context.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Oh goodie. Benny has now decided to ignore all the points that I made before and now he is side tracking to the Haganah.

            Now, hear this again, Benny: the haganah was formed as a result of the massacre of Jews in Hebron and Tzefat, by Arabs in 1929.

            Get it? CAUSE and EFFECT! I’ll say it again for emphasis. CAUSE and EFFECT. Arab violence caused reaction by the Jews of Palestine back then, and what Israel does today is still a reaction to what the Arabs do today. Practice that phrase Benny: CAUSE and EFFECT! You seem to have extreme difficulties in grasping that concept.

            Reply to Comment
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