I am honored to speak on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace, which stands in solidarity with the people of Iran, the people of the U.S., and people of conscience across our precious planet who yearn for our leaders to courageously move us towards peaceful relations with Iran and away from setting us on a path that, once on it, one simple miscalculation, might lead us inexorably toward war with Iran.


If you thought the Iraq war was a tragic disaster, get this:

Iran is a regional power with a strong military.  It is three times as populous and geographically much larger than Iraq.  So, multiply everything in the Iraq War by three to get a sense of the cost of a war against Iran:

Immediate cost: $3 trillion

Long term cost, including veteran care:  at least 10 trillion dollars

US troops killed: over 15,000

US troops seriously wounded: over 100,000

Iranian dead: 3 million

Iranians displaced: 12-15 million!


Let’s be clear:  the U.S. has long had Iran virtually encircled as a result of the American occupation of Afghanistan on Iran’s Eastern border, its invasion of Iraq on its Western border, its NATO ally Turkey hovering on Iran’s Northwestern border, some degree of military relationship with Turkmenistan on Iran’s Northeastern border, and multiple U.S. client states sitting right across the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, where the massive US 5th Fleet is stationed). Additionally, some combination of the U.S. and Israel has bombarded Iran with multiple acts of war in recent years, including explosions on Iranian soil, the murder of numerous Iranian nuclear scientists, and sophisticated cyber-attacks.


Bear in mind, in the past decade, the U.S. and/or Israel have invaded, air attacked, and/or occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (to say nothing of the creation of a worldwide torture regime, a system of “black site” prisons around the world to which people were disappeared, and a due-process-free detention camp in the middle of the Caribbean where many people remain encaged for more than a decade without charges). During this same time period, Iran has not invaded, occupied or air attacked anyone. Iran, to be sure, is domestically oppressive, but no more so — and in many cases less — than the multiple regimes funded, armed and otherwise propped up by the U.S.  Since Iran has not attacked the US or Israel, a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a war crime, especially since it would release radioactive toxins on the people of Iran and the Middle East more generally.


For years now, US intelligence agencies have concluded that there is no military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program.  Nonetheless the US has heaped a crippling series of sanctions on Iran.  And in spite of the Israeli government beating the drums of war, an astonishing number of Israel’s top soldiers and spies warn against bombing Iran, and they support the Iran Nuclear Deal.


On a more personal note, eight years ago, a group of us brought to Portland a young Iraqi boy who had a third of his body blown apart by shrapnel from a US bomb in Fallujah, Iraq. Our goal was to get him the care he needed to keep him alive and also to put a human face on the butchery we call war.  It was a life-changing experience to get to know and fall in love with little Mustafa, and with that came a conviction at the deepest level that never again would I ever believe any politician selling war as necessary, or just, or an option that we need to keep on the table.  Sweet little Mustafa, whose body was mangled by a US bomb, who, writhing in pain, pleaded with his father to just let him die because he couldn’t take it any more, that horror multiplied by thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions – that is what war is.  It is long past time that we realize that in the next war we, and our loved ones, could be Mustafa.  Actually in the next war, we, and our loved ones, WILL be Mustafa, for to stop the warmongers’ craving for war we need to understand that on each end of the gun we’re the same.


The ancient and mystical Iranian poet, Rumi, penned these words:  Beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.  Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” makes no sense. 


Senator Wyden, listen to the centuries’ old words of the poet.  The phrase ‘each other’ makes no sense because we and the Iranian people really are one.  We are human, and we emphatically remind you that your vote on the Iranian nuclear agreement is one we will long remember.  Why in the world would you listen to the sick and extremely dangerous cries of the warmongers who are lobbying you so aggressively to vote no on this agreement, the same people who got us into the Iraq War and who, if they get there way, will set us on the path towards our next – and potentially – most disastrous war?  For the sake of our children and grandchildren, be a leader, take a stand for humanity, for peace, for a better future.  Vote yes on the Iran Agreement!

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