I live in Israel. I live in the shadow of Iran. I hold American citizenship as well as Israeli. I pay taxes to both countries. I vote in the elections of each.
In 2008 and 2012, I voted for Barack Obama. I'm glad I did.
I'm glad not only because of landmark changes to America on his watch, not only because of moments of inspiration, of unexpected hope, of enfranchisement, of movement on issues long dismissed as immutable.
I'm glad because I believe that no one but this president would have tried, and succeeded, to land a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons.
I'm glad because Israel is the place we raised our children. They tell us that this is the place where they want to raise theirs. And this deal, fraught as it is, stands a chance of making our future here safer.
Over the weekend I studied the text of the agreement. Start to finish. It makes for a sobering read. As a contract, it gives the sense of spending more time on what Iran gets out of this, than on what Iran needs to give up to get it.
No one can be sure if it will work. No one can know if Iran means to abide by its terms, and put off its bomb by a decade or more.
As complex and jargon-laden as the agreement is, evaluating it comes down to a simple question – who do you trust?
The document is asking us to trust on a level that we've seldom needed to summon. Like it or not, fight it or not, we are trusting this document, and its signatories, with our very lives.
Whom do I trust with the lives of my children?
I trust people like former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy. The agreement, he argued Sunday, "includes components that are crucial for Israel's security."
Iran made concessions on a series of critical issues, Halevy wrote, noting that the Islamic Republic was "forced to agree to an invasive and unique supervision regime like no other in the world."
I trust Lt. Col (Res.) Uzi Even, a physics professor and former scientist at the Dimona nuclear reactor, who concluded in a detailed analysis that the deal "delays the Iranian nuclear program by 15 years at least, and maybe more.
"The deal was written by nuclear experts and blocks every path I know to the bomb," Even continues. "The Iranians may be celebrating, but they have in fact swallowed a very bitter pill, more so than they would like to let on."
I trust nuclear non-proliferation expert Aaron Stein, who told journalist Max Fisher that under the terms of the agreement, if Tehran tries to build a bomb, "the likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent," meaning that the agreement "makes the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon in the next 25 years extremely remote."
I believe that Barack Obama is making the best effort that anyone is, to keep my family safe from the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
And what about Benjamin Netanyahu? Don't I trust him? Don't I trust him to keep us safe, to safeguard Israel's vital interests, to keep war at bay?
No. Not at all. Absolutely not.
"The attempt to change the rules of the game and include additional demands from Iran in the agreement, like recognizing Israel and halting the support for terror," Halevy wrote this week, "shows that Netanyahu has no interest in any agreement."
Countering critics – Netanyahu in the lead - who contend that having no deal at all would have been preferable to forging this deal, DefenseNews wrote in a Monday editorial: "Without a deal, Iran — which suspended its bomb program 20 months ago to enter negotiations — would be unchecked in quickly finishing the project: Iran would have a nuclear device, by far the worst possible outcome for the region."
Do I trust Iran? No. And that is where having a deal – a deal with critical monitoring - makes sense. As does the page-after-page emphasis on sanctions to be lifted, part and parcel of selling the deal to the Iranian public.
I do trust Iran expert Meir Javedanfar, who describes a likely outcome had no deal been signed, or if the Israeli prime minister succeeds in his declared campaign to intervene in U.S. politics in order to scuttle the deal within the next two months.
"With what Netanyahu is suggesting, which is the continuation of the current tensions with Iran until Iran completely capitulates Iran would only need two months to make a nuclear weapon."
"Nobody is trusting Iran, the Iranian regime," maintains Javedanfar, an Iran-born Israeli, who teaches contemporary Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
"It’s not about trust – it’s about mistrust and verify.”
Barack Obama could have taken the easy way out, and ducked the most difficult foreign policy challenge of his presidency – a nuclear Iran. Instead, against all odds, against some of the most stringent pressures American politics can dish out, he has driven forward.
Thank you, Mr. President, for this deal.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now