Apple is offering a new product called Apple Music. It's a modern-day jukebox where you can listen to and download music of your liking. Its secret sauce is a simple heart-shaped button that demarcates you like any particular song downloaded or playing. Apple thinks that marking between 30 to 40 songs will enable the machine to apply some musical algorithm to determine other songs you would enjoy.
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While the technology is neat, I resent the implication. How could any machine know my eclectic and diverse tastes in music from such a small sampling? Is it not possible for me to enjoy Sting and Vivaldi? Kenny Loggins and U2? Duran Duran and Gwen Stefani?
One of the sadder and more ironic parts of today’s world is that we are the most individualized and self-centric society in the history of the world, yet we are easily categorized into camps based on simple and mundane choices. I hate that.
In an example of such categorization, U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that those who oppose the deal brokered by the United States with Iran are no different than the radical mullahs that also want to derail the agreement, and he suggests anyone who doesn't like the deal would rather go to war. The president’s sentiment hurt me, personally. In a strange analogy, I felt like he was saying if I enjoy listening to rap, there is no way I could appreciate classical music.
Mr. President, please don’t paint me in monochromatic colors.
For the record, I think the Iran deal is a bad deal. I reached this conclusion with more high level briefings and updates than most, and less than some, along with long hours of personal soul searching.
This deal indeed has many meritorious components that I do not take for granted:
1. On the top of the list is brokering a treaty that a heavy-water reactor at Arak be dismantled and filled with concrete, so that it produces much less – if any – plutonium. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explained in a briefing I attended, bombing Arak would be difficult for serious fear of nuclear fallout.
2. This deal also limits uranium enrichment for 15 years if Iran obeys the guidelines.
3. And, the agreement adds the number of inspectors on the ground for that time to ensure compliance.
But the bad outweighs the good, in my opinion:
1. The release of some $100 billion in Iranian bank accounts overseas that were hitherto frozen is beyond worrisome, since Iran is one of the largest state sponsors of terror in the world. Funneling even a fraction of that sum to the streets of Gaza or inside Hezbollah strongholds can go a very long way and will have grave consequences.
2. The eventual removal of all arms embargoes on Iran is of paramount concern. Allowing a felon with no remorse access to the artillery cabinet is a perilous proposition, especially with added funds to make purchases. Surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft machinery and the like would make any military option against Iran all the more challenging regardless of capabilities.
3. Most problematic is that after 10 to 15 years, the physical constraints on fissile material production in Iran at declared facilities and most of the specialized verification and enforcement provisions of the agreement expire. Then, Iran could quickly grow its nuclear capabilities within a few years to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, whether at declared or secret facilities, making it a nuclear-threshold state. The older I get, the faster 15 years happens.
4. Lastly, history has told us Iran is not to be trusted. Its rhetoric and double speak is only one instance of its commitment to terror instead of peace. Thus, brokering a deal with Iran based on trust is tantamount to asking Bernie Madoff to be secretary of the treasury!
Mr. President, just because I oppose this deal does not make me like a mullah or a warmonger. In fact, it doesn’t even make me a Republican. It makes me an American who respectfully disagrees with you and the administration on this topic.
There were many decisions and occurrences under this administration that I celebrated. When the Supreme Court passed in favor of marriage equality, confirmed health care for all in need and championed a clean energy revolution, I was proud as an American and proud of you, Mr. President, for these achievements. Woe to our future if disagreements classify us in defined camps.
It feels unfair to be painted in a monochromatic brush, even as a tactic to persuade fellow party members and supporters to follow the crowd. Real leaders stand up when they disagree on principal, even if it is against the grain of their party’s politics.
Instead, I would prefer that you, Mr. President, dip your quill into the vivid and colorful palette that comprises this splendid country; citizens of different races, creeds, colors, orientations, genders, passions and beliefs.
To melt those many hues into two simple colors and two defined camps is the greatest threat to us all.
Rabbi David Seth Kirshner is the President of the New York Board of Rabbis and Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J.