Israel is facing serious and timely challenges

The only peaceful hope for stopping Iran’s nuclear program

As a preface to this op-ed, I wish to make it clear that the opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not reflect those of any organizations with which I may be affiliated.

The enjoyment of our New England summer may lull us into losing sight of the serious and timely challenges Israel is facing, despite the fact that it is the most vibrant, entrepreneurial and stable American ally in the Middle East; and this is despite the newly aroused hopes for renewed peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Far-reaching sanctions on Iran have been biting; nonetheless, Iran continues unabated its nuclear weapons program. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress have spoken by clearly saying it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. A nuclear Iran will result in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, even greater regional instability due to Iranian support for terrorist entities like Hezbollah and a direct threat to Israel’s very existence.

With Egypt looking like it could be following Syria into violent upheaval, and nearly two million Syrian refugees flowing into neighboring states, the region is becoming more volatile with each passing day.  Though Israel has never been stronger, it is foolish to think that the country will remain untouched by the surrounding upheaval.

The goal of the pro-Israel community is a strong alliance between the U.S. and Israel. The tighter the bond between these two great democracies, the greater is the chance for peace, security and stability.

The single biggest threat to both Israel and the United States is Iran and its illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. The only peaceful hope for stopping Iran’s nuclear program is to demonstrate a serious U.S. commitment to our publicly stated foreign policy.  The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced the bipartisan Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 850), which would strengthen enforcement of sanctions on Iran and expand sanctions to reach Iran’s human rights violators.

This, along with passage by a vote of 99-0 for Senate Res. 65 stating that America stands with Israel against Iran, is a good start. But we must do more. The United States must be creative in finding ways to show Iran that when President Barack Obama says Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon, he means it.

We must implement enhanced sanctions on Iran, coupled with full implementation of the sanctions already on the books, and demonstrate a credible military willingness to support our policy.

Congress has been the bedrock of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. For example, our Rhode Island representatives support foreign aid, helping stop Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, and reinforcing American policy that a two-state solution with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct negotiations.

As Rhode Islanders, we are fortunate that our members of the U.S. Congress are solid supporters of these efforts and they clearly understand the issues; moreover, they are most responsive to our opinions and views. Please take a moment this summer to call them and thank them for their support and ask them to speak out in favor of a credible military posture to support the Obama administration’s policy of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

David M. Hirsch ( is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island (now the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island) and the current Rhode Island state chair of AIPAC. He is a resident of Providence. This piece reflects Hirsch’s personal views.