April 23, 2019 | 67° F

Dear Sara Zayed, stop hurting honest political discourse

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress. The day after, Sara Zayed reacted to his speech. Although she presents many valid claims, the overall piece is harmful to the potential for honest political discourse on the issue of an American nuclear deal with Iran.

Zayed writes that Netanyahu is making United States-Israel relations a partisan issue and that his declining a private meeting with senators was an insult to them. In reality though, Netanyahu’s reasoning was the opposite. He said, “Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic senators, I believe that doing so could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit. I would, of course, be glad to address a bipartisan forum of senators behind closed doors on a future visit.” Not meeting with Democrats was an attempt to keep partisanship out of what is a global security issue.

In the article, Zayed asks how Netanyahu can criticize Iran. She cites last summer’s renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas, boldly declaring that clearly his opinions of normalcy must be skewed, but let us consider how Iran compares in terms of human rights.

A report by the United States Department of State mentioned human rights infringements in Iran which include, but are not limited to, “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; politically motivated violence and repression, such as beatings and rape … legal and societal discrimination and violence against women, children, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

These kinds of horrific and blatant human rights infringements cannot be compared to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Yes, many civilian lives were lost during the operation, but it is incorrect to equate that with Iran’s persistent violations of human rights or its designation by the State Department as a sponsor of global terrorism. It is an attempt to draw strong emotions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the discussion. I support Palestine, but I do not for one second confuse it with the discussion of a nuclear Iran. The comparison may cause readers to form opinions on a deal with Iran based on their stances toward the emotionally challenging issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The problems are completely unrelated and this comparison harms the potential for honest discussion and consideration of the issue.

Zayed wrote that the idea that Israel has “‘genocidal enemies’ … has regularly and thoroughly been debunked." Who exactly debunked this? The United Nation’s Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, believes that Iran’s threats to Israel’s existence are unacceptable. Had they been debunked, then he would not have needed to address those threats in December 2014. And then there is Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Iran-backed Hezbollah, who said that if Jews “all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." Those are not just empty threats. Over the past few decades Hezbollah has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against world Jewry and Israel as well. So do not be falsely led into believing that somehow the threats against its existence have been debunked.

Finally, Zayed questions what Israel stands to gain from Netanyahu’s speech. This is the crux of my objection to her article. The issue is not about what Israel stands to gain from a stricter nuclear deal, it is about what the world stands to lose from a weak one. I beg you Zayed, do not misrepresent facts, as you accused Netanyahu of doing, and stop hurting the potential for honest unbiased political discourse.

David Arbit is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

David Arbit

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