There was welcome news from Washington on Tuesday with word of leading Republican and Democrat senators agreeing unanimously on legislation — a rarity — that would give Congress a say in the Iran nuclear agreement being negotiated by six world powers, including the U.S.
Just before the conclusion of the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony, the groom crushes a glass with his foot, commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem two millennia ago. The rabbis instruct that even when we are most joyful we pause to remember the sadness we have endured. A moment later, the wedding ends with shouts of “mazel tov!” to mark the newlyweds’ first moments together.
Last week at the seders we asked The Four Questions. This week, in the wake of the framework agreement between the Western powers and Iran, Israel has submitted 10 questions to the U.S.-led negotiators that point out the dangers and gaps in the deal as it now stands.
Wherever Jews live, they will be sitting down on Friday night to recall and commemorate their collective past as slaves in ancient Egypt. In the diaspora, we will hold a second seder, again making a spiritual connection to a history that began, as the rabbis emphasize, in the disgrace of servitude and beatings and infanticide, and ended in the triumph of exodus and redemption.
It’s only fitting that the negotiations between the U.S. and Iran were extended to Wednesday, April Fools’ Day. Whatever the precise outcome, it seems clear that the Obama administration has invested far too much political and diplomatic capital in these talks, which have gone on for 18 months, to walk away from a deal. Despite Iran’s classic bargaining moves in the last few days, pulling back on previously agreed-on commitments, the administration would not be swayed. This comes as no surprise. The very notion that talks could take place between Iran and the West and exclude any discussion of the revolutionary Islamic regime’s role as the world’s leading exporter of terror was a non-starter.
That’s what White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said the other day in explaining why President Obama was coming down so hard on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for seeming to renege on his 2009 declaration in favor of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.