Baltimoreans Rally Against Deal with Iran (Photo Essay)

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Baltimore, MD – Aug. 21, 2015 – Nearly 300 people assembled in front of Baltimore’s Penn Station on Wednesday, August 19 to join the Baltimore Zionist District (BZD) in sending a clear message to Maryland’s Congressional delegation:  vote no on the proposed deal with Iran!

The rally was conceived and organized by BZD, and co-sponsored by The Israel Project; Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET); United Against Nuclear Iran; Maccabi USA; Religious Zionists of America, Baltimore Chapter; the Department of Maryland, Jewish War Veterans of the USA; and Barbara Ann Bloom, in loving memory of her husband, Leonard (Yisroel Yitzchak ben Chaim Leib, Z”L).

Gathered on Charles Street directly in front of the train station, the crowd heard speaker after speaker denounce the proposed agreement with Iran as falling short of the minimum requirements for a good deal.  Among other deficiencies, speakers noted that the deal lacks “anytime, anywhere” inspections; fails to condition sanctions relief on Iranian cooperation with the IAEA;  release billions of dollars that Iran can use to support terrorism; legitimizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state; and leaves almost all of Iran’s extensive nuclear infrastructure intact.

After greetings from BZD President Robert Slatkin, the rally began with remarks from Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Maryland.  Rabbi Kaplan noted that the schemes of Iran cannot withstand the protection afforded to the Jewish people as a result of our intimate relationship with G-D which is evoked by the month of Elul, and concluded his remarks by boldly blowing notes from the shofar.

According to keynote speaker Dr. Jeffrey Herf, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, the proposed agreement with Iran is “so full of holes and gaps that it will be difficult if not impossible to enforce.”  Dr. Herf stated that at a minimum, a better deal must incorporate the following elements:

1)   A better deal must require that Iran change its policy toward the United States and Israel, and cease supporting Holocaust denial, threatening to destroy Israel, and funding terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

2)  A better deal must delete the provisions of the current deal which require the West to collaborate with Iran on a proposed physics and technology center at the Fordow nuclear facility, and to assist Iran in modernizing the nuclear plant in Arak.  Such assistance is likely to transfer to Iran knowledge and information about nuclear physics that could be used to build a nuclear weapon.

3)  A better deal would provide for an improved, and more robust, inspection mechanism, which eliminates the 24 day delay (and arguably as much as 74 days of delay) between a report of a possible violation and a decision to do something about it; and which ensures that a decision by the U.S. to resume sanctions is not dependent upon the approval of the other signators, who have a vested economic interests in tolerating Iranian violations.

Characterizing the proposed deal as “one that is most likely not enforceable and that  does not block, but rather paves Iran’s path,” Dr. Herf echoed the other speakers by urging Senators Cardin and Mikulski, and the other members of the Maryland Congressional delegation to follow their Democratic colleagues, Senators Schumer and Menendez, by voting against the agreement, and by opposing any Presidential veto.  To loud cheers, Dr. Herf concluded by rejecting the claim that the choice now faced by America is between the agreement and war:

“The alternative we face is not, as the President has stated, this deal or war. It is between, on the one hand, a deal that insures that Iran will come to possess nuclear weapons, sooner rather than later, and, on the other, an effort to use the levers of economic and diplomatic power at the disposal of the United States to reach a better deal. No one—I repeat no one—knows if a better deal is possible unless and until we make the effort to reach it …. Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin, this is not only about the survival of Israel. It is also about an agreement that truly will prevent the country that has been bellowing ‘death to America’ from ever getting the bomb. This agreement fails to accomplish what the President insists is his own policy—preventing a nuclear Iran. We urge you and our Congressional delegation to reject this deal and insist on returning to the table for arrive at a better one.”

In addition to Dr. Herf, the proposed agreement with Iran was denounced at the rally as bad for America and bad for America’s allies, by speakers Baltimore City Councilwoman Rikki Spector; Eli Gold, Vice President of the London Center for Policy Research; Lauri Regan, president of the New York chapter of the Endowment for Middle East Truth; Justin Hayet, nationally recognized pro-Israel student activist; David Gerstman, associate editor of the Tower magazine for The Israel Project;  Brian Sacks, BZD board member; and  Berly  Hershkovitz, community activist.   

All of the speakers called on Senators Cardin and Mikulski to take a stand by opposing the proposed deal with Iran.  This message was displayed on signs held by rally participants, and on a large banner directed to drivers heading north on Charles Street, which read, “Cardin/Mikulski: Reject Bad Iran Deal!”

Finally, the speakers urged the crowd not to be content with attending the rally, but to also call their Congressional representatives and urge them to reject the deal.

Senator Cardin can be reached at 202-224-4524 (phone); 202-224-1651 (fax); and at   Senator Mikulski can be reaches at 202-224-4654 (phone); 202-224-8858 (fax); and at

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