We missed the lesson of the dress: Why it should be okay to disagree about Iran

Three days ago the internet was set on fire and thrown off a mountain by a dress; a simple two-toned dress. The same picture circulated millions of times and viewed by an audience larger than many nations saw the same picture and were unable to come to a complete and total consensus as to what those two colors were. Many saw this as an interesting quirk in physics and light. Others saw it as a lesson in perception and how the eyes and brain see colors.

The lesson we should have learned is how two people observing an identical piece of information can arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions.

I have not watched Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to congress yet and I don’t plan on it. This does not make me anti-Israel. It does not make me a self-hating Jew; and it is the ultimate insult to say otherwise. Anybody who tells you that your opinion your dissent your courage of convictions makes you less than, weaker than, or not as patriotic as, is small and weak.

I am vehemently pro-Israel. I believe in the Jewish state, but the current state of affairs makes me embarrassed.

The lesson we should have learned from the dress would have told us that despite having different view points on the state of affairs in the world we are still the same sane people.

Unfortunately, that lesson was short-lived. Within days Jew was against Jew over a simple perception. The rankles of the Sons of Israel have never been stronger in our history. We stand as a people divided over a simple issue and it shouldn’t be that way. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

How can they stand and not act? How can they watch the unthinkable happen? These are Jews!? Won’t somebody think of the children.

In the modern age of filmmaking most films are remakes and sequels, it only makes sense that we would see the redux of the red scares of the 40s and 50s. These anti-democratic and anti-american tactics were used to excise the pesky pluralism that made this country great and consolidate power.

Both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu agree Iran should not be permitted to obtain a Nuclear weapon. And that is not the only thing they agree on. Throughout the Obama administration, the US and Israel have come together to ensure multiple vetoes of anti-Israel declarations in the UN, funding of the Iron Dome and once again, they agree that Iran should not be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. What they disagree on is how to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen. Let’s just stop for a moment and let that sink in.

The current disagreement is not the equivalent of agreeing whether or not Hitler is a threat in 1939. I current disagreement is the equivalent of agreeing Hitler is a threat, but whether to attack him by land or sea.

This isn’t a disagreement on the problem, this is a disagreement on how to proceed.
Sanctions vs Negotiations. This shouldn’t be an argument about who loves Israel more. This shouldn’t be a standoff about who is a better leader. One’s position on this issue should be about the facts. Yet it seem that people’s position on the matter for the most part has fallen on previously drawn ideological lines, which is not good.

I’m going to say something which not to many people have said today regarding which course of action is best regarding the prevention of an Iranian tactical nuclear program.

I don’t know.

I do not know what the proper course of action is, because I’m not a national security expert and chances are neither are you. Nor are you working for Mossad, like Meir Dagan former Mossad Chief who harshly criticized Netanyahu’s Iran policy this week. I’m not a nuclear scientist. I’m not an international observer.

Are you any of those things?

 The question I ask of you is, what makes you so certain? What makes you so unblinkingly sure? Is it your meticulous examination of the facts and figures; not only the ones presented to you by Benjamin Netanyahu in his address, but the ones that have contradicted him and have been fact checked? Do you know the success rate of negotiations vs sanctions?

(side note: The US had an effective embargo against Cuba for half a century. Spoiler alert: they didn’t work)

Also have we forgotten how easily we can be misled by our leaders. We are not so far removed from the speeches of the Bush administration who were sure that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the Israel, The US and the World. That threat is now known to be highly overstated.

The most disturbing part of this whole affair is not the existential threat posed by Iran and their decade-old twelve-month march to Nuclear capability. The most disturbing thing is how easily this issue was used to polarize and manipulate for political gain. It’s disturbing how there is little room for nuance on this issue. If you don’t support Netanyahu, then you hate Israel. And that’s final there is no wiggle room.

Furthermore, I don’t think there has been anybody who would argue that this issue has been best served by the political chaos set off by the Bibi-Boehner tag team. This could have been approached sensibly with a summit with talks with an open dialogue, but Netanyahu in his messianic zeal decided to punt those prospects into the Kinneret. The complexion of this dispute is colored entirely by election-year politics and The Prime Minister’s ever more alarming strain of Jerusalem Syndrome.

Just think about what the fall out would have been if Nancy Pelosi had invited Sarkozy to congress to argue against President Bush’s policies during the march up to the Iraq war. (I know the hypothetical timeline doesn’t match up, but that’s not the point) Republicans would be apoplectic. Limbaugh would have had a coronary. Ann Coulter would have written three books about how liberals are bad bad bad. Fox News would have accused her of treason.

Benjamin Netanyahu has used the politics of fear to set his agenda and set attack dogs by proxy against anybody who dares disagree with him to the right or the left. It’s nonsense.

In a modern world there must be room for disagreement. Pluralism and dissent are the only stop-gap against tyranny. I take no specific stand on the issue of Iranian disarmament, because my stand will not have any measurable effect. If you think otherwise, your ego needs adjustment. And if you think your fellow Jews, Americans, Humans are betraying their people, by questioning the policies of their leader, then there is no hope.


About Ben Faulding

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. I found my way to Judaism during my twenties. I'm currently a direct care worker for adults with special needs and I live in Crown Heights.
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