Ambassador Dennis Ross, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Middle East, spoke about the Iran deal at Har Zion Temple.
PENN VALLEY — Hushed mumbles, groans and audible nods scattered across the sanctuary at Har Zion Temple Tuesday night during a discussion of the nuclear deal with Iran led by Ambassador Dennis Ross.
About 370 people showed up to the Penn Valley synagogue to hear Ross speak. Additionally, about 40 people viewed the discussion via a simulcast from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in Center City, and more than 1,000 watched it online. The event was presented by federation.
Ross is one of the world’s foremost experts on the Middle East peace process, with more than 30 years of experience dealing with various issues and parties. He is currently the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has also worked as a special assistant to President Barack Obama and a National Security Council senior director for the central region.
Over the course of the evening, Ross discussed some of the most salient points of the 159-page agreement. He listed what he thinks are the pros and cons of the deal but said he is undecided about where he stands because he sees several vulnerabilities in the plan, among them that President Barack Obama based it on verification, not trust, and that it should reinforce deterrence while creating more severe consequences for Iran.
“I don’t think there’s a simple alternative,” he said. “While I see some real strengths in the agreement, I also see some vulnerabilities, and I would like to see deterrence strengthened.”
David Solomon, a congregant who was one of the attendees, said he agreed with what Ross had to say, comparing his views to those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I think most of us would like to see a better deal,” he said. “The question is if there is a better deal to be made.”
Ross added that though this agreement requires Iran to defer a weapons option, it does not require them to give it up altogether.
“You can’t wait until year 15 to say, ‘Oh, we’re serious,’” Ross said. “You start it now.”
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