US. Rep. Jeffrey Miller (R-FL District 1)
Tuesday night, November 26, 2013, an AIPAC sponsored briefing was presented at B’nai Israel Synagogue in Pensacola, Florida featuring local Congressman, US. Rep. Jeffrey Miller (R- 1st CD FL). Miller is chairman of the US House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee as well as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee. His Congressional District includes a number of major US Naval and Air Force reservations and commands with a significant number of active and retired military and veterans. Miller’s topic was the US-Israel Defense Relationship. Miller’s focus was on Iran’s threat to Israel and the US, the P5+1 interim agreement supposedly directed at stopping the clock on Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. That controversial agreement had just been announced over the prior weekend as the first such agreement in more than 10 years with the Islamic Regime in Tehran. Miller joked that perhaps when Reagan said “trust but verify”, he really meant don’t trust but verify. Miller had voted for new strengthened sanctions under Amendments to the Defense Appropriations Act (HR 2414). In the US Senate a bipartisan group of Senators have sponsored a parallel measure in pending Defense Appropriation bills.
Rabbi Jordan Gerson, spiritual leader of B’nai Israel synagogue in Pensacola had been contacted by AIPAC’s Florida Rabbinic Cabinet director Sam Kalmowicz as to whether he might be able to arrange the Miller talk. Miller was introduced by Gene Rosenbaum, a local businessman and member of the synagogue who has been active as an AIPAC supporter both locally and nationally. Miller’s talk coincided with the synagogue hosting the community annual Thanksgiving ecumenical service. In the audience were spiritual leaders from a reform temple, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches, as well as members of the synagogue. The following evening was the onset of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, commemorating the liberation of ancient Judea by Jewish patriots, the Maccabees.
The historical coincidence between the two holidays was not lost on the large audience who attended Cong. Miller’s presentation. He drew attention to the Administration’s attempt to reign in the Iranian nuclear threat with its acceptance of the interim P5+1 agreement in Geneva endeavoring to stop the clock on development of Iran’s nuclear weapons. An existential threat directed at destroying the Jewish state labeled as a “Zionist enterprise” by the Supreme Ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei. A week ago Khamenei had lectured about Iran’s pre-eminent right to nuclear enrichment to a group of paramilitary Basiji and Senior Revolutionary Guards at a Mosque dedicated to the memory of Ayatollah Khomenei, who lead the 1979 Revolution. Skepticism abounded that the real objectives of newly elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator who fooled the West in the period of 2003-2005. During his negotiations Iran secretly expanding nuclear enrichment development. He is now was pushing for a first steps agreement to lift punishing sanctions while preserving the right to continue uranium enrichment.
There were less than 164 centrifuges deployed in secret by Iran in 2003, now there are rumored to be more than 19,000 centrifuges. Moreover Iran was constructing a heavy water reactor at Arak whose only purpose would be to produce enough plutonium for fissile material to make at least two bombs a year starting in 2014.
Also speaking at the AIPAC briefing by Cong. Miller was Deputy AIPAC director for Florida, Josh Karsh endeavoring to push for bi-partisan support for new sanctions in the pending US Senate Defense Appropriations Amendments. Amendments supported by key Republican and Democrat Senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada disappointed at the P5+1 agreement. The Administration suggested that the adoption of new sanctions was premature and to let the next six month be used to negotiate a definitive agreement with Iran endeavoring to stopping its nuclear program. Israel’s PM Netanyahu had said the interim agreement was an historic mistake and what should be negotiated is the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear development infrastructure for enrichment and plutonium production. The Senate might consider new sanctions following the Thanksgiving recess in early December. That is if there is a political will to do so.
Miller in his remarks to the audience of fellow Pensacolians made it clear that he viewed the P5+1 agreement, and reports of Administration’s secret negotiations with Iran as a fantasy. He stood firmly in support of Israel, America’s ally, who he said was in the gunsight of the Iranian nuclear threat. An Iran governed by radical Twelver Shiite Islamists denying liberty to their own people whose ideology brims with hatred towards Jews and Christians seeking their destruction in an apocalyptic event. An Iran that has currently imprisoned two American citizens, one a former FBI agent and a Jew and the other a Christian pastor arrested when he was endeavoring to build an orphanage in Iran. A pastor was only briefly mentioned in negotiations by the US delegation in Geneva. This was an Iran whose charming new President had ordered several hundred executions in the first three months of his term in office. Miller acknowledged in questions from the audience that Americans supported a strong military in Israel that if necessary could undertake unilateral action against an Iranian nuclear existential threat. While he generally doesn’t favor foreign assistance, in Israel’s case as he told an audience questioner, he made an exception. Moreover in response to another audience question he acknowledged the important contributions that Israel has made to refinement of US military capabilities and intelligence.
This writer drew attention to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards allegedly building a missile base less than 2,000 miles away in Venezuela. North Korea has just announced that it may supply boosters for Iranian missiles capable of being launched here in the Western Hemisphere. Those missiles could be equipped with low yield nuclear warheads capable of producing a devastating Electronic Magnetic Pulse effect. David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector, has questioned how 250 IAEA inspectors could cover all of the monitoring in known, let alone unknown, locations for centrifuges and dilution of existing fissile stockpiles.
The sentiments in support of Israel expressed by Congressman Miller and members of the audience at B’nai Israel synagogue reflected enduring support in Northwest Florida for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East that shares core Judeo Christian values. The audience rose to applaud Miller’s views. They then participated in an ecumenical Thanksgiving service on the cusp of Hanukkah celebrating freedom and liberty against tyranny.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.