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Iran Deal: California Democrats Discuss Opposition

BEVERLY HILLS, California — A group of influential California Democrats opposed to the Iran deal participated in a panel discussion at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills last Thursday to voice their opposition to the agreement.

From Iran’s geopolitical ambitions, to its religious oppression and human rights abuses, the panelists reflected on various reasons why they are against the nuclear accords.

“At the end of the day, this is only a contract. And it’s only as good as a contract,” said attorney Sam Yebri, president and co-founder of the 30 Years After organization, a nonprofit “whose mission is to promote the participation and leadership of Iranian American Jews in American political, civic and Jewish life.”

The panel consisted of West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch, Iranian-American Baha’i community member Mona Iman, ex-Iranian political prisoner Roozbeh Farahanipour, and 30 Years After Executive Director Shanel Melamed, who moderated the discussion along with Yebri. U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who recently came out vehemently against the accords, addressed the sizable crowd after the panel spoke.

Despite President Obama’s guarantee that sanctions will immediately snap back into place if Iran breaches the agreement, “we’ve learned that’s actually not the case.” Yebri explained that “all contracts entered with Iran, before the snapping back of sanctions, would be grandfathered in. So there is potentially no economic consequence for Iran entering into the deal and then breaching it.”

Vice Mayor Mirisch concurred that the deal “has fatal flaws.”

Everyone on the panel was succinct in their belief that, irrespective of the deal, it is crucial to ensure that Iran’s human rights issues do not get swept aside. Mona Imam pointed out that there is a House Resolution (HR 220) that calls for the condemnation of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its targeted persecution of Baha’is.

“There are about 13 Baha’i teachers who are in prison today, serving four to five year sentences, merely for teaching non-religious subjects–humanities, sciences, maths–to the Baha’i students who are systematically denied access to higher education,” Imam said.

Three Americans are still being held as prisoners in Iran, and a fourth’s whereabouts are unknown.

Councilman Duran, a leading figure in the LGBT community and a liberal Democrat, explained that while he voted for Obama, he is against the Iran deal because “it places Israel at risk” in addition to “moderates in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran.”

He added: “This is not a question of left or right. This is about taking a stand for principle.”

Duran said the Iranian Regime has a practice of mandatory gender reassignment surgery because it wants gay people to fit into Islamic society under shariah law. Citing an op-ed piece he penned for the Advocate that same day, Duran said he found it interesting that “most of my critics are coming from the political left, not the political right.”

Rep. Sherman told the crowd that had gathered that “the Iranian government certainly was as evil 10 years ago as it is today.”

Sherman warned that North Korea has roughly 12 nuclear weapons, and suggested that it is likely to sell nuke number 13 to Iran. “You can’t list it on Ebay. But, you can make a deal with a Middle Eastern country that has just gotten its hands on say $56 billion.”

Sherman said “this issue doesn’t end in September and October. I think whoever the president is, Democrat or Republican in the future, will have more freedom.”

For the time being, Sherman did not discount the possibility of war. “It may take military action and I think it’s important that we hold the president to the fact that he’s not going to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.

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