(image by Wikipedia)
This is the season which celebrates the hope of peace and good will among humankind. The New Testament testifies to this hope in Luke 2:8-20.
"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.'
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!' Luke 2:8-20 New KJV"
The key to this passage is the announcement, "You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
The Babe is Jesus, born of Mary, in the town of Bethlehem (modern city shown above). In the time recorded by Luke, the Babe lies in a manger, helpless and vulnerable. When we speak of the Babe we see him as an embodiment of future hope, a promise of what could be.
Today, in the land where Jesus was born, there is another fragile and vulnerable hope for peace. A nuclear peace agreement between Iran and major western powers waits to grow into a mature reality. Unlike the child described by Luke, this peace agreement is not perfect; it was created by political leaders, not by God.
Israel stands in strong opposition to the agreement on the grounds that it believes Iran is moving toward developing a nuclear arms system that Israel feels threatens its security. Israel is known to have at least 200 nuclear warheads; Iran has none.
Israel stands alone in this belief, except for its allies in the United States Senate, 27 of whom are sponsoring the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, a Senate proposal designed to undermine the Iranian peace efforts by President Obama.
The leaders of this effort are Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)(pictured right, above) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). Their bill is described by a release from Senator Menendez' office as "bipartisan legislation proposing prospective sanctions on Iran should the regime violate the interim Joint Plan of Action agreed to in Geneva or should Iran fail to reach a final agreement."
Co-sponsors of the bill are Senators Menendez, Kirk, Schumer, Graham, Cardin, McCain, Casey, Rubio, Coons, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Ayotte, Begich, Corker, Pryor, Collins, Landrieu, Moran, Gillibrand, Roberts, Warner, Johanns, Hagan, Cruz, Donnelly, Blunt and Booker, an "honor roll" of pro-Israel senators, politicians who do not hesitate to stand against the U.S. President when his policies are opposed by Israel.
The last name on the "honor roll" list is newly elected New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who entered the Senate this fall with strong pro-Israel credentials. He and his fellow senators who have offered the new sanction bill have begun their Christmas break with the full awareness that in this season of "peace and good will" they have called for a nuclear agreement action already rejected by Iran.
Jay Carney, Obama's press secretary, told reporters that should the Senate pass the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, President Obama would veto the bill.
In their letter they indicate that they are opposed to imposing new restrictions on Iran. They also ask the President to inform them "before any attempt is made to pass sanctions legislation." This is procedural protection from senators who often try to pass legislation by a unanimous consent vote at the end of long work periods or at the end of the year.
The letter that supports the current Obama-Kerry negotiated agreement is signed by Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California, Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan, Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Environment and Public Workers Chairwoman Barbara Boxer of California, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Tom Carper of Delaware, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Energy Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa.
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