The day after thousands of people flooded New York’s Times Square to protest the Iran nuclear deal, concerned D.C. area residents voiced their objections at a rally across the street from the White House.
Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian group, organized the afternoon protest in Lafayette Park to criticize the deal and shed light on the four Americans currently held hostage in Iran. Their protest garnered the attendance of the liberal, anti-war group Code Pink, who earlier Thursday cheered Secretary of State John Kerry when he testified before Congress.
A scuffle broke out between members of Code Pink and CWA supporters as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addressed the 100 or so attendees in the sweltering July sun. Later, a Code Pink supporter attempted to shout down Cruz, prompting the senator to call forward co-founder Medea Benjamin for an impromptu debate.
Responding to Benjamin’s accusations that the senator was engaged in war mongering, Cruz said, “In the midst of this negotiation the Ayatollah Khamenei led thousands of Iranians in chanting ‘Death to America’ while they burned American flags and Israeli flags.”
“If you want to know what this Iranian deal is listen to President [Hassan] Rouhani of Iran who says, ‘We got everything we wanted out of this deal,’” said Cruz. “This deal is a complete capitulation by President Obama to radical Islamic theocratic zealots who want to murder millions of Americans.”
Video by Emilie Plesset.
The majority Jewish audience cheered Cruz and later Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Stern addressed her remarks to Obama.
“Why Mr. President have you negotiated away the future of our children and our grandchildren to the world’s leading state sponsor of Islamic terrorism?” said Stern.
As the protest dragged on past the scheduled one hour mark, supporters and detractors of the deal splintered off in mostly congenial debates.
Nate Atwell, a Code Pink member, strolled the lawn with Cruz pressing the senator to further explain his stance. Though Atwell said he respected Cruz’s consistency, he rejected the senator’s position regarding the deal.
“I believe it’s a good deal because it’s a step away from war, a step toward peace,” said Atwell, who added that members of Congress have rushed to condemn the deal without adequately reviewing its terms.
Shlomo Bolts of Silver Spring attended the rally while waving a Syrian revolutionary flag. Citing Iran’s engagement in other conflicts in the region, Bolts said he doesn’t trust Iran to follow through on the terms of the deal.
“I think Syria is the best proof that Iran is a bad actor in the world and in the region now,” he said. “They’re not going to moderate their behavior, they’ve only gotten more crazy.”
Photos by Melissa Apter.