BOSTON – Amid frequent chants of “No deal,” up to 1,000 people gathered outside the Massachusetts State House on Sunday in protest of the proposed Iranian nuclear deal. Congress has until September 17 to either support or reject the controversial deal, which has been a fault line in the American Jewish community this summer.
Organized by Boston-based radio station WRKO, the rally was hosted by the station’s Jeff Kuhner, a self-described conservative nationalist and Christian patriot. For months, Kuhner has devoted significant air-time to the Iran issue during his popular afternoon call-in show, “The Kuhner Report.”
In addressing the largely Jewish crowd assembled on Beacon Hill, the firebrand host did not mince words about his predictions for the world if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.
Calling out the rally’s Jewish attendees, Kuhner said, “You are staring down the barrel of another Holocaust” — words met with silence.
“You have been betrayed once again,” said Kuhner, who urged attendees to contact public officials still on the fence about the proposed deal.
Opening with the Pledge of Allegiance, the rally was filled with speakers and signs referencing “Munich 1938,” when Europe’s governments attempted – and failed – to avoid war by appeasing Nazi Germany.
As the only elected official to speak, state representative Shaunna O’Connell lambasted the Obama administration for allegedly caving in on the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including – she said – a rigorous inspection regime.
“We have stricter inspection policies for ice cream parlors in the US,” said O’Connell, who represents Taunton, south of Boston. “We need a president who trusts the American people more than he trusts Iran,” she said.
In addition to criticizing the inspection regime and other aspects of the deal, several speakers expressed outrage that US Secretary of State John Kerry did not demand the release of four American hostages held in Iran.
“That should have been the first negotiation point,” said Holly Robichaud, a columnist with the right-leaning Boston Herald. Robichaud also poured scorn on Massachusetts leaders who have voiced support for the deal, including Senator Elizabeth Warren.
According to long-time activist Charles Jacobs, head of rally co-sponsor Americans for Peace and Tolerance, “We are betting the house on a deal we were not permitted to read,” he told the crowd.
Among the officials Jacobs named as having yet to decide on the Iran deal, US Representative Joe Kennedy, grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, received special attention.
“You do not want the Kennedy name on an Iranian bomb,” Jacobs urged attendees to tell the state’s young legislator, scion of America’s most legendary political family.
Recalling late president John F. Kennedy’s leadership during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Jacobs was one of several speakers who called for “peace through strength,” a phrase often associated with late president Ronald Reagan.
Doubling down on analogies to World War II and the Holocaust, Kuhner advanced the doomsday scenario he fears if Congress supports the deal next month.
“If we do not stop this deal and step back from the abyss, it will be a terrible world war,” exhorted the radio host after speaking about his grandfather, a former prisoner in Nazi and Soviet-era camps.
‘For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be an American’
“For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be an American,” said Kuhner. “We are now the biggest funder of state terrorism in the world,” he said, referring to the $150 billion in sanctions relief Iran stands to gain following the deal’s passage.
Calling the rulers of Iran “Islamonazis,” Kuhner praised Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz for voicing staunch opposition to the deal. Last week, the Trump and Cruz campaigns announced they will hold a joint anti-Iran rally, to take place next Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
“I am going to pound Obama and beat him like a drum on this deal,” Kuhner promised the swelled and sweltering crowd after almost 90 minutes of speeches, which closed when “God Bless America” was sung from the podium.