New Jersey teens lead global campaign to prevent a nuclear Iran

New Jersey teens lead global campaign to prevent a nuclear Iran

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and No Nukes for Iran founder Danielle Flaum and co-president Michelle Brauer met last year at the JCC in Whippany, which began the group’s rise in prominence. Courtesy Danielle Flaum

While the average high school senior is bogged down by college applications and graduation apprehension, 18-year-old Danielle Flaum’s biggest concern is the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Flaum is the founder of No Nukes for Iran, a non-profit group that raises awareness of the threat of a nuclear Iran that has gone from an idea in the mind of a Millburn teenager to a global organization.

“Last year we were just two teenagers sitting in a room trying to inform people about No Nukes and now we’re a credible source,” said Flaum. “People who weren’t as responsive last year will definitely jump on board [now] and take on this issue without being afraid.”

In November, No Nukes launched its campaign globally in front of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North American in New Orleans, where Flaum spoke and presented a No Nukes pin to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It’s still sinking in that I met a world leader,” said Flaum. “To see that someone so important to our world is just as concerned about this issue as I am is nice but it’s good that were on the same page; we’re all fighting for peace.”

After Flaum spoke on the panel, No Nukes reached Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

“The director for Latin America heard Danielle speak and within a week we had everything translated into Spanish and she’s bringing it to college campuses in those places,” said Flaum’s mother, Nancy Kislin.

It all began in October 2009 when Flaum and a group of her friends decided to start a teen advocacy program. Flaum says that they chose to focus on nuclear Iran because of its importance to Americans and Jews.

“It’s the biggest threat to our generation,” said Flaum. “I have a fierce love of Israel, America, and Jews, and I don’t want to live in a world where I’m afraid of a terrorist attack.”

The group first made car magnets to increase awareness and to urge others to advocate for their cause and spread their message, but progress moved slowly. It was not until a fund-raiser at the Lautenberg Family JCC Aidekman Family Campus in Whippany in December last year that things started to take off. The group handed out magnets and posters at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest’s Super Sunday and caught the eye of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.

“I took a magnet and I handed it to him and I said ‘This is something you should care about,'” Flaum said. “And he did.”

Oren began mentioning the group in his speeches about Iran. In March, he invited No Nukes to Capitol Hill, where members spoke with the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Oren’s support, Flaum said, has allowed the group to reach policy-makers and other important people that they otherwise would not have been able to reach as teenagers.

“When he started spreading our message it gave us a confidence booster,” said Michelle Brauer, a 17-year-old junior and co-president of No Nukes for Iran. “We’ve been in contact with him and his son and they have helped us a lot.”

They soon created a website and banners and traveled around to churches and temples in the region. In June, No Nukes attended a press conference in the New Jersey legislature about divesting from Iran, said Flaum. That same month, the organization led a protest against Honeywell International Inc., a major conglomerate based in Morristown that does business in Iran.

“We asked them and pleaded with them to please get out of Iran,” said Flaum. “It’s not helpful for anyone.”

No Nukes hopes to hold another Honeywell protest next spring, Michelle said. The organization also hopes to have a meeting with the U.S. attorney general’s office to discuss Honeywell’s possible violation of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 and have the company pull out of Iran, Flaum said. She also wants to discuss other companies that may be violating the act.

“I think all of the stuff that has come out makes this a really good time to affect different people around here,” said Flaum. “Now that it is really in the news and people are picking up the paper and reading about it, No Nukes has a chance to expand to places are normally would not.”

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