Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2014: Senator John McCain Remarks at 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference

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Senator McCain Remarks at AIPAC Conference

Source: C-SPAN, 3-3-14

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference…..READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2014: Senator John McCain’s Speech / Remarks at AIPAC Conference

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Senator McCain Remarks at AIPAC Conference

Source: C-SPAN, 3-3-14

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference…..READ MORE

Israel Musings August 4, 2013: Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor

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Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

80413_Peres_Granddaughter_Clinton_Netanyahu_Birthday

 

SLIDE SHOW
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially turned 90 on August 2, 2013, and the United States Congress intends to honor the occasion by introducing legislation to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Last year President Barack Obama awarded Peres…..READ MORE

Jewish Political Brief June 5, 2013: Congressmen urge Obama Administration to move embassy to Jerusalem

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Congressmen urge US to move embassy to Jerusalem

Source: Ynetnews, 6-5-13

The heads of the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus on Tuesday urged the Obama administration to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 29, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US Senator Robert Menendez, Talk Iran

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Netanyahu, Sen. Menendez, Talk Iran

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-29-13

Prime Minister tells key senator nuclear Iran is the greatest security threat to the United States…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2013: AIPAC heads to the Hill: The diplomacy trap

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AIPAC heads to the Hill: The diplomacy trap

Source: Washington Post (blog), 3-5-13

In concluding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference Tuesday, executive director Howard Kohr announced that committee representatives would call upon every Senate and House member….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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Text of Leader Cantor’s AIPAC Speech

Source: Newsroom America Feeds, 3-4-13

Thank you, it is an honor to be here at AIPAC’s policy conference. And, it’s an honor to be here with my good friend, one of Congress’ strongest pro-Israel allies Steny Hoyer.

Tonight, we celebrate a friendship between two countries. Simple in concept, but mighty in force. This friendship is centered on commitment to community and dedication to faith. It values education, human progress, and the guarantee of opportunity for all. With this friendship, the world is a better place.

The alliance between the United States and Israel is often tested, but never shaken. We’ve helped protect each other. We’ve help protect our friends, and we’ve helped protect humanity.

If there is a tsunami, our military and aid ships are the first to set sail. If disease is ravaging a nation, or as is the case of AIDS in Africa, an entire continent, we send help. And we save lives. Israel shares our moral compass. When massive earthquakes struck Haiti and Turkey, Israel was among the first to offer assistance. And hundreds of Israeli rescue workers responded to the deadly terrorist attacks in East Africa, saving the lives of Africans injured in the attacks on America’s embassies.

For those of us who have visited Israel, you know what a special place it is. You have walked down the Tayelet in Tel Aviv on a Thursday afternoon and you’ve seen the people leisurely lingering in cafes as the waves of the Mediterranean crash in the background.

But for many Americans, the only images of Israel that they see are of blown out clubs and cafes, missiles firing, death and tragedy. That in itself is a tragedy.

These news stories often miss the beauty and the human element of why our nations care so much for one another. But, these stories do serve as a constant reminder of the threat Israel faces, and why Israel needs our friendship.

Asher Afriat needs no reminders. Asher is a friend to many of us, and he’s here tonight. He owns a travel company in Israel, and leads many of the AIPAC tours. Several months ago, when rockets were flying over Israel, Asher sent me an email. He was up early in Tel Aviv, on his way to pick up some tourists. He saw some young reservists with packed military bags waiting to be picked up. He yearned to drop everything and jump in the truck with them. As he drove, his favorite radio station was interrupted by Code Red Alerts.

“A somber mood took over,” he wrote. But a few minutes later, Asher passed the entrance to the Ben Shimon Forest, a magnet for mountain bikers from across the country and one of his favorite riding places. The parking lot was jam packed with cars and hundreds of bikers ready to “shred” the countryside. Despite rockets flying, they all came. Asher could barely stand the urge to pull over and get his own bike out. But he pressed on, now with a big smile on his face. In his email he observed: “How surreal is this moment, how incomprehensible is the reality we live in”

Yet for me, that moment of Asher’s reflected the true essence of Israel with all its pain and beauty.

We are here together tonight, people of all faiths to support Israel and the US-Israel relationship. So, to all our Christian brothers and sisters who are with us, we salute you and we thank you for standing with Israel.

Thank you for standing with us to defend the gift that is Israel. Israel is a gift to all free loving people around the world. The Jewish people know and realize this gift better than anyone. The creation of the modern state of Israel had a special effect on what it means to be a Jew. Before 1948, we Jews often had difficulty defining ourselves publicly, and instead we were defined by stereotypes.

The craven hook nose man counting money behind closed doors. Secretive. Untrustworthy. The caricatures were ugly, and unfortunately some still linger.

But after Israel was created, people around the world began to see something else. They saw farmers, and warriors, and creative souls. They saw innovators, scientists and chemists giving back to the world and saving lives. The survival of Israel and what it says about its Jewish and Arab citizens is a bulwark against ever returning to the days of being the eternal outsider – the wandering Jew.

Throughout my entire political life, I have never known a time where I have questioned America’s resolve and support for Israel. I have never questioned America’s historic support for the little guy against the bully. I have never questioned the role we play as protectors of liberty and defenders of justice. Until now.

It is only recently where I have begun to worry. I worry that some of our nation’s leaders are complacent. I worry that some in Washington think we must retreat to our domestic politics and reduce focus overseas. I worry that in the pursuit of comity with Israel’s foes, some will seek distance. I worry that they indeed overlook the gift that is Israel.

And I worry that Israelis worry. And these worries are not unfounded. Israel’s under attack.

A while back, I received a briefing in Israel from one of the engineers of the Iron Dome system. His name was Avi Sacher. Avi’s presentation was impressive. He demonstrated through slides and video the precision and agility of the anti-rocket defense system.

Avi beamed with pride as he explained how countless lives were saved by the Iron Dome technology. How families were spared despite deadly rockets aimed at their home, and how mothers were relieved to see their children safe while sirens wailed at terrorists’ rockets overhead.

Five days later, still in Israel, I met with Avi again. His enthusiasm was gone and there was pain in his eyes. He spoke with great emotion as he told us of the one rocket that had gotten through. It somehow slipped past the defense system, hitting the town of Be’er Sheva, and killing an innocent Israeli. He was tortured by that experience. And Avi went back to work, determined to perfect the system that had already saved countless lives.

The importance of the Iron Dome’s capability was driven home again recently during the conflict in Gaza. The Iron Dome has to be right 100 percent of the time, or Israelis die.

As important as they are, defensive systems like Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow are not panaceas. True peace will require an end to Iranian backed weapons smuggled into Gaza. It will also require a recognition by Hamas and the Palestinians that violence does not help, but hurts their cause. Only when Palestinians lay down their arms, can we hope to achieve peace.

My message to you tonight is this: Our enemies know that if they divide the United States from Israel, they will defeat Israel. And they will be one step closer to defeating America. That is their goal. That is their mission. And we must not ever, ever let them succeed.

Three weeks from tonight, we will be sitting down with our families to celebrate Passover, and the words we will read from the Haggadah seem as relevant today as ever – “In every generation, they rise against us to destroy us.”

Just listen to President Ahmadinejad or Ayatollah Khamenei speak anywhere at any time and their intentions are clear. Iran is a direct and immediate threat to Israel, to our allies in the region and to the civilized world. But, some in Washington hold the view that Iran is all bluster. That Iran can be contained and negotiated with. But that impression is wrong.

We need to be clear-eyed that the nuclear talks with Iran cannot be unending, and that they may fail. We need to recognize that military action against Iran may become necessary to protect America, Israel and our allies.

America must be prepared to lead from the front. And the challenge should not be Israel’s alone to bear.

In Syria, tens of thousands of people have been brutally and relentlessly slaughtered by an evil dictator intent on massacring his people. Our hearts ache as we see mass graves, all too familiar to us Jews.

But, Syria is not just a moral challenge, it’s a strategic challenge.

The United States cannot and should not stand aside and let the chips fall where they may. We’ve got to be on the side of those looking to end Assad’s tyranny.

We cannot guarantee that those who succeed him will be greater friends to our nation or Israel, anymore than Assad was. But without action, we can guarantee that more innocent lives will be lost. We will have failed to shape the outcome of this conflict. And we will guarantee that Syria’s future leaders will not have known the helping hand of America when the Syrian people so desperately needed help.

Beyond just Syria, the entire Middle East is in an epic state of political transition and uncertainty. The stakes could not be higher. When there is no American leadership; there is no leadership.

Bottom line, Israel’s security goes hand in hand with America’s security. And, America’s security depends on freedom and democracy growing and open societies hearing our message. America’s security depends on putting a stop to the bullying on the world playground.

To all of you here tonight at AIPAC, the future depends on your voice. It must be heard on Capitol Hill and it must be heard by this Administration. It must be heard around the world.

We must now and forever stand with Israel, or we risk losing the great promise of America.

Thank you.

Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: Bill introduced to make Israel ‘major strategic ally’

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Bill introduced to make Israel ‘major strategic ally’

Source: JTA, 3-4-13

“We need to recognize that military action against Iran may become necessary to protect America, Israel and our allies,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, said in his address Monday night to the AIPAC conference….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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Hoyer Remarks at AIPAC Policy Conference

Source: Southern Maryland News Net, 3-4-13

“We gather tonight recognizing that Israel’s existence is testimony that faith and courage can triumph even in a cauldron of enmity, terror, and constant threat.

“Israel’s history is that of a courageous people’s perseverance against injustice from one generation to the next. It is a history Americans understand and look to for inspiration.

“The State of Israel, though besieged by forces of hatred, intolerance, and extremism, has never abandoned its founding principles nor lost sight of its historic mission – to provide freedom and sanctuary in a democracy for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland.

“Some of my proudest moments as a Member of Congress were working with many of you to help Soviet Jews emigrate from behind the Iron Curtain to reach that freedom and security in the land of their ancestors.

“In January, we lost a dear friend and a passionate advocate in Ambassador Max Kampelman, who was instrumental in that effort. I was Chairman of the Helsinki Commission at the time, and Max was leading the negotiations with the Soviet Union on arms reduction and human rights.

“Max may no longer be with us, but his legacy of linking human rights to international security is a practice that can serve us well today. The safety and prosperity of democracies such as Israel, which promote freedom and individual rights, advance America’s national security interests.

“Today, we continue to fight for what Israel represents: an outpost of freedom in a region where democracy struggles to take hold with no guarantee of success. From Tahrir to Tripoli, from Aden to Aleppo, America and Israel will remain vigilant and work to ensure that legitimate yearnings for democracy are not hijacked by extremists.

“And nowhere must we be more united and vigilant than when facing the threat posed by Iran. The stakes have never been higher.
“If there is one lesson we have learned about the Middle East in recent years, it is that nuance is not only not effective but can be dangerous. We must speak with unambiguous clarity: the United States will not accept a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran. They must know our clear intent and firm commitment. America and Israel cannot leave any uncertainty in the minds of those who describe us as their common foes.

“Let there be no doubt that it is in America’s direct interest to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran would set off an arms race in the region, pose a clear and present danger to American troops stationed in the Middle East and Europe, and threaten Israel’s very existence.

“As nuclear talks with Iran continue, still without result, Iran’s leaders must understand that these talks cannot go on indefinitely. Let me repeat this point, because it is critically important: the day will come when diplomacy ends. And Iran’s leaders will ultimately decide whether it is because they have willingly dismantled their nuclear weapons program or whether they have compelled the free world to do it for them.

“The threat from Iran comes not only from its nuclear ambitions but from its long history of state-sponsored terrorism across the globe. A nuclear-armed Iran would be even more aggressive in sponsoring its deadly agents of terror – Hamas and Hezbollah – and proliferating its weapons of mass destruction.

“There are some who say that Hamas and Hezbollah are simply politicians. Make no mistake: they are terrorists.

“Those in Europe who think differently ought to listen to the defense of one Hezbollah agent who was arrested in Cyprus scouting areas frequented by Israelis. He said – and I quote: ‘I was just collecting information about Jews. This is what my organization is doing everywhere around the world.’

“The threat Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israel and to the Jewish people is chillingly clear.

“And so, like any sovereign nation, it is Israel’s right to take such steps as are necessary to defend itself and its people. It is not only international norms that give Israel that right but the hard lessons of Jewish history.

“As my friend Eric Cantor said earlier – later this month, Jews in America and throughout the world will open the Passover Haggadah and remember that history with these perennial words: ‘In every generation there are those who have risen against us.’ And the sentence continues: ‘but the Holy One saves us from their hands.’

“Doing so is not only the work of God but for our generation, which must continue to strengthen and fortify the relationship between Israel and America.

“Thanks to the work AIPAC performs on Capitol Hill and around the country, Congress’s support for Israel has endured and grown stronger each year. The bipartisan nature of Congress’s support makes it ever more clear to those who would do the Jewish State harm that Israel is here to stay – and will never, never stand alone.

“One direct result of America’s commitment to Israel’s security is Iron Dome. I hope you will join me in thanking again the operators of Iron Dome for protecting Israel’s border communities.

“But America’s ties with Israel run far deeper than matters of security and statecraft. The United States, a young nation, and Israel, heir to an ancient birthright, were founded on the same values. These are the principles of human dignity and basic justice first laid out in the Torah and embraced by America’s Founders. A line connects the wisdom of our shared scripture to the hearts and minds of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.

“Jewish history is and always will be intertwined with American history. And from helping to draw back an Iron Curtain to constructing an Iron Dome, it has been the privilege of my life to work with you to shape that history.

“And, with clarity in our common cause, with the courage to pursue our common commitment, we must face our shared challenges with an iron resolve. Such is AIPAC’s legacy and our enduring mission: to ensure the survival and success of Israel – and the safety and security of its people – in our generation and for every generation yet to come.

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn Praises Israeli Democracy in Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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At AIPAC Conference, Senate Minority Whip Praises Israeli Democracy

Source: Algemeiner, 3-3-13

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference on Sunday…..

The fact that Israel, as a democracy unlike its Arab neighbors, “remains a country where Arabs can serve in parliament” and heckle the prime minister is at the heart of why an “overwhelming bipartisan consensus” is maintained in Congress in favor of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, in contrast to the “political football” played with other issues, according to Cornyn. Americans feel a “special kinship” with Israel because of shared values such as liberty and human rights, he said….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 4, 2013: Sen. John McCain delivers harsh critique of Obama foreign policy at AIPAC, says U.S. concessions to Iran “doomed to failure”

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McCain delivers harsh critique of Obama foreign policy at AIPAC, says U.S. concessions to Iran “doomed to failure”

John McCain

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered a sobering view of the present situation in the Middle East along with a harsh critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy strategy at this morning’s Foreign Policy Roundtable at American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington, D.C….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Israel’s finance minister Yuval Steinitz worries about sequestration effects

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Israel’s finance chief worries about sequestration effects

Source: JTA, 3-3-13

Israel’s finance minister expressed concern that U.S. financial difficulties would affect Israel’s economy…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 20, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meeting with US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

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PM Netanyahu Meets with US Sen. (R-FL) Marco Rubio

Source: PMO, 2-20-13
יום רביעי י’ אדר תשע”ג

Photo by GPO

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met with US Senator (R-FL) Marco Rubio. The Prime Minister said: “I appreciate your support. I appreciate the tremendous support of the American people, bipartisan support for our security and our quest for peace. It’s a daunting task, both security and the quest for peace, but we know we have your support and we appreciate it. I look forward to talking with you about our challenges.”

Sen. Rubio said: “Well, you live in a challenging neighborhood but the Israeli-American relationship is one of the most important ones we have, and certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way. And that’s why I’m pleased the President is coming here in March

Israel Political Brief February 17, 2013: Senator Marco Rubio leaves for visit to Israel, Jordan

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Sen. Rubio leaves for visit to Israel, Jordan

Source: JTA, 2-17-13

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has left for an official visit to the Middle East, including Jordan and Israel….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 16, 2013: Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit, Senator Marco Rubio heads to Israel

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Ahead of Obama visit, Marco Rubio heads to Israel

Source: CBS News, 2-16-13

As President Obama prepares for his first trip to Israel since assuming office, the man some hope will succeed him leaves Saturday for his own visit to the Jewish state….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 28, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Delegation of US Congressmen Led by Rep. Rob Wittman

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PM Netanyahu Meets with Delegation of US Congressmen Led by Rep. Rob Wittman

Source: PMO, 1-28-13
יום שני י”ז שבט תשע”ג

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today met with a bipartisan delegation from the US House of Representatives led by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA). The Prime Minister said: “We’ve had very close cooperation on all things, including the developing matters in Syria, very close cooperation between our two governments. I think this is important for the stability of the region, for the security of Israel and it’s much appreciated.”

Rep. Wittman said: “We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Israel. With all the challenges in the region, as you spoke about, we are very committed to make sure we are here to understand the challenges and where we can help Israel meet these challenges and make sure that the region operates in the best interests of all.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Tu B’Shvat, the festival of trees

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-20-13

יום ראשון ט’ שבט תשע”ג

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“Today, we mark the week in which Tu B’Shvat – the festival of trees – occurs and there is a celebration of planting in the Land of Israel. We are bringing about a green revolution, the good green in a Middle East of parks and forests. This good green is in the State of Israel, part of this work is in Samaria, in establishing a Jewish city in Samaria; this mission was carried out by our friend Ron Nachman, who passed away. I think that everyone who knew Ron, and many here did, are familiar with his unique contribution in establishing Ariel, both in vision and deed. He gave his life to this vision and he realized it. Today we part from our dear friend who managed to build Ariel into a city of culture, with a university. I regret that he did not have additional years in which to enjoy the fruit of his labors.

Last night, I met with five US Senators, Democrats and Republicans, and I told them that the problem is not building in Ariel and it is not building in Jerusalem. The problem in the Middle East is Iran’s attempt to build nuclear weapons, and the chemical weapons in Syria and the Islamic extremism that is spreading in Africa and threatening to inundate the entire region. I told them that history will not forgive those who allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This was, and remains, the main mission facing not only myself and the State of Israel, but the US as well.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 11, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at Meeting with US Senate Delegation & Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

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PM Netanyahu Meets with US Senate Delegation

Source: PMO, 1-11-13

יום שישי כ”ט טבת תשע”ג


Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today met with a group of US Senators led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “It’s very good to see you, in Jerusalem again. You’re old friends and we’re in challenging times, great turbulence in our region, great challenges to our security, America’s security and our common interests. My priority, if I’m elected for a next term as Prime Minister, will be first to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I think that was and remains the highest priority for both our countries. I appreciate the American support and your support for that end”.

Sen. McConnell said: “As everybody in Israel knows, there are a lot of things we disagree on in America, we’ve had big battles over deficit and debt, but there’s broad bi-partisan support for Israel, and our agenda in this part of the world is the same as your agenda. You’re one of our best friends and we’re happy to continue that relationship”.

Israel Political Brief November 16, 2012: US Senate, House resolutions back Israel’s actions in Gaza

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Senate, House resolutions back Israel’s actions in Gaza

Source: JTA, 11-16-12

Both Houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed resolutions expressing support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense.”

The identical non-binding resolutions passed Thursday in the Senate and Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: US Senate resolution backs Israel’s actions in Gaza

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U.S. Senate resolution backs Israel’s actions in Gaza

Source: JTA, 11-15-12

Thirty U.S. senators have signed on to a resolution expressing support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense.”

The non-binding resolution, originally drafted by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), “expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.”

The resolution, the first such proposed legislation in the wake of Israeli airstrikes launched Wednesday in retaliation for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, may come to a vote as early as Thursday evening.

Unlike statements of support for Israel’s actions from the Obama administration, the Senate resolution does not call on both sides to exercise restraint or express regret at casualties on both sides….READ MORE 

 

Text of Senate resolution in support of Israel’s self-defense

Source: JTA, 11-15-12

Here’s the full text:

Jewish Political Brief November 7, 2012: Jewish Congressional Wins: Jews in the 113th Congress

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The Chosen: Jews in the 113th Congress

Source: JTA, 11-7-12

The next Congress will have 10 Jews in the Senate and 22 in the House of Representatives, a decline from the 112th Congress….READ MORE

Jewish Political Brief November 7, 2012: Congressional races: Republican Jewish hopefuls defeated, new faces for House Demcrats

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Congressional races: Republican Jewish hopefuls defeated, new faces for House Dems

Source: JTA, 11-7-12

In a generally rough night for Republicans, the GOP’s top Jewish congressional prospects all went down to defeat, but there are some new Jewish faces in the House Democratic caucus. Read more »

 

Jewish Political Brief November 7, 2012: Josh Mandel falls to Sherrod Brown in Ohio Senate Race

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Josh Mandel falls to Sherrod Brown in Ohio

Source: JTA, 11-6-12

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel failed in his bid to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 30, 2012: Republicans Likelier Than Democrats to Favor PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Gallup Poll Shows

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Republicans likelier than Democrats to favor Bibi, Gallup poll shows

Source: JTA, 7-30-12

Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favorably, and President Obama’s Jewish support remains steady, according to polling by Gallup….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 24, 2012: GOP Leaders: President Barack Obama’s Announcing He Will Visit Israel in Second Presidential Term Comes 4 Years Too Late

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GOP Leaders: Obama Announcement Comes 4 Years Too Late

Republican leaders have criticized an announcement made Monday that if President Obama were to get re-elected, he would visit Israel.
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
Reuters

Republican leaders have sharply criticized an announcement made Monday that if President Obama were to get re-elected to serve a second term in office, he would visit Israel.

“President Obama’s promise to visit Israel in his second term comes four years too late, and is emblematic of the lack of close coordination with Israel Candidate Obama led us to expect in 2008,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement released by the Mitt Romney campaign.

“It also does not make up for the many shortcomings of his Middle East policy, ranging from the fact that Iran continues to race forward with its nuclear weapons program to his administration’s haplessness in the face of Syria’s support of terrorism, threats to use weapons of mass destruction and support of instability in the region,” he said, according to the statement….

“Our relationship with Israel should be a priority, not a distraction. President Obama has found time to visit dozens of other nations – including some near to Israel in the Middle East – and his treatment of our closest ally in the region has been profoundly disappointing,” he said.

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton said in an interview with WABC Radio on Monday that, “Obama has been in office three and a half years, and he has had time to do more fundraisers than any other first-term American president, has probably played more rounds of golf than any other president since Dwight Eisenhower, and yet he has not had time to fit into his busy schedule even one trip to Israel.”

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a backer of Republican Mitt Romney and the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also lashed out against President Obama for failing to visit Israel during his first term.

“Next week, Mitt Romney is traveling to Israel for the fourth time. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has yet to visit Israel as President, even as he has found time to visit numerous other countries around the world, including in the Middle East. We can only speculate about why the President has failed to visit the capital of our closest ally in the region, but we don’t need to speculate about the timing of the latest hint from the White House that President Obama will travel to Israel in his second term.

“It’s politically inspired, coming as it does only days before Mitt Romney heads off to Jerusalem.  One should not play political games with U.S. foreign policy, particularly at a moment when the Middle East is a tinderbox,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

Israel Political Brief July 19, 2012: US House of Representatives Passes Bill on Expanded US-Israeli Military Cooperation

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House passed bill on expanded U.S.-Israeli military cooperation

Source: JTA, 7-19-12

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to strengthen security cooperation between the United States and Israel….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: US Senate Republicans Stall Iran Sanctions for being Too Soft

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Republicans Stall Iran Sanctions for being Too Soft

Senate Republicans: bill needs to say United States will use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.
Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan

Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan
Reuters

Senate Republicans blocked package of sanctions against Iran on Thursday because the bill’s wording was not tough enough in their opinion. The GOP senators said that besides listing economic sanctions, the bill needs to say that the United States is prepared to use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.

“I just want to add one simple line that says we recognize what the president was saying that military force is also an option,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on the floor during the debate over the bill.

Republicans agreed that the bill as it is worded at present would signal a step back from Obama’s stated policy that he would do “anything necessary” to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

According to The Hill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who has sponsored a separate use of force resolution with Graham and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), said the senators should be able to reach agreement sometime Thursday on necessary changes to the bill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Republicans to pass the bill in its present form but agreed that the Senate should be on record as determining that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

If it passes Thursday, the bill’s timing will send a message to Iran just days before next week’s talks in Baghdad between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.

Jewish News Brief April 18, 2012: US Congres votes unanimously to award Roaoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

House votes unanimously for Wallenberg medal

Source: JTA, 4-18-12

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.

The vote Tuesday, two days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, is part of an effort to confer the honor upon Wallenberg in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth in August.

“By sacrificing his personal safety, and ultimately his life, to protect the lives of a generation of Jews, Raoul Wallenberg exhibited the kind of noble courage that we prize in America,” said William Daroff, the director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America, which has led lobbying for the act that would confer the honor. “On behalf of the countless Jews saved through his mission, we are grateful for the House’s action today to permanently honor a global hero.”

Wallenberg, a neutral Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents — known as “Wallenberg passports” — to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. Other neutral diplomats collaborated in the effort.

The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery. He disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary toward the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1957, but other evidence indicated that he was killed in Lubyanka prison or that he may have lived years longer….READ MORE

Remembering and Honoring Courage

Source: WH, 4-19-12

In his video message, President Obama speaks for all Americans who remember the courageous and selfless acts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2012, Sweden is celebrating the 100thanniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling. We remember and revere this courageous man whose efforts saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.  Wallenberg paid with his life for his commitment to basic values. And we all have the obligation to ponder the full measure of Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice and tragedy.

Born into wealth, for Wallenberg turning a blind eye to the hardship and suffering of others would have been easy. Instead, as First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary during the darkest days of World War II, Wallenberg demonstrated a sense of self-sacrifice to the greater good of his fellow human beings that is a lesson for all of us.

Other diplomats chose to risk their careers and even their lives, and defied official protocols, rules and immigration “policies” to rescue Jews. Many of these diplomats were censured or punished for their acts of courage.  Some were fired or were stripped of their ranks and pensions. Their rescue efforts took many forms. Among other selfless acts, they issued visas, citizenship papers and other forms of documentation that allowed Jews to escape the Nazis.

Today at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, you will find not only Raoul Wallenberg’s tree planted along the Avenue of the Righteous, but also 2,000 other trees and 18,000 other names engraved in the walls of The Garden of the Righteous in remembrance of those who risked their lives to save European Jews from the Holocaust.

Why did they do it?  Because they all believed that: “One man can make a difference.” That is the sentence written over the front door of the Raoul Wallenberg School in Brooklyn, New York, one of many American institutions honoring Wallenberg. In 1981, the U.S. Congress made Wallenberg an honorary U.S. citizen, at that time just the second in our history.

“The importance of not being indifferent” is a timely and relevant operating principle in our relationship with the world today. Advancing human dignity and protecting universal rights is at the core of American values, and it is relevant to the challenges of our time.

As we consider Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice, we must remember Wallenberg’s tragic end: many historians believe he languished in lonely incarceration for months or even years before being murdered. Wallenberg epitomizes what self-sacrifice for the sake of others is all about.

Mark F. Brzezinski is the United States Ambassador to Sweden

Israel Political Brief April 16, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Talks with Iran Have Given it a ‘Freebie’

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu: Talks with Iran Have Given it a ‘Freebie’

PM Netanyahu meets U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, warns against Iran using talks to further advance its nuclear program.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed on Sunday the latest round of talks between Iran and six world powers, which were held in Turkey over the weekend.

Netanyahu, who met with U.S. Senator (ID-CT) Joe Lieberman, warned against Iran using the opportunity to advance its nuclear weapons program.

On Saturday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the talks have been constructive and that the sides will meet again in Baghdad on May 23.

Ashton said future talks will be guided by the “principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.”

“My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” Netanyahu said during his meeting with Lieberman. “It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation.”

He added, “I think Iran should take immediate steps. First, stop all enrichment, take out all the enriched material and dismantle the nuclear facility in Qom. I believe that the world’s greatest practitioner of terrorism must not have the opportunity to develop atomic bombs.”

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was now “urgent” for Iran to ease concerns over its nuclear program.

“We believe there is still time for diplomacy, but it is urgent that the Iranians come to the table to establish an environment conducive to achieving concrete results through a sustained process,” Clinton said.

Israel Political Brief April 15, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks, About the Talks on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, at the Start of Meeting with US Sen. Joe Lieberman

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks, About the Talks on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, at the Start of his Meeting with US Sen. Joe Lieberman

Source: PMO, 4-15-12

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks, about the talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, earlier today at the start of his meeting with US Senator (ID-CT) Joe Lieberman:

“My initial impression is that Iran has been given a ‘freebie.’  It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.  I think Iran should take immediate steps to stop all enrichment, take out all enrichment material and dismantle the nuclear facility in Qom.  I believe that the world’s greatest practitioner of terrorism must not have the opportunity to develop atomic bombs.”

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