Obama administration argues for Palestinian aid


Source: JTA, 7-14-11

The Obama administration argued in Congress for continued funding for the Palestinian Authority.

“We are helping the PA to improve public services, increase the capacity of their justice sector, put in place critical infrastructure, and meet urgent humanitarian needs,” Jacob Walles, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, said Tuesday in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee. “These activities are designed to help the PA to meet essential needs and to offer an alternative to those who reject a two-state solution and exploit human suffering to radicalize the population and recruit supporters.”

A number of lawmakers have proposed cutting the approximately $500 million the Palestinian Authority receives annually from the United States as long as it seeks reconciliation with Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, and as long as it pursues recognition of statehood at the United Nations absent an agreement with Israel.

Douglas M. Bloomfield: Can Republican love translate into votes?

Washington Watch: Republicans’ support of Israel does not put American Jewish voters in their pockets.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 7-14-11

The Democrats are running scared, the Republicans are delusional, and the Israeli government should be worried.

A new Gallup poll shows 60 percent of American Jews approve of Barack Obama’s overall performance – well below the 78% he got in 2008. That number may be 14 points ahead of his approval rating among all voters, but it’s giving Democratic operatives heartburn and Republicans high hopes for a mass exodus of Jews to the red side of the ballot.

PM Netanyahu, US President Obama at White House
Photo by: Avi Ohayon / GPORepublicans – focusing on the 60% and ignoring Obama’s 85% approval rating among Jewish Democrats in the same poll – have been predicting a sea change in Jewish voting for as long as I can recall.

In 2008, some were confidently predicting Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), with a solid pro-Israel voting record and popular in the Jewish community, would be the first Republican to win a Jewish majority. To make sure that happened, the Republican Jewish Coalition spent millions on a fear-and-smear campaign against the Democratic nominee, painting him as the Muslim Manchurian candidate.

Fortunately for Obama, that strategy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, especially in the key state of Florida, and helped assure a large Democratic turnout.

I don’t know if they’re smart enough to avoid trying that again.

Not that Obama isn’t vulnerable.

Although his administration has given stronger support for Israel’s security than its predecessors, even providing advanced technology such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the Bush administration refused, and has supported Israeli positions on Hamas, Iran and the Palestinian UN strategy, many feel there is something missing.

There’s none of the warmth that friends of Israel have come to expect. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t get along with Bill Clinton either, but Clinton and George W. Bush demonstrated a warmth toward Israel that Obama lacks.

He just doesn’t have it in his kishkes.

Obama is “pretty low on the trust and confidence scale” with Israel and the Jews, said Aaron David Miller, a Mideast policy advisor in several administrations and currently a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He isn’t an enemy of Israel, but “he’s not in love with the idea of Israel” either….READ MORE

Canada Day Celebrated in Israel


Source: Shalom Life, 7-13-11

Canadian Ambassador to Israel Paul Hunt and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman signing the bilateral agreement renewing the mandate of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation for another five yearsPic: CIJA
Paul Hunt, Shimon Fogel, Yuli Edelstein and Moshe Ronen attend the CIJA-sponsored Canada Day celebration in Jerusalem on July 10Pic: CIJA

On July 10, 2011, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) hosted a reception at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which celebrated the continued relationship between Israel and Canada. The event was also meant to mark Canada Day, although the festivities were a tad belated.

CIJA is the new, unified constellation for all of the public affairs agencies of the Canadian Jewish community. These include the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the Canada-Israel Committee (CIC) and the Quebec-Israel Committee (QIC), which all became part of one organization on July 1.

At the event, a formal bilateral agreement was signed, renewing the mandate of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) for another five years. CIIRDF was established in 1994 with a goal of promoting collaborative research and development between private sector companies in Canada and Israel.

The organization focuses on the commercialization of new technologies, most of which are start-ups. Since its inception, the foundation has supported over 70 projects, which have yielded approximately $1 billion in revenue for the participating companies both in Israel and across Canada.


“For Canada, CIIRDF was an innovation,” reads CIIRDF’s website. “As a result of its success, the Government of Canada created International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP) to deliver the India, China and Brazil programs. For Israel, CIIRDF is one of a number of similar bilateral initiatives, the first being the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) initiative. The CIIRDF program design is based on the success of BIRD.”

Also according to CIIRDF’s website, the organization is involved in three main activities: “promoting and marketing the benefits of joint Canadian-Israeli R&D collaboration, matching companies in one country seeking a research partner in the other and supporting projects by contributing up to 50 per cent of the joint R&D costs.”

On hand for the high profile event in Jerusalem were over 140 Israeli and Canadian government leaders, academics, businessmen and community leaders. Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman; Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister, Yuli Edelstein; and Cabinet Secretary, Tzvi Hauser were all in attendance.

There were also other Israeli representatives there, such as deputy national security advisor to the Prime Minister, Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman; deputy director general of the foreign ministry, Ambassador Baruch Bina; former Israeli ambassador to Canada, Haim Divon; chairman of the Israel-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group in Knesset, Yohanan Plesner MK; director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Professor Efraim Inbar; Professor Gil Troy of the Hartman Center and McGill University; Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University; and NGO Monitor and Col. Yisrael Tal-Saranga, head of Israel Defense Forces public affairs.

The CIIRDF renewal was signed by Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Paul Hunt and Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman during the reception. Hunt thanked CIJA for hosting the elegant dinner reception in Jerusalem and noted Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper’s commitment to defending Israel “no matter the political cost.”

Five Canadian members of parliament were at the dinner, visiting Israel on their CIJA-sponsored trip. This list included James Bezan of Manitoba, Judy Foote of Newfoundland, Larry Miller from Ontario, Joyce Murray of British Columbia and Bev Shipley of Ontario. Professor Irwin Cotler of Quebec was also present to show his support. Immediate past UIAC president Barbara Farber, outgoing CIC chairman Moshe Ronen, and CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel all represented the Jewish community of Canada at the event.

Other Canadians in attendance were embassy deputy chief of mission, Katherine Verrier-Frechette; military attaché, Col. Michael McLean; commercial counselor, Bonnie Berger; Minister-Counselor, Andre Dorion; and the Canadian Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Chris Greenshields.

“This event serves as a much sought after platform to give expression to our deep appreciation for the extraordinary support Canada has demonstrated for Israel over the last number of years and to celebrate the warmth and depth of the friendship between our two democracies,” said Ronen, who spoke at the reception on behalf of Canada’s Jewish community.

“The principled stand that has characterized the policies of the Harper Government serve as the benchmark for all countries committed to democracy and justice, and the personal leadership he has shown is an inspiration and source of tremendous pride for all of us.”

Benjamin Netanyahu defends anti-boycott law


Source: JTA, 7-13-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s new anti-boycott law from criticism that it damages Israel’s image and is anti-democratic.

“What stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not,” he told the Knesset on Wednesday, according to Haaretz.

The law allows for monetary sanctions against those who encourage boycotts against Israel or areas it controls, such as West Bank settlements. The bill would allow those damaged by boycotts to sue those who advocate such measures.

Netanyahu, who was absent Monday night when the Knesset approved the law by a vote of 45 to 38, expressed his firm support for the law.

“Don’t be confused – I authorized the bill. If I hadn’t authorized it, it wouldn’t have gotten here,” Netanyahu said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “I am opposed to boycotts against Israel and boycotts against groups within Israel. I oppose boycotts of Arabs, of haredi people and of any citizens of Israel.”

The leader of the opposition Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, blasted Netanyahu during the Knesset session, which was called by her party. “You are leading Isreal into the abyss,” she said, according to Haaretz.

A variety of left-wing NGOs and civil rights groups are pursuing efforts to get the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the anti-boycott law. NGO Monitor, a pro-Israel watchdog group criticial of left-wing NGOs, also expressed concern about the new law.

Leaders of a number of American Jewish groups also have criticized the law as an abridgement of freedom of expression.

“The anti-boycott law is undemocratic,” the American Jewish Committee said in a statement Wednesday. “It ironically has already harmed, rather than helped, our community’s overall efforts to defeat those groups who challenge Israel’s legitimacy.”

On the right, the Zionist Organization of America said it opposes such laws in principle. On the left, Jewish Voice for Peace, which has sponsored and supported targeted boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns, called the law “anti-democratic.” Other U.S. groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Americans for Peace Now, J Street, Ameinu and the New Israel Fund have also come out against the law.

A spokesperson for the European Union’s foreign policy chief also raised concerns about the new law on Wednesday.

“The EU recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the legislative process. Furthermore, the EU does not advocate boycotts,” the spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief, said in a statement. “However, as part of such fundamental values as free expression and speech that the EU cherishes and shares with Israel, we are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organizations to express non-violent political opinions.”

John Bolton: Obama worst president for Israel – ever


Former US envoy to UN says Jerusalem should pay as much attention to PA’s UN bid as to the ‘grass you tread beneath your feet,’ says country should have hit Iran in 2008.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 7-13-11

US President Barack Obama is “the most anti-Israel president in the history of the state, without any question,” John Bolton, the former US envoy to the UN and a man considering entering the presidential race against Obama, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“If you think that this is just a misunderstanding of where the green crayon went in 1949, then think again,” Bolton said of Obama. Bolton’s comments came during a meeting he had with the Post’s editorial board.

Economy or Israel: Which lowers Obama’s Jewish vote?
Bolton: Military strike only way to stop Iran nukes

Bolton, who is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News commentator, said that Obama bought in to what he said was the “European line” that if you make progress between Israel and the Palestinians “freedom and light” will break out in the region, and every other problem from Iran to terrorism will be easier to solve.

“I think that is like looking through the wrong end of the telescope,” he said.

Bolton, in the country along with former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble from Northern Ireland as part of a delegation of international dignitaries involved in an organization called Friends of Israel Initiative, said he was considering running for the Republican nomination, and would made a decision by Labor Day.

“The problem is that we haven’t had an adequate discussion of national security issues for two and a half years,” he said, explaining why he was thinking about entering the race.

“It is not a priority for Obama, and I think that is a big mistake for the United States.”…READ MORE

Israel Marks Five Years since the Second Lebanon War


Today, Israelis mark five years since the start of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Captured Israeli soldiers Sergeant First Class (res.) Eldad Regev and Master Sergeant (res.) Ehud GoldwasserIsraeli Fallen Soldiers Sergeant First Class (res.) Eldad Regev and Master Sergeant (res.) Ehud Goldwasser. Source jfedsrq.org.

On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah terrorists killed three Israeli soldiers during an attack on an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) vehicle patrolling within Israeli territory alongside the Israel-Lebanon border. Two of the soldiers killed were taken into captivity by Hezbollah, whose attack instigated the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War—during which Israel significantly impaired Hezbollah’s military capabilities.

The war lasted 34 days and ended with the signing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Although a partner to the resolution, Hezbollah has directly violated UN Resolution 1701—rearming and strengthening itself with weapons and training from the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Five years later, Hezbollah has returned to full, routine militant activity in southern Lebanon.

The IDF has produced an infographic presenting Hezbollah’s gross violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. The resolution calls for Hezbollah to remain disarmed and bans paramilitary activity south of the Litani River. Hezbollah has blatantly disregarded UN Res. 1701, for example, in September 2010 Hezbollah operatives were caught transferring weapons from a weapons storage facility to a mosque in a neighboring village, following an explosion at the site.


Israel’s approval of anti-boycott bill drawing protests, legal challenges


Source: JTA, 7-12-11

The Israeli parliament’s adoption of a controversial anti-boycott bill has been greeted with a firestorm of protest from liberal Israeli NGOs and civil rights groups.

On Tuesday, a day after the Knesset voted 47-38 to enact the measure following six hours of contentious debate, the liberal Gush Shalom movement appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court to overturn the law. Other Israeli nongovernmental organizations are vowing legal challenges, too.

“The Boycott Law will lead to unprecedented harm to freedom of expression in Israel and will bring justified criticism against Israel from abroad,” Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said in a statement issued following the vote. “We will all have to pay the price for this atrocious law.”

The bill, which was initiated by Likud lawmaker and ruling coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, allows for civil lawsuits against individuals and groups calling for boycotts targeting Israel or areas under its control. Those damaged by boycotts would be able to claim monetary damages from boycott advocates. The law also would force the government to stop doing business with companies that comply with such boycotts.

Elkin’s proposal came months after some prominent Israeli artists had called for a boycott of a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel, and some academics had urged a boycott of academic institutions in the West Bank. In addition, an Israeli construction company was hired to help build a new Palestinian city in the West Bank after it agreed not to use products from the settlements.

“It’s a principle of democracy that you don’t shun a public you disagree with by harming their livelihood,” said Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz of the Likud Party during the debate over the new law. “A boycott on a certain sector is not the proper manifestation of freedom of expression. It is an aggressive move meant to force a sector that thinks a different way to capitulate. Boycotts are aggressive and wrong.”…READ MORE

Israel Anti-boycott bill becomes law after passing Knesset


Bill to provide civil penalties for anyone calling for boycott on Israel, settlements; Knesset legal adviser: Legislation may fail High Court test.

The Knesset adjourning for its spring break.
Photo by: Courtesy

The “Boycott Bill” was approved in its final reading in the Knesset on Monday night, after a plenum discussion that lasted nearly six hours and uncertainty throughout the day as to whether a vote would take place.

The bill passed with 47 in favor and 38 opposed, despite the fact that most Shas lawmakers were absent because of MK Nissim Ze’ev’s daughter’s wedding.

Leftist groups unite to stop Knesset boycott bill
Knesset c’tee approves bill outlawing boycotts on Israel

In addition, many cabinet members – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – did not attend the vote and the Independence faction chose not to participate.

Netanyahu’s spokesman would not comment on why the prime minister did not vote.

Earlier on Monday, the legislation’s sponsor, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), and like-minded MKs held a press conference in support of the anti-boycott bill, after Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and his deputies voted five to three to bring it to the plenum.

“This bill defends the State of Israel,” Elkin said. “We have no right to ask our allies to do the same, if an Israeli citizen can do as he wishes.”

The new law allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.

Elkin defended the measure, calling it “vegetarian” and saying that its meat was removed when the clause making boycotts a criminal offense was removed.

“The law says that if you harm me [with a boycott], I have the right to ask for damages, and if you boycott the State of Israel, don’t ask it for benefits,” he said. “It was significantly softened.”…READ MORE

Israeli President Shimon Peres thanks Greek president for stopping flotilla


Source: JTA, 7-11-11

Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, for his country’s help in stopping a flotilla bound for Gaza.

Peres hosted Papoulias on Monday in Jerusalem for a reception and a working meeting.

“I genuinely thank you for fulfilling the directives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations by stopping the flotilla,”  Peres told Papoulias. “I thank you for not allowing people interested in violating the law and disrupting order to reach Gaza, which is ruled by a terror organization.

“Greece, in an impressive manner, showed the U.N. that she stands ready to assist. Your contribution to lower tensions benefits the entire region as well as Gaza itself.  You acted legally and carefully, and I thank you for your personal involvement in this matter.”

Peres called the Greek president’s visit “the start of the opening of a new chapter in Greece-Israel relations. Both of our nations share an ancient past, and I believe we share a great future.”

He also thanked the country for sending firefighting planes and firefighters to help in extinguishing last year’s Carmel forest fire.

During their meeting the two leaders discussed strengthening relations between Greece and Israel in a number of areas, particularly diplomatic and trade relations, Peres’ office told journalists.

Glenn Beck to Israeli parliament: Chin up, I’m with you


Source: CS Monitor, 7-11-11

Political commentator Glenn Beck spoke at an Israeli parliament meeting today, pledging his love for the Jewish state and criticizing a ‘skewed’ US press.

US TV commentator Glenn Beck gestures as he speaks in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, July 11. Beck received several rounds of applause by Israeli lawmakers as he voiced his unequivocal support for Israel during a visit to Jerusalem. He spoke Monday before a packed parliamentary committee.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP


Former Fox host Glenn Beck gave a public relations pep talk in the Israeli parliament today, urging legislators not to mince words that the conflict with the Palestinians threatens Israel’s existence.

Mr. Beck is making three solidarity trips to the Jewish state this year at a time when Israelis are anxiety ridden about diplomatic and economic isolation from the deep freeze in the peace process. The parliamentary hearing comes just days after Mr. Beck hosted his last program on the Fox News channel.

He’s the latest US religious conservative figure to find fans among pro-settler Israeli politicians like Danny Danon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party who hosted Beck at a parliamentary committee.

“In America, the media is skewed on Israel,” Beck said at a hearing of the Knesset’s Committee on Immigration and Diaspora affairs. “The Israeli Palestinian conflict … is about the destruction of Israel and the end of the western way of life. Period.”…READ MORE

Israel’s backers must reach out, Beck tells Knesset committee


Source: JTA, 7-11-11

Talk show host Glenn Beck told a Knesset committee that advocates for Israel must reach out to synagogues and churches alike.

In an address to the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, Beck also quoted the book of Ruth, saying, “Where you go, I shall go, Your people is my people, your God is my God.”

Beck addressed the committee Monday at the invitation of its chairman, Danny Danon of the Likud Party.

“We invited Glenn Beck to our committee because he has done such a wonderful job of explaining the basic truth on his programs,” said Danon, the Knesset’s deputy speaker. “Israel has always been and always will be the homeland of the Jewish People, and any attempts to delegitimize this right should not be accepted by fair and free people around the world.”

Beck’s visit, including his address to the Knesset committee, reportedly is being filmed for his online show, which will be used to promote his announced “Restoring Courage” rally to be held in Jerusalem in late August.

Herman Cain, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have said they will attend the rally.

Beck’s show on Fox aired for the final time at the end of June.

Poll: Jewish support for Obama flat


Source: Politico, 7-5-11

Obama delivers his speech on Mideast and North Africa Policy in D.C. on May 19.

Obama’s speech on Mideast policy raised concerns about the reaction of Jewish voters. | AP Photo Close

President Barack Obama’s recent controversial speech proposing that Israel’s 1967 borders should be the basis for peace talks had virtually no impact on his standing in the Jewish community, a new poll Tuesday found.

The Gallup survey also showed that while Obama’s approval rating has declined slightly among Jews this year, that dip essentially mirrors the president’s slipping rating among all voters.

In June, Obama’s approval rating among Jewish Americans surveyed for Gallup’s daily tracking poll averaged 60 percent, down from 68 percent in May, when the president’s ratings soared among all groups in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Thirty-two percent of Jews surveyed in June said they disapproved of Obama’s job performance. That rating has hovered around the same level throughout the first half of 2011.

“Gallup’s monthly trend in Jewish approval of Obama continues to roughly follow the path of all Americans’ approval of the president, more generally, as it has since Obama took office in January 2009,” Gallup said.

Among all voters, Obama’s approval rating in June was 46 percent and the 14 point difference between that and his higher rating by Jewish Americans is in line with the ratings gap that the president has had since taking office 2 ½ years ago….READ MORE

Irwin Cotler: Eight principles for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Source: National Post, 7-5-11

In the wake of the meetings of the G8 in Deauville, France, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to be criticized for objecting to the inclusion of United States President Barack Obama’s alleged reference to “1967 borders” in the final G8 communiqué. However, a clear reading of the principles set forth in President Obama’s speeches on May 19 and 22 demonstrates that Prime Minister Harper was correct to protest the “cherry-picking” of the President’s principles, and the inclusion of a selective — and misleading — reference to the ’67 borders. President Obama’s vision for an Israeli-Palestinian peace is far more complex, and on closer examination reveals eight guiding principles for future negotiations….READ MORE

New Israel Advocacy Model Unfolds in Canada


Source: EJewish Philanthropy, from The Canadian Jewish News, 7-1-11

New era in community advocacy to begin

Call it the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy 2.0 (CIJA 2.0) – for now.

The much-anticipated reconfiguration of the existing Canadian Jewish community national advocacy structure will officially begin on July 1.

Gone are organizations including the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the Canada-Israel Committee (CIC), Quebec Israel Committee (QIC), the University Outreach Committee (UOC) and National Jewish Campus Life (NJCL).

All their functions have now been absorbed into a greater Canadian Jewish advocacy apparatus under the auspices of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), which had previously acted as the umbrella organization for the above-mentioned agencies.

… As a national entity, CIJA 2.0 will create policy and messaging for “local partners” throughout the country’s Jewish communities.

Each local partner will be “anchored or embedded” in a local federation – in smaller Jewish communities without a federation presence, there will be an alternative.

… CIJA 2.0 “will provide resources” for all local partners, and the chairs of the local committees will, together, form a national cabinet.

Greece Halts Gaza Flotilla Bound to Israel


Greece puts halt to Gaza flotilla in a win for Israel

Source: CS Monitor, 7-1-11

The Greek coastguard escorted a US boat seeking to join the Gaza flotilla back to port and said it will stop all other attempted departures. It looks like a big diplomatic victory for Benjamin Netanyahu.

A pro-Palestinian activist plays a trumpet as others hold banners on their boat named ‘Audacity of Hope’ moored in Perama, near Athens Thursday.

Darko Bandic/AP

A boat carrying a contingent of US activists seeking to join a flotilla of protesters against Israel‘s blockade of the Gaza Strip were turned back by armed Greek commandos about 30 miles out of Athens today, in a major blow to the group and an apparent diplomatic victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US boat was carrying about 50 Americans, among them Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. As of the late evening in Greece, the boat was being detained at a Greek coastguard port….READ MORE

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