Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood (Transcript)

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

IN FOCUS: UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD

  • Obama, at U.N., Explains Rationale for Opposing Palestinian Statehood Bid: President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
    “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
    Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should continue to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable “final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital…. – NYT, 9-21-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly

United Nations
New York, New York

10:12 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations — the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.

War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.

No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, “We have got to make, not merely peace, but a peace that will last.”

The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than just the absence of war. A lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom. It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity.

One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of the United Nations put it well: “Many people,” she said, “have talked as if all that has to be done to get peace was to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and we hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.”

The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.

I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place — Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization — remained at large. Today, we’ve set a new direction.

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq — for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.

As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.

So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.

Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.

So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.

And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Think about it: One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms, men and women wept with joy, and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.

One year ago, the people of Côte D’Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. U.N. peacekeepers were harassed, but they did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States and Nigeria and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Côte D’Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.

One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but he ignited a movement. In a face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word, “freedom.” The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. And now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy that they deserve.

One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.

One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest-serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of the revolution and said, “Our words are free now.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain. Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi — today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.

So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.

But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.

In Iran, we’ve seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?

Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.

Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.

We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.

Now, I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.

Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied. That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.

But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.

This body — founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person — must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity. And we will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and each other’s fears. That is the project to which America is committed. There are no shortcuts. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize — we must also remind ourselves — that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace and together we’re called upon to confront them.

To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in half a century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve even deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them.

And so we have begun to move in the right direction. And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them.

The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful. It has not met its obligations and it rejects offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.

To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we’ve made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty. It’s an extraordinary achievement. And yet, three years ago, we were confronted with the worst financial crisis in eight decades. And that crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year — our fates are interconnected. In a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.

And today, we confront the challenges that have followed on the heels of that crisis. Around the world recovery is still fragile. Markets remain volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling just to get by. We acted together to avert a depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I’ve announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, at the same time as I’m committed to substantially reducing our deficits over time.

We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenges. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economy towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That’s what our commitment to prosperity demands.

To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demand.

To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease.

This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the HWO’s [sic] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.

To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down the economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.

I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations — to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.

It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this — to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other — because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people.

And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.

Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END
10:47 A.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama in Speech to UN: Consider Israel’s security

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Obama to UN: Consider Israel’s security

Source: JTA, 9-21-11

President Obama appealed to the United Nations to recognize Israel’s security concerns in considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day,” Obama said in his address Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly plenary.

Obama repeated his administration’s calls on the Palestinians not to use the United Nations as a vehicle for achieving statehood, and called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to talks based on the parameters he outlined May.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” he said.

“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than 8 million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, fresh memories of knowing that 6 million people were killed simply because of who they are,” he said.

“Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Obama also called for U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria. Unlike his references to insurgencies in Bahrain and Yemen, he did not repeat his earlier calls for a democratic transition in Damascus, a sign that his administration has given up on trying to broker a transition with Syria’s current ruler.

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler applaud Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Israel Position

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Dershowitz, Cotler applaud Harper on Israel

Source: The Montreal Suburban, 9-21-11
Lawyer and rights activist Alan Dershowitz said last week at Westmount’s Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue that he has been a lifelong Democrat and would never vote Republican.

And Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler is well-known as a member of the Liberal Party who has resisted urgings from members of the community to join the Conservatives.

Yet, both men cheered Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support of Israel, the topic of the event that attracted 1,000 people to the synagogue last Thursday.

“I publicly commend Prime Minister Harper for his support of Israel,” Cotler said.

Dershowitz joined the audience’s loud applause, and said: “He has truly been Israel’s best friend.”

“And on this issue, there are no differences between us,” Cotler added.

Dershowitz was the keynote speaker at the Steinberg lecture series event, in which he spoke about this week’s Palestinian attempt to unilaterally declare independence at the UN and the “irrational hate” of Israel, especially on college campuses. He blasted Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa as an “anti-Semite” and heavily criticized former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Then, in a conversation format, Dershowitz and Cotler exchanged views on several issues, including the crisis now faced by Israel.

“I have to say,” Cotler told his longtime friend Dershowitz, “I have never been as concerned as I am now. There has been a dramatic change this summer, with a critical mass of threat the likes of which Israel has not faced before.”

The MP cited threats emanating from terrorists in Egypt’s Sinai, from which a recent attack took place; Gaza becoming a base for many terrorist groups; Egypt itself, where the 1970s Camp David peace treaty is “hanging by a thread;” increased arms possessed by Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon; and tensions with Turkey.

Dershowitz said many blame Israel for the hostility emanating from Egypt and Turkey.

“That’s an absolutely false accusation,” he said. “Turkey has an agenda, and its prime minister, years ago, has been looking for excuses. The best proof they would be doing exactly the same thing, even if there had been no flotilla [in 2010]; no response by Israel in Egypt where, tragically, some Egyptian policemen had been killed — just look at Jordan. Israel hasn’t done a thing to provoke Jordan, and now there are all kinds of demonstrations and attacks on the Israeli embassy as well.”

Dershowitz said Israel should prepare its military “for the next decades in which there will be no effective peace treaty with Egypt, and no effective alliance with Turkey.

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposes Palestinian’s bid for statehood at UN — Restates Support for Israel

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Harper opposes Palestinians’ bid for statehood at UN

Source: Canada.com, 9-21-11

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Palestinians Tuesday to get back to the negotiating table with Israel and declared that their bid for statehood at the United Nations could hamper hopes for peace in the Middle East.

Harper made his comments at a news conference at the UN, where he was attending a meeting of world leaders known as the “Friends of Libya”.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is holding its annual meeting — drawing leaders from around the globe — and this year’s session is gripped by a bid by the Palestinians for statehood recognition.

The Palestinians have been actively lobbying the international community to support their request – a move which they say would be a major step toward the actual creation of a Palestinian nation.

By achieving such official recognition, they believe they would have a greater international profile and more leverage in their negotiations with Israel.

The United States has indicated it will oppose the request at the UN – expected to come Friday when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers an address to the UN General Assembly.

Canada has already indicated it will oppose this move. On Tuesday, Harper spoke strongly about why he thinks the proposal is wrong-headed.

“I think there’s no likelihood of this initiative by the Palestinian Authority doing anything to further the peace process,” said the prime minister.

“I think its possible that it could be counter-productive. But I would say if the Palestinian Authority is serious about establishing a sovereign state, the method to do that is not a declaration here at the United Nations. It’s to get back at the negotiating table and negotiate peace with Israel.”

Those comments went further than the remarks Harper made on the subject last Friday.

At that time, he spoke more diplomatically in saying Canada will oppose the move,  which he described as a “unilateral action” that was “regrettable” and would not be “helpful” to long term peace.

Harper will not deliver an address to the General Assembly of the UN — he has done so twice, in 2006 and 2010 since taking power. Instead, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will speak to the Assembly on behalf of Canada early next week…. READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry Slams President Barack Obama’s Middle East Policy as a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians in Speech at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York

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Gov. Rick Perry slams President Obama’s Mideast ‘appeasement’

Source: UPI, 9-20-11

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday President Obama’s “moral equivalency” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a “dangerous insult.”

“The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult. There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction.”

“America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks’ through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.”… it is “wrong for this administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

“When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli prime minister’s visit, we see in this American administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naive.”

Perry, flanked by Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon and U.S. Rep. Dan Turner, who last week won the New York congressional seat vacated by Democrat Anthony Weiner, said Obama’s Middle East policies are “arrogant, misguided and dangerous” and amount to a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians, The Washington Post reported….READ MORE

 

Perry blasts Obama’s policies on Israel, Palestinians

Source: WaPo, 9-20-11

 

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry castigated President Obama’s handling of Israeli-Palestinian relations on Tuesday, accusing Obama of a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians that he said was undermining U.S. security interests in the Middle East.

The Texas governor charged that the Obama administration — which has been trying to head off a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood this week and relaunch peace talks — was encouraging the Palestinians to shun direct negotiations with the Israelis.

Perry, a leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said the United States should reconsider its foreign aid to the Palestinians and close the Palestinian Authority’s offices in Washington if authority President Mahmoud Abbas succeeds in his quest for formal recognition of statehood at this week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

“We would not be here today at the very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry said in a speech in New York, where he was flanked by American Jewish and Israeli leaders….READ MORE

 

 

Full Text September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry’s Speech at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York City (Transcript)

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Gov. Perry’s Remarks at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York City

Source: RickPerry.org, 9-20-11

Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.

I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.

Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.

There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.

Second, it was wrong for this Administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, we see in this American Administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve.

Third, by injecting the issue of 1967 borders in addition to a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, the Obama Administration has put Israel in a position of weakness and taken away their flexibility to offer concessions as part of the negotiation process.

Indeed, bolstered by the Obama Administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East hoping to achieve their objective without concessions or direct negotiations with Israel.

The reason is simple: if they perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?

While the administration is right to finally agree to fight the Arab resolution at the U.N., it bears repeating that we wouldn’t be here today if they had stuck to some basic principles concerning Palestinian statehood:

First, Palestinian leaders must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state;

Second, President Abbas must persuade all factions including Hamas to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and;

Third, Palestinian statehood must be established only through direct negotiations between the Palestinian leadership and the nation of Israel.

By not insisting on these principles, the Obama Administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace.

Israel’s security is critical to America’s security. We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.

Today, the greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal. One thing is clear: we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions must be tightened and increased and all options must remain on the table to stop a brutally repressive regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.

To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change. As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.

Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom.

Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East. We have been complacent in encouraging revolt against hostile governments in Iran and Syria and we have been slow to recognize the risks posed by the new regime in Egypt and the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and Turkey.

It is vitally important for America to preserve alliances with moderate Muslim regimes and Muslim leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region. But today, neither adversaries nor allies alike, know where America stands.

Our muddle of a foreign policy has created greater uncertainty in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” And our policy of isolating and undermining Israel has only encouraged our adversaries in their aggression.

With the end-run on Palestinian statehood imminent before the U.N., America must act swiftly.

First, every nation within the U.N. must know America stands with Israel and the Oslo accord principle of direct negotiations without equivocation.

Second, America must make it clear that a declaration of Palestinian Statehood in violation of the spirit of the Oslo accords could jeopardize our funding of U.N. operations.

Third, the Palestinians must know their gambit comes with consequences in particular that America will have to reconsider the $4 billion in assistance we have provided to the Palestinians over the last 17 years.

Fourth, we should close the PLO office in Washington if the U.N. grants the standing of a Palestinian state.

And fifth, we must signal to the world, including nations like Turkey and Egypt whom we have considered allies in recent years, that we won’t tolerate aggression against Israel.

Israel is our friend and ally. I have traveled there several times, and met with its leaders. It is not a perfect nation, but its existence is critical to America’s security in the world.

It is time to change our policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians to strengthen our ties to the nation of Israel, and in the process establish a robust American position in the Middle East characterized by a new firmness and a new resolve.

If America does not head off the aggression of forces hostile to Israel we will only embolden them.

That would be a tragic mistake.

Israel Brief September 20, 2011: Columbia University Never Invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Dinner

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Columbia U Never Invited Ahmadinejad to Dinner

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-20-11

Columbia University clarified that a Fox News report suggesting that Columbia’s president was involved in an event next week for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was false.

An Israeli group, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv, had sent a letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger condemning his alleged involvement with the event, saying the university could be liable to legal repercussions. JTA reported the sending of that letter.

The erroneous Fox News report was based on a story in the Columbia student newspaper that reported that members of Columbia’s International Relations Council and Association were invited via e-mail to a private meal Sept. 21 with Ahmadinejad. Some 15 students will attend the dinner, which is still tentative, according to the Columbia Spectator. The dinner is not a Columbia event.

Ahmadinejad is coming to New York to participate in the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly next week. His controversial address at Columbia in 2007 embroiled the campus in a debate over freedom of speech and academic freedom.

When Bollinger hosted Ahmadinejad at the university in 2007, he drew much criticism, even after he introduced the Iranian leader with a scathing rebuke of Iran’s human rights record.

Via jta.org

Israel Political Brief September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry Joins New York Israeli Rally

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Rick Perry Joins Israeli Rally

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-20-11

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is joining a New York rally with a leader of the Likud party’s strongly nationalist flank Tuesday.

The Texas governor will hold a press conference in New York on Tuesday (today) with Knesset Member Danny Danon, who supports bringing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty. Danon is expected to ask Perry to back the move as a response to the Palestinian Authority’s bypassing direct talks with Israel and going to the United Nations for unilateral recognition.

Perry’s high-profile appearance comes one week after the Republican party upset in a long-time Democratic Congressional district in New York, where a special election was held for the seat vacated by Jewish Democrat Anthony Weiner. rick perryThe district is heavily populated by orthodox Jews, but the vote against a Jewish observant Democrat and for a Republican Catholic sent a clear warning to President Barack Obama and his party that he cannot count on the “Jewish vote.”
Perry wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Friday that President Obama is to blame for the Palestinian Authority’s latest tactic to avoid negotiating with Israel over a future PA state.
He argued that constant pressure for Israeli concessions, along with President Obama’s attempts to “engage” Syria and Iran, encouraged PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reject compromise.
The rally urges Jews to “join our community and stand with Governor Rick Perry against the UN vote for Palestinian statehood.” He also will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars 112th National Conference. War, and I’m not against Jews. I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass.”

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief September 20, 2011: US Congressional Republicans Tightens its Bond with PM Benjamin Netanyahu

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House G.O.P. Tightens Its Bond With Netanyahu

Jason Reed/Reuters

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has influence with American lawmakers, which can complicate policy.

Source: NYT, 9-20-11

When the Obama administration wanted to be certain that Congress would not block $50 million in new aid to the Palestinian Authority last month, it turned to a singularly influential lobbyist: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the request of the American Embassy and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Netanyahu urged dozens of members of Congress visiting Israel last month not to object to the aid, according to Congressional and diplomatic officials. Mr. Netanyahu’s intervention with Congress underscored an extraordinary intersection of American diplomacy and domestic politics, the result of an ever-tightening relationship between the Israeli government and the Republican Party that now controls the House.

On Tuesday, one of President Obama’s potential rivals in 2012, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, delivered a speech in New York criticizing Mr. Obama’s stance toward Israel as “naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.” Mr. Perry said that he would be a guest soon of Danny Danon, the hard-right deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament.

The relationship between the Israeli government and the Republican Party has significantly complicated the administration’s diplomatic efforts to avert a confrontation at the United Nations this week over the Palestinian bid for full membership as a state, limiting President Obama’s ability to exert pressure on Mr. Netanyahu to make concessions that could restart negotiations with the Palestinians….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 19, 2011: PM Netanyahu Calls on Palestinian Authority Chairman to Open Direct Negotiations

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PM Netanyahu Calls on Palestinian Authority Chairman to Open Direct Negotiations

Source: PMO, 9-19-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening said that he is interested in meeting with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, in New York.  “I call on the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority to open direct negotiations in New York, which would continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah.  I propose to President Abbas to begin peace negotiations instead of wasting time on futile unilateral measures,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that unilateral measures are not the way to advance peace between us and added that the way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations and not via declarations at the UN.

Israel Political Brief September 18, 2011: President Obama, PM Netanyahu to meet in New York About Palestinian UN Statehood Bid

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Obama, Netanyahu to meet in New York

Source: JTA, 9-18-11

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in New York for the General Assembly. He told his Cabinet on Sunday that he will meet with Obama, as well as other world leaders, during the annual U.N. confab.

White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes confirmed the scheduled meeting to reporters over the weekend. Obama is not scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the White House.

Netanyahu and Abbas are both scheduled to address the General Assembly on Friday, after which Abbas said he will submit a bid for full membership for the state of Palestine to the U.N. Security Council.

“The U.N. is not a place where Israel wins praise, but I think that it is important that I go there in order to represent both the State of Israel and the truth — and the truth is that Israel wants peace and the truth is that the Palestinians are doing everything to torpedo direct peace negotiations,” Netanyahu said Sunday.

Netanyahu reiterated that the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to achieve a peace agreement is through direct negotiations. He said that Abbas a year ago had declared that the Palestinians’ goal was to be accepted as a U.N. member and its attempt will fail.

“It will fail because it must go through the U.N. Security Council. Decisions that are binding on U.N. members pass through the Security Council,” the Israeli leader said. “I am convinced that the activity of the U.S., which is deeply cooperating with us, as well as the activity of other governments with which we are also cooperating will result in the failure of this attempt.”

Full Text September 18, 2011: Speaker of the House John Boehner Addresses The Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention — U.S. must stand by Israel

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Full Text: Congressman Boehner Addresses The Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention

Sep 18, 2011Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) delivered the keynote address at the Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Boehner focused his remarks on America’s longstanding commitment to having a strong U.S.-Israel partnership, saying: “We’re here to see that Israel continues to thrive – and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by her side.  Not just as a broker or observer – but as a strong partner and reliable ally.” Following are Congressman Boehner’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to people attending a meeting of the Jewish National Fund’s 2011 national conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday Sept. 18, 2011. | AP Photo

 

Remarks by Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Conference As Prepared for Delivery September 18, 2011

“Stan, thank you … and thank you all for the warm welcome.   I’m humbled by the opportunity to be here with you this morning.  It’s a privilege to serve as a warm-up act for Larry King.

“Thank you also to Effie Stenzler … and thank you to Ron Lauder and Russell Robinson for your dedication to this truly outstanding organization.

“As I understand it, this is the first time JNF has held its national conference in Cincinnati.  What took you so long?

“Cincinnati has the oldest – and, in my view, most active – Jewish community west of the Alleghenies.  The longest-running Jewish newspaper in the country,

“The American Israelite, is based right here in the Queen City.  We not only have the right place to talk about these issues … we have the right people, too.

“Long before I was Speaker, before I was a Member of the Congress … leaders in this community were kind enough to come and talk to me about these issues.  I’m glad they did.

“I’m happy to see so many young people here.  We are fighting these fights in the hope you won’t have to.   But history and humility tell us you will have to take up this charge.

“Everyone here understands the stakes … each of you has every right to stand up and be proud of what you’re doing.   I salute you, and I thank you.

“This is certainly the right time for us to gather.

“ Like you, I have read suggestions by newspaper columnists and observers that events have overtaken Israel … that Israel is ‘isolating itself’ in the Middle East.

“That view is wrong, and always has been wrong.

“Israel is not isolating itself – Israel is leading in the Middle East.

“Israel does not stand alone – Israel stands above as the one true beacon of freedom and opportunity in the Middle East.

“We’re here to see that Israel continues to thrive – and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by her side.  Not just as a broker or observer – but as a strong partner and reliable ally.

“That’s why I’m pleased to report that the House has ensured – in this time of fiscal responsibility – that America meets its financial commitments to Israel.

“We will continue to do so.

“I’m also pleased with the work being done by the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the leadership of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

“She led the charge to put the House on record opposing funding for the Palestinian Authority as long as it aligns itself with Hamas.

“As Ileana put it not too long ago, ‘I don’t care if there is one or five or hundreds of members of Hamas involved; no U.S. funds can go to the PA.’

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.

“I’ve been Speaker of the House more than eight months now … we’ve had some significant moments in the chamber.

“For me, one of the most powerful occurred in May when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress.

“It was my honor to invite him.  It was the least I could do for the leader of one of our closest allies in the world.

“Bibi did not disappoint.  He received nearly 30 standing ovations … bipartisan standing ovations.   All well-deserved.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress because the American people deserved to hear from him – and Washington, quite frankly, needed to hear what he had to say.

“I invite the people in this room – and anyone as concerned as I am about the future of Israel – to speak out.  Washington needs to hear from you, too.

“For this to be a truly transformational time, one thing cannot change … and that is America’s commitment to Israel’s future.

“Something the prime minister said in his speech to Congress has stuck with me.

“He was talking about how the Middle East stands at a crossroads.  And he said: ‘Like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty.’

“It is the path less traveled isn’t it?  We know freedom and democracy don’t come cheap.  They require vigilance – they rely on the tools of persuasion and progress.

“Among those tools are strategic alliances built on trust, not fear or coercion.

“Our democracies are cut from the same cloth.  Our peoples treasure the same values.

“American patriots went to Philadelphia to make a Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Franklin called the colonies ‘God’s new Israel.’

“Israel’s founders gathered in Tel Aviv to realize Herzl’s dream by issuing a Proclamation of Independence.

“Both sites, by the way, are now called Independence Hall.

“The Israeli proclamation imagined a state based on freedom, justice and peace, one that guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.

“It spoke of a country that would foster economic development for the benefit of all its inhabitants.

“There are no shortcuts or loopholes – no talk of one election, one time.  It’s about freedom and opportunity for all, and for all time.

“Freedom is a universal right – but we have learned the hard way it is an earned right.

“The United States and Israel remain prime targets of terror.

“The recent anniversary of September 11th was a reminder of our shared pain.

“There is only one place in the world outside the United States that lists the names of all the innocents who died that day.

“It is located on a hilltop at the entrance to Jerusalem.  And it was built by the Jewish National Fund.  Thank you.

“I appreciate the fact that you call it a ‘living’ memorial.

“Those who died left behind a sacred charge: to pledge to each other ‘never again’ and to confront and defeat the terrorist threat.

“Over the last ten years, not only has Israel stood with us, but it has done so from the front lines of the struggle to confront and defeat terror.

“Thinking back to the last time I was in Israel … standing at the northern border with Lebanon…

“From where I stood on that border, it’s about a hundred miles to Jerusalem, about the same distance from here to our state capital of Columbus.

“For Israel, the enemy is close … and committed.

“Why, Israel’s neighbor does not even acknowledge its right to exist.

“Just four months ago, the leader of the Hamas administration in Gaza said, and I quote, ‘The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth.’

“Recently, Hamas leaders blocked Palestinian students from studying in the United States under scholarships they legitimately earned.  Why?  ‘For social and cultural reasons.’

“This week, Israel will face a three-pronged assault when the United Nations General Assembly meets.

“There will be a ‘celebration’ of the Durban Declaration, a document that charges Israel with racism.

“The president of Iran, who has called Israel a cancer to be annihilated, will take the podium.

“And the Palestinian Authority will seek a unilateral recognition of statehood.

“Israel has demonstrated time and again it seeks nothing more than peace … a peace agreed to by the two states and only the two states.

“Like every prime minister before him, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows peace will require compromise – and he accepts that.  He welcomes that.

“Where I’m from … where we’re from … we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us.

“Supporting Israel and her people has been the policy of this nation since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office.

“Our commitment to Israel should be no less strong today.  If anything, it should be stronger than it’s ever been.  And, with your help, it will be.  It must be.

“Not far from here, near where I live in West Chester, is a place called Voice of America Park.

“It was once the site of a relay station for the Voice of America radio station, which was established during World War II.

“The station transmitted ‘truthful news’ about freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples, behind enemy lines.

“Hitler could do nothing to stop it.  VOA got to him.  He was known in his speeches to decry those ‘Cincinnati liars.’

“The lesson here is simple: words matter.  The truth can pierce even the most stubborn defenses.

“It is up to us to tell Israel’s story … to spread Israel’s truth.  The voice of America starts with the people in this room.

“I’m up for it.  And for the sake of our people, Israel’s people, and all freedom-loving peoples – I hope all of us are up for it.

“Let’s look out for one another, and keep at it.  Never quit.  Thank you.”

Featured Op-Eds Gov. Rick Perry in the Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Must Support Israel At the U.N.

FEATURED OP-EDS

Governor Rick Perry submitted this op-ed, which appears in the Wall Street Journal:

Obama policies have encouraged the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with Israel.

The historic friendship between the United States and Israel stretches from the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 to the present day. Our nations have developed vital economic and security relationships in an alliance based on shared democratic principles, deep cultural ties, and common strategic interests. Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of “civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.”

Surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and terror organizations that aim to destroy her, the Jewish state has never had an easy life. Today, the challenges are mounting. Israel faces growing hostility from Turkey. Its three-decades-old peace with Egypt hangs by a thread. Iran pursues nuclear weapons its leaders vow to use to annihilate Israel. Terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from Hezbollah and Hamas continue. And now, the Palestinian leadership is intent on destroying the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel in favor of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.

The Palestinian plan to win that one-sided endorsement from the U.N. this month in New York threatens Israel and insults the United States. The U.S. and the U.N. have long supported the idea that Israel and its neighbors should make peace through direct negotiations. The Palestinian leadership has dealt directly with Israel since 1993 but has refused to do so since March 2010. They seem to prefer theatrics in New York to the hard work of negotiation and compromise that peace will require.

Errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take backward steps away from peace. It was a mistake to call for an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had been negotiating with Israel for years, notwithstanding settlement activity. When the Obama administration demanded a settlement freeze, it led to a freeze in Palestinian negotiations. It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians’ demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the U.S., and it was an even greater mistake for President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.

Palestinian leaders have perceived this as a weakening of relations between Israel and the U.S, and they are trying to exploit it. In taking this destabilizing action in the U.N., the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership’s insistence on the so-called “right of return” of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel’s sovereign territory, thereby making Jews an ethnic minority in their own state, is a disturbing sign that the ultimate Palestinian “solution” remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

The U.S.—and the U.N—should do everything possible to discourage the Palestinian leadership from pursuing its current course.

The U.S. should oppose the statehood measure by using our veto in the Security Council, as President Obama has pledged to do, and by doing everything we can to weaken support for the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly. The U.S. must affirm that the precondition for any properly negotiated future settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.

Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, the U.S. has provided more than $4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This year alone, the Obama administration is seeking to secure $550 million in funding for Palestinians. The U.S. has an interest in the development of Palestinian civil society and institutions. We should encourage Palestinians who are more interested in building a prosperous future than in fueling the grievances of the past.

Our aid is, and must remain, predicated on the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to engage honestly and directly with the Israelis in negotiating a peace settlement. Their threatened unilateral action in the U.N. signals a failure to abide by this commitment.

We must not condone and legitimize through our assistance a regime whose actions are in direct opposition to a peace agreement and to our vital interests. The Palestinian people should understand that their leaders are now putting this much-needed support in jeopardy and act in their own best interests—which are also the interests of peace.

Israel Brief September 15, 2011: Israel evacuates Jordanian embassy ahead of “Million Man March” protest

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Israel evacuates Jordanian embassy ahead of protest

Source: JTA, 9-15-11

Israel evacuated its embassy in Jordan amid fears that a planned anti-Israel protest could turn violent.

The ambassador and staff of the embassy, located in the capital city of Amman, returned to Israel on Wednesday night. Jordanian activists have called for a “million man march” against the embassy for Thursday in a protest organized on Facebook. A similar demonstration in Egypt led to the evacuation a week ago of Israel’s embassy in Cairo and the emergency rescue of several members of its security staff.

Staff members of Israel’s Jordanian embassy regularly return to their homes in Israel on Thursday for the weekend, as their families reside in Israel. The evacuation order sent them home one day earlier, with plans to return on Sunday, according to reports.

Security near the embassy reportedly has been increased.

Israel Political Brief September 15, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Addressing UN Same Day as Palestinian Statehood Bid — September 23, 2011

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Netanyahu U.N. address, Palestinian statehood bid on same day

Source: JTA, 9-15-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the U.N. General Assembly on the same day that the Palestinian Authority presents its statehood bid to the Security Council.

The Palestinians will submit a bid for full membership in the Security Council of the United Nations on Sept. 23, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki announced Thursday. Netanyahu told a news conference Thursday with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas that he will address the issue of the statehood bid and the quest for peace in the region in his address Sept. 23.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas will make the Palestinians’ bid following his address to the General Assembly. Al-Malki said, however, that the Palestinians were still open to other offers.

The United States has said it will use its veto in the Security Council, after which the Palestinians are expected to seek an enhanced status short of statehood through the General Assembly, where the United States does not have a veto.

For weeks it has been unclear whether Netanyahu would travel to the opening meeting of the new U.N. session, during which the Palestinian statehood bid will likely take center stage.

“We have to speak the truth,” Netanyahu said at the news conference. “The first truth is that to have peace, we must have mutual respect for other peoples. This is what we seek with our Palestinian neighbors. This is what we seek with all our neighbors.

“We also believe that the way to achieve this peace is through direct negotiations. There is no way to impose peace by dictat. ”

Netanyahu said that while Israel does not get a fair hearing in the General Assembly, “I’ve decided to go there anyway — not to win applause, but to speak the truth to every nation that wants to hear the truth.”

Israel Brief September 15, 2011: Hillel & JAFI Introducing Advocacy Program ‘Talk Israel’ to US College Campuses

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‘Talk Israel’ tents coming to U.S. college campuses

Source: JTA, 9-15-11

The Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel are erecting white tents on 20 campuses throughout North America to serve as forums to discuss Israel and the Middle East.

The “Talk Israel” program will take place Sept. 20 and 21 at universities including the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, George Washington and the University of Maryland.

The tents will serve as campus venues for students to engage in respectful dialogue and raise questions and issues relating to the peace process and the Palestinian Authority’s statehood initiative at the United Nations.

“This is our answer to the war against Israel’s legitimacy that is being waged around the world; to bring Jewish students to Israel and to foster in them a sense of belonging, identity and pride,” Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement.

Political Brief September 14, 2011: Republican Bob Turner wins Weiner’s former Congressional seat over Jewish Democrat David Weprin

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Republican wins Weiner’s former seat

Source: JTA, 9-13-11

In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner.

The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, beat his Democratic opponent, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, in Tuesday’s special election. The Associated Press called the race for Turner shortly after midnight, with the Republican leading Weprin by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent and more than three-fifths of precincts reporting.

The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support Turner in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel.

Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, initially led in pre-election polls. But Turner, a retired television executive who was a creator of “The Jerry Springer Show,” pulled ahead during the past month.

Turner’s victory came despite the Democrats’ strong advantage in voter registration in the middle-class Brooklyn and Queens district, which is 57 percent Democratic and only 19 percent Republican. Observers, however, have noted that the district votes more conservative than the registration numbers seem to suggest.

The Republican’s tenure in Congress, however, could be short-lived. New York state is losing two congressional seats due to decennial reapportionment, and many expect that the seat, which has been vacant since Weiner’s scandal-induced resignation, will be eliminated.

New York’s 9th Congressional District has the fourth-largest Jewish population of any congressional district, with some 173,000 Jews, according to a 2009 report from the Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American Jewish Data Bank. Jerry Skurnik, a partner at the political consulting firm Prime New York, told The New York Times that about a third of the district’s active voters are Jewish.

However, the district’s Jewish demographics are somewhat atypical, with sizable concentrations of Orthodox Jews and Russian Jews, who tend to lean more conservative in their voting behavior than Jews in general.

During the race Weprin tried to distance himself from the president, highlighting his criticisms of the president’s policies toward Israel.

According to a September poll from the Siena Research Institute, 54 percent of the district’s likely Jewish voters said they had an unfavorable view of the president, with only 42 percent viewing him favorably — figures that almost exactly matched the views of the district’s likely voters overall.

The Siena poll, conducted Sept. 6-8, showed Weprin trailing Turner by six percentage points but leading among Jews by an equal margin.

While the Israel issue has garnered much of the media attention, in the Siena poll only 16 percent of the district’s Jewish voters said that a candidate’s Israel stance would be the most important factor in determining their vote. That is roughly half the proportion (30 percent) who identified the candidate’s position on the economic recovery as their key issue and slightly fewer than the proportion (20 percent) who chose Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs as the top issue.

Full Text September 14, 2011: Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks Statement on Republican Win New York’s 9th Congressional District Special Election

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RJC: Jewish Defections Hurt Obama, Democrats in Queens Race

Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks made the following statement on the results of the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district:

“We congratulate Bob Turner on his historic victory.

This Republican win in an overwhelmingly Democrat district is a significant indicator of the problem that President Obama has in the Jewish community. While party leaders scramble to deny and try to stem the erosion of Jewish support for Democrats, the real issue is this President’s policies on Israel, on jobs, and on the economy. Jewish voters are coming to see that Republicans offer real solutions to our economic crisis, are resolute friends of Israel, and represent a way forward to a better future.

Bob Turner’s win tonight has huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The RJC took a proactive approach in this race, reaching out to Jewish voters in the district, and we will be a leading voice driving the debate in the Jewish community nationally through 2012 as well.”

Poltical Brief September 13, 2011: Upset, Jewish Vote Speaks — Republican Bob Turner Wins New York’s 9th Congressional District Seat in Special Election over Democrat David I. Weprin — Referendum & Rebuke on President Obama & Israel Policies in Democratic District

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Damon Winter/The New York Times

Bob Turner, center, spoke to supporters in Queens on Tuesday.

ELECTIONS: REPUBLICAN WINS NEW YORK’S CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 9 IN SPECIAL ELECTION

G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner, AP Reports: A little-known Republican businessman from Queens, channeling voter discontent with President Obama into an upset victory, on Tuesday won election to Congress from the heavily Democratic district in New York City last represented by Anthony D. Weiner, according to The Associated Press.
The Republican, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, defeated Assemblyman David I. Weprin, the scion of a prominent Democratic family in Queens, in a nationally watched special election.

With 84 percent of the precincts counted early Wednesday, Mr. Turner was leading Mr. Weprin by 54 percent to 46 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Turner recently polled 6 points higher than Democrat opponent David Weprin, who is actually Jewish, and narrowed Weprin’s lead among Jewish voters by 15 points. The Turner campaign sent out 5,000 letters to registered voters in Israel, asking them to register for the ballots and place them in time.

“We congratulate Bob Turner on his historic victory.
This Republican win in an overwhelmingly Democrat district is a significant indicator of the problem that President Obama has in the Jewish community. While party leaders scramble to deny and try to stem the erosion of Jewish support for Democrats, the real issue is this President’s policies on Israel, on jobs, and on the economy. Jewish voters are coming to see that Republicans offer real solutions to our economic crisis, are resolute friends of Israel, and represent a way forward to a better future.
Bob Turner’s win tonight has huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The RJC took a proactive approach in this race, reaching out to Jewish voters in the district, and we will be a leading voice driving the debate in the Jewish community nationally through 2012 as well.” — Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks statement on the results of the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district — RJC: Jewish Defections Hurt Obama, Democrats in Queens Race

“His [President Barack Obama] hostility should concern Jews, Christians, and other supporters of Israel. Many believe the president has conveyed by his actions and demands on that state that he is willing to throw it under the bus and end the special relationship which has existed between the U.S. and Israel beginning with Harry Truman and continuing through the administration of George W. Bush….
While President Obama has made demands upon Israel that affect its security, no comparable demand — indeed, no demands — have been made upon the Palestinian Authority before entering the peace talks….
On the other hand, the election of Bob Turner in a normally safe Democratic district running against President Obama’s position on Israel and against his own party’s positions on the three entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would send a message to his own party leadership, as well as to President Obama.” — Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch

“No matter who wins in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district on Tuesday. This race highlights the serious problems that President Obama has in the Jewish community because of his policies regarding Israel. Without question, Obama’s policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party.” — Matt Brooks RJC executive director

    • G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner: Bob Turner, a little-known Republican businessman from Queens, beat Assemblyman David I. Weprin in an upset victory seen as a message to Washington…. – NYT, 9-13-11
    • GOP Takes Anthony Weiner’s Seat in Congress: Republican Bob Turner, a retired media executive, bested Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin. With about 70 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, Turner had 53 percent of the vote to Weprin’s 47 percent when the Associated Press called the race…. – ABC News, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins Weiner’s former seat: In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner.
      The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support the Republican, Bob Turner, in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel…. – JTA, 9-13-11
    • Why Obama Is Losing the Jewish Vote He doesn’t have a ‘messaging’ problem. He has a record of bad policies and anti-Israel rhetoric: New York’s special congressional election on Tuesday was the first electoral outcome directly affected by President Obama’s Israel policy. Democrats were forced to expend enormous resources to try to defend this safe Democratic district, covering Queens and Brooklyn, that Anthony Weiner won last year by a comfortable margin.
      A Public Policy Poll taken days before the election found a plurality of voters saying that Israel was “very important” in determining their votes. Among those voters, Republican candidate Robert Turner was winning by a 71-22 margin. Only 22% of Jewish voters approved of President Obama’s handling of Israel. Ed Koch, the Democrat and former New York mayor, endorsed Mr. Turner because he said he wanted to send a message to the president about his anti-Israel policies.
      This is a preview of what President Obama might face in his re-election campaign with a demographic group that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. And it could affect the electoral map, given the battleground states—such as Florida and Pennsylvania—with significant Jewish populations. In another ominous barometer for the Obama campaign, its Jewish fund-raising has deeply eroded: One poll by McLaughlin & Associates found that of Jewish donors who donated to Mr. Obama in 2008, only 64% have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign…. – WSJ, 9-13-11
    • Koch Played Key Role in GOP Victory: The Republican victory in New York’s solid blue 9th Congressional District seat in Tuesday’s special election came largely with the help of an influential Democrat: former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
      Koch was arguably the one single factor in helping the GOP win the battle to succeed disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner in the U.S. House.
      The thrice-elected former mayor, who remains a powerful force in New York and national politics, had backed Obama strongly in the 2008 election.
      A self-describer “liberal with reason,” former Congressman Koch holds a hawkish view on U.S. foreign policy and national security matters.
      In 2004, he cited the war on terror to cross party lines and back George Bush over John Kerry for the presidency. Koch campaigned for Bush’s re-election in Florida and Ohio.
      In the special election, the 86-year-old Koch urged fellow New Yorkers, and disaffected Democrats like himself, to send a message to President Obama that they give him a thumbs down for his domestic and foreign policies.
      Koch, a staunch supporter of Israel, has been dismayed with Obama’s lukewarm support for Israel.
      The former mayor’s message appeared to resonate in the congressional district that straddles the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn and is home to many Jews, including many Orthodox ones. Newsmax, 9-13-11
    • Republican Bob Turner wins special election in New York: Democrats suffered a stunning blow Tuesday as voters in New York’s 9th Congressional District handed the seat to Republican Bob Turner, reversing a nearly 90-year tradition of electing Democrats to represent the district. … – LAT, 9-13-11
    • Republican Bob Turner wins New York special election: Businessman Bob Turner (R) defeated state Assemblyman David Weprin (D) in the special election for the House seat held by former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D)…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
    • A referendum on Obama and Israel: Bob Turner vs. David Weprin is really about: In deciding between Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin, the 9th’s large percentage of Jewish voters may provide an important clue about what a part of President Obama’s base in 2008 will do in next year’s presidential contest…. – New York Daily News, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins Democratic New York House seat: Republican Bob Turner won the race to succeed Anthony Weiner in New York’s 9th congressional district. By Paul Kane, With his outcome of his own reelection effort 14 difficult months away, President Obama suffered a sharp rebuke…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
    • GOP Wins in Race to Replace Weiner: AP Democrats suffered a setback Tuesday in a congressional election in New York City, where a district they have held for nearly a century elected a Republican who framed his candidacy as a rebuke to President Barack Obama. … – WSJ, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins in New York Democratic stronghold: Republicans won an upset victory in a Democratic stronghold in New York Tuesday in a special US House of Representatives election for the seat vacated by former Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned after a Twitter sex scandal…. – Reuters, 9-13-11
    • GOP wins in NY House race, seen as Obama rebuke: Republicans have scored an upset victory in a House race that started as a contest to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner after he resigned in a sexting scandal but became a referendum on President Barack Obama…. – Forbes, 9-13-11

“The idea is telling Obama, we’re not just in your pocket because we’re Democrats and we’re ticking off Democrat all the way down the list. We are holding you responsible for your policies, and we’re telling you we don’t want them…. If Obama looks at his always historically blue district … if he gets this message from this Democrat district, this can affect his policies–again, both on fiscal and Israel — in the next year.” — Ruth Lieberman, a veteran political consultant

  • NY-9 Could Affect White House Israeli Policy: This afternoon, Ruth Lieberman, a veteran political consultant who has been helping Republican Bob Turner in his special election race to win former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in New York, spoke with Townhall about the dynamics between Turner and the Jewish vote in this race and broader implications for 2012. The district shows 1/3 registered Jewish voters, but of last year’s participation in the election, a large percentage were Jewish voters, according to Lieberman.
    The conversation with Lieberman revealed voters in the very blue district seem interested on two issues: jobs and Israel. Turner’s message to constituents has been that if they’re not happy with the Obama economy or with the administration’s stance on Israel, Turner is their man. Turner also picked up major Jewish Democrat endorsements along the way — local Assemblyman Dov Hikind (who has been campaigning with Turner) and former New York Mayor Ed Koch. Lieberman emphasized that these two Democrat politicians are telling voters to cross over and that this isn’t about party, but a referendum on Obama and jobs and Israel…. – Townhall, 9-13-11
  • Is Israel Policy an Election Problem for Obama?: President Barack Obama’s weakened standing with voters has helped put a safe Democratic House seat at risk of tipping to the GOP in a special election Tuesday in New York City…. – WSJ, 9-13-11
  • Shocker: White House Spox Says NY-9 Special Is Not A Referendum On Obama’: It is worth reiterating that PPP found 54% of those polled said they disapproved of Obama’s policy on Israel, but voters were split on whether Israel matters in the NY-9 election…. – New York Daily News, 9-12-11
  • Polling Israel in NY-9: Republican Bob Turner’s unusual lead in last night’s PPP poll among Jewish and pro-Israel voters in Anthony Weiner’s old district has drawn its share of attention, but a reader points out that it may be a bit of a local anomaly. … – Politico, 9-12-11
  • GOP Jewish group yokes NY-9 results to Obama: The Republican Jewish Coalition, which sent mailers to 30,000 Jewish homes in NY-9 in advance of the special congressional election this week, is trying to pre-frame the results as negative for President Obama, regardless of whether Democrat David Weprin wins or loses.
    Weprin is locked in a tight race against neophyte politician and Republican Bob Turner, in a heavily Jewish district where Obama’s approval numbers are now underwater…. – Politico, 9-9-11
  • Gaming the Catholic vote: In a brief interlude into NY-9, which appears poised to go for the Republican Bob Turner tonight and will be sifted-over for national implications, veteran New York strategist Hank Sheinkopf said one takeaway for the Democrats next year is the Catholic vote…. – Politico, 9-13-11
  • Boehner on N.Y. special election: Republicans don’t have ‘any right to think we can win”: But if businessman Bob Turner (R) does prevail at the polls, Boehner said, the message will be a clear one: Voters are unhappy with President Obama’s leadership on the economy…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
  • NY special election a measure of Obama’s strength: Democrat David Weprin faced an unusually tight race against Republican Bob Turner in a special election Tuesday in New York’s heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District, where voters unhappy with President Barack Obama could elect a Republican for the first time.
    The contest to replace disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner has become too close to call, with public opinion polling showing a slight edge for Turner, a retired media executive with no previous political experience…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Outside groups spend $1.65 million on House races in Nevada, New York: In Nevada, Kate Marshall (about $748000 reported) has out-raised Republican Mark Amodei (about $659000), while in New York David Weprin (about $684000) has more than doubled the campaign cash of his opponent Bob Turner (about $323000)…. – iWatch News, 9-13-11
  • 6 NY Assembly seats up for grabs in NYC, upstate: The race getting the most attention is the special election in New York City’s 9th Congressional District, where Democrat David Weprin faces Republican Bob Turner in the contest to succeed replace disgraced Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner…. – Houston Chronicle, 9-13-11
  • Former Mayor Ed Koch Supports Bob Turner YouTube, 9-12-11
  • Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) Endorses Bob Turner (R) for US Congress in NY-9 YouTube, 9-9-11

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Assemblyman David I. Weprin had hoped to keep the Ninth Congressional District seat in Democratic hands, but failed.

Full Text September 13, 2011: Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Statement on Cameron Johnson’s Anti-Semitic Remark at York University Lecture

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Statement on the Recent Controversy at York University

Source: Newswire, 9-13-11

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs was recently made aware of a lecture given by Professor Cameron Johnston yesterday at York University, which reportedly included an anti-Semitic remark.

In response, Sheldon Goodman, the GTA Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued the following statement:

“Upon hearing of this incident, we immediately contacted York University as well as Professor Johnston directly. While York is currently looking into the matter, it appears that a very unfortunate misunderstanding has taken place. We believe Professor Johnston’s use of an abhorrent statement was intended to demonstrate that some opinions are simply not legitimate. This point was, without ill intentions, taken out of context and circulated in the Jewish community.

“Professor Johnston, himself a member of the Jewish community, may regret his wording but should not see his reputation tarnished. This event is an appropriate reminder that great caution must be exercised before concluding a statement or action is anti-Semitic.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is now the spokesperson for all issues concerning the organized Canadian Jewish community, including those formerly handled by the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee, and the Quebec-Israel Committee.

Statement from Professor Cameron Johnston
September 13, 2011

In lecture, I discussed that the course focuses on the texts and not “opinions”.  In fact, I stated that for this course opinions are not relevant and I questioned the common idea that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I pointed out that everyone is not entitled to their opinion by giving the example of someone having an anti-semitic opinion which is clearly not acceptable. This was an example of the fact that opinions can be dangerous and that none of us really do believe that all opinions are acceptable.

For the record, I am also Jewish which undoubtedly influenced my choice of this example of a reprehensible opinion.

Regards,
Cameron Johnston

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