Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-15


PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

-Transcription-

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m delighted to be here today with you, the leaders of Jewish communities across North America. You work tirelessly to strengthen Jewish identity and you work tirelessly to support the State of Israel. You are Israel’s partners, you are my partners in building the Jewish future.

Now, this past year has not been simple. Great issues were debated. Passions ran high and the stakes were even higher. But we must always remember two simple truths. The first one is that no matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel. Here’s the second truth: No matter what disagreements there have been within the Jewish community, maintaining the unity of our people is of paramount importance. There is only one Jewish people. There is only one Jewish state. And now, more than ever, we must work together to unite the Jewish people and secure the Jewish state.

Israel is a state of amazing, amazing successes. If we were in the South, I would say amazing grace. I’m saying it here too – amazing success, amazing grace. You know all about the start-up nation. You know that Israel is a global epicenter of innovation, of ingenuity – a leader in water technology, in agritech, in medicine, in science, in cyber.

I want to give you two numbers. First on water: We had twice the rainfall in 1948, the year of Israel’s founding and one-tenth the population. So in 67 years, the water supply has gone down by half from rainfall, roughly half, and the population has grown ten times. Our GDP per capita has grown 40 times, and with it goes water usage. So we had to have a big water problem, but we don’t. We have a water surplus. Israel leads the world by far in the recycling of waste water and in so many other technologies related to water. And people are coming to us and they say: Teach us. Or la’goyim. Teach us. Teach us what you’ve done for yourself. We can do it in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. Every week somebody else comes and says teach us how to get water out of the stone.

So here’s another little factoid. Is that how you call it, factoid? Factum? Fact. Okay, here’s another fact. In 2014 Israel was receiving 10% of the global investment in cyber security. That’s an extraordinary number given that we are… It’s about 100 times our size in the relative population of the world. In 2015 that number has changed. It grew from 10% to 20%. It doubled in one year, one year. So in cyber, Israel is punching 200 times above its weight. That’s an extraordinary figure.

In cyber, in water and in many, many other fields of Israeli technology, our economy continues its remarkable ascent. In 1948, Israel had roughly the same GDP per capita as our neighbors. Today Israel’s GDP per capita has surpassed the European average and according to three of the four indices that I looked at before I came here, it surpassed that of Japan. And as our economy has grown, so has the reach of Israeli exports. Today Israel is dramatically increasing trade with India and China. I point that out because they’re two small countries, and together with our small country, we encompass about a third of the population of the world, which is another factoid you can file away. The combination of new innovations, really new products and services, and new markets, is propelling Israel’s economy to ever greater and greater heights.

That’s important because, you see, while we have tremendous opportunity, we also have one or two challenges. I think you’ve heard about them. We have to pay for defense. Defense is very, very expensive. In fact, it gets more and more expensive all the time, so the principal way by which we pay for our defenses is by growing our economy. And the other, I have to say, is the generous support that we are getting from the United States of America, and yesterday I had a wonderful discussion with President Obama how to secure that assistance for the coming decade. Thank you America and thank you President Obama.

I know that all of you are proud of Israel’s stunning technological achievements. But I think we should no less be proud of Israel’s values. And you see those values on display every day. You see it in our freedom – when you watch the passionate speeches in our Knesset, if you bring noise plugs, and indeed when you read the spirited debate in our press – bring pink sunglasses; it’ll lower the glare. But this is democracy. This is intense, robust democracy.

You see it in our pluralism – in our growing and thriving Christian population, the only Christian population in the Middle East that is growing and thriving and not shrinking and being decimated; in our proud and our strong LGBT community. Tel Aviv is a renowned capital of pluralism and diversity and tolerance, as is Israel altogether.

You see it in our egalitarianism. You see it in an Arab schoolboy who knows that – or schoolgirl – they can grow up to be Knesset members or ambassadors or a Supreme Court justice. We have an Arab Supreme Court justice, in case you didn’t know. And it’s the only truly independent court in a very, very large radius. You see it in Israeli schoolgirls who know they can become fighter pilots, central bank governors and prime ministers. We’ve had one of each, actually more than one of each – one of each for prime minister.

You see our compassion when you visit the hospitals, the field hospital that we’ve set up that treat thousands of wounded Syrians from the battles inside the Syrian inferno. We set up a field hospital I think about ten or fifty yards away, on our side of the Syrian border, and we take in these people who’ve suffered unbelievable tragedy. We take care of them at our expense and we’ve been doing so for years. You won’t read about it, but you should know about it. It’s very important.

And you see our values when you follow our expert rescue teams to faraway places like Haiti and Nepal. Just recently we had this horrible earthquake in Nepal and the biggest rescue delegation was from India. That’s a small country. The second largest in the world came from Israel. Second largest rescue delegation in the world.

Now, the demonstration of liberal democratic values would be impressive anywhere, anytime. But what is truly remarkable is that Israel upholds these values in the darkest and most oppressive region on earth and when facing unmatched security challenges. This is why when our detractors defame Israel, we must defend Israel. This is why when they tell us that we should be ashamed of Israel, we must tell them we are proud of Israel.

From my office in Jerusalem the dangers facing Israel can sometimes appear daunting. Israel is surrounded by many forces driven by fanaticism and hatred. Militant Islam is on the march – the Sunni extremists led by ISIS, the Shiite fanatics led by Iran.

But despite these enormous dangers, I have no doubt that Israel will continue to flourish in the years and decades ahead because the people of Israel are strong, because the alliance between America and Israel is strong and because the partnership between Israel and Jewish communities around the world is strong.

Through decades of war and terrorism, three generations of Israelis have shown extraordinary fortitude and resilience. I visit our troops just about every week. I go and see our young men and women in uniform and it is an experience that I hope that all of you can share, possibly have shared. To talk with our young men and women in uniform is to be inspired by their deep faith in the justice of Israel’s cause and by their fierce determination to defend our homeland. We’re going to be celebrating Hanukkah. These are the new Maccabees. They have such fortitude, such courage, such spirit. These soldiers are Israel’s future. So believe me when I tell you, Israel’s future is in very, very good hands.

The second source of my confidence in Israel’s future is the unshakeable alliance between Israel and America – an alliance that I believe will only get stronger. And as I said, yesterday I had a very good meeting with President Obama at the White House, and I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel’s security at the time when the Middle East is becoming more dangerous than ever.

And I also want to say that we are sharing so many things. The United States is giving indispensable help to Israel, indispensable, but Israel is returning that assistance almost on a daily basis in intelligence and in many other things. I think that what is important is not merely President Obama’s commitment to bolstering Israel’s security for the next ten years, but also his commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat. That is the most important commitment. And despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world.

Now, the third reason I am confident about the future is the tremendous partnership between us. Since the founding of Israel, well, even before the founding of Israel, you have been our partners in building the Jewish future. Your support has been invaluable in helping Israel successfully absorb millions of immigrants, build world-class hospitals, create an oasis of modernity in the middle of the desert, and in the last two decades, well, in the last two decades, well, Israel has begun investing in you.

This was a revolutionary idea that was put to me, a young prime minister, 20 years ago. They said, well, you know, the Diaspora and Jewish communities, especially in North America, have been investing in Israel, you know, for five decades. How about returning the favor? As our economy grows, we could invest in Jewish education, in Jewish identity. And I said, well, that’s a crazy idea. I like that. So well before we reached our current economic levels, we began, and Natan Sharansky remembers that very well, we began to invest in Birthright, which I thought was an extraordinary idea.

Now, half a million people later, half a million young Jews, young men and women who have visited Israel, I’m proud to say that we’ll continue to invest in Birthright. It is, after all, our birthright. And tens of thousands of course, tens of thousands have participated in the longer Masa programs. And thousands have decided to make Israel their permanent home. I think the hundreds of thousands have come back to their communities – this is a large number. Hundreds of thousands who come back to the Jewish communities with stronger Jewish identities and a stronger commitment to the Jewish future – that strengthens the Jewish world. It is a remarkable program. And whether Jews decide to live in Israel or not, I want to guarantee one thing to each and every one of you: As Prime Minister of Israel, I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel – Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews – all Jews.

As a testament to my commitment to this principle, I have established a roundtable, headed by my Cabinet Secretary, to address the concerns of the different streams of Judaism in Israel. That’s significant. That’s a governmental decision. You want to know our politics? Not now, but that’s a significant decision. This is a roundtable of the Government of Israel in which the various streams of Judaism sit together side-by-side to discuss problems and more importantly to discuss solutions. And now, for the first time, the Government of Israel is joining with the Jewish Agency to invest in strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel. I am also hopeful that we will soon conclude a long overdue understanding that will ensure that the Kotel is a source of unity for our people, not a point of division. And we’re getting there, I have to say.

My dear friends,

The unity of the Jewish people is important at all times, but especially at this time. It’s especially important when the assault on the Jews is not confined to the Middle East, because as Michael said correctly there is a wave of anti-Semitism that is raging across Europe, but it goes beyond there to other continents as well.

I want to say something about anti-Semitism. My father was a great historian and a student of this phenomenon. It has ancient roots. It goes back roughly to Hellenistic times, five hundred years before the birth of the Christian era. It has a long tradition and old traditions die hard. Sometimes they don’t die. For centuries the world believed the worst things about Jews – and these lies were believed not just by the ignorant masses; they were believed as well by the educated elites. They said about us that we were poisoners of wells, spreaders of plagues, killers of children. Now the lies that were once leveled at the Jewish people are now leveled at the Jewish state. They say that Israel harvests organs, spreads AIDS and executes innocent children.

Once, the Jewish people couldn’t even raise its collective voice to fight against these lies, these slanders. Today, we have a voice. Today we have a voice. And we must ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear. We must speak out against the slander of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Now, whether it’s the Prime Minister of Israel speaking at the United Nations or Jewish students speaking at a college campus, we can and must fight lies and the only way you fight lies is telling the truth. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have everything to be proud of. Stand up proudly. Speak the truth about Israel. Be proud as Jews.

The truth is Israel is a great country, a deeply moral country. Of course, like all countries, Israel is not a perfect country. But Israel is constantly judged by many in the international community according to a standard of perfection that is applied to no other country and that no country could possibly meet.

There is a name for holding the Jews to a different standard than other people. You know what it’s called. It begins with an “a” and it ends with an “m”. We recognize it for what it is. You cannot, you cannot hold the Jewish state to what I call the triple standard. One standard is for the dictatorships – you don’t expect much of them. The second standard is for the democracies. And the third standard – it’s not even a double standard, it’s the triple standard. There’s a special defined standard for the democracy called Israel. No way, no double standards, no triple standards. Treat Israel fairly. Treat Israel decently.

Now I have a friend whom you may know. His name is Alan Dershowitz. And he gave what I think is a very good test. He said this in the Oxford Student Union. By the way, he said he was the only one who won an Oxford Student Union debate on Israel. He gives a great fight. So here’s what our friend Alan Dershowitz, a great exponent of the truth, said. He said name a single country in the history of the world faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has a better record of human rights, complies more rigorously with the rule of law and does more to minimize civilian casualties. He asked that and the answer was: There is no other country. Israel stands at the top of the list.

And I think we have to speak the truth about peace as well. The truth is that the reason that we don’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or a territorial dispute, the territories that that were won in our defensive war of 1967. Israelis and Palestinians had a conflict for half a century – almost 50 years – before Israel captured any of those territories or built even a single one of those settlements. And afterwards, we left part of that territory – Gaza. Left it to the very last centimeter or inch. Stripped out the settlements, went to the ’67 boundaries, uprooted all the people who were there, disinterred people from their graves. What did we get? Peace? We got rockets.

The truth is that the reason that there isn’t peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. That’s the truth. If you recognize the problem, you’ll be able to get to its solution.

And here’s another simple truth: The truth is that Israel seeks peace. The truth is that I seek peace. And when Israel, the people of Israel, the governments of Israel, met Arab leaders who wanted peace equally, like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein, Israel made peace. We could do so when you meet an Arab leader who essentially says we’re burying the past. We’re seizing the future. We have no more demands of the Jewish state.

And when Israel will face a Palestinian leadership that seeks peace, that is willing to bury the past, that will make no more demands on the State of Israel – not get a state next to Israel in order to displace Israel, not get a state next to Israel in order to flood the adjoining State of Israel with millions of Palestinian descendants; when we meet a leader who actually is willing to recognize finally the Jewish state, we will have peace and that is the first requirement, the most essential requirement.

I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel will continue to work for peace in the hope that what is not achievable today might be achievable tomorrow.

My friends,

If you have any doubts about Israel’s future, I suggest you think about how far Israel has already come. You know, for each of us, especially the older ones, we have a personal perspective that we can… we can assess the future based on the road we’ve travelled so far. I was born a year after the founding of the state, and the change, in my perspective, has been nothing less than stunning.

I remember as a child the excitement that gripped my friends and the entire country as we celebrated our first decade of independence, chag asor. It was a decade in which we won our War of Independence and doubled our population. And as Israel turned 20, I celebrated as a young soldier, with my fellow soldiers and with the people of Israel – I’d enlisted shortly after our great victory in the Six Day War and I was still awed that only a year earlier we had liberated and reunited our eternal capital Jerusalem.

I remember the feeling, I remember the feeling at the end of the Six Day War. I’d grown up in Jerusalem, and my father’s office – he was the editor-in-chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia – and his office was right next to the wall separating Jerusalem. And I would go there because the bicycle fixers were there, so I always knew that I couldn’t go that direction because I’d hit the wall and Jordanian snipers. And all of a sudden, there was, at the end of the Six Day Way, there was a breach in the wall and we started flowing, just thousands, tens of thousands flowing through that breach into the Old City to the Kotel. And we went there and just stood next to the Kotel. Nobody said anything. We were just so mesmerized by realizing the dream of ages. That was what I remember from the third decade of Israel’s existence, the beginning of the third decade.

And then, at the end of it, when Israel turned 30, we were on the verge of achieving a great historic peace with the largest Arab country, with Egypt. And when I was privileged to preside over Israel’s 50th anniversary celebrations as prime minister, we were already at peace with Jordan and we were busy welcoming home nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Now, two decades have passed since that 50th anniversary – nearly two decades since that 50th anniversary celebration, and we have since then liberalized our economy, won eight more Nobel Prizes – that’s a large number – built 21st century roads and rails, discovered gas, transformed Israel into a global technological power and reversed that joke, “How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Start with a big fortune”. Turned it completely on its head. And we are showing the world new ways to travel, new ways to enrich life, new ways to protect health, new ways to grow crops. Today we’re forging new ties with countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and no less important, today we’re forging new ties with Arab states in the region that increasingly see Israel not as an implacable enemy but as a valued ally, as a partner, in confronting common dangers together. I hope they also see it as a partner in seizing the future for the betterment of their peoples in this great battle between modernity and medievalism. Modernity must win.

So now that Israel is approaching the end of its seventh decade, we can only marvel at what we have been able to achieve against impossible odds. And I have no doubt that despite the enormous challenges we still face, Israel will continue to thrive because I believe in the indomitable spirit of our people, because I believe in our unshakable bond with the United States and because I believe in you, in the unbreakable bond that unites Jews everywhere with the Jewish people. It’s a bond of faith. It’s a bond of hope – not the shallow hope of wishful thinking but the deep wellspring of confidence that comes from a people who have forded history’s most turbulent rivers and emerged triumphant on the other side in the Promised Land. That’s what I believe in.

Thank you all for your indispensable part in our common journey. And thank you all for your unceasing efforts to secure our common future. Thank you all. Thank you very much.

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Full Text Israel Political Brief August 4, 2015: PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America Trab

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America

Source: PMO, 8-4-15

Following is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the Jewish federations of North America:

Thank you.

It’s good to be with you today.

I want to thank our hosts, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents.

And I want to thank all of you for taking the time in the middle of a busy day.

Our time today is short, so I’d like to get right to the point.

I want to talk with you about three fatal flaws in the nuclear deal with Iran.

And I also want to dispel some of the misinformation and, regrettably I have to say, the disinformation about the deal and about Israel’s position.

I want to answer some of your important questions.

The most important point I have to make today is this:

The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb.

It actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb.

Worse, it gives Iran two paths to the bomb.

Iran can get to the bomb by keeping the deal or Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

First let’s understand how Iran gets to the bomb by keeping the deal.

See, the deal allows Iran to maintain and eventually expand a vast and increasingly sophisticated nuclear infrastructure.

This infrastructure is unnecessary for civilian nuclear energy, but it’s entirely necessary for nuclear weapons.

Astonishingly, the deal gives Iran’s illicit nuclear program full international legitimacy.

If Iran keeps the deal, in a decade or so – at most 15 years – the main restrictions on this vast nuclear program will expire. They’ll just end.

The deal’s limitations on the number of centrifuges Iran has and on the quantity of uranium Iran enriches, those restrictions will be lifted.

And at that point Iran will be able to produce the enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and it could produce that arsenal very quickly.

After 15 years, Iran’s breakout time will be practically zero, just a few days.

I think President Obama said as much in an interview with NPR.

By keeping the deal Iran will become a threshold nuclear weapons power.

The deal does make it harder for Iran to produce one or two nuclear weapons in the short term.

But it does so at a terrible price.

Because the deal makes it far easier for Iran to build dozens, even hundreds of nuclear weapons in a little over a decade.

Now, 10 to 15 years pass in no time.

I think it was like yesterday and I remember this very well, all those preparations for the Y2K bug and the celebrations of the new millennium.

That was 15 years ago. It’s a blink of an eye.

We’re told that this deal buys us time, but 10 to 15 years is no time at all.

So by keeping the deal, Iran can get within a decade or so not just to one bomb, but to many bombs.

But Iran has a second path to the bomb, one that would give it a nuclear weapon in far less time.

You see, Iran could violate the deal.

And there’s good reason to think that Iran will do so, that it will cheat.

They’ve done it before. They’ll do it again.

Now, people don’t really contest that, but they argue that Iran will be prevented from cheating because we’ll have good intelligence and unprecedented inspections.

Well, let me start with intelligence.

I have the greatest respect for Israel’s intelligence capabilities.

I have the greatest respect for the intelligence services of the United States and Great Britain.

But it has to be said honestly. For years none of us discovered the massive underground nuclear facilities Iran was building at Fordo and at Natanz.

For years none of us discovered that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor for plutonium production.

So I can tell you from experience, it’s very precarious to bet the deal’s success on intelligence.

Now what about inspections?

Neither intelligence nor inspections prevented North Korea from building atomic bombs despite assurances that they wouldn’t be able to do so.

And while the deal with Iran allows for ongoing inspections of Iran’s declared sites, what about Iran’s secret nuclear activities?

See, under the deal, if a facility is suspected of housing a hidden nuclear activity, inspectors must wait at least 24 days – that’s 24 days! – before getting access to those suspected sites.

Not only that, the inspectors must first share with Iran the critical intelligence that led them to suspect these sites in the first place. That’s actually astounding.

Some have said that 24 days is not long enough to conceal evidence of illicit nuclear activity.

But as leading experts have pointed out, 24 days is more than enough time to clean up a site of all traces of illicit activity.

It’s like the police giving a drug dealer three and a half weeks’ notice before raiding his lab.

Believe me, you can flush a lot of nuclear meth down the toilet in 24 days.

I’ve heard the claim that the deal blocks Iran’s covert path to the bomb.

But no matter how good your intelligence is, no one can credibly make such a claim.

How can you block what you don’t know?

So Iran can keep the deal or Iran can cheat on the deal.

Either way the deal gives Iran a clear path to the bomb, a difficult path to one or two bombs today and a much easier path to hundreds of bombs tomorrow.

Now, here’s the thing – everybody in the Middle East knows what I’ve just said.

And the countries in the region threatened by Iran have already made clear that they will work to develop atomic bombs of their own.

So the deal that was supposed to end nuclear proliferation will actually trigger nuclear proliferation. It will trigger an arms race, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, the most volatile part of the planet.

That’s a real nightmare!

But the deal’s dangers don’t end there.

See, the deal gives Iran also a massive infusion of cash and Iran will use this cash to fund its aggression in the region and its terrorism around the world.

As a result of this deal, there’ll be more terrorism.

There will be more attacks.

And more people will die.

It’s been said that most of the money that Iran will get will not go to Iran’s terrorism and aggression.

Well, let’s suppose that’s true.

Let’s suppose that Iran just takes 10% of the money for terrorism.

That’s 10% of nearly half a trillion dollars that Iran is expected to receive over the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a staggering amount of money.

And that would turn any terrorist group sponsored by Iran into a terrorist superpower.

So for all these reasons –

Iran’s two paths to the bomb and the cash jackpot Iran stands to receive –

For all these reasons, this is a very dangerous deal, and it threatens all of us.

My solemn responsibility as Prime Minister is to make sure that Israel’s concerns are heard.

It wasn’t long ago, certainly not that long ago, that the Jewish people were either incapable or unwilling to speak out in the face of mortal threats, and this had devastating consequences.

I’ve been very clear – the days when the Jewish people could not or would not speak up for themselves, those days are over.

Today we can speak out. Today we must speak out.

And we must do so together.

Here in Israel, Isaac Herzog, the Leader of the Labor Opposition, the man who ran against me in this year’s election and who works every day in the Knesset to bring down my government, Herzog has said that there is no daylight between us when it comes to the deal with Iran.

This is simply not a partisan issue in Israel.

Sure, some people disagree, but overwhelmingly across the political spectrum, a huge majority of Israelis oppose the deal.

So this is not a partisan issue in Israel.

It shouldn’t be a partisan issue in the United States either.

Nor is it a personal issue.

This isn’t about me.

And it’s not about President Obama.

It’s about the deal.

I’m asking you to rise above partisan politics as we in Israel have risen above it.

Judge the deal on its substance and on its substance alone.

The more people know about the deal, the more they oppose it.

And the more people know about the deal, the more the deal’s supporters try to stifle serious debate. They do so with false claims and efforts to delegitimize criticism.

Yet there’s one claim that is the most outrageous: that those who oppose this deal want war.

That’s utterly false.

We in Israel don’t want war. We want peace. Because it’s we who are on the front lines.

We face Iran’s terror on three borders. We face tens of thousands of Iranian rockets aimed at all our cities. We face Iran, whose regime repeatedly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

We face Iran whose terrorist proxies try to kill Jews every day.

We know that Iran is not only the leading state sponsor of terrorism, it’s also the leading state sponsor of anti-Semitism.

Israelis are going to be the ones who pay the highest price if there’s war and if Iran gets the bomb.

The claim that we oppose this deal because we want war is not just false. It’s outrageous.

Israel wants to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program and Israel wants peace. This deal will advance neither goal.

I don’t oppose this deal because I want war.

I oppose this deal because I want to prevent war, and this deal will bring war.

It will spark a nuclear arms race in the region and it would feed Iran’s terrorism and aggression. That would make war, perhaps the most horrific war of all, far more likely.

Don’t let the deal’s supporters quash a real debate.

The issue here is too important.

Don’t let them take your voice away at this critical moment in history.

What we do now will affect our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren – in Israel, in America, everywhere.

This is a time to stand up and be counted.

Oppose this dangerous deal.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 31, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks to Celebrate Israel 2015 in New York

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks to Celebrate Israel 2015 in NY

Source: PMO, 5-31-15
PM Netanyahu’s Greetings to ‘Celebrate Israel 2015 Parade’ in NY:

Our dear friends,
I salute you for saluting Israel.
Israel has no greater friend than America.
America has no greater friend than Israel.
I salute you from Jerusalem, the capital of our people for 3,000 years and the united capital of Israel for the last 48 years.
I send warm greetings to the thousands of you honoring Israel at the 2015 Celebrate Israel Parade.

You have gathered to express your solidarity with the one and only Jewish state. And in so doing, you are sending a powerful message of support for the essential justice of Israel’s cause.
In this turbulent region of the middle east, where countries are imploding, militant Islam runs rampant, terrorists butcher the innocent and human rights are routinely trampled upon, Israel stands out as a beacon of freedom and human rights, as a model of tolerance and diversity and as the one country in which the equal rights of all citizens are fiercely protected under the law.
So as y
ou salute Israel today in the streets of Manhattan, know that you are standing up for what is right and what is just.
Thank you. God bless you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to Jewish Federation Leaders in New York — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to Jewish Federation Leaders in New York

Source: PMO, 9-30-14
יום שלישי ו’ תשרי תשע”ה

Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, in New York, met with Jewish federation leaders and made the following remarks:

“Every time I come to the UN I try to tell the truth as it is. But here’s a picture I didn’t show in the UN yesterday. This is an impending execution. But this isn’t ISIS, this is Hamas. And during the recent fighting in Gaza, right around the time that ISIS was doing its grisly deeds, Hamas executed dozens of Palestinians just to impose fear and force the population of Gaza into submission. It’s true there are some differences between Hamas and ISIS – for example ISIS beheads people and Hamas puts a bullet in the back of their heads. But to the victims, and the victims’ families, the horror is the same. The point I was trying to make yesterday and I’m making today is that we are faced with a world-wide network of militant Islamists, groups and regimes. It’s not that they have a common war-room. They have war-rooms against each other because all of them wish to dominate first the region in which they are in and then ultimately the entire world. But they all share this fanatic ideology; they all have not only unbridled ambitions but also savage methods. And the more they have the capability to realize their ambitions, the more they’ll unleash their pent-up aggression against our common civilizations.

This is the point that I think is most important – We all support the efforts led by President Obama to stop and defeat ISIS, there’s no question that that has to be done. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is, as I said yesterday and I’ll say it again, is to win the battle and lose the war. We have to stop ISIS, defeat ISIS, but we have to prevent Iran from getting the capability to produce nuclear weapons.”

 

Full Text JBuzz Transcripts September 23, 2014: President Barack Obama Wishes The American Jewish Community a Sweet, Happy, and Healthy New Year

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Wishing You a Sweet, Happy, and Healthy New Year

Shanah Tovah from the White House! On Wednesday evening, Jews in the United States and around the world will begin celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The High Holidays offer the Jewish community a moment of pause, a time to reflect on the previous year and recommit to the unending task of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Together, working with people of all faiths, we can bring greater peace and prosperity to the world in 5775.

In his 2014 video message for the High Holidays, President Obama extends his wishes for a sweet new year and discusses why this time of year is so significant.

Watch on YouTube

Read the remarks:

Hello. As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather together for the High Holidays, Michelle…

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Israel Political Brief April 14, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu sends condolences to families of Kansas Jewish center shootings

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Netanyahu sends condolences to families of Kansas Jewish center shootings

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-14-14Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families of those killed in Sunday’s shootings at two Jewish centers in Overland Park Kansas….READ MORE

PM Netanyahu Sends Condolences to Families of the Victims of the Massacre in Kansas

Source: PMO, 4-14-14
יום שני י”ד ניסן תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends his condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s massacre in Overland Park, Kansas in the US. “We understand that the murders were — according to indications — were perpetrated out of hatred of Jews .

The State of Israel is at the forefront, along with all civilized peoples which are committed to the struggle against this scourge,” the Prime Minister said.

 

 

 

Jewish Brief June 7, 2013: JNF backs out of $500000 speaking fee for Bill Clinton at Shimon Peres birthday event

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JNF backs out of $500000 speaking fee for Bill Clinton at Peres event

Source: Haaretz, 6-7-13

Following public criticism of the large sum provided to the former U.S. president who is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a gala dinner honoring President Peres, JNF cancels its participation….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 4, 2013: American Jewish Leaders Push PM Benjamin Netanyahu To Trade Land for Peace

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American Jewish Leaders Push Benjamin Netanyahu To Trade Land for Peace

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-4-13

More than one hundred U.S. Jewish leaders urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make clear “Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 8, 2013: US President Barack Obama to US Jews: Peace vital but prospects bleak

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Obama to US Jews: Peace vital but prospects bleak

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-8-13

US President Barack Obama believes prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are “bleak,” but he still will urge both sides to avoid unilateral actions that might further damage a process he hopes will be back on track within a year….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Live Blogging: Annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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LIVE: Annual AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-3-13

Jerusalem Post’s living blogging includes  live video and Twitter coverage of AIPAC’s policy conference, featuring Netanyahu, Barak, Biden and more….READ MORE

AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

The AIPAC Policy Conference is the pro-Israel community’s preeminent annual gathering. The event attracts more than 10,000 community and student activists from all 50 states, and more than half of the Senate, a third of the House of Representatives and countless Israeli and American policymakers and thought leaders. Over three jam-packed days, Policy Conference participants choose from hundreds of informative sessions and participate in the pro-Israel community’s largest and most important advocacy day.

 

AIPAC 2013 Schedule

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3:00 PM

Registration and AIPAC Village Open

Sunday, March 3, 2013

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Opening General Session

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

2:15 PM – 4:30 PM

Breakout Session 2

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Afternoon General Session

Monday, March 4, 2013

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Monday Morning General Session

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Club Member Lunches

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Breakout Session 3

2:15 PM – 4:30 PM

Breakout Session 4

4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Regional Lobbying Training

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Club Member Receptions

8:30 PM – 10:30 PM

Gala Event

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

8:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Tuesday Morning General Session

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Lobbying Appointments

 

Confirmed Speakers

Featured Speakers

  • The Honorable Joe Biden Vice President of the United States of America
  • The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister – live via satellite
  • The Honorable Ehud Barak Israeli Defense Minister
  • The Honorable John Baird Canadian Foreign Minister
  • The Honorable Eric Cantor (R-VA) Majority Leader, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable John Cornyn (R-TX) Republican Whip, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Democratic Whip, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Member, Armed Services Committee, United States Senate
  • The Honorable John McCain (R-AZ) Member, Armed Services Committee, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee United States Senate
  • The Honorable Marcia Fudge (D-OH) Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus, United States House of Representatives
  • Ambassador Dennis Ross Counselor, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy
  • Elliott Abrams Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies Council on Foreign Relations

Ambassadors

  • Ambassador Yehuda Avner, Former Advisor to Israel’s Prime Ministers; Former Israeli Ambassador to Australia and the United Kingdom
  • Ambassador Dan Benjamin, Norman E. McCullogh Director, John Sloan Dickey Center for Understanding, Dartmouth College
  • Ambassador Barukh Binah Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Israel to the United States
  • Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco
  • Ambassador Brad Gordon, Director, Policy and Government Affairs, AIPAC
  • Ambassador Fred Hof, Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council; Former Special Representative on Syria, United States Department of State
  • Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff, Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ambassador Michael Oren*, Ambassador of Israel to the United States
  • Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
  • Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy; Former National Security Council Senior Director for the Central Region
  • Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, President, United Against Nuclear Iran; Former United States Ambassador to the European Union
  • Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States
  • Ambassador Daniel Taub, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, State of Israel to the Court of St. James

 

Members of Congress

  • The Honorable Shelley Berkley, Former Member, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Leader, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable John Cornyn (R-TX), Republican Whip, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Vice Chair, Democratic Caucus; Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Ted Cruz (R-TX), Member, Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Democratic Whip, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman, Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Peter King (R-NY), Chairman, Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee, United States Senate
  • The Honorable Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rannking Member, Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, United States House of Representatives

Jewish Political Brief February 13, 2013: ZOA chief Morton Klein: US Jews shied away from Chuck Hagel controversy

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ZOA chief: US Jews shied away from Hagel row

Source: Jerusalem Post, 2-13-13

Morton Klein tells Post that other Jewish leaders urged him to drop ‘campaign against Hagel’, accuses them of being ‘frightened group of Jews’….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 22, 2013: Elections 2013: Memo To The Next Knesset: Get To Know American Jewry

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Memo To The Next Knesset: Get To Know American Jewry

Source: The Jewish Week, 1-22-13

Israeli media coverage of American Jewish life is mostly confined to the ebb and flow of the Israel lobby in Washington…..READ MORE

Israel Political Brief December 16, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu & President Shimon Peres send condolence messages about Newtown School Shooting massacre

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Israeli leaders send condolence messages in Newtown massacre

Source: JTA, 12-16-12

Israeli leaders sent letters of condolence to President Obama over the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.

Israeli President Shimon Peres: “On behalf of the people of Israel, as friends and as parents, we stand with you today in contemplation and grief over the atrocious, incomprehensible massacre of 20 children and six adults — educators — at Sandy Hook Elementary School. No experience with death can be likened to that of a parents’ loss of their child. No crime is more heinous than the killing of a child.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring. I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones. May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.”

In a video message posted on YouTube, Netanyahu addressed the American people, saying, “The people of Israel grieve with you. I can only pray that God will give you the strength, as he has given us, to overcome the tragedy and go on living.”

Israel Political Brief September 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Rosh Hoshanah Greeting

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President Obama’s Rosh Hoshanah Greeting

Source: WH, 9-13-12

As we look forward to the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays Sunday night, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all those celebrating the New Year.

This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose.

In that spirit, the Jewish Tradition teaches us that one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation. We’re called to seek each other out and make amends for those moments when we may not have lived up to our values as well as we should.

At a time when our public discourse can too often seem harsh; when society too often focuses on what divides us instead of what unites us; I hope that Americans of all faiths can take this opportunity to reach out to those who are less fortunate; to be tolerant of our neighbors; and to recognize ourselves in one another. And as a nation, let us be mindful of those who are suffering, and renew the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies – including the State of Israel.

In that spirit, Michelle and I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness, and peace. L’Shana Tovah.

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 15, 2012: Text of US Jewish leaders’ letter to PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Levy settlement report

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Text of Jewish leaders’ letter to Netanyahu on Levy settlement report

40 U.S. Jewish leaders sign Israel Policy Forum letter urging prime minister to reject document produced by panel headed by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy.

U.S. Jews to Netanyahu: Report urging state to legalize settlements will aid those seeking to delegitimize Israel

July 13, 2012

The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of the State of Israel

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.
As you boldly stated in your address to the United States Congress last May, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” As you said clearly, doing so is not easy. While the Jewish people indeed share a biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria, you told Congress, “there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.”
Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
We are confident that with your deep understanding of the gravity of this situation, and your unprecedented political strength, you will ensure that adoption of this report does not take place.

Sincerely,

Karen R. Adler
Jack C. Bendheim
Michael Berenbaum
Howard M. Bernstein
Charles R. Bronfman
Steven M. Cohen
Rabbi Marion Lev Cohen
Lester Crown
Thomas A. Dine
Rabbi David Ellenson
Edith Everett
Susie Gelman
E. Robert Goodkind
Stanley P. Gold
Rabbi Daniel Gordis
David A. Halperin
Harold R. Handler
Alan S. Jaffe
Peter A. Joseph
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky
Peter S. Kolevzon
Steven C. Koppel
Burton Lehman
Marvin Lender
Geoffrey H. Lewis
Deborah Lipstadt
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Burt Neuborne
Bernard Nussbaum
Richard Pearlstone
Marcia Riklis
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn
David Sable
Rabbi David Saperstein
Jeffrey R. Solomon
Joel D. Tauber
Melvyn I. Weiss
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Michael D. Young
Lawrence Zicklin

Affiliations provided below for identification purposes only

Karen R. Adler (New York, NY) – Chair, Executive Committee of the Jewish Communal Fund

Jack C. Bendheim (New York, NY) – President & Chairman, Phibro Animal Health Corp.; former Chairman, IPF

Michael Berenbaum (Los Angeles, CA) – Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University; former Project Director of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC

Howard M. Bernstein (Los Angeles, CA) – Emeritus Member of Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Honorary Board Member, Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Charles R. Bronfman (New York, NY; Montreal) – Chairman, Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

Rabbi Marion Lev Cohen (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum; Director of Adult Engagement, Central Synagogue

Steven M. Cohen (New York, NY) – Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University

Lester Crown (Chicago, IL) – Chairman of Henry Crown & Co.; Crown Family Philanthropies

Thomas A. Dine (Washington, DC) – Former Executive Director of AIPAC

Rabbi David Ellenson (New York, NY) – President, Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion

Edith Everett (New York, NY) Co-founder and President, Everett Family Foundation

Susie Gelman (Washington, DC) – Immediate Past President, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Stanley P. Gold (Los Angeles, CA) – Chairman Emeritus, Jewish Federation of LA; President and CEO, Shamrock Holdings

E. Robert Goodkind (New York, NY) – Partner, Pryor Cashman LLP; former President, American Jewish Committee (’04-’07)

Rabbi Daniel Gordis (Jerusalem) – Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem

David A. Halperin (New York, NY) – Executive Director, Israel Policy Forum

Harold R. Handler (New York, NY) – Former President, JCC in Manhattan; Former Chairman, Jewish Communal Fund; Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Alan S. Jaffe (New York, NY) – President, Jewish Community Relations Council-NY; former President, UJA-Federation-NY; former Chairman, Proskauer

Peter A. Joseph (New York, NY) – Chairman, Israel Policy Forum

Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky (New York, NY) – Temple Ansche Chesed

Peter S. Kolevzon (New York, NY) – Founding Chair and Past President, JCC in Manhattan

Steven C. Koppel (New York, NY) – Partner, JonesDay; Member, International Board of Governors, The Peres Center for Peace

Burton Lehman (New York, NY) – Former Chair and Member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute Religion

Marvin Lender (Connecticut) – Former National Chairman, UJA

Geoffrey H. Lewis (Boston, MA) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Deborah Lipstadt (Atlanta, GA) – Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University

Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (New York, NY) – Congregation Bnai Jeshurun

Harriet Mouchly-Weiss (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Burt Neuborne (New York, NY) – Professor of Law, NYU

Bernard Nussbaum (New York, NY) – Former White House Counsel (’94); Partner, Wachtell Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Richard Pearlstone (Aspen, CO) – Former Chairman, Jewish Agency

Marcia Riklis (New York, NY) – Board member, Israel Policy Forum; General Campaign Co-Chair, UJA Federation-NY

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn (New York, NY) – Program Director, Jewish Life and Values, Nathan Cummings Foundation

David Sable (New York, NY) – Former Executive Board Member, UJA Federation-NY

Rabbi David Saperstein (Washington, DC) – Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jeffrey R. Solomon (New York, NY) – President, Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

Joel D. Tauber (Southfield, MI) – Former Chairman, National UJA; former National Chairman of Tel Aviv University: American Council

Melvyn I. Weiss (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie (New York, NY) – President Emeritus, Union for Reform Judaism

Michael D. Young (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Lawrence Zicklin (New York, NY) – Former President, UJA Federation-NY

Israel Political Brief July 15, 2012: 40 US Jewish Leaders Send Letter to PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Bury Levy Report — Includes Charles Bronfman, Daniel Gordis, Deborah Lipstadt

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40 U.S. Jewish Leaders to Bibi: Bury Levy Report

Source: Israel National News, 7-15-12

Philanthropist Charles Bronfman, Shalem Center head Gordis among signatories who fear report will imperil Israel.
Delegates at AIPAC conference

Delegates at AIPAC conference
Hezki Ezra

More than 40 prominent American Jewish leaders and philanthropists sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday in which they implored him not to approve the judicial report that says Jews may settle freely in Judea and Samaria….READ MORE

Jewish News Brief May 30, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Jewish American Heritage Month White House Reception

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IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA HOSTS AMERICAN JEWISH HERITAGE MONTH EVENT AT WHITE HOUSE

Obama hosts Jewish heritage event at White House

Source: JTA, 5-30-12

President Obama celebrated the values of communities petitioning government at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month.

“We don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future,” he said. “And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union, and for that I am extraordinarily grateful.”

Obama focused a large portion of his remarks on the 150th anniversary of an order that was issued by Gen. Ulysses Grant expelling Jews “as a class” from the military department of Tennessee.

“It was wrong. Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought,” Obama said.

He went on to note that American Jews protested the order. “What happened next could have only taken place in America,” the president said. “Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.”

Obama described how a Jewish merchant from Kentucky met with President Abraham Lincoln and, following the meeting, the order was revoked.

“Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream,” Obama said. “But this country holds a special promise: That if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right, our union can be made more perfect, and our world can be repaired.”

The order by Lincoln to revoke Grant’s order was on display during the reception, as were letters from two Jewish groups asking for the revocation.

Years later as president, Grant said that he recognized his mistake and apologized for the order. Also on display was a receipt for his contribution to the Adas Israel congregation, which still exists, after attending an 1876 service.

Before he delivered his little history lesson, Obama’s staff consulted with Brandeis University’s Jonathan Sarna, who is an expert on American Jewish history…. READ MORE

  • Obama’s elegant post-blunder speech on Jewish heritage: Obama chose to ignore his referring to Nazi concentration camps as ‘Polish death camps’ during the Jewish American heritage reception, instead choosing to focus on a Jewish struggle during the Civil War…. – Haaretz, 5-31-12

Remarks by the President to a Jewish American Heritage Reception

Source: WH, 5-30-12

East Room

5:17 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Well, welcome to the White House, everybody.  I hope you’re having fun.  Excellent.

I want to recognize Ambassador Michael Oren, and thank him for his work representing our great friend, the state of Israel.  I want to recognize and thank all the members of Congress and the members of my administration who are here today.  I want to thank our musical guests, Rak Shalom.  (Applause.)  I was just meeting with all of them back there — they said they did quite a few numbers.  And they were outstanding, I know.

This year, we celebrate Jewish Heritage Month — Jewish American Heritage Month, and we’re also commemorating an important anniversary.  One hundred-fifty years ago, General Ulysses Grant issued an order –- known as General Orders Number 11 –- that would have expelled Jews, “as a class,” from what was then known as the military department of the Tennessee.  It was wrong.  Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought.

But what happened next could have only taken place in America. Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.  A Jewish merchant from Kentucky traveled here, to the White House, and met with President Lincoln in person.  After their meeting, President Lincoln revoked the order — one more reason why we like President Lincoln.  (Laughter and applause.)

And to General Grant’s credit, he recognized that he had made a serious mistake.  So later in his life, he apologized for this order, and as President, he went out of his way to appoint Jews to public office and to condemn the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Today, we have a few documents on display –- maybe some of you saw them when you walked in.  There are two letters of protest from Jewish organizations to President Lincoln.  There is President Lincoln’s handwritten reply, saying that he had taken action.  And there is a receipt for the donation that President Grant made to the Adas Israel Synagogue here in Washington, when he attended a service there in 1876.

So together, these papers tell a story, a fundamentally American story.  Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream.  But this country holds a special promise:  that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired.

Today, it’s our turn, our generation’s turn.  And you guys, your generation’s turn.  You’re younger than us.  (Laughter.)  We got some later generations here in the front.  We’re the ones who have to stand up for our shared values.   Here at home, we have to rebuild an America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

Beyond our borders, we have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights; and that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot of work to do.  But as your traditions teach us, while we are not obligated to finish the work, neither are we free to desist from that work.

So today, we don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future.  And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union; and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful.

God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
5:21 P.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief May 22, 2012: Vice President Joe Biden Reassures Jewish Leaders at Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations ‘All Options on Table’ with Iran

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Biden Reassures Jewish Leaders ‘All Options on Table’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told American Jewish leaders Tuesday “all options are on the table” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Source: Israel National News, 5-22-12

VP Joseph Biden Meets with Conference of Presidents
VP Joseph Biden Meets with Conference of Presidents
Israel News photo courtesy of Joshua Roberts

Speaking with 70 leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Washington, Biden and other senior Obama administration officials briefed the leaders on U.S. foreign policy.

The emphasis was on Iran, which secured an apparent agreement with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency that Israel sees as not being strong enough to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions. The deal is supposed to allow United Nations nuclear inspectors to visit Iran’s nuclear sites.

Iranian officials are to meet in Baghdad on Wednesday with the “P5 + 1,” comprised of the five United Nations Security Council permanent members and Germany.

Iran is to receive a proposal that is expected to include its agreement to shut down a high-grade uranium enrichment operation. Israeli leaders are strongly skeptical of any agreement that does not require Iran to stop all enrichment of uranium, a key element for a nuclear weapon.

At the meeting with Jewish leaders, the American officials, including Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough reiterated the administration’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security.

The Conference leaders routinely meet with White House officials once a year, but Tuesday’s meeting was politically important because of the presidential elections in November.

Virtually all polls show that President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, who has sewn up the GOP nomination, are running neck and-neck, with a marginal advantage to Romney.

Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Vice President Biden met today at the White House with representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The Vice President addressed the Obama Administration’s unprecedented support for Israel’s security; our steadfast opposition to any attempts to delegitimize Israel; and our commitment to a lasting, secure peace that is in the interest of Israelis, Palestinians and the United States. The Vice President also discussed a range of regional issues, including Iran. The Vice President praised attendees for their support of a strong relationship between the United States and Israel and the broad range of policy, charitable and intellectual pursuits in which they are engaged.

Israel Political Brief May 6, 2012: Michael Oren: Israeli envoy calls for Israel support, respect for religious pluralism in AJC Speech

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Israeli envoy Michael Oren calls for Israel support, respect for religious pluralism

Source: JTA, 5-6-12

In two speeches calling for increased Jewish unity, Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michal Oren urged stronger Diaspora support for Israel and greater Israeli respect for the diversity of Jewish life in America.

“Sometimes it seems that we, Israelis and American Jews, not only inhabit different countries but different universes, different realities,” Oren said in a May 4 speech in Washington to an American Jewish Committee gathering of about 400 young Jewish activists from around the world….

“Ironically, at a time when support for Israel in this country is at a near all-time high — indeed it’s one of the few truly bipartisan issues — we Jews seem increasingly divided,” Oren said in his Washington remarks. “Let me be clear: At stake is not merely Israel’s policies or rights of American Jews to criticize them. At stake is nothing less than the unity of a Jewish people.”…

“The pro-Israel person sees Israelis — left, right, religious, secular — not as some distant ‘other’ but as part of a whole — a dynamic, creative, rambunctious and precious whole,” Oren said in Washington. “The pro-Israel people are those who view even those who disagree with them politically as part of their people, as mishpochah,” or family….

“In Israel,” he said, “to be pro-‘the Jewish people’ is to guarantee respectful space for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel, to maintain a dialogue over the conversion issue, to enable open debate about those Israeli policies that impact all of world Jewry.”

Israel Political Brief May 1, 2012: Obama’s Jewish Numbers On The Rise

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Obama’s Jewish Numbers On The Rise

Source: The NY Jewish Week, 5-1-12

President Obama at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last month. getty images

President Obama at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last month. getty images

President jumps to 61 percent of vote from 45
in September, but observers cautious on AJC poll results.

Does President Barack Obama have his Jewish mojo back?

Did the rightward tilt of the Republican presidential primaries, where culture war issues surged to the top of the GOP agenda, scare off potential Jewish voters?

Or is Election Day simply too far in the future for a poll in April to carry much significance?

Those are some of the questions to emerge as analysts dissect the data from the latest opinion poll of American Jews by the American Jewish Committee.

The survey of 1,074 people who identify as Jewish, taken between March 14 and March 27, found that in the prior six months, the president — who has spent much of his term trying to beat back criticism from the Jewish right that he is anti-Israel — has seen his appeal to Jews spike to 61 percent, from 45 percent in September.

And if the election were held today, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, would receive just 28 percent of the Jewish vote.

Obama’s share of 61 percent is virtually identical with the 62 percent Jewish approval rating found by the Public Religion Research Institute a month earlier. (Those figures are well below the 78 percent he garnered in the 2008 election, but Jews continue to support Obama more than almost any other group in the country). It sampled 1,004 self-identified Jewish adults between Feb. 23 and March 5….READ MORE

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