Israel Musings March 29, 2015: Boehner, McConnell backing up Israel PM Netanyahu on Iran nuclear deal sanctions

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Boehner, McConnell backing up Israel PM Netanyahu on Iran nuclear deal sanctions

March 29, 2015

Details are emerging about the Iran nuclear weapons deal that is in its final stages of negotiations for the framework deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking out against the deal, that is even “worse” than he…

Israel Musings March 24, 2015: Israel denies US claims of spying on Iran nuclear talks

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Israel denies US claims of spying on Iran nuclear talks

March 24, 2015

Senior US official are accusing Israel of spying on the US and P5+1 Iran nuclear weapons talks according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Monday, March 23, 2015. The allegation accuses Israel of gathering the information…

Israel Musings March 20, 2015: Obama threatening trying to manipulate Netanyahu, Israel over Palestinian state

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Obama threatening trying to manipulate Netanyahu, Israel over Palestinian state

March 20, 2015

President Barack Obama and his administration are continuing their threats and attempts to manipulate Israel on Thursday, March 19, 2015 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sweeping victory. Only two days after Israel’s election on…

Israel Musings March 18, 2015: Obama’s sore loser reaction to Netanyahu’s win no congratulations only threats

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Obama’s sore loser reaction to Netanyahu’s win no congratulations only threats

March 18, 2015

President Barack Obama and his administration are acting like sore losers on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu solidified a major victory in Israel’s elections on Tuesday, March 17. Netanyahu’…

Jewish Political Brief November 7, 2012: Fighting over every percentage point: Arguing about the Jewish vote and exit polls

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Fighting over every percentage point: Arguing about the Jewish vote and exit polls

Source: JTA, 11-7-12

President Obama earned 69-70 percent of the Jewish vote, according to exit polls, but it was a drop from his 2008 showing. Expect four more years of tussling between Democrats and Republicans as to why….READ MORE

Jewish Political Brief November 7, 2012: Republican Jewish Coalition urges unity after Barack Obama wins Presidential Election, notes GOP’s Jewish gains

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RJC urges unity after Obama win, notes GOP’s Jewish gains

Source: JTA, 11-7-12

The Republican Jewish Coalition called on all Americans to “come together to craft real solutions to the very serious problems our country faces today” after President Obama won reelection….READ MORE

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

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

Source: JTA, 11-7-12

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

 

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

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Josh Mandel falls to Sherrod Brown in Ohio

Source: JTA, 11-6-12

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

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

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GOP Leaders: Obama Announcement Comes 4 Years Too Late

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

Mitt Romney
Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel Political Brief July 17, 2012: As US officials Descend on Israel, Republicans Rally for Votes for Upcoming Elections

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As U.S. officials descend on Israel, Republicans rally for votes

Source: JTA, 6-17-12

The Republican Jewish Coalition campaigned for votes in Israel ahead of the expected visit to the country by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while U.S. officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also came to talk about American policy concerns in the Middle East….READ MORE

 

Are US-Israel Relations Heading for a Change?

Source: Israel National News, 7-17-12

Former ambassadors Yoram Ettinger and Zalman Shoval analyze the views of the candidates in the upcoming US presidential elections.
Obama Mitt Romney Candidates

Obama Mitt Romney Candidates
Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel Monday for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This visit precedes an expected visit by Republican Candidate Mitt Romney, who is seeking to unseat President Obama.

This visit has been touted as one where strategic and regional issues will be discussed, yet the timing of the visit is questionable as President Obama is in the midst of a tight reelection campaign. As election season permeates the air and campaigns for the upcoming November elections intensify, both candidates will declare unshakable support for Israel in the hope of luring the necessary extra votes.

While most voters in America vote with their pockets – the main issues are economic- for some, policy towards Israel is important.

What can be expected from each candidate in the foreign policy arena and specifically with regard to  Israel?…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 12, 2012: Michael Oren Israeli ambassador to New York Times: PM Benjamin Netanyahu does not interfere in US elections

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Israeli ambassador to New York Times: Netanyahu does not interfere in U.S. elections

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, submits letter to the editor to NYT, complaining about article detailing the close relationship between Netanyahu and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Source: Haaretz, 4-12-12

The duel between the New York Times and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers continues. Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren submitted a letter to the editor to the New York Times’ editorial board, with a complaint regarding an article which was published several days ago about the close ties between Netanyahu and the likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In the letter, which was published on Thursday, Oren rejected the allegations that Netanyahu is intervening in the presidential race in the United States.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitt Romney in Jerusalem last year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitt Romney in Jerusalem last year.
Photo by: GPO

“Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States — contrary to the article’s insinuation — and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America,” Oren wrote.

In Michael Barbaro’s article, which was published on the front page of the New York Times on Monday, it was mentioned that several weeks ago on Super Tuesday, Netanyahu personally briefed Romney on the phone regarding the situation in Iran.

The article also said that the relationship between Netanyahu and Romney began in 1976 and remained intact until today.

The article gave several examples of the open lines of communication between Netanyahu and Romney.

“When it was Mr. Gingrich’s turn to leap to the top of the polls, Mr. Netanyahu was startled in January by an article exploring why Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino executive and outspoken supporter of Israel, was devoting millions of dollars to back Mr. Gingrich. It described Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Adelson as close friends,” the article stated.

“Mr. Netanyahu’s office quickly relayed a message to a senior Romney adviser, Dan Senor: the prime minister had played no role in Mr. Adelson’s decision to bankroll a Romney rival.”

In the letter submitted to the New York Times, Oren claimed that the phone call on Super Tuesday that was mentioned was actually Romney calling Netanyahu, who was in Washington for the AIPAC conference.

“The call lasted a few minutes and covered a range of topics, not just Iran,” Oren wrote.

“Israeli leaders have a longstanding practice of meeting the candidates from both parties. On July 23, 2008, for example, Senator Obama, then the presumptive Democratic nominee, met in Israel with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as the head of the opposition, Mr. Netanyahu,” he added.

Oren’s complaint letter to the New York Times has already turned into the norm in the loaded relationship between the newspaper and the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Just several weeks ago, Netanyahu’s adviser Ron Dermer sent his own letter to the New York Times in which he emphasized that the Israeli prime minister does not plan on writing any op-ed pieces in the newspaper, due to its constant criticism of the Netanyahu government’s policies.

A month later, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde said at a closed event that Netanyahu told him that the New York Times is one of the main enemies of Israel, since it “sets the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world.”

Shortly afterward, following pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, Linde issued a clarification and recanted.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Speech / Remarks at AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference — Transcript

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Leader Cantor’s Speech To AIPAC

Source: Majority Leader, 3-5-12

Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. The embargoed text of his speech, as prepared for delivery, appears below:

Good afternoon. It’s always such an honor to speak before you at AIPAC. You have gathered here because you have faith, because you have commitment, and because you have love for America and her great friend, Israel.

America and Israel are two lights among all nations. They are envied by many, but known for their dedication to human freedom, opportunity and growth. In thinking about the differences in worldviews that exist today, I come to a conclusion.

It is the province of idealists to dream. It is the province of realists to wake up. Let me emphasize, we need idealists. Idealism animated America’s Founding Fathers and Israel’s Founding Fathers. But we also need idealists who transition into the realists personified by the Founding Fathers of both America and Israel.

In the Middle East, now is the time to be realists – to wake up, before all dreams turn into an unbearable nightmare. We must stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. To minimize the Iranian threat is to fall into the same trap that led to the Holocaust – a lack of imagination about how far evil can go.

A visit to Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, provides all of us a reality check. The first time I went there, I was struck by the Hall of Names. It is a room that contains about 2.5 million pages of personal testimonies about the identities and life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. How tragic that we Jews, known as the People of the Book, should have to assemble a book of the slaughter of our innocents.

On January 3 of this year, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke darkly of what he called the Zionist regime – Israel – and he referred to quote, “the endpoint of its existence.” To that, today we reply, Mr. Ahmadinejad, Israel’s existence will endure, long after you are gone.

To ensure that, we have to transition from confusion to clarity in the Middle East. A major source of confusion is: Where is the leadership? Who is leading from the front with a finger pointing in the right direction rather than a finger pointing in the wind? America needs to be a compass, not a weathervane, in the Middle East.

Even many of Israel’s adversaries are clamoring for clarity. They fear Iran’s efforts to foment instability and extremism in the region more than they fear Israel, as I found out on my recent visit to countries in the Gulf. They want a balance of power in the Middle East, not an unbalanced power like Iran.

America’s role is not to put its hand on the scale and balance it against Israel. America’s role is to put its fist on the scale to weigh down the terrorism, fanaticism and anti-Semitism of Iran and its proxies.

So, let us not send mixed messages when it comes to Israel. That only serves to confuse the world, including Israel’s enemies. As elusive as peace has been in the Middle East, the only way it can be approached is through strength.

Time and again, the countries of the Middle East, and especially the terrorists who reside there, have sent the clear message that all they respect, all they respond to is strength. Strength is the only language that our enemies, and Israel’s enemies, understand. No translation is required.

To deny our enemies their deadly options, we must keep all our options on the table: diplomatic and military. The time for illusions is over. The reality is that Iran is moving closer and closer to attaining a nuclear weapons capability. Neither Israel nor America can afford to be nuclear re-actors. Leadership requires action, not re-action.

But to be effective, leadership requires three assets: Superior intelligence. Superior capability. And Superior will.

For years, Iran has been scoffing at the United States and Israel, signaling that it believes it has nothing to lose. America and Israel must now demonstrate that we do have the intelligence, capability and will – both military and moral – to persuade Iran that we will meet its folly with force.

I, for one, do not apologize when I say that Israel and America, while not perfect, have the two most morally responsible militaries in the world. Might exercised with righteousness is might that makes right. The soldiers of Israel and America are trained to be moral and responsible, and are held to the highest ethical standards. Our militaries operate at great expense and with great risk to conduct operations that place a premium on avoiding collateral damage. By contrast, many of our adversaries intentionally target innocent women and children.

When it comes to Iran, Al Qaeda, the Taliban or any of our other enemies, it is not true that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

It is not liberty or freedom that our enemies are fighting for. Our enemies have made it plain that they oppose the freedoms that Israel and America uphold.

These are freedoms that people worldwide cry out for and often die for. We have seen those people die in the streets of Tehran, Cairo, Tripoli, Aleppo and many other places. So, when world bodies such as the United Nations single out Israel as an oppressor, we must ask: have you no eyes, have you no hearts, have you no judgment – and who are you to judge?

Anti-Israel propagandists would have you believe that Israelis have stolen the freedom from Palestinian people. But what kind of freedom is it when Palestinian terrorists like Hamas in Gaza use their own women, children, elderly and other innocents as human shields? They reprehensively calculate that a maximum of civilian casualties will generate a maximum of worldwide condemnation of Israel.

What kind of democracy have the Palestinians built for themselves? An intra-Palestinian civil war in Gaza that gave way to a Hamas-controlled terrorist rump-state? Or a corrupt Fatah Party in the West Bank that has resisted political reforms and undermined Prime Minister Fayyad’s efforts to build democratic institutions and promote economic growth?

Yes, Israel fights but in self-defense. And it is in self-defense that Israel lives. But you will rarely read of the toll that takes on Israel’s own innocents.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip in a concession to try to further peace, leaving the border areas under the control of Egypt and the Palestinians. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been turned into a base for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorists to lob rocket attacks on Israel. Many of these groups are supported by Iran.

Sderot, a western city near the Gaza Strip, has been the target of those attacks for years. When I last visited there, I was told a story about life for one Israeli mother and her young children. In just six months, more than 160 rockets were fired at their city. When a rocket is detected, a siren goes off.

It gives residents about 15 seconds to rush for shelter in the safe room of a house, in a car – anywhere they can flee to try to protect themselves. This constant barrage has traumatized this woman’s children. They are afraid to leave her side. They have regressed in their growth habits like bathroom training. Their anxieties are so intense that if they hear a car door slam they jump with fright – sometimes under a table.

Sadly, this reminds me of Golda Meier’s remark that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

We must stop following mirages in the Middle East and start following through on this reality: our mission in the Middle East is to drive our stake in the sand with our values – to proclaim our values rather than apologize for them. And no country in the Middle East stands aligned with America’s values more than Israel.

Start with the American Bill of Rights and the value of freedom of speech. In Israel, there is so much freedom of speech, it makes your head spin. Sadly, as we’ve seen elsewhere in the Middle East, attempting freedom of speech can make you lose your head.

Consider the American value of freedom of religion. In Israel, you are not only free to practice any religion you wish, you can choose to practice no religion at all. Where else in the Middle East is this the case?

Then there is the American value of freedom of the press. In Israel, there is the old joke of two Jews, three opinions – and you can get all those opinions in the newspapers, on TV, on the Internet, on the radio – even in the graffiti on the walls. Elsewhere in the Middle East, sometimes when you publish, you perish.

Let’s look at the American value of freedom of assembly to come together in meetings, discuss problems and plan actions, in a peaceful way and also to petition your government. Let’s be honest, Israel is not only known for its kibbutzniks; it’s especially known for its kibitzers. To meet, talk, plan, protest and that includes criticizing your government. That’s in Israelis’ DNA. But in countries that surround Israel, large and small gatherings of citizens voicing their concerns too often produce bloodshed, brutality and jail sentences.

Finally, in America and Israel, women’s rights are deeply enshrined in our laws and our cultures and there are many protections for minorities – whether they be religious, racial or of sexual orientation. But as you travel through other parts of the Middle East, women and minorities are suppressed and repressed, denied rights and their dignity.

Because Israel shares American values, Americans should value Israel all the more. America’s job should not be to micromanage Israel. It should be to macromanage the proliferation of our values in the Middle East, values that Israel cherishes just as we do.

It is often said that if you don’t stand up for something, you will put up with anything. This is another thing I heard in country after country in our trip to the gulf. Confusion about where America stands has raised questions about what some of our leaders in Washington are willing to put up with. That’s not just about Iran, it’s about Syria, it’s about Iraq, it’s about Egypt and it’s about Libya.

In order to see the bigger picture in the Middle East, some in Washington must stop standing small – stooping to belittle Israel by taking for granted its sacrifices, its security and its solidarity with America. We must stand tall by our allies, and no ally stands taller for us than Israel. We must stand by our commitments, and no commitment is greater than Israel’s is to us. Let us do unto Israel as Israel keeps doing unto us. Loyalty deserves loyalty. Trust merits trust in return.

That is why, as Whip Hoyer mentioned, we will be introducing the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. This bipartisan bill will reaffirm our enduring commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and expresses Congress’ support for a number of steps to make Israel and America more secure.

The reality is that Israel has a problematic situation, but Israel is not the real problem in the Middle East. The problem is that you cannot negotiate with those who deny your very existence. When nations or terrorists openly proclaim their unshakable determination to destroy you, to wipe you off the map, to visit a Holocaust upon you, whether you are America or Israel, you do not jabber about even-handedness and moral equivalency. You come down firmly and do what is right, real and required.

In America and in Israel, there is much disagreement about policy. And plenty of politicians argue about them day in and day out. But in both countries, most of the politicians have shown themselves capable of uniting around a single cause. That cause is that Israel deserves not just to survive, but also to thrive.

Many of us have been to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. There, people from around the world stuff messages written on paper in between the stones of the ancient wall. The message I would like to place in that wall, signed jointly by the leaders of America and Israel, is a single phrase in Hebrew: L’chaim – to life.

Let us all come together around that message: long live America, Israel, and righteous people everywhere, in the Middle East and around the world.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 7, 2011: GOP Candidates Speeches at Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum — Transcripts

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LIVE BLOG: U.S. presidential candidates speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition

Haaretz’s minute-by-minute updates as Republican presidential hopefuls talk about Israel, American Jews, the economy and the Iranian threat.

Source: Haaretz, 12-7-11

Hundreds of people convened Wednesday on a rainy morning in the Ronald Reagan building at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington. Unlike the presidential debates, this time the candidates took stage one by one, offering to answer the audience’s questions.

There was one candidate missing, though. The organizers have decided not invite Rep. Ron Paul, saying that even though the decision seems “ill advised,” there is no reason “to allow Paul to pretend he is anything but an extremist who is far outside of the mainstream, especially when it comes to issues concerning the U.S.-Israel alliance.”….

C-SPAN full video coverage

Video: Newt Speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum

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Newt discusses his support of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s chosen capital of Jerusalem…. Read Full Story

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks to Republican Jewish Coalition

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Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C. The following remarks were prepared for delivery.
I am grateful to the Republican Jewish Coalition for hosting this forum.
Thank you Chairman Flaum and Matt Brooks for your leadership.
And, of course, I join you in honoring the service of Ambassador Sam Fox.  Ambassador Fox has contributed in extraordinary ways to our economy, to our communities, to our nation, and to Israel.
Today, we gather as Republicans, Americans, and friends of Israel.  For us, the last three years have held a lot of change, but haven’t offered much hope.
Our debt is too high and opportunities are too few.  Almost a trillion dollars in failed stimulus and trillions more in deficits have left millions of Americans out of work.
The unemployment rate has been over 8% for 34 months.  Over the last four years, the median American income has fallen by 10%, even as the costs of food and fuel and healthcare have risen. Americans are suffering. The poor have a safety net and the rich are doing just fine, but middle-income Americans have never seen things so bad.
Internationally, we have witnessed a weakening of our military and a decline in our standing in the world.
President Obama’s troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan were based upon electoral expediency, not military requirement.
He has bowed to foreign dictators.  And when the opportunity arose to defend freedom, he’s either been late to the game or failed to show up at all.
President Obama rushed to apologize for America, but he has hesitated to speak up for democracy and freedom.
He has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq.  He even offered to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in three years, he has not found it in his interest to visit Israel, our ally, our friend, the sole Middle East nation that fully shares our values, the nation in President Truman’s words, that is an “embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”
No, over the past three years, President Obama has instead chastened Israel.  In his inaugural address to the United Nations, the President chastised Israel, but said little about the thousands of Hamas rockets raining into its skies. He’s publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He’s insulted its Prime Minister. And he’s been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.
These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table. President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.
As President, my policies will be very different. I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them dearly.
I would not meet with Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. He should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the Genocide Convention. Iran’s ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the entire world.  Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve.
Today, you will hear from several of my fellow Republicans. Like me, each will acknowledge President Obama’s failings toward Israel. Like me, each will assure you of our friendship and commitment to Israel. We are not distinguished from one another by our opposition to President Obama … or even by our support for Israel.  What distinguishes us is our experience, our perspective, and our judgment.
I spent 25 years in business.  I’ve signed the front and the back of a paycheck.  I’ve helped businesses, like the Sports Authority and Staples, to grow from start-ups to international enterprises.  I’ve served as governor of a state and the steward of the Olympics.
My perspective is informed by those experiences and by the defining constants in my life: my 42-year marriage to my wife, Ann; the life we’ve built with our five sons; and the faith that sustains us.  My family, my faith, and our freedom – these are enduring truths in my life. My commitments are firm, and they do not falter.
When I was young, I had the opportunity to live abroad.  I recognized that the greatest advantage my parents had given me was being born in America.  I am passionate about the principles that have made this nation the land of opportunity and a shining city on a hill.
I believe in America. I believe it is the greatest nation in the history of the earth.  I believe that the next century must be an American century. Our highest priority must be to maintain a people, an economy, and a military so strong that no nation would ever risk challenging it.
My faith in America stems both from my faith in the American people, and from the principles that have made our people strong. We are a people from all parts of the world and all walks of life, but we are strengthened by our nation’s unique founding principles. It is not accident or luck that made America the greatest nation in the world – it is the power of our values and beliefs.
We weathered a Great Depression.  We emerged victorious from two world wars.  We faced down an Evil Empire.
Today, as we face new challenges and threats, I have every conviction that the American people, edified by American principles, will rise to the occasion again, securing our safety, our prosperity, and our peace.
One of these principles is a merit-based society.  In a merit-based society, people achieve success and rewards through hard work, education, risk taking, and even a little luck. The founders considered this principle to be one endowed by our Creator, and called it the “pursuit of happiness.” We call it opportunity, or we call it the freedom to choose our course in life.
A merit-based, opportunity society gathers and creates a citizenry that pioneers, that invents, that builds and creates.  And as these people exert the effort and take the risks inherent in invention and creation, they employ and lift the rest of us, creating prosperity for us all. The rewards they earn do not make the rest of us poorer, they make us better off.
American prosperity is fully dependent upon our opportunity society. I don’t think President Obama understands that. I don’t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in the world. I don’t think he understands America.
He seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society.  In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing—the government.
Entitlement societies are praised in academic circles, far removed from the reality of a competitive world. Opportunity is replaced by the certainty that everyone in an entitlement society will enjoy nearly the same rewards. But there is another certainty: they will be poor.
In an entitlement society, the invigorating pursuit of happiness is replaced by the deadening reality that there is no prospect of a better tomorrow. Risk-taking disappears, innovation withers, and small business is replaced by large, government enterprises.  And the result is a nation that stagnates, that declines, that cannot defend itself.
I am convinced that this is where President Obama’s “fundamental change” is leading America. And it informs aspects of his foreign policy. Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. Appeasement betrays a lack of faith in America, in American strength, and in America’s future.
Like others among the Washington elite, he believes that America’s role as the leader of the world is a thing of the past; that this will be a post-American century, perhaps an Asian century. American strength, he imagines, will eventually or possibly be eclipsed. And so, President Obama seeks to appease those he believes will balance us or challenge our leadership.
This appeasement by this Administration has taken many forms.  It includes offers to engage with the world’s most despicable dictators. It consists of concessions to Russia to remove our missile defense sites from Poland and to exclude tactical nuclear weapons from the new, remarkably one-sided, New START treaty. President Obama even looks the other way as China employs unfair trade tactics that endanger our economy and kill jobs.
This President appears more generous to our enemies than he is to our friends. Such is the natural tendency of someone who is unsure of America’s strength – or of America’s rightful place in the world. The course of appeasement and accommodation has long been the path chosen by the weak and the timid. And history shows it is a path that nation’s choose at their own peril.
The President promised that he would fundamentally change America. He is doing just that. At home, he is changing us from an opportunity nation to an entitlement nation. He is building a government so large that feeding it consumes a greater and greater share of the people’s production. And it is a government so intrusive that it can command free people and free enterprises according to its bureaucratic will.
Abroad, he is weakening America, shrinking our military, shrinking our commitments to our friends, accommodating our foes, and appeasing the competing forces that are vying for global leadership.
This election is not only a referendum on President Obama’s failures on employment, on income growth, on housing, on recovery, or on a nuclear-intent Iran, on an emboldened China and on friends like Israel being put at greater risk. This election will decide what kind of America we will be. It is defining.
Will we remain an opportunity nation or become an entitlement nation? Will we remain the leader of the free world, or become a follower in a more dangerous world?  Will America be transformed by Barack Obama, or will America be restored with the founding principles that have made this the greatest nation history has ever known?
Many think that because of his staggering failures, President Obama will be easily defeated. But an incumbent is rarely turned out of the White House, and his resort to class warfare and demagoguery are powerful political weapons.
In less than a year, Americans will be asked to make a choice about the kind of country they want to live in and the kind of future they will bequeath to their children.
It will be a choice between entitlement and merit, between appeasement and resolve.
Our party must offer a candidate who can make the case for freedom, opportunity and strength.  Our nominee must offer Americans more than just a chance to vote against President Obama; our nominee must give Americans an opportunity to vote for a different path and a better future.  A path dictated not by government, but determined by a free people.  A path marked by the virtues of merit, not by the slow decline of entitlement.  A path that achieves prosperity through opportunity, and peace through strength.
This is what Americans deserve.  This is what the moment demands.  And this is what I will deliver, with your help.
Join me. Join me, and I will lead our Party and our Nation through these difficult times to a brighter future.
America has been a shining city on a hill. That light is dimming. But together, we will reignite the spirit of American greatness.
We have wandered and drifted. I will lead us to a better place.  Join me, and together we will reclaim and rebuild the America we love.
I believe in America. Our fight starts today. Join me.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.

Rick Santorum: National security could trump economy in 2012 election

Source: LAT, 12-7-11Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum Dec. 7, 2011 at Ronald Reagan Building and International Center in Washington. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum said there’s good reason why he’s talking a lot more about foreign policy than other Republican candidates.

“Because I believe that there’s a very good chance that by next election day, the national security issues in this country will be of higher priority in the eyes of the American people than the economy,” he said Wednesday morning in Washington.

Santorum was the first of six Republican presidential candidates — and one potential vice presidential nominee — to speak at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Invoking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the former Pennsylvania senator slammed President Obama for a policy of “appeasement” with regard to Iran that has allowed that nation to become a much bigger threat.

“I know people in this country are tired of war. But our Pearl Harbor already happened,” he said.

Iran has grown stronger because of Obama’s indifference, he argued. The so-called Arab spring should have begun in Iran in 2009, but Obama failed to support democratic uprisings there. And yet he threw an ally of the United States and Israel — Egypt — “under the bus” in the face of demonstrations that included the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The president, for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, has had nothing but appeasement,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, learn from history.”

Jon Huntsman, who spoke next, was a marked contrast in tone, focusing his remarks on the economy, and a larger sense in the nation that there is no longer trust in its leaders.

“We are in a deep funk as a people,” he said. “And we are crazy in this country if we don’t find the kind of leadership that we so desperately need.”

Jon Huntsman: My foreign policy is focused on economy

Source: CBS News, 12-7-11

Unlike other GOP presidential candidates who moved to paint themselves as the greatest potential allies to Israel at a gathering of Republican Jewish voters in Washington on Wednesday, Jon Huntsman focused his remarks almost exclusively on the economy.

The former Utah governor said he wanted a foreign policy determined “first and foremost by economics,” and went on to deliver his standard call to reduce the national debt and bring down joblessness. He got mostly tepid applause from the audience at the forum, where all six candidates are scheduled to speak today.

Huntsman did finally get to the topic of Israel during the last few minutes of his speech.

“What matters to me is our commitment to Israel, that there be no blue sky between us,” Huntsman said. “There is some sense today that we are not together. Those days under my administration will be gone.”

Prodded to elaborate on his Middle East policy in the question and answer session with the audience, Huntsman said that he will not stand for a nuclear Iran and that in containing the Iranian threat, “all options are on the table.”

TRANSCRIPT: Michele Bachmann Delivers Remarks At Republican Jewish Coalition Forum

Source: Yeshiva World, 12-7-11

“I’m honored to be here today in the company of so many friends. Thank you Dan for that kind introduction. Like this organization, I have been a long-time advocate for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. My love for Israel and its people deepened while I worked on a kibbutz just after graduating from high school.

“Today, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day a 19-year-old Minnesotan on board a submarine patrol in the waters outside of Pearl Harbor reported sighting a Japanese submarine, but the warning sign of the bigger calamity to come was all but ignored. The same is true today with Iran and other dangerous actors in the world. We are ignoring the warning signs, and I worry what other ‘Pearl Harbors’ might be in our future.

“It seems as if lately, our president has forgotten the importance of Israel to America and thinks of our relationship only in terms of what we do for Israel. The president is more concerned about Israel building homes on its own land than the threats that Israel and America face in the region.

“The president was right to promise to veto the Palestinians‘ bid for statehood in the U.N. Security Council. But in large part it is the president’s weakness in the Middle East that has emboldened the Palestinians to attempt to achieve statehood through the U.N. rather than at the legitimate negotiation table with Israel. Our policy has confused engagement with appeasement and has inspired Israel’s enemies.

“The Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel in order to become a serious partner in peace with Israel.

“My administration’s policy will be that, the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its prior agreements is the first step that must be taken to assure peace in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority must meet its existing written obligations to collect illegal weapons; pursue terrorists; cooperate with Israeli security forces; change the Fatah Constitution which still calls for the complete eradication of the State of Israel; and to stop inciting terrorism.

“I stand with Israel. And aid to Israel now more than ever, is a necessity–they are our most trusted ally and the only real democracy in the Middle East. But if we are to continue to provide assistance to Israel, we must get our own fiscal house in order.

“A vocal minority, called Occupy Wall Street, otherwise known as the Obama re-election team, believes that the economic problems we face are capitalism or free markets. They’re not. The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends. The problem is one set of standards for individual Americans and another set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates.

“The problem is an individual tax code with 3.8 million words that’s too complicated for the average American to understand and a corporate tax code that makes America hopelessly uncompetitive at almost 40 percent when you add the federal and state taxes. And a tax code that contains loopholes that are exploited by companies large enough to hire an army of lawyers. As Investor’s Business Daily wrote, in 1981 the entire developed world had high corporate tax rates, averaging 47 percent. Then capital became mobile and rates plummeted to 25 percent and haven’t stopped falling. The United States remains stuck since 1986 in an out of date high corporate tax rate that sent companies fleeing America for a more competitive tax climate. Just ask any number of companies why they left America and they’ll tell you that between the high tax and unreasonable regulatory burden in America, other nations are now a more profitable place to do business. For your sake and your future, America, and Occupy Wall Street in particular, needs to wake up and stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians who wink at their political donors.

“Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail.

“It happens every day, and it has to stop. After all, we’re not a Banana Republic; we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it.

“We need a system that forces large, well connected corporations to play by the same rules as small businesses and individual Americans and that protects and provides fair competition in free markets.

“You see, there’s a reason our Founding Fathers decided to establish our political capital in a different city than our financial capital. It’s time for us to reaffirm the wisdom of that decision by getting Washington D.C. out of free markets. I’m running for president because I understand the difference between free markets and Bernie Madoff style government.

“My administration will stop the Obama administration’s dangerous policies and delegitimization of Israel. Obama has delegitimized Israel by wrongly describing Israel as a 60-years long occupation, which displaced and caused Palestinian suffering, and by wrongly blaming Israel and settlements for the lack of peace in the Middle East.

“Obama abandoned prior U.S. policy and U.N. Resolution 242’s insistence that Israel is entitled to defensible borders. The Obama administration also abrogated former President Bush’s commitments in Bush’s 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon. Bush’s letter and subsequent Congressional resolutions committed the U.S. to the policy that Israel will retain large West Bank settlement blocks, that there will be no right of return to Israel for ‘Palestinian’ refugees, and that the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its obligations, including the Palestinian Authority’s obligation to stop inciting terror, is the first step that must be taken towards Middle East peace.

“Instead, Obama improperly calls for Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines with swaps, and to then still face further demands to divide Jerusalem and allow a Palestinian ‘right of return’ to overrun the entire State of Israel. The Obama administration has also unconditionally given the Palestinians unprecedented amounts of U.S. foreign aid, and opposed Congressional efforts to condition aid on the real steps that would bring about peace.

“The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return,’ would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs who never lived in Israel, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state.

“Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently once again publicly displayed this administrations disdain for Israel putting Israel on the same footing as the Palestinians and declaring that they ‘get to the damn table’ to resume peace talks. And the president derisively said Israel’s Prime Minister was someone ‘he had to deal with everyday.’ But the president’s ambassador to Belgium went even further and justified anti-Semitism because of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians, and the president should fire him for those irresponsible remarks.

“Instead of defaming Israel, as the Obama administration has done, my administration will recognize that, in the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, Israel is a country that ‘is based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets,’ and which has ‘safeguard[ed] the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions.’

“And like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, my administration will similarly call upon Israel’s neighbors to cooperate with the Jewish nation and return to the ways of peace for the common good of all.

“While the president demands Israel give back land necessary to protect their existence, he has taken his eye off of the most serious threat to Middle East security, a nuclear Iran. Some 80 years ago the world saw evil rising. A mad man spoke, but the world did not listen and the world sank into an enormous conflict and millions of Jews lost their lives.

“Today a mad man again speaks and once again it seems as if the world isn’t really listening though Iran’s president has made his intentions for Israel clear. He intends to wipe Israel from the face of the earth once he obtains nuclear weapons, and he will seek to use them against the United States shortly after achieving his first goal.

“Consider the Iranian constitution, which states that Iran’s Army and Revolutionary Guard ‘will be responsible…for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.’

“And Iran has made good on that promise over the last 30 years from the bombing of the United States Marine base in Beirut to being the leading supplier of arms to kill Americans in Iraq. Iran is at the heart of much of Israel’s problems.

“Two principles must guide U.S. policy toward Iran. First, we must never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. And second, we must realize that this is as much a threat to U.S. national security as it is to Israel’s and should not outsource U.S. national security to the United Nations. This is the moment for clarity in standing with Israel and against Iran.

“We can’t afford to wait until the election to change course, the president must make it the policy of the United States now to support the dissidents of the current regime in Iran to bring down the terrorist leaders and replace it with a democratic government at peace with the U.S., Israel and the free world.

“The U.S. must be clear that it is the policy of the United States to stop Iran from building and deploying nuclear weapons. In leading from behind the president has been ambiguous with Iran and has given them the luxury of time to advance their nuclear weapons program without real punishment as we learned from the IAEA report last week.

“The U.S. should develop and deploy comprehensive ballistic missile systems on land, at sea, in the air, and in space to protect the American people and our allies from the threat of ballistic missiles. Iran, with the help of the Chinese has obtained missile delivery systems for nuclear weapons that pose a threat to Israel, to the region and potentially the United States.

“While the United States does not buy oil from Iran, Iran is a major player in the oil market and affects its price, which directly affects the United States. We need to legalize American energy production to free us from Iran’s influence through oil.

“The U.S. must immediately end appeasement and weakness towards Iran and pursue decisive, common sense strategies ignored or rejected by the current administration.

“We need Secretaries of State and Defense who fully support a pro-freedom and security policy towards Iran, and we need them to replace those in the bureaucracy — especially at State — who will not fully support this policy.

“We need crushing economic sanctions on Iran, including on the central bank and the oil and gas industries. We must hurt the Iranian economy more severely by doing damage to their oil revenues and their central bank.

“The president stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend. The State Department should regularly expose the atrocious activities of the Iranian regime that are arresting, imprisoning, torturing and murdering innocent Iranian citizens.

“We must accelerate covert operations and cyber operations in Iran and order the CIA Director to take all means necessary to stop Iran from getting the Bomb before it is too late. The Pentagon should prepare a war plan, as a last resort, should all else fail in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

“But the president’s lack of leadership and the failure of the Supercommittee this week will lead to, in Defense Secretary Panetta’s words, ‘devastating cuts that will seriously damage readiness’ making a military response more difficult. President Obama has seriously damaged the security of Israel by decreasing our status as a military superpower.

“Part of that plan should be to direct the Navy to make preparations for a possible blockade of Iran’s ports from all oil and gas imports and exports to cut off critical petroleum revenues from going to the regime in Tehran.

“We should continue comprehensive missile defense development while moving additional Aegis and Patriot missile defense systems into the Middle East to protect U.S. citizens and assets, Israel and our allies. We must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker buster bombs, refueling tankers and other materials they need to defend themselves.

“A Bachmann administration will recognize that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a vibrant democracy and America’s staunch ally. My administration will fully recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and will be the first administration to finally implement the laws passed by Congress requiring the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My administration will also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights and any settlements, which Israel, as a sovereign state, chooses to annex. Simply put, my administration will accord Israel the respect to which sovereign, democratic nations are entitled.

“On the day of my inauguration as president I will announce that the U.S. Embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I do not take lightly the prospect of committing U.S. troops in an effort to stop Iran. Only a fool wishes for war. But we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon and massively destabilizing the region by attacking our ally Israel, and supplying those weapons to even more radical regimes or individuals that would use them to do harm to America and its way of life. I recognize that the security of America is intertwined with the security of Israel.

“Hitler once famously said in justification of his order to murder millions of Jews, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Ahmadinejad is counting on the same collective memory today as he marches toward a second holocaust.

“We must send him the message that – we will never forget!

“God bless you and God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.”

Israel Political Brief December 6, 2011: Remarks on Israel by three U.S. officials Clinton, Panetta & Gutman spark furor among Jewish community

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Remarks on Israel by three U.S. officials spark furor

Source: JTA, 12-6-11

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke at the 2011 Saban Forum in Washington on Dec. 2, 2011. (Brookings Institution)
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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke at the 2011 Saban Forum in Washington on Dec. 2, 2011. (Brookings Institution)

The Obama administration is reaping a whirlwind of criticism in the wake of pointed remarks about Israel by several U.S. officials over three days.

The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, caused an uproar when he suggested on Dec. 1 that hostility among European Arabs and Muslims toward Jews was rooted in anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should be distinguished from traditional forms of anti-Semitism. Jewish groups condemned his remarks, which drew calls for his dismissal from Republican presidential front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

The following day, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stirred controversy when he told an audience at the Saban Forum, an annual Washington conclave for American and Israeli policymakers, that Israel needs to “get to the damn table” to negotiate with the Palestinians and “mend fences” with its neighbors. The Anti-Defamation League expressed “surprise and dismay” at a speech that it said “disproportionately put the onus on Israel to overcome its isolation.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made waves a day later at the Saban Forum when she reportedly expressed some concerns about the state of Israeli democracy.

The confluence of controversies has added up to a headache for the Obama administration’s Jewish supporters and given fodder to its critics.

“This is the worst weekend we’ve had in a while,” said a Jewish Democratic activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, referring to the outcry over the remarks.

Each set of remarks share a common theme, said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman.

They’re “putting all of the onus on Israel, and that’s with Panetta, with Hillary and with the ambassador,” he said. “It’s something that we’ve had a problem with this administration.”…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 1, 2011: US Speaker John Boehner Criticizes President Obama’s Israel Position on Facebook after Contradictory Campaign Speech

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Boehner slams Obama Israel remark

Source: AFP, 12-1-11

Republican US House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday blasted President Barack Obama’s boast of having done more for Israel’s security “than any previous administration.”

Republicans have denounced Obama’s statement that Middle East peace will ultimately require Israel and a future Palestinian state with borders from before the 1967 Israel-Arab war and shaped by “mutually agreed” land swaps. Boehner’s criticism came a day after the president declared at a fundraiser in New York City that “no ally is more important than the state of Israel” and trumpeted his own efforts to help the staunch US ally….READ MORE

John Boehner on Facebook:

At an event last night, President Obama reportedly claimed his administration has done more for Israel “than any previous administration.” Are you kidding me? This is the same White House that wants Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1967 borders. Where I’m from, we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us.

Remarks by President Obama at a Campaign Event

Source: WH, 11-30-11
Private Residence
New York, New York

6:17 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me begin by just thanking Jac and Phyllis — and their adorable grandchildren.  (Laughter.)  And their children — I don’t want to skip over a generation.  (Laughter.)  But the grandchildren are really my buddies.  This guy says he’s going to be a future president.  (Laughter.)  So I’m just kind of warming up the seat for him.  (Laughter.)

But in addition to the Rosens, I want to make sure that everybody had a chance to say hello to somebody who has been a dear friend and is an outstanding DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  (Applause.)

I’m going to keep my remarks very brief at the top, because what I want to do is spend as much time in dialogue and answering questions as possible.

When I came into office, we knew that this was going to be an extraordinary time in the life of the country, and in the world.  I don’t think any of us realized what an extraordinary transformation would be taking place over these last several years.  They’ve been tough years.  They’ve been tough years for the American people.  They’ve been tough for the world.  And we’re not out of the woods yet.  But I begin any meeting like this by saying that we should remind ourselves how much we’ve accomplished over the last three years.

When we came into office, the economy was contracting at 9 percent.  It has grown over the last 3 years — not as fast as we’d like, but we have been able to sustain a fairly steady pace of growth.  When I came into office, we had lost 4 million jobs before I was sworn in, and 4 million jobs in the three months after I was sworn in.  About six months later, we were creating jobs, and we’ve had private sector job growth for 20 consecutive months.

Along the way, in addition to preventing a financial meltdown and preventing a second Great Depression, we were able to pass a historic health care bill that’s going to make sure that 30 million people have coverage.  We were able to pass a Wall Street reform package that, although some folks in New York are still grousing about it — (laughter) — is going to ensure that we do not have the same kinds of crisis that we had in the past.  We were able to make sure that we ended the war in Iraq, as promised, and by the end of this year we’re going to have all of our troops out, which is going to be an extraordinary homecoming for families all across America.  Thanks to the great work of folks like Debbie, we were able to end practices like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” make sure that we expanded college loans for millions of students all across the country.

So a huge amount of progress has been made, but what we also know is we’ve still got a lot more work to do.  On the domestic front — Jack and I were just downstairs talking — the housing market and the real estate market is still way too weak and we’ve got to do more.  We’re doing some stuff administratively.  We’re hoping that we can get a little more cooperation from Congress to be more aggressive in tackling the housing market and the real estate market.

We still have to put people back to work.  And I was just in Pennsylvania talking about why it’s so important to make sure that we pass a — continue, essentially, a payroll tax cut that helps small businesses and individual families so that there’s more money in circulation and businesses can really latch on to this recovery and start expanding their payrolls.

Internationally, we’ve been managing I think an extraordinary period not just of two wars, which we’re now winding down, but, as Jack alluded to, enormous tumult in the Middle East.  And so far, at least, what we’ve been able to do is manage it in a way that positions America to stand on the side of democracy, but also be very firm with respect to the security of our allies.  And obviously, no ally is more important than the state of Israel.

And as Jack alluded to, this administration — I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.  And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the opinion of the Israeli government.  Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an Iron Dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.  And that’s not just something I say privately, that’s something that I said in the U.N. General Assembly.  And that will continue.

We do have enormous challenges in making sure that the changes that are taking place in Egypt, the changes that are taking place throughout the region do not end up manifesting themselves in anti-Western or anti-Israel policies.  And that’s something that we’re going to have to pay close attention to, and work diligently on in the months to come.

In the meantime, there are other regions in the world in which we’re making enormous progress.  I mean, we’ve been able to not only reset relations with Russia, manage relations with China, but we’ve also been able to mobilize world opinion around U.S. leadership in a way that many people had thought had been lost when I came into office back in 2008.

So the bottom line is this:  Over the last three years we have made enormous progress.  People aren’t feeling all that progress yet because we had fallen so far and some of the problems that we faced — whether it was on health care or energy or employment — those are problems that had been building up over decades.  And we never anticipated that we would solve them over night because these problems weren’t created overnight.  But the trajectory of the country at this point is sound.

The question is, in 2012 does it continue?  And, frankly, we’ve got another party that — how will I say this charitably — (laughter) — in the past I think has been willing at times  to put country ahead of party, but I’d say over the last couple of years, has not.  Everything has become politicized, from the most modest appointment to getting judges on the bench, to trying to make sure the economy grows — everything has been looked at through a political lens.  And that is what people are tired of. And, frankly, that’s the reason that Congress right now is polling at 9 percent.

People want Washington to work on behalf of the American people, not on behalf of folks in Washington and special interests.  And that has been a great challenge.  This election in 2012 is going to pose a decision for the American people in terms of what direction we want to go in.  There’s fundamental differences in terms of direction.

Their view is that less regulation, a shriveled government that is not doing much for people in terms of giving them a ladder up into the middle class, that that’s their best vision; that we don’t invest in science, that we don’t invest in education, that we don’t invest in infrastructure and transportation — all the things that made us a great power, they seem willing to abandon for ideological reasons.

And I was so moved listening to Jack’s story, because Jack is exactly right — his story is our story.  It’s my story; it’s your story.  At some point our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents came to this country seeking opportunity.  And they had to work hard; they had to hold themselves personally responsible, they had to take risks.  But they also knew that there was a country here where if you did try hard, then somebody might give you a little bit of help; that we were in it together, there were ladders of opportunity that existed.

And that’s what we have to rebuild for the 21st century.  And that requires us to make some decisions about, are we going to have the best schools in this country, are we going to have the best infrastructure, are we going to do what it takes, so these guys end up being part of an America where everybody can still make it if they try; regardless of whether they came from Russia, or they came from Poland, or they came from Mexico, or they came from Kenya, that they’re going to have a chance to succeed, and live out the same kind of dreams that the Rosen family has been able to live out.

Our kids are going to be fine.  And I always tell Malia and Sasha, look, you guys, I don’t worry about you — I mean, I worry the way parents worry — but they’re on a path that is going to be successful, even if the country as a whole is not successful. But that’s not our vision of America.  I don’t want an America where my kids are living behind walls and gates, and can’t feel a part of a country that is giving everybody a shot.

And that’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what 2012 is going to be all about.  And I’m going to need your help to do it. (Applause.)

So, thank you, very much.  (Applause.)

END
6:27 P.M. EST

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

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.

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