Israel Musings July 15, 2013: Rick Perry announces Israel trip, will a 2016 presidential bid be next?

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ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Rick Perry announces Israel trip, will a 2016 presidential bid be next?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Thursday, July 11, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced to the Washington Times that he intends to take a trip to Israel this upcoming October. Three days earlier on Monday June 8, Perry announced he will not seek a full…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 10, 2013: Russian Jews urge PM Benjamin Netanyahu to ignore US Jews’ call for ceding land

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Russian Jews urge Netanyahu to ignore US Jews’ call for ceding land

Source: Haaretz, 4-10-13

Russian Jews urge Netanyahu to ignore U.S. Jews’ call for ceding land. The prominent Russians, including the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, wrote that their message was a reaction to the April 3 letter initiated by the dovish Israel Policy….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 29, 2012: President Barack Obama Speaks to Conservative Judaism Leaders — Defends his Israel commitments, touts his Jewish ties

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Back to ‘kishkes’: Obama defends his Israel commitments, touts his Jewish ties

Source: JTA, 5-31-12

President Obama, shown speaking at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month on May 31, 2012, told Conservative Jewish leaders the previous day that he probably knew more about Judaism than any other president.  (The White House)
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President Obama, shown speaking at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month on May 31, 2012, told Conservative Jewish leaders the previous day that he probably knew more about Judaism than any other president. (The White House)

The so-called “kishkes issue” — what does President Obama, deep down, really feel about Israel — is now being addressed at the highest level by Obama himself.

Obama dropped in on a White House meeting Tuesday of lay and rabbinical leaders of the Conservative Judaism and Jack Lew, the president’s chief of staff. During his 20 minutes at the hourlong meeting, Obama emphasized his affection for Judaism and Israel, and like Vice President Joe Biden last week in a similar meeting with organizational leaders, his frustration with perceptions that he is cool toward the Jewish state.

The tone, coupled with blitzes of Jewish communities by Democratic leaders in recent months, reinforces the impression that the party’s leadership is unsettled by Republican inroads into what for decades has been a Democratic base constituency.

The presidential visit was “informal,” although the group of Jewish leaders knew a drop-by was likely. So when Obama walked into the Roosevelt Room, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, was ready with the traditional blessing for heads of state….READ MORE

Obama chats with Conservative leaders

Source: JTA, 5-29-12

A group of leaders from the Conservative movement held an informal meeting Tuesday with President Obama.

Obama dropped by a scheduled meeting with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew and thanked the 17 rabbis and lay leaders for their work to improve their communities.

The president stated his strong commitment to Israel’s security and discussed his actions to enhance security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, as well as implement biting sanctions against Iran, according to a White House official.

Participants said they asked Obama questions about the social net, health care, the relationship with Israel, the threat from Iran, and Obama’s views on Jusaism and Israel.

The hour-long meeting with Lew in the White House’s Roosevelt Room was arranged by Rabbi Jack Moline, the rabbi of Agudas Achim synagogue in Alexandria, Va. and the director of public policy for the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly. Moline has close ties with the Obama administration.

“The meeting spoke to the president and administration’s deep appreciation of the values that motivate Jewish communities around the world,” Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, told JTA. “It was a values-driven conversation and represented the great potential for the Jewish community to make its views heard.”

Israel Political Brief December 16, 2011: President Barack Obama to Reform Jews at Union’s General Assembly: Don’t let anyone challenge my Israel bona fides

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Obama to Reform Jews: Don’t let anyone challenge my Israel bona fides

Source: JTA, 12-16-11

President Obama told a gathering of Reform Jewry not to let anyone challenge his record of support for Israel, which he said was “unprecedented.”

“No U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours — none,” he said in an address Friday afternoon to more than 5,000 people at the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.”

The crowd at a hotel in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington gave him a standing ovation.

 

“Even though it is a few hours early, I’d like to wish all of you Shabbat shalom,” Obama opened. “I want to give a shout-out, NFTY I understand is in the house,” he went on, earning a raucous cheer from the National Federation of Temple Youth.

After a brief d’var Torah — “It never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion,” Obama said — the president listed several areas of close cooperation with Israel and the Jewish community, including missile defense and Iran sanctions. Of the sanctions, he said they were the “hardest hitting” ever. He repeated his pledge that he would take “no options” off the table when it comes to forcing Iran to back down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Obama peppered his speech with Jewish references, joking about his daughter Malia’s eagerness to attend bar and bat mitzvahs. His speech was based on the story of Joseph’s declaration “Hineni” — “Here I am” — to his father, Jacob.

To repeated applause, Obama ran through his domestic policy achievements on health care, and women’s and gay rights, among others.

Republicans have scored Obama for his at-times tense relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over the peace process. Obama said he was still dedicated to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace but did not allude at all to his differences with Israel over settlement building in the West Bank.

The Republican National Committee on Friday published data showing Obama vulnerable to losses among Jewish voters in key states, particularly Florida.

“The truth is, America’s security interests are intertwined with Israel’s, and when President Obama does a disservice to Israel, he does a disservice to our country as well,” RNC chairman Reince Preibus said in an Op-Ed in the conservative Human Events magazine.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 16, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism — Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism

Source: WH, 12-16-11
Gaylord Hotel
National Harbor, Maryland

2:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Please, please have a seat.  You’re making me blush.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Eric, for that extraordinary introduction and for your many years of leadership in the Reform movement.  And even though it is a few hours early, I’d like to wish all of you Shabbat shalom.  (Applause.)

Now, there are a lot of familiar faces in the house:  David Saperstein.  (Applause.)  Alan Solow, Rick Jacobs.  (Applause.)  Howard Kohr.

I want to welcome Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  (Applause.)  The cooperation between our militaries has never been stronger, and I want to thank Ehud for his leadership and his lifelong commitment to Israel’s security and the quest for a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who’s with us here today.  (Applause.)

And finally, I want to give a shout-out to NFTY, I understand is in the house.  (Applause.)  Young people are going to lead the way, and they’re leading the way.  (Applause.)  There you go.  I’m fired up just listening to them.  (Laughter and applause.)

I am honored to be here because of the proud history and tradition of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 congregations, around 1.5 million American Jews.

I want to congratulate all of you on the golden anniversary of the Religious Action Center.  (Applause.)   As Eric mentioned, When President Kennedy spoke to leaders from the RAC in 1961, I was three months old, so my memory is a bit hazy.  (Laughter.)  But I am very familiar with the work that you’ve done ever since, and so is the rest of America.

And that’s because you helped draft the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  (Applause.)  You helped to liberate Soviet Jews.  (Applause.)  You have made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half-century.  And without these efforts, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.  So thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  You have brought to life your faith and your values, and the world is a better place for it.

Now, since my daughter Malia has reached the age where it seems like there’s always a Bar or Bat Mitzvah — (laughter) — every weekend, and there is quite a bit of negotiations around the skirts that she wears at these Bat Mitzvahs — (laughter) — do you guys have these conversations as well?  (Laughter.)  All right.  I just wanted to be clear it wasn’t just me.  (Laughter.) What time you get home.

As a consequence, she’s become the family expert on Jewish tradition.  (Laughter.)  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it’s that it never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion.  It doesn’t hurt.  (Laughter and applause.)

So this week — (applause) — congregations around the world will retell the story of Joseph.  (Applause.)  As any fan of Broadway musicals will tell you — (laughter) — there is a lot going on in this reading.  (Laughter.)  But many scholars have focused on a single word that Joseph uses when he replies to his father Jacob.

In Hebrew, that word is “hineni.”  It translates — (applause) — it translates to “Here I am.”  Hineni.  It’s the same word Abraham uses to reply to God before the binding of Isaac.  It’s the same word Moses uses when God summons him from the burning bush.  Hineni.  The text is telling us that while Joseph does not know what lies ahead, he is ready to answer the call.

In this case, “hineni” leads Joseph to Egypt.  It sets in motion a story of enslavement and exodus that would come to inspire leaders like Martin Luther King as they sought freedom.  It’s a story of persecution and perseverance that has repeated itself from Inquisition-era Spain to Tsarist Russia to Hitler’s Germany.

And in that often-tragic history, this place, America, stands out.  (Applause.)  Now, we can’t whitewash the past.  Like so many ethnic groups, Jews faced prejudice, and sometimes violence, as they sought their piece of the American Dream.  But here, Jews finally found a place where their faith was protected; where hard work and responsibility paid off; where no matter who you were or where you came from, you could make it if you tried.  Here in America, you really could build a better life for your children.

I know how much that story means to many of you, because I know how much that story means to me.  My father was from Kenya; my mother was from Kansas –- not places with a large Jewish community.  (Laughter.)  But when my Jewish friends tell me about their ancestors, I feel a connection.  I know what it’s like to think, “Only in America is my story even possible.”  (Applause.)

Now — I have to interrupt.  My friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz just got in the house.  (Applause.)  Now, the Jewish community has always understood that the dream we share is about more than just doing well for yourself.  From the moment our country was founded, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect.  Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, they remembered what it was like to be a stranger, and as a result treated strangers with compassion.  They pursued tikkun olam, the hard work of repairing the world.  (Applause.)

They fought bigotry because they had experienced bigotry.  They fought for freedom of religion because they understood what it meant to be persecuted for your religious beliefs.  Our country is a better place because they did.  The same values that bring you here today led Justice Brandeis to fight for an America that protects the least of these.  (Applause.)  Those same values led Jewish leaders to found RAC 50 years ago.  (Applause.)  They led Abraham Joshua Heschel to pray with his feet and march with Dr. King.  (Applause.)  And over the last three years, they have brought us together on the most important issues of our time.

When we began this journey, we knew we would have to take on powerful special interests.  We would have to take on a Washington culture where doing what’s politically convenient is often valued above doing what’s right; where the focus is too often on the next election instead of the next generation.  (Applause.)

And so time and time again, we’ve been reminded that change is never easy.  And a number of the rabbis who are here today, when I see them, they’d been saying a prayer.  They noticed my hair is grayer.  (Laughter.)  But we didn’t quit.  You didn’t quit.  And today, we’re beginning to see what change looks like.

And Eric mentioned what change looks like.  Change is the very first bill I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which says in this country an equal day’s work gets an equal day’s pay.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is finally doing something about our addiction to oil and raising fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years.  That’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  (Applause.)  And it’s good for our environment.

Change is confirming two Supreme Court justices who will defend our rights, including our First Amendment rights surrounding religion — happen to be two women, by the way.  That’s also a good thing.  (Applause.)

Change is repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that in the first time in history, you don’t have to hide who you love to serve the country that you love.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is working with the Reform movement, and other faith-based groups, to reform the federal faith-based initiatives, improving the way we partner with organizations that serve people in need.  Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying, reform that will finally ensure that in the United States of America, nobody goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is the 2.5 million young people — maybe some of those NFTY folks who have already — (applause) — who have health insurance on their parents’ plans because of Affordable Care Act.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

It’s making family planning more accessible to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  It’s insurance companies not being able to charge you more just because you’re a woman, or deny you coverage if you have breast cancer.  (Applause.)

Change is committing to real, persistent education reform, because every child in America deserves access to a good school and to higher education — every child.  (Applause.)

And change is keeping one of the first promises I made in 2008:  After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is ending this month and our troops are coming home.  (Applause.)

That’s what change is.  And none of this would have happened without you.  That’s the kind of change we’ll keep fighting for in the months and years ahead.

And just last night, you took another step towards the change we need and voted for a set of principles of economic justice in a time of fiscal crisis.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for your courage.  That statement could not have come at a more important time.  For as you put it, we’re at a crossroads in American history.  Last Tuesday, I gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, where I described that crossroads.  And I laid out a vision of our country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  (Applause.)  And these are not Democratic values or Republican values; they’re not Christian values or Jewish values or Hindu or Muslim values — they’re shared values, and we have to reclaim them.  We have to restore them to a central place in America’s political life.  (Applause.)

I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  This is not just a political debate.  This is a moral debate.  This is an ethical debate.  It’s a values debate.  It’s the defining issue of our time.  It is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)  And for those of us who remember parents or grandparents or great-grandparents who had to fight to get in the middle class, but they understood that the American Dream was available to them because we were all in it together — that’s what this is about.  (Applause.)  And last night, you reaffirmed the moral dimension of this debate.  (Applause.)

We have to decide who we are as a country.  Is this a place where everyone is left to fend for themselves?  The most powerful can play by their own rules?  Or do we come together to make sure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to college, buy their own home, have a secure health care and a secure retirement?  That is the story that almost all of us here share, in one way or another.  This is a room full of folks who come from immigrants, and remember what it was like to scratch and claw and work.  You haven’t forgotten.  You know what it’s like to see those in your own family struggle.

Well, we have to apply those same values to the American family.  We’re not a country that says, you’re on your own.  When we see neighbors who can’t find work or pay for college or get the health care they need, we answer the call — we say, “Here I am.”  And we will do our part.  (Applause.)

That’s what you affirmed last night.  But more importantly, it’s what you affirm every day with your words and your actions.  And I promise you that as you pray with your feet, I will be right there with you every step of the way.  (Applause.)  I’ll be fighting to create jobs, and give small businesses a chance to succeed.  I’ll be fighting to invest in education and technology.  I will fight to strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security.  (Applause.)  I will fight to put more money in the pockets of working families.  I won’t be afraid to ask the most well-off among us -– Americans like me –- to pay our fair share, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.  I will fight alongside you every inch of the way.  (Applause.)

And as all of you know, standing up for our values at home is only part of our work.  Around the world, we stand up for values that are universal — including the right of all people to live in peace and security and dignity.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve worked on the international stage to promote the rights of women — (applause) — to promote strategies to alleviate poverty — (applause) — to promote the dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians — (applause) — and people with disabilities — (applause) — to promote human rights and democracy.  And that’s why, as President, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel.  (Applause.)  I have not wavered and will not waver.  That is our shared vision.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that many of you share my frustration sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process.  There’s so much work to do.  But here’s what I know –- there’s no question about how lasting peace will be achieved.  Peace can’t be imposed from the outside.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.  (Applause.)

And the fact that peace is hard can’t deter us from trying.  Because now more than ever, it’s clear that a just and lasting peace is in the long-term interests of Israel.  It is in the long-term interests of the Palestinian people.  It is in the interest of the region.  It is the interest of the United States, and it is in the interest of the world.  And I am not going to stop in pursuit of that vision.  It is the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Now, that vision begins with a strong and secure State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And the special bonds between our nations are ones that all Americans hold dear because they’re bonds forged by common interests and shared values.  They’re bonds that transcend partisan politics — or at least they should.  (Applause.)

We stand with Israel as a Jewish democratic state because we know that Israel is born of firmly held values that we, as Americans, share:  a culture committed to justice, a land that welcomes the weary, a people devoted to tikkun olam.  (Applause.)

So America’s commitment — America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.  It is unshakeable.  (Applause.)

I said it in September at the United Nations.  I said it when I stood amid the homes in Sderot that had been struck by missiles:  No nation can tolerate terror.  And no nation can accept rockets targeting innocent men, women and children.  No nation can yield to suicide bombers.  (Applause.)

And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security.  In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours.  None.  Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It is a fact.  (Applause.)

I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history.  I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks.  (Applause.)

Another grave concern -– and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world -– is Iran’s nuclear program.  And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear:  We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced.  We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it.  And we’re going to keep up the pressure.  (Applause.)  And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.  We have been clear.

We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most.  In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely.  (Applause.)  Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze. (Applause.)

On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel.  And we will continue to do so.  (Applause.)  That’s what friends and allies do for each other.  So don’t let anybody else tell a different story.  We have been there, and we will continue to be there.  Those are the facts.  (Applause.)

And when I look back on the last few years, I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made, and I’m proud of what we’ve done together.  But today isn’t about resting on our laurels.  As your tradition teaches, we’re not obligated to finish the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to keep going.  So today we look forward to the world not just as it is but as it could be.  And when we do, the truth is clear:  Our union is not yet perfect.  Our world is still in desperate need of repair.  And each of us still hears that call.

And the question is, how we will respond?  In this moment, every American, of every faith, every background has the opportunity to stand up and say:  Here I am.  Hineni.  Here I am.  I am ready to keep alive our country’s promise.  I am ready to speak up for our values at home and abroad.  I am ready to do what needs to be done.  The work may not be finished in a day, in a year, in a term, in a lifetime, but I’m ready to do my part.  (Applause.)

And I believe that with tradition as our guide, we will seize that opportunity.  And in the face of daunting odds, we will make the choices that are hard but are right.  That’s how we’ve overcome tougher times before.  That’s how we will overcome the challenges that we face today.  And together, we will rewrite the next chapter in America’s story and prove that our best days are still to come.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
3:08 P.M. EST

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: Reactions — US Jews give Obama mixed reviews for ‘pro-Israel’ UN speech

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U.S. Jews give Obama mixed reviews for ‘pro-Israel’ UN speech

AIPAC lauds U.S. President for seeing Israelis deserve ‘normal relations with their neighbors’; Americans for Peace Now: U.S. position as defender of rights cannot stand as Israeli-Palestinians conflict ‘left to fester’

Source: Ha’aertz, 9-22-11
It was quite clear that U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech, which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he “would sign with both hands,” would draw mixed reactions. Its failure to go into details about the Israeli-Palestinian issue was assumed to be due to a combination of re-election concerns and those of slipping Jewish support.

But the U.S. Jewish organizations provided varying – in some cases even polar – responses to the speech.

Obama at UN - Reuters - September 21, 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 21, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), which recently launched a new website explaining Obama’s support for Israel, took the speech as an opportunity to claim that all the “political chatter” doubting the president’s support for Israel should be “put to bed once and for all.”

“As he has proven throughout his presidency, President Obama supports Israel and its people instinctively. Israel truly has no better friend in the world today,” NJDC leaders Marc Stanley and David Harris said in a joint statement Wednesday.

“On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Board of Directors and leadership, we wish to express our thanks to President Barack Obama for passionately and eloquently standing up for Israel and the Jewish State’s security needs at the United Nations today,” they said.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) welcomed the speech. “AIPAC appreciates the President’s “unshakeable” commitment to Israel’s security and his clear statements outlining the daily dangers and strategic threats facing Israel. President Obama demonstrated his understanding of Israel’s legitimate requirements when he stated that the Jewish people – in their historic homeland – deserve recognition and normal relations with their neighbors,” the Jewish lobby said.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said “President Obama’s message was crystal clear that the only path to sustainable peace is direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, not what goes on in the corridors of the UN.”

The Conference of Presidents Chairman Richard Stone and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein welcomed Obama’s comments at the opening session of the UN General Assembly in support of direct negotiations, and his rejection of solutions imposed by outside parties, unilateral moves, or one sided declarations at the United Nations.

“The President correctly and clearly identified Israel’s security needs and challenges,” said the Conference of Presidents heads.

“The President said that “the Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland” and that “Israel deserves recognition.” We specially note this formulation not only because it reaffirmed a historic truth but also because many in the hall he was addressing have sought to deny Israel’s ancient and constant connection to the land and others have refuse to recognize it as the Jewish State,” their statement continued.

“We hope that other leaders will listen to President Obama’s words and heed his warnings,” they said, adding, “Most of all, we hope that the automatic majority against Israel at the UN will come to consider the danger to that institution and to the cause of peace that results from a blanket acceptance of anti-Israel measures no matter how unjustified they may be.”

Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow praised Obama for saying the United States is dedicated to achieving peace through bilateral negotiations.

“He (Obama) understands that peace is a cooperative venture. It needs leaders, partners, supporters, witnesses, and principled advocates. No sustainable peace can be achieved alone,” said the Rabbi. “The path to peace is paved with compromise and cooperation, not unilateralism.”

But on the left side of the map, the disappointment was palpable.

Americans for Peace Now President and CEO Debra DeLee said Obama’s speech, while saying the Americans support peace, offered little hope to Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israelis want and deserve peace and security as much as anyone in the region. Palestinians want and deserve freedom and self-determination as much as Egyptians, Tunisians, or Libyans. The United States cannot maintain credibility as the standard-bearer of rights and freedoms while the Israeli-Palestinians conflict is left to fester,” said DeLee.

DeLee called upon the U.S. President to use his time at the United Nations this week as an opportunity to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations. “Only this can re-establish and re-assert U.S. credibility and re-inject hope for an end to this conflict,” she said.

The Jewish Voice for Peace issued a statement calling the speech “profoundly disappointing”, claiming that “his desire to get re-elected in 2012 has trumped not only his good sense, but his ability to act on behalf of U.S.– and in the long run– Israel’s best interests.”

The group accused Obama of catering to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demands, seen in his refusal “to even mention the words settlement or occupation”. The statement said Obama is “actively opposing Palestinian moves for statehood that are consistent with stated U.S. policy.”

J Street has rejected the Palestinian UN bid, and its President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement that Obama was right to say there is “no shortcut” to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that Obama must turn this “crisis” into “an opportunity to jumpstart meaningful diplomacy that yields results.”

In a statement, Orthodox Union president Dr. Simcha Katz and director of public policy Nathan Diament congratulated Obama “for his clear statement of opposition to the Palestinians’ effort to unilaterally seek recognition at the United Nations instead of at the negotiating table with Israel. We also commend President Obama’s strong statements of support for Israel and his Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security.”

 

 

Simcha Katz: OU president slams US Jewish groups over anti-boycott law

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Source: Jerusalem Post, 7-19-11

Orthodox Union head urges US Jews, who don’t pay Israel taxes or serve IDF, to keep from criticizing Israeli policy.

OU President Simcha Katz
Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem

The president of the Orthodox Union on Monday slammed the US Jewish groups who recently chastised Israel over the anti-boycott law.

“We live in the United States, we haven’t served in the army, we don’t pay taxes [in Israel], so it would be inappropriate for us to publicly, in some fashion, criticize Israel on what they do to protect themselves,” said Simcha Katz.

RELATED:
Anti-boycott bill becomes law after passing Knesset
Palestinians to step up settlement boycott efforts

The new law, which passed in the Knesset last Monday, enables citizens to file civil suits against people or organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control, and prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.

American Jewish groups ranging from J-Street to Zionists of America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the ADL, Americans for Peace Now and the New Israel Fund all spoke out against the law.

“On a personal level,” Katz noted, “I fully agree with the anti-boycott legislation. It was based on US legislation, which has criminal components to it. This doesn’t have criminal components to it; essentially, it’s a financial potential component.

“I was reading that Telrad, one of the companies in Israel, was selling products to the Palestinians – but part of the deal was that they couldn’t buy from Judea and Samaria. I find that outrageous,” said Katz.

“On a personal level, I’m fully in support of that particular law. Generally we support the Israeli government per se. The OU hasn’t taken a position, and generally we are supportive of what the Israeli government in power does,” he reiterated.

The OU was notably silent on last year’s conversion bill controversy as well, a topic Katz said his movement was not an expert in, so there was no point in getting involved.

“Look, we’re into tachles, to accomplishing things, we do things in the field – that’s what we’re interested in. So we want to be very supportive of the Israeli government, [and] meanwhile we’re involved in a lot of activities.

Press releases are not what we’re interested in.”…READ MORE

Poll: Jewish support for Obama flat

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: Politico, 7-5-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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