Israel Musings July 14, 2013: Michael Oren resigns as Israeli Ambassador to the United States

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Michael Oren resigns as Israeli Ambassador to the United States

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Friday, July 5, Michael Oren announced that after four years he was resigning as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Oren however, will remain as the envoy until the fall. Even before Oren’s resignation there were…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 11, 2013: Michael Oren: US President Barack Obama is ‘true friend’ of Israel

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Oren: Obama is ‘true friend’ of Israel

Source: JTA, 7-11-13

Michael Oren, Israel’s departing ambassador to the United States, said that President Obama is “a true friend” of Israel and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “committed to peace.” More ▸

Israel Political Brief July 5, 2013: Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren to leave post

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Israel’s U.S. envoy Michael Oren to leave post

Source: JTA, 7-5-13

Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, announced that he will be leaving his post this fall….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Michael Oren opens AIPAC: Netanyahu has taken risks for peace, Palestinians must too

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Oren opens AIPAC: Netanyahu has taken risks for peace, Palestinians must too

Source: Haaretz, 3-3-13

Ex-U.S. diplomats Dennis Ross, Elliot Abrams also speak at opening session of AIPAC conference in Washington; On Obama’s planned Israel visit, Abrams says president needs to convince Israelis he has undergone ‘kishke transplant.’

People arrive to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conferenc

People arrive to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington on March 3, 2013. Photo by AFP

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren opened AIPAC’s 2013 Policy Conference on Sunday, telling delegates that the Palestinians must follow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lead and take risks for peace…..READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Michael Oren at AIPAC forum makes appeal for pro-Israel outreach

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Oren at AIPAC forum makes appeal for pro-Israel outreach

Source: JTA, 3-3-13

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, opened the annual AIPAC policy conference with an appeal for pro-Israel outreach to African-Americans, Latinos and Muslims….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: AIPAC policy conference opens

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AIPAC policy conference opens

Source: Washington Post (blog) , 3-3-13

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) began its annual policy conference this morning with an appearance by Israel’s ambassador, Michael Oren, and a panel with former Middle East adviser Dennis Ross and former deputy national security….READ MORE

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

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LIVE: Annual AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-3-13

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

AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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

 

AIPAC 2013 Schedule

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3:00 PM

Registration and AIPAC Village Open

Sunday, March 3, 2013

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Opening General Session

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

2:15 PM – 4:30 PM

Breakout Session 2

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Afternoon General Session

Monday, March 4, 2013

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Monday Morning General Session

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Club Member Lunches

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Breakout Session 3

2:15 PM – 4:30 PM

Breakout Session 4

4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Regional Lobbying Training

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Club Member Receptions

8:30 PM – 10:30 PM

Gala Event

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

8:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Tuesday Morning General Session

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Lobbying Appointments

 

Confirmed Speakers

Featured Speakers

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

Ambassadors

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

 

Members of Congress

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

Israel Political Brief December 28, 2012: Embassy denies Ron Dermer as envoy report

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Embassy denies Ron Dermer as envoy report

Source: JTA, 12-28-12

The Israeli Embassy in Washington described as baseless an Israeli newspaper report that Ron Dermer, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu, is set to replace Michael Oren as Israel’s ambassador to the United States….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 15, 2012: Michael Oren: Iran targeted Israeli Embassy in US

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Oren: Iran targeted Israeli Embassy

Source: JTA, 8-15-12

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, said Iran targeted his embassy….READ MORE

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: Israel Ambassador to US Michael Oren’s Speech at Holocaust Days of Remembrance ceremony in US Capitol Rotunda

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Remarks on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day
U.S. Capitol Rotunda

April 19, 2012

Source: Israel Embassy US, 4-18-12

The legacy of the Holocaust endows us with a double duty. First, we must not allow the memory of the six million to be trivialized. Human history is rife with atrocities, massacres, and wars, but nothing be equated with the enormity of the Holocaust. It is profoundly, unbearably,unique. But, paradoxically, our second duty is to prevent another Holocaust from occurring.

Imagine if one third of the Jewish people had not been annihilated. Imagine the doctors, the researchers, and the artists. Imagine the grandchildren and great-grandchildren flourishing throughout the world today. That is what we mean when we pledge ‘Never Again.’

Yes, we must cherish the fact that we live in a time when there is a proud and sovereign Jewish state. We must appreciate that state’s remarkable accomplishments in science, technology, and the arts. And we must value the historic alliance between Israel and the United States. Things are indeed different than they were eighty years ago.

Yet, at the same time, we must also acknowledge that evil did not appear suddenly in the 1930s and depart in 1945, never to return again. We must admit that the genocidal hatred of Jews that burned during those years remains a fierce andre-combustible scourge. We cannot ignore the similarities between the conditions that fostered the Holocaust and those we nowwitness daily.

Consider this: Eighty years ago, the world was scarcely in the mood for confrontation. People were weary from the devastating losses of a recent war. Economies were in crisis. Unemployment was high, foreclosures commonplace.  People were focusing inward, grappling with their own problems.

Meanwhile, a radical militant movement dreamt of regional and global domination. Headed by a Supreme Leader, the movement burnt books and crushed its democratic opponents. It amassed vast arsenals of advanced weaponry and invaded neighboring countries. The radicals played on their nation’s injured pride and stressed its racial superiority. The movement denigrated the Jewish people as a cancer that had to be cut out.

Today, too, there is such a radical regime in Iran. It also has a Supreme Leader. It also butchers its democratic opponents, supports terror,and seeks regional and global hegemony. The Iranian regime similarly espouses racism. It denies the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis while pledging to murder another six million—in Israel. And to achieve its abominable goals, Iran is developingmilitary nuclear capabilities and the missiles to deliver them.

Fortunately, today is not eighty years ago. Though tired of war and wrestling with economic difficulties, the United States is not watching passively. On the contrary, the White House and the Congress are leading the world in imposing harsh sanctions on Iran.

President Obama has said that the United States will not contain a nuclear-armed Iranand keeps all options on the table. And Israel, the President said, has the right to defend itself against any Middle Eastern threat.  Only Israel can decide how best to protect its citizens.

We must never equate the Holocaust with any other event but we also must never let it recur. Equipped with nuclear arms, Iran could blackmail the world—overrunning its major oilsources and endangering the lives of millions. We must not compare the Holocaust to any other situation but, at the same time, we cannot forget. We now have the opportunity—indeed, the duty—to confront Iranian leaders with the unambiguous choice never posed to the Nazis. The Iranian regime can either abandon its military nuclear program or face truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat.

We have a dual duty and the theme of this year’s Days of Remembrance–the stories of rescuers–reminds us of that obligation. These inspiring stories are immortalized at Yad Veshem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and research center, which for fifty years has honored those righteous Gentiles who risked their lives–and often their families’ lives— to save Jews.  Those heroes understood with all their souls the horrific uniqueness of the Holocaust.

So, too, do the survivors and World War II veterans who knew first- hand the horrors of Nazism. My father, who is present in the Rotunda today, was one of those GIs. He battled from Normandy to the Bulge to the final victory, winning two bronze stars for valor. Not only as your son, but as Israel’s ambassador to this great nation, I want to say thank you, Dad, and thank you to all the brave Americans who fought alongside you.

Rescuers, survivors and veterans—their mere presence warns us against equating the Holocaust with any other atrocity. Yet, they urge us to prevent the Holocaust’s recurrence. They remind us to be vigilant, they tell us to stand strong. And they exhort us, always, to remember.

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.

Video Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Visits the US Congress Meets with Leaders

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PM Netanyahu’s visit to the US Congress

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks at White House Hanukkah Reception — Transcript

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חיוכים ובדיחות בבית הלבן (צילום: AFP)

Laughs and jokes at the White House (Photo: AFP)

A White House Hanukkah Celebration

Source: WH, 12-9-11
20111209 Hanukkah at the WH

President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Officially, Hanukkah doesn’t begin for another 11 days — but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.

They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with U.S. Ambassardor to Israel Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.

Hanukkah, the President said, is “an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:”

Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.

This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.

Watch.

Download Video: mp4 (41MB) | mp3 (4MB)

Remarks by the President at Hanukkah Reception

Grand Foyer

6:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good evening, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you all for joining us tonight to celebrate Hanukkah — even if we’re doing it a little bit early.  (Laughter.)

I want to start by recognizing a few folks who are here.   The ambassador to the United States from Israel, Michael Oren, is in the house.  (Applause.)
We are honored to be joined by one of the justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is here.  (Applause.)  We are thrilled to see her.  She’s one of my favorites, I got to — (laughter.)  I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.

And we’ve got more than a few members of Congress here and members of my administration in the house, including our new Director of Jewish Outreach, Jarrod Bernstein is here.  Where’s Jarrod?  (Applause.)  Hey, Jarrod.

I also want to thank the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir –- (applause) — the Voice of Tradition -– for their wonderful performance, but more importantly, for their extraordinary service to our country.

And I want to thank all the rabbis and lay leaders who have come far and wide to be here with us today.

Now, as I said, we’re jumping the gun just a little bit.  The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit.  We’re stretching it out.  (Laughter.)  But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight.  (Laughter.)  That will cause some problems.

This Hanukkah season we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart — even us Gentiles.  It’s a story of right over might, of faith over doubt.  Of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people and discovered that the oil left in their desecrated temple –- which should have lasted only one night –- ended up lasting eight.

It’s a timeless story.  And for 2,000 years, it has given hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling.  And today, it reminds us that miracles come in all shapes and sizes.  Because to most people, the miracle of Hanukkah would have looked like nothing more than a simple flame, but the believers in the temple knew it was something else.  They knew it was something special.

This year, we have to recognize the miracles in our own lives.  Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today.  Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world.  Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.

This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations.  And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.  (Applause.)

So while it is not yet Hanukkah, let’s give thanks for our blessings, for being together to celebrate this wonderful holiday season.  And we never need an excuse for a good party.  (Laughter.)  So we are going to see all of you in a second downstairs —

MRS. OBAMA:  Aren’t we in the Blue Room?

THE PRESIDENT:  Or wherever we are.  (Laughter.)  I think we’re downstairs.  We are downstairs in the Map Room.  So as I look around, I see a whole bunch of good friends.  We can’t wait to give you a hug and a kiss and wish you a happy holiday.  The guys with whiskers, I won’t give you a kiss.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END 6:14 P.M. EST

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

Israel Political Brief December 8, 2011: President Barack Obama Hosts White House Hanukkah Reception

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

חיוכים ובדיחות בבית הלבן (צילום: AFP)

Laughs and jokes at the White House (Photo: AFP)

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA HOLDS HANUKKAH RECEPTION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Full Text December 8, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks at White House Hanukkah Reception — Transcript — WH, 12-8-11

Obama celebrates Hanukkah at White House: President Barack Obama is marking Hanukkah as a story of “faith over doubt.”
Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden convened a Hanukkah celebration at the White House Thursday in an early celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights.
Obama said the Hanukkah story was about “right over might, faith over doubt.” In the Hanukkah story, a small band of Jews rededicating a Jerusalem temple found that a one-day supply of oil kindled a flame instead for eight.
The president noted “our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.”
Hanukkah begins at sunset on Dec. 20. Obama joked that everyone needs to be “careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight.” — AP, 12-8-11

  • Obama lights White House menorah at reception: President Obama hosted 550 people at the White House Chanukah reception.
    The annual event, held Thursday in Washington, was attended by the president and vice-president and their wives and attracted a mix of Jewish dignitaries from the political, community and cultural worlds. The president reiterated his “unshakable support” for Israel and noted that the festivities were being celebrated a week before the holiday begins.
    “We’re jumping the gun just a little bit,” said Obama. “The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We’re stretching it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Chanukah lasts 20 nights instead of eight. That will cause some problems.”
    The West Point Jewish Chapel Choir performed at the event, while the menorah used was made in a displaced persons camp after World War II and donated by the Jewish Museum in New York.
    “Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season,” Obama said. “This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.”… – JTA, 12-9-11
  • Obama celebrates Hanukkah in White House: President appears particularly jovial as he marks Jewish holiday earlier than usual. ‘The Hanukkah story is one of right over might, of faith over doubt,’ he saysUS President Barack Obama held a festive Hanukkah reception at the White House on Thursday and appeared to be in a particularly cheerful mood. Among the guests were his wife Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “The story of Hanukkah is one of right over might, of faith over doubt,” he remarked.
    Getting into the holiday spirit Obama was brimming with jokes and good wishes. “We’re jumping the gun just a little bit,” he noted. “The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We’re stretching it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight.”
    Addressing the US’s ties with Israel he said: “This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.”
    Obama seemed particularly jovial as he said, “So while it is not yet Hanukkah, let’s give thanks for our blessings, for being together to celebrate this wonderful holiday season. And we never need an excuse for a good party.” He later noted, “We can’t wait to give you a hug and a kiss and wish you a happy holiday.”
    Addressing the miracle of Hanukkah, the President said: “This Hanukkah season we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart – even us Gentiles.” He added, “And for 2,000 years, it has given hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling.”…. – YNet, 12-9-11
  • Michelle Obama is hostess for early Hanukkah party: It’s beginning to look a lot like Hannukah. Michelle Obama and her husband, along with Joe and Jill Biden, welcomed 550 guests last night to the White House to celebrate the Jewish holiday, even though it doesn’t start until Dec.20.
    “We’re jumping the gun just a little bit,” President Obama joked to the crowd, which included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and ambassador to Israel Michael Oren.
    “The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We’re stretching it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight. That will cause some problems…”
    He added, “And we never need an excuse for a good party.”… – USA Today, 12-9-11
  • Obama fights for Jewish support amid GOP attacks: …Firing back, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Romney’s comments “outrageous” and questioned his own policies. The White House cited military aid to Israel and support at the United Nations, and pointed to statements from Israeli officials backing up Obama’s assertion.
    The fiery debate will probably continue Wednesday when the GOP presidential candidates attend a Washington forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.
    Obama campaign officials say they will be ready to respond. And the next day, Jewish leaders will be at the White House for briefings on Israel and a Hanukkah party, followed by an Obama speech next week to an expected audience of nearly 6,000 at a conference of the Union for Reform Judaism…. – AP, 12-6-11

Israel Political Brief Full Text Interview October 18, 2011: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Discusses with NPR Gilad Shalit Prisoner Swap

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Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Discusses with NPR Gilad Shalit Prisoner Swap

Five years after he was captured by Hamas militants in Gaza in a cross-border raid, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was returned to his home country. Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., talks with Robert Siegel about the deal that will free more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit’s release Tuesday.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Joining us in the studio is Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Mr. Ambassador, welcome once again.

MICHAEL OREN: Always good to be here, Robert.

SIEGEL: I want to ask you first about Israel’s dealings with Hamas over the prisoner swap. The Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told Israeli army radio the other day that Palestinian President Abbas, a negotiator with Israel for a million years and hasn’t achieved a deal like this one. Has this agreement, in effect, elevated the standing of Hamas among Palestinians and in the world community at large?

OREN: Well, listen, there was a poll published just today by a Palestinian research center in Ramallah that shows that Hamas is imploding in terms of its political support, not only in the West Bank, but in Gaza itself. The economic situation in Gaza is miserable, for want of a better word, and Palestinians are looking from Gaza at the West Bank where there’s extraordinary economic growth, where hundreds of checkpoints have been removed and they’re asking their leadership, how come this isn’t happening here.

So, maybe they’ll receive a blip of support from the release of these prisoners today. But in the long run, their constituents are going to still be asking the hard questions. Why don’t we have the same future that Palestinians on the West Bank have?

SIEGEL: The head of the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, was quoted as saying in defense of this agreement, Hamas had to show some flexibility as we did. Was the description of a balanced negotiation, albeit through Egyptian mediators, do you and other Israelis come away from this with any hope for any more extensive negotiations with Hamas?

OREN: With Hamas? No. I mean, Hamas still is committed to Israel’s destruction. If you read its covenant, it’s committed not only to the annihilation of Israel, but to the obliteration of the Jews worldwide. It’s a genocidal covenant. And Hamas does not meet the criterion established by the quartet for joining negotiations. But what today’s events do prove is that the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is capable of making very hard, very painful decisions.

And if I were a Palestinian leader on the West Bank, I’d be looking at this government and saying, this is government that can deliver. This is a government that can make the hard choices and reach an historic peace with us.

SIEGEL: But if I were a Palestinian not in the government, wouldn’t I look at this and say, well, these Hamas people, they’ve been trying to isolate them for years. But in the clutch, when it came down to getting one Israeli soldier home, the Israelis delivered 1,100 prisoners to them.

OREN: Oh, I’d actually flip that around and say, look, Hamas, in order to get – in exchange for one Israeli prisoner, they received 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. I’d be looking at the great asymmetry of that and saying, what’s wrong with this picture. Wouldn’t it be better, instead of exchanging a soldier who was kidnapped on Israeli soil for people who are basically mass murderers, is that the best way of ensuring the future for my children and my grandchildren?

SIEGEL: Well, what would you say to those Israelis who were critical of this swap, who said, indeed, the people being freed include, say, the young woman who masterminded the bombing of the pizzeria in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of women and children, she’s out. She’s not repentant. She could be planning another plot in a couple years.

OREN: Well, I think that there’s a valid argument there. And as I say, we share in the joy of the Shalit family. We also partake in the pain of those who are victims of these terrorists. And I’m speaking as a – personal, as an Israeli, not just as the ambassador. I have three children who have been in the army, one who’s still serving. But my family has also been – has also suffered the loss of a very close family member in a bus bombing in Jerusalem. My eldest son was shot trying to apprehend one of these Hamas leaders. He’s fine today, but we bear these scars. So we understand the pain and we understand the risks.

But at the end of the day, Robert, Israel is a democracy that has a citizens army. And when we send our sons and our daughters off to defend our country, they have to know that if they fall captive or, God forbid, anything worse happens to them, that the state will do everything in their power to get them back. And that is the source of our strength.

SIEGEL: But Ambassador Oren, does the deal with Hamas make it more difficult for Israel to fault those who would negotiate with people they describe as terrorists? That is, Israel regards Hamas as terrorist. You had to deal with them. If you wanted Gilad Shalit back, you had to negotiate in some way with them. You did. Shouldn’t other countries do the same?

OREN: I’m not splitting hairs here by saying that we didn’t negotiate. We negotiated through the Egyptians and the Germans and we negotiated about a prisoner exchange. We didn’t negotiate peace. We didn’t negotiate territory for peace. It’s not about that because Hamas is not interested in peace. It’s about comparing lists and seeing, you know, which lists were palatable to us and which ones that Hamas could accept.

Eventually, we reached a deal. It’s a better deal that we reached today than we could’ve reached at any time in the last five years. And with the great changes sweeping the Arab world, we thought we had an opportunity here that might not exist in the coming months.

SIEGEL: Ambassador Oren, thank you very much for talking with us.

OREN: No problem.

SIEGEL: That’s Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. And later in the program, you can hear an interview with a representative of the group on the other side of that prisoner exchange, Hamas.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Ambassador Michael Oren’s Remarks on the Release of Gilad Shalit – Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Welcome Home: Ambassador Michael Oren’s Remarks on the Release of Gilad Shalit

Today, the people of Israel and our supporters worldwide share in the joy of the Shalit family who were reunited with their beloved Gilad, held for five agonizing years by Hamas terrorists. As we witness this expression of happiness, we take pride in the strength and unity of the people of Israel and of their unwavering commitment to redeem prisoners who have fallen into enemy hands. We reaffirm the covenant between the State of Israel and its citizen army that exalts the principle that no soldier is ever left behind. Today, too, we are pained by the price we have paid in order to secure Gilad’s release, and we share the torment of those for whom this price is intensely personal.

We are hopeful that the Palestinian leadership will work to prevent any future terrorist attacks and renounce the violent acts perpetrated by many of those Palestinian prisoners who will be released.  Today is an opportunity for the Palestinian people to display the humanity and dignity that have given expression throughout the Arab world this year by turning their backs on the convicted murderers and those who laud them.

Israel will continue to defend itself in the face of multiple threats and withstand the attempts of those who seek to destroy us. We will be girded by our love of life, trusting in its supremacy — moral as well as military – over those who love death. We will make the hard choices, whether in war or in peace, to ensure the safety and integrity of Israel – the State, the Land, and its people.


Gilad, his father Noam, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Barak.

Israel Political Brief September 1, 2011: PA Statehood Bid Could Jeopardize Oslo Agreement

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-31-11

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said Tuesday the PA statehood bid at the United Nations would likely jeopardize all existing agreements between the PA and Israel.

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Oren said, “We have a lot of agreements with the Palestinian Authority, we have no agreements with a ‘Government of Palestine.’

“It’s just a fact – we have no agreements with a ‘Government of Palestine.’ It puts us in a different realm,” said Oren.

Oren added the move would render invalid economic treaties, including export, import and water sharing, as well as security cooperation agreements.

“America is a cosignatory to the Oslo Accord and this would seriously undermine it…Unilateral steps would have legal, economic, and political ramifications for us and for America as a cosignatory,” Oren added.

According to Oren, the statehood declaration will provide the Palestinian Authority with “lawfare” against Israel in the international arena, which will further diminish the chances for reaching a negotiated agreement.

“We want to be able to negotiate but we won’t be able to negotiate if they are attacking our legitimacy in every international court. We’re not going to negotiate under fire and it’s a mistake for the Palestinians to think that we would,” the ambassador said.

Oren warned that in the absence of a negotiated solution, Israel’s support for the creation of a PA state might be jeopardized. “The Palestinians risk all that has been achieved if they go forward with this … and that would be a great tragedy.”

Oren’s comments on the heels of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz telling reporters the PA Statehood Bid was more dangerous than Hamas and would force Israel to “respond.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has already said a unilateral declaration of statehood by the PA would render the Oslo Accords ‘null and void’ and would result in a ‘diplomatic eye for an eye’ on Israel’s part.

Earlier, Florida’s Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced she is advancing a measure to block US funding to any UN member or group that supports the PA bid.

via israelnn.com

Michael Oren: Gilad Shalit: Hostage of Hamas

The struggle to bring the soldier home has become a national passion for Israelis.

Source: WSJ, 6-25-10

In a small Jerusalem café, I sat with Noam Shalit and tried to discuss his son, Gilad. I say tried because each time Noam, a soft-spoken, bespectacled man, began a sentence, the owner of the café rushed over with complimentary plates of humus, salads and desserts. Passersby, glimpsing Noam through the window, burst inside to embrace him. “We are with you,” they cried. “We will get our Gilad home.”

That our is the key to understanding the devotion that Israelis feel for Gilad Shalit. The Israel Defense Forces is a citizens’ army in which most young men serve for a minimum of three years, followed by several decades of reserve duty. Young women serve for at least two. Our soldiers are literally our parents, our siblings, our children. Israel is also a small country with few if any degrees of separation between families. Even those who have never met the Shalits know someone who has. And all of us have loved ones—a brother, a son—who could suffer the same ordeal that Gilad began four years ago today.

Early on the morning of June 25, 2006, Hamas terrorists—using a tunnel secretly excavated during a cease-fire with Israel—infiltrated across the Gaza border and attacked an IDF base. Firing rocket grenades and automatic weapons, they killed two soldiers—Lt. Hanan Barak and Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, both 20—and kidnapped the 19-year-old corporal, Gilad Shalit. The IDF promptly launched a massive manhunt in Gaza, suffering an additional five fatalities, but failed to find the abductors. Hamas, meanwhile, demanded that Israel release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, most of them convicted terrorists, in exchange for Gilad’s freedom….READ MORE

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