web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Congress Losing Several Longtime Pro-Israel Pillars

Capital-Building-121412

WASHINGTON – When the new Congress convenes in January, it will be missing several longtime pillars of support for Israel on Capitol Hill.

Gone from the House of Representatives will be veteran Jewish Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the committee’s Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee; and Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), a point person on funding Israel’s missile defense efforts. Absent from the Senate will be Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The reasons for the departures vary: Berman and Rothman were defeated in intra-party battles sparked by redistricting, while Ackerman and Lieberman are retiring. Other notable departures of Jewish pro-Israel lawmakers include Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a leading liberal who is retiring, and Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.), a hawkish voice on Israel who was defeated in her bid for a Senate seat.

A staffer for a House Democrat said the loss of veteran Jewish lawmakers is significant in that their colleagues looked to them for guidance on Israel-related issues.

“They connect the dots, they look at the big board and see how a leader on a particular issue votes,” said the staffer, who asked not to be identified, citing Capitol Hill protocol. “There are a lot fewer data points now for them to work with.”

Multiple sources cited as a particular blow the loss of Berman, whose long congressional career is coming to an end following his defeat by fellow Jewish incumbent Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) in a bitterly contested race.

“Howard Berman had the ability to work across the aisle,” said Douglas Bloomfield, an opinion columnist for Jewish media outlets who in the 1980s was the legislative director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “He was a legislator as well as a policy person. He was a respected voice, people took him seriously.”

Berman was seen as critical to brokering the deal that achieved overwhelming congressional backing for enhanced Iran sanctions in 2010. He worked closely with the Obama administration on the issue.

Also on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who is considered a strong ally of Israel, is relinquishing her post as the committee’s chairwoman, as required under the House Republican Caucus rules that limit how long its members can serve in committee leadership roles.

Even with the loss of so many veteran pro-Israel voices, observers stress that there are still devoted friends of Israel in key congressional positions.

They include Jewish pro-Israel stalwarts such as Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who now leads Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is replacing Berman as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Engel at times has taken a more critical stance than Berman toward the Obama administration’s approach to Israel.

Newer members also may find themselves taking more of a leadership role on Israel issues. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), elected in 2010, already is a leader on Iran sanctions issues, and Rep.-elect Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) has strong ties to Chicago-area chapters of pro-Israel groups.

“The longer I’ve been in Congress, the more I see that Congress is a living body, we lose some good people and we gain some good people,” Engel told JTA.

Engel said there is “an excellent crop” of incoming freshmen, and that “those of us who are around have been around for a while. We’re eager to carry the torch.”

But Bloomfield suggested that an emerging generation of Democrats could spell long-term changes in the traditional structure of two-party support for Israel.

“The generation that’s leaving…these are guys who grew up in the formative years of Israel and understand what the struggle was,” Bloomfield said. “They are being replaced by a post-1967 generation who know not a threatened Israel, a vulnerable Israel – who know a muscular Israel.”

But Engel said he did not perceive a significant shift in how members of Congress relate to Israel.

“There are handful of people in the Democratic Party who see things in a different light and there are a handful of people in the Republican Party who see things in a different light,” he said. “The overwhelming majority understands that Israel is a strategic ally and the United States has a stake in the Middle East in the survival of Israel.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Congress Losing Several Longtime Pro-Israel Pillars”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest News Stories
Raining in Jerusalem

Starting the 7th of Cheshvan in the Jewish calendar, Jews in Israel will start inserting the formal request for rain in the 9th blessing of the Amidah prayer.

Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.

Doctors are predicting minimal long-term disability to Yehudah Glick following surgery today.

Ikea Instruction

Sweden and John Kerry would make wonderful partners to get lost in the same maze.

Little Heroes

Pictured is an IDF ceremony for graduates of the “Little Heroes” foundation, which works to integrate kids with special needs in society, on October 30, 2014. The annual ceremony is in cooperation with the Logistics Corps in order to strengthen the connection between the IDF and the special needs community.

“It’s serious, there are now genuine questions being asked about whether we will be able to vote Labor next May.”

Does that mean Kerry also will stay away?

He is not in a coma and may undergo another operation today.

Israel’s anti-Netanyahu media might regret their wishes if early elections are held.

Authorities in Peru this week arrested a suspected Hezbollah terrorist who planned to murder Jews. Lebanese citizen Mohammed Hamden was in possession of explosives and other materials when he was arrested, according to the Peruvian Interior Ministry. Police found traces of TNT, detonators and other explosive devices in his apartment. Reports indicate that the suspect […]

Israel decides not to go ahead with huge military purchase from U.S., likely to provoke rumors of continuing feud.

Highlight: Exclusive Interview with Rabbi Yehuda Glick at the Foot of the Temple Mount.

Doctors reported as of 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday night that there is a “very small” improvement in the condition of Yehuda Glick, gunned down by an Arab terrorists Wednesday night, but that he still is in critical condition and his life remains in danger.

Foreign Minister Lieberman may be playing “chicken.” What happens if France follows Sweden?

Conference of Jewish groups chided the Obama administration for the nasty comments made about Bibi.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas

“We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.”

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/congress-losing-several-longtime-pro-israel-pillars/2012/12/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: