web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Jews pray near Israeli security forces at Beit El.
Traumatized Jews Battle Israeli Forces, Old Nightmares in Samaria
Latest News Stories
Prof. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Lithuania.

Israeli, Lithuanian and American researchers have tracked down the remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilna.

Jews pray near Israeli security forces at Beit El.

Ahead of the Jewish holiday of love and matchmaking, Israelis in Samaria battle security forces and old nightmares that have returned.

US Secy of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shake hands.

A poll suggesting American Jews support the Iran deal is flawed, while a new poll reveals the opposite.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu called Pollard’s wife over news of his impending release from prison.

A tent city is raised in solidarity with Beit El residents, where two half-finished apartment buildings are threatened with demolition.

“Sure, a lot of people like Bernie Sanders, but can he win?”

Former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will be freed in November after spending 30 years in a U.S. prison.

Arab children are taught to be “martyrs” at the Al Aqsa Mosque summer camp in Jerusalem.

Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick praises Israel’s government but says “more” needs to be done about disparity at the site.

The scenes from last night and today in Beit El are eerily reminiscent of the scenes from Gush Katif 10 years ago, the above photo in particular.

Military officials called this a most serious incident, but stressed that the soldiers fled the outpost while the battalion and their fellow fighters were not on operational duty.

Gaddafi wasn’t in the court, as he is currently being held captive by one of the former rebel groups in Zintan.

Britain issues alert for its citizens against travel to Turkey due to “high” threat of terror attacks by ISIS.

The marijuana valued at $50 million, and seized in an operation over the past few months.

Nuttall told an undercover policeman that his wife believed she should send Jewish children to paradise, since “grown-up Jews” go to “eternal hell.”

Local Israel Police have arrested seven Jerusalem Arabs in connection with recent attacks on Jews.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. (archive)

Clinton derided perceptions that U.S.-Israel tensions had become tense under Obama.

“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.

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: