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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘American Israel Public Affairs Committee’

AIPAC Rejects Report of Differences with Wasserman Schultz

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said an article describing differences between the group and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was “inaccurate.”

“I wanted to forward a statement issued by AIPAC National Board Member Ike Fisher after The Huffington Post released an inaccurate article regarding AIPAC and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” said an alert sent to AIPAC activists on Friday by Mark Kleinman, AIPAC’s Southeastern director.

The alert does not say what was inaccurate about the article, which described differences with Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) over Iran sanctions policy, but adds a comment by Fisher, a South Florida resident.

“Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has a strong record of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the statement quotes Fisher as saying. “She is a good friend of Israel and a close friend of AIPAC, and we look forward to our continued work together for many years to come.”

A query to AIPAC was unanswered. Sources close to Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, confirmed that there had been an exchange of communications between AIPAC and the congresswoman leading up to the latest statement.

The Jan. 15 Huffington Post story said Wasserman Schultz, a preeminent congressional supporter of Israel, spoke against legislation calling for new Iran sanctions at a meeting of White House staff and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

AIPAC advocates new sanctions under consideration in the Senate, saying they will strengthen the U.S. hand in talks underway between the major powers and Iran aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The White House opposes the new sanctions, saying they could scuttle the talks.

The House overwhelmingly approved similar legislation last summer, before Iran agreed to join the talks; Wasserman Schultz backed that legislation.

The Washington Free Beacon, an online conservative news site, first reported differences between AIPAC and Wasserman Schultz.

The Free Beacon reported on Jan. 14 that an AIPAC official had written to Florida Jewish leaders urging them to confront Wasserman Schultz about an earlier Free Beacon report that said Wasserman Schultz was instrumental in keeping House Democrats from backing a House resolution urging the Senate to advance that resolution.

‘No Pause’ in AIPAC Iran Sanctions Campaign

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said there would be “no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts” to seek new sanctions on Iran.

The statement late Saturday came after days of reports that top pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, had agreed in a meeting with senior White House staffers to suspend for 80 days lobbying for increased sanctions on Iran.

“AIPAC continues to support congressional action to adopt legislation to further strengthen sanctions and there will absolutely be no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts,” said the statement by AIPAC President Michael Kassen.

Obama administration officials have said that passing intensified sanctions would be counterproductive while renewed negotiations are underway with Iran aimed at making its nuclear program more transparent and ensuring that Iran is not working to make a bomb.

Top officials have met with senators in recent days to ask them not to advance intensified sanctions passed over the summer by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional proponents of the sanctions, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said that sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table and should be upheld to extract meaningful concessions.

That outlook was echoed in the statement by AIPAC’s Kassen.

“AIPAC supports diplomatic efforts to achieve an end to Iran’s nuclear program,” Kassen said.

“Diplomatic talks have been made possible because of the strong sanctions passed by Congress and implemented by the administration,” he said. “Until Iran suspends its enrichment program, additional sanctions are vital for diplomacy to succeed.

White House Asks Pro-Israel Groups to Tone Down Iran Sanctions Talk

Friday, November 1st, 2013

The U.S. government is asking pro-Israel activists to reduce their public support for more sanctions on Iran just prior to another round of discussions on the issue between Iranian and world leaders. White House officials met with Jewish organizations including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, a pro-Israel official who attended the briefing said that the Obama administration does not “want the new [sanctions] to come out now.”

Additionally, the lobby group J Street said Tuesday that “moving forward with new sanctions now could severely undermine prospects for a diplomatic solution.” The statement “could have been written by the White House itself,” a source familiar with the meeting told the Washington Free Beacon .

Democrats in Congress have also drafted a bill designed to establish a panel to “review, assess, and make recommendations” regarding the prospect of increasing sanctions on Iran.

AIPAC: Intensify Sanctions if Iran Advances Nuke Program

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

AIPAC joined Israel’s government and some congressional leaders in calling on the Obama administration to intensify sanctions should Iran continue its uranium enrichment during negotiations.

“To avoid any misunderstanding in Tehran, America must clearly signal that it will consider no easing of sanctions until Iran has verifiably suspended its nuclear program,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a memo sent Monday to congressmen and released to reporters. “If Iran’s nuclear activities continue, the United States and the international community should escalate sanctions and reinforce President Obama’s message that a credible military option is on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

Top Obama administration officials have asked Congress not to consider new sanctions on Iran until after talks over the country’s suspected nuclear weapons program renew later this month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has campaigned in recent weeks for intensified sanctions should Iran continue to enrich uranium. Last week, in a meeting with the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he found a friendly ear.

“Our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged and we will not hesitate from proceeding with further sanctions and other options to protect U.S. interests and ensure regional security,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement after meeting with Netanyahu on Sept. 30. “While we welcome Iran’s diplomatic engagement, it cannot be used to buy time, avoid sanctions, and continue the march toward nuclear weapons capability.”

President Obama has said he sees an opening in the ostensible moderation of Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to make transparent a nuclear program he insists is peaceful. Netanyahu says he believes Rouhani is lying.

Notably, the AIPAC statement did not embrace Netanyahu’s calls for an end to all enrichment as part of a final deal. Instead it called only for a suspension of nuclear enrichment as a predicate for negotiations, not as part of a final deal.

That posture is aligned more with Western powers, which reportedly are ready to allow a degree of enrichment to continue, than with Netanyahu.

Pre-Israel Visit, Obama Says Middle East Peace Possibility ‘Bleak’

Friday, March 8th, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama met with more than a dozen representatives of American Jewish communities on Thursday, March 8, in advance of his trip to Israel.  That trip is expected to begin on March 20.

The meeting, which was not on the president’s public list of activities, included a range of political interest representatives, mostly from the centrist to politically left.  Although participants were not supposed to discuss the names of those present or what was discussed, enough information became available throughout the day to draw a general sense of what transpired.

The Anti-Defamation League, solidly centrist enough to be included in virtually every government gathering, was represented, along with several other typical participants such as the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was there, as were representatives from the radical leftist Americans for Peace Now and from an organization the political life of which practically began with the Obama presidency, and which seems to be on the decline, J Street, was also represented.  Based on many reports it appears there was no one from the unflaggingly pro-Israel end of the spectrum, such as the Zionist Organization of America.

The meeting participants made suggestions of places to visit and some urged the president to take a stronger stand against Iran.  Obama’s response was reportedly that “Iran needs to be able to climb down without humiliation.”

The topics of Syria, Turkey and Iran were discussed, but several participants said that the primary focus was on the “Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.”  The two day trip will include a two hour trip to Ramallah, during which Obama is expected to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Ardent supporters of Israel had been fearfully speculating over the past week that during his trip President Obama would once again make heavy demands on the Israeli government to engage in unilateral concessions.  Those fears appear to be unfounded.

All reports of the meeting reflected the sense that the U.S. president is conscious of the turmoil throughout the Middle East and the constraints that places on parties in the region.  Obama reportedly said that he has no intention of “delivering a grand peace plan” during this trip.

Perhaps the U.S. president is unwilling to repeat a major failure of his first term, when he practically demanded there be progress on the “peace process,” but, when met with the reality of the situation, had to chalk up that goal as a failed one.

It appears that what has been widely criticized might actually be good news: without an Israeli governing coalition in place, President Obama can point to that instability as the reason for disappointing those who are insistent that peace be made at all costs – even when that cost is guaranteed to mean war.

The single biggest news that came out of the White House meeting is that it appears even President Obama may have actually learned that the conflict in the Middle East has no simple answers.

Who knew that a president’s pronouncement that the possibility for Middle East peace is bleak would be such a welcome statement?

 

‘Israel’s best friend in the Senate’ Dies at 88

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Daniel Inouye, the longtime Hawaii senator, a decorated World War II hero, died Monday of respiratory complications at Walter Reid National Military Medical Center at age 88.

“Senator Inouye deeply understood the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, worked tirelessly and effectively to ensure that America’s ally, Israel, had the necessary resources to defend her people,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement. “He will be missed by all who appreciated his many decades of leadership in strengthening the ties between America and Israel.”

Inouye enlisted in 1943 as soon as a ban on Japanese Americans serving in the army was lifted. He lost his arm in Italy in 1945, but persisted in leading on an assault a ridge heavily manned by German troops, an act that won him the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Recovering in a hospital, he heard from a fellow patient about his discovering bodies killed in ovens at a camp liberated by U.S. forces.

Recounting the memory as recently as October, to students in a high school in Jerusalem, Inouye said he asked his fellow patient what their crime could have been. He was told “they were Jews,” and the answer changed his life, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Inouye’s first job was selling Israel Bonds in Hawaii, and he considered converting to Judaism, but pulled back, worried that his devoutly Christian mother would be upset.

Inouye, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, rose to become its lead Democratic appropriator. He enjoyed a convivial relationship with Ted Stevens of Alaska, for years his Republican counterpart.

“We mourn the discourse that belonged to these two but seems to be evaporating,” Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who directs American Friends of Lubavitch, told JTA.

Pro-Israel Republicans and Democrats mourned his passing on social media. The National Jewish Democratic Council called Inouye “a true mensch in every sense of the word.”

Inouye was a lead sponsor of the legislation in the mid 1990s that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His role as a lead appropriator helped guarantee U.S. defense assistance to Israel.

“Our people owe him an immense historic debt,” Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, said in a statement. “The Iron Dome system that recently intercepted hundreds of terrorist rockets aimed at our homes stands as enduring proof of his commitment to the defense of the Jewish State.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israels-best-friends-in-the-senate-dies-at-88/2012/12/18/

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