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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘American Jewish Committee’

Schumer Cites Hagel’s Tears, but Smears Jewish Conservatives

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

As evidence continues to mount about why former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is so high on the dance card of Iranian regime supporters and so low on the dance card of most pro-Israel supporters, the politicians supporting Hagel have begun to sound desperate.

New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, may have just relocated this debate from the staid halls of congress and plopped it directly onto the high school dramatics level of bathos.

Schumer, who initially attracted attention when he publicly stated he was not sure about the Hagel nomination, then had an intimate tête á tête (multiply the last digit by many orders of magnitude) with Hagel in the White House.

It was during that bull session that the former Nebraska senator – perhaps with some assistance from others present – apparently convinced Schumer that Hagel was the right man to head the department of defense.

In the weeks since Hagel received Schumer’s hecksher, instead of soaring, Hagel’s star faltered as it grew ever more tarnished, with multiple revelations of anti-Israel and anti-American slurs.

But Hagel’s poor performance at his confirmation hearing was sufficient to convince enough congressional members to block the nomination’s movement to the full senate for a vote there.

There was concern in particular about documents that had not been turned over addressing compensation from potential worrisome sources.  In addition, some were uncomfortable with Hagel’s inability to field questions put to him during the vetting process. And then there were the questions of where the former senator stood with respect to various players in the Middle East, based on earlier comments and votes.

Now, while the senate is on a brief hiatus, revelations continue.

And just to show how low Hagel’s star has fallen, we learned that Wednesday morning, while Schumer was giving a talk to some business groups in Manhattan, he shared with them some of the details about the famous conversation he had with Hagel, the one that moved him onto the pro-Hagel for secretary of defense team.  Those details were not discussed previously, as they had been described as confidential.

What did Schumer learn? He learned that deep down, Hagel is an uber sensitive guy.  All Schumer had to do was explain why it was so hateful to Jews for Hagel to refer to them as the “Jewish lobby,” to share the pain of the double standard Jews have had to endure, and Hagel was cured!

According to Schumer, the scales fell from Hagel’s eyes.  And Hagel repented.  He felt their pain.  How do we know that?

We know that because Schumer brought his Wednesday morning audience into that intimate space with him, and told those listening what he felt.  “And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”

Schumer provided inaccurate information about other matters Wednesday morning.  He said that “there is not a major Jewish organization against Hagel.”

That’s not true.

The Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) have been on record opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel since President Obama first named him as his choice for secretary of Defense.

The centrist American Jewish Committee has been at least softly opposed to Hagel’s nomination even before the nod was officially given by the president.  Back in December, the AJC’s president, David Harris said, “what message would it send to have a Pentagon chief who has very different views on strategies for dealing with Iran, the central foreign policy challenge of our time, than the White House has had to date? Or questions the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group at the same time the Administration is urging the European Union to add the group to its terrorism list?”

And the politically centrist, Democratic Party-leaning Anti-Defamation League joined the AJC in strongly questioning the nomination after information about some of Hagel’s comments, in particular that he was recorded as saying that the “U.S. State Department is an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry,” at a speech at Rutgers University in 2007.

AIPAC NOT TAKE POSITIONS ON NOMINATIONS
Much has been made of the lack of opposition by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but AIPAC never takes a position on a political nomination.  The absence of one in this situation should give no comfort to Hagel supporters, or signal anything else to those who have questions and are looking to organizational leadership for direction.

It’s My Opinion: “Chrismakah”

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The South Florida office of the American Jewish Committee recently held its fourth annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast.  Its goal was to bring together people of different religions and ethnic groups.  AJC’s Greater Miami director spoke.  He stated that, ” America’s diversity is what makes us stronger.”

 

It is quite puzzling that a Jewish organization would think that Jews needed to be prodded to mingle with the rest of the population.  The staggering rate of assimilation and intermarriage testify to Jewish expertise in this matter.

 

The “December holiday season” in America today is a sobering example of the embrace of diversity.  “Chrismakah” has evolved as a new politically correct answer to the dilemmas of this time of year.  A combination of Christmas and Chanukah, this holiday is perfect for intermarried couples and even Jews that just like the hoopla of Xmas.

 

“Chrismakah” seems to be the quintessential celebration of diversity. Christmas trees and Chanukah menoros are proudly displayed side-by-side. Chanukah stockings are hung on the mantel and Jewish Stars adorn festive wreathes.

 

The idea is to accommodate everyone’s beliefs.  The reality is that no one is accommodated.  It is a patronizing attempt to serve pareve pabulum of dumbed down holiday fare.

 

For Jews, this concept is the height of irony.  Chanukah is more than a remembrance of the Jewish victory against Greek / Syrian tyranny.  It also marks an internal battle for the purity of Jewish practice, fought against secularized and Hellenistic Jews that had embraced the hedonist culture of the times.

 

Jewish organizations need to stop flitting about embracing diversity and concentrate on maintaining authentic Jewish values.  The concept might not be politically correct, but it is essential to Jewish survival.

About That ‘Israel Unity Pledge’

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Last week the Anti Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee circulated a proposed “unity pledge” for American Jews which, according to a press release, was designed “to encourage other national organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, community groups and individuals to rally around bipartisan support for Israel while preventing the Jewish state from becoming a wedge issue in the upcoming campaign season.”

Most have understood that to mean taking the issue of the Middle East off the table in the upcoming presidential campaign.

Telling Americans to cut back on ventilating a core issue in American politics for fear that voters might rally around the advocate for one of the positions as opposed to the other, is, on its face, bizarre. And since the topic of Israel is not President Obama’s strong point, it smacks of downright partisanship to suggest that it should not be a robust part of the political debate.

Yes, the last thing our community needs is to see support for Israel become a partisan or “wedge” issue in the upcoming campaign. Standing with Israel should not be exclusively identified with one political party. Indeed, expressions of support for Israel and its security have been part of the presidential campaign landscape for decades now, with virtually all Republican and Democratic candidates more or less on the same page.

If the pledge is designed to discourage some of the more shrill attacks that argue that one candidate or another is out to destroy Israel, we might see the point. But is President Obama’s declared desire to reach out to the Muslim world by reevaluating certain of our foreign policy premises – which have benefited Israel immensely over the years – out of bounds?

And what of his war against the settlements? He is at odds with both Democrats and Republicans on the issue. Is that too off the table in terms of political debate?

And what of his embrace of the 1967 lines? Is that a taboo subject? Should Ed Koch’s recent support of a Republican congressional candidate as a means of demonstrating his unhappiness with Mr. Obama’s treatment of Israel been verboten?

We’ve had very few positive things to say about the liberal J Street lobbying group. But J Street’s reaction to the unity pledge is instructive: “You can have a unified support for Israel – for the state of Israel, for the concept of Israel, for its future and for its security – but [have] a vehement disagreement about how you get there. And that’s what we have.”

In other words, certain Jewish organizational leaders need to chill out. Their fear that Mr. Obama has been losing a significant amount of Jewish support is all too palpable. Isn’t that the obvious reason for this misguided effort?

We don’t recall a similar “unity” campaign in 2004, when President Bush was being assailed by liberal Jews for his warm relationship with the Likud government and clear tilting toward Israel even if it meant offending the delicate sensibilities of Yasir Arafat.

Will Jewish Voters Break Their Democratic Habit In 2012?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Will the Jewish vote, normally overwhelmingly Democratic, be up for grabs in 2012? That question became a subject of intense debate when a Republican was elected recently to the House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District for the first time in 90 years.

The district, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and is about one-third Jewish, had been predictably Democratic and liberal. But in the blink of an eye it gave the non-Jewish Republican candidate an 8-point victory over the Democrat, an Orthodox Jew.

Public rabbinical endorsements in the district and extensive reportage in local Jewish papers indicated substantial Jewish defections from the Democrats, particularly among Orthodox Jews, estimated to make up about a third of the Jewish electorate there. Since the election, Republican presidential candidates have been ramping up their pro-Israel rhetoric on the assumption that Jews are disappointed with the administration’s Middle East policy, while Democrats are organizing special outreach initiatives in the hope of holding on to their Jewish support.

The just-released AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion indicates a definite falloff of Jewish support for Obama, although it is not clear that the Republican candidate for president next year can count on a significant shift in the Jewish vote.

Jewish support for Obama began at a far higher threshold than in the electorate at large: In 2008 he received an estimated 78 percent of the Jewish vote while polling 53 percent nationally. Three years later his national approval rating stands at 39 percent, a 14-point drop, while his approval rating among Jews – according to the AJC survey – is 45 percent, a decline of 23 percent but still 6 points higher than among Americans as a whole.

Among Orthodox Jews, who made up 9 percent of the sample, disapproval is much higher, 72 percent.

The AJC poll indicates that the president has retained the support of American Jews on certain issues. A solid 68 percent approve of the way he has handled national security, for example. Yet there has been a striking reversal in Jewish attitudes toward the president’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations. In the fall of 2009, toward the end of the administration’s first year, the AJC survey showed Jewish approval outstripping disapproval by 54 to 32 percent. Now, two years later, disapprovers outnumber approvers by 53 to 40 percent. Among the Orthodox Jews, 81 percent disapprove.

But Jewish disaffection from the president is not confined to Israel policy; Jews share the broader American unhappiness with recent economic trends. In March 2010, an AJC survey had Jewish approval of the president’s economic policies at 55 percent as compared to 45 percent in the general population. Today the Jewish approval rating on the economy is down to 37 percent, about the same as among Americans as a whole.

The latest AJC survey indicates some falloff in Jewish identification with the Democratic Party, which stood at 53 percent in 2009 and is now at 45 percent. However, this has not translated into gains for the Republicans, which stands steady at 16 percent. Rather, the number of Jewish political independents rose in that time period from 30 percent to 38 percent. In the Orthodox sample, Republicans now outnumber Democrats by 35 to 21 percent, with 41 percent identifying as independents.

Looking forward to the 2012 election, the AJC survey matched up Obama with a number of potential Republican candidates and asked respondents to indicate for whom they would vote. Mitt Romney did best in the hypothetical contest, garnering 32 percent to Obama’s 51; Rick Perry garnered 26 percent to Obama’s 54; and Michele Bachmann received 21 percent against 59 percent for Obama.

Since 1928, Democratic candidates for president almost always have received at least 60 percent of the Jewish vote, with many doing far better. Only Jimmy Carter in his 1980 reelection bid did worse, winning a plurality of 45 percent in a three-candidate race.

Do Obama’s numbers in the AJC matchups, all in the 51-59 percent range, portend trouble for him? Not necessarily. Approximately 20 percent of the respondents said they were undecided or unsure about whether to vote for Obama or for any of the named Republicans.

To be sure, there is still a year to go before the next presidential election. Much could happen to change the electoral calculus both in the Jewish community and outside it, whether on the domestic economic front, in the Middle East or elsewhere. Also, other candidates could conceivably enter the race.

Clearly the president faces challenges in attracting Jewish voters, especially the Orthodox. Some are identical to those confronting him with regard to all voters, others specific to the Jewish community. It is far too early to tell if 2012 will be the year that Republicans finally fulfill their long-held aspiration to draw a large chunk of the Jewish vote or if, despite serious misgivings, the tradition of overwhelming Jewish allegiance to the Democrats continues.

(JTA)

Lawrence Grossman is director of publications for the American Jewish Committee.

Muslim Population Myth

Friday, November 23rd, 2001

A startling population report has just been published by the American Jewish Committee debunking the myth of potent Muslim voting power.

Since September 11, the media has used estimates of the Muslim population in the United States of 5-8 million. However, the report, prepared by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago, says that none of the 20 publicized estimates “is based on a scientifically-sound or explicit methodology. All can probably be characterized as guesses or assertions. Nine came from Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Student Association, the Council on America-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Council, and the Harvard Islamic Society or unspecified 'Muslim sources.' None of these sources gave any basis for their figures.”

The report goes on to describe the seemingly purposeful effort to inflate Muslim population figures and concludes:

Estimates of Muslim population in the United States 1) vary greatly, 2) are seldom based on any credible scientific methodology, and 3) seem to have been undergoing inflation of late, rising a million from the average claim in 1996-2001 of 5.65 million to a post-September 11 average figure of 6.7 million.

The best, adjusted, survey-based estimates put the adult Muslim population in 2000 at … 1,401,000, and the total Muslim population at 1,886,000. Even if high-side estimates based on local surveys, figures from mosques, and ancestry and immigration statistics are given more weight than the survey-based numbers, it is hard to accept estimates that Muslims are greater than 1 percent of the population (2,090,000 adults or 2,814,000 total).

Thus, the average number being cited by the media at present … is 2.4 to 3.6 times greater than the best available estimates…

The motive of the various Muslim institutions to inflate the population figures is obvious. We hope that the media will now be more careful about being part of the scam.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/muslim-population-myth/2001/11/23/

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