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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ben Cardin’

Here’s an Easy Way to Find Out if Your Congress Member is Actually Pro-Israel

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Last spring and summer, many pro-Israel Americans were shocked to find out that their own congressional representatives, despite claiming to be pro-Israel, pledged to support the Nuclear Iran Deal.

We know how that went – nearly all Democrats in Congress either readily agreed to abandon their commitment to global – and especially Israel’s – security, or succumbed to enormous pressure and ultimately caved, claiming the Nuclear Iran Deal, while not perfect, was worthy of their support.

Many members of Congress — unable to say with a straight face that the Iran deal was actually “good” — twisted themselves into pretzels trying to justify a position supporting the agreement. Given the high priority assigned to the Iran Deal by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as emblematic of their political legacies, the pressure to fall in line on this vote must have been staggering.

But now there is another chance for elected federal officials to demonstrate their pro-Israel bona fides, one with much lower stakes for the administration, although that won’t stop it from lobbying against the proposed measure.

In this case it would be hard to understand how a legislator who claims to be pro-Israel could justify any position other than support for the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), on Monday, Feb. 1. That is, unless one is comfortable with being cast as hostile to Israeli Jews and more favorably disposed to Palestinian Arabs.

PROPOSED BILL TO UNDO THE U.S. ANTI-ISRAEL LABELING LAW

The proposed measure, S.2474, was introduced to override this Administration’s latest stealth anti-Israel move: a promise to start strictly enforcing a nearly 20 year administrative agency regulation — never enforced until now, and with good reason — that bans the use of the word “Israel” to denote the source of origin for products produced in the disputed territories: Judea and Samaria (as those areas are called by those interested in  historical accuracy).

The areas are referred to, and the labeling permitted, as the “West Bank” and “Gaza” by those so hell-bent on enforcing a Two State Solution they are willing to overlook the fact that there is not as yet any state of Palestine, nor is the West Bank any more real a “country of origin” notation for the area in dispute than is Israel.

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

Cotton’s bill would amend the underlying statute to incorporate what the 1997 regulation allowed, that is, the designation for “West Bank” and “Gaza,” but it would also permit the designation of “Israel” for items produced in Jewish communities in those areas. What it accomplishes, is throwing out a regulation – something decided upon by administrative agencies, not elected officials – and instead incorporates the myriad regulations into comprehensive, and more balanced, legislation.

The bill was referred on Monday to the Senate Finance Committee.

BUT WHERE ARE THE CO-SPONSORS?

So far, only a pitifully small number of U.S. senators care enough about Israel to attach their names to this legislation which is merely an effort to prevent the U.S. from enforcing a boycott against Israeli goods, and every one who has stood up for Israel so far is a Republican.

As of Thursday, Feb. 4, three co-sponsors have joined on to the bill, in addition to Cotton, who is the original sponsor. Those three are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

People have been claiming for some time that the Democratic party has abandoned Israel. So far, at least with respect to S.2474, that’s true, although it’s also true that not many Republicans have as yet signed on either.

Unless legislators hear from their constituents, they may think this issue is unimportant. Israel certainly does not think so. Neither should pro-Israel Americans.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US Senators: ‘EU Plans to Label Israeli Products Mere Figleaf for Boycott’

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Sometime in the near future the EU is expected to publish guidelines on consumer labeling of all Israeli products produced over the so-called “Green Line,” the armistice line created when the war against the nascent Jewish State ended.

The EU considers all Jewish cities and towns over the pre-1967 lines to be illegal. As such, anything produced, grown or packaged in either eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria or the Golan Heights will be labeled so that consumers can more easily boycott those products.

The guidelines will be published by the office of Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief. No vote is required for this measure to be taken.

There is pushback to that labeling plan coming not only from Israel, but also from many members of the U.S. Senate.

Three dozen U.S. Senators sent a letter to Mogherini, decrying the decision of the European Union to place labels on all those products imported into the EU which are produced beyond the “Green Line.”

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), calls on the EU to refrain from this labeling effort which, they explained, is a mere cover for boycotting Israeli products.

“As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de-facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East,” the letter states.

“We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous, and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution to [the Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”

The full text of the letter and all the names of the 36 signers follows:

November 9, 2015

Ms. Federica Mogherini High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice-President of the European Commission (HRVP) Delegation of the European Union to the United States Suite 800 2175 K Street NW Washington, DC 20037

Dear High Representative Mogherini,

We write to express our concern over reports that the European Union (EU) intends to move forward with new guidelines to label certain products made by Israeli companies imported into the EU. In April, more than half of the foreign ministers of EU member states sent a letter encouraging you to proceed with this policy, and members of the EU Parliament subsequently voted to endorse this initiative in September. As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de-facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East. We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous, and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution to this conflict.

We are also deeply concerned that enacting this policy would lead to the broader boycott of Israel. For decades, it has been the policy of the United States to oppose economic boycotts by other countries against Israel. In the 1970s, the United States Congress enacted legislation making it illegal for a U.S. company to comply with the Arab League boycott of Israel. This year, Congress has passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation requiring the United States to discourage Europe from enacting any politically motivated policies that would boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel when negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Differentiating between products made by Israeli companies creates a troubling precedent that could eventually lead to the type of activities that the TPA provisions aim to address.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ‘Jewish Heart’ Backs Iran Deal

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Florida Jewish Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the most senior Democrats in the party and Democratic National Committee chairwoman, has come out in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Miami Herald reported Sunday.

Her district includes a large number of Jews, and she has been under heavy pressure to oppose the agreement. Last week, Vice president Joe Biden met with her and with Florida Jews and apparently helped sway Schultz.

Her support is a blow for opponents to the deal, who were given an uplift last week when Maryland Jewish Sen. Ben Cardin finally announced he will vote against the agreement but proposed an alternative.

Schultz issued a five-and-a-half page statement to the Herald, in which she wrote:

I have subsequently come to the conclusion that the agreement promotes the national security interests of the United States and our allies and merits my vote of support…

This agreement is not perfect. But I join many in the belief that with complex, multilateral, nuclear non-proliferation negotiations with inherent geopolitical implications for the entire world, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ deal.

Like most other Democrats supporting the bill, she voiced concerns and specifically stated she worries about Iran getting “additional resources to divert to their nefarious activities.”

Schultz added:

Initially sharing those concerns propelled me to thoroughly explore the viability of an alternative agreement… [but] analysts across the academic and political spectrum agree that if the U.S. walks away from this agreement, it will be impossible to maintain a robust sanctions program against Iran.

She expressed little worry about Iran’s holding to the agreement’s requirements for monitoring systems and inspections, saying:

Even if Iran cheats, with this agreement in place it is clear to me that we will know much more about their nuclear program than we do now, which will give us the ability to more effectively eliminate it if that ever becomes necessary

The statement is an incredible admission of one of the plan’s biggest holes because by the time the P5+1 powers “know much more about their nuclear program than we do now,” Iran would already have a bomb. That would make it even more difficult to “effectively eliminate it if that ever becomes necessary.”

Even more worrisome for Jews is her statement that her decision was partly based on her being “a deeply committed member of the Jewish community. Schultz said last week she would announce her decision on the Iran agreement with her “Jewish heart.”

Schultz thinks she is supportive of Israel and stated:

The thorough, pragmatic, and factual analysis I have done and my fervent desire as a Jewish mother to ensure that Israel will always be there — l’dor v’dor — from generation to generation — leads me to the conclusion that this agreement provides the best chance to ensure America’s, Israel’s and our allies’ security today and tomorrow.

One of the mistakes of opponents to the nuclear deal with Iran was focusing on its danger to Israel. Their argument should have centered on the agreement’s being a danger to U.S. citizens, whether they are Jewish or not.

Anyone deciding with a “Jewish heart” to support the deal while maintaining that she or he is committed to Israel’s security has not been able to explain why almost every Israeli leader, including Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog, is against the deal.

Most Americans also are against it, including those in Florida.

A Quinnipiac poll last month showed Florida voters oppose the pact 61 percent to 25 percent.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Cardin to Introduce New Legislation to Strengthen Insupportable Iran Deal

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the all-important Senate Foreign Relations Committee waited until the 13th hour, but on Friday, Sept. 4 he announced his opposition to the Nuclear Iran Deal in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Cardin went through the many reasons why he (finally!) decided he cannot support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He also announced that he is introducing new legislation that addresses significant concerns raised by nearly all members of Congress in announcing their positions, both for and against the deal.

Whether those many elected representatives who announced their support for the deal, but hedged their support by voicing their deep concerns about its many limitations and about the trustworthiness of Iran will support this legislation is something their constituents will be closely watching. And then heads will swivel towards Iran to see whether that country will use Cardin’s legislation, should it get any traction, as (yet another) excuse to claim the U.S. is in breach of the deal and walk away.

The Maryland Senator said that he considered two questions as paramount while studying and consulting about the JCPOA. First, is the deal more or less likely to lead to Iran becoming a state with nuclear weapons, and second, would rejection of the deal be more or less likely to lead to Iran becoming a state with nuclear weapons.

IT’S DEAL THEN WAR, NOT DEAL OR WAR

First, the reasons Cardin gave for opposing the deal: once sanctions are lifted, it will be much harder, if even possible, to reimpose them. And so if Iran decides to cheat and develop nuclear weapons despite the conditions imposed by the deal, the rest of the world will be left with no option except for the military one.

Had the earlier opponents of the deal forcefully made use of that analysis, perhaps the debate would have begun with the obvious principle that “with the deal comes war,” rather than “either the deal or war.” Why Cardin waited until the 13th hour to roll it out is a question worth asking.

Cardin also mentioned the overarching concern voiced by nearly all opponents of the deal, which is that after 15 years Iran is left virtually free to produce nuclear weapons and with a very short breakout time. In other words, the deal would provide Iran, a rogue terrorist supporting country, with international legitimacy for its “industrial-scale nuclear program.”

The 24 day delay in inspections for Iranian sites where nuclear activity is suspected gave Cardin great pause, as did the side agreement which gives the International Atomic Energy Agency sole access to information about Iran’s possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its earlier nuclear weapons program.

ICBMs ARE FOR US, NOT ISRAEL

In addition, Cardin said he cannot support the lifting of the arms embargo and intercontinental ballistic missile sanctions.

Why any argument against the deal did not begin with a discussion of Iran’s demand to be permitted access to ICBMs is hard to fathom, but few chose to mention this as a primary point.  And, as both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer pointed out, Iran does not need intercontinental missiles to reach Israel, those ICBMs will have American and European addresses coded in.

“Our European partners understand that they cannot effectively act without the United States,” Cardin writes just before explaining his new legislation – which he promises will be bipartisan and include both opponents and supporters of the JCPOA. Whether Cardin means the European lifting of sanctions is meaningless unless the U.S. also lifts those sanctions, or that policing of the deal is unrealistic without the U.S. or something else altogether, is unknown.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Bad Day for Nuclear Iran Deal Opponents

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Sept. 1, three members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced they were supporting the Nuclear Iran Deal. As the afternoon wore on, word came that first Senator Bob Casey (D) of Pennsylvania, and then, to close out the afternoon, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) also came out in favor of the agreement.

The three members of the House of Representatives who said they will support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are Rep.s Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01) and Adam Smith (D-WA-09). None of these were real surprises.

But people were quite hopeful that Casey might swim against the tide. In fact, his statement announcing his support went on for 17 pages.

Casey, like so many other politicians who say they will vote to support the deal, admits that the chances of Iran cheating are significant. He began his analysis with this understanding.

So why support it?

Casey weaves a tale punctuated by “there is no alternative,” and “our allies have decided this is the best deal.” He also cites the letter from 36 U.S. military officials endorsing it (ignoring the letter from more than 200 retired officers opposing it) and mentioned that certain Israeli military leaders support it (ignoring the universal opposition to the deal across the Israeli political spectrum, including its defense department.)

Casey concluded his statement strongly endorsing the need for the U.S. to ensure Iran understands the U.S. will take military action if Iran attempts to develop a nuclear weapon, and stating that the U.S. should aggressively work to curtail Iran’s destabilization of the region through its terror proxies and direct participation in terrorism.

His constituents should watch to see whether Casey does anything to make this happen, because it is doubtful this administration will do any such thing.

Coons told the Washington Post that he was still undecided as recently as ten days ago. But he called Vice President Joe Biden, whose Senate seat Coons now holds, and that conversation finally convinced him to support the deal.

The White House now has 32 Senators who have announced support for the agreement. It only needs one more Democrat to ensure that any congressional effort to defeat his veto of legislation opposing the deal, should he need one, will fail.

And as the numbers increase, the White House is surely beginning to hold out hope that its supporters in Congress will be able to filibuster and thereby prevent any vote against the agreement at all. Senate supporters would need 41 votes to achieve that.

Eleven Senate Democrats have still not revealed how they will vote. Opponents of the deal need each one to go their way or the agreement will be approved.

The remaining fence-sitting senators to watch include Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is up for re-election in the fall, as is Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, and New Jersey’s Cory Booker.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

‘Undecided’ Sen. Cardin Predicts Congress Will Back Obama on Iran Deal

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said Tuesday he remains undecided on how to vote on the nuclear deal but that he is sure President Barack Obama will win the needed support in the Senate to prevent a veto-proof majority against the agreement.

Speaking to students at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, Sen. Cardin did not name which Democratic senators will fall in line but said thematic number of 34 will be reached by the end of the week.

The Associated Press said that Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware is scheduled to talk about the deal later today and probably will support President Obama.

Cardin is facing intense pressure from Jewish voters in Maryland to vote against the agreement. He is a member of Baltimore’s largest modern Orthodox synagogue that generally is very supportive of Israel.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

31st Democratic Senator Backs Iran Deal

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

President Barack Obama on Sunday won the support of the 31st Democratic senator out of the 34 he needs to prevent a veto-proof majority against the nuclear agreement,

The latest to fall in line is Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley, who announced:

Because of these shortcomings [in the deal], many have argued that the United States, instead of implementing the agreement, should withdraw from it, persuade our partners to set the agreement aside and work together to negotiate a better deal.

However, the prospects for this are slim. All of our partners … believe that the current deal — in regard to its central goal of blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb — is sound. They have committed the good faith of their governments behind the agreement and intend to honor the deal as long as Iran does likewise, with or without the United States.

The momentum in President Obama’s favor may make the numbers game even worse for the opponents of the agreement. Key undecided senators, such as Maryland’s Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, will have a harder time opposing the agreement, which would mean paying a heavy political price, if they know that there is no chance of defeating it.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/31st-democratic-senator-backs-iran-deal/2015/08/30/

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