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November 25, 2014 / 3 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Sherman’

Two Letters to Bibi: Congress Welcomes, Jews Warn

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Within four days last week, pro-Israel congressional leaders Cong. Brad Sherman (D-CA-30) and Cong. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05), gathered signatures from nearly 100 of their colleagues for a letter urging that a congressional invitation be extended to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The bi-partisan congressional letter called upon the leadership of the House of Representatives to invite Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of congress when he visits Washington this spring.

The letter cites the importance of inviting the leader of “our closest ally in the Middle East” to speak to congress, particularly given the widespread instability and turmoil in the region.

“Given the importance of our relationship with Israel we ask you to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a Join Session of Congress. Doing so would send a clear message of support for Israel,” the letter states.

“The strong support we have received for this initiative shows our close relationship with the State of Israel which is based on deeply shared values, as well as moral, historical and security ties,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) in a release issued on Thursday, Feb. 13.

At virtually the same time as members of congress were joining together in an effort to demonstrate support for America’s closest ally in the Middle East, another group of Americans were drafting a letter with a very different message to Netanyahu, Israel’s democratically elected leader.

JEWS LAUD KERRY’S EFFORTS; WANT NETANYAHU TO FOLLOW SUIT

This second letter was primarily drafted and signed by members of the Israel Policy Forum, a group once considered iconoclastic because it chose to follow a path that differed from the centrist American Israel Public Affairs Council.

The IPF, formed in the early 1990s, is largely indistinguishable from the newer J Street, other than that the leadership and membership of J Street is much younger. The IPF membership is not only significantly older than J Street, most are extraordinarily wealthy.  Moshe Dann wrote an informative article on the IPF membership in 2012. They have billionaires and heiresses and a felon, oh my!

The central plank of the IPF, like that of J Street, is that a “Two State Solution” to the Middle East conflict is imperative and American diplomatic strength must be deployed to push Israel to accept that policy immediately.

In keeping with that position, the IPF letter to Netanyahu on Wednesday, Feb. 12, lavishes praise on the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his “extraordinary resolve” in advancing the “efforts to pursue a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two states for two peoples.”

The IPF letter explained to Israel’s elected leader that they believe what Kerry is doing presents the best opportunity for Israel’s future.

We believe Secretary Kerry’s determined diplomatic effort offers an unprecedented opportunity to ensure Israel’s security, to enhance its prosperity, and to avoid the existential threat to the Jewish posed by bi-nationalism.

Those signing the letter express “hope” that the acting leader of the Palestinian Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, will help to advance the talks.

Describing this as being a  “pivotal moment of decision making” and a “critical juncture for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” the IPF signers implore Netanyahu “to move forward to pursue a lasting peace agreement.”

The letter is signed by 150 American Jews. Although they refer to themselves as a “cross section of American Jews,” most of them have been involved with the IPF for more than 20 years. Apparently they believe the inclusion of Professor Alan Dershowitz, a harsh critic of the boisterous J Street young bucks, gives them diversity creds.

Most recently (prior to last week’s letter) virtually the same passel of peaceniks wrote to Netanyahu in April, 2013.  That time they sent him a finger-wagging letter, imploring him to, in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, “respond to President Obama’s call for peace.”

House Panel Approves $2 million for US-Israel Energy Cooperation

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has allotted $2 million for U.S.-Israel energy cooperation in the fiscal year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.

The money in the bill is the latest such appropriation under the 2007 U.S.-Israel Cooperation Act, which created a grant program to support research and development of renewable energy sources.

“Our national security depends on the development of alternative energy,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a lead sponsor of the Act said in a statement. “Funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program has already advanced innovative new energy projects.”

Other lawmakers pushing for the allocation included Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).

Bi-Partisan Call: Move US Embassy to J’slm, but Obama Renews Waiver

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

On Tuesday, June 4, a bi-partisan congressional call went out for the United States government to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv, to the capital of Israel, in Jerusalem.

The call went out from the congressional Israel Allies Caucus at an event marking Israel Reunification Day, the day in 1967 that Jerusalem was reunified as the result of Israel’s defeat of the Jordanian army.  Israel acquired the land by defeating Jordan which attacked Israel as part of the 1967 war, despite Israel’s repeated pleas to Jordan to stay out of the hostilities.

The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus is a bi-partisan pro-Israel body which is jointly headed by Democratic and Republican Congressmen alike, and includes dozens of Congressmen across the political spectrum.

“We strongly believe that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel with no waivers and no caveats,” said Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), co-chair of the IAC.

“It is long overdue for the U.S. government to relocate our embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” said Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30). Sherman, who is Jewish, who became the co-chair of the IAC in late May.  He noted that the move was a “no brainer” because the location of the planned U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is in a part of the city which has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1948.

“The deep commitment and friendship to the State of Israel transcend political differences,” said Republican Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-08).

The Capital Hill event marking Jerusalem’s reunification was marked by dozens of lawmakers all over the world, via simultaneous broadcasting in government centers in Israel and in Europe.

“We appreciate your tireless efforts to secure the future of Jerusalem and of the Jewish State,” said Noam Katz, from the Embassy of Israel in Washington.  “You are true and abiding friends who stand faithfully by our side.  Your continued friendship inspires and sustains us.”

On the same day as the bipartisan plea, President Obama once again sent his official memorandum to the secretary of state invoking the suspension of the 1995 U.S. law that requires this country to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  Obama, as has every president since the law was passed, both Democrats and Republicans, claimed that the embassy cannot be moved to Jerusalem because to do so would endanger the national security interests of the United States.

“I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months the limitations set forth in sections 3(b) and 7(b) of the Act.”

But the rebuff by the U.S. president did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants.

Newly installed Knesset member Dov Lipman flew in to Washington for the event.  He said, “Jerusalem is not just a place but an idea where we can unify people of all faiths and all backgrounds.”

“We have made Jerusalem a place where everyone can worship openly.”

Congress to Obama: Time to Punish Arabs for Blowing Up Oslo and Blowing Off the US

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

A bi-partisan majority of congressional members sent a letter to U.S. President Barak Obama late last week.  In the letter, the members insist that the time has come for this U.S. government to hold the Arab Palestinian leadership responsible for their bald refusal to comply with repeated requests from the United States government to refrain from seeking an enhanced status at the United Nations General Assembly, as is required of the Arabs under the Oslo Agreements under which it is bound.

The PLO pledged in the Oslo Agreements that it would take no unilateral actions to change the status of the disputed territories and Gaza.

Congressional leadership that has long been involved in working with Israel and the Arab Palestinians in attempts to resolve the Middle East conflict, such as U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee, U.S. Reps. Edward R. Royce (R-CA) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY, Chairman-designate and Ranking Member-designate, respectively, of the Committee, along with more than 230 other members of  Congress, signed and sent the letter to the President on Friday, December 21.

The letter informed the President that “we believe the United States must react strongly to the ‘Palestinian’ leadership’s failure to uphold its obligations,” and explained that in order to send a clear message of U.S. disapproval, the Arab leaders must learn that their actions are not “cost-free,” and, “at a minimum, they result in setbacks to U.S.-’Palestinian’ relations.”

Congressional members suggested that the minimal steps the U.S. should take at this time would be to close the PLO office in Washington, D.C. and to call on the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem – who is, illogically, responsible for relations with the Arab Palestinians but not Jewish or Arab Israelis – back to Washington for consultations.

The congressional letter to President Obama points out the necessity for the U.S. government to ensure that the UNGA vote on November 29 “does not serve as a precedent for elevating the status of the PLO in other UN bodies or international forums.”

Should the PLO attempt to force its hand by seeking membership in those other UN institutions, the congressional members told President Obama that, “we should do everything possible to make sure that does not happen, including by reaffirming our commitment to maintaining and enforcing U.S. laws that require withholding U.S. contributions from any international forum that grants membership to the PLO.”

The PLO envoy in Washington, Maen Aerikat, told the Palestinian News Agency Ma’an, that the congressional letter “is an attempt by Congress to undermine the U.S. administration in any possible role it is planning to play in Palestinian affairs.”

In addition to pointing out that “punitive measures won’t pay off.  If they were effective we would have already changed our mind,” Aerikat railed at Israel, suggesting it was behind the congressional effort.  He said, “It is a political decision, a decision on the part of the Israeli government to escalate things against the Palestinian people at home and here…the U.S. is their other front.”

In a letter circulated to members of Congress by the PLO Envoy on December 14, Aerikat sought to dissuade Congress from responding to the PA provocation.  Aerikat makes several points in his letter, one of which should qualify for the Chutzpah Hall of Fame.  Perhaps he forgot that the action taken by Congress was in response to the decision by his colleagues to spurn dialogue and negotation, and instead to take unilateral action by introducing a one-sided resolution at the U.N.  This is what Aerikat wrote:

Engagement and dialogue is the only way to express the views of Congress.  Biased and one-sided resolutions cannot contribute to an atmosphere that is conducive for a political resolution to the conflict.

Not all Jews supported the congressional effort.  In the interview with Ma’an, Aerikat appreciatively listed both J Street and Americans for Peace Now as organizations that oppose the initiative to punish the Arab Palestinians for violating the Oslo Accords by seeking unilateral changes through the UN vote.  Although not mentioned by the PLO Envoy, the Union for Reform Judaism has also actively lobbied against congressional efforts to shutter the PLO Office.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/congress-to-obama-time-to-punish-arabs-for-blowing-up-oslo-and-blowing-off-the-us/2012/12/25/

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