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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Schumer’

Congressmembers: No More Money for Talks With Iran

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Some members of Congress are insisting there be a limit to the ongoing negotiations to convince the Islamic Republic to agree not to produce nuclear weapons.

In a letter sent on Thursday, March 26, to the Chair and the Ranking member of the subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee, several members of Congress, spearheaded by Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), sought the insertion of language in the upcoming foreign operations appropriations bill that would prohibit the inclusion of funding for continuing talks with Iran by the U.S. with the P5+1 member nations.

The letter, addressed to Cong. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY), described the ongoing negotiations with Iran as “dangerous” and a “failed effort” to “ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapons capability.”

The letter pointed out that, despite assurances to the contrary, the administration has already made dangerous concessions to Iran, including the decision to permit Iran to maintain a “peaceful nuclear enrichment program.”

As pointed out in the Congressional letter, “there is no such thing as a peaceful Iranian nuclear enrichment program.”

In addition, the March 26 letter recounts the highlights (or, rather, low points) of what is understood to be included in a final deal, which would permit Iran to maintain its current stockpile unmolested now, and then the complete lifting of any restraints on Iran in ten years time.

A House staffer who spoke about the current status of the negotiations with the JewishPress.com was piqued by the administration’s refusal to share details of the deal with members of Congress. The language the administration has employed is particularly irksome. Saying that Congress will “see the agreement” once it is completed is hardly reassuring to those with grave concerns about what it contains.

The staffer explained that while this request to Appropriations, even if implemented, would not kick in for another 19 months, it is significant because Congress needs to continue demanding “it has a role to play,” and this is one way of alerting both the administration and the public that Congress has not yet been heard on this critically important topic. Congress has, essentially, “been left in the dark.”

FORDOW ENRICHMENT TO CONTINUE UNDER DEAL?

The Congressional letter was sent the same day that an absolute blockbuster scoop from the Associated Press revealed yet another dangerous concession allegedly made by the U.S. to Iran: that Washington is poised to allow the Iranians to continue enrichment activities at its Fordow facility. This is the one that is an underground military bunker. Fordow is built into the side of a mountain and is all but impervious to an air attack.

Really? Spinning centrifuges in a bunkered facility? Any members of Congress who are not standing up on their hind legs and demanding the right to review and make changes to a final deal with Iran on what is perhaps the most important treaty of modern times deserves to lose their seat.

RALLY FRIDAY OUTSIDE SENATORS SCHUMER AND GILLIBRAND’S OFFICES IN NYC

And there are some New Yorkers who will be sharing that view with their U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, tomorrow, March 27, at noon.

There will be a rally in front of the senators’ offices, at 780 Third Avenue between East 48th and 49th Streets in Manhattan. The purpose of the rally is to press the senators to commit to overriding President Obama’s promised veto of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, better known as the Corker-Menendez Bill.

Neither Schumer nor Gillibrand have stated publicly how they will vote on an override of the president’s promised veto of INARA. Concerned constituents want the senators to be counted among those elected representatives who will demand Congress plays a role in ensuring that any deal with Iran will not allow it to acquire nuclear weapons.

Post-Bibi Bipartisanship May Result in Congressional Ability to Review Iran Deal

Friday, March 6th, 2015

In what may be the most significant direct result of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress last Tuesday, March 3, Democrats and Republicans are now within spitting distance of  ensuring that Congress will be able to review the details of the nuclear capabilities agreement the administration and the other members of the P5+1 are currently negotiating with Iran.

Just a few days ago it did not look as if any bipartisan breakthrough was in the cards any time soon, especially given several real tangles between the parties before, during and immediately after Netanyahu’s speech.

The Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress became, despite Netanyahu’s claimed efforts to avoid that to the contrary, a wildly partisan mosh pit, with allegations of disrespect hurled at Netanyahu by certain Democrats and allegations of anti-Semitism smeared on those who refused to attend.

But Democrats and Republicans escorted Netanyahu into the chambers, and there was enthusiastic applause for the Israeli head of state from nearly everyone in the room (Rep. Pelosi’s very public meltdown notwithstanding).

And then, just a few hours after the address, Netanyahu met with a small bipartisan group of Senators in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.

That meeting included Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

But the boxing match bells went off signaling yet another round when Sen. McConnell (R-KY) announced later on Tuesday that he intended to call a vote next week on proposed legislation which would require congressional approval of any deal with Iran.

That legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, had been introduced by Sen. Corker (R-TN) last Friday, Feb. 27.

INARA would delay the lifting of sanctions on Iran and block the implementation of any agreement between Iran and the P5+1 at least until after a period of Congressional review takes place.

The Democratic co-sponsors of that legislation were infuriated by McConnell’s move. They said they understood there had been an agreement to wait to bring the bill up for a vote until after the March 24 framework deadline for the negotiating parties.

Nine Senate Democrats and one Independent (Angus King, of Maine) who had supported the congressional approval legislation penned a curt letter to McConnell, which was sent on Wednesday, March 4

The letter was signed by Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and others, and informed McConnell that there was no need to rush the bill out for a vote, as no final agreement with Iran was expected before the end of June.

“We remain committed to working on this bill in a bipartisan manner,” the senators informed McConnell, but they warned him, “we will only vote for this bill after it has gone through the regular mark-up process in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and after the March 24the deadline for the political framework agreement.”

Without the support of the Democrats who signed the letter, there is no way the INARA could survive President Obama’s promise of a presidential veto.

McConnell, ceding to the wishes of the Democrats who are willing to support INARA, so long as the timing is right, chose to undo his decision to call up INARA for a vote next week.

As a result of McConnell’s concession, INARA won the support of an additional four Senate Democrats: Chuck Schumer (NY), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Chris Coons (Delaware).

In other words, this exercise in bipartisan cooperation means that INARA is now only three votes away from a veto-proof majority, and with lots more time to seek additional supporters.

Senior US Sen. Charles Schumer Urges Fellow Democrats to Attend Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer called on fellow Democrats to put principles above politics this week and be in their seats March 3 when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu walks to the podium in Congress.

The U.S. has always maintained a “bipartisan policy” on its relationship with Israel, Schumer said during a radio interview in New York.

“Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on it; we ought to keep it that way.”

Vice President Joe Biden’s office announced that he will be “out of the country” when Israel’s leader addresses American lawmakers.

Schumer offered the opinion that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu “could have been done in a different way.”

As the leader of an ally in the Middle East that is “helping us fight terrorism,” Schumer said, Netanyahu has “every right to come here and speak, but he ought to do it in a bipartisan manner.”

Both of New York’s Democratic senators and all but two of its Democratic representatives will attend the session.

Long-time Congress member Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) is one of the ‘won’t go’s.

“I am certain his motivation comes more from Israel than from his American friends,” Rangel told the New York Daily News — as if the Israeli prime minister should put America’s interests above those of his own nation’s citizens.

“I think that they would have to realize that this is not in the best interests of Israel, that he does this for his campaign,” he added. The remark leads one to wonder why a New York Congress member would suddenly make a reference to an Israeli national election when the address – and the topic – was arranged months earlier.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) also plans to be absent for the session, according to the report. Congress member Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) did not respond to a query by the Daily News about her plans; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told the paper he is “consulting” with his constituents in Brooklyn before deciding. All other New York City Democrats plan to attend, the paper reported. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) commented that skipping the speech would be a political move. “I am not choosing to participate in those politics,” she said.

“I hope that things can be worked out to salve some of the legitimate wounds that people feel,” Schumer said. “I will go to the speech out of my respect and love for the State of Israel.”

Meanwhile, Iran continues to behave in the manner predicted by Israel, which deeply concerns its leadership over the likelihood Tehran will reach a nuclear threshold.

Iran is still not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters. The agency remains unable to clarify outstanding measures of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to create nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Data in both areas were to have been provided to the IAEA by August 2014.

But this is not new behavior; Tehran long ago mastered the technique of buying time for more nuclear development by stringing along Western leaders with promises of “new talks” and “negotiations” in return for delays on sanctions. The current P5+1 negotiations, slated to end in a “new agreement” by March 24, are just more of the same.

It is precisely the danger inherent in the repeated delays – and time granted to Iran that allows it to progress in its nuclear activities – that has finally prompted Netanyahu to turn to Congress directly.

Netanyahu Tells GOP Sen Graham PA Incitement Led to Firebombing

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told visiting South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham Saturday night that Palestinian Authority incitement led to the firebombing attack that has left 11-year-old Ayala Shapira fighting for her life.

“The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has compared Israel to ISIS,” the Prime Minister said. “This is the same Palestinian Authority that joins hands with Hamas, incites constantly against Israel, the kind of incitement that has led to an attack that we witnessed just two days ago of a Molotov cocktail thrown at a little girl….”

“But the same Palestinian Authority is going to try to bring to the UN Security Council a resolution that seeks to impose on us conditions that will undermine our security.”

Sen Graham was an easy audience. He has been a strong backer of Israel and this month signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the Obama administration must now allow the United Nations to pass a resolution that would impose a future Palestinian Authority on Israel.

“We write to express concern about ongoing efforts to impose the terms of a peace agreement on our friend and ally Israel outside of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” wrote Senators Graham and Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

We urge you to make clear that the United States will veto any United Nations resolution and would oppose any efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel through the United Nations Security Council and other international bodies.

For decades, the United States has consistently opposed efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose terms on Israel through the United Nations Security Council…. A failure to decisively announce that we will veto any resolution from the United Nations that dictates the peace process runs counter to decades of American foreign policy and only gives momentum to these counterproductive proposals.

Netanyahu also told Graham that Israel continues to face a threat from Iran, which he said conducted a test on a suicide drone today.

“I believe that what is required are more sanctions, and stronger sanctions,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.

BiPartisan U.S. Effort to Ensure Hamas Disarmed Before Ceasefire

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Three U.S. senators wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to ensure that any ceasefire promoted by the U.S. must eliminate the ability of Hamas to continue terrorizing Israel.

New York’s senior senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), along with Delaware’s Senator Ben Cardin (D) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) pointed out that it would be of no utility to impose a ceasefire until Israeli citizens can be assured that they will not continue living under a constant threat.

Unlike many public statement emanating from Washington, D.C., these three senators did not equate Israel’s killing of civilians, with the targeting of civilians by Hamas.

The three senators wrote that Israel’s military has taken “great pains to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties.” Whereas the rockets launched by Hamas “have only one purpose: to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible.”

“Any cease fire should create a situation in which Israeli citizens no longer face the threat of brazen terrorist attacks,” said the senators.

“Israeli citizens have faced over 1800 rocket launches from Hamas since June.  While Iron Dome has saved countless lives, over five million Israelis live in fear of incoming rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza.  Twenty-eight tunnels have been discovered by the IDF since the ground operation in Gaza began.  Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel.

“The threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats.  Any effort to broker a ceasefire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

It is not  known whether the senators intend to introduce a resolution into congress so that the message would have a little more bite than simply a letter. A resolution does not have the effect of law, it is merely an expression of the sentiment of congress, but it would require other legislators to take a position.

Jewish Response to Hagel Nomination Tepid to Furious

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

As expected, yesterday, January 6, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB) for the position of Secretary of Defense.

The confirmation process ahead may be a bruising one, although many in the mainstream and “progressive” media are trying to paint the tepid announcements and refusals by centrist Jewish groups to officially oppose Hagel for the position as akin to a hecksher.  But not so fast.

In a Twitter world occupied by liberal media-types, the same people repeatedly retweeted each other’s statements with tepid comments about Hagel’s acceptability to Jewish Democrats, in an effort to create the appearance of a groundswell.

In what amounted to news for some,  Jewish organizations widely viewed as almost entirely peopled by Democrats issued statements harshly criticizing Hagel’s positions and statements on Israel and on Jews, but refraining from directly confronting their party leader by officially opposing the Hagel nomination.

For example, the press release issued by the Anti-Defamation League was a study in pretzel-twisting.  While recounting the many reasons why the ADL is unhappy about the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, the organization pulls back at the brink and does not  officially oppose the nomination.  Here’s part of their release:

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:

Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the President’s prerogative.

I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama’s clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president’s strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation.

I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the “Jewish Lobby” that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.

The League previously expressed concerns with the Senator’s record on Israel and Iran, and said of his record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship that it was “at best disturbing and at worst, very troubling,” citing his remarks about the Jewish lobby and his voting record on Israel and Iran.

It seems as though the best most pro-Israel leaders who are reluctant to cross President Obama on his “prerogative,” were willing to do was to downplay the policy-making role of secretary of defense.  The National Jewish Democratic Council, which had also publicly criticized Hagel’s positions on Israel in the past, was willing to rely on their great faith in President Obama’s support and concern for Israel to let the Hagel nomination pass without an objection.  The NJDC statement:

“President Barack Obama’s unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the president. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Sen. Chuck Hagel will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel — on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”

Israeli media sang from the same hymnal as Israel Channel 2’s foreign news editor, Arad Nir, pointed out, “Obama is still the commander-in-chief.”  That was unlikely to be much comfort for those for whom President Obama’s policies are a source of concern.

On the other side of the journalistic political spectrum, the Emergency Committee for Israel pulled off a coup worthy of the Merry Pranksters of the 1960’s, but 21st Century style.  ECI had obtained the domain name ChuckHagel.Com.  If you click the link you are taken to a website which provides information about the former Senator on various issues of importance including Iran, Israel, Syria, public statements made by politicians, both Republican and Democratic.  As the headline of the website clearly shows, ECI believes the information on the site shows that  Hagel is “not a responsible option” for the position of Secretary of Defense.

When Obama, a Democrat, announced Hagel’s nomination this morning, he said that his selection of a Republican “represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington.”

Republicans roared back.

“He has long severed his ties with the Republican Party,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday. Graham called the selection “an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel.”  Sen. John Conryn (R-TX) has already said he will vote against Hagel’s nomination, and predicted that many Republicans would join him in voting against Hagel.  “Some of Sen. Hagel’s positions would either render America weaker or create ambiguity in regard to our role in maintaining security and peace,” said Conryn.

New York Goes All White and Blue for Annual Israel Parade

Monday, June 4th, 2012

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among the dignitaries who marched in Sunday’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade in the Big Apple.

They joined tens of thousands of marchers who paraded up Fifth Avenue under blue, sunny skies amid a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags. The parade, now in its 48th year, is America’s biggest annual show of support for Israel by the numbers.

Marchers included Jewish day school contingents, the Chai Riders motorcycle club, non-Jewish marching bands, and a contingent from Israel Guide Dogs for the Blind, among some 200 organizations. Israeli consuls and some government officials also marched.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Israel Branches Out”

The parade was preceded by a four-mile Celebrate Israel run through Central Park.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/new-york-goes-all-white-and-blue-for-annual-israel-parade/2012/06/04/

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