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May 2, 2016 / 24 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’

CoP Leaders Hear About Media Coverage of Israel, Strategic Challenges, and from Rivlin

Friday, February 19th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the more than 100 American Jewish leader delegates of the 42nd annual Conference of Presidents’ Leadership Mission to Israel at his official residence, Beit HaNasi, on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Rivlin told them that he hoped that Israel would not become a divisive topic in this election season. “Support for Israel has never been and must not become a partisan issue,” he said.

Referring to the recent outbreak of violence in Israel, Rivlin said, “The wave of terror does not discriminate against right and left, or between Jews and Arabs. We continue to pay a heavy price for our independence. We appreciate your support very much during these difficult times, and we know that we have you as partners because we are the same people.”

The President said that the real problem is with extremists who believe that incitement brings them power.

The delegation had an off-the-record discussion with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and then observed experts engage in two panel discussions.

The first panel focused on media coverage of Israel in the foreign press.

David Horovitz, Founding Editor, Times of Israel, moderated the media panel with the participation of Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel Bureau Chief, Defense News; Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesperson, Head of Foreign Press Branch; Udi Segal, Diplomatic correspondent for Israeli television’s Channel 2; and Josef Federman, Israel Bureau Chief, Associated Press.

Panel on Media Coverage of Israel in the Foreign Press during COP's 2016 Leadership Mission to Israel. l to r : David Horovitz, Founding Editor, Times of Israel, Josef Federman, Israel Bureau Chief, Associated Press. Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel Bureau Chief, Defense News; Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesperson, Head of Foreign Press Branch; Udi Segal, Diplomatic correspondent, Israeli television’s Channel 2.

Panel on Media Coverage of Israel in the Foreign Press during COP’s 2016 Leadership Mission to Israel. l to r : David Horovitz, Josef Federman, Barbara Opall-Rome, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, Udi Segal.

Horovitz framed the discussion by saying that the root of the legitimate grievance directed at the foreign media’s Israel coverage is lack of context and perspective, and that the wider challenges facing Israel are underestimated.

Udi Segal said, “Israel should not be complaining about unfairness in the media,” arguing that foreign journalists should be given more access to the information they need.

Lerner said the media is essentially professional, “but sometimes lack time, accuracy, context, and professional ethics. Professional journalists should investigate what incitement really means; there needs to be a fuller story, it’s not a simple story.”

Opall-Rome argued that the word “terrorism” is loaded and often misused; she defined it as “an act of violence against unarmed civilians.”

Consistent with her definition, Opall-Rome said, the attack on Gilad Shalit’s tank and his subsequent kidnapping could not be considered terrorism, but the recent murder of the mother of six, Dafna Meir, could, albeit with the proviso that she be identified in the press as a settler. Why that identification would be necessary for reasons other than to delegitimize the victim is hard to understand.

Federman said “it has become very unpleasant to be a journalist in this country.” He also said that the more than 400 journalists in the Foreign Press Association were not monolithic, adding: “There is very little intentional distortion, errors are usually due to haste or carelessness, and are generally corrected quickly.” In response, Ms. Opall-Rome cited a Dubai-based journalist for Defense News who repeatedly referred to the IDF as the IOF – the Israeli Occupation Forces in his reporting, but her outlet would not permit the use of that term.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Foreign Affairs, Security and Education the Focus for Day 3 of CoP Mission

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

In an address Tuesday morning, Feb. 16, to the 42nd annual Conference of Presidents Leadership Mission to Israel delegation, leader of the Opposition and Head of the Zionist Union Party, Isaac Herzog, declared that “the true reality is that we are in the midst of the Third Intifada, which clearly has the support of various groups and schools of thought in the Muslim world.”

Herzog noted that eight attempted terrorist attacks occurred just yesterday.

Reiterating his ultimate support of a two-state solution, he said “under the current leadership of both sides, there is no way we can progress even one iota,” and added that he couldn’t promise that he would be able to reach an agreement with the Palestinians at this time. Herzog also made it clear that any final status agreement would be subject to a national referendum.

He outlined his three-point plan endorsed last week by the Labor Party, which consisted of: completing the security barrier around the settlement blocs and placing barriers around the 28 Arab villages in the Jerusalem area.

“We are not telling the truth when we say they are a part of the Jerusalem municipality,” Herzog said. “We must transfer civilian control to the Palestinian Authority and implement confidence-building steps that will enable the Palestinians to start building a state, including in the fields of agriculture and transportation; and initiate a multi-national ‘regional conference’ to address the host of problems in the Middle East.”

Herzog communicated his demand for a construction freeze outside the established settlement blocs and said, “In a way, the borders have already been drawn.” When asked about Ariel specifically, he said that it was one of the established blocs and would remain.

Herzog also said that Gaza must be part of the solution and called for simultaneous measures to relieve some pressure on the Palestinians there and to ensure the safety of Israel.

The delegation was briefed by the senior staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a range of pressing issues. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely delivered comments that outlined some critical challenges for the future.

Among them, Hotovely cited the ‘Jewish challenge’ saying that although Taglit-Birthright has brought more than 500,000 young Jews to Israel for 10-day visits, it has not managed to equip participants with the intellectual basis required to enrich the pro-Israel side of the international debate. She said, “It is the task of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find the next birthright.”

The Deputy Foreign Minister also called for pressuring international donors, who fund 30% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget, to do more to guarantee that their contributions are not used to support incitement.

The delegation had a chance to meet informally with ambassadors and representatives of 35 countries. The group was also privy to an off the record security briefing by Israel’s Deputy Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Zohar Dvir.

Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett spoke to the delegation this afternoon exclusively about education in Israel, and how he is using education as an agent for change. He cited the recent “massive investment” in Israeli-Arab schools, for new teachers in particular, as well as hiring, for the first time, a head of Haredi education. He said “we need to teach the Haredim English and math, but on their terms.”

The Minister said that in the next three years he intends to more than double the number of high school students learning highest-level math, from 8,500 per year currently to more than 18,000. “That is the real future of the ‘start-up nation,’” he said.

On a positive note, the Minister expressed delight that in the past two months 253,000 Israeli kids have been playing Code Monkey, an interactive game that teaches computer programming. He also shared that for the first time every Arab student from kindergarten on is now learning Hebrew, which greatly increases their future job prospects.

Jewish Press Staff

Bibi Addressed Opening of Conference of Presidents’ 42nd Leadership Mission to Israel

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations convened its 42nd consecutive annual Leadership Mission to Israel today with a delegation of more than 100 leaders from the Conference’s 53 member organizations, the largest group ever.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the group at an opening dinner and thanked the delegates for “taking the message of Israel far and wide,” referring to the recent visits to Turkey and Egypt by Conference members. He emphasized his commitment to the unity of the Jewish people saying, “All Jews must feel at home and welcome in Israel.”

Netanyahu identified two parallel contradictory trends worldwide: an ongoing multinational hostility toward Israel at the UN, ICC, and EU together with what he termed an “obsession” with Israel in international forums. While at the same time, countries like China, India, Russia and Japan are coming to Israel because of their concern with militant Islam and the terrorism it produces and to benefit from Israeli operational experience and intelligence in fighting terror as well as Israeli technologies, such as cyber security, improved water management and desalination, agriculture and biotechnology.

“We need these countries who are coming to us to change their votes in international forums,” stressing the need to press this point.

Netanyahu identified what he called “a triple standard that is applied to dictatorships, democracies, and the Israeli democracy.”

He also noted that during the last year he has sensed a greater understanding of Israel internationally, in part because terrorism has touched all four corners of the earth.

Netanyahu told the group that major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel. They don’t see Israel as their enemy, but as an ally against the radical Islam of Iran and Daesh. “Israel straddles meeting challenges and seizing opportunities,” he said.

This perception was shared by Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Malcolm Hoenlein who positively described their meetings with President Erdogan of Turkey and President Sissi of Egypt in recent days.

The delegation met earlier in the day with Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, who explained the Transparency Bill currently making its way through the Knesset, saying that that “when foreign governments interfere out of the public eye, they undermine our sovereignty.” She also said that many of Israel’s critics are hypocrites because while they level accusations at Israel over alleged human rights violations, they say nothing about the bloodshed in Syria.

Major General (Ret.) Amos Yadlin also briefed the group on Israel’s current geopolitical situation. He highlighted the fact that “countries we studied as children don’t exist anymore, they have disintegrated.” Yadlin noted that five years into the “Arab Spring,” we expect to see more of the same in the coming five years as the “Middle East is in havoc and will continue to be so.”

On Iran, Yadlin said “the agreement is problematic, but not a holocaust.” He said there is no threat of a nuclear bomb in the near future, but in the long term, we understand that the Iranians will have a nuclear program. Furthermore, he said that unlike elsewhere in the world, ISIS is not the main threat to Israel, Iran and its proxies, particularly Hezbollah, are.

The proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry for six decades, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations advances the interests of the American Jewish Community, promotes broad-based support for Israel, and addresses critical concerns facing Israel and world Jewry.

The delegation will be in Israel through Thursday, February 18 and will be meeting with high-level Israeli leaders, academics, diplomats and opinion makers across the political spectrum.

Jewish Press Staff

Sharansky Berates Arabs MKs for Boycotting Jewish Agency

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has berated an Arab Knesset Member for scoring “cheap political points” by refusing to meet U.S. Jewish leaders in the same building that houses the Zionist group.

Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh on Thursday refused to enter a meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, as reported here.

Sharansky’s spokesman issued a statement Saturday night saying:

It is unfortunate that members of Knesset from the Joint List are more interested in scoring cheap and expedient political points than they are in advancing the well-being of their communities.

Along with our core mission of ingathering the exiles of the Jewish people via Aliyah, The Jewish Agency is proud to serve all the citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, which we view as an integral part of our Zionist vision.

Thousands of Arab Israeli families enjoy a range of Jewish Agency programs, including our Youth Futures mentorship program, which has placed a particular emphasis on schoolchildren in Israel’s Arab community; Masa Israel Journey and Project TEN, which run programs focused on Arab-Jewish coexistence and on serving underprivileged Arab citizens of Israel; and an innovative Jewish Agency high school opened just this year for Bedouin youth in the Negev.

Sharansky added, “Thousands of Arab Israelis have already found their way to The Jewish Agency’s programs and to the dedicated professionals and volunteers who run them. It is high time MK Odeh and his colleagues did the same.”

Conference of Presidents Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein came downstairs with MK Merav Michaeli to try to persuade Odeh to change his mind, which is a bit of an irony since Michaeli’s Labor party recently changed its official name to “Zionist Camp.”

Odeh later explained”

I came here to represent the Arab public in Israel to American audiences. As their representative, I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens, just as in the Knesset, we do not participate in the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.:

Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen Greenberg and VP Hoenlein said in a statement that they are “deeply disturbed and shocked at [Odeh’s] refusal to fulfill his commitment to speak before a meeting of the Conference, because our premises are shared with the Jewish Agency, and other Zionist groups.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Bibi: ‘Keep or Cheat,’ This Deal Will Give Iran the Bomb

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed American Jews in a conference call on Tuesday, August 4. He delivered a strong and steady message about why the Iran deal, the JCPOA, is the wrong deal to make with Iran.

Netanyahu’s essential message was that the nuclear deal negotiated by the P5+1 with Iran will not achieve what it was intended to achieve. Instead of ending nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, he said, it will trigger the biggest nuclear weapons race ever, in the most volatile area of the world.  And that is because Iran will be allowed to attain its goal of attaining nuclear weapons capability through one of two pathways, the shorthand for which is “Keep or Cheat.”

Iran will be able to develop nuclear weapons with the international community’s official hecksher, at the end of the deal, or even earlier, if it cheats on the deal.

Netanyahu hit all the significant points he has been making throughout his campaign against Iran’s race to nuclear weapons capability.  He articulated them succinctly, and substantively addressed the counter-points made by the deal’s proponents.

The Prime Minister also stated calmly that the issue is not a partisan one, nor is it a personal one. Netanyahu even said that he believes U.S. President Barack Obama truly believes the deal is the best way to go to block Iran’s efforts towards nuclear weapons capability. But Netanyahu disagrees with that assessment.

He pointed out that Iran should have been given an either/or choice, and instead it was given a take-it-all choice. Iran wants to have nuclear weapons capability and it wanted to have sanctions lifted. The current deal, the JCPOA, lifts the sanctions and lights the way for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

KEEP OR CHEAT – EITHER WAY IRAN HAS SHORT PATH TO THE BOMB

The key points that Netanyahu laid out are all subparts of the basic premise, which is that the deal will not prevent Iran, the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world, from becoming a nuclear threshold state. He referred to this as the “Keep or Cheat” concept – either Iran will keep the deal, in which case it will have a relatively short path to the bomb, or it will cheat on the deal, in which case it will have an even shorter path to nuclear weapons capability.

In the short term, even embracing the absurd notion that Iran will not cheat, in the blink of an eye – just ten short years – Iran will almost immediately be able to build a few nuclear weapons, followed soon thereafter by hundreds and thousands of them.

But there is no credible evidence that Iran will not cheat, and every available kind of evidence, especially past history, that it will cheat on the deal.

Netanyahu swept aside the claims by the deal’s proponents that intelligence and inspections will prevent Iran from cheating. He pointed out that neither inspections nor intelligence were able to detect or deter North Korea from developing nuclear capabilities.

$ TRILLIONS FOR TERRORISM

The lifting of sanctions will mean an enormous infusion of cash to Iran. Everyone is aware of the $100 – 150 billion in nearly immediate sanctions relief, but Netanyahu pointed out that if you look at it over the course of the whole deal, the number is exponentially larger. He posited that even if Iran only uses one-tenth of those funds to support its terrorist sidekicks such as Hamas and Hezbollah, that will still be trillions of dollars that will be invested in making the world dangerous for democracy and those who love it.

Netanyahu said that the kind of money which will be made available to Iran to further fund terrorism could turn its terrorist sidekicks into the equivalent of terrorist super powers.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Jewish Groups’ Security Adviser to Lead US Foreign Fighter Task Force

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Paul Goldenberg, a senior security official for national Jewish umbrella groups has been named to help lead a U.S. Department of Homeland Security task force on foreign fighters.

Jeh Jonson, the Homeland Security secretary, named Goldenberg, who heads the Secure Community Network, to co-chair the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Foreign Fighter Task Force.

The task force was announced Tuesday in the Federal Register and SCN, an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, announced Goldenberg’s leadership role on Thursday.

“Foreign fighters, as seen so prevalently fighting alongside the Islamic State, present an unparalleled security challenge for the U.S and one that intelligence, counterterrorism officials, law enforcement and communities may be dealing with for years to come,” Goldenberg said in the SCN release.

The task force will address strategies to keep Americans from joining foreign militant groups, assess border, immigration and transportation security policies, and recommend strategies to keep fighters returned from abroad from carrying out violence in their communities.

Goldenberg, who also serves on the DHS’ Faith-Based Advisory and Communications Committee, has a background in law enforcement, at one time heading the bias crimes office for the New Jersey attorney general.

 

JTA

Organization of Major Jewish Organizations: Name Calling Not Productive

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Lest people were wondering where oh where is the conglomeration of major American Jewish organizations and is it going to weigh in on ChickenExcrementGate, you need wonder no longer.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a three paragraph statement which, for the most part, can be summarized as: it’s not nice to call each other names. You know you must behave in public like good boys who are fond of each other, so get with the program.

What it actually said, amongst the “deeply concerned” and “inappropriate characterizations emanating from official sources” not to mention the “real extraordinary cooperation” on “so many levels,” was there’s seriously bad stuff happening in the world right now fellas, so cut it out and focus please.

The statement was released under the names of the current chairman, Robert G. Sugarman, and the executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein.

There were two substantive points made in the release. One was praise expressed for the statement, made by an administration official, that the “recent comments” made in The Atlantic interview were “inappropriate and counterproductive.” The second was asking that “the person responsible be held to account and the appropriate steps by taken by the Administration.”

A little elaboration is in order.

First, the administration official who referred to the name-calling as “inappropriate and counterproductive” limited that criticism to referring to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chicken****.” The other insults were left unmentioned, so, presumably, they were not considered by the administration to be either “inappropriate” or “counterproductive.”

Secondly, there was not merely one Obama administration official who was quoted in the interview calling Netanyahu names, there were several, as Goldberg made clear. Not only that, there was a relatively long list of nasty adjectives, including, incredibly, referring to the Israeli prime minister as someone who suffers from a particular form of mental disability. Does the administration find it acceptable for a senior official to use such a term as a way of insulting someone?

Are we back in the world of former secretary of the interior James Watt? He infamously referred to the diversity in his department as great because “I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple.” That remark led then-president Ronald Reagan to dump Watt.

So far it looks as though this dust-up is beginning to fade away, especially, as COPMAJO rightly points out, there is so much seriously bad stuff happening that demands serious attention.

It must be harder than herding cats to have the heads of dozens of Jewish organizations agree on anything, especially a written statement chiding – even if ever so slightly – a sitting U.S. president. It’s good to see the outrageous insults directed at the head of the Jewish State did not pass unremarked upon by COPMAJO.

The entire statement follows:

“We are deeply concerned by a number of recent public and private criticisms, personal insults and inappropriate characterizations emanating from official sources. These often anonymous, but no less harmful, declarations undermine the common interests of the United States and Israel on the critical issues which face both countries and the real extraordinary cooperation on the security, intelligence, political and other levels. It is the common efforts of these two great democratic allies to address the threat of Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state, the rise of ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, and the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, among other issues of vital significance to both countries, that is of primary importance. It is only natural that there may be disagreements on issues, but we believe those should be discussed privately between the leaders of both countries and there should be no place for personal attacks which undermine mutual confidence and support so essential to advancing the interests of both the United States and Israel.

“We welcomed the statement of the Administration describing the recent comments made by an unnamed US official in an interview in The Atlantic as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘counterproductive’ and noted the frequent visits and exchanges between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. We ask that the person responsible be held to account and the appropriate steps be taken by the Administration.

“We call on officials, media and others in the public arena to consider the consequences of the words and deeds. Apologies do not undo the damage and every manifestation of division between these two allies is exploited by the enemies of both,” said Sugarman and Hoenlein.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/organization-of-major-jewish-organizations-calling-names-not-productive/2014/10/30/

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