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March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Obama Asks Congress to Declare War on Islamic State

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for authorization to declare war on Islamic State with a limit of three years but no limit on geographical boundaries.

It took him more than four months since the Islamic State executed American hostage James Foley to ask for an official declaration of war.

If Congress approves the request, it will be the first time the United States goes to war against an organization and not a country.

The proposed authorization for military force against the Islamic State would:

Target the Islamic State and associated persons or forces, defined as those fighting with the Islamic State “in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners;”

Provide no geographic limits on the battle;

Limit ground troops by banning “enduring offensive ground combat operations;” and

Expire after three years unless renewed by Congress.

The authorization also would do away with the Congressional approval from 2002 for military force in Iraq. The president said in his letter to Congress that he hopes to be able to repeal the same authorization on which he has been relying for military operations force against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

President Obama composed his letter with explanations, each one beginning with “whereas,” to define the ISIS as an enemy threat to the United States.

He declared that the Islamic State, which he referred to as ISIL for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant , “poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.”

He pointed out that the Islamic State, more commonly known as ISIS, “holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria and has stated its intention to seize more territory and demonstrated the capability to do so” and that its leaders have stated intentions to attack the United States.

His fourth “whereas” appeared to be designed to further his premise that ISIS is not a part of Islam. He stated:

Whereas ISIL has committed despicable acts of violence and mass executions against Muslims, regardless of sect, who do not subscribe to ISIL’s depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology;

Whereas ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations;

President Obama seems to be afraid that Muslim countries will think that he wants to wage war against radical Islam, which would get him in a lot of trouble in certain Middle East countries that do not behead people willy-nilly but also do not tolerate anyone who does not obey Islamic law.

His carefully crafted letter, having stated that the ISIS is supposedly anti-Muslim, focused on the Islamic State’s “horrific acts of violence” that included “the deaths of [four] innocent United States citizens.”

Obama then brought the international community under the umbrella of a global alliance and noted the announcement last September at a NATO Summit “that ISIL poses a serious threat and should be countered by a broad international coalition.”

Congress is not totally happy with the idea, and Obama tried to make it easier to obtain authorization by writing:

The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.

The obvious problem with the language is the word “enduring,” something Congressmen will have to thrash out in discussions on the request for war on ISIS.

President Obama put the ball in Congress’ court and implied it is will bear the price if it does not declare war on ISIS.

He wrote.

If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.

Black Congressmen Give Racist Spin to ‘Boycott Bibi’ Movement

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Most of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will take a rain check when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress on March 3, Politico reported Wednesday.

Not only will the audience be mostly Republican, it also will be almost all-white.

The CBC’s only Senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, has not committed himself to stay away or attend the joint session where Netanyahu will speak.

Many black Congressmen will stay away on an individual basis and not as a group protest by the CBC.

Reps. Barbara Lee  of California, Keith Ellison, a Muslim from Minnesota and Donna Edwards of Maryland are among those who said they will not attend the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu speaks.

CBC member Rep. Maxine Waters of Maryland has co-signed a letter with Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen to call on House Speaker John Boehner to postpone the speech.

“To me, it is somewhat of an insult to the president of the United States,” New York Rep. Greg Meeks, a black Democrat, said earlier this week after leaving a White House meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President  Joe Biden, who plans to be out of the country while Netanyahu speaks.

Meeks added:

Barack Obama is my president, he’s the nation’s president, and it is clear therefore that I’m not going to be there, as a result of that, not as a result of the good people of Israel.

The CBC’s negative reaction on the one hand splits the traditional Jewish-black political alliance but on the other hand is in line with the sentiments of the liberal American Jewish establishment that is critical of Boehner and of Netanyahu for scheduling the speech two weeks before Israeli elections.

Netanyahu has made it clear he will talk about the Iranian nuclear threat, which President Obama insists is exaggerated and which he can contain through diplomacy and without stiffer economic sanctions.

Black Congressman can easily rely on Jewish groups to back their boycott position.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) director Abraham Foxman has called Netanyahu’s scheduled speech a “tragedy,” and even the conservative AIPAC lobby has been strangely silent.

Black Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia said, “It’s not just about disrespect for the president, it’s disrespect for the American people and our system of government for a foreign leader to insert himself into an issue that our policy makers are grappling with. It’s not simply about President Obama being a black man disrespected by a foreign leader. It’s deeper than that.”

The CBC made it clear many of its members are boycotting only the speech in Congress and not Netanyahu.

North Carolina Rep. G. K. Butterfield, chairman of CBC, told reporters that the black caucus is in contact with Israeli officials, including Ambassador Ron Dermer, to meet with the Prime Minister during his visit.

Dermer is a sore point for Democrats because he is a Republican. Johnson called Dermer a “long-time, right-wing political hack” whom he is not interested in meeting,

 

Netanyahu Hedges Bets Over Speech to US Congress

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

It looks like Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is looking for a safety net to deal with the mounting controversy over his agreement to address the U.S. Congress on March 3.

“It appears that the Speaker of Congress made a move in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides,” HaNegbi said. However, when asked whether Netanyahu should cancel or postpone his address, HaNegbi asked, “What would be the outcome then? The outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is going to be a very dramatic decision (meaning Iran).”

A Netanyahu spokesman declined to comment on HaNegbi’s comments on Friday. HaNegbi is a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

It is clear the Likud is doing what it can to diffuse any political fallout from the controversy. The White House is working very hard to prevent him from speaking to Congress or being re-elected; Netanyahu is apparently perceived as a threat to Pres. Barack Obama, though it is not clear how or why.

Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer arranged the date with GOP House Speaker John Boehner months ago, setting the address originally for Feb. 11, but changing it to March 3, the same week as the annual AIPAC conference.

The date was set without consulting the White House or anyone from the Democratic Party leadership, skipping the usual protocol – a move which infuriated both President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.

But what’s upset the White House even more is the topic of the address: Netanyahu has been invited to address the Congress on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat. The speech is to be delivered less than a month from the deadline for an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear development activities being discussed with Tehran by world powers.

Obama and his supporters are deeply concerned that Netanyahu could sabotage those talks and derail that agreement, which he has worked hard to achieve.

Netanyahu, for his part, is indeed hoping he can do just that. The Israeli prime minister has underscored in every public address he has made for months the gravity of the situation with Iran, and the existential threat its nuclear development program presents to Israel. Netanyahu is determined to do everything in his power to dial back that agreement, which he insists allows the Iranians to retain the ability to create an atomic weapon of mass destruction with very little additional effort.

Biden Skips Town & Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is skipping town on March 3, and avoiding the proverbial ‘tempest in a teapot’ he fears will occur when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a rare joint session of Congress.

It is the role of the vice president, as president of the Senate to attend joint meetings of the Congress. But Biden did miss one other session, however, in 2011, according to the White House.

Biden’s office confirmed to NBC News on Friday that he will be traveling abroad at the time of Netanyahu’s speech, but could not say where or why. As NBC News journalist Steve Benen observed, “It’s hardly unreasonable to wonder if this is the diplomatic equivalent if ‘I’m washing my hair – somewhere.’”

“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early, but the planning process has been underway for a while,” a spokesperson for the office explained to Politico.com.

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she was “seriously considering going” and that it was her “intention to go” although she was still her “hope that the event will not take place. There’s serious unease.”

Three other prominent House Democrats – Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon – plan to skip the session.

Last Wednesday seven Jewish Democrats met with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to discuss the controversy, caused in part because the speech was arranged with Dermer by GOP House Speaker John Boehner several months ago, without consulting the White House.

The proximity of the session to Israel’s national elections is also a concern – but far more threatening to the White House, apparently, is the proximity of the speech to the deadline in talks with world leaders for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear development program.

Israel’s prime minister has openly opposed the wide-ranging agreement being discussed by the U.S. and world leaders with Iran, which grants Tehran far more flexibility with its uranium enrichment activities than reasonable or safe, according to military experts.

Wasserman-Schultz Puts Stamp of Approval on Intermarriage

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has done somersaults after making a comment noting the “the problem of intermarriage” in the Jewish community and then insisting she does not oppose it.

It is a bit bewildering that Wasserman Schultz, who also is head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), felt the need to retract a comment that should not have raised too many eyebrows.

Her remarks were made at a Jewish Federation event, in which she said:

We have the problem of assimilation. We have the problem of intermarriage. We have the problem that too many generations of Jews don’t realize the importance of our institutions strengthening our community—particularly with the rise of anti-Semitism and global intolerance.

The playback must have sounded too committed to her and anyone, mostly in the Reform Movement, whose idea of “commitment” is not to be committed to anything, such as the Torah, that interferes with the individual as the judge and jury of what is wrong and right.

Here is how she backtracked:

At an annual Jewish community event in my congressional district, I spoke about my personal connection to Judaism and in a larger context about the loss of Jewish identity and the importance of connecting younger generations to the institutions and values that make up our community. I do not oppose intermarriage; in fact, members of my family, including my husband, are a product of it.

Is it guilt that was behind her repentance? Does she feel guilty for saying intermarriage is a “problem” when members of her family are a “product of intermarriage”?

Is it forbidden to say that intermarriage is a problem?

Apparently so.

Wasserman Schultz has implicitly put her stamp of approval on the “problem” of assimilation, which is estimated at 60 percent in the United States.

Reform Judaism does not officially oppose or favor intermarriage, although there is a clear trend of its clergy to officiate at weddings between a Jew and a non-Jew.

Polls show that only 25 percent of children of intermarried couples identify themselves as Jewish, and the term “Jewish” can be understood in its widest and most liberal interpretation that gives a person the self-satisfaction of calling himself a Jew while wolfing down a cheeseburger on Yom Kippur.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Ira M. Sheskin, of Cooper City, director of the University of Miami’s Jewish Demography Project, as saying, “There’s no question that there’s significant concern in the Jewish community over the percentage of people who are choosing not to marry Jews… From the point of view of a community that wants to see itself around in the next 100 years, it’s not a good trend.”

Wasserman Schultz’ Conservative synagogue Rabbi Adam Watstein told the Florida newspaper that “intermarriage is a feature of the reality of the Jewish community in the United States.”

That is true if the Jewish community accepts intermarriage. It is not true if it does not.

Prof. Sheskin mentioned that there is intermarriage in his own family, but that didn’t stop him from forecasting the obvious result of intermarriage for Judaism.

Wasserman Schultz couldn’t go that far, and her justification of what she admits is a “problem” is one more alarm siren for what remains of American Jewry.

Dermer ‘Breaches Protocol’ and Backs the Patriots

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Israel Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer joked about White House complaints that he breached protocol and tweeted on Sunday, “Breaking Protocol, Choosing Sides: Go Patriots.”

The Obama administration has publicly charged with Dermer for “breaking protocol”  by not directly informing the administration that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will speak to Congress in March. Netanyahu is expected to use the occasion to deliver a broadside at President Obama’s insistence to veto any Congressional bill for sanctions against Iran.

Dermer has been under the gun on both sides of the Atlantic, so he used the Super Bowl as an opportunity to lighten things up a bit with his Tweet.

The Ambassador has denied he was at fault and told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview Friday, “It was the speaker’s responsibility and normal protocol for the speaker’s office to notify the administration” that Netanyahu was invited to speak to Congress.

Ambassador Ron Dermer Explains Bibi’s Upcoming Visit to Washington

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer. explains to his audience why PM Netanyahu had a moral obligation to come before Congress and speak about the Iranian nuclear threat, just as he had a moral obligation to go to France and march in the rally.

H/T The Israel Project

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/video-picks/ambassador-ron-dermer-explains-bibis-upcoming-visit-to-washington/2015/01/26/

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