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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Cantor’

Sen. Carl Levin Garners 23 Dems for Softer-Toned Iran Talks Letter

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Sen. Carl Levin Garners 23 Dems for Softer-Toned Iran Talks LetteTwenty-three Democratic senators signed a letter to President Obama on the Iran nuclear talks that was cast in less strident terms than a separate letter sent last week.

“As negotiations progress, we expect your administration will continue to keep Congress regularly apprised of the details,” said the letter, spearheaded by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Levin’s letter sent March 22 is a word for word replica of a letter sent last week by an overwhelming number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, initiated by Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House minority whip.

Levin had circulated the Cantor-Hoyer letter, saying he preferred it to another letter initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The Menendez-Graham letter, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, garnered signatures from 83 senators of both parties, out of the body’s 100 members, and was sent last week.

Levin did not explain why he preferred the Cantor-Hoyer language in his cover letter seeking signatories, but that letter was considerably softer in tone than the Menendez-Graham letter.

The Menendez-Graham letter more definitively described outcomes of the Iran negotiations that “must” be in place while the Cantor-Hoyer and Levin letters instead were “hopeful” of such outcomes. The Cantor-Hoyer and Levin letters were also closer to the position of the Obama administration, explicitly saying that its signatories “do not seek to deny Iran a peaceful nuclear program.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a number of Republicans in Congress say that any deal must end uranium enrichment altogether; Obama administration officials have said that a limited degree of enrichment is the likely outcome of any deal.

The Menendez-Graham letter does not explicitly count out an enrichment capability for Iran, nor does it mention it.

The Senate letter suggests that the body could soon reconsider new sanctions on Iran, a bid also backed by AIPAC that the Obama administration deflected earlier this year.

Of the Levin letter’s 23 signatories, 19 also signed the Menendez-Graham letter, and four were Jewish: Levin, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). AIPAC backed the Cantor-Hoyer letter in the House, but did not back Levin’s version in the Senate.

Cantor Compares Obama Iran Policy to Pre-WW2 Isolationism

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, cited the lateness of American actions against the Nazis in critiquing President Obama’s foreign policy.

In a speech Monday to the Virginia Military Institute, Cantor (R-Va.), who is Jewish, described leading a congressional delegation recently to Auschwitz to mark the 69th anniversary of the Nazi death camp’s liberation.

“Standing there as the frigid wind swept through the eerily quiet ruins of the camp, I could not help but regret that American action in World War II came too late to save countless millions of innocent lives,” he said.

“Hitler’s rise and conquest of Europe did not come as a surprise. We must not repeat the same mistake by reducing our preparedness, accepting the notion that we are one of many or ceding global leadership to others.”

Cantor said that “evil and hateful ideologies still exist in the world,” citing as perhaps the most evident Iran’s “determined march” to produce nuclear weapons.

“I can imagine few more destabilizing moments in world history than Iran on the threshold of being a nuclear power,” he said.

Cantor called on the United States to prepare for additional sanctions to counter what he said was the erosion of Iran’s isolation through its participation in international talks aimed at keeping it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“An America that leads is an America that must work to restore the badly eroded international pressure on Tehran,” he said. “We should lay the groundwork now for additional sanctions in the event Iran violates the terms of the interim agreement.”

The Obama administration has said that the removal of a number of sanctions ahead of the talks has not diminished a tough sanctions regime. It has opposed new sanctions while talks are underway, saying that unilateral U.S. sanctions could fracture the international alliance that has nudged Iran to the talks.

Cantor to Lead Tour of GOP Lawmakers to Israel

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, will lead 26 GOP lawmakers next week  on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.

The visit follows on the heels of a similar one this week for 37 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Democratic whip. Such tours, funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are held on off-election years and are geared to freshmen lawmakers.

Participants meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and tour congressionally funded facilities, including Israel’s anti-missile systems.

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.

President Romney’s First Trip Will Be to Jerusalem, Says Campaign’s New Official Jewish Department

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

It was inevitable, the only question is why it took so long: on Tuesday, the Romney Campaign announced the launch of the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition.

The launch comes on the heels of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, which the candidate says persuaded him that “now, more than ever, America needs to stand with Israel. I will extend the hand of friendship because our partnership is not merely a strategic alliance but a force for good in the world.”

To date, the Romney campaign website lists these supportive communities: Catholics for Romney, Jewish Americans for Romney, Juntos con Romney, Lawyers for Romney (!), Polish Americans for Romney, Veterans and Military Families for Romney, Women for Mitt, and Young Americans for Romney.

Joining Romney in the announcement of this coalition was House Majority leader Eric Cantor and former US Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, who are two out of a short list of Honorary Chairmen.

Cantor invoked the standard talismans of “strong bonds” and “Israel’s security” in endorsing Romney and encouraging all Jewish Americans, “Democrat, Republican and Independent alike” to give Romney’s candidacy “serious consideration.”

Coleman, a former member of Congress, used stronger language both in terms of why American Jews will be better off under President Romney, who “will succeed in turning around the U.S. economy where Barack Obama has failed,” and in articulating what Coleman says is Romney’s understanding of the dangers facing Israel: “He understands that Israel is targeted by the failed states of the Middle East as a convenient scapegoat. He understands that there is a worldwide campaign to demonize the Jewish state.”

In the announcement of the new official coalition, there was one concrete pledge made.  Coleman said that, if elected, Mitt Romney pledged he will make his first foreign trip as president to Jerusalem.

What was not present in either the announcement of the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition or on the issues page of the MittRomney.com website were other specifics.  For example, in the speech Romney gave in Jerusalem that was widely lauded and shared by many in the pro-Israel community, Romney referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  There is currently no mention of Jerusalem on the website.

In fact, much of the language found on the Romney Israel Issues page of his website could just as easily be found in his challenger’s talking points.  That this candidate will “work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge” is hardly a bold pledge, and President Obama has also repeatedly said that, as Romney’s website states, efforts to unilaterally decide issues “designated for final status negotiations” is unacceptable.

While the site promises that with “regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mitt’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s,” at present it is hard to find much foundation for that promise.

Perhaps it is merely the website that really seems to be in the “Not Ready for Prime Time” stage, because the candidates and their respective campaigns have been assiduously wooing the Jewish vote, what with Governor Romney visiting Israel and the president’s recent campaign stop to Century Village, a large gated community in heavily-Jewish south Florida.

A Gallup poll from last month shows a dip in Jewish support for President Obama.  In 2008 the president received 78 percent of the Jewish vote, and while that margin has shrunk to 64 percent, it’s hardly a close race.  The latest Rasmussen Poll conducted last week shows Romney with a very slight overall edge over Obama, 45 – 44 percent. However, Obama is beating the challenger in two of the critical swing vote states, he’s ahead by 6 percentage points in both Florida and Ohio.

While Romney was in Israel showcasing his support for the Jewish State and his close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Obama signed a measure passed by congress that will strengthen US-Israel military ties and announced he was releasing $70 million in congressional-approved funding for Israel’s short-range rocket shield known as “Iron Dome.”

Members of the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition Advisory Board include  former White House Liaisons to the Jewish Community Tevi Troy and Jeremy Katz.  Other members include several who served in the State Department under Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, several former Ambassadors, such as Mitchell Reiss and Eric Edelman, and Eliot Cohen, who in 2006 penned a powerful piece in the Washington Post responding to Steven Walt and John Meirsheimer’s book “The Israel Lobby,” deeming it anti-Semitic.

 

 

McCain Reportedly Considering Jewish Congressman For VP Slot

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The political world was abuzz this week with the news that Rep. Eric Cantor, the chief deputy minority whip in the House of Representatives and that body’s lone Jewish Republican, was being seriously considered by Sen. John McCain as his vice-presidential running mate.

According to CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and a number of other media outlets, the McCain campaign asked the Virginia Republican for personal information and documents – usually an indication that some serious vetting is afoot.

Cantor, 45, has in recent months put his widely praised fund-raising talents to work for the McCain campaign. He’s also been a frequent guest on cable news shows touting McCain’s positions on a variety of issues and he serves as co-chairman of McCain’s Jewish outreach efforts.

One of Israel’s strongest champions in Congress, Cantor chaired the Republican task force on terrorism and unconventional warfare, and has been outspoken in his praise of President Bush’s support of the Jewish state. (Daniel Cantor Wultz, the Florida teenager killed by a suicide bomber while visiting Israel in 2006, was Cantor’s cousin.)

Earlier this year Cantor criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for her claim that Bush’s Mideast policies were detrimental to Israel. “There is near unanimity in those who are interested in the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said, “that this has been the best president Israel has had in the White House.”

Both Cantor’s office and the McCain campaign have refused to comment on the vice-presidential rumors. While most political pros still consider it something of a longshot that Cantor will be selected as McCain’s running mate, Politico’s list of remaining GOP vice-presidential contenders includes Cantor, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rob Portman of Ohio, a former congressman, White House budget director and U.S. trade ambassador.

Politico’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin describe Cantor as “a young fiscal conservative who could help keep Virginia from tipping blue” – a reference to the changing political profile of a state that has long a Republican stronghold in presidential elections.

Cantor, they add, “could also be an asset in battlegrounds such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He has shown appeal to the party’s base as well as to independents, and would be an unconventional choice at a time when McCain is looking to add excitement to his campaign.”

Allen and Martin also note that the prominent evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, “recently praised Cantor as a potential McCain running mate, calling him rock-solid on social issues – a huge concern for Christian conservatives with the maverick McCain at the top of the ticket.

Virginia Republican strategist Chris LaCivita told Politico that “McCain needs to do something different” and, pointing to Cantor’s youth, skills as a fund-raiser, and strong ties to the business community as well as to conservative activists, said Cantor “fits all the bills.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Susan Davis reported that talk of Cantor’s vice-presidential prospects picked up after Cantor and his wife Diana, a managing director of the New York Private Bank & Trust investment firm, had a private lunch in mid-July with McCain at the Hamptons home of businessman Ron Perelman.

Cantor was first elected to Congress from Virginia’s 7th District in 2000 and has since become one of the state’s most popular politicians, easily winning reelection in 2002, 2004 and 2006. The Richmond Times-Dispatch described him as having become “indispensable” in Washington.

A graduate of George Washington University, William and Mary Law School and Columbia University (where he earned a master’s degree in real estate), Cantor got his start practicing law at his family’s Richmond-based real estate company.

According to his entry in The Almanac of American Politics, Cantor in 1991 “was elected to the first of five terms in Virginia’s House of Delegates.When Congressman Tom Bliley announced his retirement in 2000Cantor entered the race.”

Once in Washington, Cantor enjoyed what the Almanac terms “a meteoric rise to [party] leadership.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/news-magazine/mccain-reportedly-considering-jewish-congressman-for-vp-slot/2008/08/06/

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