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July 23, 2016 / 17 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘House’

J Street Endorses Senator Feinstein, Seeking to Access the Mainstream

Friday, June 1st, 2012

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein accepted the endorsement of J Street’s political action committee.

Feinstein (D-Calif.) joins Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) as Senate candidates who have received JStreetPAC’s endorsement for the 2012 election cycle.

“Senator Feinstein joins a long and growing list of American politicians who recognize that there is significant political support to be found from Americans who support Israel and deeply believe that American and Israeli interests would be better served through active American diplomacy to achieve two states,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

Feinstein, who is Jewish, has backed assistance for Israel, but in some areas she has departed from pro-Israel orthodoxy. She sponsored legislation in 2006 that would ban the sale of cluster bombs to countries that would use them in highly populated areas, which likely would have included Israel.

The legislation was defeated after a strong lobbying effort by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2010, Feinstein drafted a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she emphasized that “for too long,” Israel’s “expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined confidence.”

J Street has tried to recover from a blitz in 2009 and 2010 by right-wing groups targeting politicians who associated with the group; a number of Jewish Democrats now distance themselves from J Street.

Endorsing Feinstein, a Jewish Democrat whose influence as the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has helped shore up support for a tough posture on Iran, could regain some of that lost clout. However, J Street also endorsed Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in his losing 2010 reelection bid.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, five Jewish Democrats have accepted J Street’s endorsement: Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Overall, in addition to the four Senate candidates, J Street is endorsing 47 House incumbents and eight House challengers.

JTA

US Congress to Give Israel $680 million for Iron Dome

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The US Congress is expected to pass legislation giving $680 million to Israel to pay for more Iron Dome anti-missile systems.

This is above the $3 billion in military aid granted to Israel yearly by the United States, and the second time the US has provided funding for Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems device this year.

In the next few weeks, the Israel Air Force will receive a shipment of the advanced Arrow-2 missile interceptor, built by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Iron Dome bill brought before the House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon, R-Calif.

Malkah Fleisher

Iran Supplying Weapons to Quell Syrian Unrest

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron has accused Iran of providing weapons for Syria’s suppression of the 10-month long civil unrest.

”There is now growing evidence that Iran is providing a huge amount of support,” Cameron disclosed to the House of Commons. ”There have been interceptions of some shipments by Turkey which are particularly interesting,” he continued. ”People should also know that Hizbollah is an organization standing up and supporting this wretched tyrant who is killing so many of his own people.”

Jewish Press Staff

Where I’m From, We Stand By Our Friends

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

I’ve read suggestions by newspaper columnists and observers that events have overtaken Israel, that Israel is “isolating itself” in the Middle East. That view is wrong, and always has been wrong. Israel is not isolating itself – Israel is leading in the Middle East. Israel does not stand alone – Israel stands above as the one true beacon of freedom and opportunity in the Middle East.

We need to see to it that Israel continues to thrive – and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by its side. Not just as a broker or observer but as a strong partner and reliable ally.

That’s why I’m pleased the House of Representatives has ensured – in this time of fiscal responsibility – that America meets its financial commitments to Israel. We will continue to do so.

I’m also pleased with the work being done by the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the leadership of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She led the charge to put the House on record opposing funding for the Palestinian Authority as long as it aligns itself with Hamas. As Ileana put it not too long ago, “I don’t care if there is one or five or hundreds of members of Hamas involved; no U.S. funds can go to the PA.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve been speaker of the house more than eight months now and we’ve had some significant moments in the chamber. For me, one of the most powerful occurred in May when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress. It was my honor to invite him. It was the least I could do for the leader of one of our closest allies in the world. Bibi didn’t disappoint. He received nearly 30 standing ovations – bipartisan standing ovations, all well deserved.

I invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress because the American people deserved to hear from him – and Washington, quite frankly, needed to hear what he had to say. For this to be a truly transformational time, one thing cannot change: America’s commitment to Israel’s future.

Something the prime minister said in his speech to Congress has stuck with me. He was talking about how the Middle East stands at a crossroads. And he said: “Like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty.”

It is the path less traveled isn’t it? We know freedom and democracy don’t come cheap. They require vigilance – they rely on the tools of persuasion and progress. Among those tools are strategic alliances built on trust, not fear or coercion.

Our democracies are cut from the same cloth. Our peoples treasure the same values. The Israeli proclamation of independence imagined a state based on freedom, justice and peace, one that guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture. It spoke of a country that would foster economic development for the benefit of all its inhabitants. There are no shortcuts or loopholes – no talk of one election, one time. It’s about freedom and opportunity for all, and for all time.

Freedom is a universal right – but we have learned the hard way it is an earned right. The United States and Israel remain prime targets of terror. The recent anniversary of 9/11 was a reminder of our shared pain.

There is only one place in the world outside the United States that lists the names of all the innocents who died that day. It is located on a hilltop at the entrance to Jerusalem, built by the Jewish National Fund.

Over the last ten years, not only has Israel stood with us, it has done so from the front lines of the struggle to confront and defeat terror. The last time I was in Israel I stood at the northern border with Lebanon. From where I stood on that border, it’s about a hundred miles to Jerusalem. For Israel, the enemy is close – and committed.

This week, Israel faces a three-pronged assault when the United Nations General Assembly meets. There will be a “celebration” of the Durban Declaration, a document that charges Israel with racism. The president of Iran, who has called Israel a cancer to be annihilated, will take the podium. And the Palestinian Authority will seek a unilateral recognition of statehood.

Israel has demonstrated time and again it seeks nothing more than peace – a peace agreed to by the two states and only the two states. Like every Israeliprime minister before him, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows peace will require compromise – and he accepts that. He welcomes that.

Where I’m from, we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us. Supporting Israel and its people has been the policy of this nation since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office. Our commitment to Israel should be no less strong today. If anything, it should be stronger than it’s ever been.

John Boehner (R-Ohio) is speaker of the House of Representatives. This article was adapted from his speech in Cincinnati on Sept. 18 at the Jewish National Fund’s annual conference.

Rep. John Boehner

Honoring Rep. Ros-Lehtinen

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Members of the Los Angeles Jewish community attended a recent breakfast for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), hosted by Esther and Rafi Katz. Ros-Lehtinen, her state’s first Republican female elected to the House of Representatives, currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

Following Stanley Treitel’s introduction of Ros-Lehtinen and Robert Rechnitz’s presentation to her, the congresswoman said, “As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I continue to support Israel in its struggle to combat violent extremism in the Middle East and isolation in the international arena.” Responding to the State Department’s negative comments regarding Israeli settlements, Ros-Lehtinen demanded that the Obama administration halt its “condemnations” of “an indispensable ally and friend of the United States.”

 


(L-R) Rafi and Esther Katz with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Photo credit: Arye D. Gordon

Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

What The President Got Wrong

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

When President Obama spoke last week of the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring, he got a lot right. His calling out of the Arab states was long overdue and dead on.

But he got some big things wrong.

Why the 1967 borders didn’t work in 1967: When the president said Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, he missed an opportunity to put the issue of borders in an important historical context for the world.

The borders of Israel changed because then, like today, the Jewish state came under attack from all sides.

The Arabs rejected the 1967 borders with Israel by waging war. Egypt cut off Israel’s only supply route to Asia and amassed troops on its borders with the Sinai. Syria attacked from the Golan Heights. Jordan started shelling Jerusalem. Before the outbreak of war, Arab terrorism had grown more frequent, with 37 attacks in just the first four months of 1967.

For anyone to discuss the ’67 borders without mentioning this is like discussing our war with Japan without mentioning Pearl Harbor.

A U.S. “plan” becomes a Palestinian demand: We saw how the ill-fated U.S. demand for a total “settlement” freeze wound up grinding peace talks to a halt when the Palestinians then demanded nothing less before they would even sit at the bargaining table.

The call for a 100 percent stop to all building activity did not take into account ongoing construction of buildings in naturally growing areas, as well as several areas like Gilo that are certainly not “settlements.” Soon even Israel’s capital was called a “settlement.”

The administration eventually withdrew this condition, but not before the damage was done. The Palestinians have refused to even start talking unless this impossible and unreasonable condition is met. The president has now repeated the mistake by giving the Palestinians yet another American-created precondition: 1967 borders.

We will now certainly hear a new refrain from them – that they won’t talk about any “swaps” until the ’67 borders are returned.

Negotiated settlement? OK, but with whom? The president expressed many important sentiments in the speech that reflect our values as a nation. For example, he rightly called Hamas a terrorist organization. But how is that fact compatible with the demand that Israel make concessions?

The sad truth is that it is no longer possible to pretend that there is a “good” and “bad” Palestinian entity. As Hamas and Fatah move closer to formalizing their reconciliation through a power-sharing agreement, the more moderate elements in Fatah are being pushed out.

Further, Hamas has yet to make any progress in moving away from its militant stand against Israel. Even the European Union calls Hamas a terrorist entity, and United States law makes this clear. The merger of Hamas and Fatah must put an end to the myth that the Palestinian Authority seeks peace in the region.

A “negotiated settlement” is what we all want, but it’s unrealistic and unfair to demand it of Israel until Hamas is gone.

I honor the president for his desire for peace. The Israelis have demonstrated they share the same aspiration. But taking a correct approach to history and being realistic in our description of today’s realities are vital to that goal.

Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, represents New York’s 9thCongressional district (parts of South Brooklyn and South Central Queens) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Anthony D. Weiner

Texas Brouhaha Seen As Jewish ‘Test Case’ For Tea Party Movement

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010


WASHINGTON – In Texas, the Tea Party passed its first Jewish test even before its legislators had been sworn in.


Deeply conservative forces in the Lone Star State firmly repudiated the effort by evangelical Christians to unseat the powerful Jewish speaker of the Texas House of Representatives because he wasn’t a “true Christian conservative.”


Speaker Joe Straus still faces opposition from his right flank because of his relatively moderate views, but his opponents have made clear that Straus’s Judaism is not a factor in the Jan. 11 race to be speaker.


“There is absolutely no place for religious bigotry in the race for Texas speaker, and I categorically condemn such action,” Rep. Ken Paxton, one of Straus’s two challengers in the race, said in a statement to the Houston-area Jewish Herald Voice. “Furthermore, it is just as shameful for anyone to imply that I would ever condone this type of behavior.”


State Rep. Warren Chisum, Straus’s other challenger, wrote him directly.


“I assure you that those sorts of attacks on a man’s religion have absolutely no place in the race for speaker,” he said. “I absolutely reject all such attacks or insinuations.”


The controversy in Texas was important because many Jews nationally had been watching it as a test case to see whether the Tea Party’s deeply conservative base was receptive to anti-Jewish ferment. The considerable Christian rhetoric in the Tea Party movement has stoked some concern among Jews, particularly as candidates from the movement cited Scripture in explaining their opposition to abortion, church-state separation and the teaching of evolution.


As it turned out, the strong response against statements singling out Straus for being Jewish was a relief, said Fred Zeidman, the most prominent Jewish Republican in Texas after Straus. Straus had turned to Zeidman to manage the crisis as soon as it emerged in e-mails from a small cadre of grass-roots conservatives.


“The big fear was, what are the elected guys going to do knowing this is their base,” said Zeidman. “But they didn’t take the bait – everybody either spoke up or stood down. Nobody followed the lead of this guy in Lumberton.”


“This guy in Lumberton,” a small town in east Texas, was Peter Morrison, who in a newsletter that reaches much of the state’s GOP leadership noted that Chisum and Paxton “are Christians and true conservatives.”


Morrison wasn’t the only Straus opponent calling attention to his religion.


“Straus is going down in Jesus’s name,” the Dallas Morning News quoted one Republican e-mailer as saying.


Ken Myers, the chairman of the Tea Party in Kaufman County, in sending a mass e-mail in support of a prominent state House critic of Straus, Rep. Bryan Hughes, wrote that “We finally found a Christian conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”


Kaufman County, in suburban Dallas, coincidentally is named for David Kaufman, the first Jewish speaker of the Texas House – in the 1840s, when it was a republic.


On Nov. 30, The Texas Observer published an e-mail exchange among members of the state’s Republican Executive Committee in which committee member John Cook launched  a salvo against Straus’s faith.


“We elected a House with Christian, conservative values,” he wrote, referring to the supermajority that Tea Party conservatives had helped win for Republicans in the state House. “We now want a true Christian conservative running it.”


But other executive committee members repudiated Cook, and Straus now claims the support of 79 Republican members of the 150-member House, as well as 49 Democrats.


Some Tea Party members said the issue wasn’t that Straus was Jewish, but that the term Christian was being misapplied or misunderstood.


“I think people have been intellectually lazy in using ‘Christian’ and ‘conservative’ interchangeably,” Felicia Cravens, a Houston Tea Party founder, told Fox News. “And there’s a lot of that in Texas.”


Straus, whose wife and children are Christian but who is active in San Antonio’s Jewish community, seemed unfazed by the flare-up.


“Our country was founded on the rock of religious freedom and the Judeo-Christian values of the dignity and worth of every individual,” he told the Jewish Herald-Voice. “At its core, America believes in the freedom of every individual to worship as his or her conscience dictates, and it would be most unfortunate for anyone to suggest someone is more or less qualified for public office based on his or her faith.”


Straus faces a strong challenge from his right flank precisely because he has proven able to work with Democrats. The House was almost evenly divided in 2009 when he was elected speaker – the second most powerful position in the state because of the power to shape the legislative agenda. Straus angered conservatives with his successful challenge of longtime speaker Tom Craddick.


Straus’s moderation – and the challenge he is brooking from his right flank – reflects the other challenge facing the Jewish community as Tea Party conservatives assert their strength both in state Legislatures and in Congress. Straus has voted against restricting late-term abortions or gay adoption rights.


The bottom line, said Marlene Gorin, director of the Dallas-area Jewish Community Relations Council, was that the outbursts of anti-Semitism disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared.

 

“It came out of the blue – we have excellent relationships with all the legislators,” she said.  “Even to bring it up was disgusting, but I think now it is behind us.”

(JTA)

Ron Kampeas

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/texas-brouhaha-seen-as-jewish-test-case-for-tea-party-movement-2/2010/12/22/

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