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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Hoenlein’

Rejuvenation: A Medley of Voices From AIPAC [audio]

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Eve was cooking at AIPAC last week; listen the to the Melting Pot of Voices: Artists4Israel- Craig Dershowitz is coloring Israel out of the BDS box and Sydney Pensky is developing and distributing ‘Healing Arts Kits’ for preventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder thru Artists4Israel. Malcolm Hoenlein, Head of Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations speaks to Eve about strengthening the America-Israel relationship in a world of intensity and complexity moving at warp speed. Eve ventured outside to the ‘Free Palestine’ demo. With the chilling background of voices of hate she spoke with gutsy Ben Packer and Jootube’s Scott Jacobs. Then the Donald Trump show-protestors before and after his speech decide on his wickedness, and the man himself. Can he be believed? Lastly, the little known Republican contender John Kasich. “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.” Sounds good but he doesn’t have a chance in hell. Which if some people have their way is exactly where America is headed. We all need to act. Now!

The Land of Israel

Sanders Keeps His Judaism Silent, Israel at a Distance

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

As residents head to the polls for Super Tuesday 2016 to choose a nominee for president in 12 states, Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is fighting to stay in the race against former Secy of State Hillary Clinton.

Folks in Vermont know their U.S. Senator likes to keep his Jewish faith on the “q.t.” and they have accepted it with equanimity.

But not so the American Jewish community at large – and that fact may now be creating a backlash at the polls, when Bernie Sanders most needs the support of The Tribe.

After his February 9 win in New Hampshire – the first Jewish candidate to win a major party presidential primary – Jews outside the country have been watching his progress closely. It was more sluggish than one might expect, given the swashbuckling performance he turned in last month.

Part of the problem is while most candidates are wide open about their personal backgrounds – they have to be for transparency’s sake – Bernie Sanders has been dismissive, almost brusque, about his own Jewish faith.

And in America, faith is very much an issue. There is still plenty of anti-Semitism, which Sanders is obviously trying to avoid, but most voters prefer some belief in the One Above. Complete secularism is not popular in the United States at election time.

After all, even on the U.S. dollar it says, “In God We Trust.”

Yet Sanders works hard to evade the issue. He does not identify himself as a Jew publicly even in the “cultural” sense. In fact, in 30 years as a politician he has totally avoided the issue, colleagues say.

He was heckled in Vermont during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and was among the few senators who did not co-sponsor the Senate resolution supporting Israel in the war. It passed with a voice vote.

As a presidential candidate, Sanders said he consulted the far-left ‘J Street’ lobby and the Arab American Institute founded by Jim Zogby on Mideast Policy. Last year he was one of the first who announced they were skipping the historic address to Congress on Iran by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Even Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is skeptical about Sanders as a candidate. “He’s never really been that identified that strongly with pro-Israel advocacy,” Hoenlein said.

Coming from Hoenlein, who is more of a centrist himself, that is a whopping red flag.

Perhaps all this is not as surprising as one might think, however, given his family background and the fact that his second wife, Jane, was raised a Roman Catholic. Sanders grew up in Brooklyn as the son of immigrants; much of his father’s family was wiped out in the Holocaust. In fact, he once told still remembers the call his father received in the middle of the night, telling him a relative had arrived at a DP (displaced person’s) camp.

From that, he told Margaret Talbot at New Yorker magazine, he learned that a 1932 election had led to the murders of 50 million people. From that, perhaps he left unsaid, he also learned early on that Jews could die when identified as Jews.

His brother Larry was quoted by PBS in an interview in England where he lives, as saying that being Jewish is “very important to us. There was no problem of debate, it was just a given in our lives, just as being Americans was a given in our lives. But Bernard is not particularly religious. He doesn’t go to synagogue often. I think he probably goes to synagogue only for weddings and funerals, rather than to pray.”

Hana Levi Julian

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

‘If Obama Wants Honest Debate on ObamaDeal, Why Threaten a Veto?’

Friday, July 17th, 2015

American Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein said on Friday that President Barack Obama’s immediate threat to veto Congressional rejection of the agreement with Iran shows he does not really want an honest discussion on ObamaDeal.

Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of Major American Jewish Organizations, told Israel’s Reshet Bet (Voice of Israel) radio:

It is unfortunate that the president went public right away and said he would veto…. If he really wanted a discussion, why does he right away say he will use the veto, squashing discussion?

The President hit the ground running as soon as agreement was reached between Iran and the P5+1 powers this week. Threatening a veto is a major psychological weapon to deter Democratic senators from openly risking the loss of political leverage with the President by opposing the agreement and then going down to defeat because of a veto.

A Democrat who wants goodies for his constituents is going to think twice and thrice before turning his back on President Obama.

Hoenlein also said in the radio interview that “it will be hard to stop” ObamaDeal but “it is possible.”

He maintained that there is a consensus in the American Jewish community that there are many troubling aspects in the agreement.

Asked about the testy relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Hoenlein said that it had little effect on the outcome of the deal. “I don’t think the fundamentals would have changed” if the relationship were warmer even if “maybe the tone would have been different.” he added.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

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

A Frank Discussion With The UN Secretary-General

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Last week two delegations, one from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the other from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, sat down for a 90-minute meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon in his office for an open and frank discussion about the latest war in Gaza ignited by Hamas.

Anyone who has met Mr.Ban knows he is a person with deep respect for Jewish values. A former foreign minister of a country (South Korea) with neighbors like North Korea, Communist China, and Russia, he reiterated to the 11 Jewish leaders in the room – including Malcolm Hoenlein, Abraham Foxman, and leaders from Bnai Brith and Hadassah – that “I understand very well Israel’s security concerns.”

The secretary-general and his team took notes as we outlined the Jewish world’s deep concerns:

  • The audacity of the UN Human Rights Council in appointing a commission to investigate the Israeli incursion into Gaza without ever mentioning the name Hamas, which is the only reason Israel had to (re)act in Gaza.

Legal experts we consulted listed at least 19 violations of international law by Hamas, including crimes against humanity victimizing both Israelis and Palestinians.

We have no doubt the current commission will attempt to outdo the outrages of the original Goldstone Report, an investigation so fatally flawed that it was later disowned by Judge Goldstone himself.

Heading the new legal lynching is a Canadian jurist who previously urged that former president Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu be put on trial.

  • Why, we asked the secretary-general, wasn’t the Human Rights Council investigating the underground terror tunnels whose sole purpose was to kidnap Israelis and launch a mega-terrorist strike on Rosh Hashanah?
  • How is it, we asked, that UNRWA, the UN agency mandated to help Palestinian “refugees,” would allow its facilities to house Hamas rockets and then return them to the terror group when word got out? Why didn’t any of the thousands of UNRWA employees who know exactly from where Hamas is firing rockets inform the secretary-general that Hamas was violating international law by situating its launchers in heavily populated neighborhoods, sometimes just a few meters from UN facilities, in order to attack Israeli civilians?

We didn’t accept the secretary-general’s explanation that UNRWA is not there to make political statements; after all, during the fighting UNRWA officials repeatedly gave interviews to the international media criticizing Israel’s actions.

We suggested to Mr. Ban that he himself had crossed a line with his rush to judgment in characterizing Israel’s attack on a UN school as “criminal,” when it wasn’t at all clear who was responsible for the attack.

  • Why, we wanted to know, does he insist that 75 percent of the Palestinian casualties in Gaza were civilian, when Israel has provided the names and ages of 900 Hamas terrorists killed in the conflict?
  • And why does he criticize Israel for “disproportionality” when it is confronted with Hamas’s strategy of weaving its military and terror infrastructure in heavily populated civilian areas with many mosques and hospitals?

We pointed out that if these new “rules” had been in place at the end of World War II, Winston Churchill and the president of the United States would have been the leaders put on trial at Nuremberg.

  • The secretary-general was also asked how it was that UNICEF, an organization devoted to protecting children – and one heavily supported by Jewish philanthropy for 50 years – condemned Israel for targeting children when in fact the opposite was true.
  • We raised the issue with Mr. Ban of the toxic attacks on Jews in Europe, Australia, and the Americas and urged him to take all necessary measures to ensure that the next UN General Assembly, which meets during the High Holy Days, doesn’t turn into another hate-fest against Jews.
  • Finally, we told the secretary-general that if the rights of democratic countries to respond to naked aggression against their citizens are further curtailed, the only winners of future wars will be the terrorists.

Overall, the Jewish leaders were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper

Inside the Presidents’ Conference and the J Street Vote

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The fractious public reaction to the rejection of J Street’s membership by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has been based on widespread dissemination of false information about the process, according to exclusive interviews with sources close to the Presidents Conference process. The sources declined to be named because, while fully conversant with all aspects of the J Street vote, they were not authorized to speak publicly. But they emphasize that J Street was rejected not by the “Left or Right” or a “right-wing minority” but by the overwhelming voting consensus of the 50-member organization. Moreover, the sources say, J Street supporters were in a smaller minority than initially apparent because just two voting blocs mainly controlled many of the 17 yes votes.

By way of background, after a year of trying, the controversial lobby J Street was rejected by a wide margin for membership in the Presidents Conference, the umbrella group for 50 American Jewish communal organizations. The lopsided vote rang in at only 17 for, and 22 against in a process that required 34 yes ballots out of 50 voting member groups. But digging into the numbers reveals more than previously apparent about who voted yes and who did not, Conference sources say.

J Street bills itself as pro-Israel, but has engendered controversy among the pro-Israel community about its true intentions. Since its April 30, 2014 membership rejection vote, public vitriol by J Street and its supporters in the Conference and the Jewish media have been directed at the Conference as an organization, and, in a few instances, its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, personally. The fallout included a threat by a Reform Judaism leader to break away as well as sarcastic jibes on J Street’s website, which are still live at press time more than a month after the vote.

One such J Street website remonstration declared: “Yesterday’s rejection of J Street’s bid to join the Conference validates the reason for J Street: those claiming to speak for the entire Jewish community don’t in fact represent the full diversity of pro-Israel views in our community. The Conference of President [sic] claims to be the [sic] ‘the proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry.’ Last night’s vote removed that pretense. So join us in thanking Malcolm Hoenlein for clarifying this situation and revealing to all what we’ve long known: a new voice is needed to represent the true majority of American Jews — and non-Jewish supporters of an Israel at peace.”

Getting personal, the J Street rebuke included a mock thank you note: “Dear Malcolm: Thank you for finally making it clear that the Conference of Presidents is not representative of the voice of the Jewish community. We recognize the need for an open and honest conversation on Israel in the United States. We appreciate you being honest. Now we’ll work on the openness.”

J Street’s initial public statement asserted the organization “is disappointed that our bid for membership to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has been rejected. This is a sad day for us, but also for the American Jewish community and for a venerable institution that has chosen to bar the door to the communal tent to an organization that represents a substantial segment of Jewish opinion on Israel. We are, however, most heartened by the tremendous support we received from many of the largest and most prominent organizations in American Jewish communal life who urged their fellow members to join them in building a robust and representative community body.”

In response to questions for this article, J Street vice president for communications Alan Elsner stated, “We regard the vote as a closed chapter. We were happy to receive the support from the very significant organizations that backed us; and we are heartened that the vote has prompted a debate and examination of the Jewish community’s ability or lack thereof to hear diverse views and to fully reflect the positions of American Jews.”

Edwin Black

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/inside-the-presidents-conference-and-the-j-street-vote/2014/05/30/

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