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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rep. Eliot Engel’

Engel Goes to Bat for Rabbi Avi Weiss in Letter to Netanyahu

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The New York congressman who represents Rabbi Avi Weiss expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Chief Rabbinate’s decision to reject Jewish status letters written by the rabbi.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the senior Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Netanyahu dated Jan. 10, “This trend of rejecting status letters written by Rabbi Weiss and others undermines the bond between Diaspora communities and the state of Israel, and I fear may ultimately lead to the wholesale prohibition on community rabbis in the Diaspora from participating in the religious life of Jewish people in Israel.”

Weiss not only lives in Engel’s congressional district, but the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale that Weiss led for nearly 40 years and the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school he founded also are located there.

Late last year, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel rejected a letter vouching for the Jewishness of an American couple marrying in Israel written by Weiss, as well as the letters of at least 10 rabbis in other cases.

A letter vouching for a couple’s Jewishness and that each of the couple is single or divorced according to Jewish law, has been required for decades from couples wishing to marry in Israel.

The Chief Rabbinate decided several years ago that it would no longer automatically recognize conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis in the Diaspora, and agreed to accept those of a limited number of approved rabbinical courts, or batei din.

Engel said he is concerned that the Chief Rabbinate’s decision to reject Weiss’ letter “is simply the latest instance of the broader marginalization of the many diverse streams of Judaism in Israel. If Rabbi Weiss’ credentials are rejected — an Orthodox leader with decades of experience — what does that portend for other strands of American Judaism?”

Engel left for Israel Sunday as part of Vice President Joe Biden’s delegation to the funeral for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Kosovo Official Presses US Jews on Israel Recognition

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Kosovo’s deputy foreign minister, citing his country’s record of ethnic Albanians protecting Jews during the Holocaust, urged American Jewish groups to press Israel for recognition of the country.

In a meeting with Jewish officials in Washington, Petrit Selimi also noted that Kozovo’s pro-American tilt made relations between the two countries a natural.

“With such a deep, historic link, it’s only natural to have Israeli recognition,” Selimi told JTA. “Israel is not just a country; it is an important country, influential in the community of nations.”

Also present at the meeting were representatives of B’nai B’rith International, the Anti-Defamation League and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Selimi also met with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, who over the years has spearheaded congressional support for Kosovo.

Israel has resisted recognizing Kosovo in part because of fierce Russian resistance to its independence in 2008 and because of close Israeli ties to Serbia. Nonetheless, there have been signs in recent months that Israel may be more open to ties with Kosovo.

House Panel Approves $2 million for US-Israel Energy Cooperation

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has allotted $2 million for U.S.-Israel energy cooperation in the fiscal year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.

The money in the bill is the latest such appropriation under the 2007 U.S.-Israel Cooperation Act, which created a grant program to support research and development of renewable energy sources.

“Our national security depends on the development of alternative energy,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a lead sponsor of the Act said in a statement. “Funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program has already advanced innovative new energy projects.”

Other lawmakers pushing for the allocation included Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).

White House: PLO’s UN Upgrade Did Not Violate US Law

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The Obama administration said the Palestinians’ ascension in U.N. membership status did not violate U.S. law.

William Burns, the deputy secretary of state, in a Jan. 8 determination, said the Palestinians did not break the U.S. law which states that shutting down the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington in the event that the Palestinians declare statehood.

The Palestinians have not “obtained in the U.N. or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians,” Burns said.

In late December, more than half the members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on President Obama to shut down the PLO office in Washington as punishment for its ascension in U.N. status.

“One important way of expressing U.S. disapproval would be to send the message that such actions are not cost-free and that, at a minimum, they result in setbacks to U.S.-Palestinian relations,” said the letter sent Dec. 21, 2012 initiated by the incoming and outgoing leaders of both parties on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The letter was signed by 239 members, including leaders such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip. “We can do this by closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. We can also call our Consul-General in Jerusalem home for consultations,” the letter said.

The letter was initiated by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), respectively the outgoing and incoming chairs, and Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), respectively the outgoing and incoming ranking Democrats.

PLO U.S. Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat

PLO U.S. Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat

The Palestine Information Office was registered with the Justice Department of the United States as a foreign agent until 1968, when it was closed down. It was reopened in 1989 as the Palestine Affairs Center. The PLO Mission office in Washington D.C was established in 1994, to represent the PLO in the United States.

In July of 2010, the State Dept. upgraded the status of the PLO Mission in the United States to “General Delegation of the PLO.”

Although it did not constitute diplomatic recognition, the upgrade two years ago raised the status of Palestinian representation in the U.S. to the same level as the PLO representation in many European countries and in Canada.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has backed the initiatives, while the Reform movement and a number of smaller liberal Jewish groups have opposed them.

JTA content was used in this report.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/white-house-plos-un-upgrade-did-not-violate-us-law/2013/01/11/

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