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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘U.S.’

Nita Lowey Gets Appropriations Top Dem Spot

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives elevated Rep. Nita Lowey of New York’s 18th congressional district (Westchester and Rockland counties), to their ranking member on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Lowey, a leading pro-Israel lawmaker who is Jewish, had been the top Democrat on the committee’s foreign operations subcommittee. She announced her bid for the party’s top slot on the Approriations Committee last April after Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced he was retiring.

“It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead either party on this powerful committee,” Lowey said in a statement Tuesday after her election by the House Democrats’ steering committee.

Lowey defeated Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for the top spot. Kaptur had seniority but was seen as problematic because of her sometimes frosty relations with the House Demcoratic leadership and her relatively conservative views on abortion.

Lowey won by a vote of 36-10, sources told The Hill newspaper.

“Throughout her service on the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Lowey has acted as a fierce advocate for the best interests of the American people, at home and around the world,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader. “As the first woman to hold her new post, she will continue to fight for investments that strengthen the middle class and spur our prosperity.”

Pelosi emphasized that Lowey and a top Democrat on another committee, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), of the Financial Services, were women — an implied jab at House Republicans, who elected only white men to committee chairmanships.

Rice’s Work At UN Wins Plaudits From Jewish Communal Leaders

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is widely seen as a leading candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has garnered plaudits from Jewish communal leaders for her work at the world body.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Rice routinely meets with Jewish groups. “We had a meeting right before the General Assembly, and we covered the wide range of prospects,” Hoenlein said. “I can’t say there were big areas of disagreement – and where there might have been, she’s always been forthright and honest.”

“She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum,” said Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. “And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.”

Jewish groups see Rice’s trajectory at the United Nations – from tussles over Israel’s settlements and membership on the Human Rights Council at the outset of her term four years ago to close cooperation more recently – as reflective of the Obama administration’s evolving approach to Israel.

“One thing important to point out is that the votes have reflected administration policy,” said Daniel Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International’s executive vice president. By contrast, he said, a secretary of state is more a shaper of policy than just its messenger.

Still, Mariaschin said, Rice as UN ambassador has demonstrated an understanding of Israel’s difficulties in the international arena.

“There are ways of explaining your vote and ways of explaining your vote,” he said. Mariaschin noted that Rice’s explanation of the U.S. “no” vote last week when the UN General Assembly elevated Palestine to non-member state status incorporated many of the talking points conveyed to her by pro-Israel groups.

“She made kind of a good end to an otherwise disappointing day,” Mariaschin said. Rice in her post-vote explanation was dismissive of whatever hopes that the lopsided vote – 138 for, 9 against and 41 abstentions – might have engendered for the Palestinians.

“Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade,” she said, “and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”

Some Jewish conservatives, however, have warned against Rice being elevated to secretary of state, citing disagreements related to Israel from the first part of Obama’s first term.

They have criticized Rice over the U.S. decision to join the UN Human Rights Council, a body that has disproportionately targeted Israel for criticism, and over her criticism of Israel’s settlements in explanatory remarks after the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution in February 2011 that would have condemned Israel for its settlement policy.

A Nov. 29 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Anne Bayefsky, who directs Touro College’s Institute of Human Rights and the Holocaust, and Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, noted two issues, among others, in questioning her “moral fitness” for the job of secretary of state.

“Though the president, not the UN ambassador, makes foreign policy, one is entitled to ask how a Secretary Rice would view the acts and omissions of Ambassador Rice,” they wrote.

Foxman was furious with the Bayefsky-Mukasey article, saying it was an unseemly attempt to drag the Jewish community into a political fight.

“People may differ about the effectiveness of certain tactics or, as we have often done, even seriously question whether bodies like the UN Human Rights Council will ever give Israel a fair hearing,” he wrote in a letter to the Journal that it has not published.

“But no one should use the UN’s anti-Israel record to cast aspersions on Ambassador Rice. She has earned her reputation as a fighter for Israel’s equality in a hostile forum where an automatic majority reflexively expresses its bias against Israel.” David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, said he had come around to the idea that joining the Human Rights Council was a reasonable decision after having earlier opposed the move.

U.S. Senators Urge Morsi to Halt Gaza Arms Smuggling

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to crack down on arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“In order for the cease-fire to hold, it is imperative that your government bolster its efforts to halt all weapons smuggling taking place via both overland and underground routes,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and signed by another 16 senators.

In the letter, sent Tuesday, the senators said they were “encouraged” by the “constructive role” Morsi played in brokering a cease-fire to the most recent Hamas-Israel conflict in the Gaza Strip.

“This is all the more important in light of the potential easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods through Gaza border crossings as a condition of the cease-fire you helped to broker,” they said. “Preventing Hamas from re-arming is just one step in helping to prevent violence from erupting again.”

Rahm Emanuel Blasts Netanyahu for ‘Betraying’ Obama

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu betrayed the Obama administration by announcing a new settlement expansion and the cutoff of tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, JTA reported.

Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff in his first term, delivered the rebuke over the weekend at the Saban Forum in Washington.

Emanuel’s comments were made public by another participant, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during an open forum and were confirmed by other participants.

According to an account by New Yorker journalist David Remnick, Emanuel had said that Netanyahu had “repeatedly betrayed” Obama, and that the latest Israeli moves – apparent retaliations for the successful Palestinian bid to achieve non-observer state status last week at the United Nations – were especially galling given U.S. support for Israel during its recent mini-war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

No other U.S. mayor had anything to say against Netanyahu this weekend.

House Foreign Affairs Comm Chair: ‘No Money, No Political Support for PA’

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), firmly denounced  the decision made the United Nations General Assembly to elevate the status of  “Palestine” (the Palestine Liberation Organization) to non-member observer state at the UN.

In a statement issued on the day of the vote, Nov 29, Cong. Ros-Lehtinen said that Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace and that his action at the U.N. will “push peace with Israel even further away.”

The Florida Congresswoman said that the decision by Abbas to ignore the U.S.’s strongly-worded and repeatedly given advice that he not attempt to achieve unilateral goals through the U.N. rather than through negotiations with Israel, made “crystal clear” that Abbas and his compatriots “do not value their relationship with the U.S.”

In addition to withholding all U.S. funds for “Palestine” the committee chair also intends to pull U.S. funding for any U.N. agencies that grant membership to “Palestine,” as is required under U.S. law.

Cong. Doug Lamborn (CO-5), co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus and the Israel Allies Caucus also issued a statement through email denouncing the U.N. shenanigans.  He said that the action taken by Abbas could, “inflame tensions in the region and ultimately hurt their efforts to achieve statehood and a lasting peace.”

Lamborn also called for the cutting off of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority as the result of its effort to gain statehood outside of direct negotiations with Israel.” 

Although the U.S. administration strongly opposed and voted against this measure at the U.N., Ros-Lehtinen also included a warning to the U.S. administration in her statement.

She said, “if the Administration again seeks to gut U.S. law and keep funding those reckless UN agencies, Congress’ response must be simple: No.”

Last year Abbas sought to gain full United Nations membership through the UN Security Council.  That gambit was rebuffed by a threat by the U.S. to veto any such motion.  However, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization went ahead and recognized “Palestine” as a UNESCO state member.  As a result of that decision, and in compliance with U.S. law, Congress cut UNESCO’s funding. However, after heavy congressional lobbying by the administration, the funding was restored in late April of this year through the implementation of a waiver.

Suicide Attack Outside US Base in Afghanistan (Updated)

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Bodies in Afghan police and military uniforms littered the entrance of an airfield outside a major US base in Afghanistan Sunday, killed in an apparent suicide attack by the Taliban.

The attack occurred in the city of Jalalabad – two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a car, and another seven were killed in a gun fight with Afghan and coalition forces.  Several coalition troops were wounded, according to reports, and US helicopters circled above the fight.

Suicide attackers detonated bombs and fired rockets outside a major U.S. base in Afghanistan on Sunday, killing five people in a brazen operation that highlighted the country’s security challenges ahead of the 2014 NATO combat troop pullout.

“There were multiple suicide bombers involved,” said Major Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), adding that several coalition troops were wounded.

Afghanistan’s defense ministry spokesman said there were rocket attacks at the Jalalabad base before the suicide bombings.

In a text message, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said : “This morning at 6 a.m. a number of our devotees attacked the major U.S. Base in Jalalabad city and so far have brought heavy casualties to the enemy.”

The US and NATO are set to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.  Afghan officials are concerned that the forces will not leave the country stable enough to prevent a civil war or Taliban overthrow.

Lieberman Approves Rice Nomination, But Won’t Partake in Vote

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he would not object to the nomination of Susan Rice, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, as secretary of state.

Lieberman’s apparent endorsement of Rice on Tuesday is largely symbolic; he is retiring as senator and likely will not be serving by the time Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current secretary of state, steps down, a move anticipated early next year.

However, Lieberman’s statement this week after meeting with Rice that she was telling “the whole truth” about why she initially depicted the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as a spontaneous eruption and not as a planned terrorist attack undercuts criticism of Rice as unreliable by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Lieberman has throughout much of his career joined with McCain and Graham as a foreign policy hawk; his dissent, now that he is free from such alliances, could be used by Democrats to depict GOP attacks on Rice as political and not substantive.

The Benghazi attack is believed to have been the work of Al Qaida-affiliated terrorists, intelligence Rice says was not made available to her in the days after the attack, when she was the Obama administration’s point person in explaining U.S. reaction.

Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in the attack.

President Obama has not said he would nominate Rice to the post, but also has said he would not be deterred from doing so by McCain and Graham.

Some Questions For Ambassador Rice

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Reports in recent days suggest that Republican opposition to the possible nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state seems to be softening. Critics such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are changing or at least modifying their tune regarding concern over Ms. Rice’s statements in the aftermath of the attack on U. S. diplomats in Benghazi.

Sen. McCain has said he looks forward to meeting with her to give her an opportunity to directly address his concerns, and Sen. Graham is now saying he’s not sure he would vote against or try to block her confirmation in the Senate should she be nominated.

We’ve stated in the past our concerns about Ambassador Rice’s comments on Benghazi and her vehement denunciation of Israeli settlements in a UN speech she gave while casting a U.S. veto of a resolution condemning the settlements.

Certainly her very public discomfort with a pro-Israel expression of U.S. policy signaled by President Obama makes us leery of her serving in any senior capacity relating to Israel, especially as secretary of state. Despite it being understood that a UN representative does the bidding of the president, her outburst confirmed to the world that she may not agree with the very policies she advocates.

And there are serious questions regarding Benghazi that we trust Senators McCain and Graham share and will pursue either now or in confirmation hearings.

As we asked last week, just how did Ms. Rice, when arguing on several news interview programs that the Benghazi attack resulted from spontaneous Muslim anger over a video critical of Muhammad, process the knowledge that it occurred on 9/11 and that the attackers carried rocket-propelled grenades?

Ambassador Rice has said she relied on talking points supplied by intelligence agencies, though she now acknowledges those agencies had information that the attack was pre-planned by Al Qaeda affiliates. Senators McCain and Graham should try to find out if she believes it appropriate for high public officials to be blindsided in this manner.

Do they?

On a related note, did Ms. Rice take advantage of her access to classified information to confirm the intelligence agencies’ talking points, especially given the 9/11 factor and the curious fact that she, rather than Secretary of State Clinton, was chosen to make the case for spontaneous combustion?

Perhaps most important, did she have anything to say to President Obama? After all, he made a big deal in the second debate with Mitt Romney that he already labeled the attack an act of terror the very next day in the White House Rose Garden. If the president knew, why didn’t he tell her?

We also hope that Ms. Rice will be asked whether she has any information that would support or counter the belief that adequate protection was not supplied to the Benghazi consulate because to have done so would have undermined the Obama campaign’s claim that the U.S. had eliminated the operational capacity of local terror groups.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/some-questions-for-ambassador-rice/2012/11/28/

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