Congressmen Affirm Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

— by Sari Weintraub

Jewish Democratic members of Congress today addressed the rocket attacks on Israel, affirming their support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) tweeted:

“Israel has right & responsibility to defend itself from Hamas attacks. Must be no doubt such terrorism will never be tolerated.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted:

“Terrorists have fired 250 rockets at Israelis civilians in 24 hours. Heading to House floor to stand for Israel’s right to defend herself.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted:

“I strongly condemn Hamas’ attacks on Israel. This is not the route to peace & security for anyone.”

He also released a statement:

I condemn in the strongest terms the current aggression by Hamas against the civilian population in southern Israel.  These attacks are entirely without justification and amount to murderous provocations by a terrorist regime which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and which refuses to work toward a peaceful coexistence for both sides.  Israel has every right to defend its borders, to repel such attacks, and to target those responsible.  I applaud President Obama for his leadership and strong condemnation of these attacks.  And I am gratified to see that the Iron Dome missile defense system has worked so well to prevent further bloodshed and destruction in Israel.

In his statement on the floor of the House, Rep. Deutch said,

Imagine 250 rockets raining down in one day on your community… We would expect our government to act to protect our citizens. Israel is acting to protect her citizens; Israel has the right to protect her citizens from terrorist attacks… The United States mourns the loss of life at the hands of Hamas terrorists. We will not waver in our support of Israel’s right to defend herself against these and other attacks… At this challenging time for our great ally, the United States stands with Israel.

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tweeted:

“With our deepest concern and strongest support, the U.S. stands firm with our ally Israel.”

She released a statement as well:

With our deepest concern and strongest support, the United States stands firm with our ally Israel, currently under fire from an onslaught of Hamas rockets.  I reject Hamas’s relentless violence, and commend President Obama’s unwavering commitment to our ally, including his fundamental support for the Iron Dome missile defense system. As the days unfold, we remain united in our support of Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense and ever hopeful for a return to calm and peace. My thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Israel in these uncertain times.

Jewish American Heritage Month Reception at White House

President Barack Obama hosted the annual Jewish American Heritage Month celebration at the White House to honor and celebrate the Jewish community’s contributions to America. Obama welcomed everyone to the celebration by remarking upon the Jewish community’s long and important history of civic involvement. 400 Jewish leaders from across the nation attended. A partial guest list follows the jump below.

Remarks by President Barack Obama
White House, East Room, May 30, 2012

This year, we celebrate Jewish Heritage Month — Jewish American Heritage Month, and we’re also commemorating an important anniversary.  One hundred-fifty years ago, General Ulysses Grant issued an order — known as General Orders Number 11 — that would have expelled Jews, “as a class,” from what was then known as the military department of the Tennessee.  It was wrong.  Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought.

But what happened next could have only taken place in America. Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.  A Jewish merchant from Kentucky traveled here, to the White House, and met with President Lincoln in person.  After their meeting, President Lincoln revoked the order — one more reason why we like President Lincoln.  (Laughter and applause.)

And to General Grant’s credit, he recognized that he had made a serious mistake.  So later in his life, he apologized for this order, and as President, he went out of his way to appoint Jews to public office and to condemn the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Today, we have a few documents on display — maybe some of you saw them when you walked in.  There are two letters of protest from Jewish organizations to President Lincoln.  There is President Lincoln’s handwritten reply, saying that he had taken action.  And there is a receipt for the donation that President Grant made to the Adas Israel Synagogue here in Washington, when he attended a service there in 1876.

So together, these papers tell a story, a fundamentally American story.  Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream.  But this country holds a special promise:  that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired.

Today, it’s our turn, our generation’s turn.  And you guys, your generation’s turn.  You’re younger than us.  (Laughter.)  We got some later generations here in the front.  We’re the ones who have to stand up for our shared values.   Here at home, we have to rebuild an America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

Beyond our borders, we have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights; and that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot of work to do.  But as your traditions teach us, while we are not obligated to finish the work, neither are we free to desist from that work.

So today, we don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future.  And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union; and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful.

God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

Guest list follows the jump.
More after the jump.
Partial Guest List

  • Rabbi Andrea Merow of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park
  • Rabbi Eric Yanoff of Adath Israel in Merion Station
  • Rabbi David Ackerman of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley
  • Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
  • NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley
  • NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris
  • Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren
  • Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
  • Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
  • Representative Howard Berman (D-CA)
  • Representative David Cicilline (D-RI)
  • Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Representative Susan Davis (D-CA)
  • Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL)
  • Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY)
  • Representative Sander Levin (D-MI)
  • Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
  • Representative Jarrod Polis (D-CO)
  • Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA)
  • Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Rep. Deutch: Don’t Make Defense of Israel a Partisan Issue

— by Max Samis

In today’s Sun-Sentinel, Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) wrote an op-ed discussing the importance of keeping support for Israel a bipartisan issue. Deutch wrote about President Barack Obama’s steadfast support of the Jewish state, and implored Republicans to stop trying to turn the Iranian threat of nuclear weapons into a wedge issue for the upcoming election.

Extracts after the jump.
Deutch wrote:

For over six decades, the United States has made clear that Israel will never face these dangers alone. This commitment has been upheld by U.S. presidents of both political parties who understand the unique threats facing Israel every day. The existential threat facing Israel from Iran today is profoundly serious, yet recently, Republican presidential candidates have attempted to exploit the Iranian threat for political gain, launching unfounded partisan attacks on President Obama’s record….

While most of the Jewish community has always put partisanship aside when it comes to protecting Israel from existential threats, the president’s opponents have repeatedly made clear that their quest to defeat him in November overrides every other priority, including upholding a bipartisan consensus on Israel’s security. The existential threats facing Israel are far too serious to fall victim to partisan warfare. President Obama’s forceful efforts to tighten the squeeze on the Iranian regime are working.

The Ayatollahs currently face a crumbling economy, an international blacklist, a restive population and, if they continue their weapons program, the hammer of U.S. military might. Support for Israel has always been, and must continue to be, above partisan politics as usual, especially when Israel’s future is at stake.

Deutch also defended the sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime by Obama, stressing that they are having the desired effect. Deutch wrote:

President Obama has confronted Iran with, as he explained to AIPAC, ‘all elements of American power: political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.’

The president’s strategic efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program have resulted in the most powerful international coalition that Iran’s mullahs have ever faced. The Obama administration has sought out the toughest sanctions ever on companies that support Iran’s illicit weapons program. Iran’s economy has been devastated by the sanctions imposed by the United States, Europe, and even Russia and China. The world is uniting with America in offering Iran one choice: abandon its quest for nuclear weapons and thrive; or continue that quest and be crushed.

In addition, Deutch reiterated that Obama has placed all options on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. He wrote:

Understanding how a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the security of both Israel and America, President Obama rejects the folly of containment and appeasement. ‘Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,’ he proclaimed in his visit to the AIPAC Policy Conference. ‘And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary.’

No nation will benefit more than Israel if measures short of war end the Iranian nuclear weapons program. But if other steps fail, Iran knows that it will face the powerful U.S. military. As President Obama has said, ‘When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.’

President Obama also defended Israel’s ability to ‘defend itself by itself against any threat.’ To that end, military and intelligence cooperation between America and Israel has reached unprecedented levels. And as the threats to Israel in the region increase, so, too has the Obama administration’s level of security funding for the sole democracy in the Middle East.