Redefining the Israel-Arab Conflict

The conflict between Israel and the Arab world must be redefined, British author Melanie Phillips told a gathering at a Maple Glen synagogue sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America.

There is no solution because the problem is misstated. The two-state solution is not axiomatic. Why are they fighting? It is not because of the absence of a Palestinian Arab state. The Arab world wishes Israel’s destruction, which is why this is the conflict that never seems to end.

Melanie Phillips Group Photo

ZOA Philadelphia ED Steve Feldman
ZOA Philadelphia Chairman Gene Shusman
British author Melanie Phillips
ZOA National President Morton Klein
ZOA Philadelphia President Lee Bender
William Wenger, ZOA host at Cong. Beth Or

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Senators Menendez, Kirk Receive ZOA’s Defender of Zion Award

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Photo: Richard Chaitt.

— by Richard Chaitt

About 100 congresspersons and legislative staffers participated in the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)’s Annual Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. last week.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) received the ZOA’s Defender of Zion Award.

ZOA’s national president, Morton A. Klein, said that Menendez “has done tremendous work in the field of security since 9/11, has given extraordinary speeches about Israel and has been leading with the introduction of the Nuclear Free Iran Act of 2013.”

Menendez said that he was “honored to receive this award”:

I have had an unwavering view that it is in the national interest of the United States to have a strong relationship with the state of Israel, an island of democracy. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I reject any call for boycotts, divestment or any statement that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state.

More after the jump.
ZOA’s board member, Jim Pollack, said that “Senator Kirk doesn’t just co-sponsor pro-Israel legislation, he initiates and he authors it. There is no better friend in Washington, D.C. than this gentleman.”

Kirk said to the audience, “When you’re told to ‘temporize’ what you’re doing in support of Israel, or to ‘back off,’ don’t. Defend the State of Israel and do exactly what you believe in.”

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). Photo: Richard Chaitt.

Klein said that the delegates “were thrilled to spend a day in their lives to fight for Israel, for strong U.S.-Israel relations, and to educate Members of Congress about the truth about the on-going Arab war against Israel, which seeks Israel’s destruction, not any sort of negotiated settlement.”

Hundreds of activists from 23 states across the country urged the congresspersons to:

  • oppose further U.S. aid to Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) (currently more than $600 million per annum) until it fulfills its signed agreements under Oslo to:
    • arrest and imprison terrorists; dismantle and outlaw terrorist groups;
    • end the incitement to hatred and murder within the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps;
    • end the PA alliance with Hamas; and
    • recognize Israel as a Jewish state;

  • impose new, tough sanctions on Iran in the event that it violates the Geneva Interim Agreement with the U.S. and Europe (P5+1) and fails to agree to ending its nuclear weapons program, given that the Iranian regime has called for the destruction of Israel, America and the defeat of the West; and
  • support and understand the legal, historical, religious and political right of Jews to live in Judea/Samaria and to oppose the canard, based on a willful and politicized distortion and intentional misinterpretation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that Israel’s presence there is unlawful and a war crime.

Hell Appearantly Has Frozen Over

Will surprises ever cease. Not only are we having a “white Passover” thanks to a freak snow shower on the eve of Chag Aviv, but we are hearing praise for President Barack Obama from unexpected quarters.

Jonathan Tobin is known to our community as the executive editor of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent from 1998 to 2008. Since then he has been the senior online editor the non-Conservative monthly magazine Commentary. He has never been a fan of the Democrats, but Obama’s visit to Israel last week seems to have impressed him:

But one thing has undoubtedly changed in the aftermath of the presidential visit to Israel: Barack Obama’s image as an antagonist of the Jewish state. In terms of his attitude toward Israel, in the past three days Obama has altered his status in that regard from being the second coming of Jimmy Carter to that of another Bill Clinton. That won’t exempt him from criticism, nor does it mean that he will have even a remote chance of succeeding in moving the region toward peace. But it does mean that many of his Jewish and Democratic defenders have been to some extent vindicated and his critics chastened, if not silenced.

Similarly, ZOA President (and Lower Merion resident) Mort Klein has villified Obama for his Cairo speech but now seems genuinely pleased with Obama’s latest trip to the Middle-East:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) today praised several important, positive statements made by President Barack Obama’s during his visit to Israel. In speeches delivered in Israel, President Obama testified to the millennia-old Jewish religious and historical bond with the land of Israel; the success of Zionism in transforming the Jewish people into a genuinely free people in their own land; called for Hizballah to be labeled by all as a terrorist organization; called for the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state and for Arab nations to normalize relations with Israel; and affirmed America as Israel’s strongest ally and greatest friend.

More after the jump.
Finally, conservative PJ Media’s Ron Radosh wrote:

[T]o continue to act as if [President Obama] is an enemy of Israel is both counter-productive and tactically wrong, and will only alienate from both Israelis and American Jews those conservatives who continue to act in such a manner. If Obama makes a wrong move, then call him on it. But encourage him to – as a friend of Israel – do what has to be done to secure the future of the Jewish state.

New Leadership Program For Young Russian Jewish Families

The Klein JCC in the Northeast section of the city is partnering with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in the development of a unique new leadership program earmarked for young Russian professional Jewish families.

More after the jump.
Once enrolled, the young professionals will participate in a special series of lectures and seminars embracing Israeli history, culture and politics, as well as local philanthropy. The leadership development program will culminate with a subsidized week-long trip to Israel to experience first hand the history, culture and people of the Jewish state.

In making the announcement, Andre Krug, president & CEO of the Klein JCC, states:

We are seeking 10 young Russian professional Jewish families between the ages of 30 and 45 years with young children to take part in this special new leadership program. This program will provide is a very rare and stimulating opportunity for all of its participants to gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of Israel and its people.

The mission of the American Jewish Committee is to enhance the well being of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world.

Now celebrating its 37th anniversary year, the non-profit Klein JCC provides social, educational and cultural programs, as well as vital social services for people living in Northeast Philadelphia and its surrounding communities.

Any young Russian professional Jewish families in the area who are interested in participating should contact Krug at the Klein JCC: 215-698-7300.

WonkBlog: Should The Top Tax Rate Be 73%?

Dylan Matthews writes on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog:

Most arguments about tax brackets in the United States are over a percentage point or two. Obama wants the top rate to rise 4.6 points to 39.6 percent; Republicans want it to stay at 35 percent. Despite the revenue costs of low rates, some self-styled deficit hawks want the top rate to go even lower. Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin, for instance, both put it at 28 percent.

But some tax experts think this is all much too timid. Two economists, Nobel laureate Peter Diamond at MIT and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley, have argued that the optimal top bracket is 73 percent, higher than at any point in the United States since the 1960s. Many analysts get sticker shock at that number, but the Diamond/Saez paper lacked a detailed response until AEI released a paper by Aparna Mathur, Sita Slavov and Michael Strain attempting to debunk it.

The Six “Studies” Which Support Romney’s Tax Plan

Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace take down the Romney/Ryan six “studies” myth.

The Washington Post Wonkblog reports:

Mitt Romney says that “six studies” prove that his tax plan adds up. They don’t.

Some of them reveal how Romney’s tax plan could conceivably achieve what he’s promised, under certain conditions — or at least come closer to it.
But others contradict the stated objectives of Romney’s tax plan and make questionable assertions about how he’d pay for his rate cuts, leaving some central questions about Romney’s tax plan unanswered and fueling the ongoing calls for more specifics.

Not all of the “six studies” are formal quantitative research: Three are online articles and one is an op-ed. But all try to answer the essential conundrum that the Tax Policy Center described in its original analysis: Romney wants to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts by getting rid of tax deductions and exclusions that benefit Americans earning more than $200,000.

But getting rid of those upper-income tax breaks doesn’t fully pay for the rate cuts, the Tax Policy Center says: The only way to do this without increasing the deficit would be to raise taxes on lower-income Americans by an average of $2,000 to make up for a $86 billion annual shortfall – a finding that the Obama campaign now routinely cites in its attack ads.

Two of the “studies” the Romney campaign has cited are an op-ed and a blog post by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein. He says it’s possible to finance Romney’s tax cuts fully by closing loopholes and deductions, but only if you raise taxes on those households with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000.

And here is what Steven Colbert had to say about the Romney/Ryan mathemagical budget…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Math
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Projected change in tax burden under Romney plan according to Brookings Institution’s Adam Looney:

Klein: GOP is Twisting the Truth about Obama and Israel

— by Gabe Cahn

Former Representative Ron Klein (D-FL) rebutted the fallacies driving GOP attacks on Obama’s track record of support for Israel in a recent op-ed article for the Sun Sentinal. Klein wrote:

The truth starts where it hurts most for the GOP – in the numbers.

President Obama has maintained his share of the Jewish vote in Florida and across the country. The American Jewish Committee’s latest Florida poll shows that, if the election were held today, the President would win more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote in Florida…

Having represented South Florida in Congress and having served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I know the dangerous threats Israel faces on a daily basis. I have seen up close and have personally talked with President Obama about his deep commitment to ensuring Israel’s safety and security. While Gov. Romney has only made inconsistent promises and reckless rhetoric about Middle East policy, President Obama has a record of statements – and more importantly, actions and results – on behalf and in support of Israel’s security.

Consider the strengthening of the U.S.-Israel relationship since President Obama took office. Record levels of aid for Israel’s security coupled with additional investments in the Iron Dome system to protect Israeli families from rocket attacks. Security and intelligence cooperation are at all-time highs. The largest joint military exercises between our nations in history. And a repeated, consistent, and forceful defense of Israel at the United Nations.

More after the jump.

Then there’s the Iranian nuclear program. President Obama worked with all of us in Congress to enact the most far-reaching and toughest sanctions ever imposed on the Iranian regime. He built an international coalition to punish and sanction Iran for failing to live up to its international obligations.

The results are clear: Iran is more isolated than ever, its economy is faltering, its oil exports are decreasing, its currency is plummeting, and its people are protesting in the streets.

President Obama has said, time and again, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable; that containment is not his policy; that he will leave every option, including the military option, on the table to confront the Iranian threat.

As Republican donors and campaign operatives disseminate half-truths, it’s time for them to confront some hard facts: the president’s record on Israel meets the highest pro-Israel standard.  He has the toughest record of any President in dealing with Iran and he will do what is necessary to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

President Obama has earned our support by his actions, his values, and his record.

To read the full article, click here.

Bitayavon Magazine Merges with Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller

Brooklyn, NY – – The Kosher Media Network (KMN), the first multi-platform network for the kosher consumer, combining traditional media with the latest in digital technology, announced today that two highly popular kosher publications will merge.  Bitayavon magazine will officially become part of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller and operate under the umbrella of KMN.  The resulting new publication will be a multi-featured magazine that will be the only one of its kind on the market focusing on the burgeoning kosher lifestyle.  The merger will take effect for the fall issue.

Photo: (Left to right) Tamar Genger, Jamie Geller, Shifra Klein, Shlomo Klein

More after the jump.
The new magazine will keep the title Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller and will continue to feature Jamie’s trademark warmth, straightforward approach along with her highly acclaimed recipes, but will also incorporate Bitayavon‘s signature style of showcasing new food trends, gourmet cooking and its pioneering approach to focusing on seasonal foods.

Jamie Geller, founder and chief creative officer says

We’re looking forward to combining specific columns and content from each magazine to provide a truly superior product that will better serve both the reader and the industry. Joy of Kosher and Bitayavon have featured some of the best kosher food writing, recipes and photography published.”

Shifra Klein, who with husband Shlomo Klein, are co-founders and co-publishers of Bitayavon, agrees.

Not only does this merger combine editorial talents, but it also creates a dynamic publishing team with entrepreneurial experience.  Both Shlomo and I look forward to working with Jamie and sharing our vision of upscale, gourmet kosher food with the readers of Joy of Kosher.

Geller added:

As this division of Kosher Media Network began to take off, we realized that we needed partners in this endeavor, both to keep up with the growth we were experiencing and also to give us the ability to grow the magazine from an overnight sensation into an international success story.  Shifra and Shlomo are exactly the people we needed to take Joy of Kosher to the next level.

A project of the Kosher Media Network, Joy of Kosher magazine released its first issue in April 2011 as Geller’s two cookbooks; Quick & Kosher – Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing and Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes made her a household name.  She quickly gained a following as cooks everywhere, particularly working mothers, fell in love both with her approachable personality and her simple yet impressive recipes.  Her companion website,, is a treasure trove of culinary treats, and is the premier social networking site for the kosher or kosher curious foodie.

Bitayavon launched in February 2011 and made impressive strides in the magazine world, recognized and awarded by the prestigious Magazine Innovation Center as one of the hottest new magazines of 2011.  While the magazine focused on upscale cuisine and catered to kosher “foodies”, both serious and casual cooks have been enjoying its more modern take on kosher food as well as the many recipes and insightful articles that fill its full color glossy pages.  From the latest food trends to affordable recipes and meal ideas, Bitayavon has revolutionized the concept of a kosher cooking magazine in the eighteen months since its initial debut.

By consolidating the two titles under one banner, advertisers wishing to target the kosher market will benefit greatly, according to Henry Kauftheil, the visionary Chairman of KMN and architect of the merge.

“One plus one equals #1!” Kauftheil states.  “One unified voice will be a stronger voice for the industry. This fusion also eliminates duplication and overlap in distribution. Now advertisers have the ability to reach more readers much more cost effectively, not just in print but on line as well. It’s a winning combination all around.”

The new Joy of Kosher magazine will offer the best of publications, showcasing foods that are delicious yet easy, as well as gourmet trends and twists on traditional items.  As the centerpiece of the Kosher Media Network, the newly launched magazine will emerge as the must-read publication for kosher aficionados everywhere.

By taking advantage of the Kosher Media Network’s diverse media platform, which offers the advantages of traditional media, including books, magazines and broadcast programming as well as the newest advances in digital, online and social media, the all new Joy of Kosher will continue to grow in popularity as it reaches out to readers on many different levels.

The magazine is offering a limited-time subscriber special for the new Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller.

Happy Anniversary Romneycare

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Today is the 6th anniversary of Romneycare: the Massachusetts Health insurance reform that was the basis for the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

Ezra Klein asks an important question: Why isn’t Romney celebrating the anniversary of Romneycare?:

Here’s something odd: There’s nothing on Mitt Romney’s Web site about the sixth anniversary of Romneycare. No news releases. No blog posts. Nothing.

And yet, Romneycare is doing pretty well. As you can see in Sarah’s charts, it’s covered about 95 percent of Massachusetts adults. Premiums are growing more slowly than the national average in both the employer and individual markets. And the law is, perhaps most importantly, very popular in Massachusetts.

Back in March, Ezra Klein interviewed “MIT economist Jon Gruber, who helped design the Massachusetts health reforms, on Romney’s puzzling reticence to tout his signature accomplishment. It’s relevant today, too.”

The Romney Budget: Elect Me And Then I’ll Tell You What I Stand For

In 1968, Richard Nixon ran on a platform that included a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam. Does Mitt Romney expect us to believe he has a secret plan to balance the budget?

One way to avoid being called out as a flip-flopper is to avoid taking a stand at all.

For example, Romney says he’ll rein in government spending. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody is in favor with doing more with less. The tough part is actually telling people what they’ll have to give up in order to balance the budget. The trade-offs necessary to balance the budget require clear priorities, good judgement and political courage.

However, Romney wants the benefit of having a conservative approach to the deficit without actually having to commit to cutting any government program in particular. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Romney declined specify these budget cuts “because it wouldn’t be politically expedient to do so.”

One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education.

In fact, Romney’s “budget” is not a “budget” since it lacks sufficient details to make sense of. The Committe for a Responsible Federal Budget said that Romney’s plan would cause a $2.6 trillion deficit if it is not paid for. On CNBC, Mitt Romney responded to criticism that the numbers in his budget didn’t add up by admitting

I think it’s interesting for the groups to try and score it because it can’t be scored. Frankly, it can’t be scored.

It can’t be scored as a budget because it is not a budget.

According to Brian Beutler, “Romney’s been intentionally vague about the politically challenging parts of his plan.”

As Ezra Klein says:

Let’s be clear on this: A tax plan that can’t be scored because it doesn’t include sufficient details is not a plan. It’s a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it’s not a plan.

So at this point, Romney doesn’t have a plan to reform the tax system. He has a statement about what he would like a reformed tax system to include: lower rates for everyone. But that’s cake-and-ice-cream stuff. All the hard questions — which tax breaks to close, for instance — remain unanswered, and it doesn’t appear that he plans to answer them anytime soon.

If you want to be President, you have to come up with a budget.
Similarly, it is hard to understand where Romney stands on Medicare. In the very same memo released last Monday, the Romney campaign “simultaneously called out the White House for not reducing Medicare spending then attacked them for doing exactly that in the very same paragraph.”