New Sanctions Won’t Stop Iran

Allowing a state-sponsor of terrorism to possess nuclear weapons is unacceptable.

A nuclear-armed Iran would threaten Israel’s existence and set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

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Heavy water reactor in Arak, Iran.

Strong economic sanctions, enforced by the Obama administration and made effective by the international coalition President Obama built and maintained, did not stop Iran’s progress toward acquiring nuclear weapons. The tougher the economic pressure, the harder Iran worked on developing its capabilities.

However, tough sanctions did bring Iran to the negotiating table. Under the Joint Plan of Action (the interim agreement), Iran finally agreed to halt, and in some cases roll back its nuclear program in return for a limited, reversible sanctions relief.

Iran’s economy still suffers from the tough sanctions that remain in place, giving Iran a tremendous incentive to continue negotiating toward a comprehensive agreement. But time no longer works against the U.S., and will not work against it for as long as both it and Iran continue to comply with the interim agreement.

President Obama has repeatedly stated that his goal is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; that all options, including the military option, are on the table; and that if the talks fail — he rates their chance of success as 50-50 at best — then not only will the limited sanctions relief end, but he will ask Congress for tougher sanctions.

Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. It would be irresponsible not to ratchet up the sanctions if talks failed, but if talks do fail, sanctions will be even less likely than negotiations to stop Iran. The only remaining option will then be military action, and while it might stop Iran in the short term, it will guarantee that Iran will do all it can to eventually acquire nuclear weapons.

That is why negotiations remain our best hope for stopping Iran, and that is why, with so much at stake, Congress would be foolish to take any action that could even arguably violate the interim agreement, create uncertainty, or call our good faith into question.

The interim agreement expires in July, but Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the deadline for reaching agreement on a framework is the end of March. If we get there, the next three months would be spent hammering out the details. So as a practical matter, we will know if we are likely to have a deal in two and a half months, and negotiations are proceeding based on that expectation.

However, new Iran sanctions legislation will soon be proposed.

A draft of the new Kirk-Menendez bill, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, would impose sanctions if the interim agreement expires without a long-term, comprehensive solution that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Congress should debate the bill and schedule a vote in early April.

The bill contains a provision allowing the President to waive sanctions, if he feels that it is necessary to conclude a comprehensive agreement. However, this is a draft, and it could change prior to introduction in the Senate.

Even a bill whose terms do not take effect until the expiration of the interim agreement will violate the interim agreement, if it becomes law while the interim agreement is still in force. Passage of such a bill would be viewed by Iran and the U.S.’ allies as needlessly provocative and as a sign of bad faith.

Moreover, this bill would do nothing prior to the expiration of the interim agreement except poke a finger in Iran’s eye, and maybe the administration’s eye too. Why risk poisoning the atmosphere in the midst of delicate negotiations?

Even if one believes that the bill would not violate the interim agreement, even if one believes that it would not impair negotiations, why take that chance? Regardless of when the bill is enacted, new sanctions would only kick in after the expiration of the interim agreement. Why pass this bill now instead of waiting just two and a half months?

It can only be worse off if this bill passes now; it cannot be better off, and if this bill does scuttle the talks, the world will rightly blame the U.S., making it much less likely that its allies would join in tougher sanctions. And without the cooperation of those allies, the sanctions called for in this bill will be much less effective.

British prime minister, David Cameron, one of the U.S.’ key allies on Iran, urged Congress last Friday not to pass sanctions legislation. Cameron said that such legislation would “fracture unity” among the international coalition that is confronting Iran.

Would passing a bill now send a signal to Iran? What signal? The President has already made clear that we will impose more sanctions if talks fail, and no one doubts that Congress will accede to his request.

The only signals this bill would send are signals to the U.S.’ allies, that it does not care what they think; and signals to hard-liners in Iran, that maybe they should now threaten the U.S. with action should talks fail; or worse, that they might as well break off negotiations now.

Obama: ‘I Will Veto Any New Sanctions’ on Iran

In his State of the Union address (Video and transcript below.), President Obama said that he will veto any new sanctions on Iran passed by Congress before the end of March — the U.S. deadline for reaching an agreement on a framework to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program:

Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.  There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.  It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.

flotus_sotu_suite_roc_AlanGross[1]Alan Gross, who was released last month from Cuban prison after five years, was among the audience.
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Obama: ‘Terror Is No Match for Freedom’

A pen rests next to a message written by President Barack Obama in a condolences book during a visit to the French Embassy in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A pen rests next to a message written by President Barack Obama in a condolences book during a visit to the French Embassy in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In the wake of the horrific shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine’s offices in Paris, upon returning to the Washington, D.C. last evening on Marine One, President Obama walked not to the White House but rather to his motorcade to go to the French Embassy.

The French ambassador, Gerard Araudq, escorted the President into the embassy to sign the condolence book:

On behalf of all Americans, I extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the people of France following the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. As allies across the centuries, we stand united with our French brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. We go forward together knowing that terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for — ideals that light the world.

Vive la France!

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Obama: ‘The Light of Hope Must Outlast the Fire of Hate’

— by Bill Leopold

President Obama spoke about the messages of the story of the Maccabees in front of more than 500 people at a Hanukkah party, in a White House full of elaborate, tasteful holiday decorations and exquisitely prepared glatt kosher food:

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President Obama at the Hanukkah party at the White House. Photo: Jeanne Goldberg-Leopold.

In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city and the right to worship as they chose. And in their victory, they found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil they had and, miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and it’s up to us to provide that first spark.

Among the guests at the party were the chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, Josh Shapiro, and his wife Lori. Mr. Shapiro said that it was a wonderful symbol of the U.S. democracy that the President presided over the Hanukkah party and spoke about our core values of freedom, peace, and equality.

The crowd cheered Obama’s news about Alan Gross, who had just been freed from Cuban prison as part of the country’s renewal of diplomatic relations with the U.S., and loved the President’s solid attempt to speak a few words in Hebrew. The U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra provided the crowd with a tribute to Jewish-American Composers.

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The menorah built by the students of the Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand Arab-Jewish Bilingual School in Jerusalem. The text in Hebrew and Arabic enumerates the founding values of the school: community, dignity, equality, peace, education, friendship, solidarity and freedom. (Photo: Bill Leopold)

Obama introduced the makers of the menorah that was lit during the party, by relating the story of the decade-old Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand Arab-Jewish Bilingual School in Jerusalem, in which arsonists set fire to a classroom two weeks ago:

In the weeks that followed, they and their classmates could have succumbed to anger or cynicism, but instead they built this menorah… Each of its branches are dedicated to one of the values their school is founded on—values like community and dignity and equality and peace.

Two students from that school, Inbar Vardi and Mouran Ibrahim, and a parent, lit the candles. The president said that the students are teaching us that, “The light of hope must outlast the fire of hate.”

Obama on Alan Gross: ‘Freedom Is Possible’

President Obama dedicated a large part of his speech at this year’s Hanukkah party to Alan Gross, who was released from Cuban prison after five years as part of the country’s renewal of diplomatic relations with the U.S.:

He’s back where he belongs — in America, with his family, home for Hanukkah. And I can’t think of a better way to mark this holiday, with its message that freedom is possible, than with the historic changes that I announced today in our Cuba policy. These are changes that are rooted in America’s commitment to freedom and democracy for all the Cuban people, including its small but proud Jewish community.

Gross was arrested in 2009 while working to set up Internet access for the Cuban-Jewish community as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Gross’s sister-in-law, Gwen Zuares, thanked Obama personally for her brother-in-law’s release at the party.

B’nai B’rith International said that it “warmly welcomes, and is relieved by the news”:

B’nai B’rith is grateful for the efforts of the Administration and all those who assisted in facilitating the high-level discussions leading to Gross’ release. We are thinking of Gross, his family and his friends

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which called the normalization of relations with Cuba “unwise”, welcomed Gross’s release:

On the first day of Hanukkah, Alan Gross was granted light, freedom, and the long-awaited reunion with his family. The RJC joins the entire Jewish community in celebrating his redemption.

Agudath Israel of America issued a statement on the subject:

The release and return of Alan Gross from Cuban incarceration is truly a modern day Chanukah miracle, and it fills us with deep gratitude to, in the words of the Amidah, “He Who frees captives.” Mr. Gross’ expedited liberation seemed a distant dream, and now it is a dream come true.

We express our heartfelt thanks to President Obama, whose dedicated and determined efforts led to Mr. Gross’ release. And we pray that Mr. Gross will adjust to his return to freedom enveloped in the love and support of his family and friends.

No, the U.S. Won’t Impose Sanctions on Israel

The U.S. is not going to impose sanctions on Israel.

You would not believe the nonsense I get in my inbox. The question I ask myself is whether I should write about it, thus giving it a modicum of credence and potentially spreading the rumor further, or whether to ignore it, letting the misinformation stand uncorrected. But since we are going to see a lot of nonsense between now and Israel’s upcoming elections, let us see what we can learn. [Read more…]

Obama Names Phila. Police Commissioner for Post-Ferguson Task Force

mqdefaultPresident Obama named the Philadelphia Police Department’s commissioner, Chuck Ramsey, the co-chair of a task force that will examine the “simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color” following the Ferguson ruling.

Ramsey’s partner will be a professor of criminology, law and society at George Mason University, Laurie Robinson, the President said.

They are going to co-chair a task force that is not only going to reach out and listen to law enforcement, and community activists and other stakeholders, but is going to report to me specifically in 90 days with concrete recommendations, including best practices for communities where law enforcement and neighborhoods are working well together — how do they create accountability; how do they create transparency; how do they create trust; and how can we at the federal level work with the state and local communities to make sure that some of those best practices get institutionalized.

Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, participated in the White House meeting along with Vice President  Joe Biden and four other mayors:

  • Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
  • Bill de Blasio, New York, New York;
  • Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, Indiana; and
  • Martin Walsh, Boston, Massachusetts.Obama said that “Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis or that area, and is not unique to our time,” and called to “begin a process in which we’re able to surface honest conversations with law enforcement, community activists, academics, elected officials, the faith community, and try to determine what the problems are and, most importantly, try to come up with concrete solutions that can move the ball forward.”

    The President: As I said last week in the wake of the grand jury decision, I think Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis or that area, and is not unique to our time, and that is a simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color. The sense that in a country where one of our basic principles, perhaps the most important principle, is equality under the law, that too many individuals, particularly young people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly.

    And as I said last week, when any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us. It’s not just a problem for some. It’s not just a problem for a particular community or a particular demographic. It means that we are not as strong as a country as we can be. And when applied to the criminal justice system, it means we’re not as effective in fighting crime as we could be.

    And as a consequence, what I’ve been able to do today, thanks to the excellent work by Eric Holder, our Attorney General who had to fly down to Atlanta to start a conversation down there around these issues, as well as the outstanding leaders around this table, is to begin a process in which we’re able to surface honest conversations with law enforcement, community activists, academics, elected officials, the faith community, and try to determine what the problems are and, most importantly, try to come up with concrete solutions that can move the ball forward.

    And one of the most powerful things that happened today was I had the opportunity to meet with some young people, including a couple of young outstanding leaders from the Ferguson community, Brittany Packnett and Rasheen Aldridge, who both served on the Ferguson committee, who live in the area, and I think have been hearing from a lot of young people in that area.

    And what made me concerned was the degree to which they feel as if they are not heard or that the reality of what they experienced has been denied. What made me greatly encouraged was how clear their voices were when they were heard, and how constructive they are in wanting to solve these problems. And I think anybody who had the chance to listen to them here today felt the same way.

    We also heard law enforcement and were reminded of what a tough job it is to be in law enforcement. Whether you’re in a big city or in a small community, as Eric Holder put it, police officers have the right to come home. And if they’re in dangerous circumstances, we have to be able to put ourselves in their shoes and recognize that they do have a tough job. I don’t think those realities are irreconcilable. In fact, I’m convinced that if we work hard, that we can make sure that police officers and the communities they serve are partners in battling crime, partners in making sure everybody feels safe; that we can build confidence and we can build trust, but it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to result just from a conversation around a table in Washington. It’s got to result in concrete steps that we are able to lift up in communities all around the country and institutionalize.

    In order to advance that goal, here are a couple of specific steps that we’re taking. First of all, I want to thank Chuck Ramsey, the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as Laurie Robinson, who is a professor of criminology, law and society at George Mason University, and a former assistant attorney general.

    They are going to co-chair a task force that is not only going to reach out and listen to law enforcement, and community activists and other stakeholders, but is going to report to me specifically in 90 days with concrete recommendations, including best practices for communities where law enforcement and neighborhoods are working well together — how do they create accountability; how do they create transparency; how do they create trust; and how can we at the federal level work with the state and local communities to make sure that some of those best practices get institutionalized.

    So this is not going to be an endless report that we’re going to have collecting dust on the shelf. My expectation is concrete recommendations that we can begin to operationalize over the federal, state and local levels. And the good news is, is that we’ve got two folks who are respected by activists and respected by law enforcement, and I’m confident they’re going to do an outstanding job. I want them to help us make sure that crime continues to go down and more community trust in the police goes up.

    Second, one of the issues that came up during the response to Ferguson back in August was the issue of military equipment being utilized in the face of protests that may be taking place in the community. It raised a broader issue as to whether we are militarizing domestic law enforcement unnecessarily, and is the federal government facilitating that?

    I have now received the review that I ordered from all the agencies involved in this program, the 1033 program. I will be signing an executive order that specifies how we are going to make sure that that program can help, how we’re going to make sure that that program is transparent, and how are we going to make sure that we’re not building a militarized culture inside our local law enforcement.

    Third, I’m going to be proposing some new community policing initiatives that will significantly expand funding and training for local law enforcement, including up to 50,000 additional body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies. And I look forward to working with Congress to make sure that in addition to what I can do administratively with the resources that we’ve already gotten, that we are in a conversation with law enforcement that wants to do the right thing to make sure that they’re adequately resourced for the training and the technology that can enhance trust between communities and police.

    And finally, as I mentioned, Eric Holder is going to be working in parallel with the task force to convene a series of these meetings all across the country, because this is not a problem simply of Ferguson, Missouri, this is a problem that is national. It is a solvable problem, but it is one that, unfortunately, spikes after one event and then fades into the background until something else happens. What we need is a sustained conversation in which in each region of the country people are talking about this honestly and then can move forward in a constructive fashion.

    Let me just close by saying this: It was a cautionary note I think from everybody here that there have been commissions before, there have been task forces, there have been conversations, and nothing happens. What I try to describe to people is why this time will be different. And part of the reason this time will be different is because the President of the United States is deeply invested in making sure this time is different. When I hear the young people around this table talk about their experiences, it violates my belief in what America can be to hear young people feeling marginalized and distrustful, even after they’ve done everything right. That’s not who we are. And I don’t think that’s who the overwhelming majority of Americans want us to be.

    And I think there may be a convergence here where we’ve got outstanding law enforcement officials who recognize that times have changed and want to be responsive. I know that Richard Barry of the International Association of Chiefs of Police spoke about how eager they are to work with us. I think that we’ve got activists on the ground who don’t always get attention because it’s oftentimes the people who aren’t being constructive that get attention, but there are folks there who are working really hard. I think there’s a maturity of the conversation right now that can lead us to actually getting some concrete results.

    And in the two years I have remaining as President, I’m going to make sure that we follow through — not to solve every problem, not to tear down every barrier of mistrust that may exist, but to make things better. And that’s how progress is always made in this great country of ours.

Should Obama Start Compromising on His Agenda?

Will the Senate prevent Obama from nominating another justice like Sonya Sotomayor?

Will the Senate prevent Obama from nominating another justice like Sonya Sotomayor?

Obama will have to deal with a Republican Senate for the first time in his presidency and some, like think tank “Third Way,” argue Obama should respond by compromising on his progressive agenda. But is that really necessary?

In important matters such as Supreme Court appointments, Obama might be more effective by standing up for his convictions.

Bill Clinton watches as Ruth Bader Ginsberg is sworn in as Supreme Court Justice in 1993.

Bill Clinton watches as Ruth Bader Ginsberg is sworn in as Supreme Court Justice in 1993.

This question is all the more important as 81 year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg underwent heart surgery after experiencing discomfort on Tuesday. Otherwise, she is in fine shape: She works out regularly, and even put in an “all-nighter” to write her dissenting opinion last month on the Texas Voter ID law, as she told Ella Magazine in September, before her heart problem started:

Jessica Weisberg: I’m not sure how to ask this, but a lot of people who admire and respect you wonder if you’ll resign while President Obama is in office.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court. [The Senate Democrats] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided. As long as I can do the job full steam… I think I’ll recognize when the time comes that I can’t any longer. But now I can.

Control of the Senate makes little difference on legislation as long as Obama is willing to to dust off his veto pen. Over the last six years Obama has only vetoed two bills, fewer than any President since James Garfield who served for only half a year. However, that should change as his veto authority will be needed to keep  Republican legislation in check.

However, Obama’s veto pen is of little use to stymie the Senate’s abuse of its power to confirm or deny Presidential appointments. Even with a Democratic majority, the Republican threat of a filibuster has created a record backlog.

According to AP, “Some 150 of President Barack Obama’s nominees are still waiting their turn. They include 25 more potential ambassadors and other senior State Department appointments.” For example, we do not have a Surgeon General to spearhead our response to the Ebola crisis. Fully a quarter of the world, does not have an American ambassador. We don’t have one in Russia to clarify our position in the war with Ukraine and we do not have one in Guatemala to stave off the droves of unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in our country. The situation was even worse  until Harry Reid recently limited the ability to filibuster certain judicial appointments.

Defining a Legacy

Of all these nominations the most significative are the judicial appointments, since they are lifetime appointments. A justice appointed to the Supreme Court may end up serving decades after the President who made the appointment is long gone. In this way, judicial appointments especially to the Supreme Court define a president’s legacy far beyond his own term of office.

This is not a moot point. Given the ages of the current Justices on the Supreme Court, there is a 49.1% chance that at least one of the nine will not live to see the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. Together with the possibility that a Justice retires for health or personal reasons short of shuffling off this mortal coil, it is more likely that not that Obama will yet face one or more vacancies on the Supreme Court.

Harry Enten studies Obama’s options for a potential Supreme Court vacancy and concludes that “The Supreme Court won’t be getting another Sotomayor anytime soon” and suggests Obama placate Republicans by seeking candidates more to their liking.

The 2014 Senate elections have made it more difficult for Obama to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. If any future nominee looks like those the Pr4esident has already appointed, he’d likely have a fight on his hands. His best chance would be to go with a nominee who is a true moderate, or an impeccably qualified, mainstream Democrat.

That might work if Republicans were opposing Obama’s nominees on their merits. However, Republican opposition has often taken shape to gain leverage as a protest against extraneous issues like the Affordable Care Act or immigration. Sometimes Obama’s support for a previously conservative idea is the kiss of death as Republicans flip positions in order to not be perceived as supporting anything that Obama favors.

Making the Case Directly to the People

Instead of searching in vain for a hypothetical consensus candidate, Obama should choose the candidate who best exemplifies his vision for the Supreme Court and make his case directly to the public.

Adam Green suggests that Obama stop catering to “what the center of Washington D.C. is instead of what the center of the country is…. If Mitch McConnell wants to stand up and say ‘no’ to millions of hispanics; if Mitch McConnell wants to say ‘no’ to millions of women, then let him.”

Perhaps the Republicans will refuse to approve a progressive justice, and either deny the candidate a hearing or vote the candidate down. However, if they do, Democrats can make that the issue they bring to the American people in the 2016 election. If voters are unhappy with actions of the Senate, many Republican Senators will lose the seats they won in the Republican wave of 2010.

If the Democrats win the White House and regain control of the Senate, the next President would be able to appoint a true progressive. If necessary, it would be better to wait a little while for a nominee with vision than to settle for a flawed compromise justice of the Supreme Court.

“This Immigration Plan Will Not Be Televised”

None of the major networks chose to televise the President’s signature immigration plan. We believe that whether or not you support the President’s ideas, knowing the details is very important, so we present the full text and of his address followed by comments for and against by various Jewish groups.

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— President Barack Obama

By fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.
It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

[Read more…]

Jerusalem Bloodbath: Abbas Blamed for Incitement

— by Michael Thaidigsmann

At lnovember-19-2014-what-jerusalem-needs-now-webeast four people, including a rabbi, were killed and more than a dozen others wounded when two Arab terrorists burst into the synagogue during morning prayers and attacked worshipers with a gun, a meat cleaver and an ax.

President Obama referred to the fact that three of the victims were Americans in his statement:

I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more.  There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.  The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence.  At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.

november-18-2014-please-leave-us-alone-web

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) president, Ronald Lauder, said the bloodbath in the Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof was “obviously the result of an orchestrated campaign by Palestinian groups whose sole aim is to incite to hatred against Jews.”

Lauder welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the attack, but said that in order to be credible Abbas had to stop the “vicious incitement against Israelis that is happening on his watch”:

Instead of opposing the extremists in his own ranks, Mr. Abbas has been placating them. If he wants to retain any credibility he must show strong, unequivocal leadership now. Failure to do so would have catastrophic consequences and would probably put a stop to the peace process for many years to come. The next weeks will show if he is a credible Palestinian leader.

The WJC president called it “an outrage” that houses of prayer were now being deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorists:

Houses of worship anywhere in the world must be sacrosanct. Whoever attacks peaceful worshipers in a synagogue, a mosque or a church is nothing but a despicable criminal.

The two perpetrators were killed by police officers arriving at the scene. It was the deadliest terror attack in Jerusalem in many years.

Cartoons courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ http://cartoonkronicles.com/