Schiff: Obama “A Stalwart Friend” to Israel

— by Rachel Shabad

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Democratic Israel Working Group, wrote in the Jewish Journal that no president has done as much as President Barack Obama to strengthen Israel’s security.

Extracts of Schiff’s remarks follow the jump.
Schiff wrote:

This election will doubtless turn on domestic issues and the economy will be front and center.  But, as in almost all presidential contests, national security and foreign policy issues will also be on voters’ minds, and the security of Israel and prospects for peace in the Middle East will be central to that discussion. President Obama’s support for Israel has been strong and steadfast and he has compiled a record of leadership that is second to none. Governor Romney, on the other hand, must run on his rhetoric alone-a thin reed grown more thin when he recently pledged to do the ‘opposite’ of whatever the President has done on Israel.

While past presidents since Harry Truman have rallied to the Israeli cause, none has provided greater material support than President Obama. Within weeks of taking office, Obama ordered the provision to Israel of more than 50 advanced ‘bunker buster’ bombs that would be necessary were military action necessary against Iran’s nuclear program.  In providing the bunker busters to Israel, President Obama reversed the decision taken by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama more than doubled American funding for the Israeli Missile defense system known as David’s Sling-in the last year of President Bush’s term, the U.S. committed $52 million to the program; this year, that number rose to $110 million.

And only under this president’s watch has another important air-defense system, called Iron Dome, received funding. President Obama’s $205 million commitment jump-started Iron Dome in 2011, and his Administration has promised that hundreds of millions more U.S. dollars are on their way to assist with this vital defense system. These and other Obama-backed defense measures protect Israeli citizens from the threats they face every day-threats from Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists, and from the government or Iran itself.

Indeed, President Obama has led the way in confronting the danger posed by Iran. He has cajoled a sometimes reluctant group of nations to join him in hitting the Iranians where it hurts-in the oil spigot. In the face of withering sanctions the President championed, Iranian oil production has plummeted and their currency has so seriously deflated it is causing a crisis in the Iranian banking system…

Under President Obama’s leadership, the American and Israeli militaries are working more closely together than ever.  In 2009, they engaged in ‘Operation Juniper Cobra,’ the largest collaborative missile defense exercise ever undertaken.  In 2010, they followed up with ‘Operation Juniper Stallion,’ a joint exercise focused on stimulated bombing drills. Thousands of troops from both countries participated in these exercises, which forge the strategic bonds that help tie our nations together.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I can also attest to the strong cooperation between our two countries-a key priority in stopping the leading sponsor of terrorism from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

On the world stage, too, the President has shown that these bonds are unbreakable.  At the United Nations, where Israel is frequently the brunt of unjustified attacks by tyrannical countries, President Obama has used his powerful veto on behalf the Middle East’s only democracy and has a 100% pro-Israel voting record. In 2011, when the Security Council wanted to condemn the settlements, President Obama stepped in to stop them, using his first veto to do so. He has also promised to veto any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. And unlike his immediate predecessor, President Obama has not demanded hasty Palestinian elections-elections that would might further empower and embolden Hamas.

If we take Governor Romney at his word-and on Israel he has no actions to guide us-should we assume then that he would do the opposite of all these pro-Israel steps taken by our President?

Last week, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which will help Israel to maintain its military edge over other states in the region. Would a President Romney have done otherwise?

Barack Obama has never wavered in his support for Israel. He is a stalwart friend and his actions speak louder than words.

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)