Schumer Speaks at AIPAC Policy Conference

On Tuesday, March 28, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the podium at the AIPAC Policy Conference. In a heartfelt address peppered with personal anecdotes, he spoke to the strength of the bond between the United States and Israel. He discussed the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. He also characterized the campaign to delegitimize Israel — waged by movements like BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) and by the United Nations — as a “cloaked” form of anti-Semitism. Finally, he called for unified support for Israel across the American political spectrum, and pledged, “[A]s long as HaShem breathes air into my lungs, I will fight to make Israel a safer, more secure, more prosperous nation.”

The transcript of Sen. Schumer’s speech, as provided on the AIPAC Policy Conference website, appears below. [Read more…]

ADL Honors Napolitano for Leadership in Fight against Terrorism

— by Max Samis

At its National Leadership Conference this past weekend, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with the ADL William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award. The award commemorates Napolitano’s “leadership in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman presented the award saying:

At this time of great challenge and evolving threats, our nation is fortunate to have Secretary Napolitano at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Napolitano knows that countering radicalization and violence is frequently best achieved by engaging and empowering individuals and groups at the local level to build resilience against violent extremism-a mantra the League also advocates. Her actions show that while law enforcement plays an essential role in keeping us safe, so too does engagement and partnership with communities.

Napolitano’s remarks follow the jump.
The ADL noted that:

Under Secretary Napolitano’s guidance, DHS has led efforts to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack, built partnerships with local and state law enforcement, identified foreign and domestic threat, coordinated with U.S. allies on issues such as arms trafficking, and enforced immigration standards.

In her remarks to the conference, Napolitano said she was “humbled” to receive the recognition from an organization such as the ADL. She said:

Receiving an award from an organization like the ADL, with its history of fighting inequality, bigotry and hatred is moving for me personally.

But I accept it tonight on behalf of the more than 240,000 men and women of DHS. This is truly a recognition of their collective efforts, day in and day out, to ensure the security of our country, while protecting fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

DHS does not do this work alone; we succeed through partnerships with organizations like yours. For nearly a century, Americans have known the ADL as a strong voice, standing against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and violent extremism, and for human rights and dignity.

I’m pleased that our partnership has expanded over the last few years, because at DHS, we believe that local authorities and organizations are best able to identify those individuals or groups exhibiting dangerous behaviors, and to intervene before they commit acts of violence…

As we know too well, hatred can inspire violence anywhere in the world, as we remind ourselves every year on Yom Ha’shoah.

On Monday, at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, President Obama reminded the nation of our duty, not only to remember the Holocaust, but to prevent and respond to atrocities today, because, as he said, “…remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing.”…

The President has identified the prevention of mass atrocities as a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United   States, and our actions have sent a message to war criminals and would-be war-criminals that they will face justice.

President Obama also spoke of what we must do, and will do going forward, to meet the challenge of “never again” – to, as he said, “defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security.”

This is not an issue that can or should be addressed by our military alone, and DHS is proud of its part….

I’m pleased to note that DHS has a particularly strong partnership with our friend and steadfast ally Israel. I need not remind anyone here of the special bond shared between the United States and Israel. Not only do our two nation’s share strategic interests and face common dangers, but we share common values. And that’s why we’ve have increased cooperation between our two countries to unprecedented levels…

We have learned that an engaged, vigilant public is essential to efforts to prevent acts of terrorism, and all of our work to collaborate with the public and non-profits is clear in DHS’ relationship with the American Jewish community.

It’s a partnership that didn’t necessarily begin with this Administration, but I’m proud that we have built upon and expanded it under President Obama’s leadership. We have depended on this partnership recently as we’ve witnessed a number of high profile domestic and international events that have directly impacted the Jewish community, both here and abroad….

As people of conscience, you’re engaged on issues like immigration, all the areas we’ve discussed tonight, and many more – both as members of the ADL and in your every day lives. In the spirit of “tikkun olam,” you stand for civil rights and civil liberties for all. And we strive for that every day at DHS, as we tackle many complex and difficult issues facing our nation today.

National security and civil rights and liberties are not at odds – to the contrary, they bolster and support each other. A free society that engages all its people is inherently more secure than one that does not provide opportunity for all.

The ADL understands that intuitively, and I look forward to continuing our work together.

Past recipients of the ADL Gorowitz award include:

  • NYPD Assistant Chief and Commanding Officer of its Intelligence Division Thomas P. Galati;
  • former Boston, New York and Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton;
  • former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff;
  • former CIA Director George Tenet; former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh;
  • NYPD Commissioner and former Commissioner of U.S. Customs Service Raymond W. Kelly; and
  • U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

Administration Addresses Jewish Community Security Issues


Senator Charles Schumer addresses Agudath Israel’s Legislative Breakfast

— by Boruch Shubert

A number of officials representing the United States government at key levels of influence addressed several hundred communal leaders at the Second Annual Legislative Breakfast of Agudath Israel of America earlier today at the Down Town Association in Lower Manhattan. Speaking to the event’s theme of “Safety and Security in Our Communities,” the officials outlined a variety of areas in which government agencies are acting vigorously to ensure the physical well-being of the greater Jewish community both domestically and overseas.

Delivering the Keynote Address, Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, noted that – with New York City continuing to be a major target for potential terrorists – her office has expanded its focus from the aggressive pursuit of terrorist prosecutions to include an emphasis on the prevention of terrorist acts. “We work closely with the FBI and the New York Police Department to immediately investigate any threats of terrorism,” Lynch asserted, highlighting multiple recent cases wherein potential attacks on public transportation and other largely populated areas were thwarted. Detailing specific concerns in this regard, the US Attorney informed the audience that the authorities are on the lookout for Al-Qaeda-mobilized single, “lone-wolf” individuals who may attempt to commit acts of terror on their own; homegrown United States-based terrorists; and global terror cells that gain strength and adherents through strategic communications via the Internet. Noting that more than 400 terrorists have been convicted in this country over the decade since the 9/11 attacks, Lynch strongly stated her belief that “our federal court system is a proven and effective method for prosecuting terrorists.” Ms. Lynch was joined at the breakfast by Marshall Miller, who has served as the deputy chief of the criminal unit and today was named criminal division chief.

More after the jump.


Jarrod Bernstein, President Obama’s Director of Jewish Outreach delivers Special Greetings at Agudath Israel’s Legislative Breakfast

The audience was also treated to Special Greetings from Jarrod Bernstein, President Obama’s recently appointed Director of Jewish Outreach, who was making his first public appearance in his new role. Bernstein was introduced by Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel, who recounted how – just two days before this past Yom Kippur – he received word that a large shipment of lulavim was being held up at the airport due to security-related bureaucratic red tape, thereby causing numerous Jews to potentially be unable to fulfill the vital mitzvah of arba minim on the impending Sukkos holiday. After a quick phone call to Bernstein – who was then an official at the Department of Homeland Security – the lulavim were released in a few hours.

Speaking on behalf of the president, Bernstein stated that the administration is “working daily to ensure Israel’s security.” Elaborating on this point, he noted that President Obama has requested from Congress “the largest-ever amount of funding for military assistance for Israel”; spoke at the United Nations resolutely on behalf of the vitality of Israel; and spends a significant amount of time advocating for increased sanctions against Iran.


A partial view of the crowd at Agudath Israel’s Legislative Breakfast

Reprising his appearance at last year’s Legislative Breakfast, Senator Charles Schumer reiterated Congress’ firm support for the security of Israel, specifically with regard to planned attempts to further cut off Iran’s banking powers and to fully fund Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Turning to the domestic front, Schumer stated that “Agudath Israel does an amazing job caring for people in need with its social services,” and he asserted that – particularly with regard to education and job training programs – “we must cut our budgets carefully” so as not to endanger these vital services. “I have obtained many grants for the security of the community’s shuls and yeshivas,” the senator concluded, reaffirming his continuing close relationship with Agudath Israel.


Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America, speaking at the Agudath Israel of
America Legislative Breakfast.

The large audience – which included such dignitaries as NYC Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, NY State Senator Daniel Squadron, NY State Assemblymen Alec Brook-Krasny and Rory Lancman, and New York City Councilmen Lew Fidler and Brad Lander – heard important remarks from several members of Congress with close ties to the Jewish community. Newly elected Congressman Robert (Bob) Turner spoke about his appointments to the crucial Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees, and criticized both the United Nations and Iran for their anti-Israel stances. “We have to work hard to get regime change in Iran,” Turner declared. Avowing Congress’ strong backing of Israel, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney recalled the unusually enthusiastic response from the entire membership of Congress when it was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Commenting on the dismal economy, Congressman Jerrold Nadler spoke against the idea of massive spending cuts by the government, noting that “the community needs housing and food assistance now more than ever.” Separately, Nadler called on President Obama to criticize Palestinian President Abbas for refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and insisted that “there is no greater danger in the world today than Iran” due to its nuclear intentions, Nadler concluded.


Jarrod Bernstein, White House Jewish Liaison, addressing the Agudath Israel of America Legislative Breakfast.

The audience also heard from community activist Abe Eisner, who read a message of support for Agudath Israel from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; New York City Controller John Liu; and Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Community Services, who highlighted the organization’s many valuable social programs. “Agudath Israel of America sponsors a broad range of communal social services affecting the lives of young and old throughout the New York City metropolitan area,” he explained. “Agudath Israel of America’s projects include job placement, vocational training and counseling services, housing and neighborhood preservation initiatives, as well as a host of senior citizen and children’s welfare projects – including a variety of initiatives specifically directed toward enhancing security and safety.” The Legislative Breakfast was chaired by Joseph Zelmanovitz, Esq, Partner in Stahl and Zelmanovitz, and was graciously sponsored by Health Plus, and Med Review and coordinated by the Friedlander group.

Many participants expressed positive sentiments on the very high level of discussion and the broad range of issues the various speakers broached. A venerable Who’s Who of influential legislative leaders made the effort on an early Monday morning to affirm the prominent role and political position the Orthodox Jewish community and Agudath Israel holds in the halls of government. One respected community leader seemed to sum up the feelings of those in attendance. “It is important to interact and dialogue with our government officials. That they clearly recognize and admire the importance of our community and Agudath Israel’s wide reach is even more impressive.”


Ezra Friedlander CEO of the Friedlander Group, Chaskel Bennett Board of Trustees of Agudath Israel of America, Jarrod Bernstein White House Jewish Liaison, Rabbi David Zwiebel, ESQ. Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America, Joseph B. Stamm President and CEO of Med Review, Event Sponsor, Jospeh Zelmanovitz Breakfast Chairman and Partner at Stahl & Zelmanovitz, Congressman Bob Turner, Abe Eisner, Mr. Leon Goldenberg, and Shlomo Werdiger who are members of the Agudath Israel of America leadership.

-U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer addressing the Agudath Israel of America Legislative Breakfast. Left to Right: Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President for Community Services, Rabbi David Zwiebel, ESQ. Executive Vice President, Mr. Gedaliah Weinberger Chairman of the Board, Jospeh Zelmanovitz Breakfast Chairman and Partner at Stahl & Zelmanovitz, Joseph B. Stamm President and CEO of Med Review, Event Sponsor, Jonathan Zalisky, Senior Community Relations Coordinator of Health Plus, Event Sponsor, Chaskel Bennett Board of Trustees of Agudath Israel of America.




Congressman Bob Turner addressing the Agudath Israel of America Legislative Breakfast

Specter Endorses Sestak

Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak debated at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit before the Democratic primary.
Endorsement key to Jews and moderates in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey will be joining New York Senator Chuck Schumer in support of Rep. Joe Sestak who is running for Senate against Rep. Pat Toomey. The Senators will appear with Sestak at a reception in downtown Philadelphia Monday, October 11, 2010. Contact the Sestak campaign for more information.

Jewish Senators Schumer and Specter will tout Sestak’s strong support of Israel including a perfect voting record according to AIPAC during his two terms in Congress, and helping improve Israel’s defense systems during his career in the United States Navy. They will address the attack ads aired by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Sestak created and led the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit, yet these ads attempt to paint Sestak as supportive of Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The RJC criticizes Sestak for appearing before the Council on American Islamic Relations even though he called on members of CAIR to “condemn not just terrorism but also the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

After joining the Democratic party to avoid a tough Republican primary against Pat Toomey, Senator Arlen Specter was defeated in a contentious primary against Joe Sestak. Now, in his first major appearance with Sestak since the primary, Specter will put old rivalries aside and speak out to endorse Joe Sestak to fill his seat in the United States Senate.