A Tale of Two Trips

— by Elizabeth Leibowitz

Perhaps the most interesting moment in Monday’s presidential debate was one of President Obama’s best lines of the night:

…when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.” He continued, saying, “I went down to the border towns of Sderot … I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of … what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

Now, let me begin by saying that I know Romney visited Yad Vashem in 2007 and traveled to Sderot in 2011. But when the details of the two men’s trips to Israel as presidential candidates are contrasted and evaluated for who was more “presidential,” only one individual fits the bill.

President Obama visited Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and – unlike Governor Mitt Romney – with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He traveled to Sderot, where he talked with families who faced the daily fear of Palestinian rocket fire. He visited Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath on a tomb that contains ashes from Nazi extermination camps. Obama’s trip to Israel greatly affected his actions once in office, prompting him to provide record aid to Israel, restore the country’s Qualitative Military Edge, fund the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more.

Governor Romney had quite a different trip as a candidate. He did meet with Peres, Netanyahu, and various other Israeli leaders — though he opted to cancel his meeting with the Labor Party’s Shelly Yachimovich. He chose to only meet with Fayyad, selecting to return to Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha B’Av to focus on his speech as well as his $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. Standing in front of his supporters, Romney spoke broadly about his stances on the Middle East, all the while dishing out subtle jabs at the President and breaking the “politics stop at the water’s edge” protocol. The next day, he managed to stretch U.S.-Palestinian relations even further when he chalked up the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies to “culture.” During Romney’s August 2012 trip as a candidate, there was no trip to Sderot, no visit to Yad Vashem, and no conversations with average Israelis about their hopes for the future. Instead, his trip to Israel served a political purpose.

There is only one candidate in the 2012 race whose trip to Israel was presidential and whose actions afterward were presidential-President Barack Obama.

Israelis Thank Obama for Unprecedented Missile Defense Support

— by David A. Harris

Since President Barack Obama entered office back in 2009, the NJDC has been reporting the facts about his extensive pro-Israel record. But even with all of the praise from Israeli leaders like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, what do average Israelis have to say about the President and his commitment to securing Israel — especially when it comes to missile defense programs like the Iron Dome?

Quotes follow the jump.
Sasson from Sderot — which faces daily rocket attacks from Hamas — said:

Sderot is important to him. The Jewish people are important to him. The State of Israel is important to him. .. Obama is sympathetic to our problems and he supports the protection of the citizens of Israel.

Chaim Yosef, another Sderot resident, said:

Before the Iron Dome I was afraid to fall asleep because every time the siren went off, I knew I had to run to safety. Now, with the Iron Dome existing, I am a lot less fearful.

 

Canadian First Nations To Stand With Israel Against IAW

 First Nations congregation shows their support of Israel— by Noam Bedein, Director, Sderot Media Center

On my recent visit to Canada, I was confronted by the growing strength and public acceptance of the Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) and came back to Israel with new friends who take a courageous stance for Israel — The First Nations communities.

More after the jump.
First Nations delegation in Israel, near the Knesset.Background

From January 25th to 31st I traveled to Winnipeg and Ottawa, invited and sponsored by Bnai Brit of Canada in Winnipeg, CAMERA, Hillel, and the Israeli Consulate in Ottawa. During this speaking tour I experienced the PR campaign leading up to the anti-Israeli festival “Israel Apartheid Week”, which will be held in 92 cities around the world from February 20th to March 11th, and in Canada from March 5th to 9th, 2012.

In Winnipeg I realized that the main challenge was getting more people from the Jewish communities to understand the real message behind “The Apartheid Slur” and take a stand against “The Apartheid Slur.”

As Director of Sderot Media Center for the Western Negev, I was in Canada to talk about Sderot and the Western Negev, and the connection between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic festivals that are popular on college campuses. These festivals’ main purpose is to demonize the State of Israel and at the same time de-legitimize Israel as a sovereign state.

Over the past several years, multimillion dollar media campaigns have promoted the Palestinian narrative in Gaza, the first Arab territory in the Middle East controlled by a regime designated as a terrorist organization, since June 2007. In addition to these well-funded media campaigns, a slough of “alternative news” websites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook accounts help spread the message that Israel is an apartheid state that abuses “Palestinians”. In spite of overwhelming evidence that this is not true, this lie has been told so often, and for so long, that few question its validity.

In addition to the anti-Israel media campaigns, unbalanced reporting by almost every major media outlet has legitimized ongoing missile attacks from Gaza. One rarely hears a report on the brutal reality. Since the “cease fire” of January 18th, 2009 that ended Operation Cast Lead, Gaza-based terrorist organizations have launched more than 1,070 aerial attacks. As in the past, the many different Islamic terror groups target the civilian population that has endured approximately 13,000 aerial attacks over the past eleven years, including during the current “cease fire” (Israel’s third unilateral cease fire).

Noam Bedein and Rev Raymond MacLean
Finding New Israel Supporters

On Wednesday, January 25, I gave a multimedia presentation in Winnipeg for the Bnai Brit Jewish/Aboriginal/Christian Round Table that included Jewish, Christian, and First Nation representatives and met many remarkable people at this meeting, including Rev. Raymond MacLean.

Rev. MacLean is a First Nation representative and Pastor to the largest urban First Nation community in North America. 10% of Winnipeg city’s population of 700,000 is Aboriginal/First Nations people.

Rev. MacLean founded an organization known as World Indigenous Nations for Israel. He has visited Israel 16 times since 2003 and is part of the Indigenous Tour to Israel being held from February 12th to 23rd, 2012.

The Indigenous Tour to Israel as promoted in Winnipeg: “Original peoples from both the northern and the southern ends of the earth” from Greenlandic Inuit, Canadian Inuit, First Nations from Canada, as well as indigenous people from Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia

“Wherever we stand, we stand for Israel”

There are fifteen First Nation communities from four Provinces (Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan) including representatives from the Objiway, Cree, Oji-Cree and Sioux tribes. More than 300 First Nation individuals have visited Israel in the past 9 years.

Speaking with Rev. MacLean, I learned that their communities will always take a stand for Israel, as they have in the past.

Rev. MacLean:

In 2006 our First Nation group took a stand for Israel in the streets of our city during the Israel-Lebanon war. We received criticism from all sides both people from the streets and from the media. I was interviewed
by the media of our city and I shared positive things why we should stand with Israel and no word of mine was posted in that interview the next day.

The beautiful connection the First Nation people have with the Jewish people’s rights to live in Israel, is summed up as “the inheritance of the land by the ancestors”

I asked Rev. MacLean to comment on how anti-Israel activists compare the Arab-Israeli conflict to “the Colonizer occupying land and kicking out the First Nations to live in poverty and in refugee camps”.

Rev. MacLean:

Our conflicts are not the same. They need to study history a little further. I know the history from the beginning. There were Arab nomads who lived in the Holy Land prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 who were hired by the new Jewish settlers. Also, neighboring Arabs from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt sought employment and were hired by the Jews who were settling in their new land after returning from exile after 2500 years to reclaim their inheritance left by the ancestors. These Arabs became known as Palestinians but were originally Arab nomads and neighbors of Israel who Israel endorsed and recognized as Israeli citizens.

Many challenges face the First Nations. They are struggling to maintain their identity, history, and culture while living within the mainstream society and, at the same time, dealing with poverty and related issues brought on by centuries of mistreatment and hostility.

Rev. MacLean:

Our young people no longer retain their original tongue, but all speak the main English language.

Right now the Jewish world, especially here in Israel, is having difficulty maintaining our identities and beliefs and protecting our basic historical and legal right just to live in Israel. At this time, it’s encouraging to know that there are people, even in remote places around the world, who understand our situation and stand with us.

Connecting with these communities can bring real social change and hope to many Indigenous people throughout the world, while at the same time uniting people behind Israel’s cause.

I returned from Canada with renewed hope for the future, knowing that we have friends out there who are motivated and educated and who are not necessarily Jewish or Christian. My experience with the First Nations communities reminded me of Psalm 126

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; Then they said among the nations: ‘Hashem has done great things with these.’ Hashem hath done great things with us; we are rejoiced.

Israel Behind The News
Funds Needed to Continue Proactive News Investigations

  • Dangers of Further US Aid to the PLO Army
  • Threat of Planned PLO Army Deployment in Hebron and Jerusalem
  • UNRWA and PA for War Curriculum, financed by US and the West
  • Conflicts of Interests of Israeli businesses invested in the Palestinian Authority

Saying Anything To Get Elected

— by Ira Forman

During the CNN Republican debate on Thursday, in Jacksonville, Florida, an audience member asked the candidates how a GOP administration would help bring peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Romney answered with a critique of the President’s support for Israel, saying that he “went before the United Nations and … [h]e said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained on Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

That’s just not true.

Take one look at how strongly President Obama condemned the rocket attacks on Israel in his address to the U.N. General Assembly in September. He said:

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.

The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

And he didn’t just say that in September. Here’s what he said to the U.N. General Assembly back in 2009:

We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It’s not paid by politicians. It’s paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It’s paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own.

President Obama has defended Israel’s interests over and over again, and Jewish leaders both here and there have noticed. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called the President’s support for Israel “a badge of honor.” Ehud Barak has said President Obama is “ready to undertake the fiercest of political risks to his survival in order to make good on what he believes in.”

But to Mitt Romney, it seems like the facts here are irrelevant. He’ll say anything to get elected, regardless of what’s true.