Bronfman: Obama’s Support for Israel “Bone Deep”

— by Rachel Shabad

Former President of the World Jewish Congress Edgar M. Bronfman wrote an op-ed in Haaretz saying that President Barack Obama has led an incredible effort to strengthen the U.S.- Israel relationship. According to Bronfman, Obama’s support has made the Jewish State of Israel safer and more secure than in the past.

Bronfman wrote:

President Obama has led a resurgence of joint military cooperation between Israel and the United States. In fact, following President Obama’s directive, the United States Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces have increased their strategic collaboration on defense technology, deployment, tactics, and intelligence to levels never before experienced.

Whether it is joint military exercises to stave off threats from terrorist and rogue regimes, or advancement and deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, President Obama has led a breakthrough in a mutually beneficial partnership with Israel.

Nevertheless, despite the clear facts and substantial evidence, political partisans and opponents of the president continue a coordinated campaign to sow seeds of doubt about President Obama’s support for Israel. The effort is not new. It began in 2008 when people stressed his middle name and used it as a weapon. From there, they began to call then-Senator Obama a Muslim. With the Muslim myth debunked, these same critics moved on and began questioning the president’s place of birth.

Now, they are claiming that President Obama cannot be trusted to keep Israel safe. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these political partisans believe the American people-and particularly the Jewish community-are uninformed and that we cannot tell the difference between rhetoric and reality.

The reality is that when confronted with rhetorical attacks and efforts to sow doubts about his support for Israel, President Obama could have simply adopted the swagger and bravado of his predecessor. It would have been easy for President Obama to go on a speaking tour pandering to the Jewish community and those in America who love Israel. But that is not his style. President Obama is a thoughtful, decisive and pragmatic leader. He values substantive solutions over political gamesmanship. Forgoing the bluster and bravado of others, President Obama continues his practical and deliberate support for the State of Israel.

I have had the great privilege to work with successive U.S. Presidents over the past half-century on countless issues. On matters relating to Israel, one comment now stands out in my mind more than any other. While sitting in the Oval Office not long ago, President Obama looked me in the eye and said, ‘My commitment to Israel’s security is bone-deep.’ It is reflected in his actions; it comes from a passion to secure the Jewish State, and it traces through his roots.

President Obama is a man who has taken those words and honored them with action. As a result, the State of Israel is more secure and I will be proud to vote for him this November.

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.

Obama Sits Down With Rabbis

— by Rachel Shabad

Recently, White House Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement Jarrod Bernstein sat down with President Barack Obama and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to meet with Jewish leaders from the Conservative and Orthodox communities. The group discussed a wide range of topics as part of “a continuing dialogue with various strands of the American Jewish community.”

Bernstein wrote:

At the meeting with Conservative Jewish leaders, the President was given the traditional blessing for heads of state by Rabbinical Assembly Executive Vice President Julie Schonfeld. The role of faith leaders in communities across the country was discussed and celebrated, with the President speaking to the important role these clergy play in our everyday lives. From the social safety net to advocacy on issues around the globe, leaders of religious movements have helped to make this a ‘more perfect union.’

The meeting with Orthodox leadership covered many topics, as well, including how the government and faith leaders can work together to ensure that all students get access to the services they are entitled to by law. The group discussed the President’s unshakeable support for Israel and our commitments to peace and security for Israel and the entire Middle East. The group finished its meeting with a brief visit to the Oval Office, where they presented the President with a copy of George Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Rhode Island written in 1790.

List of attendees follows the jump.
Attendees at meeting of Orthodox Rabbis:

  • Dr. Simcha Katz, President – Orthodox Union
  • Rabbi Steven Burg, Managing Director – Orthodox Union
  • Mr. Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy – Orthodox Union
  • Mr. Yehuda Neuberger, Public Policy Chairman – Orthodox Union
  • Mr. Allen Fagin, Senior Vice President – Orthodox Union
  • Mrs. Shira Yoshor, Orthodox Union Community Network Leader, Houston, TX; Trustee, Yeshiva University
  • Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, President – Rabbinical Council of America
  • Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Congregation Kehillath Jeshurun, New York
  • Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Boca Raton Synagogue, Florida
  • Rabbi Benjamin Blau, Green Road Synagogue, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Rabbi Avraham Shmidman, Lower Merion Synagogue, Pennsylvania
  • Rabbi Shalom Baum, Congregation Keter Torah, Teaneck, New Jersey
  • Mrs. Ellen Lightman, Board Member – Orthodox Union

Attendees at meeting of Conservative Rabbis:

  • Rabbi Bruce Dollin
  • Rabbi Ed Farber
  • Rabbi Jeffrey A Wohlberg            
  • Rabbi Amy Greenbaum
  • Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin
  • Rabbi Daniel Greyber
  • Rabbi Danielle Upbin
  • Rabbi David M Ackerman
  • Rabbi Harold Berman
  • Abby Joseph Cohen:
  • Dr. Arnold Martin Eisen
  • Mr. Marc Gary
  • Rabbi Luis Felipe Goodman
  • Rabbi Joseph Howard Krakoff
  • Rabbi Andrea L. Merow
  • Rabbi Jack L. Moline
  • Rabbi Danny S. Nevins
  • Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
  • Rabbi Steven Curtis Wernick
  • Richard Skolnik
  • Rabbi Eric S Yanoff

Peres and Panetta Meet at Pentagon

— by Rachel Shabad

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta met at the Pentagon yesterday to discuss U.S.-Israel joint security cooperation as well as efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Panetta said:

The United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is rock-solid and enduring. As always, we look forward to hearing your views on the many challenges we are facing together. Our goal remains the same — for both of our nations – peace, prosperity, and a dream of leaving our children a better world.

More after the jump.
Panetta also said to Peres — who will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on Wednesday:

We greatly admire your commitment to these values and we greatly admire your commitment to our relationship. I am pleased to note that the cooperation between the two militaries is stronger than ever.


Click here to learn more about the meeting.