How Not To Advocate for Israel

Obama%20Fox%20530[1]Last week we saw four examples of how not to advocate for Israel:

1. Don’t back lawsuits you can’t win.

The Supreme Court struck down a law that forced the President, through the Secretary of State, to identify, upon request, citizens born in Jerusalem as being born in Israel even though the United States has never acknowledged Israel nor any other country as having sovereignty over Jerusalem.

President Bush did not enforce this law, and neither has President Obama. No one should have been surprised that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Executive Branch. But as a result of this short-sighted lawsuit, which never should have been brought, the Palestinians are claiming victory and pro-Israel groups are upset.
[Read more…]

US Delegation Mourns Passing of Ariel Sharon

— by Elanna Cahn

President Obama designated the following presidential delegation to Israel, to attend the state funeral of the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon:

  • Vice-President Joe Biden, leader of the delegation;
  • the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro;
  • Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee;
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the Democratic National Committee chairperson; and
  • the former ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer.

Statements by Biden and Engel follow the jump.
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden:

When a close-knit country like Israel, a country that has been tested as much as Israel, loses a man like Prime Minister Sharon, it doesn’t just feel like the loss of a leader, it feels like a death in the family.  And many of my fellow Americans, some of whom are here, feel that same sense of loss.

I say to Prime Minister Sharon’s beloved and devoted sons, Omri and Gilad, and the entire family, particularly the sons who spent so much time caring for their father in the last few years, it’s a great honor you’ve afforded me on behalf of my country to bring the sympathies of the President of the United States and the American people on this occasion.

To you, to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the government of Israel, to President Peres, and to the grieving men and women of the nation of Israel, but most particularly to his beloved IDF, his fellow warriors, I fear an attempt to capture him and what he stood for is beyond my capabilities. I knew him for over 30 years.  He was not only a powerful man, he was a powerfully built man.  And as a young senator, when you first met him you could not help but understand, as they say in the military, this man had a command presence.  He filled the room.

The first time I was invited to his office, he said to me — and I remember thinking, is he serious? — he said, Senator, you are mostly welcome.  I didn’t know if it was a matter of something being lost in translation or whether he was pulling my leg, as we say in the States, until I spent a few moments with him and realized how incredible his hospitality was.  But when the topic of Israel’s security arose, which it always, always, always did in my many meetings over the years with him, you immediately understood how he acquired, as the speakers referenced, the nickname “Bulldozer.”  He was indomitable.

Like all historic leaders, Prime Minister Sharon was a complex man about whom, as you’ve already heard from his colleagues, who engendered strong opinions from everyone.  But like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a North Star that guided him — a North Star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated.  His North Star was the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, wherever they resided.

In talking about his spiritual attachment to the land of Israel back in an interview in the late ’90s, he said, and I quote, “Before and above all else, I am a Jew.  My thinking is dominated by the Jews’ future in 30 years, in 300 years, in a thousand years.  That’s what preoccupies and interests me first and foremost.”  And because he possessed such incredible physical courage — and I would add political courage — he never, never, never deviated from that preoccupation and interest, as he referred to it.  It was his life’s work that even someone on the shores hundreds of — thousands of miles from here could see, could smell, could taste, could feel, and when you were in his presence there was never, never any doubt about it.

The physical courage he had to lead men straight into enemy lines and deep behind them.  I remember, as a young senator, that iconic picture of him with that bandage around his head, standing there after a decisive victory, which seemed to symbolize, as Bibi — as the Prime Minister said, an Israel that had reclaimed its roots of standing up and fighting, needing no help, standing on its own.  The political courage it took, whether you agreed with him or not, when he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza in order, from his perspective, to strengthen Israel.  I can’t think of much more controversial; as a student of the Jewish state, I can’t think of a much more difficult and controversial decision that’s been made.  But he believed it and he did it.

The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission, an unbreakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now.  We have an expression in the States:  never in doubt.  Arik was never uncertain from my observation.  I don’t know him nearly as well as the Israeli people and his colleagues, but he seemed never in doubt.  But there were times when he acted, and those actions earned him controversy and even condemnation.  And in certain instances, American leaders — American Presidents — had profound differences with him, and they were never shy about stating them nor was he ever shy about stating his position.  As I said, from my observation he was a complex man, but to understand him better I think it’s important history will judge he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood.

Since he passed away, in the days ahead, there will be much written about the Prime Minister.  And it’s right for the Israeli people to reflect on all aspects of his life — the triumphs as well as the mistakes, taking full measure of the man, the arc of his life.  For I would argue the arc of his life traced the journey of the State of Israel.

And through it all, the United States whether we agreed or disagreed with a specific policy has been unflagging in its commitment to the State of Israel.  We have never stepped away.  We have never diminished our support.  We have never failed to make Israel’s case around the world.  We have never failed to defend Israel’s legitimacy.

And no one in any corner of this world has any doubt about where America stands with regard to Israeli security, the independent State of Israel that is the ultimate refuge for Jews wherever they are in the world.  And that will never change.

As President Obama said when he was here in Jerusalem last year, and I quote, “Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above because Israel is not going anywhere.  So long as there is a United States of America, you are not alone.”

For his part, Arik Sharon greatly valued that close friendship between the United States and Israel, and particularly during his years as prime minister, he worked hard to deepen our relationship.

I find it fascinating, maybe it’s I’m getting older — I find it fascinating how some look at Israel today and say its success was inevitable.  Why didn’t everyone understand this was just inevitable?  But at the outset it was anything but inevitable.  It was the opposite of inevitable.  Israel’s very survival was against all odds.  But thankfully Israel was blessed with a founding generation that understood exactly what it took to overcome those odds.  So many of that generation, because of the people of the United States, I have the great honor of personally meeting and getting to know.  I did not know David Ben Gurion, but I knew all but one — every Prime Minister since that time.

President Peres, you and Prime Minister Sharon are part of one of the most remarkable founding generations in the history not of this nation, but of any nation.  Historians will look back and say, but for — but for — the rare and unique men and women at that moment, but for that it’s hard to see how we’d be standing here on this day — leaders like David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, the list goes on, and you, Mr. President, you all had one thing in common from an outside observer’s perspective, despite your political differences, it was that you knew in your bones, as one Israeli Prime Minister told me over 35 years ago when I was opining of the difficulty Israel faced surrounded by hostile neighbors at the time, looked at me and said, Senator, don’t worry.  We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle in the region.  We have nowhere else to go.

That realization, it seems to me, is what energized your entire generation of leadership.  I believe that’s one of the reasons by Arik Sharon and so many others fought so hard their whole lives.

Prime Minister Sharon was not only loved by the Jewish people, he not only loved them — the Jewish people — but he loved the land of Israel.  Not just the idea of it, but the actual land itself.  Born on a farm, about to be buried on a farm, a ranch, I remember one of the meetings I had with him.  It was a somewhat heated, and he had his maps.  And he spread them out in his office again.  And I somewhat irreverently said, Mr. Prime Minister — I said, do you want me to do it, or are you going to do it?  Because I had heard his presentation many times.  And in the midst of it, he looked at me, and he said, let me tell you about the new calf that I just got on my ranch.  And he started talking about a calf.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Book of Genesis says, “Arise and walk the length and breadth of the land.”  Arik Sharon did just that.  He tilled it as a farmer.  He fought for it as a soldier.  He knew every hilltop and valley — every inch of the land.  As I said, he loved his maps.  He used to come to the meetings with maps of the land rolled up under each arm.  They were always maps.

I’m reminded — my mother’s blessed memory, I’m reminded of — if you’ll forgive me — an Irish poet, an Irish writer.  I’m sure Prime Minister Blair will forgive me.  That Irish writer was James Joyce.  And he said, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.”  I am absolutely sure the land of Israel, the Negev is etched in Arik Sharon’s soul as it was written on Joyce’s heart.

And the defining attributes of this great man’s character — passion for the Jewish people, physical and political courage, and love of this land — they have all played out on the canvas of the State of Israel’s historic trajectory.

Arik Sharon’s journey and the journey of the State of Israel are inseparable.  They are woven together, in war, in politics, in diplomacy.

Toward the end of his life, he said, I’ve been everywhere.  I’ve met kings, queens, presidents.  “I’ve been around the world. I have one thing that I would like to do:  to try to reach peace.”  

We’ll never know what the ultimate arc of Arik Sharon’s life would have been had he been physically able to pursue his stated goal.  That will be for historians to speculate and debate.  But we do know this:  As prime minister, he surprised many.  I’ve been told that, in reflecting on the difference between how he viewed things as a general and as prime minister, he would paraphrase an Israeli song lyric that said, things you see from here, look different from over there.  What would have — what would they have looked like had he lived in good health and led those eight years?

He left us too soon, but the work of trying to reach peace continues.  And to quote Shakespeare:  He was a man, take him all in all, we shall not look upon his like again.

May the bond between Israel and the United States never, ever be broken.


Remarks by Rep. Eliot L. Engel:

The world has lost one of the strongest defenders of Israel-a man who fought in nearly every one of Israel’s wars and devoted his public life to ensuring that the Jewish state be able to defend itself against those committed to its destruction.

I was fortunate enough to receive his counsel on a number of occasions regarding our shared goals of strengthening the bonds between the United States and Israel. He was as committed to the U.S.-Israel relationship as he was to promoting Israel’s own security.  His passing marks the end of a unique and important chapter in Israel’s history.

Josh Shapiro’s Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia open. Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it is considering closing the consulate.

In a letter dated November 26, 2013, Shapiro wrote that the consulate “is critical to the continuance of the longstanding relationship between the people of Israel and our region.” Shapiro went on to say that the consulate “is of vital importance to our respective nations’ common interests and its continued operation will serve to enhance the mutually beneficial economic and business connection between Israel and our region in Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

In the letter, Shapiro references Netanyahu’s upbringing in Montgomery County during which the future Prime Minister graduated from Cheltenham High School. “The Greater Philadelphia region is an economic hub for Israel, processing 25 percent of Israel’s nearly $20 billion in exports to the United States each year,” Shapiro wrote, adding that the presence of the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia is integral in that process.

Shapiro is active is many Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the area. He has traveled to Israel six times, and has met Netanyahu twice.

Hillary Clinton Receives National Constitution Center Liberty Medal

— article and photos by Bonnie Squires

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia held another one of its world-class events last week, as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received the Liberty Medal before an audience of 1,300 people.

The medal honors men and women of courage and conviction, who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. Secretary Clinton was recognized for her advocacy of women’s rights and human rights around the globe.

More after the jump.


(Left to right) Bill Sasso, Esq., Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Jeffrey Rosen, CEO of the National Constitution Center, each praised Hillary for her life-long activities for the common good.

ABC News Anchor and Correspondent Elizabeth Vargas served as the mistress of ceremonies, and presenters included:

  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees;
  • Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania and National Constitution Center Trustee;
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter;
  • No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon;
  • Journalist and Human Rights Advocate Roxana Saberi; and
  • National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen, who presented the medal to Secretary Clinton.

Appearing in video tributes during the ceremony were:

  • Former British Prime Minister and previous Liberty Medal recipient Tony Blair;
  • Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan;
  • tennis legend Billie Jean King;
  • actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen;
  • News Political Commentator Cokie Roberts, and
  • other friends, sponsors and dignitaries.

Governor Bush and Secretary Clinton were both gracious in their remarks about each other, even though it is possible that in 2016 each of them will represent their respective political parties in the presidential election.


Dr. Amy Gutmann, Penn president, who chaired the Liberty Medal selection committee, gave a rousing speech about Hillary Cllinton’s accomplishments in gaining equality for women and minorities around the world. Gutmann also got excited when she predicted that Clinton would become the first woman president of the U.S.


(Left to right) Marciarose Shestack, Bob Rovner, Esq., Commissioner Josh Shapiro and his wife Lori Shapiro, and Bill Sasso, Esq., host of the reception.


(Left to right) Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, Tom Knox and Anne Ewers, CEO of the Kimmel Center, joined hundreds of guests at the President’s Reception.


(Left to right) Sandy and Steve Sheller, Esq., were delighted to talk with former Governr Ed Rendell.


(Left to right Patrons Barbara and Len Sylk are joined by Diane Semingson.


Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler speaks to her friend Dr. Afaf Meleis, dean of the Penn School of of Nursing.

Israel Celebrates July 4th

In Israel, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro hosted 2,000 guests at his residence to celebrate the Fourth of July. The State Department posted video of the party and concert here. Israel’s political leaders attended, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “July 4 is more than an American holiday — it is cherished by all those who cherish freedom around the world” while also describing Israel as an island of democracy in a sea of instability. President Peres delivered remarks and said that the United States is a “beacon of hope for the values of freedom, peace and justice around the globe.”

A congratulatory statement by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren follows the jump.

We are proud to join with the United   States of America in celebrating its 237th birthday. The democracy and freedom upon which this great nation was founded are the same values that help form the foundation of the unbreakable U.S.-Israel bond. This alliance found its most outstanding expression earlier this year during President Obama’s visit to Israel, where he was greeted by crowds exuberantly waving the flags of both of our countries. Since the State of Israel’s establishment 65 years ago, the U.S.-Israel alliance has become more robust and multi-faceted. We look forward to continuing to strengthen this friendship.

From the people of Israel to our friends across America, Happy Independence Day!

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on the US-Israel Relationship

“Too Important to be Anything Less Than a Top Priority”

— by David Streeter

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro addressed The Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference and proudly affirmed the Obama Administration’s support for Israel. Shapiro said:

First of all, the cornerstones of the special relationship between Israel and the United States are our common strategic interests, our shared values of two democracies, and our broad and deep people-to-people ties. And, as recently demonstrated in our national elections – this partnership is historic, bi-partisan, and multifaceted. It is based not on any one political party or Administration, but on the commitment of the American people to support a flourishing, secure, Jewish, democratic State of Israel here in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

Throughout our U.S. presidential campaign, we saw evidence of this widespread support as both candidates articulated in their platforms their positions in strong support of Israel, our closest ally in the region. As President Obama prepared to begin his second term, he has recommitted himself to continuing the policies of an unshakeable support Israel’s security and a deep commitment to its future as a Jewish, democratic state.

More after the jump.
The recent escalation in Gaza showed the world what Israelis have known and lived with for years: the terrible reality of rockets fired by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, deliberately targeting innocent civilians. As Israel acted to bring an end to the rocket fire, the strong U.S. response also made clear our commitment to ensure Israel’s right of self-defense.

Reflecting on those eight days, I am tremendously proud, as an American, and as U.S. Ambassador, of the U.S. efforts made to support Israel when it was under attack and to de-escalate the crisis in a way that has brought a measure of quiet in the south.

First, from the beginning, the U.S. response could not have been clearer. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and our Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, made strong and direct public statements on our unequivocal support for Israel’s right of self-defense – statements that were critical in shaping international perceptions of the conflict, in securing the support of other countries, and in keeping the focus where it needed to be: on stopping the rocket fire from Gaza.

Second, despite President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton being in the midst of a historic trip to Asia, they never took their eyes of the Middle East and engaged in close coordination with Israel on international diplomatic efforts and the details of proposals for a ceasefire. President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu several times to receive updates and offer advice and counsel and support. Secretary of State Clinton took every spare moment to call her counterparts around the world to urge them to support Israel’s right to defend itself and pressure Hamas to stop firing rockets.

Third, America and Israel both conducted direct engagement with Egypt throughout the Gaza crisis, including multiple conversations between President Obama and President Morsi and Israeli delegations traveling to Cairo, to ensure that Egypt could play its unique stabilizing role in influencing Hamas to settle on an agreement. The ceasefire is not a perfect or a permanent solution. Now, Egypt and Israel must continue, and are already continuing, to work together to preserve Israel’s security, crack down on weapons smuggling, and advance the legitimate needs of the people of Gaza. President Morsi’s government has consistently reiterated its adherence to the Peace Treaty with Israel, and we remain encouraged by that commitment….

As someone close to the events that took place, in fact, the best seat in the house, I want to tell you that the close U.S.-Israeli coordination to de-escalate was impressive, and demonstrated that our partnership is not only evidence of a strong and deep bond between our countries- but also a productive and constructive one, which furthers national interests on both sides.

In addition to our diplomatic support during the Gaza crisis, U.S. security assistance was also evident. ‘Iron Dome’ has become a household phrase no longer just among defense experts, but in Israel and the United States, and around the world. The story of American support for the Iron Dome system goes back a few years.

Back in 2008, I was privileged to accompany President Obama, at the time a Senator and presidential candidate, on a visit to Sderot. He met with families whose homes had been destroyed, as well as children who had been injured by rocket and mortar attacks. He saw – in person – how the ongoing threat deeply affected people. He understood that the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security included an obligation to help Israel protect itself from this threat. That is why, as President, he ensured U.S. funding above and beyond our regular military assistance for Iron Dome. Last month, we saw just how important that support was. Israelis are rightfully proud of this magnificent, Israeli-developed technology. And Americans are proud that the $275 million in American funding to accelerate the development and deployment of this missile defense system. With over four hundred intercepts during the recent conflict, in both the south and in the Gush Dan region, Iron Dome helped save lives and prevented untold injuries and damage to homes, to schools, to communities. If there is a more meaningful example of America’s commitment to Israel’s security, I don’t know what it is.

As I mentioned, funding for Iron Dome is actually in addition to an even larger amount-the $3.1 billion dollars in annual military assistance from the United States, which upholds Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge – that is, Israel’s ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from an individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties.

Preserving Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge is a much broader and multi-faceted endeavor. It involves building operational capabilities through exercises, training, and personnel exchanges. It involves ensuring Israeli access to the most advanced U.S. military systems, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. It involves supporting further missile defense systems to counter long-range ballistic threats. It involves close bilateral ties, maintained through constant consultations at the highest levels of our militaries and intelligence services. This close coordination is ongoing and growing-just last month, we conducted the joint ballistic missile defense exercise, Austere Challenge. With over 1,400 U.S. troops on Israeli soil, and thousands of participants overall, this was the largest joint exercise in the history of the longstanding military relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Austere Challenge allowed us to make great strides in improving our tactics jointly, but more importantly, it reinforced our already strong military-to-military relationships, from our most senior commanders to our junior enlisted troops. All of this assistance reflects the United States’ commitment to preserve Israel’s right and ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat it may face.

As part of our commitment to Israel’s future as a secure, Jewish, democratic state, we firmly believe that Israel’s security depends on a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian conflict….

There is no substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to achieve this vision. It cannot be resolved by unilateral measures by either side, which serve only to undermine trust and confidence, and which will not lead to a lasting peace….

I would like to take just a few more moments to discuss another area where the U.S. and Israel are strong partners-which is our shared commitment to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. President Obama has stated unequivocally that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and that the U.S. will use all elements in its power to achieve this objective.

Over many months, through extraordinarily close, high-level coordination, the United States and Israel have developed a common understanding of the threat a nuclear-armed Iran would pose, a common intelligence basis on which to judge the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and a common strategy – together with many other nations – to use unprecedented sanctions and economic pressure to induce Iran to change course. We have a shared preference to try to resolve this issue diplomatically, but also a shared principle that no options are off the table.

A nuclear-armed Iran is not just an existential threat to Israel. It would pose a grave threat to the security of the United States, our allies, and the world. It would heighten the possibility that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations. It would spark a nuclear arms race in this volatile region. It could collapse the global nuclear non-proliferation system. And a nuclear umbrella would embolden Iran in its support for terror by Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups, and threaten freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

As Secretary Clinton recently said, Iranian-made missiles and rockets launched from Gaza at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem only drove home what we already know: America, Israel, and the entire international community must prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is a regime that already exports terrorism to Israel’s doorstep, brutalizes its own people, threatens chokepoints in the global economy and risks opening the floodgates on nuclear proliferation around the world. So when it comes to Iran’s nuclear threat, the United   States does not have a policy of containment. We have a policy of prevention, built on the dual tracks of pressure and engagement, while keeping all options, including the military option, on the table.

We have mobilized the international community around this issue, and together, we have put in place the strongest sanctions that the Iranian government has ever faced, to include sanctions on Iran’s banking, shipping, and petroleum sectors. As Secretary Clinton has said, we worked to convince all 27 nations of the European Union to stop importing Iranian oil and all 20 major global importers of Iranian oil – including Japan, India, South Korea and China- to make significant reductions. Iran today exports at least one million fewer barrels of crude each day than it did just last year. And Iran’s currency is worth less than half of what it was last November. The pressure is real, and it is growing.

We remain committed to working with the P5+1 on a dual track approach to persuade Iran to come into compliance with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. Our message to Iran is clear: the window remains open to resolve diplomatically the international community’s concerns about your nuclear program, and to relive your isolation, but that window cannot remain open indefinitely. It is up to Iran to follow through and to demonstrate it is serious. Until Iran complies with all its international nuclear obligations, we will further increase the pressure. We will not let up until we achieve our goal.

In closing, I want to emphasize that the Obama Administration’s commitment to Israel is more than just a continuation of existing policies- it has cultivated new ways to ensure Israel’s security, and to advance our overall bilateral relationship through cultural, economic, and commercial ties. The partnership between the U.S. and Israel is mutually beneficial, and has thrived for many years, and many administrations, and will continue to thrive over many more. Indeed, the U.S. – Israel relationship is too important to be anything less than a top priority. At every level of our government, these words are supported by concrete actions, and our relationship will always receive the time, attention, and focus that it deserves. Allies look out for each other’s interests. That has defined, and will continue to define, the United   States’ approach to this relationship.

Obama’s Support of Israel Gets My Support

— by Richard Rosenblatt

As an old, loyal, American Jew who cares about Israel I want to explain why I am committed to Obama for a second term as president.  I am a WWII veteran and former USAF pilot.  In the early 1930s I traveled to Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv to visit an uncle, an aunt, and my grandparents. I returned on many occasions.

I have watched U.S. administrations come and go in the years since the British Mandate. Never has any American president done more for Israel than has President Obama. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, The Jerusalem Post, and Ambassador Shapiro have all spoken out publicly confirming Obama’s extraordinary support and unconditional commitment to Israel.

The following are some of the areas in which Obama has exceeded all other U.S. presidents in his actions to support the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel:

  • Obama provided Israel with the largest amount of military aid in U.S. history.
  • Obama has restored Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge with advanced weaponry.
  • Obama’s diplomatic support for Israel in the UN and around the world is unparalleled and unprecedented.
  • Obama recently personally and forcefully intervened to rescue Israel’s diplomats in Cairo.
  • President Obama said in front of the United Nations,

    “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… Those are facts. They cannot be denied.”

Amb. Shapiro: US Prepared To Use Force Against Iran

Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told the Times of Israel that the U.S. has made “necessary preparations” for the use of force against Iran, saying, “We made it very clear that we’re going to do everything we need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That includes having a military option on the table.” Regarding Netanyahu and President Obama’s respective speeches at the U.N., Shapiro said the “overlap” between the two speeches demonstrates that the U.S. and Israel are “absolutely committed to the same goal” of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.    

A Study Break Like No Other

By Hannah Lee

In 1923, Rabbi Meir Shapiro proposed to the First World Congress of the World Agudath Israel in Vienna that Jews around the world bond over a daily study of the books of the Talmud, the code of rabbinic law. The six orders of the Talmud (or Gemarah), known as sedarim, are divided into 60 or 63 tractates, masekhtot. Clocking in over 6,200 pages long, it’s written in Aramaic and quotes from the Hebrew Bible.  Today, August 1, is a grand celebration of the completion of the 12th cycle of study, the Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi.  It’s being held at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and approximately 90,000 men, women, and children are expected to attend.

The six local teachers who’ve faithfully lead the daily study sessions year-round are: Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld of Bala Cynwyd; Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman of Philadelphia; Rabbi Yonah Gross of Wynnewood; Rabbi Sruli Schwartz of Merion Station; Rabbi Avraham Shmidman of Bala Cynwyd; and Rabbi Mordechai Terbelo of Philadelphia.  Yishar kochachem to these dedicated individuals and to their students for the commitment to sustaining Jewish scholarship!

Note: This list excludes some other local Daf Yomi teachers, such as Rabbi Jonathan Levene of Bala Cynwyd, but this was a siyum organized by the Agudath Israel of America, and I consulted their memorial book,which is a hefty volume 1/2-inch thick.

Joe “You Lie!” Wilson Imitator At Congregation Keneseth Israel

Area Jewish Dems Praise Obama’s Support  Of Israel & Jewish Values


Photo: Richard Chaitt / Jewish Exponent.

Last night the Jewish community came out in force to Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park for a serious discussion of politics sponsored by Jewish Americans for Obama.

As expected Pennsylvania State Representative (17th district) and former standup comic Daylin Leach had everyone’s attention with his unique blend of political analysis and satire. However, Daylin’s comedy was overshadowed by the spectacle afforded by a small group of tea party enthusiasts who were in attendance. These right-wing extremists stood up and interrupted speaker after speaker.

Representative Joe Wilson only interrupted President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address with “You lie” only once, but these protesters were comfortable shouting “It is a lie” over a dozen times during the night.

Their random outbursts seemed like a crude caricature of a rabid Tea Party member. The continual refrain of “It is a lie” punctuated the most anodyne statement of fact.

Here is one example: Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro praised Obama’s record of vetoing every anti-Israel United Nations Security Council Resolution since he took office. And the protester was rose and cried out,

“It is a lie.”

Really?!

Tell us what UNSC resolution escaped the attention of this administration? Perhaps he was thinking about UNSC #1405 which required Israel to submit to UN inspections of the Jenin refugee camp as a result of libelous accusation against Israel during Operation Defensive Shield. Actually, this happened under President George W. Bush’s watch in April 2002. That was the last time the US failed to wield its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel.

Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rod McCord quoted Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai who proudly took credit for our state’s new Voter ID law saying

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done.
First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done.
Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

To which our friendly protester provided comic relief by bellowing out “It is a lie” at the top of his lungs.


At the Keneseth Israel event, Rabbi Lance Sussman(second from right) addresses the crowd. Also at the podium are (from left) State Sen. Daylin Leach, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and county Democratic head Marcel Groen.
Photo: Richard Chaitt / Jewish Exponent

Spiritual leader Rabbi Lance J. Sussman welcomed the standing-room-only crowd of 1,200 members of community packing the sanctuary. He welcomed the community’s commitment to the political process and indicated that Keneseth Israel desired to hold a similar event on behalf of Governor Romney.

Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Marcel Groen served as master of ceremonies, he and all the members of the political panel started their remarks with their Jewish bona fides, detailing their history of commitment to Israel and the Jewish community (even if some of the panelists didn’t have very Jewish names).

Daylin Leach and Josh Shapiro echoed the sentiment that a candidates’ understanding of the unique relationship between Israel and United States was condition sine qua non to get their support. Neither had any doubt that Obama’s feels a love for the State of Israel “in his kishkes.”

Daylin Leach said he was just 20 feet away from Barack Obama at this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference when the President declared that “I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Rep. Leach also praised Obama for fighting anti-Semitism here and around the world.

Rep. Leach spoke about the importance of the separation of church and state. He warned that it was not so long ago that we had mandatory school prayer, and that if school prayer were to return, it would probably not be the shema. He emphasize the closely divided nature of Supreme Court on this issue. The next President will likely nominate one or more justices who will shape our understanding of law for decades to come. Romney used to hold Chief Justice John Roberts as an example of the type of judge he would nominate for the Supreme Court. Now that Roberts ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, Romney has now chosen Associate Justice Antonin Scalia as his model for a Supreme Court nominee. To understand who Obama is likely to nominate, we can look at the two judges he has nominated so far: Associate Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

United States Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) was on hand. Rep. Schwartz is the only woman and the only Jew in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation. Her Congressional District covers much of Eastern Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia. Thanks to the latest redistricting Congregation Keneseth Israel is now part of her district, and she welcomed her new constituents.


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz fields questions at K.I.
Photo: Richard Chaitt / Jewish Exponent.

The highlight of the evening was Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20). She addressed the many hoaxes being circulated attacking Obama’s stand on Israel. She recommended that everyone keep a copy of the campaign’s Myths vs. Facts document and their six-page fact sheet detailing the ironclad relation with Israel that the Obama campaign has nurtured.

The crowd also heard from Obama’s Pennsylvania Jewish Outreach Coordinator Alan Fuchs, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, as well as Obama for America Montgomery County Field Director Dan Siegal. The campaign opened their county headquarters at 115 Yorktown Plaza in Elkins Park, PA. The headquarters was conveniently located at the intersection of RT 611 and Church Rd just across the street from Keneseth Israel.