“Emergency Committee for Israel” Treats Truth Like a Punching Bag


A response to ads placed by the so-called “Emergency Committee for Israel” in major American newspapers today.

— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

Why does the “Emergency Committee for Israel” treat the truth like a punching bag? Why do they spread fictions and smears about President Barack Obama and his powerfully pro-Israel record? The answer is simple; because they are far-right Republican partisans. When members of their own party repeatedly suggest that foreign aid should ‘start at zero’ and then make no mention of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the U.S., they’re silent as can be. When 100 percent of House Republicans repeatedly side with business over strengthening Iran sanctions, they’re nowhere to be found. But they have plenty of cash on hand to spread myths about this President, and to shamefully turn support for Israel into a partisan football.

They have been called out by mass media for their lies and innuendo, and by non-partisan Jewish organizations trying to shame them towards a better path. But the sad truth is that they’re more committed to hurting this President than they are to helping the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that’s reprehensible.

More information on ECI’s false attacks follows the jump.

Watch live streaming video from sabanforum2011 at livestream.com

ECI: Wrong on Panetta.

Fact: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivered a staunchly pro-Israel address recently at the Saban Center. He:

  • Reaffirmed this Administration’s iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security, and detailed the many steps-such as Iron Dome-this Administration has taken;
  • Emphasized that all options remain on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran;
  • Discussed how “President Obama has stood steadfastly in the way” of efforts to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations; and
  • Expressed strong opposition to cutting foreign aid.

ECI: Wrong on the UN.

Fact: President Obama and his Administration have a perfect voting record at the United Nations, proactively defending Israel’s legitimacy at the UN. No other President since 1967 has a perfect voting record.

ECI: Wrong on Sarkozy and UNESCO.

Fact: The President used his time with Sarkozy to make the case to the world to place “unprecedented” pressure on Iran, and-behind the scenes-to argue to Sarkozy himself that he was wrong not to support the President and the Administration in firmly rejecting Palestinian efforts to gain membership in UNESCO. The President instructed the Administration to condemn UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestinian membership immediately, resulting in the withdrawal of one-fifth of UNESCO’s funding from the U.S.

ECI: Wrong on Clinton.

Fact: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an off-the-record and closed-door discussion with friends at the Saban Center, is reported to have voiced concern over Israeli legislation limiting foreign funding of Israel’s non-governmental organizations, and regarding women’s rights in Israel. In fact, leadership throughout the American Jewish community share precisely the same concern regarding pending legislation in Israel, and both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres have spoken this week about the importance of complete women’s equality in Israel.

ECI: Wrong on making Israel a partisan political football.

Fact: In truth, as NJDC Chair Marc Stanley argued in The Hill</a> last week, ECI is sadly nothing more than a GOP advocacy organization. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, two major American Jewish non-partisan organizations, recently offered a “unity pledge” to help prevent this issue from becoming partisan; ECI notably, angrily refused to sign. The Forward reported in September about the criticisms leveled at ECI from many non-partisan pro-Israel advocates after ECI’s last dangerous ad. The American Jewish Committee in particular called their previous ad “highly objectionable.” The Forward has independently editorialized that each ECI “claim is either an outright falsehood or one that irresponsibly distorts the truth.” ECI puts partisanship above the U.S.-Israel relationship, and today’s ad proves it yet again.

ECI: Wrong on President Obama.

Fact: This President has a stellar pro-Israel record; just ask Prime Minister Netanyahu. This President doesn’t start foreign aid at zero; he has lifted aid to Israel to unprecedented levels. He’s gotten the funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system that’s saving Israeli lives today. He has a perfect voting record at the UN, defending Israel’s legitimacy there and around the world. He personally intervened to save the lives of Israeli diplomats in Cairo. He has restored Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge which eroded during the previous Administration. He secretly got Israel the bunker-busting bombs it needed. He has ordered the largest-ever U.S.-Israel joint military operation (to occur in 2012). He has built a global coalition supporting withering sanctions against Iran.

The list goes on and on.  

Shalev: If Obama Treated Israel Like Reagan Did, He’d Be Impeached

— by David Streeter

Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev forcefully pushed back at Republicans attacking President Barack Obama’s strong record of support for Israel by shining a light on the many flaws found in the heavily blemished Israel record of President Ronald Reagan-a hero to nearly all modern Republicans. Shalev contrasted Obama’s unprecedentedly high levels of security assistance to Israel and his record of consistently supporting the Jewish state at the United Nations with Reagan’s lack of support for Israel in UN bodies and his decision to arm Saudi Arabia with “game-changing sophisticated weaponry.” Shalev also noted Reagan’s multiple open and serious conflicts with Israeli leaders along with his insensitivity towards the Holocaust.

Shalev summed up in his headline, “If Obama Treated Israel Like Reagan Did, He’d Be Impeached.”
Click here to learn why.  

Ask Osama About Appeasement

Obama: “I’m Considering All Options” on Iran

— by David Streeter

During his press briefing today, President Barack Obama reiterated that all options remain on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. George E. Condon, Jr. at National Journal reported on the press conference:

At his brief White House news conference about his Iranian policy, Obama was asked what he means when he says that no options are off the table. The president responded, ‘No options off the table means I’m considering all options.’…

‘But what I can say with respect to Iran, especially given the political noise out there, this administration has systemically imposed the toughest sanctions on … Iran ever,’ Obama said. He added, ‘When we came into office, the world was divided. Iran was unified and moving aggressively on its own agenda. Today, Iran is isolated and the world is unified in applying the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever experienced and it’s having an impact inside Iran.’

He said Iran now ‘understands that they have a choice. They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and forswearing the development of nuclear weapons, which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power like every other country that’s a member of the nonproliferation treaty. Or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world.’

Obama said he views Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as ‘contrary to the national-security interest of the United States and contrary to the national-security interests of our allies, including Israel, and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.’

More after the jump.
Obama also struck back at those who have wrongfully accused him of engaging in “appeasement.”

President Obama hit back hard on Thursday against Republicans who accused him of foreign-policy ‘appeasement,’ dismissing their criticisms as ‘political noise’ and signaling that he will not ignore attacks against his record during the upcoming presidential campaign. He also left no doubt that he will be quick to remind all critics that it was under his stewardship that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed.

‘Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement,’ the president responded sharply when a reporter noted Republican accusations. ‘Or whoever is left out there, ask them about that.’

Romney Backer Lobbied for Arab Bank


Arab Bank  Investigated by Bush Treasury for Links to Terrorism

— by David Streeter

JTA’s Ron Kampeas provided additional reporting yesterday on the story of Patrick Cave-a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney-and the lobbying work that Cave did on behalf of the Arab Bank. The Arab Bank was investigated for links to Palestinian terrorism by the Bush Administration’s Treasury Department and paid a significant fine to settle with the Treasury.

Kampeas’ full article appears the jump.
Why did Romney fundraiser continue to lobby for Arab Bank?

— by Ron Kampeas, JTA

Ben Smith at Politico reported Monday that a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, Patrick Cave, lobbied for the Arab Bank, which has faced accusations that it was used as a conduit for funneling money for Palestinian terrorist groups. The allegations prompted a Treasury Department investigation several years ago.

Regarding his lobbying, Cave tells Politico:

We encouraged [Arab Bank] to settle with the Treasury Department and cooperate with the Treasury Department and we were successful in communicating to the Congress any concerns they may have about the business.

I followed up with Cave, who told me he had nothing to add, in part because the bank’s no longer a client. (He last reported lobbying for the Arab Bank in 2008.)

According to USA Today, the Jordanian-based Arab Bank settled with the Treasury in August 2005, paying a $24 million fine, without admitting wrongdoing. The Treasury, USA Today reports, alleged that there were ‘serious’ weaknesses in the bank’s controls to prevent money-laundering and terrorist financing. The USA Today article also reported that ‘Arab Bank agreed in February [2008] to virtually shut down its New York office.’

The bank has faced lawsuits from families of victims of terrorist attacks. Among other things, the suits alleged that the bank facilitated the transfer of Saudi money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

According to this Jerusalem Post story from September of this year, the lawsuits are still very much alive.

Citing lobbyist disclosure forms, Politico reported that Cave’s company, the Cypress Group, had been paid by the bank for ‘its help managing congressional inquiries about the lawsuits.’

I’ve seen the lobbying filings: Cave’s lobbying, according to the 2008 filing, was for ‘issues related to the Bank Secrecy Act.’ The Act ‘requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities.’ In total Cave’s company was paid $323,000 for its work for Arab Bank.

Cave is a co-host of a $500-per-person fundraising event for the Romney campaign taking place tomorrow morning in Washington.

I asked the Romney campaign for comment on Monday and have yet to hear from them.

Time’s Klein: Romney “Wrong on Israel”


— by David Streeter

Time’s Joe Klein sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for continuing to perpetuate falsehoods about President Barack Obama’s strong record of support for Israel. Romney claimed today that “U.S.-Israeli relations have hit a low not seen since the Jimmy Carter years,” and repeated the false attack regarding Obama’s stance on Israel’s borders.

Klein wrote in response to Romney:

When he’s having a tough time-as he is this week-Mitt Romney’s first instinct is to attack President Obama. … But Romney’s execution is usually clunky. Last week, we had the Romney ad that pretended Barack Obama was saying something that John McCain had actually said-McCain wanted to avoid talking about the economy in 2008, a brilliant strategy. That was skeevy in the extreme, especially after it became clear that the Romney staff thought the controversy over their unscrupulousness would work in their favor (tone deaf politicians always assume the public is stupid enough to buy such stuff).

This week we have another example. Romney’s press office [put out a] statement about the President and Israel…

Actually, US-Israeli relations are better than they were when George H.W. Bush was President and Secretary of State Jim Baker threatened to cut off aid if Israel didn’t stop expanding its illegal settlements on the West Bank, and (then) in Gaza. And among the few good things Jimmy Carter accomplished overseas was the Camp David Accords, which has provided a generation of peace between Israel and Egypt, a peace now jeopardized by the Arab Spring.

The other inaccuracy-alluded to [in Romney’s statement] but expounded upon in Romney’s stump speeches-is the notion that Obama wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders. He doesn’t. He wants the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, to be the basis for peace negotiations. Somehow, Romney neglects to mention the land swaps.

The fact is, Obama’s policy toward Israel has been in line with that of every US President since Nixon. No American President has favored the annexation of any Arab lands. The fact is that US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, especially when it comes to sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, has never been greater….

One would hope that Romney, as one of the few plausible Republican candidates, would eschew such cheesy behavior…would not misrepresent Obama’s positions on foreign policy so gleefully. But, if this race continues to slip away from him, I suspect that’s exactly what we’ll continue to see.

   

BFF: Obama supports Israel & Israels support Obama

— by David Streeter and Jason Attermann

A new independent poll released today by the Brookings Institution of Israelis in November demonstrates again that a majority of Israeli Jews hold favorable views of President Barack Obama. Of the Israeli Jews polled, 54% held a favorable view of Obama, while 39% did not. This survey marked a 13 point increase over the percentage of Israelis who held favorable views of Obama one year ago in a similar poll.

National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris commented,

This new poll shows the continuing increase in support among Israelis for President Obama over time. As they get to know him better and better, Israelis hold more and more favorable views of the President — and this poll demonstrates it.

Earlier in his term when Israelis were getting to know President Obama, and his favorability numbers were significantly lower as a result, GOP partisans used those numbers to falsely smear and distort this President’s stellar record on Israel. Today, it’s clear that Israelis hold favorable views of the President. But I don’t expect to hear a peep from the GOP about these new favorability figures now that Israelis have gotten to know the President better over time.

The poll, led by Dr. Shibley Telhami, a professor at the University of Maryland and a non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, surveyed 510 Israeli Jews between November 10-16 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

President Obama: “No Ally Is More Important than the State of Israel”

The feeling is mutual.

Wednesday night, President Barack Obama spoke at the home of American Jewish Congress Chairman Jack Rosen and firmly reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security. When Rosen introduced Obama, he declared that “America has never been as supportive of the state of Israel as President Obama and his administration.” During his remarks, Obama affirmed that “no ally is more important than the state of Israel,” and also said:

I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.  And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the opinion of the Israeli government.  Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an Iron Dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.  And that’s not just something I say privately, that’s something that I said in the U.N. General Assembly.  And that will continue.

We do have enormous challenges in making sure that the changes that are taking place in Egypt, the changes that are taking place throughout the region do not end up manifesting themselves in anti-Western or anti-Israel policies.  And that’s something that we’re going to have to pay close attention to, and work diligently on in the months to come.

More poll results and the President’s full remarks follow the jump.

Remarks by President Barack Obama

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me begin by just thanking Jac and Phyllis — and their adorable grandchildren.  (Laughter.)  And their children — I don’t want to skip over a generation.  (Laughter.)  But the grandchildren are really my buddies.  This guy says he’s going to be a future president.  (Laughter.)  So I’m just kind of warming up the seat for him.  (Laughter.)

But in addition to the Rosens, I want to make sure that everybody had a chance to say hello to somebody who has been a dear friend and is an outstanding DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  (Applause.)

I’m going to keep my remarks very brief at the top, because what I want to do is spend as much time in dialogue and answering questions as possible.

When I came into office, we knew that this was going to be an extraordinary time in the life of the country, and in the world.  I don’t think any of us realized what an extraordinary transformation would be taking place over these last several years.  They’ve been tough years.  They’ve been tough years for the American people.  They’ve been tough for the world.  And we’re not out of the woods yet.  But I begin any meeting like this by saying that we should remind ourselves how much we’ve accomplished over the last three years.  

When we came into office, the economy was contracting at 9 percent.  It has grown over the last 3 years — not as fast as we’d like, but we have been able to sustain a fairly steady pace of growth.  When I came into office, we had lost 4 million jobs before I was sworn in, and 4 million jobs in the three months after I was sworn in.  About six months later, we were creating jobs, and we’ve had private sector job growth for 20 consecutive months.

Along the way, in addition to preventing a financial meltdown and preventing a second Great Depression, we were able to pass a historic health care bill that’s going to make sure that 30 million people have coverage.  We were able to pass a Wall Street reform package that, although some folks in New York are still grousing about it — (laughter) — is going to ensure that we do not have the same kinds of crisis that we had in the past.  We were able to make sure that we ended the war in Iraq, as promised, and by the end of this year we’re going to have all of our troops out, which is going to be an extraordinary homecoming for families all across America.  Thanks to the great work of folks like Debbie, we were able to end practices like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” make sure that we expanded college loans for millions of students all across the country.

So a huge amount of progress has been made, but what we also know is we’ve still got a lot more work to do.  On the domestic front — Jack and I were just downstairs talking — the housing market and the real estate market is still way too weak and we’ve got to do more.  We’re doing some stuff administratively.  We’re hoping that we can get a little more cooperation from Congress to be more aggressive in tackling the housing market and the real estate market.

We still have to put people back to work.  And I was just in Pennsylvania talking about why it’s so important to make sure that we pass a — continue, essentially, a payroll tax cut that helps small businesses and individual families so that there’s more money in circulation and businesses can really latch on to this recovery and start expanding their payrolls.

Internationally, we’ve been managing I think an extraordinary period not just of two wars, which we’re now winding down, but, as Jack alluded to, enormous tumult in the Middle East.  And so far, at least, what we’ve been able to do is manage it in a way that positions America to stand on the side of democracy, but also be very firm with respect to the security of our allies.  And obviously, no ally is more important than the state of Israel.

And as Jack alluded to, this administration — I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.  And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the opinion of the Israeli government.  Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an Iron Dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.  And that’s not just something I say privately, that’s something that I said in the U.N. General Assembly.  And that will continue.

We do have enormous challenges in making sure that the changes that are taking place in Egypt, the changes that are taking place throughout the region do not end up manifesting themselves in anti-Western or anti-Israel policies.  And that’s something that we’re going to have to pay close attention to, and work diligently on in the months to come.

In the meantime, there are other regions in the world in which we’re making enormous progress.  I mean, we’ve been able to not only reset relations with Russia, manage relations with China, but we’ve also been able to mobilize world opinion around U.S. leadership in a way that many people had thought had been lost when I came into office back in 2008.

So the bottom line is this:  Over the last three years we have made enormous progress.  People aren’t feeling all that progress yet because we had fallen so far and some of the problems that we faced — whether it was on health care or energy or employment — those are problems that had been building up over decades.  And we never anticipated that we would solve them over night because these problems weren’t created overnight.  But the trajectory of the country at this point is sound.

The question is, in 2012 does it continue?  And, frankly, we’ve got another party that — how will I say this charitably — (laughter) — in the past I think has been willing at times  to put country ahead of party, but I’d say over the last couple of years, has not.  Everything has become politicized, from the most modest appointment to getting judges on the bench, to trying to make sure the economy grows — everything has been looked at through a political lens.  And that is what people are tired of. And, frankly, that’s the reason that Congress right now is polling at 9 percent.

People want Washington to work on behalf of the American people, not on behalf of folks in Washington and special interests.  And that has been a great challenge.  This election in 2012 is going to pose a decision for the American people in terms of what direction we want to go in.  There’s fundamental differences in terms of direction.

Their view is that less regulation, a shriveled government that is not doing much for people in terms of giving them a ladder up into the middle class, that that’s their best vision; that we don’t invest in science, that we don’t invest in education, that we don’t invest in infrastructure and transportation — all the things that made us a great power, they seem willing to abandon for ideological reasons.

And I was so moved listening to Jack’s story, because Jack is exactly right — his story is our story.  It’s my story; it’s your story.  At some point our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents came to this country seeking opportunity.  And they had to work hard; they had to hold themselves personally responsible, they had to take risks.  But they also knew that there was a country here where if you did try hard, then somebody might give you a little bit of help; that we were in it together, there were ladders of opportunity that existed.

And that’s what we have to rebuild for the 21st century.  And that requires us to make some decisions about, are we going to have the best schools in this country, are we going to have the best infrastructure, are we going to do what it takes, so these guys end up being part of an America where everybody can still make it if they try; regardless of whether they came from Russia, or they came from Poland, or they came from Mexico, or they came from Kenya, that they’re going to have a chance to succeed, and live out the same kind of dreams that the Rosen family has been able to live out.

Our kids are going to be fine.  And I always tell Malia and Sasha, look, you guys, I don’t worry about you — I mean, I worry the way parents worry — but they’re on a path that is going to be successful, even if the country as a whole is not successful. But that’s not our vision of America.  I don’t want an America where my kids are living behind walls and gates, and can’t feel a part of a country that is giving everybody a shot.

And that’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what 2012 is going to be all about.  And I’m going to need your help to do it. (Applause.)

So, thank you, very much.  (Applause.)

The Best of Congressman Barney Frank


Frank has often been accused of pushing “the radical homosexual agenda.” In the clip above, he defines exactly what that agenda is.

Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) stunned the country by announcing his retirement. Here are a few reactions we have received along with video highlights of his wit and wisdom.

Statement by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO):

Barney Frank was a groundbreaking pioneer and one of the most insightful, knowledgeable and humorous people ever to grace the halls of Congress. We will miss his leadership on a wide range of issues — from fighting to reign in Wall Street’s excesses and working to stabilize our economy to standing up for equal rights for LGBT Americans and curtailing runaway Pentagon spending. Congressman Frank championed the rights of all Americans, the economic security of all of our families, and a politics of inclusion and hope. It’s a great loss for the Congress but Barney leaves behind an enviable record of accomplishment. I will miss
his presence every day.

More after the jump.


In a recent Republican debate, Newt Gingrich said Frank should be thrown in jail for his role in the housing crisis. Frank responds to the video above.

Statement by NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris:

On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s leadership and staff, I am truly saddened by the news that Representative Barney Frank will be retiring at the end of his current term. For the last 30 years, Frank has been a leading voice for many Jewish communal concerns and a stalwart advocate for America’s middle class on Capitol Hill. Through his fierce advocacy for many Democratic and social justice causes, Frank truly represented the Jewish value of tikkun olam — repairing the world.

As we’ve experienced over the years, Frank has an unparalleled work ethic and a sense of humor to match. He leaves behind a strong legacy as one of America’s pioneering Jewish legislators in addition to the many pieces of legislation that bear his name. Frank’s absence in the House will be felt by all, and especially so for many in the American Jewish community who have looked up to Frank as a role model. We congratulate Frank for his distinguished career in the House of Representatives and wish him the best as he begins the next chapter of his life.

Barney Frank is asked by a Tea Party member if he would support a “Nazi policy” (public health insurance), Barney Frank responded, “On what planet do you spend most of your time? … Madam, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.” Rep. Frank was in rare form that night, standing up to the uninformed shrieking of the right and offering a real lesson in how to argue with conservatives.

House GOP Chooses Big Business Over Stopping Iran


— by David A. Harris

The House Republican caucus voted for a measure to allow an Iranian-linked mining company to receive access to America’s largest copper mine. While House Democrats voted along party lines to help stop Iran, House Republicans chose instead to stand with big business. In the past, when House Republicans reached across the aisle for help with passing sanctions, almost 100 Democrats happily responded. Yesterday when Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) moved on the floor of the House to urge Congress to reconsider, the House GOP unfortunately and unanimously said ‘no.’

These sanctions are a critical tool to prevent its regime from developing nuclear weapons. Since taking office, President Barack Obama has led a global effort to impose sanctions. Most importantly, experts and impartial observers have noted recently that the sanctions are successfully hindering Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon. The economic effects of the sanctions have left Iran economically and diplomatically isolated. They continue to communicate that the President and the world will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.  

Particularly in light of recent events, now is the time to be tightening the sanctions, not allowing for big corporate exceptions. NJDC urges House Republicans to seriously reconsider their position on this central issue.

Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.

Perry: Israel Aid Starts at Zero

— by David Streeter

During last night’s Republican foreign policy debate held in South Carolina, a number of the candidates perpetuated myths about President Barack Obama and his support for Israel. In perhaps an even more dangerous precedent, two leading contenders — Texas Governor Rick Perry and field-leading former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — agreed that foreign aid should “start at zero” for all countries, including Israel. In saying this, these candidates ignore the current 10-year aid agreement between the U.S. and Israel; they disregard the critical relationship with our strategic ally; and they demonstrate their inability to steward the U.S.-Israel relationship. Read on for more on this significant turn of events.

         

More after the jump.
During the debate, a number of the candidates attacked America’s foreign aid to certain countries. Specifically, Perry said that he would start all foreign aid at zero-and Romney agreed.

On the campaign trail, many of the candidates have perpetuated the myth that America’s foreign aid commitments meaningfully contribute to America’s budget crisis. They have done so in order to justify spending cuts, despite the fact that foreign aid comprises less than 1% of the budget.

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs, has argued that the “security imperatives” of preserving a robust foreign aid program are essential to America’s national security interests. Representative Steve Rothman<?a> (D-NJ) also warned:

Cutting foreign aid will not right our struggling economy, but will ultimately cost us more in U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars. It will surely cause direct and substantial harm to America’s national security.

Further, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition — a foreign policy organization that includes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee-strongly opposed cuts to America’s foreign assistance programs because of their potential to negatively impact American interests abroad.

Remarkably, Perry said that aid to Israel would also “start at zero.” He ultimately said that Israel is a “special ally” and that Israel would receive “substantial” funding. However his proposal to fundamentally alter the approach of American aid to Israel — and Romney’s apparent agreement with this new approach — poses major risks for Israel’s security as well as the U.S.-Israel relationship. (Romney staff later claimed that despite saying “start everything at zero,” Romney was somehow only referring to aid to Pakistan.)

Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) both recently praised financial assistance to Israel because of the dividends it pays for U.S. interests.

Perry’s and Romney’s new approach to foreign aid to Israel — in addition to Perry’s outrageous remarks on the eve of Obama’s overwhelmingly pro-Israel speech to the UN, and the politicization of the U.S.-Israel relationship repeatedly displayed by Romney and the other GOP candidates — clearly demonstrates that they are not ready to steward the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Conversely, President Obama has in FY2012 made the largest ever security funding request for Israel in U.S. history, totaling $3 billion — in keeping with the 2007 memorandum of understanding. Above and beyond this unprecedented foreign aid request, Obama has made additional funding requests exceeding the memorandum of understanding, to save Israeli lives — including $205 million for the Iron Dome system last year.

 

Jewish Values Not on the Agenda For the 2011 Values Voter Summit

— David Streeter

2011 “Values Voter” Summit Schedule Featuring GOP Presidential Candidates To Conflict Yet Again with the Jewish High Holidays

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today criticized the 2011 Values Voter Summit in part because — for the third consecutive year* — the conservative conference coincides with the Jewish High Holidays. The 2011 Values Voter Summit, which will feature a majority of the Republican presidential candidates, perfectly symbolizes how the modern conservative movement does not include Jewish values under its umbrella. This year, the conference occurs on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

More after the jump.

NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

Conservatives have been aggressively targeting Jews recently by touting their pro-Israel positions. But what they continually fail to understand is that pro-Israel rhetoric only goes so far. Polling consistently shows that the sweeping majority of American Jews abhor the conservative domestic policy positions — particularly on social issues — that will be discussed this weekend. With this in mind, American conservatives should explain how they intend to make Jews feel welcome in a political movement that advances an agenda opposed by most in the Jewish community and continually holds its flagship conference on the Jewish High Holidays.

This year’s conference falls on Yom Kippur — the holiest day of the year — and will likely have significant ramifications for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket. Such a repeated scheduling conflict further symbolizes that the conservative movement and the Republican Party do not represent the values of most American Jews. Quite simply, this weekend’s confab is a textbook example of why Jews remain solidly committed to the Democratic Party and its positions.

Republican presidential candidates attending this year’s summit include:

  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
  • Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain
  • Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Other Republican elected officials speaking this weekend include:

  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
  • House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
  • Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • Representatives Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Mike Pompeo (K-KS), Steve King (R-IA), and Jim Jordan (R-OH)
  • Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Leading conservative media personalities Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are also scheduled to speak.

In addition, the 2011 Values Voter Summit has many breakout sessions scheduled for the weekend that conflict with the sensibilities of most Jewish voters. While Republicans on Capitol Hill pay lip service to a supposed jobs agenda, this conservative summit focuses on such hot-button social issues as “How the Welfare State Erodes the Family,” “Exposing and Defunding Planned Parenthood, America’s Abortion Giant,” and “Straight Talk on Gay ‘Marriage'” [Values Voter Summit] — conflicting with the positions of the vast majority of American Jews.

With such an extreme lineup, most Jews would be unlikely to attend. But the scheduling of the event — which makes it impossible for any Jew observing Yom Kippur to attend — takes this year’s conference to new heights in repelling Jews from the conservative movement.

The 2011 Values Voter Summit’s content, in addition to its scheduling, contains nearly all of the elements that remind most Jews that today’s conservative movement and its Republican leaders do not reflect their values. Events such as this are a prime example of why the Democratic Party remains the historic and continued political home for the sweeping majority of American Jews.

* – Details:

  • In 2010, the Values Voter Summit was held September 16-19 — conflicting with Yom Kippur, which fell on September 17-18.
  • In 2009, the Values Voter Summit was held September 18-20 — conflicting with Rosh Hashanah, which fell on September 18-20.