Jewish Democratic Women Urge Grassroots Action On Gun Control

— by David Streeter

The Women’s Leadership Network of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) urged NJDC’s members to call their members of Congress and urge “bold” and “courageous” actions to pass gun control legislation and end the epidemic of gun violence. The Network’s co-founder Barbara Goldberg Goldman said:

Last week, NJDC’s good friend former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to be ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ to stop the epidemic of gun violence in America. Today, we urge American Jews to echo Gabby’s powerful call to action and urge their Senators and Representatives to support efforts to reduce gun violence. Jewish tradition teaches that we must pass along a better world to our children and grandchildren, and one way to do that is by taking steps to prevent the next Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, or Columbine tragedy.

NJDC action alert and a video from the Daily Show follow the jump.

Co-founder Ann F. Lewis added:

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) need our voices on this critical issue in order to rally Congress behind their policies. We must add our voices to the growing chorus calling for action. Now is the time to act, before more innocent children are slain.

Below is the text of the action alert that NJDC sent to its membership:

Subject: Join with Gabby
From: Ann F. Lewis and Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Dear NJDC Supporter,

In January, President Barack Obama took a number of actions to combat “the epidemic of gun violence in this country” that has claimed far too many innocent and precious lives. When the President addressed the nation, he made clear that “if there is even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.” The Senate Judiciary Committee picked up on his call and convened its own hearing to address gun violence, and our dear friend former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) — who was tragically wounded in a mass shooting — delivered this powerful message to the committee:

This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats, and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important.

Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.

It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

As the co-founders of NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network, we urge you to echo Gabby’s words by telling your Senators to be courageous by supporting measures to reduce gun violence and protect our children. Call you Senators and Representative today and urge them to:

  • Support universal background checks for gun purchases;
  • Improve access to mental health services for all Americans;*
  • Support the assault weapons ban introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA); and
  • Use their voice and their vote to protect America’s children.

Jewish tradition teaches that we must pass along a better world to our children and grandchildren, and one way to do that is by taking steps to prevent the next Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, or Columbine tragedy. With your help, our Senators will know that American Jews are firmly supportive of efforts to end the epidemic of gun violence and make America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods safer for everyone.


Ann F. Lewis and Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Jewish Councils Thrilled with Obama’s Upcoming Return to Israel

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Chair Marc R. Stanley issued the following statement in response to the news that President Obama will soon be traveling to Israel:

The National Jewish Democratic Council is thrilled to learn that President Obama will soon be visiting Israel. We are proud of the President’s unprecedentedly pro-Israel record and this upcoming trip will provide President Obama with yet another opportunity to affirm the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel

Newly-confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry will also be visiting Israel in the coming weeks and we commend both the President and the Secretary for placing Israel and its security needs at the top of the Administration’s foreign policy agenda for President Obama’s second term.

More after the jump.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs expressed hope that the trip would strengthen coordination on key strategic challenges facing the United States and Israel, including Iran’s nuclear program, Syria, and efforts to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. JCPA president Rabbi Steve Gutow said:

While Israel’s enemies continue to advocate strategies of boycotts and international isolation, President Obama will fly to the Jewish state this spring in a demonstration of the unbreakable bond between our two countries. The US and Israel share bedrock democratic values, as reflected in recent national elections, that are at the heart of our enduring friendship. President Obama’s trip, the first since his visit as a candidate in 2008, will send a strong signal to the Israeli people of U.S. commitment to their security in a troubled and volatile Middle East.

JCPA Chair Larry Gold added:

The announcement of this visit comes at a time of robust US-Israeli military cooperation and on the day that John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to run the CIA, called for global action against Hezbollah, the terrorist organization responsible for the continued targeting of Israel’s citizens. We hope that the President’s visit will bring renewed vigor to the stalled peace process between Israel and Palestinian leadership, which is the only way to realize the goal of two states for two peoples.

Kerry Speaks with Netanyahu, Plans to Visit Israel Soon

— by David Streeter

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend. According to The Jerusalem Post:

New US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to discuss the diplomatic process, in an early sign he intends to make this a top priority on his agenda.

In both conversations he commended Netanyahu’s decision last week to release some NIS 400 million in tax revenues to the PA and praised it as a positive step.

The calls followed Kerry’s phone conversation Saturday with President Shimon Peres, who said the election results in Israel provided new opportunities in the diplomatic process […]

More after the jump.

A US State Department communiqué said that Netanyahu updated Kerry on his efforts to put together a new government.

The statement also said Kerry ‘underscored his personal commitment and that of President [Barack] Obama to support Israel’s security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.’

Kerry and Netanyahu also spoke about Iran and Syria, and — according to the statement — pledged to work closely together during Kerry’s tenure.

It was reported that Kerry is planning to visit Israel in the coming weeks. JTA also noted that other high level meetings between Obama Administration and Israeli officials will take place this month:

Also over the weekend, two top State Department officials dealing with Iran’s alleged nuclear threat said they would be stopping in Israel during overseas visits and Israel’s military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, was visiting Washington […].

The State Department in a statement laid out the agenda for the two State Department officials-Rose Gottemoeller, the acting undersecretary for arms control, and Thomas Countryman, the assistant secretary for nonproliferation.

Countryman will ‘meet with Israeli counterparts to discuss nonproliferation and international security issues of mutual concern,’ and Gottemoeller will ‘consult with senior civilian and military officials on pressing regional security issues and expanding our enduring strategic partnership’ and deliver remarks at a conference on nuclear nonproliferation, the statement said […].

The Israel Defense Forces in announcing the five-day visit by Gantz said it was ‘official […] as the guest of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.’

In its statement, the IDF said the two generals would ‘discuss current security challenges, the regional security status in the Middle East and military cooperation.’

NJDC Launches New Women’s Leadership Network

— by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council’s Women’s Leadership Network hosted a panel discussion for its first-ever event in Washington, DC. The panel was led by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) and former White House Communications Director Ann F. Lewis, and featured nonpartisan political analysis from The Jerusalem Post’s Hilary Krieger. Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) attended the luncheon and added their voices to discussion.

Washington Jewish Week reported on the event and featured coverage of the event in its weekly email to subscribers:

Full report after the jump.

Barbara Goldberg Goldman worked tirelessly to get President Barack Obama re-elected.

There wasn’t a moment unaccounted for last summer and fall. All her energies were focused towards November and election day. When this reporter tried at times to track her down, she was either knocking on yet another door in a Northern Virginia or Maryland neighborhood or making sure that recognized Jewish leaders were writing op-eds to release to the nation’s newspapers.

Last Friday, Goldberg Goldman along with other key national Democratic Jewish women, announced in Washington, D.C., the formation of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s (NJDC) Women’s Leadership Network.

‘The Women’s Leadership Network will ultimately build on NJDC’s previous success mobilizing Jewish Americans and augment NJDC’s mission of maximizing Jewish support for Democrats. I and other Women’s Leadership Network co-founders are very excited that NJDC has a new mechanism to mobilize female Democrats, and we look forward to starting a conversation in the Jewish community.’

Last Friday’s event featured a panel discussion on the issues facing women following the 2012 election. Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca.) and Ann F. Lewis, NJDC Chairman’s Council member and former White House communications director, spoke as Democratic leaders in the Jewish community. The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief Hilary Krieger offered nonpartisan political analysis.

‘We heard a lot about the women’s vote making a difference in the 2012 election for Democratic candidates,’ said Lewis. ‘We have the same dynamic in the Jewish community, with a significant gender gap, reflective of important issues, but too often Jewish women’s voices were left out of the debate. NJDC’s voter contact program spoke to these issues and highlighted women’s voices. The NJDC Women’s Leadership Network will build on what we learned in 2012 and ensure that Jewish women’s voices are included in the next political campaign.’

Davis said that she was honored to have been a participant in this opening event.

‘It is critical that Jewish women mobilize across the country,’ she said. ‘In order to protect the progress made under President Barack Obama and to pave the way for more policies that advance women’s rights. NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network is a significant step that will ensure that voices of female Jewish Democrats are heard.’

Prior to Friday’s event, both Goldberg Goldman and Lewis spoke to WJW.

‘There was a lot of attention in 2012 given to the women’s vote,’ Lewis told WJW. ‘The numbers showed us that women were more likely to vote for certain issues. So there was a similar dynamic within the Jewish community. The majority of Jewish voters are women. As part of NJDC, we watch the votes on issues concerning Israel and others such as equal pay for women and women’s health.

‘We’re learning from the 2012 election,’ she continued, ‘and we’re building on what we achieved. It’s important for women’s votes to be part of the national conversation. We want to raise the visibility and advocacy of women.’

Lewis added, ‘What we know is that women like to hear from other women. When we have a debate that doesn’t have women’s voices, we lose an opportunity to reach out to our community and to make our case. Once we start hearing from women, we get a much better response. We are encouraging women to be advocates and to understand the power we have as leaders in the community.’

Goldberg Goldman said that the group’s mission is to amplify the goals of Jewish Democrat women.

‘We’ve never been shy,’ she said. ‘We’re encouraging our colleagues and our sisters and our mothers and our nieces to speak out and to get involved and engaged in an organized fashion.’

Lewis also told WJW that the fiscal health of the nation is a matter of great importance to everyone, not just to men. Other issues important to Jewish women is the securing of a strong democratic Israel living side by side with a Palestinian state.

‘There isn’t one issue that doesn’t resonate among women,’ Lewis said.

Federally funded lunch programs, the special supplemental aid program for women, infants and children known as WIC is a Jewish women’s issue.

The area of women’s reproductive freedom is a Jewish women’s issue. Violence against women, again a Jewish women’s issue. Fiscal issues are also an issue for Jewish women as well. ‘It’s clear that we will have an active group of women for forums, fly-ins to Washington and access to members of Congress. Local and regional concerns are all important to Jewish women and women of all faiths.’

‘The last election illustrated the significance of the women’s vote not only in numbers but in helping to define the issues that were critically important, and those issues critically important for women, cannot be ignored. NJDC has the leadership to bring this together,’ said Lewis.

All Mourn the Loss of Ed Koch

Update: Koch’s funeral was held yesterday (Monday). Speakers included:

  • Former President Bill Clinton,
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and
  • Israeli Consul-General Ido Aharoni

See video on the right.

In an official statement, President Barack Obama mourned the loss of Koch, who died Feb. 1 at the age of 88:

Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker. He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people. In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s loved ones, and to the city that survives him.

Jewish organizations’ response after the jump.
Many Jewish organizations have also expressed their sorrow:

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) is deeply saddened by the news that former Representative and New York City Mayor Ed Koch (D-NY) has passed away. Koch was a consummate and proud Jewish Democrat who advocated fiercely for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the progressive domestic policies in which he truly believed. Koch’s leadership was vital in mobilizing Jewish voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections, and our community will not be the same without his prominent voice. Koch leaves behind an indelible legacy of public service and activism that has made our country a better place and strengthened America’s relationship with the Jewish State. His voice and his energy will truly be missed.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

Mayor Koch was a passionate and principled leader and an outspoken defender of Israel and the Jewish community. He chose principle over politics and didn’t engage in partisan bitterness. In a long and controversial public career, he remained true to his commitment to do what was right for his constituents, his community, and his beloved State of Israel. The RJC was honored to work with Mayor Koch over the years. He was a patriot and we will miss him.

Bnai Brith International has released this statement:

Known for his plainspoken nature and charisma, Koch was mayor of New York City during a particularly troubled time and became the face of New York around the world.

During three terms as mayor, serving from 1978-1989, Koch connected with New Yorkers of every background. His eager query to New Yorkers, “How’m I doing?” became his signature.

Before his storied tenure as mayor, Koch served in the U.S. Congress from 1969-1977.

His forthright support for Israel, and his great pride in his Jewish faith, were always part of his persona.

So connected to New York that he insisted on being buried there, five years ago, he purchased a burial plot at Trinity Church Cemetery, the only cemetery in the city that had space. He even ordered and inscribed his tombstone, which features the final words said by Daniel Pearl, the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

Sandra Kahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), said:

Ed Koch played a massive role for the Jewish community of New York. Outside of him being a great Mayor for the city, he also played an influential role in bringing Russian Jewish immigrants to New York during the Russian waves of immigration. He was always open and understanding to all cultures in New York and was very welcoming to the Russian Jewish community, a community that contributed to the cultural mosaic of the city. The Jewish community is forever indebted to Mayor Koch.

The Russian-American Jewish community will honor the life of Koch at the annual Limmud FSU Summit in Princeton, NJ on March 15-17. He will be remembered at a special ceremony during the Summit, where his family will be invited to participate.

Senate Confirms John Kerry For Secretary Of State

— by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) hailed the Senate’s confirmation of Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to serve as Secretary of State. NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley said

We are pleased to see that the Senate has confirmed John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State. Kerry has a long record of support for Israel and demonstrated during his confirmation hearing that he is the right person to be taking a global leadership role against a nuclear-armed Iran. To echo what so many have said already, we know that Kerry will make an excellent Secretary of State and we are proud that he will be serving as America’s top diplomat.

More after the jump.
Kerry testified on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

Given our extraordinary interest in nonproliferation, we must resolve the questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. The President has made it definitive: we will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And I repeat here today, our policy is not containment it is prevention. And the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance. This Administration, working with congress and an unprecedented international coalition, has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. […] President Obama has stated again and again — and I want to emphasize this — he and I prefer a diplomatic resolution to this challenge and I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.

I’d say this to the Iranians, I hope they listen. They have continually professed the peacefulness of their program. It is not hard to prove a peaceful program. Other nations have done that and do it every day. And it takes intrusive inspections, it takes living up to the publicly arrived at standards — everybody understands what they are. The allies in the P5+1 have made it very clear […] that we are all united in this standard and that we are looking for the full compliance with the NPT […] the Iranians need to understand there’s no other agenda here […]

Kerry on Iran: Our Policy is Not Containment; it is Prevention

— by David Streeter

Secretary of State nominee Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and reiterated his and the President’s commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. Kerry told the committee:

The world is well aware that we face a number of immediate and dangerous challenges particularly in the Middle East and South Central Asia. Given our extraordinary interest in nonproliferation, we must resolve the questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.The President has made it definitive: we will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And I repeat here today, our policy is not containment it is prevention. And the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.

More after the jump.

This Administration, working with congress and an unprecedented international coalition, has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. Mr. Chairman, you have been a leader in that effort and I know you’ll continue to be. President Obama has stated again and again — and I want to emphasize this — he and I prefer a diplomatic resolution to this challenge and I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.

During the question and answer portion, Kerry reiterated to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that he is “totally” committed to continuing and increasing sanctions against Iran. Kerry also told Menendez regarding a potential agreement with Iran:

We’d seek compliance with the requirements of the IAEA and the requirements of the UN resolutions that have been passed with respect to it and compliance with the NPT itself. … It is going to be imperative that they come into full compliance…

I’d say this to the Iranians, I hope they listen. They have continually professed the peacefulness of their program. It is not hard to prove a peaceful program. Other nations have done that and do it every day. And it takes intrusive inspections, it takes living up to the publicly arrived at standards — everybody understands what they are. The allies in the P5+1 have made it very clear… that we are all united in this standard and that we are looking for the full compliance with the NPT… the Iranians need to understand there’s no other agenda here…

In response to questions by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Kerry reiterated his opposition to unilateral actions by the Palestinians at the United Nations. He also explained his position on how the United States will proceed at the United Nations with respect to combating anti-Israel bias:

Let me say categorically — and I think the Administration made this clear in its vote and its public statements — that we do not feel that unilateral steps are helpful to either side in any way. They are not a substitute for the parties negotiating and resolving the issues.

With respect to some of the funding on the collateral memberships […] we have found that we’re better able to actually protect against nefarious activity, in some cases resolutions which attack Israel or other things, we’re better able to affect that and negate it if we’re participating. If we cease to pay the dues and so forth or take a different attitude then we […] lose the opportunity to protect our friends which we want to have.

Now I will emphasize that they’re getting close to a line that would be very damaging. If there were any effort to take Israel for instance or any other country to the ICC, if there’s any effort to try to invoke other power, that’s the kind of unilateral action that we would feel very very strongly against and see it as extremely counterproductive. My hope is […] my prayer is that perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the parties into a discussion, to have a different track than we’ve been on over the course of the last couple of years. […] Unilateral efforts are not helpful. We oppose them. And we don’t think […] symbolic or other kinds of efforts are what we need. We need real negotiation, we need real results, we need progress.

In addition, Kerry responded to Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) about how he would pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians:

President Obama is deeply committed to a two state solution. I’ve been reading lately speculation about whether or not he’s committed to process or what he thinks or believes etcetera. I think a lot of it is simply wrong […] The President understands the stakes and the implications in the Middle East and […] so much of what we aspire to achieve and what we need to do globally […] all of this is tied to what can or doesn’t happen with respect to Israel and Palestine. In some places it’s used as an excuse, in other places it’s a genuine deeply felt challenge. […] I personally believe-I’ve been at this for what, almost 29 years in this committee… I’ve watched all of it. I was on the lawn when we were there with the handshake […] I’ve been through seven Prime Ministers, nine in all, and two of them were the same […] I’ve seen Wye Plantation and Madrid and Oslo and Taba and so forth. We need to try to find a way forward and I happen to believe that there is a way forward. But I also believe that if we can’t be successful the door […] to the possibility of a two state solution could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous in my judgment. So, I think this is an enormously important issue and I will never step back from my commitment to the state of Israel — which I have shown through the 29 years I’ve been here — but I also will not step back from my understanding of the plight of Palestinians and others who are caught up in the swirl of this…

Kerry also told Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s anti-Semitic comments were “reprehensible” and “degrading,” and called for an immediate apology.  

New Poll Shows Why Jews Supported Democrats In 2012

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

— by David Streeter

The new polling data released by the Workmen’s Circle provides the clearest proof yet as to why the sweeping majority of American Jews voted to reelect President Barack Obama in 2012.

On the key domestic issues that decided the election, American Jews are firmly aligned with the Democratic Party. According to the survey, clear majorities of the Jewish community stand with President Obama and the Democratic Party when it comes to:

  • Spending on social safety net programs;
  • Helping the poor;
  • Preventing drastic cuts to Medicare;
  • Responding to climate change;
  • Protecting a woman’s right to choose;
  • Supporting marriage equality;
  • Reforming America’s immigration system; and
  • Many other pressing domestic issues.

More after the jump.
The Workmen’s Circle summarized their findings:

  • American Jews consistently favor increasing spending on social welfare and regulating big business, in the midst of an election focused on budget deficits and taxation.
  • By a two-to-one ratio, Jewish voters see government regulation of business as necessary to protect the public interest, rather than ‘usually doing more harm than good’ (55% vs. 28%).
  • Asked to choose between the contrasting positions of fewer government services with reduced spending vs. many more services with increased spending, Jews in the survey opted for the latter (43% vs. 37%).
  • By more than a two-to-one ratio, Jewish voters prefer decreasing defense spending to increasing defense spending (53% vs. 26%).
  • By a 43% to 31% margin, more American Jews agreed with the view that, ‘Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently,’ than with the position that ‘Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.’
  • By almost a two-to-one ratio, respondents expressed the belief that Medicare can be preserved without cutting benefits (50% vs. 28%).
  • Commitment to economic justice issues is so widespread in the American Jewish population that it extends even to the highest income Jews. Those earning over $250,000 express liberal views on economic justice as frequently as those earning far less. Jews earning $250,000 or more were as likely as lower-earning Jews to vote for Obama and other Democrats….
  • Accompanying the liberal and progressive stances on economic justice issues were a variety of positions of similar political coloration on issues like climate change, abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage.

The poll’s summary is available here, and the full poll results are available here as a pdf.  

White House Condemns Morsi’s Anti-Semitic Statements

— by David Streeter

President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney forcefully condemned previous anti-Semitic comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Politico reported:

“President Morsi should make clear he respects people of all faiths”, Carney said during a press briefing Tuesday. He said the administration has raised its concerns with the Egyptian government: “[…] We have raised our concerns over these remarks with the government of Egypt”.

“We strongly condemn these comments”, he said. “[…] This type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt”.

Carney added that the remarks are an example of the type of discourse that has long fanned hatred in the region:

“We believe that language like that is too tolerated in the region”, he said. “[…] It is counter to peace”.

Iran Lawmaker Admits: Sanctions Caused 45% Drop In Oil Revenue

Abadan Oil Refinery— by David Streeter

The AP reported that an Iranian lawmaker admitted that the international sanctions movement led by President Barack Obama has caused a devastating 45% drop in Iran’s oil revenue. According to the AP:

Iran’s revenues from vital oil and gas exports have dropped by 45 percent because of sanctions over its suspect nuclear program, a senior lawmaker said Monday, a clear admission that sanctions over Iran’s suspect nuclear program are having a severe impact. […]

Gholam Reza Kateb, head of the parliament’s budget committee, said oil exports have dropped 40 percent in the last nine months compared to the corresponding period last year. He said banking sanctions also contributed to the 45 percent reduction in revenues.

After the jump: Newly-Appointed Senate Comissioner Rand Paul Wants to See “Gradual” Cuts to Israel’s Aid‏.

Iran is under U.N. sanctions and Western oil, banking and trade restrictions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which is a potential pathway for nuclear weapons development. The U.S. and its allies believe Iran might be on a path toward producing nuclear bombs. […]

Crude oil exports account for nearly 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue.

Kateb said details of the steep revenue drop emerged Monday in a report by Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi to the parliament on the status of crude oil and liquid gas sales.

‘On the basis of the report, oil sales are down 40 percent and income has dropped 45 percent in the last nine months,’ Kateb was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying. […]

The government is already facing a cash crunch from the drop in oil revenues as a result of Western sanctions that Iran calls it an ‘economic war.’ […]

In another sign of the effectiveness of the sanctions, most flights operated by Iranian airlines to domestic and international destinations have been cancelled because of unpaid debts. […]

Iranian airlines nearly doubled prices of plane tickets in November because of higher fuel prices and the plunging value of the Iranian rial against foreign currencies.

Senator Rand Paul Wants to See “Gradual” Cuts to Israel’s Aid‏Rand Paul in Louisville
On his current trip to the Middle East, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) — who is among the newest members to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — said that he would like to see “gradual” cuts to Israel’s aid.

The Jerusalem Post reported (emphasis added):

[Senator Paul] said he favored a gradual reduction of US foreign aid, which he said stands at approximately $30 billion a year.

About $3b. goes to Israel annually in military aid, 74 percent of which must be spent in the US.

‘I’m all for gradualism,’ he said. ‘I would start a little more quickly with those who are enemies of Israel, and enemies of the US. I would like to see their aid end more quickly. With regards to Israel, it could be a gradual phenomenon.’

“As we’ve said many times before, Senator Paul’s misguided views on aid to Israel are plain wrong and do not reflect the myriad benefits that come from American assistance to Israel,” said NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris.

As we predicted on Friday, Paul’s appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would give him a bigger platform from which to spout his radical views. It appears that we were correct — and pro-Israel Republicans are utterly failing to intervene. Now is as good a time as any for them to take a stand against Paul’s dangerous vision for Israel’s aid — as many pro-Israel Democratic senators did when he first started pushing for cuts to Israel’s aid.