The U.S. had no qualms about providing aid to Egypt during the repressive reign of Hosnai Mubarak. We continued aid to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood won a democratic election, and even after it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood was oppressing its people. Then the Egyptian military took over. And now we cut aid?
Some have argued that the military might have been doing the will of the people by removing the Brotherhood, and there is no question that Egypt's opposition to Hamas and other radical groups helps the U.S. and Israel.
Jeff Goldberg, who thinks reducing aid to Egypt is a mistake, is concerned that cutbacks in aid to Egypt could upset American allies who share the same adversaries as Egypt (Shia radicalism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni extremism), relieve pressure on Hamas and thereby hinder the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and re-energize Islamic extremists.
But Goldberg also points out that a cutoff "may be a moral necessity:"
The Egyptian military seems unwilling to use tear gas on demonstrators when the opportunity to shoot opponents in the head presents itself, and it did, in fact, initiate a coup in July against a democratically elected government (albeit one that governed undemocratically and was the target of popular rage).
President Barack Obama met today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office. The two discussed the situations in Syria, Egypt and Iran. After their meeting, Obama and Netanyahu carried short remarks.
About Syria, Obama said:
We are both pleased that there is the possibility of finally getting chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria. But I think we both share a deep concern that we have to be able to verify and enforce what has now been agreed to at the United Nations. Chemical weapons inside of Syria obviously have threatened Syrian civilians, but over the long term also pose a threat to Israel. And we want to make sure that we get those indiscriminate, horrible weapons out of there.
About Egypt, he said:
We continue to have concerns about what has happened in Egypt, but we also are committed to a constructive relationship with Egypt, in part because of the important role that the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israeli peace serve not only for the stability and security of both those countries, but also for security in the region and U.S. security.
About Iran, the President said:
It is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon. That is important for American security; it is important for Israeli security; it's important for world security, because we do not want to trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world. And given the statements and actions from the Iranian regime in the past — the threats against Israel, the acts against Israel — it is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.
I believe that it's the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of those sanctions that has brought Iran to the negotiating table. I also believe that if diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place. And I think that they should not be lessened until there is verifiable success. And, in fact, it is Israel's firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened.
Netanyahu also referred to the peace process with the Palestinian Arabs:
We know that for peace to endure, it must be based on Israel's capacity to defend itself, by itself. And I hope that we can achieve an historic transformation that will give a better future for us and our Palestinian neighbors, and, who knows, one day with our other neighbors as well.
After the remarks, Obama was asked about the expected government shutdown at midnight, and replied:
The Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues, but that ensures that we're not shutting down the government and we're not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction and digging themselves out of the hole that we've had as a consequence of the financial crisis.
What is going on in Egypt is terrible. But we should not cut off aid to Egypt, at least not yet. Several authorities whom I respect say we should cut off aid to Egypt, but I am not sure that anything happening now should affect our rationale for providing military aid to Egypt. Aid at the current level began after the Egypt signed its peace agreement with Israel. Its purpose is to promote military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel, which enhances regional stability and is in the best interests of the United States.
We gave aid when Sadat oppressed the Egyptians. We gave aid when Mubarek oppressed the Egyptians. We gave aid when the Muslim Brotherhood, whose values are antithetical to our values, was elected. Many thought that the Brotherhood would never give up power, much as Hamas has never given up power in Gaza after winning a democratic election. We will never know.
Now, the Egyptian military has killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members. Bad things are currently happening to bad people. But the reasons for providing aid to Egypt remain valid. Could aid to a repressive regime make the Egyptians hate America? They are oppressing the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Muslim Brotherhood already hates Americans. There is no reason to believe that cutting off American aid to Egypt would turn the military into angels. If we cut off aid, we could remain with the same killing on the streets, plus less military and intelligence cooperation. How does that help? Unless we have a good reason to believe that military and intelligence cooperation will continue without U.S. aid, we should be very wary of reducing the current level of assistance.
Click here to sign up to Steve Sheffey's newsletter.
Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) arrived in Israel. Upon his arrival, he published an op-ed in Ha'aretz, detailing his views and opinions on issues most prevalent to the Jewish state.
On the US-Israel Relationship, he wrote:
Some in Washington look at the challenges in the new Middle East and advocate disengagement. I strongly disagree. We cannot stand up for America's interests — or Israel's — from the sidelines. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and engage in support of our ideals, values and interests.
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".
(Update from US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland:
The Secretary met for more than two hours this evening in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, National Security Advisor and other officials. They briefed her on the situation in Gaza and the threat posed by continuing rocket fire to Israeli cities and towns. The Secretary offered condolences for the Israeli citizens killed and wounded in attacks today and over the past several days.
They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel's security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza. They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation. They pledged to stay in close touch as she continues her travels.
- promoted by Publisher)
Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.
As part of her current overseas diplomatic trip, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently in the State of Israel, her fourth such trip during her time in office. During her visit, Clinton is expected to discuss a wide range of topics with a number of prominent Israeli leaders.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Israel early Monday morning for a two-day visit following a trip to Egypt. She was accompanied by US Middle East envoy David Hale and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.
Clinton met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem Monday morning and was set to hold meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day. She will also meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at her hotel in Jerusalem. This is Clinton's fourth visit to Israel since taking office...
During her visit, Clinton is also expected to try to make inroads in restarting direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Clinton will likely ask the Israeli government to release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo peace process, and will ask President Mahmoud Abbas to refrain from requesting observer state status from the UN.
Upon landing, Clinton paid a visit to the residence of Israel President Shimon Peres, where the two leaders held a joint press conference. Barak Ravid of Haaretz wrote:
Talking to the press, Clinton said, 'It is a time of uncertainty but also of a big opportunity in the region. At times like these friends like us need to work together in a smart, creative and courageous way...'
Following his meeting with Clinton, Peres said that, Egypt is a key state in the region and that Israel wants to uphold the peace treaty with Egypt. 'We respect the results of the elections in Egypt, and hope for another 30 years of peace,' he said.
Peres added that he was convinced that there is international understanding of the danger that the Iranian regime represents to the world, and highlighted that the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran have started to work.
'I hope that Iran will return to its rich legacy and be a country that does not threaten anyone, and no one makes threats against,' he said.
While some are raising concerns about the future of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty now that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate has won Egypt's presidential race, AFP has a different issue with the historic bilateral agreement. Today AFP refers to "1980, the year after Cairo signed its peace agreement with Tel Aviv." (Emphasis added.)
AFP would hardly be the first to relocate Israel's capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but the misinformation is all the more jarring in light of then-President Anwar Sadat's unprecedented trip to Jerusalem in 1978, paving the way to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.
Perhaps AFP would do well to review its own archives from that time, including this AFP photograph of Sadat addressing the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in the capital city, Jerusalem:
AFP's own caption reads:
Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) addresses the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem 20 November 1977 during his historic visit to Israel, as Israeli Premier Yitzhak Begin (C) listens to him. Thirty years ago, the Egyptian leader became the first Arab leader to visit the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/FILES
Eleven days before Mr. Sadat made his trip to Jerusalem, he said in Cairo that he was willing to go to ''the ends of the earth,'' and even to the Israeli Parliament, in the cause of peace. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.
His eyes were moist and his lips taut with suppressed emotion as he arrived, but his Arabic was firm and resonant when, hours later, he told the hushed Israeli Parliament, ''If you want to live with us in this part of the world, in sincerity I tell you that we welcome you among us with all security and safety.
In 1978, the leader of the Egyptian nation, which at the time was in a state of war with Israel, could bring himself to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but in 2012, AFP cannot?
I, with my wonderful congregation Leyv Ha-Ir, celebrated Purim, the wild and crazy Jewish holiday celebrating the downfall of Haman (boo!), who as vizier to the Persian King tried to massacre all the Jews in the realm; but his plan was foiled by Mordechai (yay!) entering his beautiful cousin Esther (woo hoo!) into a beauty pageant to be the queen, and Haman's plot was foiled.
It's the celebration of the downfall of a tyrant; the world has been full of them, people who have become legends in their own minds, such as Mubarak in Egypt, Ghadaffi in Libya, and Assad in Syria. There are also mental Hamans as well, within our psyches, such as low self-esteem and self-doubts, which we daily must overthrow; I know, I deal with them as well.
(NJDC) Yesterday, Ilan Grapel — the dual U.S.-Israeli citizen held since June in an Egyptian prison on espionage charges — returned to Israel through the tremendous joint efforts of Israel's and the United States' leadership. On his arrival, Grapel thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others for helping to secure his return.
Video shows Grapel's late-night arrival in Israel; his welcome by his own Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who worked to secure his release and flew to Israel to escort him and his parents home; his welcome by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro; and his joint welcome meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The Obama administration considers Israel a sponsor of terror — at least according to Dick Morris, the disgraced ex-advisor to Bill Clinton, and a host of self-styled "conservative" media. The news was shocking — well, maybe not to the clever folks who knew all along that the president is a secret Muslim, but certainly to the rest of us.
What turned out to be the case is that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency maintains a list of 36 "specially designated countries" whose immigrating citizens get extra scrutiny because their nations "promote, produce or protect terrorist organizations or their members." Note the word "or."
"Produce," in this context, means that terrorists reside in the country. Thus, countries like the Philippines and Morocco, along with Israel, are on the list. Approximately a million and a half Israeli citizens are Arabs-many of whom have ties to Arab residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So no, with apologies to Mr. Morris et al, the U.S. does not consider Israel a terror sponsor.
What makes some people all too ready to misrepresent such things is that many Americans, especially in the Jewish community, have deep concerns about President Obama's Middle East policies. My personal view is that these concerns are overblown. While I realize there are other opinions, as far as I can tell Mr. Obama's positions on building in the settlements and on the terms of Israel-Palestinian negotiations have been American policy since long before his presidency.
Even doubters of Mr. Obama's good will, though, should recognize the import of the administration's declared readiness to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. That stance risks the U.S.'s international political capital and may even, G-d forbid, come to threaten Americans' safety. Might it speak more loudly about the president than his opposition to new settlements?
Speaking equally loudly is what happened on September 9, when Mr. Obama acted swiftly to warn Egyptian authorities that they had better protect Israeli embassy guards in Cairo besieged by a mob. When Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minster Barak were unable to reach the apparently indisposed Egyptian military leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spent hours hounding the Egyptian, finally reaching him at 1 AM to let him know that if anything happened to the Israelis, there would be "very severe consequences." Egyptian soldiers protected the hostages until an Israeli Air Force plane safely evacuated them.
Mr. Netanyahu later recounted that he had asked for Mr. Obama's help and that the president had replied that he would do everything he could. "And so he did," testified the Prime Minister.
It may not be meaningful for many, but I was struck two days later on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks when the president, betraying his Islamic beliefs (joke!), chose for his reading at the New York ceremony the 46th chapter of Tehillim. The one including the words (in the White House's translation):
"Though its waters roar and be troubled... there's a river whose streams shall make glad the City of G-d, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High."
"The God of Jacob is our refuge."
Whatever our takes on this or that statement or position, hard facts are not up for debate.
Let's not forget some such facts:
The Obama administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any American administration;
he has repeatedly declared (first in 2009 in Cairo during his speech to the Arab world) that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is "unbreakable";
Last week, in the lead-up to a Congressional election in Brooklyn in which Jews had ample other reason to vote against the Democratic candidate, some ads presented the contest as an opportunity to "Send Obama a Message"-which some Jews took to mean an angry message about Israel.
Monday night at Israel Policy Forum's symposium in New York on "Security and the New Middle East," former Director of the Mossad Efraim Halevy spoke directly about President Obama's efforts to extricate the six Israelis trapped inside the Israeli embassy in Cairo last Friday night.
I believe the leadership that the President of the United States showed on that night was a leadership of historic dimensions. It was he who took the ultimate decision that night which prevented what could have been a sad outcome-instead of six men coming home, the arrival in Israel of six body bags.
And I want to say to you very openly and very clearly that had there been six body bags, there would have been a much different Israel today than we have been used to seeing over recent years. This would not have been one more incident, one more operation, one event. And the man who brought this about was one man, and that was President Barack Hussein Obama.
This Shabbat has been an extremely difficult time for Israel as Israel's Embassy in Egypt was attacked by protesters, and Israel's Ambassador and staff had to be airlifted out.
Tonight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the country and discussed in part how the Israelis made it safely home:
"I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, 'I will do everything I can.' And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. This alliance between Israel and the United States is especially important in these times of political storms and upheavals in the Middle East."
As the crisis was escalating on Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama coordinated directly by phone. The President expressed his "great concern" about the security of the Israelis serving at the Embassy, and he pressed "the Government of Egypt to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy," as the White House noted.
The hearings planned by Congressman Peter King to isolate American Muslim communities as hotbeds of terrorism evoke two memories from Jewish life - one from two centuries ago, in America; the other, far more distant — about 35 centuries ago, in Egypt.
"Now there arose a new king over Egypt... And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us use our wits against them, lest they multiply and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and rise up over the land.... So they made the Children of Israel subservient and embittered their lives." (Exodus 1: 10-13)
In the other, it was August 17, 1790. The new Constitution had been in effect barely more than a year, and the Bill of Rights — including the First Amendment's forbidding Congress to invade freedom of religion — had not yet been adopted. But President George Washington had just received a letter from the "Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island," asking what the role of Jews and Judaism would be under the new government.
Ambassador Dennis Ross is Special Assistant to the President and the Department of State's Senior Director for the Central Region. He spoke today at J Street's Annual Conference in Washington, DC
When J Street began planning this conference, I'm sure you had in mind discussing a very different reality in the Middle East than exists today. But a few months can feel like an eternity in the Middle East, and we have seen a remarkable transformation in the region over the last several weeks. For the first time in generations, people in Tunisia and then Egypt took to the streets and unseated their leaders through popular, peaceful protests. Thousands of people have followed them from Algeria to Bahrain to Yemen where we have seen governments begin to respond with different degrees of effectiveness. And we have also seen utterly appalling violence in Libya where a detached and brutal leadership has chosen a desperate and irresponsible response to its people's legitimate demands.
A few months ago, it was difficult to envision a Middle East without Ben Ali and Mubarak, stalwart representatives of an old order who governed with the belief that intimidation could preserve their rule. Now, as we enter a period of uncertainty, and seek to ensure that the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia are peaceful, orderly and credible, we need to begin thinking about the Middle East in new ways. As President Obama said a couple of weeks ago,
"The world is changing; you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East that is looking for greater opportunity, and that if you are governing these countries, you've got to get out ahead of change. You can't be behind the curve."
This morning I would like to talk to you about what has happened in Egypt, its impact on the region, and the actions taken by the Obama Administration in the region and beyond.
Today I want not to focus on Pharaoh but to celebrate the people - those million or more who have gathered in Tahrir Square, both as a united, insistent, revolutionary body and as the individuals -- professors and street bums and secretaries, bakers and housewives and lawyers, each one unique, each one fashioned in the Image of God, who have awakened from the stupor their modern pharaoh imposed upon them.
They stand in a great line of nonviolent revolutionaries, stretching back in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to those who dared to smear blood on their doorposts and come forth from these wombs of rebirth to break the birthing waters of the Red Sea.
We are watching the developing situation in Egypt with concern, and with hope.
We agree with President Obama that it is essential that the Egyptian government use restraint when dealing with peaceful protests. Our prayers go out to all those who have been injured and the families of those who have been killed in this conflict.
The people of Egypt should have the rights of all citizens of the earth to peacefully assemble, to express their opinion openly and without fear of oppression, and to express their political desires through a fair and legitimate election.
We, therefore, join with the governments of the United States and Canada in calling for President Mubarak to implement the political, social, and economic reforms that will move the country forward.
We urge, and pray, that these reforms be moved forward through a peaceful dialogue between the protestors and the government and not through the use of violence on either side.
We hope that whatever the outcome of these events, the Republic of Egypt continues to work for peace in the greater Middle East and continue its over thirty year peace agreement with the State of Israel
The United States and our allies are all monitoring the situation on a minute by minute basis and encourage a peaceful and democratic resolution to the current Egyptian unrest. My heart goes out to all of those who have been killed or injured during the mass demonstrations in the Egyptian streets.
For the past 30 years, as the most populous of the Arab states, with the largest standing army in the region, Egypt has played a critically important role in protecting America's interests in North Africa and the Middle East. This includes Egypt's cooperation in military, intelligence, and economic matters with our country; and its continuing to preserve the peace with America's most important friend and strategic ally in the region, the Jewish State of Israel. Egypt has also partnered with the U.S., Israel, and our other allies in fighting terrorism.
In the end, we seek an Egypt that remains a strong ally, working with the U.S. in our common fight against terrorism, living at peace with Israel, and creating an increasingly open society to meet the needs of its young and growing population.
-- Alan Elsner, The Israel Project Senior Communications Director
The uprising in Egypt that looks like it may sweep away President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-old regime threatens to deprive Israel of its most important strategic ally in the region.
Israeli leaders have been silent about the events in Egypt and are powerless to affect the outcome. But they and the entire Israeli population are gravely concerned that the turmoil will ultimately bring to power a new government hostile to the Jewish state.
At a time when Israel's relations with Turkey, its other traditional regional ally, have deteriorated sharply, and when Hezbollah is strengthening its grip in Lebanon, the developments in Egypt will likely deepen a sense of vulnerability in the Israeli public and strengthen the government's determination to keep security its number one priority.
A cold wind is blowing across Israel from Araby and parts of the Muslim world causing a severe deterioration in its diplomatic position. Turkey and Egypt, the anchors of its diplomatic and military positions in the region, are now uncertain neighbors. Political developments in the two countries have placed both on an increasingly unfriendly course to the Jewish state. The Arab Spring, which is blossoming into an Islamic political revival, is raising questions whether Egypt will continue to retain its decades- old peace treaty with Israel. Turkey, an erstwhile ally of Israel, has become increasingly
My extended family and I just returned from a family trip to Israel and Egypt to celebrate our younger son's Bar Mitzvah. We are grateful and blessed that our dream trip was realized. We marked Noah's becoming a man in the Jewish tradition at the Kotel (the western wall in the Old City of Jerusalem) with 14 members of our family, including all four grandparents, an uncle, cousins, and friends. It was a simcha (happy occasion) beyond words: magical; spiritual; exceeding our every anticipation and expectation. We traveled throughout Israel for 11 days, and then spent four days in Egypt.
Observations? Lessons learned? I have many, but here are just a few:
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is an online non-profit volunteer based community newspaper serving the Philadelphia Jewish Community since 2005. We are dedicated to addressing the important social, political and cultural issues facing our community in a spirit of honesty, integrity and diversity.
Your tax-deductible donations will help give Voice to the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Community.
To pay by credit card or paypal, click here:
or send a check to:
Eric Smolen, Treasurer,
Philadelphia Jewish Voice,
327 Pembroke Road,
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is organized pursuant to
Pennsylvania's non-profit corporation law. We have tax-exempt status under IRS
Code Section 501(c)(3). Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of
For more information about the Philadelphia Jewish Voice visit