With help from The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, seven young Jewish adults in Murmansk, Russia celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in late January.
Murmansk, the largest city inside the Arctic Circle, is one of the global Jewish family's northernmost communities. So harsh are the winters there that the bar and bat mitzvah celebrants had to shovel through several feet of snow to access the building.
—By the staff of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS
Following the grand opening of its new Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Community of Smolensk in Russia last week celebrated the opening of the city's first ever kosher store on the premises of the new center.
It's the best of times for Israel and the worst of times, says Jonathan Adelman, in a presentation exploring Israel's new relationships with former enemies and their implications for Israeli foreign policy. Professor Adelman is affiliated with the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and the author or editor of 10 books on international affairs. He has been sent by the U.S. State Department on 14 international speaking tours to a dozen countries, including England, Germany, Spain, Russia, China, India and Japan. He spoke on behalf of Israel Bonds at Lower Merion Synagogue earlier in October.
President Barack Obama: Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.
But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
We are thrilled that Mitt Romney will be following the lead set by President Obama and visiting Israel as a presidential candidate. Romney's visit to Israel will provide him with the perfect opportunity to clarify a number of broad and unclear foreign policy statements that he's made on the campaign trail. Our hope is that Romney will be inspired by his surroundings and give the thorough and detailed answers to the questions on which many have been seeking answers.
Governor Romney, when you say that you will "do the opposite" of President Obama on Israel, to what are you referring? Are you planning to reverse the unprecedented amount of military assistance that has come from this Administration? Are you planning to stop voting with Israel 100% of the time in the United Nations Security Council? Are you planning on driving a wedge between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, which are cooperating closer than ever before?
Governor Romney, what is your Iran policy? Several media outlets — including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times — have noted that when it comes to a specific Iran policy, the steps you mention are not much different from those of the current Administration. What will you actually do differently? Sound bites like "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will get a nuclear weapon... If we elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not" are unacceptable answers.
Governor Romney, if Russia is indeed the United States' "number one geopolitical foe," what do you make of the growing closeness between Israel and Russia — particularly vis-à-vis stopping Iran? Perhaps you could provide your answer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, who recently hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Governor Romney, in addition to your campaign forming a "strategic partnership" with Ron Paul, one of the U.S.-Israel relationship's staunchest opponents on the Hill to win your nomination, your campaign advisors include:
Israel-challenged former Governor and White House Chief of Staff John Sonunu as an attack dog;
Surrogate John Bolton who passed off a false story authored by an "anti-Israel warrior" and former Yasser Arafat adviser as fact.
How will these individuals shape your Israel policies? Are these individuals with checkered pasts on Israel part of your "do the opposite" plan?
Governor Romney, are you actually vetting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for vice president? How do you account for Rice's much-criticized record on Israel? Are you comfortable with her comparison of Palestinians to African Americans fighting for civil rights in the 1960s? Do you agree with the way she pressured Israel to accept a peace treaty with Hezbollah before the Israeli military had a chance to complete its military operations?
Governor Romney, do you intend to start all foreign aid at zero, including to Israel? You went on record as agreeing with Texas Governor Rick Perry during the primary debates, without clarifying whether or not this promise included any memorandums of understanding in regards to Israel. Furthermore, you failed to clarify your stance during an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition. You may want to make your position clearer when meeting with Israeli citizens who have benefitted from President Obama's unprecedented foreign aid record.
Governor Romney, does your admiration for President Ronald Reagan extend to his mixed Israel record? As a reminder, Reagan — who never visited Israel throughout his lifetime — sold weaponry to Israel's enemies while refusing sales to the Jewish state, supported anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, condemned Israel's attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor, and suspended key cooperation agreements between the United States and Israel. Are these the actions that inspire your "do the opposite" plan?
Governor Romney, with so many of President George W. Bush's advisors — including Dan Senor, Tevi Troy, Mary Beth Long, and John Lehman — on your staff, how similar will your foreign policies be? After serving in an Administration that allowed Israel's Qualitative Military Edge to collapse, revoked hundreds of millions of dollars in loan guarantees, endorsed participation by Hamas in Palestinian elections, and refused to sell bunker-busting bombs for potential use to halt the Iranian nuclear efforts, isn't it fair to wonder whether these advisors will push you in a similar direction as their previous boss?
Governor Romney, do you still believe that politics ends at the water's edge? You strongly criticized members of the Democratic Party during President George W. Bush's time in office, arguing that "we need to not have people running their own separate foreign policies." During your travels overseas, will you keep your own words in mind, as well as the pledge you made this week in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, and refrain from criticizing a sitting president's foreign policies?
Governor Romney, you repeatedly have failed to offer any of your own original ideas for how you would conduct foreign policy in your own administration. Rather than offer criticisms of President Obama — what would you do?
Over the course of his presidential run, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made some outlandish comment on foreign policy, including that he would "do the opposite" of President Barack Obama on Israel, and that Russia is the United States' "number one geopolitical foe." Romney has earned condemnations from multiple public officials for his statements, including from Vice President Joe Biden and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell. In addition, the Los Angeles Times found last month that despite his heated rhetoric, Romney has yet to offer any specifics of what he would do differently than Obama-especially on Iran.
Now, Romney's policies have been examined by Fred Kaplan, a noted foreign policy expert and writer for Slate. Kaplan's judgment? That "Romney doesn't seem to understand - nor do some of his advisers - the extent to which the world has changed since the end of the Cold War," and that his "statements on foreign policy range from vague to ill-informed to downright dangerous."
Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took his eye off of Iran and incorrectly designated Russia as America's "number one geopolitical foe" during his interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Romney offered his throwback to the Cold War while attacking President Barack Obama for his diplomacy with Russia — including the New START treaty that was supported by many Jewish communal organizations, which was one of the pieces that helped bring Russia on board with the fist round of Iran sanctions. Romney told Blitzer [emphasis added]:
What he did both on nuclear weaponry already and the new START treaty as well as his decision to withdraw missile defense sites from Poland and then reduce our missile defense sites in Alaska from the original plan. These are very unfortunate developments.... This is to Russia, this is without question our number one geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world's worst actors. (Think Progress)
Blitzer followed up, and asked Romney how Russia was a greater U.S. foe than Iran. Apparently, Romney's definition of "number one geopolitical foe" does not include Iran's threatening behavior — including its nuclear weapons program and belligerent actions in the Middle East. Romney said [emphasis added]:
Well I'm saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation that lines up with the world's worst actors. Of course the greatest threat the world faces is a nuclear armed Iran and a nuclear North Korea is troubling enough. But when these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the UN looking for ways to stop them ... and who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors, it is always Russia, typically with China alongside. So in terms of a geopolitical foe a nation that is on the Security Council that has the heft of the Security Council and is of course a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe and the idea that our president is planning on doing something with them that he's not willing to tell the American people before the election is something I find very, very alarming. (Think Progress)
Following Romney's dangerous reassessment of global affairs-in which he prioritized a partisan sound bite over the reality of the threats posed by Iran to America and our allies-a number of experts and observers slammed Romney for yet another baseless foreign policy smear.
Philadelphia area Russian citizens vote in Russian Presidential Election at Klein JCC, Saturday, March 3
Russian citizens residing within the Philadelphia area will cast their ballots in the Russian presidential election through a special voting center set up in Room 218 at the Klein JCC, located at 10100 Jamison Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Candidates in this presidential election are:
Vladimir Putin (United Russia),
Gennady Zyuganov (Communist),
Sergey Mironov (A Just Russia aka Social Democrat),
Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democrat), and
Mikhail Prokhorov (Independent).
The special election center is being established through the Russian consulate in New York City. Voters in Russia will go to the polls on March 4.
It has been several weeks since President Barack Obama first increased sanctions on Iran, effectively cutting off Iran's central bank from the global economy. To this point, the evidence is overwhelming that these sanctions have had a strong effect on Iran's economy and government.
Previously a major importer of steel, Iranian steel traders have found their business "grinding to a halt."
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