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Passage of Time Cannot Dim the Memory of the Munich 11

by: Publisher

Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 17:58:41 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

At a memorial held in London to honor the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman delivered a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama. The statement read:

Today, the United   States is proud to stand in solemn remembrance with the Israeli people to remember the eleven Israeli athletes who were killed forty years ago. The passage of time cannot dim the memory of the hope and promise that those members of the Israeli Olympic team embodied, just as time does not dull the horror at the brutal terrorist attack that took their lives.

The Israeli citizens who were lost stood for what is best about their nation, and the Olympic movement. They excelled at wrestling and weightlifting, fencing and running.  They were citizens of a young democracy in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. And let us always remember that they were fathers and sons, husbands and brothers, and their loss left an empty space in families, communities, and a country that will never forget them.

While the United States supported a moment of silence in their honor, we welcome any effort to recall the terrible loss that was suffered in Munich, and the lives of those who were lost. Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives. Let us support the families who have endured forty years without their loved ones. And let us reaffirm the bonds between the United States, Israel, and all those around the world who strive for a world of peace and justice.

Obama previously offered his support for a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games currently taking place in London, although no such moment was held.

More after the jump.

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Attacks by Romney and ECI "Hollow" and "Galling"

by: Publisher

Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 18:13:43 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

Following another series of deliberately misleading ads from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the Emergency Committee for Israel attacking President Barack Obama on his record with Israel, a number of prominent journalists have condemned the attacks as "misleading," "hollow," and "galling."

Beth Reinhard of the National Journal took the Romney campaign to task for refusing to acknowledge "a more nuanced and honest" look at the Obama administration's achievements and efforts in Israel. Reinhard wrote:

But Romney's most recent ad is particularly galling because it seeks to suggest the president is anti-Israel or anti-Jewish. 'Who shares your values?' the spot demands, chiding Obama for failing to visit Israel during his first term and for 'refusing' to recognize Jerusalem as the capital. Romney should have touted his own recent trip to Israel-though it was light on policy details-and stopped there. But instead, he put money behind advertising that implies something sinister behind Obama's policies, even though plenty of news outlets cried foul when he first started raising these issues.

Former Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan never visited Israel during their presidencies, and George W. Bush didn't go until the last year of his second term. And like his Democratic and Republican predecessors, Obama has described Jerusalem as the capital but signed waivers putting off moving the U.S. embassy because it would inflame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Romney's campaign clearly knows these facts but can't be bothered with a more nuanced and honest criticism of the administration's failure to broker peace in the Middle East. That's a shame.

Douglas Bloomfield of The Jewish Week also found himself puzzled by Romney's attack, noting that by the ad's standards, the only presidents who had an acceptable record on Israel were Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton - both Democrats. Bloomfield wrote:

According to an ad just put out by the Romney campaign, only Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter qualify among the last six presidents over the past 35 years as leaders who 'recognize the cherished relationship the U.S. has with Israel and stands with our allies.'

How can that be? Why do only these two Democrats make the grade?  Because Romney's standard is a first term presidential visit to Israel, and that's something Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (so far) never did.  Reagan didn't go in his second term, either, and Bush 43 only went late in his second term.

Only Carter and Clinton visited Israel during their 'first four years as president,' something Romney has said he would do and castigates Obama for following the example of Reagan and the Bushes.

The 30-second ad also criticizes Obama for 'refusing to recognize' that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

All three Republican presidents - like all other Republican and Democratic presidents - also did not officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, which means moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Any number of presidents have said they'd like to be able to do that, but the fact is none ever did it, and none will, as noted in this space earlier, until the Israelis and Palestinians make peace and agree on the location and borders of their capitals.

In checking both Romney and the ECI's ads for honesty, The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler assigned them two Pinocchios. Kessler went on to note that "the basic frame of the [ECI's] ad is misleading," and that Romney's attack echoed a "hollow talking point." Kessler wrote:

Only four of the last 11 presidents visited Israel during their presidency, and two — Nixon and George W. Bush — waited until their second term to make their first trip. In both cases, they visited in the last year of their presidencies (Nixon resigned because of the Watergate affair shortly after his trip.)

Only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, then, visited Israel in their first term. And of the last four presidents, two never visited Israel, one visited in his second term and one visited in his first term.

Thus Obama's failure to travel to Israel thus far is not unusual at all.

The Emergency Committee ad also suggests that Obama has visited Arab countries rather than Israel. But the State Department records also demonstrate that every president who traveled to Israel had previously visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The ad also incorrectly says Obama has 'traveled all over the Middle East.' Obama visited just Turkey and Iraq in April 2009, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia in June 2009. The stops in Iraq and Saudi Arabia were barely a few hours long - and Obama has not traveled at all to Middle East in the past three years. (Many of the images in the ad of Obama with Arab leaders are from international confabs held outside the Middle East...)

Meanwhile, the Romney ad also knocks Obama for not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital 'as president.' As we noted last week, Obama, just like Romney, said Jerusalem was Israel's capital during a 2008 trip there as a presidential candidate. But Obama, following the path set by previous presidents, has held off official recognition by the U.S. government pending the outcome of peace talks. Romney has never pledged that he would direct the State Department to immediately recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, so thus far this is a hollow talking point.

Pollak is correct that the Emergency Committee ad does not directly say that Obama's travel record was unusual for a president, but it certainly suggests that. While there may have been good political reasons for Obama to make a trip to Jerusalem, the basic frame of the ad is misleading, especially the claim that he's traveled all through the Middle East at the expense of a visit to Israel.

The Romney ad also misleadingly suggests Obama's failure to visit Israel is unusual since it asks, 'Who shares your values?'

Obama may have failed the Woody Allen test, but his travel record to Israel is par for the course for American presidents.

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Martin Indyk Calls ECI's Misquote "Low and Odious"

by: Publisher

Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 09:18:08 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

Time and time again, the Emergency Committee For Israel has launched partisan attacks that range anywhere from disingenuous to blatantly false. Now, their latest advertisement has been attacked by one of the individuals it quoted. Martin Indyk, the former Ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration, told Alexander Burns of Politico that ECI took his words "completely out of context" in what he deemed a "low and odious" political ploy.

Burns wrote:

The Emergency Committee for Israel placed ads in Jewish newspapers this week accusing Obama of being a poor friend to Israel. The ad features several critical quotes, including this one from Indyk: 'From his first day in the White House, he put the Middle East at the top of his political agenda. Unfortunately for him, his personal involvement only made things worse.'

Indyk, now at the Brookings Institution, says the newspaper ad is not an accurate representation of his view of the Obama administration's Israel policy.

'First of all, my words are taken completely out of context. I'm voting for Obama, and I hope he gets reelected. It's outrageous to me that my words would be used in an ad to try and change Jewish voters,' he said in an interview. 'I don't think there's any chance it'll work, but it's a low and odious attempt to twist some words for the purpose of politicizing an analysis I was doing.'

'The reality,' he continued, 'is that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also got involved and made matters worse. And I too got involved and made matters worse.''

The former diplomat pointed to a number of Obama administration measures supporting Israel - including military aid and cooperation on covert actions against Iran - and concluded: 'Anybody looking at the facts would judge him to have fulfilled his commitment to support Israel's security.'

Indyk's office also released a statement to Teisha Bader of Shalom TV:
I am deeply disappointed that my analysis of President Obama's Middle East policy, as outlined in my recent book, Bending History: Barack Obama's Foreign Policy, has been distorted for partisan political purposes. President Obama has made mistakes, just like others who have tried and failed to make peace in the Middle East. (I include myself in that category.) But the President has been true to his promise of doing everything possible to ensure Israel's security and he deserves high praise for that.
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Affordable Care Act Helps 47 Million Women, Starting August 1

by: Publisher

Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 09:01:10 AM EDT

Emanuel: ACA Consistent with Jewish Values

— by Max Samis

In an op-ed published by JTA, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — is in lockstep with Jewish values and traditions. Emanuel wrote:

The duty to heal the sick and provide for the poor are deep moral imperatives in the Jewish tradition. Combined with the biblical command to treat the stranger as yourself because you were once a stranger in a strange land, this duty transforms our obligations beyond the worthy interest in promoting the health and well-being of our own community. Our mothers can't just want their children to be doctors to Jewish people, they must heal whomever is sick-Jew and non-Jew.

This element of Jewish philosophy makes the Jews' stake in health care reform enormous. It is not just about providing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans-caring for children who might not get the vaccinations or the checkups they need, or diagnosing cancer or other diseases early, or making sure people don't have to choose between bankruptcy and having a needed surgical procedure. For Jews it is about more; it is about holding true to our tradition.

After 100 years of trying to achieve comprehensive health care reform-an effort that started with Teddy Roosevelt and continued with FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton-Congress finally passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010. Once and for all, the Supreme Court affirmed that the law, particularly the individual mandate, is constitutional...

Because of this health care reform, children can no longer be denied care due to pre-existing conditions. Patients can't lose coverage when they get sick. Insurance companies can't impose lifetime caps on care or raise premiums without reason. Medical research will proceed faster, as insurers must cover the cost of participation on clinical trials. And all of this reform comes while still allowing preserving the traditional physician-patient relationship...

These changes will save lives. They will perfect our union and help repair our world. Yet Republican leaders want to reverse course...

More after the jump.
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Bronfman: Obama's Strong Record on Israel is 'Crystal Clear'

by: Publisher

Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 16:10:59 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

Despite repeated smears from Republicans desperate to disparage President Barack Obama, leaders in the American Jewish community know that Obama has consistently stood up for Israel. In an op-ed published by JTA, Edgar M. Bronfman, the former president of the World Jewish Congress, praised Obama for protecting Israel's security and defending the Jewish state in front of the international community time and time again.

Bronfman wrote:

Throughout a half-century of international diplomatic work, I have learned to tell the politicians from the friends and the charlatans from the statesmen. Charlatans scream. They tell you what you want to hear and call other people names. Friends and leaders need not rely on rhetoric or boisterous bravado. They produce results and act on principle.

President Obama is such a friend and leader. In his 3 1/2 years in office he has deepened and strengthened the relationship between the United States and Israel. And today, Obama continues to implement a comprehensive pro-Israel agenda that has made Israel safer and more secure.

Under Obama, U.S. financial aid to Israel is at its highest levels ever. During the past four years, Israel has avoided becoming engaged in any substantial frontal military engagements, advanced its notable economic development and remains prepared for negotiating a comprehensive peace. Obama as president has led a mutually beneficial resurgence in the exchange of strategic technology, intelligence and cooperation between U.S. armed forces and the Israel Defense Forces.

Standing by Israel, Obama opposed the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and blocked its recognition at the United Nations. He supported Israel's right to defend itself and confronted head-on the now-discredited Goldstone Report that condemned Israeli defensive action off its coast. He also ordered the United States to withdraw from the Durban Review Conference, whose namesake conference was supposed to be about racism but instead became an anti-Israel hate-fest. Obama stated unequivocally that 'The United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum.'

Going even further, Obama has taken the floor of the United Nations to declare that 'Israel's existence must not be a subject for debate' and that 'efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will be met only by the unshakable opposition of the United States.'

When Fatah and Hamas joined political forces and pressured Israel to enter negotiations with them, Obama told the world that 'No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,' concluding that 'Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist.'

And this is also why Obama has taken such a strong stand against the Iranian nuclear program-the single greatest threat to the State of Israel and the stability of the Middle East. After years of inaction and neglect by the Bush administration, Obama constructed an international coalition to impose the most crippling sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. These sanctions have already choked off Iran's access to many capital markets and have had a profound effect on the way Tehran finances its nefarious operations. Covert U.S. operations targeting Iran's nuclear infrastructure reportedly have also slowed their rate of progress.

While his opponents can talk tough on Iran, the president is doing what is necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Nevertheless, despite clear facts and substantial evidence, political partisans and opponents of the president continue a coordinated campaign to distort reality in a brazen attempt to fool the public. The same type of people who called Obama a closet Muslim and claimed he was not born in the United States now exercise linguistic calisthenics to obfuscate the truth and portray the president as hostile to the Jewish state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not long ago, while sitting in the Oval Office, Obama looked me in the eye and said, 'My commitment to Israel's security is bone deep.' He did not have to say it. I already knew that President Obama would never forsake the Jewish state, its security and its people. His record of performance is crystal clear and the charlatans cannot change that.

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Obama: Support For Israel "Should Transcend Party"

by: Publisher

Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 09:00:54 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

Speaking at an event in West Palm Beach, FL, President Barack Obama took an opportunity to reassert the United   States' steadfast commitment to the State of Israel, emphasizing that support for the Jewish state goes far beyond partisan politics. Obama told the crowd that support for Israel is "not a Republican or a Democratic issue. That is an issue of how we work with one of our closest allies in the world that shares our values and believes in democracy."

Obama said:

And we've strengthened our alliances and stood with countries that shared our values.  I know a lot of people in this community care about the state of Israel-and we are heartbroken-and it's an important time to talk about this because of these barbaric attacks that happened in Bulgaria-young people being killed because of this ruthless terrorist attack.  And I want everybody here to know, under my administration, we haven't just preserved the unbreakable bond with Israel; we have strengthened it.

We've stood by Israel's side in the face of criticism.  Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer.  And obviously this is a moment of great uncertainty in the Middle East given what's happening in Syria and what's happening in other places.  So now is the time to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect Israel's security.  And I want you to know that that's something that should transcend party.  That's not a Republican or a Democratic issue.  That is an issue of how we work with one of our closest allies in the world that shares our values and believes in democracy.

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Sec. Clinton Meets with Peres and Other Leaders in Israel

by: Publisher

Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 16:12:02 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

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.

Ilon Ben Zion of The Times of Israel reported:

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.

More after the jump.

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Romney's Foreign Policy Views "Downright Dangerous"

by: Publisher

Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 09:23:13 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

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."

Highlights of Kaplan's article follow the jump.

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Iran Sanctions About to Increase

by: Publisher

Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 16:11:32 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

The Los Angeles Times reported that the multilateral sanctions led by President Barack Obama are set to increase this weekend.

Extract from Los Angeles Times follows the jump.

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Israel Wants More of Obama's Policies, Not Less

by: Publisher

Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 17:52:00 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

Following Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's assertion that he would "do the opposite" of President Barack Obama when it comes to Israel, Steven Grossman wrote in Haaretz that Israelis in fact want more of Obama's policies — not less. Grossman went through Obama's policies piece by piece, finding that to reverse them would simply mean "a less secure Israel."

Grossman wrote:

Romney has taken his outrageous campaign rhetoric to a new level of hyperbole. Romney told religious conservatives he would do 'the opposite' of what President Barack Obama has done on Israel. Which raises the question: what has the President done, and what would Romney change?

Let's start with the facts. Under President Obama, security assistance to Israel has increased to unprecedented levels. The Administration has dramatically increased funding for the Iron Dome system - which has already saved Israeli lives from the terror of Hamas rockets. The President has given Israel access to our most sophisticated military systems, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and initiated the largest joint exercise between the U.S. and Israeli militaries. While working to strengthen Israel's security, the President has insisted that any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza be demilitarized.

Following the Romney plan and doing the opposite would mean, simply, a less secure Israel.There's more. The Obama Administration has fought for Israel's inclusion in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It has vetoed every UN resolution condemning Israel and defended Israel against the Goldstone Report. It boycotted the anti-Israel Durban II Conference and stood up for Israel in the wake of the Gaza Flotilla incident when no one else would.

The President has demanded that Palestinians negotiate directly with Israel, rather than pursue a misguided and dangerous statehood strategy at the UN. Meanwhile, he has refused to recognize Hamas until it renounces terrorism, accepts Israel's right to exist, and abides by all prior agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Doing the opposite would only serve to weaken Israel's hand in diplomacy and on the global stage.

Going above and beyond the realms of security aid and diplomatic engagement, President Obama has acted - swiftly and forcefully, in moments of imminent danger - to save individual Israeli lives.

To take one example: when Israelis faced an angry mob at their embassy in Cairo and Prime Minister Netanyahu called the White House in the middle of the night for help, President Obama didn't hesitate to act. He took the initiative, called the Egyptian military leadership immediately, protected the Israelis from harm, and got them home safely.

And in the face of the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, the President's policy has been clear: Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons is unacceptable. He worked with Congress to impose some of the toughest sanctions ever enacted on the Iranian regime. He built an international coalition to follow suit, creating a united front to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions. Today, our sanctions are biting and stronger than they have ever been.

Now, back to Governor Romney's proposal: if we suspend rational belief for a moment and take him at his word, what would 'the opposite' look like? What could we expect from a Romney Administration when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship?

The impact of reversing course is plain: an Israel that's less secure and weaker on the world stage, facing an Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, without a White House ally willing to protect Israel's people at a moment's notice. Is this really what's in store from a Romney White House? Is this honestly what Mr. Romney believes?

At the end of the day, there are only two things we can believe about Mitt Romney when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Either he is engaged cynical partisan demagoguery or he is woefully ignorant of the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship under President Obama's leadership.

Doing 'the opposite' is a risk the American people can't afford to take.

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Jewish Women Leaders Endorse Barack Obama

by: Publisher

Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 08:31:52 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

Three prominent leaders in the Jewish community wrote an op-ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel endorsing President Barack Obama for reelection. Nancy Ratzan, past president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Millie Sernovitz, past president of Jewish Women International, and Barbara Dobkin, founding chair of the Hadassah Foundation, made it clear that for both women and the Jewish community, Obama has proven to be the right choice.

Op/ed follows the jump.

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McDonough: US Always "Stalwart Friend & Ally of Israel"

by: Publisher

Mon May 07, 2012 at 19:10:49 PM EDT

Watch live streaming video from washingtoninstitute at
— by Max Samis

Over the weekend, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough spoke in front of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Weinberg Founders Conference. McDonough covered a wide range of topics regarding the Middle East, but spent a significant amount of time discussing the United States' special relationship with Israel.

Highlights of speech follow the jump.


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ADL Honors Napolitano for Leadership in Fight against Terrorism

by: Publisher

Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 17:00:00 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

At its National Leadership Conference this past weekend, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with the ADL William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award. The award commemorates Napolitano's "leadership in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism."

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman presented the award saying:

At this time of great challenge and evolving threats, our nation is fortunate to have Secretary Napolitano at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Napolitano knows that countering radicalization and violence is frequently best achieved by engaging and empowering individuals and groups at the local level to build resilience against violent extremism-a mantra the League also advocates. Her actions show that while law enforcement plays an essential role in keeping us safe, so too does engagement and partnership with communities.

Napolitano's remarks follow the jump.
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Biden on Romney's "Profound Misunderstanding" of Foreign Policy

by: Publisher

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:30:36 AM EDT

Biden: "No president since Truman has done more for Israel than Obama."

— by Max Samis

Speaking at New York University, Vice President Joe Biden gave an address on President Barack Obama's foreign policy successes that directly refuted many of the claims made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. According to Biden, Romney has a "profound misunderstanding" of the role of Commander-in-Chief and a clear record of "distorting" the President's record. Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press wrote:

In a campaign speech delivered at New York University Law School, Biden laid out a robust defense of President Barack Obama's foreign policy record while eviscerating Romney for lacking vision and for 'distorting' Obama's record in a way that has been counterproductive to U.S. interests.

'If you're looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,' Biden said, saying Obama's decisions on both foreign and domestic policy had made the U.S. safer.

Biden cast the former Massachusetts governor as an inexperienced foreign policy thinker who would delegate decisions to staff and advisers. He also hit Romney on his reputation for flip-flopping on issues.

'We know when the governor does venture a position it's a safe bet that he previously took or will take an exactly opposite position,' Biden said, noting that Romney had originally supported setting a time frame for pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan only to later criticize Obama's plan to do so by the end of 2014.

Biden repeatedly used Romney's own words against him, such as when Romney downplayed the significance of capturing Osama bin Laden during Romney's 2008 presidential bid and, more recently, when Romney said Russia was the United States' gravest geopolitical foe.

'As my brother would say, "Go figure,"' Biden said to laughs.

Biden made special note of Obama's commitment to Israel's safety and security, accusing Romney of twisting the president's positions. Fouhy wrote:

On Israel, Biden said Obama has stood firm in support of the Jewish state - often alone and facing criticism from other allies. He noted that Romney had accused Obama of 'throwing Israel under the bus.'

'The governor is falling back on one of his party's favorite tricks of late - distort and mischaracterize your opponent's position. Keep repeating the distortions and mischaracterizations over and over again,' Biden said.

Biden also criticized Romney's positions on Iran, firmly stating that the governor continues to attack the president without offering any difference in opinion or strategy. Fouhy wrote:

On Iran, Biden said Romney's call for crippling sanctions and a U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon simply mirrored Obama's approach.

'The only step we could take that we aren't already taking is to launch a war against Iran. If that's what Gov. Romney means by a "very different policy," he should tell the American people,' Biden said.


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Jewish Organizations Push To Protect Women

by: Publisher

Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:37:15 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

As Congress debates the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — which has been passed and reauthorized with bipartisan support several times since it's inception in 1994 — prominent Democrats marked April 17 as "Equal Pay Day," recognizing the importance of continuing to fight for gender equality in the workplace. Several leading Democrats issued statements and penned op-eds in order to raise awareness of the issue, as well as the larger fight for women's rights.

Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said:

President Obama and Democrats understand that equal pay is so important for women and their families that one of the first pieces of legislation Democrats passed in 2009 and the first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensures that women can fight for equal pay for equal work, and on National Equal Pay Day we celebrate our continued fight for economic equality, regardless of gender.

The President's commitment to women is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney and the GOP's attitude toward equal pay for women. While Democrats and the President were making equal pay for equal work a priority, nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who Mitt Romney has called a 'hero,' recently repealed that state's fair pay law; and Mitt Romney refuses to say if he would have signed Lilly Ledbetter had he been president at the time. His campaign on a conference call last week couldn't even articulate a response when asked his position on the law....

On Equal Pay Day women can rest assured that Democrats and President Obama will continue the fight for equal pay for equal work and will fight for their right to make health care choices for themselves and their families. It's a shame that Mitt Romney and Republicans can't say the same thing.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — the first female speaker in American history — also said:

I'm proud of the accomplishments of the Democratic-led Congress on behalf of equal pay and fairness. The Lilly Ledbetter Act-the first bill President Obama signed into law-restored the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court. Further, under the Affordable Care Act, soon women will no longer be charged higher premiums than men for the same coverage and no longer will being a woman be treated as a pre-existing condition.  

On Equal Pay Day, we honor all of our nation's women, who through their labor - at home and in the workplace - have made our country strong. And we recommit to opening the doors of opportunity for the next generation of women.

Graph of pay gap by profession, a map of pay gap by state, and op/eds by Senators Gillibrand and Boxer follow the jump.

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Celebrate Passover with Recipes from the White House!

by: RonitTreatman

Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 21:14:01 PM EDT

— by Max Samis

In preparation for the upcoming Passover holiday, President Barack Obama invited members of the Jewish community to the White House for a special cooking demonstration and discussion. Sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Endowment for the Humanities, White House chef Bill Yosses worked with Jewish chef Joan Nathan to demonstrate how to make, among other dishes, apple and pear charoset and matzo chremsel.

Haaretz writer Vered Guttman was one of the guests invited to the event. Guttman wrote:

Before the seder each year, guests are asked to send Bill and White House executive chef Cris Comerford their own family's Passover recipes. The chefs then design a menu for the seder and prepare the dishes according to the guests' recipes.

In previous years they served the classics: haroset and brisket. When we met Wednesday. Bill said they were still working on this year's menu. He did know, however, which desserts would be served: A flourless chocolate cake (which he promises will be on the White House website before the holiday) and a delicious sounding apricot roll cake, that he was kind enough to share the recipe with me. Bill gets extra points for a dessert that is not only fabulous, but also inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. Does the president eat Jewish or Israeli food during the year? I asked.

'The president LOVES Israeli couscous!' Bill didn't have to think much before he answered. Since Israeli couscous is one of the most popular foods imported from Israel, it is often the target of boycott threats by anti-Israeli groups.

More after the jump.
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Rep. Deutch: Don't Make Defense of Israel a Partisan Issue

by: Publisher

Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:53:27 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

In today's Sun-Sentinel, Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) wrote an op-ed discussing the importance of keeping support for Israel a bipartisan issue. Deutch wrote about President Barack Obama's steadfast support of the Jewish state, and implored Republicans to stop trying to turn the Iranian threat of nuclear weapons into a wedge issue for the upcoming election.

Extracts after the jump.

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Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Speaks To Hadassah

by: Publisher

Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 00:00:00 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

Last month, Democratic National Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) gave an interview to Charley J. Levine of Hadassah Magazine. Wasserman Schultz discussed a number of issues pertaining to the Jewish community including Israel, President Barack Obama's record, and the Jewish vote.

Wasserman Schultz said regarding Obama and Israel

:[Obama] proposed more than $3 billion in aid to Israel in a very difficult economy because he recognizes how important Israel's security is. He authorized and supported $205 million for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which is effective against rocket attacks that have been occurring mercilessly against Israel. He authorized the sale of the bunker buster bombs, where President Bush had declined. I would argue he has been a better, more consistent friend to Israel than previous administrations.

More after the jump.
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Sen. Al Franken Reflect On His Israel Trip

by: Publisher

Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 08:39:14 AM EDT

— by Max Samis

In late February, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) visited Israel for the first time since taking office in 2009. Franken traveled across the country and held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, multiple Knesset members, influential business leaders, and journalists.

Mordecai Specktor of The American Jewish World spoke with Franken about the peace process, among other topics:

Franken said that Israeli officials, and knowledgeable political observers who he met, said that Israelis — about '80 percent' of the citizenry — support the two-state formula for a negotiated peace deal.

'While things are stalled for now, there does seem to be, with all the complexities and all the problems, some hope there,' he concluded....

Bringing Hamas into a unified Palestinian political entity is 'certainly unacceptable,' said Franken, 'unless Hamas accepts the basic conditions of Oslo... recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and renunciation of terrorism.'

Following his trip, Franken spoke with Leora Itman of about his visit. Franken stressed the importance of the 'unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States,' pointing to gains the U.S. has made as well as the Jewish state. Itman wrote:
Senator Franken discussed with me some of the ways that he believes that the United States benefits from its strong relationship with Israel, including in the area of emergency medicine. 'We've already learned a tremendous amount from Israel. In fact, in Afghanistan and in Iraq we've had fewer fatalities from wounds than in any conflict we've been in and its in no small part because of what Israel has learned about treating trauma and treating it immediately.'
Franken also told Itman that while they did not go in depth on the issue, he spoke with Netanyahu about the ongoing effort to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. Itman wrote:
Although he said he did not spend much time discussing the danger of a nuclear Iran with Benjamin Netanyahu, he did tell the Israeli Prime Minister that he understood the 'existential' nature of the situation. 'You can't be in Israel without understanding that.' Senator Franken also told me that with respect to the crisis with respect to Iran, he was seeing a real togetherness among his colleagues and the administration in their concern about the many dangers of Iran having a nuclear weapon. 'This seems to be something that everyone's united on. Not necessarily in how to do it. But this is a real, real existential threat.'

'There is this unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States and we cannot let Iran have a nuclear weapon. We cannot let them because that is unacceptable. This is, there's a certain point at which you cannot risk them having that capability to annihilate Israel, which is something [Iran] has said they want to do.'

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Peres' View: We Have the Highest Respect for the President

by: Publisher

Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 07:29:16 AM EST

— by Max Samis

Before his meeting with President Barack Obama this Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres took the time to speak with Barbara Walters on ABC's morning talk show The View. When asked about what Israel and the United States are doing in regards to stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program, Peres briefly discussed cooperation between the Obama Administration and Israel and effusively praised the President for his leadership of international sanctions. Peres said:

I think there are three points which are totally agreed between the American administration and the Israeli government. Number one, that the world is in danger if Iran will get a nuclear bomb. It's a very serious problem, not just because of the bomb but very much because of the nature of the present government. They support terror, they are hanging people without trial. They are really trying to take over the Middle East, and it may affect all the world....

Number two, all of us agree that he shouldn't, that the Iranians shouldn't have a nuclear bomb, then all options are on the table-all options are all options. We don't have to specify.

But right now, President Obama started with a very sophisticated attempt to achieve the same thing by putting on sanctions - political and economic - and he put in this policy to get out of the Europeans and others. So the policy's quite clear and well, there are different speculations. But right now the policy is to try to stop the Iranians from having a bomb by economic and political sanctions.

I think the relations with Obama are in a good shape. We have the highest respect for the President. I think there are ongoing talks... but right now we act together and I think in full agreement.

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Israeli-Made Armor Helps Save American Lives

by: Publisher

Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 08:35:37 AM EST

— by Max Samis

The state of Israel has proven time and time again to be the United States' closest and strongest ally, and it continues to be a two-way relationship. During a recent trip to Kibbutz Sasa in the northern Galilee, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro had the opportunity to visit the Plasan factory, which has provided over 8,000 armor kits to U.S. troops across the world. In this video posted by the U.S. Embassy, Shapiro demonstrates the capabilities of the products built by Plasan.

Besides the support shown to Israel by the U.S., it is clear that Israeli technology is responsible for saving the lives of American troops in combat.

You can learn more about how President Barack Obama has strengthened the relationship here.

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GOP Candidates Maintain Their Distance from Most Jews in AZ Debate

by: Publisher

Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:31:33 AM EST

— Max Samis

In the first Republican presidential debate in nearly a month, one thing became clear: little has changed when it comes to the distance separating the GOP candidates from most Jews. The four candidates on stage in Arizona last night took their turns reminding most American Jews why they support the Democratic Party, in addition to wrongfully attacking President Barack Obama's work to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) wrongly attacked Obama's leadership of the international movement to sanction Iran. As NJDC has noted, the Obama Administration recently implemented more sanctions that have essentially cut off Iran's central bank from the global economy — and they've already made an impact. In addition, the Iranian steel trade has grinded to a halt, and the Iranian oil flow has taken a massive hit. While Romney and others assert otherwise, the fact remains that the President and his Administration are keeping all options on the table when it comes to stopping Iran. As The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg wrote before the debate:

The Obama Administration, through its stalwart opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, has narrowed Iran's maneuverability, and forced the regime to make some obvious errors ... It is precisely because the Obama Administration has constructed a sanctions program without precedent, and because the Obama Administration has funded and supported multinational cyber-sabotage efforts against the Iranian nuclear program, that Iran is panicking and lashing-out.

To get the facts on Obama's work to stop Iran's nuclear program, click here.

The New York Times, Politifact, and National Journal fact checked Romney on Iran. Click the hyperlinked publication to view their findings that debunk Romney's falsehoods.  

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"Friendship Blossoms" Between Romney and Anti-Israel Paul

by: Publisher

Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 18:00:00 PM EST

— by Max Samis

As we've noted previously, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul have grown quite close on the campaign trail. Many believe that Romney will need Paul's support to win the Republican nomination, and Romney has told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he would vote for the anti-Israel Paul if he were the nominee. Several weeks ago, The Washington Post reported on the "strategic partnership" that the two candidates have formed.

According to NBC News:

In addition to the Paul campaign's latest TV ad, here's more evidence in the emerging Mitt Romney/Ron Paul bro-mance: The Paul camp is now passing around oppo[sition research] on Rick Santorum.

With Santorum potentially on the brink of upsetting Romney in Michigan next week, the Paul campaign is targeting the former Pennsylvania senator for what it says is hypocrisy -- after Santorum criticized Romney on the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Now, The New York Times reported that there is a "friendship [blossoming]" between the two candidates. The New York Times wrote:
In a Republican presidential contest known for its angry rivalries, the Romney-Paul relationship stands out for its behind-the-scenes civility. It is a friendship that, by Mr. Paul's telling, Mr. Romney has worked to cultivate. The question is whether it is also one that could pay dividends for Mr. Romney as he faces yet more setbacks in his struggle to capture the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Ideological similarities among supporters of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich suggest that if Mr. Gingrich dropped out, many of his backers would coalesce behind Mr. Santorum. But as Mr. Paul steadily collects delegates, one thing that remains to be seen is whether his affinity - at least on a personal level - for Mr. Romney could help the former Massachusetts governor as the fight drags on...

"I talk to Romney more than the rest on a friendly basis," Mr. Paul said. "I throw Romney's name out because he's made a bigger attempt to do it. The others are sort of just real flat."

In an interview on CBS this past weekend, Mr. Paul volunteered that since his rivals were largely identical in policy substance, "when it comes down to those three, it's probably going to be management style more than anything else." According to one person close to the Paul campaign, it would be accurate to infer from that phrasing — "management style" — that Mr. Paul has a willingness to listen to overtures from Mr. Romney, who has been trying to sell himself to voters as a proven manager.

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Increased Sanctions Continue to Pressure Iran's Economy

by: Publisher

Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:04:59 AM EST

— Max Samis

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."

More after the jump.

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