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Facts in Action: Obama and his Support of Israel

Election 2012

Facts in Action: Obama and his Support of Israel

Juda Engelmayer

Cutting Edge News Contributor
What can a young boy living in Israel show us about American policy and the support the American president may have for Israel?

In an era when candidates tell audiences of all persuasions what they want to hear in order to steer votes their way, what should an electorate do to discern the truth from hyperbole?

No matter which candidate or party one supports, the messages seem to always change, the promises seem to adjust to the sounds of popular opinion and we are left being bombarded with pundits every day attempting to interpret the newest campaign comments and gaffes into palatable positions.

What was once true to John Adams, still applies today; he said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

The fact is that for the past nine years, Menachem Zivotofsky, an Israeli-born American citizen, has been fighting through his parents and attorney, Nathan Lewin, for the U.S. Congress to enforce a law that it passed overwhelmingly in 2002. Even after a resounding loss in the Supreme Court, with two of the judges appointed by President Obama voting with the majority, the President and the State Department will not allow American citizens born in Jerusalem to identify themselves on their American passports as being born in the country of “Israel,” even those born in Western Jerusalem which many had thought was previously undisputed. Read more ..

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Only Israel Can Make Peace

Israel on Edge

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From: The Cutting Edge News

April 27th 2012
Abbas Hillary and Bibi

In the spirit of Yom Ha’atzmaot, Israel’s Independence Day, there has been a lot of talk about the bleak situation Israel finds herself in.  The lack of progress on the peace front, the looming threat of Iran, the discord across the religious divides within Israel and the tentative relationship Israel has now with the United States administration, all paint a picture of more of the same to come from the Israel and Middle East.  That does not bode well, and it will get to the point where stagnancy breeds indifference.Just as the tribal wars, violence, and death in ominous African countries often get remanded to obscure mentions in the media and in people’s minds because nothing seems to make a difference, rendering it routine rather than unusual, the often clichéd sequence of events between Israel and its neighbors gets tired, too.

The rockets fall into Israel, Israel retaliates; Israel hinders movement of Palestinians, PA leadership declares it will not yield in its demand for a right of return.  Israel expands its building of Judea and Samaria, and rockets fall into Israel.  In the process, American Jews lobby their government leaders, the Israel Prime Minister stands obstinate at the American President who time and again declares solidarity with Israel and pays lip-service to Jewish constituents, but does little to actually get invested in the real issues it faces.

Read More in the Cutting Edge News

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

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It’s the real thing: The one sided right of return

In 2001, Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader, said of Yasser Arafat’s last negotiations with then President Bill Clinton, “If Yasser Arafat or any other Palestinian leader were to relinquish the right of return, I would lead the revolt against him.” This supposed right, one sided as it might be, is the stated reason why the Oslo Accords failed, and is something that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert amazingly offered in a rejected last ditch effort to hand over 97% of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.

The Arabs claim that the the right of return is an individual right, enshrined in international law, which no international or national leader can sign away. This right, however seems only enshrined on a one-way street for Palestinians. For Jews, there is no such right, nor any major calls for justice to be served on the behalf of Jews who were forcibly kicked out of Arab lands after the British and French Mandates created the Arab states of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and so on, following the end of World War I.

Syrian Jews, Iranian Jews, and Iraqi Jews all lost property, assets and other valuables, but no one cries for them. There are no movements or United Nations discussions, and in fact, there is no justice in the American courts either, leading one to believe that the right of return is more of a Palestinian ploy than a real international issue applicable to all.

More recently than the end of WWI, General Abdul Nasser came to power in Egypt and ordered the arrests of Jews and confiscated their property, both personal and commercial. He deported thousands, confiscating all their assets. Most of the deportees were limited to one suitcase apiece. Being so bold, in 1964, Nasser declared that Egypt believed in the Nazi cause, saying, “Our sympathy… was with the Germans.”

Fast forward to today, for a case that few are even paying attention to; it is one that reeks of the hypocrisy of the “treasured” right of return law that Arabs so audaciously cling to. It is the illegal trespass of America’s Coca-Cola on property outside Cairo that was taken from a Jewish family by Nasser in 1962. Coca-Cola built a bottling plant in Egypt in the 1940s when it leased land and buildings from the Egyptian Jewish Bigio family, land it owned since 1929. The Bigios were later expelled from Egypt in 1965, after their property was confiscated. Egypt nationalized their property. After the Begin-Sadat talks and the 1978 Camp David Accords brought a treaty, Bigio returned in 1979 and managed to obtain a decree from the Ministry of Finance that the property “had never been legally sequestered or nationalized and accordingly remained” Bigio property.

Yet, a series of back handed deals between Egyptian insurance companies and the government caused the land to fall into the possession of the Misr Insurance Co., a government-owned entity that refused to turn it over to the family. Then, in 1993, Egypt announced the privatization of the bottling facility and Bigio notified Coca-Cola of his family’s interest in the property, but Coca-Cola closed on a deal to acquire ownership interest in the property anyway. Egypt was not going to offer justice or any right of return to the Jewish Bigio family.

Even so, there was hope that the matter could be settled by the American court system, as Coca-Cola is an American operation. Now, 14 years later and after the United States Court of Appeals has reversed dismissals of the case twice, it was shot down again on the argument that the theft was committed by Coca Cola Egypt and not by the American defendants. Fourteen years through the system; the initial suit was dismissed under the Alien Tort Statute stating that there was no jurisdiction and that the act of state doctrine barred the exercise of jurisdiction. The 2nd Circuit reversed it on appeal. The Bigios filed again in 2009, claiming “unlawful taking and exclusion of plaintiffs,” citing the trespass and civil conspiracy as well as unjust enrichment. However, the case was dismissed indicating that Egyptian law prevails. Remarkably, it also said the Bigios “have not plausibly alleged that defendants enriched themselves without just cause.” This was the same Coca-Cola Company that knowingly entered into a lease with the Bigios in the 1930s then ran to buy the land after it was confiscated from them–which they were well aware of.

This past March, the court found that Coca-Cola and its subsidiary occupied the property under a legitimate claim of right for Egyptian law and therefore their possession is not illegal. Then, in what seemed to be an act of kicking a man when he’s down, Coca-Cola filed a “Bill of Costs” to collect the printing costs of its brief from the truly impoverished Bigios. They took the land and now asked for blood.

Fortunately, Coke’s lawyers attached a bill for a completely different brief that was longer than the one Coca-Cola filed. In addition, it never filed a “Supplemental Appendix,” that they also demanded reimbursement for. Diet Coke — obviously embarrassed — withdrew its request for costs once it was revealed. Minor justice served, while the major offense remains intact.

The family now has until May 2 to request a rehearing.  Their attorney, Nathan Lewin, intends to continue the pursuit of justice all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The final outcome of the case will be interesting, because it speaks volumes of the fraudulent nature of the right of return. What cuts for Arabs, does not appear to cut the same for Jews. If Jews demanded their rights of property, assets and land from Arab countries that threw them out, and the United Nations and world leaders joined in the call for Justice for Jews, how lopsided would this world seem on that day? Perhaps a court can decide once and for all that Israeli Law applies for cases involving Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR
This article appeared in the Jewish Star

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The End of Days in Palestine

Palestine the Book, by Jonathan Bloomfield

What would we do if we lived in a flood plain with no egress at all, or along a hurricane evacuation zone that just prolonged the inevitable without taking you out of the path? It is probably something few really consider until the storm is bearing down on them and reality is about hit hard. Living in the New York metropolitan area, having experienced hurricanes, nor’easters and blizzards that destroyed property, wiped out beaches, killed people and devastated lives and families, many of us can imagine the sense of urgency when an emergency is near.

Most recently, last April and May we watched the 24 hour news channels as large regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi were hit by the largest storms since the early 1900s, and the Morganza Spillway was intentionally opened, destroying nearly 5000 square miles of inhabited land to spare total destruction of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, on the heels of the 2005 hurricane that nearly wiped out the whole Gulf region. What if the people who lived there or were visiting the area then had no way to escape?

The prospect is frightening and for just about all of us, unimaginable. Now imagine the threat is not a tidal wave, rushing floodwaters, a violent tornado or some other natural disaster, and something that can wipe out life as we know it for years to come, destroying not just property, but everyone and everything in its wake. Imagine the threat is a nuclear explosion, the mushroom cloud in the distance, the flash of light and the torrent effect of the ripple that tears through everything in its path, leaving death and darkness then nothingness.

This is a fear that we face living in a nuclear world, but one that we here in the United States feel is either so remote or could hit elsewhere, but not in my backyard. However, in Israel, the fear is real. With the entire country being just 8,019 square miles; extending about 200 mi north to south and just 70 miles east to west; with its narrowest point being only 12 miles across, there is nowhere to go to outrun a nuclear attack, nowhere to hide and nothing to do but watch the end of the world take hold.

A recently released short film captures the gripping moments of Israel’s hypothetical destruction. Israeli filmmaker Ronen Barany, who has a knack for creating bizarre short films, just released a five-minute film on Youtube called, The Last Day, or Yom Ha’Acharon. It is made in the style of an amateur video shot on the future date of February 23, 2013, just about one year from now. The home video is the remnant of a flash drive recovered by a United Nations reconnaissance team after an Iranian first strike with nuclear warheads.

It was taken by a couple desperately trying to flee Jerusalem as missiles are seen flying overhead. They are driving on “Highway 1” and capture on camera explosions from conventional warheads along the way, while listening to an emergency radio broadcast advising that there is no more contact with Haifa or the southern regions in what appears to be a concerted surprise attack on Israel. All the while you can hear the couple’s exasperated a voice speaking to one another in Hebrew wondering what is happening, where is Israel’s army and expressing concern that they cannot raise their parents by telephone. The announcer reports that the communications network across the country is failing.

A flash of light appears and the radio goes dead. The couple stops the car to help stranded drivers and runs to the aid of a young boy who stared at the flash and is blinded. As the camera pans the distance they see a huge pillar of smoke begin to expand and more people appear wounded alongside the road. A man recites “Shemah Yisroel”, the Jewish prayer recited by one who senses death is near – “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one,” as Israeli war planes rush overhead and more explosions seem to level a mountain up ahead. Suddenly an almost dull sound begins to rumble and the sky lights up in shades of orange and yellow with black clouds rising from the ground.

All you hear is the explosion and a large ripple drawing near, then the image appears to become pixilated; then blackness and nothing at all. The film ends.

This is hard to watch and seems as real as if it had happened, and the fear sent a shiver down my back. In Mr. Barany’s film, Israel is presumably attacked by its neighbors, and destroyed in a final act of aggression by Iran. The people had nowhere to run, but watched as the end of days consumed them.

As the war of words heats up between Iran and the west and as Israel grapples with just what to do, artists such as Ronen Barany are not alone capturing the fears of the people. A new author, Jonathan Bloomfield, published a book last summer aptly named Palestine. That book depicts a very similar scene of Tel Aviv residents escaping the city as conventional weapons destroy buildings, bridges and roadways.

The threat of an Iranian nuclear launch has been eliminated by a per-emptive Israeli strike using Saudi airspace with permission. What remains is the threat of localized nuclear detonations from Iranian bombs that were smuggled into Israeli cities. That chilling tale ends with Israel’s ultimate victory, and is told in an almost Tom Clancy-like manner where Israeli agents find the plot and the bombs before the timer finishes its count-down.

These are both works of fantasy, and the hope is that it remains as such, even as the genuine possibility exists and is a very real threat for Israel. Some say these are scare tactics to get people worked up enough to force leaders into some unknown action. Others, however, believe it is an imminent reality and must be dealt with. Yet there are those who just chalk these up to entertainment and have no real meaning at all.

As the Republican primaries rage on, and candidates try to emphasize just how much each supports Israel and Jewish communities, Israel’s safety and very existence is a common theme. While stumping in Florida this week, Newt Gingrich sent out a robo-call to Jews accusing Mitt Romney of going cheap on kosher meals for seniors in Massachusetts, and it raised enough concern to make it onto the daily news reports. Just imagine what the threat of Israel’s annihilation can do.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR This article was reprinted from The Cutting Edge News

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Iron clad isn’t necessarily rock solid: How Israel fares to America

January 26, 2012
By Juda Engelmayer

Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.” — President Barack Obama

This 19 word sentence contained within the 6992 word State of the Union address, President Barack Obama practically singled out Israel as if to highlight to his Jewish supporters and detractors alike, that he is the best friend the Jews have had. Other nations, or nation’s capitals were mentioned as allies, but only Israel was assured such an “Iron-clad commitment”.

For all the accolades and loud cheers in the House Chamber, however, the words that the President chose were quite careful and maybe even telling. Unlike Europe and Asia, which he called America’s “oldest alliances,” and the “Americas”, with which he said our ties “are deeper,” America, he said, is committed to Israel’s security. We accept that and know it, and have seen the “closest military cooperation between” Israel and the United States in history take shape in the iron-clad Iron Dome mobile missile defense system that the U.S. has helped build in Israel.

The President’s security and military assurances might imply a harsh acceptance of the present and future. Is it easier to arm a nation and prepare it for a battle than it is to resolve the root cause of the threat in the first place? Not to make a perfect comparison, , but when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saw some of New York City’s more dangerous neighborhoods, he did not put guns in the hands of the decent people living there, but eliminated the dangers, locked up the criminals and took the streets back. The same strategies are being deployed in cities like Newark, Compton and others across the country, where law enforcement and public leaders seek to eradicate crime and eliminate the root causes of the danger.

Of course crime is not the same as ideology, and the issues that affect dangerous cities and those that drive the forces in the Middle East are not the same, but the essence of the argument is no different. Sure Israel needs better weaponry for the time being, as she needs to have a strong deterrent for her enemies, but wouldn’t the prudent course be to help clean up the neighborhood rather than, or in the case, along with, arming the decent people who are stuck in the middle. Israel is indeed in the middle of a world of nations seeking to destroy it.

The right thing to do is for the President to call the issues as they are and boldly condemn those who would seek to harm Israel. He should pound the point of the unyielding cries within the “governments” of Hamas and Hezbollah to destroy Israel. He should decry the hypocritical comments by people like Maen Areikat, the PLO “Ambassador” to the United States who said Jews would not be allowed in the Palestinian State, while Palestinians demand access to all of Israel. He should acknowledge that the divide separating Jews and Moslems in the Middle East is not about land, but about a true and deep seeded belief among many in positions of influence that the G-d of Islam wants his adherents to stamp out the Jews and erase all traces of Israel. Only then can we begin to discuss the terms of any “peace,” and try to find land agreements that would keep the distance sufficiently

Instead, this President and his administration have chosen to ignore the true cause of the problems in the region; the ideological hatred that will not be negotiated away. In his third State of the Union the President declared that “a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli,” but left out the inconvenient truth that the fundamental Islamists are winning the hearts and minds of the people and miring those lands deeper into trends of intolerance, violence and hatred. Liberty is not coming; tyranny is rising, and that will not bode well for Israel or the United States.

On May 19th, 2011, President Obama said that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.” This sentiment is nothing new; those words have been spoken by many before – Jews and Israelis alike.. However, it seemed to have belied what many thought the President had learned to appreciate – the need for defensible borders. Four month later, when he stood before the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, he said,

Let us be honest with ourselves:  Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses.  Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.  Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.  The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.  Those are facts.  They cannot be denied.

Then in November, the administration was so harsh with Israel over building in Jerusalem and the West Bank, it was as if the President’s words to the U.N. – only two months prior- were delivered to placate Jews after the May 19th debacle.

As soon as the pressure was off, he went back to the old routine of chastising the Jews and making moral equivalences to the plights of the two peoples living alongside each other. One people are the startup nation who built a burgeoning society that has contributed so much knowledge and value to the world, and the other is a people hell-bent seeing the former destroyed.

The President, in his speech, devoted most of his attention to the economy, jobs, taxes and government reform and he spent very little time on foreign affairs. That’s actually a good thing. Yet, in that small allotment of time, he gave Israel a shout-out and emphasized how the U.S. cares for her security. For his supporters, they will say that proves what a friend he is, but a real friend cares enough to help make sure that the use of the war machines are the very last resort.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

This article was written for the Jewish Star

Source:
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Israel’s Challenges ahead as 2012 is already filling up its plate

2012 has thus far brought a lot of activity to Israel that could be indicative of the year it is expected to have.  The growing internal strife that has become very public between the religious right and most others to the left of them is threatening the foundation of Israel’s society.  In addition to the social difficulties it poses, the squeeze of the widening financial burden on those who produce income and those who rely on the State for services is taking its toll on the patience of the general society.

Adam Kaufman, of Adam B. Kaufman & Associates, PLLC and longtime Woodmere resident said, “What’s been happening between the religious and secular communities is disheartening.  Israel and Jews have enough people wishing harm without us wanting to harm one another.  Sadly, at times we can be our own worst enemies.” To Mr. Kaufman’s point, the internal conflict would be enough to keep such a small society busy.  Yet, that could be viewed as a minor bump in the road when looking at it in the context of the world it exists in.

Read the whole article at The Jewish Star

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR Jewish Star

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‘They have turned away from what I commanded them’

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai he saw a people decadent and corrupt who had forgone the Judaism which G-d had given them. Prior to his descent, G-d saw this happening and told Moses, “Saru Ma’Hair, Min HaDerech Asher Tzvitem – they have turned away quickly from the way that I commanded them,” as he directed Moses to go down and set the people straight.

As the Jews worshiped the golden calf, they proclaimed that it was the G-d who brought them out of Egypt. How soon they forget!
It did not take too long for the experience of the Exodus to leave the people and for their faith to be challenged to the point of creating a G-d whom they thought spoke to them at that moment. They could have just abandoned religion and worship, but they still sought a higher power, and created it in the manner that they thought best. That seems to have happened again.
Too bad there isn’t a Moses today!
Not idolatry, but if we looked around at our Jewish communities today we could see clear signs of misdirected faith that causes people to act in ways that are not characteristic of a Jewish people who believe in “V’ahavta L’raiacha kamocha,” to love others as we wish to be loved ourselves – a rule that Jews sing about, quoting Rabbi Akiva, “This is a great principle of the Torah”. When we see what is happening in Bet Shemesh these days, it becomes all too clear that Jews have lost their way, and on their new paths, developed rules that have redefined the essence of modern Judaism.

Read more in the Jewish Star

Juda Engelmayer is public relations executive with the NY PR firm, 5W Public Relations where he runs a corporate, public affairs and crisis communications group.

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