Category Archives: Obama
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 ..
Also in the 5 Towns Jewish Star
Edge of Media Manipulation
The New York Times Plays Devil’s Advocate to God’s Messenger
By: Juda Engelmayer
Who is Greg Smith, and why do we care? He was an employee who quit Goldman Sachs in a public way and posted it in a New York Times op-ed. The better question is why should we care? After all, Goldman Sachs probably has had staff quit before for a whole host of reasons, from better opportunities to being disillusioned, to just not meeting the expectations or needs. Gee, I have had some really good people quit the firm where I work, and quit on me for that matter. Some wrote letters too. It’s not news; it’s life.
Work is just that, work. Some love it, some hate it, and some find it a calling; others just work because they need to pay the bills. I work because I enjoy what I do, but also because I get bored doing nothing; and I can certainly use the money. So what is Greg Smith’s deal that so many are now paying attention?
He quit one of the biggest financial institutions and lambasted it in perhaps the single most influential media venue still in print. Yet, it’s not news. Goldman has some 30,000 people working for it, and what are the odds that Greg Smith was not the only employee to walk out that door this same week? It begs the question as to why the New York Times printed it in the first place.
Disturbing video images from Syria show civilians being used as shields for Syrian troops. They are first seen standing, then lying in front, serving the purpose of the advancing Syrian guards. This, as documents leaked from President Bashar Al-Assad’s office reveal that Iran has been helping Syria circumvent sanctions by handing over $1 billion to continue slaughtering its civilians.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the ferocity of the Syrian assault, saying “I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighborhoods, is a grim harbinger of things to come.” He sees the inevitable end to this too.
The U.N. is frozen, unable to do anything about the slaughter of some 6000 people. Security Council mainstays like China and Russia have vetoed any attempts at intervention. Notwithstanding how easy it is for both to act fast when condemning the State of Israel for defending itself – even when it first drops leaflets warning civilians of its intent to strike, the Syrian government has little to worry about from the world body.
While the war against the Syrian people rages on, Iran’s fingerprints were found in some failed attempts to kill Israeli diplomats around the world; in India, Thailand and Georgia. Although they deny it, the Iranian plot was exposed when the terrorists were caught in Thailand with Iranian passports in hand. That one blew his leg off trying to lob a grenade at Thai police only proves incompetence, not detachment.
Now there are heightened threats of Iranian attacks on Jewish and Israeli interests in the U.S. It would seem that Iran is provoking Israeli or American action to create a worldwide calamity. Controlled by the promise of power, oil and financial interests and not the mandate of actually bridging the world of nations, the U.N. remains powerless.
Once again, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to block a passageway for a fifth of the world’s oil supply. If Iran does this, it would also make countries that are holding up action in the U.N. against Syria more dependent on Iran’s oil and more prone to do its bidding.
Oil plays a critical role in setting policy and policing human rights or abuses around the world, and it begs the question as to why the United States does not act faster to develop better alternative energy solutions, or why we allow politics to interfere with matters like the Keystone pipeline that could replace a significant quantity of Middle East oil with Canadian crude. We allow issues like electioneering and foreign threats to oppose one another and defeat rational thinking.
The Iranian threat has been brewing for a long time. As it is a very dangerous and difficult situation to manage, leaders of rational countries quietly hope that someone else will strike at the problem first and remove their burden. Some are actually being less quiet while trying to play down their encouragement of a preemptive strike.
Leon Panetta, the U.S. Defense Secretary made no secret in his declaration that he believed Israel would strike Iran. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote on February 2, “Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June – before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.” This week, however, Panetta backed off and refused to confirm that he said it at all.
Then on February 9th, after Iranian state television reported on evidence that the U.S. was behind the assassinations of its scientists, NBC News cited Obama administration insiders suggesting that Israel’s Mossad had trained the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) to assassinate Iran’s nuclear scientists.
If true, why would it benefit the U.S. to reveal this and possibly provoke Iranian action, which it may have done with the attempts on the lives of Israel’s diplomats this week?
For a nation like the U.S. to pawn off the responsibility of Iran to Israel, through implied acceptance of an inevitable action as Panetta did, or through actual provocation, as the unnamed White House sources did, is confrontational. Yet, it creates enough mayhem should an Israeli first strike occur, and enables U.S. actions under the guise of protecting an ally or an interest rather than the more frowned upon act of actually launching a first strike.
This is a public relations strategy for America to insulate itself from blame of a strike on Iran. Partly for the sake of ultimate anemic approval from the inept U.N., but more to quell the opposition stemming from the American left who does not support military activity.
Syria’s boiling over with Iran’s money, and Iran itself is reaching a standoff with Israel and the west – which is facing a global economic crisis that cannot withstand any oil flow interruptions – something’s got to give. The groundwork is being laid for action. Whether or not the U.S. is making Israel a scapegoat for preemptive action is more about domestic policy and electioneering than real objection to that action.
As President Obama has been buttressing Israel’s military arsenal lately, we would be naïve to assume that Israel and United States are not lockstep on the final course. The posturing is for constituency consumption and not critically indicative of true foreign policy.
By: Juda Engelmayer
Did it matter to Floridian voters that Republican candidate Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, may have cut funding for kosher meals in nursing homes? Whether or not it mattered was less important than the importance put upon the Jewish vote by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Their vote seemed to be of such great significance to him, he needed to find a polarizing issue to throw at his opponent.
This begs the question, is the Jewish community so gullible that wider domestic issues and looming foreign matters are less important than whether kosher meals are funded by the public for seniors?
Putting the facts into perspective, the bulk of the Jewish seniors whom Mr. Gingrich was targeting with his robo-call this week are registered Democrats and had little say in the Republican primary. He knew that however, as does any candidate who does the right research before allocating precious time and limited resources in a presidential race. So why do it at all?
Clearly the impression the media and many Jewish pundits and advocates have successfully made on the public and the list of candidates, including the President himself, is that the Jewish vote and the Jewish opinion will matter enough to impact the election results. Ignored is the historic fact that the “Jewish community” largely votes Democrat no matter what the issue du Jour may be. When Jews lean to the right, it is generally over issues such as tougher policies in the Middle East, not kosher meals in a senior center.
The point that Mr. Gingrich was evidently trying to make was that those who want to focus on Mitt Romney should know that Romney’s agenda is more in tune to what Jewish Democrats pay attention to and not what right-leaning Conservatives want to talk about. Betting that the media would give that “cheap-shot” of a campaign call the attention it didn’t deserve, Mr. Gingrich was painting his opponent as a lesser Republican than he. That’s the argument that Mr. Gingrich is hoping to win with – that he is the true Conservative. The former Speaker knew well when that call went out that the state would fall to Mr. Romney, but used it for national attention on his candidacy.
He used the Jewish people as a tool for his efforts. He used the hype that the Jewish vote is so critical that the mere mention of kosher food would stir his coverage. He was right, but it does Jewish citizens no good to be placed in the light of such an evidently pandering campaign promotion.
The national Jewish community as a whole stands for so many great ideas, from major philanthropic works and promotion of caring human services to, yes, the pillars of financial success in this country. There are Jews on both the right and the left side of politics. George Soros supports President Obama and Sheldon Adelson supports Mr. Gingrich. Both men are philanthropic and both express support for Israel – yet with different views on Israel policy.
When the Jewish label is used for a campaign pitch, as it was in Florida this week, it not only cheapens the value of the true Jewish contribution to the country, but borders on leveling an old anti-Semitic charge: frugality.
One of the oldest stereotypes of Jews is that they are cheap, despite the fact that Jews have been and remain some of the biggest charitable donors around the world and that political candidates often seek and generate campaign funds through Jewish channels and supporters.
There are still places in this country where the stereotype resonates, and when Mr. Gingrich makes what became a national issue, out of whether Jewish senior citizens want kosher meals subsidized by the government or not-only lends credence to this myth. The reality of Mr. Romney’s decision on the 2003 legislative vote in Massachusetts is much less significant than the fact that it was raised this week in the first place.
Mr. Gigrich’s campaign robo-call also invoked the unthinkable: the Holocaust. The recording claimed that, “Holocaust survivors, for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher.”
So, not only are Jews so consumed with cheap meals, but the heart strings were tugged as the memory of the Holocaust was raised to coincide with the United Nation’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The memory of the worst human catastrophe to befall the Jewish people was used as a contemptible campaign plug- aimed at a group who were not even likely to vote in this primary, as well as in a race he knew he was not going to win.
Is that the way the collective Jewish community wants to be called on for public service? Are the social, human, legal, governmental and financial contributions made by Jews to the country and to individual political parties, since the forming of the union, so marginal that the community can be easily trivialized and its populations be taken in vain as it was?
On matters that deal with foreign policies, fiscal issues (here in the US), and social matters that come before legislatures and judiciary branches, Jewish opinions and activism have impacted much of what the United States stands for – to the world and to their fellow Americans. To be remanded to shameful actions that make Jews seem almost clownish, should bring the community together on this issue – no matter what side of the aisle one chooses to stand.
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.
This article was written for the Jewish Star