At the 2013 AIPAC convention, Edwin Black of the IBC Channel interviewed Juda Engelmayer on Israel’s politics and the world view on the Jewish State.
Tag 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 Reality
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics, And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.
More apt lyrics have yet to be found on the matter than these which comedian, mathematician and lecturer Tom Lehrer wrote in his satirical “National Brotherhood Week” in 1965.
That was before the Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, before Israel was attacked from all sides by its peace-seeking neighbors, and before Israel seized the land near its borders to protect its population and keep her enemies even further away from its larger cities.
Even though Lehrer was being sardonic, his “joke” is only funny because it rings with some truth. Comedy is often inspired by the truths that we have a harder time coping with on a serious level. Lehrer knew something back then that so many fail to recognize today, and it is that intentional disregard for the facts that help some Jews cope with their guilt for being who they are; it helps the cause of those who would see Israel fall. Read more ..
A version of this article also appeared in the Jewish Star
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.
|Juda Engelmayer||January 27th 2012|
The Cutting Edge News Contributor
Ten Americans working for nongovernmental organizations in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country. Among them is is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Sam LaHood.
Mr. LaHood is director of the Washington-based International Republican Institute’s Egyptian office, an organization that seeks to promote democracy in Egypt. Mr. LaHood reported that when he showed his passport to the immigration official at the airport on January 21, 2012, he was told to stand aside. He was then told that he could not leave the country, but was given no reason as to why.
Recently, Egypt’s military council has been suggesting that the United States is trying to destabilize Egypt by non-profit human rights groups and these democracy-building agencies. Upon learning the news of the ban, Washington officials said that Egypt was “endangering American lives.” Egypt referred to the travel ban as a “de facto detention.”
In December, LaHood’s organizational office in Egypt was raided and police took everything: computers, documents, furniture, and the office was sealed and remains so for the past six weeks. Prior to this ban, the American Embassy had been working hard to get the property back, but nothing has been returned or explained. Lorne W. Craner, President of the International Republican Institute, said that the Egyptian government had promised to close the investigation and return the seized property, but nothing has happened. “Here we are all these weeks later and all these assurances later, and things are getting worse,” Craner said.
Mr. LaHood reported that he complied with investigators, signed a statement on a copy of his passport and pledged to be available for his next “interrogation”. 17 members of LaHood’s staff had been interrogated and three called back for a second session.
President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi to reaffirm the close partnership between the United States and Egypt and to underscore the United States’ support for Egypt’s transition to democracy. The President emphasized that non-governmental organizations should be able to operate freely.
The Obama administration has just unambiguously threatened to withhold its annual aid to the Egyptian military. Michael H. Posner, an assistant secretary of state responsible for human rights issues, said, “It is the prerogative of Congress to say that our future military aid is going to be conditioned on a democratic transition.”
Senator John McCain said statement released by his office Thursday, “This crisis has taken a new and disturbing turn with reports that the Egyptian government is prohibiting employees of these NGOs, including American citizens, from leaving the country.”
“It is worrying enough that Sam and his fellow NGO workers have been singled out by name in Egyptian state-owned media,” McCain said, adding, “it is outrageous that these individuals would be held against their will by Egyptian authorities and prohibited from leaving the country.” He added that action must be taken immediately “for the safety of all of the employees of these NGOs — Americans, Egyptians and others, especially those who have been barred from leaving the country.”
The White House and LaHood have not commented further on negotiations to end the travel ban.
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