WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and other Democrats apparently are circulating a letter calling on President Obama to pardon convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel’s agreement not to build houses for Jews in places the Administration doesn’t want them built. (The Palestinians don’t want them built between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, but that’s another matter.)
The letter, according to Ha’aretz, “notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people…This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors.” Our thoughts:
- Jonathan Pollard has been in jail a really, really long time for the crimes he committed. It seems to us that a parole board might reasonably decide that he had spent long enough in jail and could be released without posing a threat to security. We would be OK with that but not with a pardon that erases the criminality of what he did. Has Pollard had a parole hearing? Why don’t Mr. Frank and company petition the Justice Department for one?
- The goodwill of “our nation toward Israel and the Israeli people” is not in doubt; concerns about policies pursued by one President or another are something else. If Israel has concerns about the policies of President Obama, its democratically elected government has an obligation to raise and deal with them. But in this case, Mr. Frank appears to be saying that Israel’s policies are problematic – and maybe a bribe by the President will cause Israel to change those policies. That should be beneath the Government of the United States.
- Israel does indeed face “difficult decisions” about its future. The U.S. government appears to have dropped the requirement that the Palestinians and Arab States acknowledge the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty and provide the “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” that are due to Israel under the terms of UN Resolution 242. For the United States to suggest that Israel ignore the real issue and make decisions based on “goodwill” from an American bribe should similarly be beneath our government.
Mssrs. Frank and Weiner appear to have re-election issues and may be looking for support among left-of-center American Jews who oppose “settlements” under any circumstances and might appreciate American lawmakers who put the bait in front of the Israeli government. But that should be beneath an American Congressman.
Note on Stuxnet – The Internet was awash over the weekend with stories about a virus that appears to have infected a variety of computers around the world, including, perhaps, some in Iran and, perhaps, some involved in Iran’s nuclear program. According to a Yahoo report, “It is the first malware known to target and infiltrate industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software used to run chemical plants and factories as well as electric power plants and transmission systems worldwide.”
Take the idea of a virus taking control of factories; note that it could be used as a weapon; throw in the possibility that it was invented by the Israelis; and surmise that it was sent to destroy Iran’s reactor complex without planes, cruise missiles and/or collateral damage. Voila – a story so enticing as to invite a total suspension of disbelief! Too enticing, maybe. Stay tuned.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
NEW YORK (Press Release)—The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praises U.S. Reps. Michael E. McMahon (D-NY) and Gary C. Peters (D-MI) for urging the Department of Education to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation.
In a letter sent Monday, August 9, to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Reps. McMahon and Peters joined three dozen other Members of Congress in supporting the ZOA’s long-held position that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be enforced to protect Jewish students, consistent with policy statements issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights in 2004. Title VI requires recipients of federal funding to ensure that their programs and activities are free from racial and ethnic discrimination.
In July 2010, 36 Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Duncan, urging that Jewish students be protected from harassment and intimidation under Title VI.
The two congressional letters to Secretary Duncan followed from a well-attended June 2010 congressional briefing convened by U.S Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), co-chair of the Congressional Taskforce on Anti-Semitism. Susan Tuchman, Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, and representatives from three other organizations, briefed congressional staffers on anti-Semitic harassment on U.S. college campuses and the federal government’s role in addressing these incidents.
In addition to Rep. Klein, the July letter to Secretary Duncan was signed by the other co-chairs of the Congressional Taskforce on Anti-Semitism — Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ ) – and by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Shelley Berkley (D-NV); Gary Ackerman (D-NY); Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Ted Deutch (D-FL): Keith Ellison (D-MN); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Kendrick Meek (D-FL); Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Allyson Schwartz (D-PA); Henry Waxman (D-CA); John Adler (D-NJ); Alan Grayson (D-FL); Kathy Castor (D-FL); Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Rush Holt (D-NJ); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Steve Israel (D-NY); Steve Kagen (D-WI); Doug Lamborn (R-CO); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Jared Polis (D-CO); Michele Bachmann (R-MN); Anthony Weiner (D-NY); Sander Levin (D-MI); Steve Rothman (D-NJ); Buck McKeon (R-CA); John Yarmuth (D-KY); Adam Schiff (D-CA); and Howard L. Berman (D-CA).
Their letter stated: “We believe that enforcing Title VI to protect Jewish students who, in rare but highly significant situations, face harassment, intimidation or discrimination based on their ancestral or ethnic characteristics – including when it is manifested as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist sentiment that crosses the line into anti-Semitism – would help ensure that we’re preserving the integrity of our higher education system by affording the same protection to all ethnic and racial groups on our college campuses.”
Endorsing this congressional letter “in its entirety,” Reps. McMahon and Peters said in their letter to Secretary Duncan, “It is critical that our civil rights laws be enforced as broadly as possible to make sure that all students can obtain their education in an environment that is tolerant, respectful, physically and emotionally safe, and conducive to learning.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein praised Reps. McMahon and Peters for calling on the Department of Education to provide Jewish students with the same legal protections that other ethnic and racial groups are already afforded:
“We know from our work on college campuses that Jewish students have been threatened and physically assaulted. Some students are even afraid for their physical safety because of the hateful speakers and programs that demonize Jews and Israel. The ZOA thanks Congressmen McMahon and Peters for joining their colleagues in the House in supporting these students and affirming their legal right to a campus environment free from anti-Semitic hostility and Israel-bashing.”
Preceding provided by Zionist Organization of America
NEW YORK, July 7 (Press Release)–In a special address to national Jewish leaders, as well as political, civic and business leaders, sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “meet me in the coming days” to begin peace talks in order to “fashion a final peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.”
“My idea of peace is that we live next to one another and we talk to each other to achieve peace. The sooner the better. Direct negotiations must start right away,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. The meeting in New York followed the Prime Minister’s meetings with President Obama in Washington, DC.
Several dignitaries attended the meeting, including New York Governor David Paterson and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who provided greetings at the beginning of the event. Governor Paterson noted that New York shares a bond with Israel because of attacks waged against civilians within the boundaries of both states.
“In this dangerous time, we have no better partner as a state or a country than the state of Israel,” Governor Paterson said. In her remarks, Senator Gillibrand remembered her trip to Israel and specifically to Sderot last year.
“The U.S. must always support Israel’s right to protect her people,” she said, adding that she would use her voice in the U.S. Senate “to bring together bipartisan coalitions in Congress to show the world that our bond is truly unbreakable.” Among the elected officials attending the event were Congressional members Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), as well as NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined security, legitimacy and prosperity as the three pillars of successful peace. “Security makes peace possible and makes a realistic peace take hold and endure,” he said. Regarding the challenges to Israel’s legitimacy, the Prime Minister commented that there are two lines of attack against Israel: the denial of the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel and the denial of Israel’s right to defend itself. “So much of the world supports Israel’s right to defend itself in theory, but consistently condemns it in practice … but the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu, adding that Israel was recognized and commended by British Colonel Richard Kemp for its efforts to prevent civilian casualties on all sides of battle.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel faces three great challenges in the coming months: (1) staying focused on preventing a nuclear Iran, (2) redoubling its efforts to find the path to peace with the Palestinians and to those negotiations as soon as possible, and (3) uniting against any effort to challenge Israel’s rights to defend itself.
Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations