Archive for the ‘Howard Berman’ Category

Plan gains to recognize campus harassment of Jewish students as a Civil Rights violation

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Commentary: Welcome action by Congress reexamining aid to Lebanese Armed Forces

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday,  in the wake of the killing of an IDF officer inside Israel by Lebanese Armed Forces personnel, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced that Congress would block the disbursement of $100 million in U.S. military aid to Lebanon.  Lowey chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee that authorizes such funds.  Similarly, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) applied a hold with concerns about “reported Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
According to The Jerusalem Post, “Berman entered his hold the day before the deadly incident, which he said only confirmed his reservations. His office also wants more information on Hezbollah’s role in the LAF, how diligently U.S. weapons are kept track of and how well the LAF cooperates with UNIFIL. ‘Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the LAF – and can assure that the LAF is a responsible actor – I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,’ Berman said.”
The hold may, in the end, only be temporary. But credit where it is due.
For more than a year, JINSA has worried about the influence of Hezbollah on the Lebanese government, where it holds a “blocking third” in the Cabinet. While the U.S. government and UNIFIL have insisted that a bigger and more competent LAF would be expected to “secure the borders of Lebanon” and enforce UNSCR 1701 – which calls for all of the militias in the south to be disarmed – we have never believed that Lebanese soldiers could be induced to kill other Lebanese in the interest of keeping the Israeli residents of the North safe. 
It’s only too bad that 45-year old LTC (res.) Dov Harari of Netanya had to be killed before Congress stopped to consider the problem. Great follow-up for Congress would be to reconsider other American “train and equip” missions.  We wrote in May:  

“The current counterinsurgency model provides millions of dollars in American military aid to the PA, Lebanon and Yemen along with American trainers, and billions of dollars to Pakistan and Afghanistan with our troops on the ground or in the air. We are training locals to kill the people we want killed – Taliban, al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. But each group we call terrorists may have a place in the framework of those countries and entities, in which case shooting them will just make them angry.”

We said, then, of Lebanon: Lebanon wants quiet at home and to remain part of the “rejection front” against Israel. Hezbollah in the government and in collusion with the Lebanese Armed Forces provides that.
It is unreasonable for the United States to assume that our enemies are someone else’s enemies and that they will dispose of them because we want them to – it is unreasonable for Israel to assume the same.  One of the deepest beliefs that JINSA has is that the United States and Israel are allies in fact if not by treaty because – whether in the Cold War or the war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them –  the same ideologies, same trends, same enemies threaten us both at some level.
Neither country should assume others share our concerns.

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.

Conference of Presidents lauds Congressional moves on Israel, Iran

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

 NEW YORK (Press Release)– An overwhelming majority of members of the Senate and the House has signed letters to the President reaffirming the special relationship and strong bond between Israel and the U.S.  The Senate letter signed by 87 members stresses that it is in the U.S. national interest to support Israel when it faces threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. 

In a similar letter, signed by 320 members of the House, the Administration is also asked to investigate the motives behind the IHH and the so-called “Gaza flotilla” it organized. The questions raised ask about the role of the IHH, which is a member of an organization designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist organization.  They deplored the action of the UN Human Rights Council, which again singled out Israel for condemnation before hearing any of the facts.  The legislators commended the actions of the Administration in preventing a Security Council resolution while stressing the need for vigilance to prevent biased resolutions from passing.

Both letters call for the Administration to exercise its leadership at the UN, including the use of the veto at the Security Council when one-sided resolutions against Israel are presented.  They express full support for Israel and its right to self-defense, including preventing items that can be used for attacks on its citizens from reaching Gaza.

“We are grateful to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell and Congressmen Ted Poe, Gary Peters and Mike Pence for their leadership and all members who rallied in support of these letters.  Once again, Congress has demonstrated its commitment to Israel’s security and to strengthening the partnership between these two great democracies.  They reflect the sentiments of the American people who support Israel by an overwhelming majority, including its right to defend itself by opposing the embargo,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.  


The Senate voted on Friday by 99-0 and the House 408-8 to support the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), imposing new sanctions on Iran.  The legislation targets companies investing in Iran’s energy sector and prevents U.S. banks from engaging other foreign banks that aid Iran’s activities which violate UN Security Council resolutions.  It also requires companies receiving U.S. contracts to certify that neither they nor their subsidiaries are doing business in Iran.  Many companies had affiliates operating in Iran under different names.  Now they will be held liable with stiff penalties for violating the CISADA provisions.  Other provisions within CISADA penalize those aiding the violation of human rights in Iran, expand limits on imports from Iran, and prohibit the export of nuclear goods or technology to countries helping Iran in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

“We are greatly appreciative of Senate and House leaders and membership, for their support of this measure, especially in such numbers.  In particular, we thank Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Howard Berman and Ranking Member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for their leadership in securing passage of this vital measure. The numbers themselves send a message to Iran about the determination of the U.S. and our elected representatives not to allow Iran to secure a nuclear weapons capacity.  The importance of these sanctions was underscored as Iran announced that it has enriched uranium to 20 percent purity and continues to expedite its drive for nuclear weapons,” said Solow and Hoenlein.

“We thank the conferees and all those who helped make the new sanctions a reality.  We look to the President and the Administration for quick implementation and strict enforcement of CISADA, and we congratulate the Department of Treasury for the prompt actions against Iranian entities in the aftermath of the UN Security Council adoption of the latest sanction resolutions.  The UN resolutions are a platform for the U.S., Europe and others to enact additional sanctions.  These votes will, no doubt, have an impact on the Ahmadinejad regime and the IRGC forces,” the leaders said.
Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Jewish organizations laud House letter to Obama on Israel

June 16, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)– Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed the letter to President Obama currently circulating in the House of Representatives supporting the U.S.-Israel relationship and urged members of the House to join the effort led by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Gary Peters (D-MI), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

The joint House letter states that it is “in the national security interest of the United States to unequivocally reiterate that the United States stands behind its longtime friend and ally” and urges President Obama to “remain steadfast in the defense of Israel.”

“We welcome this very important statement reflecting the enduring support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and urge other members of the House to sign onto this letter. The letter details the efforts Israel made to divert the flotilla peacefully; voices concern about the role of the IHH in the attack against Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara and the IHH’s connection to recognized terrorist groups; and also questions the true intent of the flotilla, noting that Hamas turned away the aid that was aboard the Mavi Marmara after it had been inspected by Israeli officials. We wholeheartedly agree that the U.S. should make every effort to ‘thwart international condemnation [of Israel] and focus the international community on the crimes of the Iran-backed Hamas leadership against Israel and the Palestinian people’ and hope that the U.S. continues to recognize the value that Israel, as the sole democratic country in the Middle East, provides to the region and the world,” said Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

“We are grateful to Representatives Ted Poe and Gary Peters and the leaders in the House as well as to the representatives who have signed or will sign on to show their support for this statement. Similar to the letter authored by Senators Reid and McConnell, this statement illustrates the deep commitment of the American people to the special U.S.-Israel relationship and to Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorism in all forms,” the leaders said.

Preceding provided by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

ADL urges Senate to act quickly on Iran sanctions bill

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

 NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday (ADL) hailed passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA/H.R.2194), which seeks to pressure Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
“This is a crucial time for the United States to move from overtures to pressure in its effort to get Iran’s government to reverse course.  The Iranian government has made clear its refusal to engage on its nuclear program and is intent on building a nuclear weapon and the ability to deliver it to target.  At the same time, Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism – funding and training terrorist organizations and cultivating extremist forces.  Its leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s demise and have propagated base anti-Semitism, including denial of the Holocaust.
“We commend the leadership of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) for crafting and moving this legislation to passage.  We urge the Senate to take swift action on similar legislation currently pending.”
The legislation, passed by a vote of 412-12, authorizes the president to sanction foreign firms providing refined petroleum to Iran – or otherwise aiding Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum through financing, brokering, underwriting, or providing ships for such activity.

The same would be true for those providing goods or services to help maintain or expand Iran’s domestic production of refined petroleum.  The bill allows the president to waive the sanctions if he deems it to be in the U.S. national security interest.

Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

Congresswoman Susan Davis Attends Jerusalem Forum on Middle East Issue

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

ATTENDED FORUM—From left Nita Lowey, Ted Kaufman, Joseph         Lieberman, Binyamin Netanyahu, Henry Waxman, Lindsey Graham,
Howard Berman and Susan Davis
WASHINGTON, D.C  (Press Release)– Congresswoman Susan Davis of San Diego recently attended the 2009 Saban Forum in Israel which brought together leading policymakers from America and Israel to discuss U.S.-Israel relations and the critical issues facing the Middle East.

The U.S delegation also included former President Bill Clinton, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Democratic Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, and Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and fellow Democratic Congress members from California Howard Berman, Henry Waxman, and Jane Harman.

The Israeli participants were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Yuval Diskin and Director of Military Intelligence General Amos Yadlin.

“This was an incredible opportunity to engage in a dialogue on issues that are critical to the national security of both the United States and Israel,” said Davis, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.  “It is these dialogues that will help lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The issues discussed ranged from the Iranian threat to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Part of the three-day conference was a trip to Ramallah on the West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.  The delegation witnessed the progress being made on the economic and infrastructure developments and improved security in Ramallah.

The conference was sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.  Founded in 2004, the center works to promote policy dialogue between Israel and the U.S.

Preceding provided by Congresswoman Susan Davis

Conference of Presidents urges quick passage of Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)—The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194) before the December break.

“The timing for this vote is especially significant. After serious attempts by the United States and other world powers to engage Iran and negotiate an end to its nuclear weapons program, Iran refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program and also announced they would suspend cooperation with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran continues to race toward nuclear weapons capability and escalate tensions, most recently with its announcement of plans to build 10 additional uranium enrichment plants in response to the IAEA Board of Governors’ November 27 resolution calling on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

“Should the IRPSA legislation pass the House, it has the potential to seriously impact the Iranian economy. The prospect of the sanctions in this bill and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in October, are essential to pressing Iran, the leading violator of human rights and state sponsor of terrorism globally, against pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity. We thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and all the co-sponsors for introducing this bill and for moving it through the committee. We urge all the members of the House to maintain the momentum and pass the bill this month. We hope the Senate will act on the sanctions bill before it during December as well. We recognize that Congress is focused on other issues of importance, but we should not allow this critical issue that affects the security of our country and the world to be delayed,” the leaders said. 

Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations