Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Congress Members Discuss the Middle East at Annual Breakfast

February 14, 2013 1:21 am 0 comments

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) speaks at the annual Legislative Breakfast of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York on Sunday. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

NEW YORK – Despite Nor’easter Nemo battering the region some 24 hours earlier, nearly 300 Jewish and community leaders attended the legislative breakfast hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) on Sunday, an event that has a permanent place on calendars of the area’s Congress members each winter.

Israel’s Consul General in New York, Ido Aharoni, kicked off a speaker list that tackled a broad range of issues by commenting on the “Arab Spring,” saying, “We think we are looking at a deep, serious, historical series of events.” He noted that “regional turmoil, instability, and the risks of political Islam” showed the “linkage argument” to be false.”

“We know that there were tens of active national, religious, and tribal conflicts. The [Israeli-Palestinian] situation is not the only conflict, not the only key to events.” While Israel supports democratic development, Aharoni said, “democracy is more that the ability to have elections: it is about the ability of people to internalize the values the democratic system… democracies do not fight one another… the real danger is to allow terrorist organizations to exploit and take over the system.”

Aharoni emphasized the urgency of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

“Israel is not the top of their agenda; their agenda is primarily regional,” he said. “If Iran gets nuclear capacity, it would spark a regional nuclear arms race.” He said, “Imagine Iran as an untouchable nation… We are grateful for the United States’ administration to take the lead on this situation.”Aharoni expressed hopes that President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel would lead to “peace talks with no preconditions,” adding that “Israelis believe that the ongoing refusal of the Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist” is the basic problem.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) highlighted the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, suggesting that the time period until peace talks are actually underway should be used to “get one issue on the table: compensation for the 850,000 Jewish refugees kicked out of Arab lands… Arrangements for Jewish refugees should be made on an equal basis [as will be done for Arab refugees].”

Turning to domestic budget issues, Nadler stressed that the country’s budget deficit is due to the recession, not spending for entitlements. “The focus should not be on the deficit— rather it should be on the economy—getting jobs and lowering unemployment… We are coming out of recession, but not out of unemployment,” he said, stressing that “you don’t create jobs by cutting spending… the only way to get the economy moving is to spend more money.”

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee that designates military and foreign aid funding, said, “There is bi-partisanship in the Congress” supporting Israel. She cited the recent peaceful election in Israel as “an example to the entire world.”

Turning to domestic issues, she said, “We all understand that getting the economy moving again is absolutely critical… the responsibility of Congress is to address the serious community members and understand the meaning of tzedakah (charity) and of tikkun olam (repairing the world).”

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel said a necessary precondition to Middle East peace was for Arabs to “agree to the existence of the Jewish state of Israel.” Regarding Syria, Engel said the U.S. “cannot just sit by and be a spectator on the sideline” of the Syrian conflict.

“We have to act—to act boldly and take action now,” he said. On the domestic front, Engel called for “not stripping rights away” regarding gun control, but rather for” common sense” legislation in that area.

Noting he is a child of immigrants, Engel also conveyed his views on comprehensive immigration reform.

“Our country prospered because people who come to America are the brightest and the best,” he said. “We need to be orderly, and have laws obeyed. We should continue to be a welcoming country.”

“Dean” of the New York Congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Charles “Charlie” Rangel, bedecked in his signature bow tie and brush mustache, stated that capitalism “does not provide for the sick and the aged… I find it really awkward that the religious community is not coming to the lobbyists on healthcare and social security.”

“The deficit is not caused by entitlement,” he said. “I hope that we can find some way for charities to bring in the spiritual part… No matter what religion we speak about, it has something about how you treat the poor, aged and sick.”

Rangel expressed hope that Obama’s would make his visit to Israel would “make [the Israeli-Palestinian situation] more positive.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →