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...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →