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...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →