Israel-firsters sweep US mid-terms; GOP majority will ‘serve as check’ on Obama, republican leader tells Netanyahu


‘US midterms: AIPAC lauds re-election of pro-Israel stalwarts’

Haaretz (Israel); November 3, 2010

America‘s largest pro-Israel lobby group on Wednesday hailed the results of midterm elections in the US which saw staunch supporters re-elected to Congress on both sides of the party political divide.

“Many of the strongest friends and supporters of the US-Israel relationship were re-elected on Tuesday,” the group said in a statement.

These included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), widely tipped to be named Republican majority leader in the lower House of Representatives, which his party seized from Democratic control.

Other pro-Israel successes cited by AIPAC included outgoing House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as well as Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

“It is abundantly clear that the 112th Congress will continue America’s long tradition of staunch support for a strong, safe and secure Israel and an abiding friendship between the United States and our most reliable ally in the Middle East,” AIPAC said.

Israel‘s Washington embassy also expressed satisfaction with the results.

Support for Israel at the Congress is strong and bipartisan,” an embassy spokesman told Haaretz.

AIPAC also welcomed the election of three new Jewish members of Congress: Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congressman-elect David Cicilline (D-RI), and Congresswoman-elect Nan Hayworth (R-NY).

Cicilline becomes the fourth openly gay member of Congress — and third Jewish gay member of Congress.

Some Jewish incumbents lost out, however — among them Florida Democrat Alan Grayson, who ran a controversial campaign in which he labeled his opponent, Daniel Webster, “Taliban Dan”. Another incumbent, Ron Klein lost to the republican Allen West, in Florida.

In Wisconsin, Republicans picked up two seats, ousting Jewish Democratic incumbent, Steve Kagen, who lost to Reid Ribble. Another Jewish Congressman to leave the House is John Adler of New Jersey.

The Jewish vote

According to an election day poll by J Street, another lobby group that sees itself as AIPAC’s more liberal rival, 66 percent of US Jews voted Democrat.

Only 7 percent of Jews polled identified Israel as a decisive issue, with 62 percent citing the economy and 31 percent mentioning healthcare as a major concern.

Sixty percent of US Jews approved of the way President Barack Obama is handling his job, while 53 percent approved of the way he is handling the Arab-Israeli conflict.

A decisive 83 percent of American Jews supported an active US role in resolving the conflict. Seventy-one percent supported a US policy involving “publicly stating disagreements with” Israel and the Palestinians, while 65 percent said they were prepared to see America “exert pressure” on the sides to push them toward peace.

The poll, conducted by conducted by Gerstein Agne Strategic Communications, surveyed 1000 Jewish voters across the US and 600 Jewish voters in Pennsylvania on the evening of November 2nd. A separate poll, conducted before the election from October 20-24, surveyed 400 voters in Illinois’ Ninth Congressional District.

The above article can be found here: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/u-s-midterms-aipac-lauds-re-election-of-pro-israel-stalwarts-1.322729

 

GOP will ‘check’ Obama, Cantor tells Netanyahu

WASHINGTON — The new GOP majority will “serve as a check” on the Obama administration, Republican leader Eric Cantor told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu met Wednesday night with Cantor (R-Va.), the putative US House of Representatives majority leader whose party swept midterm elections last week for the House. Their meeting was first reported on the Politico website.

Such meetings with opposition leaders are unusual, and Cantor’s office cast it as a get-together between two men with a longstanding relationship.

Nonetheless, Cantor’s statement was critical of the Obama administration, siding with Netanyahu in a number of areas where the prime minister and President Obama have differences.

The statement called on Obama to “fully and aggressively implement” Iran sanctions and to “make it absolutely clear that the US will veto any effort by the Palestinians” to declare a state unilaterally. Cantor told Netanyahu, the statement added, that “the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one-party rule in Washington.”

Although Obama has not used the full sanctions package, he has implemented Iran sanctions to a greater extent than any of his predecessors.

Cantor was deputy Republican whip from 2003 to 2007, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and the Bush administration considerably softened proposed Iran sanctions packages.

Obama also has made it clear that he opposes unilateral moves in the peace talks, although he has not explicitly threatened to veto Palestinian statehood should it come under consideration by the UN Security Council.

Netanyahu also met Thursday with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said that an announcement this week of more than 1,000 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem is “counterproductive.”

“I’m very pleased to be here and to have this opportunity to discuss with him how we’re going to move forward in the process,” Clinton said prior to the meeting.

Netanyahu also met with Vice President Joe Biden during his US visit, and with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), whom he has known since the early 1980s.

The above article can be found here: http://jta.org/news/article/2010/11/11/2741707/cantor-tells-netanyahu-gop-will-check-obama

 

‘Eric Cantor’s pledge of allegiance’

Salon.com; November 13, 2010

Soon-to-be GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the same day when the actual US Secretary of State met with Netanyahu — and vowed that he and his GOP colleagues would protect and defend Israeli interests against his own Government.  According to a statement proudly issued by Cantor’s own office:

“Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” the readout continued. “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

Leave aside the absurdity of believing that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration. So extraordinary is Cantor’s pledge that even the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Ron Kampeas — himself a reflexive American defender of most things Israel — was astonished, and wrote:

“I can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another — building in Jerusalem, or somesuch — lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations.  But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House — that sounds to me extraordinary.

As Kampeas notes, Cantor’s office quickly disputed his understanding, but this is hardly the first time Cantor has violated supposedly sacred political conventions in order to side with Israel over his own country. Last August, Cantor led a GOP delegation to Israel and while in Jerusalem — which happens to be “foreign soil” — he condemned his own president and American policy for opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Criticizing America while on Dreaded Foreign Soil is supposed to be one of the most extreme taboos in American politics:  Al Gore was bitterly denounced as a borderline-traitor for a 2006 speech in Saudi Arabia criticizing American foreign policy, and Gore at the time was merely a private citizen, not a leading political official.  But American political figures like Cantor feel free to do exactly that — criticize America on foreign soil — when it comes to Israel; recall the same thing being done by Mike Huckabee.

That’s because, in general, all the rules change — are completely reversed — when it comes to Israel.  As Cantor’s behavior demonstrates, the rules that apply to “foreign countries” are inapplicable to Israel because in mainstream American politics, Israel is not considered and therefore is not treated as a “foreign country” at all.

Many Israel devotees actually tried to expand the “no-criticizing-the US-on-foreign-soil” rule by suggesting there was something wrong with Obama’s criticism of Israel while in Indonesia; apparently, it’s fine for American officials to criticize the US while in Israel, but not for the US President to criticize Israel while on foreign soil.

And for the past two years, leading Democrats who would never dare publicly criticize Obama for anything have bitterly and publicly denounced him for the crime of opposing Israeli policy.  And, of course, there is far greater unity in the US Congress for Israeli wars than for America’s own wars [What the writer refers to as “America’s own wars” are, in actuality, Israel’s wars — 800]; that’s just a fact.

Last night on Twitter, I wrote:  “Imagine if a leading Democratic Congressman told a leader of a foreign country he’d side with them against the GOP US President” and “Imagine John Kerry, 2006, to French President Jacques Chirac: ‘I’ll safeguard French interests against President Bush’.”

In reply, The Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso wrote: “No need to imagine.  It happened in 02.”  He’s presumably referring to Rep. Jim McDermott’s trip to Iraq to oppose America’s imminent attack on that country. That’s hardly comparable — McDermott wasn’t in the leadership of his party and he was opposing that war out of allegiance to the US, not to Iraq — but even so, it created a major media backlash in which McDermott was routinely denounced as a traitor and to this day is mocked as “Baghdad Jim.”

Needless to say, Cantor’s actions will spawn nothing comparable. That’s the point.

What makes Cantor’s behavior all the more remarkable is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which the Obama administration is ostensibly attempting to resolve is, as Gen. David Petraeus himself pointed out, a direct threat to US interests and security.  But no matter; those concerns are plainly not Cantor’s priority.

One other revealing and fascinating aspect to all of this. The two co-chairmen of Obama’s Deficit Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, last week unveiled a plan that would entail drastic cuts in most areas of American life, including Social Security and Medicare. Whatever else is true, American citizens are going to experience severe cut-backs in all sorts of benefits and economic security.

Meanwhile, the US continues to shovel billions of dollars every year to Israel — a country which, unlike the US, enjoys a booming economy and universal health care coverage. The Bowles/Simpson proposal would not cut any of that, but it at least calls for a reduction in the rate of growth in foreign aid, which would encompass the numerous foreign countries to which the US transfers such money, with Israel leading the list and its neighbor Egypt in second place (which buys Egyptian stability and peace with Israel).

Anticipating that the extreme austerity measures which his party is demanding might sweep up foreign aid — and therefore threaten the billions of dollars every year in American taxpayer money transferred to Israel — Cantor last month proposed that money to Israel not be classified any longer as “foreign aid” — in order to shield it from all cuts.

In other words, Cantor wants American citizens to sacrifice in the extreme, to lose all sorts of benefits and security in the name of austerity, but wants to shield Israel — with a higher standard of living — from those cuts. Put another way, Americans should give up Social Security and Medicare benefits so that they can continue to transfer billions of dollars every year to Israel, a foreign country which offers far more of a safety net to its own citizens.

But don’t you dare accuse Eric Cantor of harboring allegiance to Israel and subordinating US interests to this foreign country. That would be extremely wrong of you to insinuate.

The above article can be found here: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/13/israel/index.html

 

Cantor’s position on Israel (from Wikipedia)

Cantor is currently the only Jewish Republican in the United States Congress. He supports strong United States-Israel relations. He cosponsored legislation to cut off all US taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority and another bill calling for an end to taxpayer aid to the Palestinians until they stop unauthorized excavations on the Temple Mound in Jerusalem.

Responding to a claim by the US State Department that the United States provides no direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, Cantor claimed that United States sends about US$75 million in aid annually to the Palestinian Authority, which is administered by the US Agency for International Development. Cantor has also claimed that Congress approved a three-year package of US$400 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in 2000. He has also introduced legislation to end aid to Palestinians.

In May 2008, Cantor said that the relationship America has with Israel is “a constant reminder of the greatness of America”, and following Barack Obama’s election as President in November 2008, Cantor stated that a “stronger US-Israel relationship” remains a top priority for him and that he would be “very outspoken” if Obama “did anything to undermine those ties.”

Shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, Cantor met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Cantor’s office, he “stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration” and “made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States.”

Cantor was criticized for engaging in foreign policy; one basis for the criticism was that in 2007, after Nancy Pelosi met with the President of Syria, Cantor himself had raised the possibility “that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”

The above extract can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Cantor#Political_positions

 

Also see ‘Jewish US attorney general blocked moves to combat mortgage fraud in 2008’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101022185110916

Also see ‘At Lubavitch retreat, Virginia senator reveals secret Jewish heritage’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101012154813191

Also see ‘Jewish general to pilot evangelical-friendly air force (2008)’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101006022753162

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