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Government Relations: February 2010 Archives

APN Legislative Round-Up for the Week Ending February 5, 19, and 26, 2010

1.  Bills and Resolutions (Iran and More Iran) 
2.  New House Letters Grandstanding on Israel/Palestinian Issues 
3. APN and the NYT's Roger Cohen Agree: Target Iran's Censors! 
4.  New Ambassador to Syria Nominated 
5. APN/J Street Op-Ed in JPost (on House letter on Gaza humanitarian situation) 

The Republican Jewish Coalition has had it with people criticizing Israel about Gaza. That is the gist of the RJC's latest partisan, grand-standing screed, published today in the Jerusalem Post, opposite an op-ed by myself and my J Street colleague Hadar Susskind.

As the RJC makes clear in the piece, it is especially frustrated with the 54 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama expressing concern about the humanitarian suffering in Gaza.  The RJC wants the world to know that everything -- yes, everything -- Israel does with respect to Gaza reflects bona fide Israeli security needs, and that any resulting suffering is 100% the fault of the Palestinians for making bad choices.  And the RJC is putting these members of Congress - and everyone else - on notice that suggesting otherwise is no less than anti-Israel calumny. (The RJC is so excited about taking on APN and J Street over the Gaza letter that today it sent out a fund-raising email highlighting the JPost articles.)

The RJC's logic is the latest example of the kind of tactics Hadar and I are talking about in our article: "No American - Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Democrat or Republican - who recognizes the security benefit to Israel in ending rather than enabling Hamas' monopoly over basic goods in Gaza, who sees that furthering a humanitarian crisis does not equate to fighting terrorism, and who cares for the future of children in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian, should let anyone use fear and smear tactics for their own partisan benefit."

And as Hadar and I point out: "There are real threats to Israel. There really are people out there who don't support Israel as a Jewish democratic homeland.  We don't need to invent opposition to Israel and we certainly don't need to push people who are supportive of Israel away from us by calling them 'anti-Israel' every time someone expresses either concern for Palestinians or opposition to a particular Israeli government position." 

Shame on the RJC for this further shameless partisan grandstanding at the expense of Israel.

NYT's Roger Cohen and APN agree: Target Iran's Censors

Those of us who oppose efforts to impose "crippling sanctions" on the Iranian people - an approach supported by many in Congress (and most of the Jewish community) are often belligerently asked: "if you don't support these sanctions, what is your alternative?"  The implication being that if we can't propose another course of action then we must support the crippling sanctions, even if nearly everyone agrees that such sanctions won't work and will likely prove counterproductive. 

This is of course a silly argument - imagine two doctors arguing about how to treat a patient: Doctor 1: "We've tried everything we can think of and he's not getting better, so I propose we try radiation."  Doctor 2: "Are you nuts?  Given his condition, all medical science points to the fact that radiation won't do anything to help him and will almost certainly make him worse"  Doctor 1:  "Well, unless you have a better idea you have no choice but to accept my recommendation." Doctor 2:  "Where did you get your medical degree??"

But imaginary dialogues aside, there are some sanctions that actually make sense.  For example, it seems self-evident that it makes sense to impose sanctions on those who are enabling Iran to block the internet, censor electronic communications, and otherwise interfere with the ability of Iranian citizens to communicate with each other and the outside world (anyone remember the term "twitter revolution?")

To which I think most people would reply: great idea!  Someone in Congress should get working on this!

Signers of Congressional letter on Gaza

Here is a list of the signers of the Congressional letter on Gaza.

Reps McDermott and Ellison 186x140.jpg

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 03, 2010, issue of February 12, 2010.

Washington -- A congressional letter calling on the United States to press for the lifting of the blockades imposed by Israel and Egypt on Gaza has sparked controversy within the Jewish community.

Picture: Reps. Jim McDermott (left) and Keith Ellison sponsored effort to ease blockade on movement of civilian goods.