Obama and McCain might not have been there to give bellicose speeches, but just a couple of weeks ago, over 140 Jewish activists from across the country took part in Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s largest-ever DC conference, bringing the real pro-Israel, pro-peace message to the nation’s capital.
The conference included 115 Congressional visits, presentations by MK Yossi Beilin and Mideast analyst Daniel Levy, interactive activist trainings, and speeches by U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), and Mike Capuano (D-MA).
Check out this six-minute highlight reel for a taste of what an American Jewish grassroots peace movement can look like.
By now, we are all pretty familiar with Pastor John Hagee and his quote-on-quote “pro-Israel” outfit Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Hagee had been a big endorser of Republican presidential candidate John McCain until audiotape surfaced last week of Hagee preaching that God sent Hitler to cause the Holocaust so that Jews would move to Israel, in fulfillment of Hagee’s conception of biblical prophecy. Under much pressure, McCain finally rejected the endorsement.
But Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT-I), perhaps the most prominent Jewish politician in the country, is still planning to give the keynote presentation at CUFI’s Israel Summit in July! J Street is out with a video campaign calling on Joe to join his friend John McCain in rejecting Hagee and to withdraw his speaking commitment for Hagee’s summit. Check out the video below and sign the petition here.
Also, let it not be said that Hagee is worthy of rejection only because of his comments about Hitler. These are just the latest of a series of atrocious comments and positions that make him worthy of rebuke by every major politician and Jewish leader. He has called the Catholic Church a “great whore” and said Hurricane Katrina was the judgment of God against New Orleans for planning a gay pride parade. And his so-called “pro-Israel” positions include opposing territorial concessions for peace and a two-state solution, support for military action against Iran, and raising money to build illegal Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
It’s time that the Jewish community be done with John Hagee.
What is a “third rail” anyway? Do subways and trains even have dangerous “third rails” anymore?
Regardless of its modern day relevance, the “third rail” is an often-heard political term for the undiscussable, unapproachable topics – the ones that are too “charged” to deal with.
In the U.S. Congress, engaging Hamas is one of those “third rails.” Nobody wants to talk about it, think about it, or deal with it – unless it’s just to bash Hamas and condemn rocket attacks (which deserve to be condemned).
So, it shouldn’t go unnoticed when a serious Congressional sign-on letter begins circulating Capitol Hill that argues for a number of solutions to the ongoing crisis in southern Israel and Gaza — including a Hamas-Israel ceasefire.
Led by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Ray LaHood (R-IL), the Price-LaHood letter to President Bush urges him to reinvigorate Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and pursue efforts to end the crisis in southern Israel and Gaza, in light of the President’s upcoming visit to the region, where he will be celebrating Israel’s 60th. It urges solutions including: exploring a ceasefire, ending the Gaza blockade, addressing the smuggling of weapons, and, of course, condemning rockets.
For the Jewish Obama supporters in the audience… If you are in DC, definitely check out this event. If not, please forward the information on to your friends in Washington.
Kein, Annu Yecholim Yes, We Can
A Havdalah, Rally, and Fundraiser for Barack Obama
Saturday, February 9th
6:05pm â€“ 7:30pm
2120 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
Featuring: Dan Shapiro (Barack Obama’s Middle East Adviser) Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb (Rabbi of Adat Shalom Congregation; President of the Washington Board of Rabbis; leader in Jewish environmental and social justice efforts for over a decade*)
“Kein, Annu Yecholim (Yes, We Can)” is an opportunity for Jews from the metro DC area who are inspired by Barack’s message of change to gather together in support of his presidential campaign. We will conclude Shabbat with a Havdalah (separation) service led by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb and hear from speakers including Barack’s Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro and others.
There will also be opportunities for people to volunteer to Get Out The Vote for the upcoming DC/MD/VA primaries on Feb. 12th and to get involved with DC Jews for Obama.
$18 – $72 sliding scale suggested donation at the door
plus one drink minimum (drink specials available)
With Super Tuesday upon us, a music video version of a Barack Obama speech featuring Will.i.am, Jesse Dylan, Common, Scarlett Johansson, and many others, has been forwarded to me more times than the smear emails have. As the JTA notes, two of the only departures from the actual text are when Maya Rubin appears on the screen to say, “Kein, Annu Yicholim” (Yes, We Can).
If you are in a primary state, Jewschool has already urged you to vote today. As for me, I urge you to watch this video before you do.
Richard Silverstein, from Tikun Olam, has a great piece in today’s Haaretz about the Jewish blogosphere and its role in presenting dissenting views in the Jewish community.
In the age before blogs, Jewish leaders were like political bosses. They ruled their roosts, and anyone who questioned them was easily frozen out of communal discourse. Their politics were conservative and generally supportive of the Israeli right. For its part, the Jewish media was a corporate entity that largely expressed the views of such leaders. The few dissenting individuals and organizations made barely a ripple in the communal pond.
Looks like the attacks on Obama’s “pro-Israel” bonafides are paying off…
Yesterday, while hundreds of thousands of Gazans flooded through the demolished border with Egypt simply to get food and basic supplies after nearly a week of complete border closures imposed by Israel, Sen. Barack Obama sent the following letter to US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad:
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,
I understand that today the U.N. Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.
I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in Southern Israel for over two years.
All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this. Gaza is governed by Hamas, which is a terrorist organization sworn to Israelâ€™s destruction, and Israeli civilians are being bombarded by rockets on an almost daily basis. That is unacceptable and Israel has a right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.
The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks against Israel, and should make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against such actions. If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.
United States Senator
To be clear, I’m one of those who actually believe Obama IS the best candidate for Israel precisely because he will be a strong supporter of Israel AND someone who can strengthen Israel’s security through peace with its Arab neighbors. So I greet this letter with sadness.
There’s no need for a letter like this. We know Obama condemns attacks on Israel and believes Israel has a right to defend itself. Even Dennis Kucinich says that. But for someone who handles every other foreign affairs issue with such nuance and care, this is disappointing. More »
It is a sad but predictable irony that on a day when Democrats and their Jewish supporters celebrate their greatest victory in years, heralding a “new direction” in American domestic and foreign policy, that we awoke to news of Israel’s shelling in Beit Hanun, killing 19 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children. While we celebrate in America, they mourn in Gaza. And saddest of all, the most important “new direction” upon which the newly empowered Democrats must embark, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seems to be entirely off their map.
For those of us who yearn for peace in Israel and an end to the occupation, yesterday’s Democratic victory in the U.S. House of Representatives and quite possibly the Senate is a hollow one. Whether or not the Democrats can bring disparate factions together to present a true exit strategy for the failed war in Iraq, we can be entirely sure that they will be strongly united behind the failed policies of the current Israeli government – so evident by yesterday’s massacre. Though Republican accusations of Democrats as “anti-Israel” appear to have been entirely ineffective in swaying the Jewish vote (87% voting for Democrats), expect the Democrats to find every opportunity to prove time and again how “pro-Israel” they truly are.