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Fox News
Friday, May 3, 2019 - 9:30am

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s inflammatory comments about Israel have fueled a new push for the formal establishment of a bipartisan Jewish Caucus for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

No such caucus in Congress currently exists. But Jack Rosen, the president of the American Jewish Congress, said a formalized group of Jewish lawmakers is needed to push back against a rise in anti-Semitism. He is leading efforts to convince lawmakers to form such a caucus.

“I was alarmed that the House couldn’t pass a resolution that directly pinpointed where the problem was -- which was Omar’s anti-Semitic tropes,” Rosen said in an interview with Fox News. “That’s what got me to think about this a little more.”

Democrats in March drafted a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism in the wake of Omar’s remarks, including her accusation that American supporters of Israel are pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.” Omar, who was elected to Congress last year, also suggested on Twitter in February that supporters of Israel have been bought.

But after protests from the progressive wing of the party, the resolution was watered down to broadly condemn all forms of bigotry.

Another lawmaker, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has also come under criticism for suggesting that Senate Republicans are more loyal to Israel than the United States.

“In the recent past, such comments would have been met with swift bipartisan scorn, repudiation and possibly censure. But that’s not what happened,” Rosen wrote in a recent op-ed for The Hill.

In reference to the watered-down resolution, Rosen said, “Had there been a bipartisan Jewish caucus at the table to intervene, the outcome might well have been different.”

Speaking to Fox News, Rosen called for the caucus to be bipartisan, saying Republicans and Democrats should “come together” on combatting anti-Semitism.

Read the full article here

Jewish News of Greater Phoenix
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 3:49pm

Do we need a Congressional Jewish Caucus, a group of Jewish legislators in the House and Senate who meet to discuss issues of importance to American Jews? 

The Congressional Black Caucus is well-known, as is the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Hispanics have two groups: a Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a Republican Congressional Hispanic Conference. There’s also an Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, an American Sikh Congressional Caucus and an Assyrian Caucus. And those are just the As.

So why is there no formally organized Jewish group in Congress to pursue common legislative objectives of interest to American Jews? After all, in the 116th Congress there are 28 Jewish members in the House and nine in the Senate. 

According to reports, there has been an informal Jewish group meeting in Congress for years, and the group’s leaders (who are Democrats) are said to be discussing whether to formalize its existence, and whether to include Republicans. We think the answer to both questions is “yes.”

We are all painfully aware of the dangerous political partisanship that festers on Capitol Hill. The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) works to fit its Jewish constituency into the Democratic agenda, while the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) tries to fit its Jewish constituency into the Republican agenda.

 A caucus of Jewish elected officials, however, comprised of people of goodwill who may differ on policy but who agree on more than they disagree, could help bridge partisan divisions, cool the rhetoric and help Congress elevate its game. They could return a much-needed nonpartisan focus to issues such as anti-Semitism and Israel.

The recent and sharp rise in anti-Semitism has made many Jews feel the need for Jewish political leaders to band together in an increasingly uncertain time, and has sparked increased discussion about the need for a formalized Jewish Congressional Caucus.

The idea was floated recently by Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who explained that he was reacting against “Israel-bashing” from “ultra-left progressives,” such as Rep. lhan Omar, who in her criticism of Israel has invoked anti-Semitic tropes. Rosen also pointed to Rep. Steve King who commented, “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” 

Reaction has been mixed. Halie Soifer, executive director of JDCA, said the idea is something her organization would support. RJC National Chair Norm Coleman, on the other hand, shot down the idea, choosing to focus instead on attacking Omar and demanding her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

We have had enough of the preprogrammed, political bickering. This is a time and an opportunity to lead. JDCA and RJC should seize the opportunity to work together to help establish a Congressional Jewish Caucus.

Read the full article here

This article was also published in the Baltimore Jewish Times and Washington Jewish Week

Arutz Sheva
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 7:13am

The American Jewish Congress (AJC) on Wednesday released a statement commending the United Nations (UN) for its condemnation of Saturday's attack on a California synagogue.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed in the attack, and three others were injured.

"This past weekend was marked by two tragic events: the attack at Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California on Saturday, in which one member of the congregation was murdered and three others were injured; and an attack on a Protestant church in Silgadji, Burkina Faso on Sunday, which left five dead – including a pastor and his sons – and at least two other people missing. Although these events took place half a world away from each other, they are both symptoms of our global struggle against extremism, bigotry, and hate," the AJC statement read.

Read the full article here

Jewish News Syndicate
Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 11:06am

Jewish and pro-Israel organizations expressed solidarity with those affected by the Chabad shooting.

Along with praying for those affected, American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen said, “In yet another attack on our brothers and sisters, we are reminded of the dark shadow of hate that lies in the hearts of many, and that there are those [who] would do the Jewish people harm as we attempt to worship in peace.”

Read the full article here

The Daily Caller
Friday, April 26, 2019 - 7:17pm

Some Jewish members of Congress and the president of a leading Jewish organization have recently begun pushing to create a formal Congressional Jewish Caucus, even though those Congress members have met informally for decades.

Jack Rosen, one of the strongest advocates for its creation, is president of the American Jewish Congress. He published an op-ed in The Hill earlier this month, explaining why he felt the need for the caucus was brought to the forefront by the recent House resolution intended to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“Well, I think the House resolution that watered down a resolution that would have identified Omar, in particular, for her anti-Semitic statements was troubling. And I think it was less strong than a series of decisions and votes that I found to be more about party politics and less about America’s values. I think what we saw in the resolution was a different moment in recent American history,” Rosen told The Daily Caller on Thursday.

He went on to explain that he feels that a formal Jewish caucus could have gone into House Speaker Pelosi’s office to make their own demands, adding that the “progressive Caucus came in and the black caucus came in and said, ‘You don’t have our vote unless you broaden the resolution to include everybody.'”

Read the full article here

Jewish Journal
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 11:10am

Eighty pro-Israel organizations wrote an April 23 letter to the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst calling on the university to end all departmental sponsorship of an upcoming anti-Israel panel.

The May 4 panel at the Fine Arts Center, titled “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, & the Battle for Palestinian Rights,” will feature Women’s March, Inc. co-leader Linda Sarsour, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Water, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation. According to a press release promoting the event, the panelists will convey the message that anti-Semitism is being used to silence criticism of the Israeli government, specifically against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

The letter, which was spearheaded by the AMCHA Initiative and has signatories that include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and the American Jewish Congress, states that the panelists “are all outspoken anti-Israel activists who have engaged in expression deemed anti-Semitic not only by the vast majority of world Jewry, but also by the standards established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which has been adopted by dozens of countries including the United States.”

“These activists’ anti-Semitic expressions include charges that Jewish Americans are more loyal to Israel than America, calls for the elimination of the Jewish state, comparisons of Israelis to Nazis, and other false and defamatory accusations about Israel and Israel’s supporters that draw on classic anti-Semitic tropes,” the letter states. “Official departmental sponsorship of this event will provide the appearance of academic legitimacy to the kind of political hatred that will undoubtedly be purveyed by these speakers — hatred that can’t help but encourage open hostility towards Jewish and pro-Israel students on your campus.”

Read the full article here

Jewish Insider
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 9:00am

A new effort is underway to create a Jewish caucus in Congress, to more forcefully respond to a rise in antisemitic incidents and rhetoric.

Jewish House Democrats acknowledged to Jewish Insider that they regularly meet in an informal working group to discuss issues related to antisemitism, yet a public call is putting pressure on formalizing the group.

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress and a longtime donor to Democratic candidates, called for such a group in an op-ed last week, and told Jewish Insider that he came forward following “Israel-bashing” from “ultra-left progressives” in Congress. 

“What prompted me to come up with this idea was the vote on the anti-BDS bill, the Israel-bashing we are getting from some of the ultra-left progressives and understanding that we are now living in the new political climate,” Rosen explained in a phone interview. 

Read the full article here

The Jerusalem Post
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 10:00pm

By Jack Rosen

Last week, the citizens of Israel took to the polls to exercise their democratic duty and select those who will lead their country over the next few years, including their next prime minister. For Americans, living in the democracy that all other modern democracies model themselves after, we sometimes fall into the trap of taking our democratic rights for granted. But democracy is a remarkable achievement for a nation, no less for one so young as Israel, struggling to defend itself in a region dominated by autocracies. 

We must not underestimate the strength this democratic process lends to the State of Israel, as it does any democratic nation, as something worthy of celebration. The success of these elections proves once more that US support for Israel is intrinsically tied to our shared values of democracy and freedom, and reinforces the necessity of American support remaining steadfast for the only democracy in the Middle East.

A week after the 2019 Israeli elections, it is safe to assume that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to lead Israel as its prime minister and head of government. On behalf of the organization I lead, the American Jewish Congress, I congratulate him on this achievement.

With this being’s his fifth term, Mr. Netanyahu is on track to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, surpassing even David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first premier and the leader who declared Israel’s independence in 1948. As PM Netanyahu ushers in this new era, I believe his upcoming term has the potential to pave a path toward a new era in US-Israel relations, solidifying his legacy as a venerated leader deserving of his long tenure. As such, I believe the prime minister’s priorities should include three issues that are critical to the future of US-Israel relations.

First and foremost, the prime minister should focus on encouraging and facilitating strong bipartisan support for Israel in the US Congress. For decades, American support for Israel from both parties was assured. Recently, however, Israel has been losing support in the Democratic Party, which is increasingly bowing to the ever-strengthening voices of far-left, anti-Israel progressives such as Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. 

You needn’t look too far to see Democratic support for Israel waning; 21 Democratic senators, nearly half of all Senate Democrats, recently voted against legislation to counter the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a movement not only intended to cause direct economic and cultural harm to one of the United States’ closest allies, but one which challenges Israel’s legitimacy to exist, and which has been proven to have numerous ties to US-designated terrorist organizations. Now is the time to change direction and send a clear message to the Democratic leadership and the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020: Israel and the United States are both stronger and more capable when united than apart, as are Democrats and Republicans.

Second, the new Israeli government should work to further strengthen the bond between Israel and the American Jewish community. With his eloquent, Philadelphia-accented English and two degrees from MIT, Prime Minister Netanyahu is often considered to be the “most American” of Israel’s prime ministers (excepting only perhaps Israel’s fourth prime minister, Wisconsin-raised Golda Meir). He feels the pulse of the American people and has an intuitive grasp of the sentiments of the American Jewish community. 

As a result, he is often torn between American Jews’ idealistic vision for Israel and the hard political realities he faces at home. This conflict is made all the more complicated by influence of the ultra-Orthodox religious establishment, which frequently clashes with the Jewish pluralism many Jewish Americans long for. With his reelection, PM Netanyahu has the opportunity to bridge what many see as a growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora. The US and Israel have the world’s two largest Jewish communities. In order to reconnect them, the PM’s message must be one of inclusion, unity and shared destiny.

Last, and perhaps most important, I call on the prime minister to commit to working with the Trump administration to reach a true peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and to further normalize relations with the Arab world. Such an achievement would not only cement Netanyahu as one of Israel’s great leaders, but will bring about a monumental shift in global politics in favor of Israel and the lens through which the international community views issues such as antisemitism, BDS, and Israel’s legitimacy, both as a sovereign nation and as the Jewish State. Following the election, President Trump said he thinks “We have a better chance [for peace] now that Bibi has won.” Let’s do our part to ensure this chance is realized in full.

Elections are both the bedrock of democracy and a celebration of our ability to decide our own destinies. By once again winning the confidence of his people, Prime Minister Netanyahu has a renewed mandate to lead Israel toward a better future of its own choosing. I wish him and the people of Israel great success.

The writer is the president of the American Jewish Congress.

The Hill
Monday, April 15, 2019 - 5:00pm

By Jack Rosen, Opinion Contributor

In many ways, Jewish issues are quintessentially American issues. Jews are as much a part of the American social, economic and cultural fabric as any other ethnic or religious group. We care about the security of the homeland, we care about the economic wellbeing of our children and our neighbors, we care about the state of the world and the legacies we leave to progeny.

The distinct history and identity of the Jewish people — what we’ve endured and what we continue to face at home and abroad — requires special attention. In the U.S., anti-Semitism is resurfacing both on the left and the right of mainstream politics. There is a growing political divide over supporting Israel and countering the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.

Politicians in both parties now traffic in dangerous anti-Semitic tropes with relative impunity. White supremacists are emboldened to spread and act on hate and increasingly commit assaults, murders and massacres of Jews. We would do well not to treat these ignoble features of our modern political and cultural life as mere spasms or aberrations. We must not ignore the hate and indifference that spawned them. 

This is why I am calling for the establishment of a bipartisan “Congressional Jewish Caucus.” It may surprise some that no such organization exists within the Congress. Caucuses are informal organizations comprised of members of Congress who work toward achieving common interests. There is a Congressional Black Caucus. There is a Congressional Hispanic Caucus. There is a Freedom Caucus. There is even a Bike Caucus, which promotes cycling.

I like to believe the absence of a Congressional Jewish Caucus is not a slight or an oversight, but rather a reflection of the overlap of Jewish issues with the cares and concerns of all Americans. But let us not be naïve; the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was not targeted by accident. The swastikas being spray-painted on Jewish graves and places of worship with alarming regularity are not mere mischief. As much as these acts strike at the heart of the American idea of plurality and tolerance, they strike first at the sense of security and belonging of the Jewish people. It’s time we had a united, bipartisan voice in Congress.

In terms of numbers, Jewish-Americans are well-represented in Congress. There are 36 Jewish members in the 116th Congress — six more than in the 115th. For an ethnic and religious minority that makes up only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, comprising 6.7 percent of Congress is a great achievement. Several Jewish members of Congress occupy prominent, leadership roles in congressional committees.

While these numbers are promising, they betray a factionalism that is winnowing the traditional consensus in the Congress regarding Jewish concerns. Particularly worrisome are the emerging intraparty and interparty splits on these issues. Both parties face extreme viewpoints on their fringes. And the battle lines between Democratic and Republican are stark; necessary solidarity against the threat from Iran, for example, has been undermined by partisanship. 

We need party leadership to step up and challenge their own — and each other — to defend the interests of Jewish Americans, but we also need Jewish politicians to work together and speak with a clear, collective voice to protect Jewish interests at the national level. That is why we need a “Congressional Jewish Caucus.” 

Consider the ongoing firestorm around comments made by Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who have made comments many considered anti-Semitic. In the recent past, such comments would have been met with swift bipartisan scorn, repudiation and possibly censure. But that’s not what happened. Although it began as a clear stand against anti-Semitism, Resolution 138, which was drafted in response to this controversy, was watered down by the House to appease its “progressive” wing. Had there been a bipartisan Jewish caucus at the table to intervene, the outcome might well have been different.  

A Jewish caucus would also provide a platform for Jewish Americans to represent themselves as a minority in the United States. As much as Jewish Americans are assimilated into every facet of American life, it bears reminding ourselves and the nation that political decisions that affect us are in large measure being made by non-Jews. Representation of the Jewish perspective on issues from anti-Semitism to civil rights to foreign policy is invaluable to promoting our distinct concerns and priorities, which are based on a unique identity, character, and history.

Indeed, at a time when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has commented, “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” we need a Jewish caucus. At a time when an avowed neo-Nazi gets himself onto an official ballot to be a U.S. representative, we need a Jewish Caucus.

Ultimately, a “Congressional Jewish Caucus” would be stronger than the sum of its parts. The Jewish American community is far from monolithic, but what connects us is far greater than what divides us. In that same vein, if they were united, Jewish members of Congress could have a larger impact on legislation and achieve the goals of Jewish Americans at large. Those goals are by and large shared by all Americans of goodwill. The formation of this caucus is a good first step. 

Jack Rosen is the president of the American Jewish Congress. Follow Rosen on Twitter at @JackRosenNYC.

Jewish Journal
Monday, April 15, 2019 - 10:18am

The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) and the American Jewish Congress are among those criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for suggesting that United States aid to Israel could be cut.

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, said in a statement, “The American Jewish Congress strongly opposes any cut to the U.S. security or financial assistance to Israel, as implied by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in an interview with Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast today.”

“American financial and security assistance to Israel is first and foremost a way to protect U.S. lives and interests in the Middle East,” Rosen later added. “Israel serves as a stabilizer in a turbulent region and is on the front-lines of countering some of the U.S.’s most dangerous enemies such as Iran and its malign proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.”

Read the full article here