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. 

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

By Jack Rosen, President of the AJCongress

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...

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

By Jack Rosen, President of the AJCongress

(...) 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. 

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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.”

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The New York Times
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 4:00pm

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, said any surge in Netanyahu fatigue should not be interpreted as a weakening of American Jews' support for Israel.

"There is a sense of fatigue having one leader for 10 years," Rosen said. "Just as we've had Clinton fatigue and Bush fatigue."

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Jewish News Syndicate
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 3:00pm

“[U.S.] President [Donald] Trump has shown courage in recognizing the realities of the modern Middle East in a way that other world leaders do not,” said American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen in a statement. “The Iranian government is a threat to the region and to global security at large, and an undeniable source of terrorist violence against civilians. We cannot afford to stay in denial about Iran.”

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The Hill
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 7:00am

By Jack Rosen

The Democratic Party recently ruptured itself over comments made by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that many viewed as anti-Semitic. While Democrats are fractured in a fierce back-and-forth, Republicans have been unified in condemning both Omar and those who defended her.

In particular, President Trump has sharply criticized Democrats for their lukewarm handling of the controversy, highlighting a significant wedge between Jewish Democrats and the rest of their party. So far, it’s working — top Democrats are falling into the same trap that Trump and other vocal Republicans anticipated, and this wedge will grow more pronounced the longer the Democratic leadership fails to address it.

This was not Omar’s first time making comments like this, nor was she the only new member of Congress to be accused of such foul rhetoric. But Omar’s most recent claims toward AIPAC, Israel and Jewish “dual loyalty” sparked heated reactions from many quarters and notably, debate within Democratic circles.

Indeed, despite being few in number, a cadre of so-called progressives came overwhelmingly to Omar’s aid, and, bewilderingly, forced the Democratic House leadership to water down Congress’ condemnation of anti-Semitism. And while several key Democrats have criticized Omar vocally, party leadership did not follow their example. So, when Trump claims the issue has divided Democrats, he is not grasping at straws.

Trump has been vocal about Omar for some time. Earlier this month, when she became embroiled in controversy over her tweet, referenceing AIPAC, that insinuated that memebers of Congress who defend Israel are motivated by money (evoking age-old tropes about Jewish monetary power in the process), Trump was quick to call for both her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and her full resignation.

Then, in the wake of the watered-down Resolution 183 last week, Trump told reporters that the Democrats have become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party. Since then, he has further stoked the flames by tweeting about Jexodus, a new conservative Jewish movement calling on Jewish Americans to leave the Democratic Party, citing anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment.

Trump’s ability to label his enemies is formidable. His aggressive name-calling tactics have a proven capability to stick and endure, and many nicknames — for instance, “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” and “Rocket Man” – survive in our cultural lexicon even after Trump has stopped spreading them.

Trump’s accusations against the Democratic Party may stick in the same way if Democrats are not quick to disavow and disprove them. Jewish Americans overwhelmingly vote Democrat, but one tactic Trump has mastered is planting seeds of doubt. Whereas most politicians would hesitate to be so blunt about what is happening to Democrats, Trump has no such qualms. The seed is now out in the open to be planted.

Unfortunately, his statements are not completely unfounded. Although I do not believe that most Democrats are anti-Jewish or anti-Israel, the Democratic Party has enabled its members who do espouse anti-Semitic ideas or rhetoric and looking the other way when they play to anti-Semitic tropes, as we saw in the deliberations over Resolution 183. And when fringe far-left progressives laid on the pressure, seasoned Democratic leaders allowed an important resolution on anti-Semitism to be diluted into a general resolution against hate.

Without a doubt, Jews are being held to a double standard by the Democrats of tomorrow. The Democrats would never allow one of their own congressmen to make a statement that openly invokes offensive stereotypes about any other minority group, yet when Omar makes several in a row about Jewish people, Democratic leadership excuses and enables her.

While some Democrats have sufficiently defended Israel in light of her comments, they were exceptions, running against the grain of the party overall. This is even more upsetting given that many senior Democrats are pro-Israel. Why are they now silent? In past years, Democrats have come out swinging at the phrase “All Lives Matter.” Yet, that is exactly the message Democrats gave Jews with Resolution 183.

Most of all, Democrats need to show Jews on both sides of the aisle that they are listening. Israel is increasingly perceived as a right-wing issue, but it didn’t used to be that way. Democrats, including progressives, should be working to understand why so many Jewish liberals are pro-Israel. With anti-Semitism on the rise in the U.S. and abroad, Jewish Americans are searching for allies, and the Democrats are not filling that role.

None of this is to say that Democrats are the only enablers of anti-Semitism in Congress. The president and others in the Republican Party are also guilty of problematic statements, double standards and silence when they should speak out. But to use the shortcomings of one side to excuse the shortcomings of the other is harmful to us all. When both parties point out each other’s enabling of anti-Semitism, it doesn’t inspire Jews to join their side — it makes Jews feel that neither party is their home anymore.

Trump’s targeted nicknames have the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Democrats: We have seen the kernel of anti-Semitism within your party. You must nip it in the bud and come out as an ally for Jewish Americans — before it is too late. Don’t make liberal Jews ask whether you really consider them your own. Don’t let Trump be right about you.

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

The Jerusalem Post
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 1:28pm

This should come as no surprise. Hamas, lest we forget, is classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State, and its terrorist status was recently reiterated by the EU.

By Jack Rosen

Last week, the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar announced that it was putting a halt to its financing of the terrorist group Hamas, which has a tenuous hold on the Gaza Strip. Instead, it will redirect those funds to humanitarian projects in the coastal enclave, in accordance with the United Nations, and with the approval of Israel. 

Doha’s envoy to Gaza, Muhammad Al Emadi, also announced that after April, Qatar will no longer finance the Gaza Strip’s monthly electricity bill, because of Hamas’s foot-dragging on several large, needed projects, including a long-delayed high-voltage power line from Israel that could double Gaza’s supply of electrical power. While Qatar has long played a controversial and highly-criticized role in Gaza, its new tough approach to Hamas – which has badly mismanaged Gaza while inflaming conflict between Palestinians and Israelis – represents a rupture that could irreparably damage the terrorist group’s credibility on the street, which until now has been the source of its power.

Qatar’s funding has been significant and has greatly helped Hamas holding on to power. Between 2012 and 2018, Qatar provided Hamas with over $1.1 billion. Haaretz estimates that about 44% of the money provided by Qatar during this period was invested in infrastructure, while approximately 40% was used for education and healthcare. 

In its effort to reconstruct Gaza, Qatar had hoped its commitment to more than 110 projects and its construction of 4,800 apartments, roads and hospitals would lead to a more stable Gaza Strip and an improved quality of life for the Palestinians who live there. However, as is evidenced by the rising tensions along the Israel-Gaza border, Hamas has stuck to its terrorist roots and failed to effectively govern and implement the many projects and opportunities presented by both Israel and Qatar.

The escalating conflict stems in large part from Hamas’s refusal to honor the commitments made in November. Violations include nighttime demonstrations on the border and the launching of incendiary balloons, which are now also carrying bombs. 

This should come as no surprise. Hamas, lest we forget, is classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State, and its terrorist status was recently reiterated by the European Union. 

QATAR, EGYPT, Israel and UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov are all scrambling to stabilize the situation in Gaza before March 30. This date, which is known by Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs as Land Day, will also mark the one-year anniversary of the weekly Hamas-led protests on the Israel-Gaza border, and comes shortly before the April 9 Israeli elections.

However, so long as Hamas remains in control of Gaza, sustainable development and peace that depend on projects – including those proposed and financed by Qatar – will be impossible to achieve. So with an eye on the long game, Qatar took action.

The timing of Qatar’s break with Hamas is propitious for another reason. Even within Gaza, Hamas is not popular because of its refusal and inability to provide for the Palestinians who live there. According to one recent poll, only 35% of Gazans now support Hamas. Qatar’s move can thus deepen the public split with the group, further isolate it in Palestinian politics, and bring about the end of whatever legitimacy it once held. The message is, what Palestinians in Gaza want and need – jobs and improvements in quality of life – can in fact be provided without the help of Hamas, which has predicated its authority solely on confrontation.

Indeed, Qatar has now pledged that it will redirect hundreds of millions of dollars more through United Nations aid groups such as the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. With Israeli approval, Qatar has already given $50 million to UNRWA, and this redirection of funds for development and humanitarian underscores that the interests of the Palestinian people are better served through accountable, legitimate international agencies than through the Hamas policy of terror and confrontation.

Hamas does not recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel. It has managed to isolate itself from Qatar – one of its strongest remaining supporters – and more importantly, from the Palestinian people themselves. By pulling its purse strings, Qatar is sending a message to Hamas’s leadership that the group has betrayed the trust of the Palestinian people and has been an obstacle to their progress. This notion strikes at the heart of the group’s claims to legitimacy. Adrift and with a sagging political base, a discredited Hamas may at last be bound for the rubbish heap of history.

The writer is president of the American Jewish Congress.

Jewish News Syndicate
Friday, March 22, 2019 - 3:55pm

The American Jewish Congress came down hard on J Street’s initiative, saying it is “effectively reducing the entirety of Israel to its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“It would be one thing if J Street was simply offering an independent free trip to Israel with the mission of exploring perspectives on the conflict,” AJCongress president Jack Rosen told JNS. “But what they are doing is presenting it as a more moral alternative to Birthright.”

“The message they are sending is that visiting Israel is wrong unless you are there to hear it portrayed as an oppressor, and that Israel can only be celebrated in the same breath as it is condemned,” he explained. “No other country is talked about this way so broadly. This kind of thinking essentially ignores everything about Israel other than the conflict.”

Rosen also said that “this kind of thinking facilitates anti-Israel bias around the world.”

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San Diego Jewish World
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 1:59pm

The American Jewish Congress applauded the decision of the United States to finally recognize the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory. “This is a necessary and long-overdue action, and we fully support President Trump in this important step,” said its president Jack Rosen.

“For all intents and purposes, this territory has been part of Israel since 1967,” he continued. “During the Six-Day War, Israel took control of the Golan Heights from Syria as a necessary self-defense measure to ensure the country’s survival. In the 52 years between then and now, the Golan has functioned as a fully-integrated part of Israel. And it is not only Israel that treats the Golan as Israeli, but also Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and every other geopolitical actor in the region. When Iranian forces in Syria flew a drone into the Golan last year, they were fully aware that this was Israel. Syrians wounded due to the Syrian Civil War flee to the Syrian border with the Golan Heights to receive lifesaving medical care from the IDF.

“The security needs which mandated that Israel take the Golan Heights in 1967 are no less pertinent today,” Rosen added.  “Syria used the Golan’s strategic geography in two separate offensive wars against Israel in the past. Today, Iran and Hezbollah, both of which have vowed Israel’s destruction, use Syrian territory as a front for violence against the State of Israel. Israel has never waged an offensive war and its actions in the Golan Heights have represented pure self-defense. By recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the U.S. is helping to secure the ability of its closest regional ally to defend itself. We hope that other members of the international community will follow President Trump’s example.”

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