News

Share
Diplomacy.co.il
Friday, November 10, 2017 - 10:56am

Jack Rosen hosted a private dinner at his New York home in the presence of Robert De Niro and Len Balvatnik

Jack Rosen, President of the American Jewish Congress, hosted Argentinian President Mauricio Macri for a dinner in his honour at his New York home last night in the aftermath of last week’s deadly terror attack in New York, which claimed the lives of five Argentinian nationals, one of whom was Jewish. Following on from Macri’s decisive victory in the mid-term Argentinian elections last month, the leaders expressed their mutual solidarity with all victims of terror, the Argentinian people and the citizens of New York, as they committed to further promoting universal values of freedom and tolerance as an antidote to the scourge of radical Islamic terror. “All of us share these kinds of values,” Mr. Rosen told the President at their meeting, “Christians, Muslims, Jews and everyone”.

Speaking at the meeting of the two leaders, Mr. Rosen offered his “condolences and sorrow for the Argentinians who came here as tourists and lost their lives”, as he expressed his hopes for renewed cooperation between Americans and Argentinians in the areas of investment and diplomacy. Commending President Macri’s achievements for Argentina and Latin America as a whole, Mr. Rosen added that America “was rooting” for Argentinian success

Looking to a new future of mutual cooperation between Argentina and global leaders, President Macri said there was “no sense in trying to build walls” as he heralded the opportunities presented by globalisation and rapidly advancing technology to “invite the world to be part of the best opportunity of the next 20 years: Argentina”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heralded “a new era” in Israel’s relations with Argentina on an official state visit to Argentina in September, having first been introduced to President Macri at the American Jewish Congress’s Mayor’s conference.

The American Jewish Congress is committed to ensuring the survival and security of Israel, and protecting Jewish communities around the world

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 4:39pm
The Hill
Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 7:20am

By Jack Rosen

The scenes from Charlottesville last week were truly harrowing. My parents, and thousands of other Jews across Europe, did not flee the Nazis and come to America for their grandchildren to face the kind of violence and hatred from the extreme-right that we all witnessed this weekend. However, the response to the tragedy has, if anything, made me even more proud to be an American Jew.

After witnessing the disgusting protests and statements made in Charlottesville, I came away with a feeling of revulsion. Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and Confederates brought hatred and discrimination into an otherwise peaceful community. Anti-Semitism and other forms of grotesque racism were suddenly acceptable and violence seemed to be inevitable. 

This was a scene that many of us had hoped was confined to the history books.

In the aftermath, many focused on the President Trump’s reaction and what he did and didn’t say at various points after the attack. As a Jewish leader, many would have imagined that this would have left me questioning our country and its values. But I think it is important to understand the wider reactions, from religious leaders, politicians and society. For once, I have found the response from all parts of society overwhelming.

People from all walks of life, all races and all religions were willing to stand up against these atrocities and stand united against discrimination and hatred. Many mentioned the anti-Semitic nature of the rally directly and were willing to show that this was not acceptable.

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) family, like my own, witnessed first-hand the atrocities of Nazi Germany. He made it very clear, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” He was not alone. Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives all made their position public. That is without detailing the scores of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faith leaders who spoke out against the atrocity.

Our religious and political leaders proved that America is able to unite against this type of incident and rally behind those affected. They have proven that they are focused on the institutions that make us great: our freedom, our democracy, our passion for justice.

The public has followed this lead and instead of turning on our fellow Americans, the hatred on display this weekend brought us together. Much of the loathing comes from resentment and hardship but as American’s we are committed to understanding and unity, coupled with our desire to eliminate racist and anti-Semitic ideologies from our country once and for all.

I do not want to down play this tragedy, but we must realize that a small minority does not define us as Americans. We are a large country and there are many fringe and extreme groups. When this type of atrocity occurs, we all must clamp down and find ways to stop hateful ideologies from spreading and seeping into our society. Rallying together is our only tool in fighting these atrocities.

When my family was scattered and shaken by the horrors of the Holocaust we had America to turn to. America is still the home of liberty and freedom. As long as we continue to speak out against hatred, even when it comes from within, we will only be stronger for it. This is the hope of our nation and our people. To fight for freedom from oppression and for peace. This is our legacy, this is our duty. I am proud of my heritage and my country. I am proud to be a Jewish American.

Jack Rosen is president of the American Jewish Congress, an organization fighting for the civil rights and civil liberties of minorities.

The Jerusalem Post
Sunday, July 2, 2017 - 2:30pm
By Jack Rosen
 
From today, the Kotel [Western Wall] is open to all Jews.” So said Diaspora Affairs minister Naftali Bennett in January 2016 when a deal was agreed to enable men and women to pray together at the Western Wall in a designated zone. Well, following the government’s decision to “freeze” the “Kotel Deal,” now apparently the Wall is not for all Jews. This a slap in the face to millions of Jews all over the world who believe in religious freedom and pluralism. It also makes it much harder to defend and advocate for Israel in the US and the international arena.
 
Like many others, I welcomed the January 2016 compromise, seeing in it not just a deal to enable egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall but a reaffirmation of the liberal democratic principles on which the State of Israel was established.
 
After this volte-face I feel disappointed and fearful for the future complexion of Israel.
 
Religious freedom has been a problematic issue ever since the establishment of the state. At the beginning there was the status-quo agreement struck between David Ben-Gurion and the religious parties, which effectively gave the Orthodox establishment a stranglehold on religious matters. To this day the Chief Rabbinate has authority over kashrut, shabbat, Jewish burial and personal status issues, such as marriage, divorce and conversion. Secular and non-Orthodox Israelis and Diaspora Jews still smart under the impact of that agreement.
 
In the “Kotel deal” at long last sought to address one of the injustices of the Orthodox religious monopoly. Not only did the deal provide a practical solution for those non-Orthodox Jews who wanted to express their faith according to their traditions at Judaism’s most holy place, but it also offered the hope that creative solutions could be found to address the legitimate concerns and aspirations of non-Orthodox Jews.
 
I agree with the assessment of Natan Sharansky that “[The] decision... will make our work to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together increasingly more difficult.” For those of us at the coal face, defending Israel from criticism and vitriol, this decision is a significant obstacle. I and many others like me have not fought all these years for a haredi- dominated religious state. Here in the US, the American Jewish Congress has been a leading voice in advocating for hundreds of civil rights and religious freedoms cases.
 
Americans and especially American Jews cherish their religious freedom, and this decision in Israel portrays the country in a negative light. In one fell swoop it has the potential to alienate our youth and undermine the impressive success of the Birthright program in cementing the connection between young American Jews and Israel. Many more Jews will be turned off Israel now than were won over to Israel through Birthright. The support of the American Jewish community is crucial to the US-Israel relationship and there can be no doubt that this decision will be demotivating for a very large proportion of that community. Unsurprisingly a high-level delegation from AIPAC has been hurriedly organized to discuss the impact on support for Israel in Congress.
 
The government’s action is deeply damaging and plays into the hands of Israel’s critics, especially the growing number of progressives in the US. They will all now be emboldened in their view that the State of Israel has strayed from the high-minded principles embodied in its Declaration of Independence. This decision therefore has strategic implications.
 
It undermines the democratic pluralistic essence of Israel and Israel’s relationship both with American Jewry and the broader Diaspora.
 
Though he points to the wrong culprits, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau is absolutely right to remind everyone that the reason given for the destruction of the Temple, from which the Western Wall derives its holiness, was “sinat hinam” (baseless hatred) between Jews.
 
United we stand, divided we fall.
 
The negotiations announced by the Prime Minister’s Office last Sunday must begin soon. We hope the government can respond to rectify quickly this disappointment and repair some of the damage.
 
This was clearly a political maneuver, but the Western Wall should be out of bounds for politics.
 
The Hill
Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 4:20pm

By Jack Rosen

“People all over the world are looking to the United States for leadership. We are known as the indispensable nation for good reason. No nation has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy and no nation is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are.”

When Secretary of State John Kerry made this statement in his confirmation hearing four years ago, no one could have predicted what that would mean for the Middle East and the international community.

In the immediate aftermath of Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing, it is important to reflect on Secretary Kerry's time in office and understand what a secretary of state can achieve.

Kerry’s credentials were second to none — a former presidential candidate, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, well-travelled and well-connected to many heads of state.
 

At the time, commentators believed that there could not have been a more worthy choice. For some, Tillerson is the opposite of that model. Questions have been raised considering his business associations, including his dealings with Putin, but it would be wrong to use the Kerry profile to judge Tillerson.

Anyone, myself included, who has been working long enough in international business and with foreign leaders on policy, will have come across people whose ideals they don't agree with, but who they dealt with to advance their company or organisational interests.

Who you have done business with does not necessarily lessen your support for America and it would be a mistake to assume that Tillerson’s business relationships disqualify him to be the next secretary of state.

Kerry looked like the perfect mould for the position, but the decisions he made may result in history judging his tenure very harshly.

Four years ago, no one present at Kerry's hearing would have thought to ask him, "Would you be happy to sit by and allow hundreds of thousands of people to be slaughtered in Syria?"

Or, "Is it acceptable to allow a country that openly declares it wants to wipe out its neighbor to be a threshold nuclear power?"

Yet, with the Iran nuclear deal and his policies regarding ISIS and Syria, that is exactly what has happened.

Culminating in his late December speech, Secretary Kerry’s record on Israel has been disastrous. He has targeted Israel in the U.N. and made the chances of constructive bilateral discussions less likely.

Rather than maintaining the long-standing U.S. policy of vetoing any resolution that interferes with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he allowed for the further isolation of Israel.

Kerry should have been preparing for a smooth transition to the new administration's policy goals, which would have included a veto on the previously mentioned resolution. Instead, Kerry chose to allow the U.N. to classify the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, as “occupied territory”.

Furthermore, while Israel has been the leading democracy in the region for generations, Kerry declared that it cannot be both Jewish and Democratic. The damage he caused in two weeks may take years to repair.

This is the position that Rex Tillerson will inherit. His approach to the U.N., which he has outlined on social media, will begin to correct the damage that has been done.

We will only be able to judge Tillerson by his actions, as we hope he will stand up and change the policy direction on Israel and the Middle East. 

Times of Israel Blogs
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 5:04pm

Louis D. Brandeis, the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice who took his seat almost exactly 100 years ago, famously wrote that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In another illustration of that wisdom, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to delegitimize Israel was unable to survive the scrutiny of the United Methodist Church, which voted last week to reject four resolutions aimed at taking punitive action against Israel.

The 12-million-member Church voted on pro-BDS measures at each of its last three quadrennial policy conferences, culminating this year in another defeat for BDS supporters in what one proponent of the resolutions described as an effort that “pretty much went down in flames.”
 

Jewish Journal
Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 2:42pm

Bernie Sanders’ appointments of Cornel West and James Zogby as his representatives to the Democratic party’s platform drafting committee are drawing strong condemnation from U.S. Jewish leaders...

“Of all the social activists that Senator Sanders could have nominated to help advance his message, we are particularly troubled by the selection of Cornel West, a prominent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen said in a statement. “Ultimately, we will judge the committee based on their actions at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this July, but considering Sanders’ extremely misinformed comments about Israel last month, the American Jewish Congress is especially concerned about West’s policy positions on the Middle East.”

The Jerusalem Post
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 10:46am

For most of the 2016 Presidential campaign, foreign policy issues have played a secondary role, but Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ response to questions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has generated considerable attention on the eve of the New York primary.

Recently, Sanders threw around random numbers with respect to civilians killed in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling over the Gaza Strip. Confusion about the precise figures is not disqualifying, but even more troubling than having only a distant familiarity with one of the most high profile issues a sitting US Senator confronts is the language Sanders chose to criticize Israeli conduct in its war of self-defense.

Sanders is among those who argue for a “proportional response” to terrorists. This is a notion many find baffling, as the merciless attacks by terror groups focus overwhelmingly on their attempts to murder as many innocent civilians as possible. In such a political and military context, one wonders what the advocates of proportionality really mean given Webster’s definition of “having a size, number or amount that is directly related to or appropriate for something.”

Fair Observer
Monday, April 4, 2016 - 9:22am

Argentina is the only major player in Latin America with a forward looking agenda that offers hope to its people.

In the crush of events that always weigh down a US president, and the daily eruptions of the 2016 election campaign, it would be a monumental mistake to underestimate the importance of President Barack Obama’s recent meeting with newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri. US outreach to Latin America never seems to garner sufficient priority, and the personal attention by Obama to one of the most interesting new leaders in a hugely influential country south of the border should not go unremarked.

Macri’s electoral victory in 2015 represents a long awaited change from the path taken by many of Argentina’s neighbors, where corruption and ineptitude seem pervasive in places like Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil. Succeeding Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose fame, or infamy, rested on her accommodations with neighborhood thugs—not to mention her various deals with Iran’s ayatollahs—Macri brings to Casa Rosada the promise of a new day for his people and a new model for Latin America.

The Hill
Friday, March 4, 2016 - 12:00pm

By Jack Rosen

Even in the midst of an astounding 2016 presidential campaign that is gripping the attention of most Americans, the U.S. - Iran nuclear deal is back in the news. The IAEA says that, so far, Iran appears to be in compliance. But that is not the whole story.

Now we learn that the regime of the Ayatollahs has a new program to support Palestinian murderers of Israelis. Iran has committed to give $7,000 to families of attackers who have used knives, hammers, scissors and other crude implements to kill and maim. For families that have their homes destroyed by Israel as a form of deterrence against future would-be murderers, Iran will provide $30,000.

None of this can come as a surprise, as Iran has increased financial support of both Hamas and Hezbollah, its two best-known proxies devoted to Israel’s destruction. Nor was any this unanticipated at the time the nuclear agreement was signed.

Even the agreement’s supporters in Congress, and elsewhere, warned that the unfrozen $100 billion of Iranian assets would end up in the hands of terrorists determined to create instability in the Middle East and beyond. Though Israel wears the largest bulls-eye on its back, many other U.S. allies in the region also voiced their fear that the financial bonanza would embolden Iran’s aggressive aims.

Now that the fear that Iran would be emboldened in its support of terrorism is coming to pass, many rightly will argue in favor of applying new sanctions. Former Secretary of State and presidential contender Hillary Clinton spoke out quickly to condemn Iran’s promise to fund Palestinian murder, and no doubt Congress will consider various options.

But presidential leadership will be essential if the U.S. is to pursue the dual policy of blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons program while also opposing Tehran’s destabilizing actions, including support of terrorism, throughout the region. For President Obama, this is an opportunity to show the nation that the White House and the Congress can come together to speak with one voice.  

While the U.S. has argued that the nuclear agreement was essential to keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of Iran’s leaders, it also indicated that many other differences remain between the two countries, and that the U.S. has other tools it will employ to confront Tehran when its behavior crosses red lines.

Applying meaningful American pressure against Iran’s new program to use unfrozen financial assets to kill Jews will have strong bipartisan support, taking politics out of the equation in demonstrating that America’s moral influence and economic might are still credible weapons in the fight to deter Iranian aggression.  

Providing financial stipends to Palestinian terrorists and their families for gruesome killing sprees surely rises to the level of unacceptable behavior that must trigger a clear response by the U.S. government. The American people look forward to Congress and the president making good on the promises made just a few short months ago.

Rosen is the president of the American Jewish Congress and chairman of the American Council for World Jewry.