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Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 6:05pm

United States President Donald Trump is as defiant as ever. He has disregarded global opposition and gone ahead with recognising Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. This could potentially reverse 70 years of America's Middle East policy. Furthermore, Trump has insisted that the controversial move will not affect his administration's goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

The US embassy will now be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Officials have told the press that this process will take up to three years. “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

 

“My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Within hours of Trump's announcement, US embassies across several - Great Britain, Germany, Jordan and Turkey - issued security alerts and urged caution.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council is likely to meet. They will be discussing the move made by Trump. This comes on the heels of a request from eight countries of the 15-member body.

 

Trump didn't rule out a further division. “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved".

 

Following the announcement, there were major protests across various cities.

 

“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear – there is no alternative to the two-state solution,” Guterres continued. “There is no plan B.” Even Pope Francis got in the act. Francis made a plea to Trump to respect status quo and conform to the UN resolutions.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan adopted a tough stance on Trump's announcement. The Turkish foreign minister said the US was making a "grave mistake".

 

French President Emmanuel Macron was the first of the Western leaders to condemn the move.

 

Thereafter, British Prime Minister Theresa May joined in, calling the move, "“unhelpful in terms of the prospects for peace in the region”.

Arutz Sheva
Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 4:55pm

The American Jewish Congress (AJC) issued a statement welcoming Trump’s announcement as well, saying, “This historic acknowledgement by the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem’s just and rightful position as the heart of the Jewish State and nation.”

 

“The Palestinians have for some time embarked on diplomatic terrorism at international institutions including the UN and UNESCO. In this they were aided by President Obama’s abstention on the anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution last December, which threatened to strain the special relationship between the US and Israel, and sent a dangerous message to the Palestinians that the US was abandoning its longstanding American policy of vetoing unilateral resolutions against Israel. This has served only to entrench attitudes towards the Palestinians by those on the right in America and across the Jewish world. The Palestinians really only have themselves to blame for today’s announcement,” said the statement.

 

“That said, the American Jewish Congress is encouraged by the increased signs of engagement between Israel and Sunni Arab states, which make the prospects of achieving a lasting negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians an ever more realistic outcome. The American Jewish Congress looks to the US to continue to lead the way among the international community to facilitate constructive dialogue and actions between Israel and the Palestinians with the aim of reinvigorating the dormant peace process.”

 
London Bulletin
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 6:52pm

The American Jewish Congress welcomes the US Designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital & the relocation of the Embassy.

 

“The American Jewish Congress welcomes President Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and its commitment to relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This historic acknowledgement by the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem’s just and rightful position as the heart of the Jewish State.

 

“The Palestinians really only have themselves to blame for today’s announcement. The Palestinians have for some time embarked on diplomatic terrorism at international institutions including the UN and UNESCO. In this they were aided by President Obama’s abstention on the anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution last December, which threatened to strain the special relationship between the US and Israel, and sent a dangerous message to the Palestinians that the US was abandoning its longstanding American policy of vetoing unilateral resolutions against Israel. This has served only to entrench attitudes towards the Palestinians by those on the right in America and across the Jewish world.”

 

“That said, the American Jewish Congress is encouraged by the increased signs of engagement between Israel and Sunni Arab states, which make the prospects of achieving a lasting negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians an ever more realistic outcome. The American Jewish Congress looks to the US to continue to lead the way among the international community to facilitate constructive dialogue and actions between Israel and the Palestinians with the aim of reinvigorating the dormant peace process.”

 

Jack Rosen, President, American Jewish Congress

 

Munr Kazmir

 

Ben Chouake

 

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

 
HuffPost
Friday, November 17, 2017 - 5:47pm
By Munr Kazmir
 
I was heartened to see recently that Argentina and the United States are talking about increasing trade with each other. I think open trade is a hallmark of a productive economy and the United States couldn’t have a better partner to deal with on the Argentinian end of the spectrum than President Mauricio Macri. I met President Macri last year at the house of American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and then again earlier this month at a private dinner at the same location.

Jack is working hard around the world to build relationships that could be beneficial not only to AJC, but to many countries worldwide. This includes President Macri, whom Jack is very close with.

On a personal level, President Macri is a charming guy. When you combine his charisma and his penchant for reform, you can easily tell why many consider him to be the Argentinian Ronald Reagan. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of world leaders but to this point, President Macri has been the most impressive one I have met.

I have been to Argentina many times since my daughter studied abroad in Buenos Aires for her law degree. Without a doubt, the country has changed in a positive way under President Macri’s leadership.

Most recently Macri’s party won re-election, which is good news for the Argentinian people and for us, since it makes the road to trade between our two countries easier. There are many investment opportunities for American businesses in Argentina and I hope the friendship between our two nations grows so that the U.S. and Argentina can benefit from each other over the long haul.

In addition, for as long as President Macri is in office, it means that we have a key ally in the region, which is excellent. I am very pleased that President Macri is a friend to Israel as well.

I look forward to progress continuing to be made in Argentina under President Macri and am excited for the positive global outcomes that should occur as a result.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

 

 

 

The Jerusalem Post
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 11:02am
Trump’s uncompromising rhetoric has earned him a considerable fan base in Israel, where hisapproval rating is healthier than on his home turf.
 
By Jack Rosen
 
They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, this past year has seen enough action in the US and around the world to last a lifetime. Looking back over the 12 months since US President Donald Trump gained arguably the most improbable election victory in American history, it is a good time to reflect on what his administration has meant for Jews there and around the world.
 
Trump came into office in the immediate aftermath of predecessor Barack Obama’s parting gift toIsrael at the UN Security Council, where for the first time in US history Israel’s closest ally on the global stage abstained from a vote on Israeli settlement activity. This move caused considerableconsternation among American Jewry, for Obama had turned his back on years of American foreign policy and set the tone for an agenda that threatened to derail America’s bond with Israel.
 
Trump had been vocal in his commitments to Israel on the campaign trail, pledging to overturn hispredecessor’s veto of the anti-settlement resolution at the UNSC, as well as to moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
 
His new appointee to the role of US ambassador to the UN similarly heralded the start of a new era inthe relationship of the US. In her maiden speech, Nikki Haley insisted the Trump administration would “have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our backs as well.” Furthermore, the US would in future abstain from any UN vote on a resolution which sought to “encourage boycotts ofIsrael.”
 
Trump himself seized on the UN’s weakness, choosing his own maiden speech at the General Assembly in September to condemn the UN’s culture of “bureaucracy and mismanagement,” which he argued prevented the body from restoring its once great reputation as a global influencer inpromoting universal human rights and the peaceful coexistence of nations.
 
The Trump administration has similarly been clear in vocalizing its commitment to securing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, suggesting that his own negotiating power offers the US “maybe the best shot ever” of achieving elusive peace. However, there has been little concrete progress in the process.
If he is to realize his lofty ambitions for achieving a strong, stable and secure Israel and the best environment for peace in the region, Trump now has to match strong rhetoric with action. He should begin by taking decisive steps against those questioning Israel’s rights to exist and who advocate aseries of unjustified sanctions and boycotts.
 
Trump’s uncompromising rhetoric has earned him a considerable fan base in Israel, where hisapproval rating is healthier than on his home turf. A largely disillusioned American Jewry is looking for more demonstrable signs of a commitment to action on the Middle East peace process.
 
Meanwhile, an increasingly isolationist agenda on matters of wider foreign policy inhibits American influence on the world stage. The US would better serve its closest ally Israel by preserving its reputation as a global power player.
 
America could repair its somewhat damaged diplomatic prestige to lead a coordinated effort by international nations to secure Israel’s borders and pave the way to achieving peace in the region.
Another area of concern is the growing alt-right in the US and the forces of hatred that the new climate is unleashing. Charlottesville was a debacle that must never recur. Antisemitism must be stamped out wherever it rears its ugly head.
In decertifying the Iran deal – an ill-conceived strategy that went against the interests of Israel, America and all those opposed to terrorism – Trump sent a clear message that dangerous regimes looking to spread terrorism on our doorsteps and throughout the Middle East alike would not be tolerated.
In turning his back on the once-lauded deal, without the support of much of the international community, Trump once again displayed a strong sense of moral courage. Persisting with an ineffective and an unenforceable agreement only risks further instability at what is a key transitional time in the development of Iran’s dangerous plans for the region and the safety of its neighbors and the world.
President Trump has adopted an uncompromising policy on ISIS, which has undoubtedly brought success, declaring only last month that the reason for the US concluding major military operations inRaqqa was as a result of his overhaul of the rules of engagement in the fight against the terrorist group.
In the Trump administration’s most buoyant declaration of victory in the fight against ISIS, he added: “ISIS is now giving up, they are giving up, they are raising their hands, they are walking off.
Nobody has ever seen that before.”
 
While the military is cautious on whether victory has been won in Iraq, Trump still faces myriad foreign policy challenges elsewhere in the region that need addressing urgently. In Lebanon, western powers and moderate alike were alarmed by the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week, citing fears over the growing influence of Iranian proxy, Hezbollah.
 
The announcement came amid mounting fears over the consolidation of Iranian influence in Lebanon and was perhaps the most worrying sign to date of the internationally designated terrorist group Hezbollah’s dangerous intentions.
 
America must now look to cooperate with its allies in the region to counter the combined force of Iran and Hezbollah, or else the situation is certain to spiral, increasing the likelihood of a clash with Israelas well as the spread of terrorism throughout the Middle East.
 
Twelve months on, Trump has been true to his word and been a real friend to Israel and taken the fight to the terrorists around the world. While this is deeply encouraging, we cannot avoid the dangers of the increasing alt-right and populist rhetoric. Trump must now condemn unequivocally the forces of bigotry and hatred at home, as staunchly as he has been defending Israel’s interests abroad.
 
The writer is president of the American Jewish Congress.
New York Daily News
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 5:11pm

By Jack Rosen

Sen. Bernie Sanders has for too long been allowed to attack Israel unchecked. His constant attacks are disproportionate and risk damaging the Democratic Party’s image in the U.S. and abroad. Sanders’ recent claim that the U.S. was “complicit” in Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was a case in point.

I did not hear one Democratic voice publically challenge this point of view. When will Israel’s supporters within the Party stand up against Sanders and stand up for Israel? Will the new cohort of Democrats elected to office this week stand up for Israel?

Sanders’ obsession with bashing Israel is biased, myopic and imbalanced. Is it reasonable to single out Israel while turning a relative blind eye to the terror and hatred tearing through every other Middle Eastern country? Is it reasonable to dedicate so much time and energy to highlighting Israel’s flaws when there are so many countries around the world facing complex challenges? This hypocrisy needs to be highlighted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has for too long been allowed to attack Israel unchecked. His constant attacks are disproportionate and risk damaging the Democratic Party’s image in the U.S. and abroad. Sanders’ recent claim that the U.S. was “complicit” in Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was a case in point.

I did not hear one Democratic voice publically challenge this point of view. When will Israel’s supporters within the Party stand up against Sanders and stand up for Israel? Will the new cohort of Democrats elected to office this week stand up for Israel?

Sanders’ obsession with bashing Israel is biased, myopic and imbalanced. Is it reasonable to single out Israel while turning a relative blind eye to the terror and hatred tearing through every other Middle Eastern country? Is it reasonable to dedicate so much time and energy to highlighting Israel’s flaws when there are so many countries around the world facing complex challenges? This hypocrisy needs to be highlighted.

It goes without saying that Sanders plays a leading role amongst the left-leaning progressives within the Democratic Party, and he influences a significant voting bloc. We all witnessed the way he was able to grow his support during his bid to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Despite losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton, the progressive movement he leads gained momentum during the election. This means that Sanders is able to get real traction on the issues that matter to him, one of which is Israel.

Sanders’ opinions on Israel are damaging and consistent. He seems to regularly put out anti-Israel material, have high-profile meetings with anti-Israel campaigners and make sweeping and negative statements aimed at the Jewish state. This fall, following headlines about Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, he met with Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist visiting America who has been arrested and prosecuted by Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials. At J-Street in the spring, he condemned “Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories” as being “contrary to fundamental American values.”

Sanders’ actions mean that the anti-Israel argument is now becoming more legitimate. True allies of Israel cannot just sit by without responding, especially given Sanders’ outsized role within the Democratic Party. While he is free to have his own views, if the party wants to be seen as pro-Israel, then elected officials need to stand up and counter these opinions head on.

By staying silent, Democrats are feeding the perception that the Democratic Party is increasingly becoming an anti-Israel party.

This is of course not the case. I have spoken to decision makers and privately, they are very critical of Sanders. But talking privately is no longer enough. If you are pro-Israel then you need to defend her publically.

We do not want to mimic center-left parties in Europe where, for example, the once staunchly pro-Israel U.K. Labour Party is now led by a man who once extended an open-armed invitation to Hezbollah and Hamas to visit Parliament.

Changes are afoot within the Democratic Party, with new governors coming into power in New Jersey and Virginia, and a string of state legislative election victories last week. The resurgence of the Democrats on a local level, on the heels of four successive defeats in special congressional elections during the Trump administration’s first year in office, could place President Trump under considerable pressure.

What is happening is a slow anti-Israel erosion within some quarters of the Democratic Party. There are prominent voices that could turn the tide, but they need to mobilize before more damage is done. They could move the barometer on Israel and combat Sanders with one statement, but they don’t. They are silent when Israel and the Democratic Party need them most.

Rosen is president of the American Jewish Congress

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.