Thursday, April 27, 2006


Yesterday I joined about 65 fellow members of the Hudson Valley PAC(HUVPAC), in Washington for a day of briefings and meetings with members of the Senate and House.We have been conducting these missions since 1982 .Unless you experience it firsthand you cannot understand the thrill ,but more importantly the power of citizen activism.It is participatory democracy at its finest.
While the mood in Washington is definately pro-Israel,especially in light of Iranian belligerence I am concerned that the approach to the Iranian problem is less than effective.On the other hand American attitudes at present vis-a- vis Hamas are more thought out , and less partisan.
If we really wanted to bring Iran to her knees, we could;
1. lead an effort to suspend her membership in the UN for seeking to dismember a member state.
2.We should start putting the same sanctions on International banks that do business in Iran as we are doing with banks that are involved with Hamas. The fear of International banks that they could not operate in the US if they do business with Iran, would be a powerful tool.
3.The Iran Freedom Support Act which was passed yesterday by the House 397-21 needs additional Senate sponsors.It should be passed, signed by the President without any waivers.
4.The partisanship on the Hill is palpable, especially on energy issues.I believe our country is tired of such nonsense.We are at war and the people demand an intelligent and bipartisan enlightened leadership on energy,Iraq, terrorism and so on.WE ARE NOT GETTING IT!

The Congress is considering the Palestine anti-terror Act, which grants an exclusion for " humanitarian aid ".While this sounds humane,the fact is, that money is fungible and only economic collapse will bring Hamas down without war. The Palestinians knew full well the consequences of voting for Hamas.Then again what is the definition of "humanitarian aid".Does it include anti-semitic textbooks?
The Iran freedom Support Act passed the House International Relations Committee 37-3 on March 14.It calls for American divestment from foreign companies investing in Iran's petroleum sector.The Senate bill is S.333.and it has 49 co-sponsors.
Sadly many Democrats Senators including the NY-_NJ quartet have not signed on over "language" difficulties.To me it looks like an attempt to deny a legislative victory to the chief Republican sponsor Sen Santorum (Pa) who is involved in a tough re-election race. (the democratic prime sponsor is Sen Evan Bayh D-In)One mid-western Democratic Senator confirmed this impression.

It is time for the US to insist on the reform and cleaning out of UNWRA .This UN agency is adminitered on the ground by Hamas elements. They perpetuate the squalor of the Palestinians living in the camps, and make no effort to find them permanent homes or jobs in the Arab world. Sadly,it is our money that supplies and supports this travesty.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The new cabinet 4/21/06

The big winner in the announcement of Cabinet positions in Israel is the Volvo Corporation.With the largest cabinet in history (27) a record number of cars will be distributed .Along with each of course are the offices, staff,security detail and the other priviledges of cabinet rank including a travel budget.
Sadly as rumored Amir Peretz the Labor Party leader,will serve as Defense Minister.His military experience is nil,and his main claim to fame aside from rebuilding Labor was as head of Histadrut.M.K. Ephraim Sneh, a former General with service in the Defense Ministry under Rabin and Barak will be the deputy to Peretz.
Politics is a tough game and current Defense Minister Mofaz who hesitated before joining Kadimah,was left out in the cold.
The major issues facing Israel include the daily rocket attacks from Gaza,the everpresent Hamas threat and the nuclearization of Iran.All of these fall under the responsibility of the Defense Ministry.Not only does Peretz have no experience in these matters, he does not speak english.Nor does he have a relationship with the Pentagon including the civilian leadership therein.
Politically from the point of view of Olmert,this is the best deal he can make.Assigning the Finance Ministry to Peretz would have bankrupted the system.From a security point of view it is a frightening choice.The day to day decisions regarding the IDF response to terror must meet the approval of the Defense Minister.Is Peretz up to it? As we have said previously stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Jim Besser this week in his Jewish Week political column on the departing Tom DeLay writes "when Bush wanted to crack down on Israel for its raids on Palestinian sites in 2002, it was DeLay along with Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss )-who pressured him to back off ".

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sen Lott- a rebuttal 4/6/06

The Canonist a Jewish blog attacks me for endorsing Sen Trent Lott's return to leadership in the Senate.I am fully aware of his statement at a dinner (I believe honoring )praising the old segregationst Strom Thurmond,and indeed at the time viewed video of the event.
I looked at it as pure puffery without any real meaning.Politicians like all of us often say foolish things that they later regret.Our talmud is full of such examples of puffery that people use in day to day activities.Trent was embellishing in an
off the cuff talk about an elderly Senator with a long record in the Congress ( and certainly no friend of ours)
If one listens to the talk on the floor of the Senate, one realizes that most of the mutual praise is pro-forma.
Nevertheless I did not think then or now that he should have resigned.He was a great leader of his party, an outstanding friend of Israel from his days in the House.
I met him on many occasions and know full well his close association with the Jewish community in the South ,as well as nationally.
All the years that I headed HUVPAC we did our best to give him a maximum PAC contribution.For this I am indeed thankful for the Hakorat Hatov we were able to exhibit to a great friend .
Should we be fortunate enough to see him in a real leadership position ,our community would surely benefit.

Sen Frist /Hillary vs Condi 3/6/06

Many who heard Majority Leader Sen Bill Frist (R. Tenn) speak at this weeks Orthodox Union dinner were unanimous in their criticism of his speaking abilities."Boring, monotone,uninspiring and devoid of personality" were among the criticisms. Sen Frist,a cardiac surgeon, is a good man with solid political skills.He has vowed not to run for a third term,ostensibly to run for the Presidency.Unless he can take some speech lessons and learn how to inspire a large audience,he would be better off going back to surgery==or running for re-election.
Hopefully Sen Rick Santorum of Pa will be re-elected and remain in the Republican Senate leadership.However,the Senate Republicans really need Sen Trent Lott in a major leadership position.He never should have resigned over an innocent remark taken out of context regarding Strom Thurmond.

The talk and book re Hillary vs Condi in '08 to me is just hype.
Hillary whether you like her or not is out there, raising funds ,putting together a national staff and campaign,developing relations and speaking out on her issues.She will by '08 have won two Senate contests in NY.If she gets the nomination, she will have worked for it and will deserve it.

Condi, on the other hand has no political base.Were she to desire to run,she would have to resign her present position very shortly.Republican candidates are not sitting back waiting for her.Where does she stand on abortion, immigration, affirmative action, taxes and a myriad of social issues.? If she is a social liberal, then she surely could not win the nomination-no campaign funds and wrong on the issues- from the point of view of the republican base.Even Sen John McCain will have problems in that regard. The Republicans, with Sens Allen ,McCain, Frist and a number of Governors including Romney and Pataki as well as Rudy Guliani are not waiting for a "Draft Condi " movement.
In short, its great for the talking heads on cable tv, but far from realpolitik !

Monday, April 03, 2006

Jerusalem as per Princess Sultana 4/3/06

My friend Lois Blumenfeld was kind enough to share with me her e-mail correspondence with Jean Sasson on behalf of Princess Sultana who wrote "Princess, A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudia Arabia".
Lois objected to page 98 which notes that Jerusalem is the third holiest city to the Muslims and is a city now occupied"and no longer free and open to our people."
In response to her objections,the Sasson web site answers that citizens of Saudia Arabia cannot get Israeli visas and therefore cannot visit the Dome of the Rock.Thus from her point of view Jerusalem is an occupied city etc.
Nothing would make Israel happier,were Saudia Arabia allow its citizens to visit and recognize Israel.In fact no Jew can enter Saudia Arabia, nor can a New or Old Testament be brought in to that country .Christian services are limited to out of the way American bases.
As far as "Holy Cities " nowhere in the Koran is Jerusalem mentioned ,while it is mentioned hundreds of time in our Torah.
Muslims who kneel to pray to Mecca,do so with their back to Jerusalem-Jews pray to Jerusalem.
The King of Morroco who is the Muslim protector of the "holy sites in JERUSALEM' ,never once visited the Temple Mount when it was under Jordanian control .
It was the Jordanians who used Jewish gravestones near the old city for urinals, and prevented Jewish access to the "wailing Wall" (kotel).In contrast to today, where Muslims are free to pray throughout Israel (as well as every other religion) and have access to all holy sites-provided they do not incite mayhem.Israel strictly protects all religious sites.The Dome of the Rock is under Muslim Administration.
Sadly Jewish access to the Temple Mount is restricted, and even silent prayer prevented (if your lips move).
The goal of the PA and the Muslim world is to de-judaize the holy places in Israel, in order to claim that Jews have no connection to the history or the land.Thus they destroy Joseph's tomb, deny our relationship to the Temple (they claim it never existed-I wonder where Jesus really was during his Temple visits if no temple existed?) and our ownership of Mearot Hamachpelah in Hebron,burial place of our forefathers.
Sadly a huge percentage of Israelis, primarily secular and especially youth, have never visited Jerusalem and often don't appreciate its holiness and centrality to our peoplehood.