U.S. Briefs 10-25-11

The latest news from the American Jewish community. 

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(Click photo to download. Caption: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Jerusalem, at a dedication for a Magen David Adom station in memory of his father. Credit: YouTube.)

Bloomberg Dedicates New Magen David Adom Station to Father

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday night dedicated a $10 million Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency healthcare station in memory of his father, William.

“I believe my father is looking down and has a big smile on his face,” Bloomberg said, according to a video of the ceremony posted online. Bloomberg spoke of cooperation between his city and Jerusalem, citing how Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat “comes to visit City Hall every time he arrives in New York.”

The new MDA center includes facilities for more than 60 ambulances and mobile intensive care units, and replaces the old station that was built in 1963, according to the Jerusalem Post.

—JointMedia News Service


ADL, AJC Ask Community to Refrain from Criticizing America’s Israel Policy

Responding to a joint request from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American Jewish Committee (AJC) to refrain from questioning “the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-à-vis Israel,” the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) said open debate on important issues “is the cornerstone of the American electoral process.”

“Allowing the American people to see where candidates stand, pro and con on critical issues, is the hallmark of our free and democratic political system,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement, adding that his group would not sign the ADL/AJC pledge.

The “National Pledge for Unity on Israel”—which can be found at http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=2818295&ct=11300331&notoc=1—said American support for Israel “is one of the critical strategic issues that unites rather than divides parties and officials.”

“U.S.-Israel friendship should never be used as a political wedge issue,” ADL and AJC said, while asking organizations, elected officials and other individuals to sign the pledge.

RJC called the pledge is an “effort to stifle debate on U.S. policy toward Israel” and “runs counter” to American values.

—JointMedia News Service


U.S. Sends Its Syrian Envoy Home Amid Unrest

The U.S. State Department said Monday that it sent America’s ambassador to Syria home following “credible threats against his personal safety,” Reuters reported.

In addition to attacks on Ambassador Robert Ford’s embassy and home, a diplomat who wished to remain anonymous told Retuers that, “Articles, more inciting against Ford than usual, have appeared in [Syrian] media recently.” Ford angered the Syrian government by communicating with protesters demanding an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has killed more than 3,000 people in its ongoing crackdown.

“At this point, we can’t say when he will return to Syria,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.“It will depend on our assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.”

—JointMedia News Service


JDC Responds to Turkey Earthquake

Following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake—the most powerful to hit Turkey in a decade—the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) said Monday that it is working with its local partners in the region and consulting with experts to determine the necessary steps for relief efforts.

In particular, JDC said it is focusing on the “hardest-hit” Turkish province of Van. JDC said its previous work in Turkey dates back to aiding orphaned Jewish children following World War I, followed by “improving social services and Jewish community-based economic development as well as its provision of disaster-relief and development efforts in the country” in 1992.

“Building off our historic work in Turkey, the disaster-preparedness training we have provided in the past, and the strength of our partnership with the Turkish Jewish community, we are responding quickly and strategically to help victims in their time of need,” Steven Schwager, JDC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

However, Turkey rejected the offer of aid from Israel.

—JointMedia News Service


Republican Contenders Clash on Everything But Israel

As polls show how more and more Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance, Republican candidates have sharpened their swords. But the only subject that the candidates seemed to wholeheartedly agree on is their enthusiastic support for Israel.

During interviews with Israel Hayom (italicize) at last week’s debate in Las Vegas, the five leading Republican presidential candidates expressed disappointment in Obama’s policy toward Israel and Iran, as well as their willingness to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“I intend to see our diplomats stationed in Israel working in Jerusalem,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) also commented on the embassy issue, saying: “I don’t understand how this has not yet happened. This is the first thing I plan to do when I enter the White House.”

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, told Israel Hayom that Washington is showing a lack of respect for Israel’s sovereignty by not relocating the embassy to Jerusalem.

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain also expressed his support for Israel, saying, “My message for the UN, Iran, Palestinians and anyone else is this: ‘If you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the U.S.A.’”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican frontrunner, criticized Obama’s policies toward Israel and vowed to work with the Israeli government to discuss its interests and act accordingly. “I will begin discussions with Israel to increase the level of our military assistance and coordination,” Romney said. “I will again reiterate that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.”

Israel Hayom’s full story from the debate can be found at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=1507

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: "No Higher Honor," by Condoleezza Rice. Credit: Amazon.)


Condoleezza Rice in Memoir: Peace Process Has ‘Gone Backward’

In her upcoming memoir, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a two-state solution was within reach when she visited Israel in 2008, but that “as I write in 2011, the process seems to have gone backward,” according to The Daily Beast.

Rice, whose book—No Higher Honor—will be released in November, recounts a meeting with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told her of an offer he made to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“I’ll give him enough land, maybe something like 94 percent with swaps...There will be two capitals, one for us in West Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The mayor of the joint city council will be selected by population percentage,” The Daily Beast, in a sneak preview of the book, cited Rice writing of her conversation with Olmert.

Rice writes that Abbas “stood firm, and the idea died,” despite President George W. Bush’s request that he accept Olmert’s offer.

—JointMedia News Service


Bill Seeks Recognition for Overlooked Jewish War Heroes

Recently introduced legislation seeks a review of Jewish World War I veterans’ military records to see if any qualify for the Medal of Honor. 

“Thousands of Jewish service members have served our country bravely, but some may not have been adequately recognized for their service because of discrimination,” U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) said in a statement on the William Shemin World War I Veterans Act, which he introduced along with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR). William Shemin was a Jewish sergeant who received the Distinguished Service Cross.

“My father in his lifetime, perhaps twice, mentioned that there was an officer in his regiment who was very anti-Semitic,” his daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth, told the Los Angeles Times. “He was always extremely grateful for the Distinguished Service Cross, but he mentioned that there was terrible discrimination.”

Fifteen out of 3,458 Medal of Honor recipients are Jewish, according to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on October 25, 2011 and filed under U.S..