U.S. Briefs 9-27-11

 12 news items of importance in the American Jewish community. 

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(Click photo to download. Caption: President Barack Obama. Credit: White House.)

Poll: Obama’s Approval Rating Among Jews Dips to 45 Percent

A new poll by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) revealed that Barack Obama’s approval rating among Jews has dropped to an all-time low of 45 percent, continuing the free-fall for a president who received 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008.

Forty-eight percent of 800 respondents interviewed by phone from Sept. 6-21 said they disapprove of Obama, according to AJC. When it came to Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, 53 percent expressed disapproval and 40 percent approved.

Asked if they were more or less optimistic, or feel the same, about the chance for a lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs as they did a year ago, 35 percent of respondents were less optimistic compared with just 3 percent who were more optimistic.

“The AJC poll reinforces what we saw in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district two weeks ago—that President Obama is losing Jewish support,” Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement, referring to Republican Bob Turner’s victory over Democrat David Weprin in the race to replace Anthony Weiner.

—JointMedia News Service

New Group Offering Alternative to Establishment Jewish Organizations

Responding to a perceived vacuum of leadership in the American Jewish community when it comes to “increasingly outrageous and dangerous attacks against Israel,” among other issues, a coalition of officials and organizations recently formed the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA).

NJCA will “expose and confront Jewish organizations and leaders who are enabling and supporting those undermining the security of Israel, America and the Jewish People,” according to a press release.

“Leadership requires independence: the ability to sometimes stand alone, outside of the comfort zone of popularity, and it also requires independent thought, an assessment of what is truly best, not what is most likely to be comfortable or acceptable to the broadest audience or the largest donors,” Z Street President Lori Lowenthal Marcus, a member of the NCJA Policy Committee, said in a statement.

Establishment Jewish groups repeatedly describe to be “‘working behind the scenes’ or ‘meeting with leaders’ or ‘dialoguing’” during crucial times, political strategist Ben Gilinsky said in a statement.

—JointMedia News Service


More Than 100,000 People Sign Petition Against UDI

The Israel Action Network (IAN) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) last week sent all 193 United Nations member states a petition with more than 100,000 signatures opposing the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of independence.

In addition to JCRC-NY, 78 Jewish Federations, JCRCs, agencies and organizations “helped drive up the momentum in their communities” for the petition, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) said in a press release.

“A petition of this size representing communities across North America sends a strong message of support for a return to the negotiating table,” Geri D. Palast, managing director of the IAN, said in a statement. “The petitioners seek two states for two peoples, living in peace and security.”

Michael S. Miller, executive vice president and CEO of JCRC-NY, said “a just and lasting peace is about partnership, not unilateralism.”

—JointMedia News Service


White House to Switch its Jewish Liaison

Jarrod Bernstein will replace Danielle Borrin as the White House’s Jewish community liaison, according to a report in theWashington Jewish Week.

Currently the deputy assistant secretary in the office of intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, Bernstein previously held several positions for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Politico website said.

Borrin, who has held the position for two years, “has great Jewish know-how and knowledge, but is only in her 20s and has no real influence in the [Obama] administration,” Susan Sher, who once held the same job, told the newspaper.

Orthodox Union Director of Public Policy Nathan Diament, however, told the newspaper that Borrin “proactively and creatively engaged the Jewish community on behalf of the president wherever and whenever she could.”

—JointMedia News Service


Philadelphia-Area Native Released After More Than Two Years in Iranian Prison

Following a 781-day prison stay in Iran, Joshua Fattal returned home to the Philadelphia area on Sunday in time for Rosh Hashanah, various media outlets reported.

Fattal, 29, and his friend Shane Bauer were arrested for espionage while hiking across the Iran-Iraq border.

“Solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives,” Fattal—an Elkins Park, Penn., native, told reporters. “We lived in a world of lies and false hope.”

Fattal and Bauer paid $1 million for their release, Ynet reported.

—JointMedia News Service


Jewish Groups Hold Vigils for Release of Alan Gross from Cuba

Jewish groups took to the streets of New York and Washington, DC last Friday to call for the release of Alan Gross, an American humanitarian aid worker arrested in Cuba while building an Internet connection for the Jewish community.

Simultaneous vigils in the two cities included involvement from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, the New York Board of Rabbis, and the Jewish Community Relations Councils of New York and Greater Washington.

“In the two years he’s been in confinement, Gross has lost nearly 100 pounds and has been unable to be with his daughter or mother, both of whom suffer from cancer,” the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said in a press release. “His imprisonment is simply wrong, and as leaders of the American Jewish community we are speaking out.”

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption. Ambassador Michael Oren. Credit: Anne Mandelbaum.)

Students Who Heckled Ambassador Oren Found Guilty in Landmark Case

Ten Muslim students who heckled Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a speech last year at the University of California campus in Irvine were found guilty last Friday of criminal charges. The students were sentenced to three years’ probation, 56 hours of community service and fines.

The trial aroused widespread interest around the U.S., and was seen as a struggle over the limits of freedom of speech. Defense lawyers argued that if the students were found guilty, this would harm the activism of students across the U.S.

The trial, held in a Santa Ana courtroom in front of more than 200 spectators, lasted two days.

On Feb. 8, 2010, 11 students belonging to the university’s Muslim Student Union shouted and booed while Oren, who had been invited to the campus, tried to give a speech on the relationship between Israel and the U.S.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Obama Middle East Policy ‘Dangerous,’ Says Presidential Candidate Perry

On the heels of the Palestinians’ unilateral steps to obtain recognition of statehood at the U.N. last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry slammed Obama for “appeasing” the Palestinians in their efforts to seek U.N. recognition of statehood.

“We ... are indignant of the Obama administration and its Middle East policy of appeasement that has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith,” Perry, speaking at a pro-Israel rally organized by World Likud Chairman MK Danny Danon in New York, said. “Simply put, we would not be here at this very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn't naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.”

Perry accused Obama of making a perilous comparison between Israeli citizens and Palestinian terrorists, saying, “The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Poll Says Giuliani Could Beat Obama if He Runs for President

Though he has yet to announce his candidacy, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani could beat President Barack Obama if elections were held now, according to a new poll.

The McClatchy-Marist poll, which surveyed 825 respondents across the U.S. and was released on Sept. 21, said Obama would win 42 percent of the national vote to Giuliani’s 49 percent in a theoretical match-up.

Giuliani, who is considered a hawk on national security but a moderate on social issues, ran an unsuccessful campaign in the 2004 Republican primaries, despite his popularity in the wake of 9/11, when he was mayor of New York City. He has a long history of supporting Israel, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


U.S. Sells ‘Bunker Buster’ Bombs to Israel

U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the transfer of 55 “bunker buster” bombs to Israel, The Daily Beast website reported on Sunday. The bombs could be “potentially useful in any future military strike against Iranian nuclear sites,” according to the website.

The report said that the U.S. delivered the GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators to Israel in early 2009. While the sale was originally approved by the Bush administration, the Obama administration made a secret decision to release the weapons early in its term.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


90-Year-Old Nazi Loses Deportation Appeal

Michigan man John Kalymon, an armed member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police from 1941 to 1944, lost a Sept. 20 appeal to have his deportation to Germany blocked.

Kalymon “personally shot Jews while serving, killing at least one” and “participated in violent anti-Jewish operations in which Jews were forcibly deported to be murdered in gas chambers and to serve as slave laborers,” a U.S. Justice Department press release said.

“This case is one of more than a hundred cases successfully prosecuted by the Department of Justice against wartime Nazi perpetrators,” said Eli Rosenbaum, head of the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, according to CNN.

—JointMedia News Service


Famed Jewish Calligrapher Dies at 85

Hebrew Calligrapher Michael Schwartz—whose work Chabadat.org said “adorned the walls and tables of Israeli presidents and prime ministers—recently died at 85.

Schwartz, a Catskill, N.Y., native, studied at the New York School of Art and simultaneously at a Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic school in Brooklyn. He later illustrated promotional and educational materials for Chabad.

“He understood the beauty of Judaism and was able to express [it] through his art,” Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said, according to Chabad.

—JointMedia News Service


Posted on September 27, 2011 and filed under U.S..