U.S. Briefs 1-10-12

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“Thank God we have Israel,” says longest serving senator current senator

Click photo to download. Caption: US Senator Daniel Inouye says an attack on Israel is an attack on the US.During a visit to a high school in Jerusalem this week, US Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said that an attack on Israel by Iran is an attack on the US.

“We in the US are deeply concerned with the activities in Iran,” said Inouye, according to the Jerusalem Post. “If the Iranians should ever develop a nuclear device or bomb, that could mean the end of the world as we know it in the Middle East. It would have an impact on all countries, not just Israel. As a result, our position is that if you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States.”

Inouye, the longest serving current senator, is President pro tempore of the senate, and third in line in the presidential succession.

Explaining the close relationship of the US and Israel, Inouye said, “if one looks at most of this world, especially the Middle East, one country stands out as a foundation of stability and as a pillar of democracy. And at a time like this, when you have revolution in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, thank God we have Israel.”

-JointMedia News Service

Limmud NY conference to connect civil rights with Jewish America

Limmud NY, a Jewish educational conference held over Martin Luther King weekend, will address the connection between the civil rights movement and Jewish America, the Jerusalem Post reported. Seven hundred people will attend the event at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, NY.

Limmud is “a global phenomenon that is a celebration of all things Jewish,” said Karen Radkowsky, founder of the Limmud branch in New York.

Jonathan Wolf, director of the Institute for Jewish Activism, will lecture on how Jewish Americans can relate to the legacy of the civil rights movement.

Other lectures include Consul-General of Israel in New York Ido Aharoni speaking about the geo-political situation in Israel and Paul Berger of The Forward leading a discussion on a letter from President George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, RI, which has mysteriously disappeared.

-JointMedia News Service 

Panetta: Iranian nuclear weapons a red line for US

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said that the U.S. government will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons or to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key passageway for Middle East oil, CBS News reported.

"Our red line to Iran is to not develop a nuclear weapon,” Panetta told host Bob Schieffer in an interview for "Face the Nation."  The Strait of Hormuz is "another red line for us and…we will respond to them," he said. 

Panetta is also not ruling out other forms of dealing with the Iranian government. "You don't take any option off the table. I think that's extremely important," he added. Panetta said he is against Israel taking military action against Iran, preferring the international powers work together on the issue. But "if the Israelis made that decision, we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that's what we'd be concerned about." 

-JointMedia News Service

CAP in the hot seat again over anti-Semitic language

The Jerusalem Post obtained an email written by Faiz Shakir, the vice president of the US think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), in which he admits that a blogger for ThinkProgress.org used anti-Semitic language to attack supporters of Israel. Shakir also serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org website.

In the email, Shakir wrote: “Yes, I agree ‘Israel Firster’ is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why that language no longer exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed, because he also knows and understands the implications.”

The email was referring to a Twitter post made by blogger Zaid Jilani, in which he wrote that “Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$.” ThinkProgress.org bloggers have already been accused of spewing an old anti-Semitic belief by implying that American Jews and Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk act in the interest of the Israeli government over that of their own country, the United States.

Ken Gude, the managing director of CAP’s National Security and International Policy Program, called the accusations of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel writing at CAP to be “wildly unfair” and “flatly untrue” in a Daily Beast article last week. Gude didn’t respond to an inquiry from the Post about the latest email revelation.

--JointMedia News Service

Jewish groups angry at Santorum for ignoring other faiths

Click photo to download. Caption: Jewish groups have lashed out at Republican candidate Rick Santorum for what they see as ignoring other faiths. Credit: Gage Skidmore.Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is under fire for telling Boston radio listeners last Thursday that “we always need a Jesus guy” in the campaign, the Jerusalem Post reported. Various Jewish groups are angry at this comment because they feel he is implying that people of other faiths are not valid members of this nation.

Santorum, who won second place in the Iowa Caucus, responded to a comment by a listener that “we don’t need a Jesus guy this election. We need an economics guy this election.” Santorum said that “the idea that we don’t need someone with a moral compass, is that what we’ve come to? Is that what the Republican party is? No, it isn’t.” He later added the Jesus comment.

“I think the average Jew hears it as religiously exclusionist,” said National Jewish Democratic Council president David Harris. It helps remind American Jews of the yawning gap between them and today’s Republican Party,” he added.

At a later event, Santorum said his words were misinterpreted. “I said we always need a Jesus candidate. I don’t mean necessarily that we always need a Christian, but we need someone who believes in something more than themselves,” he said.

--JointMedia News Service

Jesus was a Jewish patriot, US Rabbi writes in book

Kosher Jesus, the new book by U.S. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, is stirring controversy by claiming that since Christians no longer view Jews as enemies, people of both faiths should recognize Jesus as a true Jewish patriot, Haaretz reported.

"This book is telling the Jews to reclaim Jesus, the authentic Jesus, the historical Jesus, the Jewish Jesus…It's asking Christians to make an effort to enrich their Christianity through an understanding of the Jewishness of Jesus,” he told Haaretz.

Boteach’s book assembles research suggesting that the Christian Gospels painted the wrong picture about Jesus. Something just "doesn't add up" in those texts because they paint Jesus as ashamed of his own faith, he said. Jesus also never said that he is a God or that he wanted to do away with Jewish traditions, according to the book.

Boteach calls Jesus a “rabbi” in the book, arguing there is “a need to discover the humanity of Jesus.” The idea that Jesus was a divine messiah only emerged after the destruction of the Second Temple. "My book says we Jews and Christians understand Jesus in very different ways, and that's OK," Boteach said. "But now, let's have a conversation."

--JointMedia News Service

Ilan Grapel says he has no regrets

Click photo to download. Caption: Ilan Grapel reunites with his mother after being released from Egypt. Credit: GPO.Last summer, American-Israeli law student Ilan Grapel took an internship in Egypt to offer legal counsel to asylum seekers. The 28-year-old subsequently spent four months in jail after being accused of spying for Israel.

"I was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken into custody," he said, according to the Associated Press.  

Grapel, who was born in the U.S., moved to Israel as a young man, before returning to the United States to complete his education. While completing his internship in Egypt, he also participated in pro-democracy protests. After his capture, he was interrogated for two weeks and held in solitary confinement for four months.

The Israeli government negotiated his release by swapping 25 Egyptian prisoners for him.

Looking back, Grapel says he has no regrets. "It is illogical to regret working in Egypt because I was there for justified reasons," he said. "One would never ask me to regret joining the army knowing in retrospect that I would be injured."

-JointMedia News Service



Posted on January 9, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..