Snap-O Fact #3

Post date: Dec 07, 2011 2:42:47 PM

Snap-O Fact #3

"I Can Hardly Remember a Better Period of American Support and Cooperation..." --Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak

"Ehud Barak Interview.” FoxNews, (Axelrod, David, Campaign 2012, as cited in “Democratic Voter,” IV, October 20, 2011, 1). Barak on Barack - Asked on Fox News whether he thought Israelis were "disenchanted" with President Obama, Barak said: "No. Our countries are good friends. And I'm the minister of defense. I can tell you that I can hardly remember...a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now."The President didn't say that Israel should go back to the borders of '67. He made it very clear that he thinks that Palestinians deserve a state of their own. We also believe in two states...[a] secure Israel side by side with a emilitarized Palestinian state that will basically have the same area that the West Bank and Gaza Strip had before '67 with certain swaps, with understanding of the transformation on the ground." 

[Over the next 15 months, Republicans will do their best to distort the President's record -- particularly on Israel. We've already seen them mischaracterizing the vision he's laid out for a new era of peace in the Middle East. It's up to supporters like us to set the record straight.

September 28, 2011

Dear Friends:

I discovered an odd statistic the other day: of the 43 sins collectively confessed on Yom Kippur, 11 relate to some form of speech. One particular sin, lashon hara, literally, an ‘evil tongue’ or malicious gossip, has been on my mind lately as our national politics grows ever more venomous, and I encounter more and more emails and delusional denunciations of the President and his view of Israel. It seems to me that today, guarding one’s tongue should also encompass the all-too-quick pressing of the “send” and “forward” buttons to broadcast or spread misguided or outright mistaken information. 

To be sure, I think the President has made mistakes and I’ve both pressed my concerns to him privately and spoken out to object to policies I thought wrongheaded. In terms of ‘body language,’ he’s been a disaster. He needs to visit Israel; he needs to take a harder line on Palestinian intransigence and incitement, and he needs to acknowledge that Jerusalem is not a settlement. All of these complaints are legitimate and I remain frustrated that the President has not yet fully taken them to heart. But to suggest that President Obama is anti-Israel is like saying President Kennedy was opposed to space exploration. It’s ridiculous and insulting. 

Here is what President Obama said to the world’s assembled leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday, September 21st:

“America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.”

“The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

That’s anti-Israel? That’s anti-Jewish, pro-Arab, Marxist, socialist, radical, communist, anti-American appeasement? As my grandparents would say, “Es iz nit geshtoygen un nit gefloygen!” (It never rose up and it never flew!)

Enough is enough. The President is far from perfect and criticizing him is legitimate. But the lies and smears and spit-flecked hostility that have emerged in some parts of our community’s debate are a disgrace to a people that regularly asks in prayer for divine assistance to “guard my tongue from evil speech and my lips from speaking lies.”

There’s a Chasidic story about a man who went around telling malicious lies about the community rabbi. When he finally realized the harm he had caused, he went to the rabbi to ask for his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds!” The man thought it odd, but did as the rabbi instructed. When he returned and told the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can gather up the feathers.”

The Orthodox newspaper Hamodia in its editorial thanking the President for his critical intervention to save the Israelis who were trapped in their overrun embassy in Cairo wrote, “Much has been made of the strained relations between Netanyahu and the White House in recent days; but in this test of standing by one’s allies in a matter of life and death, Barack Obama came through. He merited to be Hashem’s instrument of salvation.”

How many of us, no matter how long or fervent our love of Israel and the Jewish people can claim such merit ourselves? And how many of us should be ‘gathering up feathers’ during these days of awe?

Whether you count yourself in the camp of ‘merit’ or the camp of ‘feathers,’ I wish you, your family and all those you hold dear a shana tova oo’metuka—a happy and a sweet new year.


Gary L. Ackerman

Member of Congress

Gary Leonard Ackerman (born November 19, 1942) is the U.S. Representative for New York's 5th congressional