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|Abraham Foxman||January 14th 2015|
New York City
President Carter continues to show his bias against Jews and Israel in his latest comments linking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. His on-air remarks were highly insensitive to the victims and their families, and his downplaying of the role of radical extremist Islamic ideology in the attack, and suggestion that other external factors were to blame, is divorced from the realities of the anti-Semitic and fanatical anti-Western beliefs of the perpetrators of the attacks in France. At a time when Christians are being targeted for violence by extremists in Arab countries throughout the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives in Syria, President Carter used his appearance on the Daily Show to once again express his ossified perspective on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While we agree with President Carter’s concluding analysis that the Paris attacks are a wakeup call in the fight against a ‘new evolutionary development in terrorism,’ ignoring the true root causes of these attacks by focusing on unrelated factors will ultimately prove counterproductive in international efforts to combat growing anti-Western and anti-Semitic extremism and terrorism.
|Bob Dinneen||December 18th 2014|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is delaying finalization of the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) until 2015. Deciding not to decide is not a decision. Unfortunately, the announcement today perpetuates the uncertainty that has plagued the continued evolution of biofuels production and marketing for a year. Nevertheless, the Administration has taken a major step by walking away from a proposed rule that was wrong on the law, wrong on the market impacts, wrong for innovation, and wrong for consumers. Moreover, it is clear that one of the reasons we find ourselves in this position is that the oil industry has steadfastly refused to make the investments in infrastructure or allow their marketers to offer higher ethanol blends like E85 or E15. In the absence of their dogged efforts to undermine the RFS, this would be far simpler for EPA. The monopoly-protecting talking points of the oil industry notwithstanding, the RFS has been enormously successful. It has compelled competition in motor fuel markets, lowered consumer gasoline costs, and reduced the carbon footprint of transportation fuels. We look forward to working with the Administration to assure this critically important program is implemented consistent with congressional intent, to the benefit of consumers and with the goal of advancing the evolution of biofuels production and marketing. Refiners will continue to resist the competition from biofuels. The RFS must be allowed to be the market forcing mechanism it was designed to be. In the end, the verdict on today’s announcement can only be made after a decision on a path forward for biofuels is identified.
Bob Dinneen is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.
|Robert Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein||October 30th 2014|
New York City
We are deeply concerned by a number of recent public and private criticisms, personal insults and inappropriate characterizations emanating from official sources. These often anonymous, but no less harmful, declarations undermine the common interests of the United States and Israel on the critical issues which face both countries and the real extraordinary cooperation on the security, intelligence, political and other levels. It is the common efforts of these two great democratic allies to address the threat of Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state, the rise of ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, and the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, among other issues of vital significance to both countries, that is of primary importance. It is only natural that there may be disagreements on issues, but we believe those should be discussed privately between the leaders of both countries and there should be no place for personal attacks which undermine mutual confidence and support so essential to advancing the interests of both the United States and Israel. We welcomed the statement of the Administration describing the recent comments made by an unnamed US official in an interview in The Atlantic as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘counterproductive’ and noted the frequent visits and exchanges between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. We ask that the person responsible be held to account and the appropriate steps be taken by the Administration. We call on officials, media and others in the public arena to consider the consequences of the words and deeds. Apologies do not undo the damage and every manifestation of division between these two allies is exploited by the enemies of both.
Robert G. Sugarman is Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein is Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
|Josh London||September 22nd 2014|
Everyone who can do so to attend the important rally on Monday September 22, 2014, at Lincoln Center, at Broadway and 65th Street in Manhattan, starting at 4:30 p.m., to protest against the Met Opera's scheduled eight performances of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist opera, "Death of Klinghoffer." Prominent speakers will include former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Israeli Knesset member Nissim Ze'ev; ZOA President Morton Klein; Catholic League President Dr. Bill Donahue; Rabbi Avi Weiss; Assemblyman Dov Hikind; New York Board of Rabbis Executive Vice President Rabbi Joseph Potasnik; Dean of Rambam Mesivta and Shalhevet High Schools Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman; IDF Sgt. Benjamin Anthony; victims of terrorism, and others. Judge Mukasey presided over the prosecutions of the blind sheik (who was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing), El Sayyid Nosair (who assassinated Meir Kahane and was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Jose Padilla (who plotted to build and explode a dirty nuclear bomb in the U.S.). Thousands of protestors, including students from area high schools, are expected to attend the protest rally. After the main speeches from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the rally will continue on for many hours, with songs, marching around Lincoln Centers, and more.
The Met Opera's production of "Klinghoffer" will be particularly venomous against Israel and Jews. Among other things, we understand that parts of the opera will be set at a wall in Israel that the opera falsely depicts as a symbol of oppression of Palestinian Arabs. The opera utterly fails to explain that Israel erected a security fence in order to stop Palestinian Arab terrorists from continuing to carry out deadly suicide bombings of pizza stores and buses, which had become a regular occurrence. (The security fence is only an actual wall in a few areas next to major roads where Palestinian Arabs were shooting at innocent Israeli drivers in cars.) From September 2000 to mid-2005, Palestinian Arab terrorists carried out hundreds of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, killing almost 2,000 innocent Israelis, and maiming thousands of other innocent Israelis. In addition, Israel's security fence was erected 20 years after Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered Leon Klinghoffer, and 15 years after John Adams composed "Death of Klinghoffer." Apparently the opera's producers will stoop to any stratagem, no matter how historically inaccurate, to attempt to malign Jews and Israel and justify terrorism.
The opera's pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-American attitude is reflected in a short video interview of "Klinghoffer" composer John Adams, which is now posted on the Met Opera's website. In the Met's video, the composer again blames the innocent victims of terrorism. In his Met website video interview, Adams attempts to justify terrorism as follows: "Opera is the art form that goes to the max; it is the art form that is the most emotional; the one that goes the furthest. In a sense terrorism is the same thing, terrorism is the act that goes to the max, it [terrorism] is the act of desperation."
"Klinghoffer" composer Adams also blames the victims and attempts to justify terror and justify "humanizing" terrorists again, later in his website interview. Adams states that the terrorists "are still human beings and there have to be reasons why they did this act."
There will be additional protests at Lincoln Center if "Klinghoffer" is not cancelled, on Monday October 20, 2014; Wednesday October 29; Wednesday November 5; Saturday night November 8; and Tuesday November 11. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or check our website StopDeathofKlinghoffer.org.
The rally on Monday September 22 at 4:30 p.m. is sponsored by a large coalition of Jewish, Catholic, Christian and anti-terror groups, including: the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA); the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mothers Against Terrorism; The Catholic League; COJO (the Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations); The Bridge Project; Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC): AMCHA; Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI); COPMA (Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art); Congregation Or Zarua; Congregation Ohab Zedek; Hasbara Fellowships; Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI); International Committee for the Land of Israel; Lincoln Square Synagogue; Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE); Israel Forever Foundation; Israel's Voice; Jewish Action Alliance; Advocates for Israel (AFI); Jewish Political Education Foundation; JCCWatch.org; One Israel Fund; Middle East Research Center Ltd. (MERCL); Rambam Mesivta HS; Shalhevet HS for Girls; Stand With Us; Strength to Strength; and Westchester Hebrew High School (WHHS).
|David Drimer||August 22nd 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to Temple University President, Neil D. Theobald, condemning the vile anti-Semitic attack on a Temple University Jewish student by a member of or sympathizer with the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group devoted to Israel's elimination, and calling for SJP at Temple University to be investigated to determine if an immediate suspension of the group is appropriate and for the specific SJP student to be expelled.
Days ago, Daniel Vessal, a Camera on Campus fellow and a member of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, was punched in the face by a violent an SJP member at "Templefest," which is organized for students on campus to gain new information about campus clubs a week before the start of classes. Vessal says that he saw the SJP table on one of the university's main walkways and went up peacefully to engage in discussion, saying, "'when Hamas stops sending the rockets, that's when there can be peace. That's when we can start.' This one girl sitting at the end of the table was just laughing and laughing at me ... As she was laughing at me, people at the table were calling me a 'baby killer,' I said when she stops then maybe we could have a genuinely peaceful conversation. And then this kid [one of the four or five people at the SJP table] just rocks me in the face as hard as he can. My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn't believe the kid actually hit me ... When the police came over and were filing the report the kids at the table were screaming 'You Zionist pig, you racist, that's what you get.'
Vessal's story has been corroborated by two witnesses, Josh Josephs and Alex Winokur, who added that they heard SJP members call Vessal a 'kike,' 'stupid Jew,' and 'Zionist' while he lay on the ground. The police did not detain the assailant and campus police disagreed with the head of student activities on campus that the SJP table needed to be closed. SJP claims the assailant is not a SJP member, merely an acquaintance" of SJP (Daniel Mael, 'Temple Univ. Jewish Student Punched In Face And Called "Kike" In Anti-Semitic Attack,' Truth Revolt, August 20, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein has written to Temple University President, saying, "Some recent developments on our campuses are simply horrifying, not least this unprovoked physical attack on a Jewish student. "We see that Israel's enemies are not content merely to slander her and tell the most outrageous lies about the Jewish state while apologizing for and sanitizing the unreformed, rejectionist Palestinian Arab movement, but are willing to assault Jews and use disgusting anti-Semitic language. Such groups have no place on our university campuses.
"Those who participate in such action need to be held accountable; not sent home by police, as was the case here. This is not appropriate disciplinary action; this is indulgence and appeasement of violent, lawless people. I respectfully call upon the University to immediately mount an investigation into SJP's activities on campus to see if it appropriate to suspend it as a student group in light of their actions. It is also necessary to ascertain why campus police did not arrest the assailant and hold him in custody, but instead sent him home unpunished. If Mr. Vessal's assailant is a Temple University student, whether or not a member of SJP, he should be expelled. Should it emerge that the assailant is not a Temple University student, the University should use the full weight of the law to prosecute him for assault."
|Mort Klein||August 15th 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed deep concern over disturbing reports that President Barack Obama has pressured Israel by withholding military shipments to Israel in the midst of its war with Hamas over his opposition to Israel continuing its military operations. Reports, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the U.S. had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel on the grounds of what the official reportedly described as "increased diplomatic tension ... the Obama administration, perturbed that much of the ammunition was used by the IDF in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, revised the review process in a move that is likely to limit or at least delay Israel's requests for weapons" (Marissa Newman, 'Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who's to blame,' Times of Israel, August 14, 2014).
A report in the Wall Street Journal claimed the White House and State Department had been angered by a transfer of arms to Israel by the Pentagon and had ordered greater oversight into future sales. Yet, a Defense Department official has confirmed that weapons transfer was unexceptional and that "The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have." The same report notes that a "particularly combative phone call" is said to have taken place yesterday between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Adam Entous, 'Gaza Crisis: Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy,' Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2014).
We find these reports deeply disturbing. If these reports are true, it means that President Obama has been withholding arms to Israel in the middle of a war Israel is waging in protection of its citizens from Hamas terrorists who are continuously assaulting Israel with over 3,000 missiles in an attempt to murder as many Jews as possible. They are targeting major civilian population areas. If not for the Iron Dome missile defense system, thousands of Israelis would have ben killed by these missiles. Allies cannot always precisely agree on policy. But it is inexcusable for the American President to withhold urgent requests for arms, especially in the middle of a war.
|Harold P. Wimmer and Thomas Ferkol||August 15th 2014|
Few things are more frightening for a parent than racing to the hospital with a child who can’t breathe. Few things are more difficult for a physician than telling a family that a loved one will not recover from an asthma attack. We work with people who know those experiences far too well and –because of those experiences– support reducing carbon pollution. The American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society members and volunteers understand the impact of polluted air. We know that, as a nation, we have to do more to protect the ability of people to breathe, and that requires us to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It isn’t enough for physicians to educate patients about the health risks of air pollution, and for parents to keep their children with asthma indoors on bad air days. We must reduce pollution before it takes a further toll on our children and families. As a nation, we have cut air pollution by over 70 percent since 1970, but today more than 147 million Americans (nearly half of the U.S. population) still live where the air is unhealthy to breathe. Warmer temperatures from climate change will make it even harder to reduce air pollution in many places, and increase the likelihood of drought, wildfires and other threats to our health. Fortunately, we can fight those threats.
Recently, hundreds of people attended public hearings hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC to speak out in support of the proposed Clean Power Plan to place first-ever limits on power plant carbon pollution. They spoke up because they recognize that reducing carbon pollution benefits the health of communities across the nation. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan provides states with tools to reduce the carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent, moving us forward in the fight against climate change. But the plan would do more than that. When fully implemented, the carbon reduction plan will also reduce lethal air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury by 25 percent, preventing up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children each year. The plan would also help prevent heart attacks, hospital admissions and missed days of work or school due to illness.
Public health experts call this prevention. For the rest of us, it’s just simple common sense.
Harold P. Wimmeris National President and CEO, American Lung Association and Thomas Ferkol, MD, is President, American Thoracic Society.
|Richard Russo||July 11th 2014|
The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.
On Tuesday, Amazon made an offer to Hachette Book Group that would “take authors out of the middle” of their ongoing dispute by offering Hachette authors windfall royalties on e-books until the dispute between the companies is resolved. While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer—the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund—is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it’s impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they’re fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we’re not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.
Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change. If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. We’d love to be your partners.
Richard Russo is a novelist and co-Vice President of the Authors Guild.
|Roz Rothstein||June 30th 2014|
Our hearts are breaking at the horrific news of the murder of the three Israeli teenagers: Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer. Israelis, Jews and people of goodwill around the world were consumed with worry following the cruel and cowardly kidnapping of the teens. The news of their brutal murder is painful to absorb. As we stood with and embraced their families following the kidnapping, we stand with them today, sharing their grief and wishing them strength at this tragic time. This sad news reminds us that terrorists continue to act with impunity under Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It reminds us that Hamas is a terrorist organization and has no place in any serious leadership or negotiating position. We see a clear link between the horrific acts of violence by Jihadists in Iraq and Syria and the acts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror groups. Hate education against Jews and Israelis continues unabated in the Palestinian Authority, Gaza and many Arab countries. The result is hatred, terrorism and murder. The institutionalized incitement against Jews and Israel permeates education, the media, mosques and other social institutions, directed and supported by the Palestinian leadership. This education produced the stomach-turning images of some Palestinians celebrating the boys` abduction. This "education" resulted in the murder of our three innocent boys.
The world has been united in keeping the boys and their families uppermost in its thoughts and prayers and will continue to do so now. We pray for the strength that the families and our greater community will need to cope with this tragedy. International pressure must be placed on the Palestinian Authority to stop the ongoing incitement to hatred, terrorism and murder. The Palestinian leadership, both Abbas and Hamas, must finally be held accountable for their actions. EU and American funding of the PA should be tied to that accountability. We continue to support Israel`s security procedures that protect its citizens from acts of terror like this. We join all of Israel, and good people around the world, in mourning Eyal, Naftali and Gilad.
|Sarah Brown||June 30th 2014|
Today in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage that they object to on religious grounds. This is a disappointing decision for women. We respect the views of people of deep faith and we also respect the proven value of contraception as part of basic women’s health care. However, by allowing a private for-profit company to impose the owners’ beliefs on its employees, the Court is limiting the ability of such employees to choose the method of contraception that they and their doctor decide is best for them. Pregnancy planning and spacing though the use of contraception has well-documented benefits. These include reducing maternal and infant mortality, improving educational attainment, reducing poverty and reducing abortion. These are goals we can all support. Almost all Americans (95% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans) agree that for those trying not to get pregnant, using birth control is taking personal responsibility. Furthermore, three-quarters of Americans (78% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans) think policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control. Half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned as reported by women themselves and half of all unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Moreover, unplanned pregnancy lies behind 90% of all abortions in America. Research shows that when cost is removed as a barrier and women can choose from the full range of contraceptives, including the most effective ones, there have been dramatic declines in unplanned pregnancy and abortion. While the ruling does not affect birth control coverage for most employees, it presents a serious barrier for women working at certain closely-held corporations to plan and space their pregnancies, which benefits everyone.
Sarah Brown is CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
|Roz Rothstein||May 24th 2014|
We applaud the pro-Israel students at DePaul University for standing up to the bigotry and bullying of Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] who organized a school-wide referendum to divest from companies associated with Israel. Because of pro-Israel students’ courage and hard work, the referendum passed by only a slim margin, with only around 10% of the total student body voting. "The close results of the vote show that the #DePaulDivest campaign is divisive, and a large number of students saw through its hypocrisy and double standards. DePaul SJP launched a referendum because they were afraid to debate the issue on its merits in the student senate, and instead resorted to street theater, lies, and intimidation of their opponents. SJP had little respect for the democratic process, and employed many extreme tactics, including campaigning in classrooms, libraries, dormitories, blocking entrances to campus buildings, and putting on raucous demonstrations. Some students have also filed official complaints regarding campaign violations by SJP. In many cases SJP’s aggressive actions backfired and alienated students, as we have seen happen at other universities,” said Brett Cohen, StandWithUs National Campus Program Director who worked with pro-Israel DePaul students.
The referendum could not accurately reflect student opinion because it presented allegations against Israel as settled facts when they are actually false or contested claims. Therefore, the language inherently suggested a particular answer instead of presenting the issue impartially. We have seen divestment create this toxic campus environment wherever it rears its ugly head, as it has on several American campuses. Divestment advocates bring lies about Israel to campus, and display extreme ignorance about the complexities of the Middle East conflict, about Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, about the anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian society, and about Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace. This movement singles out Israel and targets and intimidates pro-Israel and Jewish students, and resonates with anti-Semitism. We hope that DePaul and other school administrations will educate their students about how to understand and discuss complex issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict, that they ensure that pro-Israel and Jewish students can feel safe on campus, and that they restore the informed debate that should be a hallmark of universities.
Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUS.
|Asaf Romirowsky||May 21st 2014|
These groups : AMCHA Initiative, Institute for Black Solidarity With Israel, The Lawfare Project, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, Stand With Us, and Zionist Organization of America, have written a letter to UCLA's Chancellor Block, President Napolitano and UC Board of Regents. The letter follows:
We are deeply concerned about the behavior of a registered student group at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
In an attempt to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel Jewish students at UCLA, SJP members recently launched a campaign calling for a Judicial Board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by Jewish organizations. The SJP also demanded that candidates for student government positions sign a statement pledging that they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by three Jewish organizations.
The SJP has targeted only Israel. And it has targeted three Jewish organizations that sponsor trips to Israel. Not a single church or mosque that pays for or sponsors Israel trips was singled out. This is an outrageous and impermissible violation of students’ right to free expression, their right to free association, and their fundamental right to travel and move freely. The SJP cannot be permitted to infringe on any student’s personal liberties and freedoms, or to bully students into not associating with certain Jewish groups that are dedicated to building love and support for Israel.
The SJP’s motive is clear: to manipulate the composition of the student government so that it is filled with anti-Israel activists who support the SJP’s hateful agenda. This is the SJP’s latest effort to harass, intimidate and bully pro-Israel Jewish students. The group’s shenanigans plainly follow from the SJP’s failed attempt to get the student government to endorse an anti-Israel divestment resolution last February
Since the ASUC rejected the SJP’s divestment resolution, members of the SJP have engaged in what one Jewish student leader has described as a campaign of hatred and bullying directed "toward both the Jewish community and council members that voted against the resolution." Some students who opposed the anti-Israel divestment resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received. According to the Jewish student leader, "Rather than dealing with their frustrations as a result of the failure of the resolution, members of SJP continue to target their anger at the Jewish community."
The SJP is the only university-funded student organization at UCLA whose very mission targets an ethnic minority for hatred and vilification and whose activities routinely harass, intimidate, threaten and seek to silence members of that ethnic minority on campus.
The SJP’s conduct violates the UCLA Principles of Community which state:
"We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other conduct causing harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or national origin among other personal characteristics. Such conduct violates UCLA’s Principles of Community and may result in imposition of sanctions according to campus policies governing the conduct of students, staff and faculty."
The SJP’s conduct also violates Section 102.11 of UCLA’s Student Conduct Code, which prohibits harassment, defined as “conduct that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.” The SJP’s scheme to prevent pro-Israel Jewish students from having equal access to positions in the student government is a disgraceful violation of the Code. UCLA’s Code of Conduct and its Principles of Community are more than just words; they demand action. Indeed, UCLA’s standards of conduct may be higher than what the law would require. According to the Code, the regulations it contains were “developed to create and maintain a safe, supportive, and inclusive campus community” – values that the SJP is completely indifferent to and does not support. As leaders of UCLA, you have a duty to stop to the SJP's acts of wanton discrimination, harassment and bullying, and its deliberate interference with students’ rights and freedoms. We call on you to protect the safety and well-being of Jewish students at UCLA and hold SJP members accountable for their shameful misconduct.
Today, Western Values Project released a new report highlighting the increase in the practice of venting and flaring natural gas on public lands, and the associated economic costs. The report’s release coincides with the latest in a series of listening sessions held by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) addressing fugitive emissions from onshore oil and gas leases. Using the same methodology as a 2010 GAO report on federal oil and gas leases, new analysis from Western Values Project finds that millions of dollars’ worth of royalty payments are lost annually as industry vents and flares the byproducts of oil and gas production. That amount is now as much as two to three times higher than in 2010, by conservative estimates. Venting and flaring also continues to waste enormous quantities of natural gas that can never be recovered or sold. In fact, just last year, enough gas was vented or flared to meet the needs of all the homes in Los Angeles for a year. This enormous waste highlights the need for a robust rule from BLM.
Americans would be outraged if they knew what was really going on here. As folks in the Midwest faced severe propane shortages this past winter, and paid sky high prices to heat their homes, billions of dollars’ worth of valuable natural gas went up in flames. This level of waste has cost national, state and local budgets hundreds of millions of dollars’ in the past several years, and unless action is taken, the problem will only get worse. Our Key Findings reveal: 1) In 2013, enough natural gas to meet the home needs of a city the size of Los Angeles or Chicago for an entire year, was vented and flared on federal public lands. 2) Over the next decade, American taxpayers stand to lose over $800 million in lost revenue due to venting and flaring. Conservative estimates for 2013, put the loss to taxpayers at between $54 and $64 million in lost royalties, nearly three times higher than in 2010. 3) In the last five years, at least $350 million in potential revenue has been lost due to flaring, as companies burn publicly owned gas without having to pay for it. 4) It’s estimated that every month, over $100 million worth of gas is vented or flared in North Dakota alone.
|Aram Hamparian||May 7th 2014|
The Warlick plan proposed offers little new. The framework it presents is neither morally acceptable nor practically sustainable. While we do welcome the renewed focus on the centrality of status, at a fundamental level, this plan falls far short of our American ideal of democratic self-determination, the enduring principle upon which our nation was founded and through which more than one hundred new countries have emerged over the past half century. Using the profoundly incendiary and patently inaccurate language of "occupation," this proposed framework again effectively calls upon Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia - the victims of Baku's war of aggression - to make up-front, strategic security concessions in return for entirely undefined and easily reversible promises by an increasingly belligerent Azerbaijani government. We remain hopeful in the overall prospects for an OSCE-brokered peace, are disappointed by the status and security asymmetry in this particular proposal, and look forward to engaging, as meaningful stakeholders, in a more balanced, inclusive and democratic framework for the future of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. Over-riding Baku's veto on Nagorno Karabakh's full and direct participation in all peace talks should, of course, be the first item on the OSCE's agenda.
Aram Hamparian is Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
|Seamus Conlon||May 6th 2014|
We would like to announce that going forward we www.Cruise.co.uk will be boycotting the Brunei-owned luxury hotel chain Dorchester Collection. This decision has been made after the countries law was changed May 1 2014 to phase in increasing the sentence for homosexuality from a maximum ten year prison sentence to death by stoning. Since the announcement on the May 01 many celebrities have called for a boycott including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Ellen DeGeneres. On Sunday Virgin owner Richard Branson announced a Virgin-wide boycott of the chain and www.CRUISE.co.uk are proud to work in an industry that places the morals of an issue like this over profit. This law was barbaric fifteen hundred years ago and nothing has changed to make it any less so today.
Seamus Conlon is managing director of Cruise.co.uk.
|Alveda King||April 30th 2014|
It has been amply stated and often proven that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Donald Sterling’s jealous rage, and pride in his skin color has left him in disgrace. All of his money and all of his minions cannot undo the destruction he has brought upon himself and his reputation. All is not lost for Mr. Sterling, though. There is hope for him just as there is for all of us who have stumbled in one way or another. Hope begins with humility, a humility that causes us to see just how fallen and broken we are and how much we need God. Jealousy blinds our senses and distorts our reason. Pride causes us to believe we are better than others, sometimes that we are above God. It’s what led Adam and Eve to sin.
Jealousy and pride have led Donald Sterling to allow his mistress to bait him hook line and sinker. How many men have found themselves slammed to destruction over a pretty face and a racist heart? In the gone but not forgotten days of slavery, we found fatal triangles such as the beleaguered Clippers owner is entangled in today. A scorned wife, a tricky mistress, money and racism! Wow!
Yes, like countless others, Mr. Sterling has discovered that his money is not God; his passion is marred with lust; and the world who seemed to love and revere him is fickle. Pride deceived Mr. Stirling into puffing himself up by looking down his nose at those he considers to be beneath him. Never mind the tawny, beautiful, honey colored mistress who was found in that same position only to rise up and bury a dagger in his back. All too often, jealousy, greed and pride allow our society to discriminate against an entire class of people – in this case, skin color is the issue. I wouldn't be true to my calling though, if I didn't remember that the unborn – because they’re small, dependent, and helpless - are also a part of the looming presence of The Elephant - Discrimination - in the bedrooms and boardrooms across America and the world.
We don’t want to be reminded that we’re small, dependent, and helpless – it offends our pride. So we pretend that some "classes" of people like Blacks, or the unborn for example, are… well… different. My Uncle M.L. spoke of building a loving community. As a man of God, he understood that love has to be the foundation for any meaningful transformation of society or individuals. He knew that love changes the heart from prideful to humble so that we see our own brokenness. He knew that a loving community has compassion for all of its members, not just those who are like “us.” Donald Sterling has presented us with a teachable moment; a time when we may consider Uncle M.L.’s words and his life and work for a more loving community.
It’s also a prayerful moment.
My Uncle ML and his brother AD King, my father died for raising the alarm over racial discrimination and inequity in America. The force of racism remains alive today, in bedrooms, boardrooms and in the wombs of mothers. It is time to face the truth and slay the beast.
Donald Sterling is rich enough and famous enough to catch the eye of the media. Yet, he is just the tip of the iceberg, the festering proof of a splintered society.
Let's pray for Donald Sterling; and indeed all who are victims of the deceptions of racism and classism.
Let's continue to pray that God will open all eyes blinded by pride, lust, greed, jealousy and every human failing. Oh that God will change our hearts and free our souls. There is no evil, be it discrimination against darker-skinned people or discrimination against smaller people in the womb, too great for God to overcome.
Alevda King is daughter of the late slain civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Founder of King for America, Inc. Mother of six and doting grandmother.
|Yariv Levin||April 29th 2014|
As coalition chairman at the Knesset in Jerusalem, I am deeply moved by the tireless supporters and marchers in the Celebrate Israel Parade and by the courageous stance of so many friends of Israel involved in the parade, calling to delegitimize those who delegitimize Israel. It is not logical or reasonable for Israel supporters to condone or overlook or indirectly cooperate with BDS groups which represent the antithesis of support for Israel. Refusing to recognize the State of Israel's sovereign right to develop and maintain an independent legal position on any issue of national importance is not legitimate. The State of Israel came into being by virtue of our people's unassailable rights having historical, legal and religious foundations. I am certain that by mutual effort our just path will surmount any attempt to strike down Jewish survival and the Jewish way of life in the land of our forefathers.
|Leah Stein-Lopez||April 28th 2014|
Let me second the motion. Edwin Black's reporting in NIF Parade Fracas Pushes Outraged Jewish Groups to Define Mainstream
on a recent Page One of the Edge was more than revealing. To the letter writer who suggested Mr. Black take a good look at Progressive Partners for Peace, may I second the motion. I read Black's book on eugenics and the funding there--Carnegie and Rockefeller. He follows the money with undeniable precision. We need more sunlight on this issue as well.
|Sima Cohen||April 26th 2014|
I have read with interest Edwin Black latest investigative report NIF Parade Fracas Pushes Outraged Jewish Groups to Define Mainstream
on your Page One to be illuminating. Black does again what he always does so way--he follows the follow--regardless of how powerful. Now I hope Black will turn his attention to and take a good look at one of the organizations being protested in the parade, namely Progressive Partners for Peace. With Black's track record looking at IBM, GM, Rockefeller, the Ford Foundation, and the New Israel Fund--taking a look at Progressive Partners for Peace should be next.
|Naama Navon||April 23rd 2014|
I found Financing the Flames
(see Arts, Fourteen Jewish Groups Come Together in New Jersey to Hear Edwin Black on the New Israel Fund and BDS
) title by Edwin Black to be an excellent expose. But I am baffled by the Israeli governments' apologetic stance in light of the security risk and obvious public misunderstanding that results from their inaction.
|David Drimer||January 9th 2014|
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned actress Emma Thompson and three dozen other British actors, for seeking the boycotting of Israel’s celebrated Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year in a six-week theatrical festival taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Thompson and her colleagues cite spurious human rights concerns but hypocritically fail to call for a boycott of the National Theater of China, which is participating in the same festival. The ZOA has condemned Thompson and urged people to boycott her recently-released movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
In a letter to the British Guardian newspaper, Thompson and her colleagues accused Habima of having “a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic] ... By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law ... by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company ... We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land” (Nathan Burstein, ‘Oscar winner Emma Thompson calls for Israeli theater’s ban,’ Times of Israel, April 1, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn Emma Thompson and her colleagues for their advocacy of boycotting Israel’s famed Habima Theater. Their call is in no way justified, or in any way less serious or worthy of condemnation, because Habima has refused to boycott a cultural center that opened in Ariel.
“Jews have a perfect right in law and morality to live and build homes and communities in Judea and Samaria, part of the territory earmarked for Jewish settlement at the 1920 San Remo Conference. Contrary to Thompson’s ignorant/malicious claim of illegality, the right of Jews to live and settle in these territories has never been extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. Moreover, under the Oslo II agreement, it was specifically stated in Chapter 3, Article 17 that the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain under Israeli jurisdiction, pending a final peace agreement. In other words, the PA itself has signed a legally binding agreement that explicitly accepts the existence of Jewish communities under Israeli control.
“Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the repeated, periodic international calls for a Jewish construction freeze, or the removal of Jewish communities, or the boycott and ostracism of anyone who fails to oppose their existence, would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible.
“Why may not 300,000 Jews live among 2 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria while 1.2 million Arabs live among 6 million Jews in Israel? Emma Thompson and her colleagues are displaying ignorance and prejudice in working towards a world in which Jews are banned from and expelled from their religious, historical and legal homeland.
“These people claim to be concerned about justice and peace. But one never hears them criticize the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or their rejection of the 2000 Clinton peace plan, or their resort to a wave of terror. They never issue statements demanding that the PA end terror and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel – the demonization of Jews does not disturb these haters of the Jewish state and expose their own vicious bias, dressed up as concern for human rights.
“We also note the rank hypocrisy of Thompson and her ilk condemning Habima and seeking its boycott –– but having no problem with the National Theater of China participating in the same festival, even though China’s observance of human rights is, to put it mildly, abysmal. “Emma Thompson and these other actors are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israeli community and all other people of goodwill. We urge everyone to boycott Emma Thompson’s current movie, Saving Mr. Banks.”
|Timothy P. White||January 3rd 2014|
The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”
Timothy P. White is Chancellor of California State University.
|Daniel Weiss||December 30th 2013|
Although Haverford College is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, we write to express our opposition to their proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions because such an action is antithetical to the full expression of academic freedom. We fully support the statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in opposition to the boycott, which holds that “Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.” We also acknowledge that individual members of our community have the right to their own opinions, including the right to support the actions of the ASA.
Daniel Weiss is President of Haverford College. His letter is cosigned by Provost Kimberly Benston, Dean Martha Denney, Assistant Vice President for College Communications Chris Mills, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Dick Wynn, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Jess Lord, Chief Investment Officer Mike Casel, Chief Information Officer Joe Spadaro, and Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle.
|Eric Fingerhut||December 30th 2013|
On Sunday, December 29, The New York Times published an article regarding the “Open Hillel” vote, which took place three weeks ago at Swarthmore College. It is teased on the front page and appears on page 21 of the A-section; it is also available online. As you know, there have been many articles on this topic, and we expect more. Although this article has been in the works for weeks, the Times does little more than repeat claims made in other publications by a handful of students. Instead of seizing the opportunity to look deeply into this issue, the Times took the easy way and turned its story into a simplistic discussion of free speech on campus and conflict among millennial Jews and their elders.
This article couldn’t be more wrong.
I spoke to the reporter for nearly an hour. David Eden also spoke with her several times. As you can see, we both are briefly quoted in comparison to the few students who are showcased. Information was sent refuting the alleged Harvard incident, the Swarthmore vote (including that only seven out of a 14-member student board voted “unanimously”), and the alleged Binghamton College incident (which was noted).
This article took the position that Hillel “whose core mission is to keep the next generation of Jews in the fold, says that under its auspices one thing is not open to debate: Those who reject or repudiate Israel have no place.”
Hillel has never said any such thing, and the Times knows it.
First, Hillel’s “core mission,” clearly expressed on our website and repeated to the Times reporter several times, is to build an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. We are pursuing this mission vigorously every day. More importantly, our guidelines on Israel refer explicitly to rejecting partnerships with organizations and speakers that seek to harm or destroy Israel. Nowhere does Hillel declare that any Jewish student has “no place” at Hillel, nor would I or anyone associated with Hillel International say such a thing.
As we have said many times, Hillel welcomes all students, Jewish and non-Jewish, to discuss and debate topics that are sensitive on many topics, including Israel. We welcome students who have a diverse range of political views and who may be aligned with a broad range of political organizations to talk about a wide variety of issues. We are an open, accepting, educational, humanistic organization, and any suggestion to the contrary is false and a disservice to the student and professional leaders that make Hillel such a special place on 550 campuses across five continents.
The Times reported that a “nationwide online petition in support of the Swarthmore Hillel’s rejection of [the Hillel Israel] guidelines has gathered 1,200 signatures.” It was pointed out to the reporter that there are approximately 400,000 Jewish students on American college campuses, nearly 20 million college students overall, and that a thousand or so names, many from non-students or signed “anonymous,” was not a large number. That fact was ignored. When it was pointed out that there is no groundswell of support for “Open Hillel,” it was brushed aside and not included.
Where Hillel draws the line, and what we have said consistently, as reported in the Timesand elsewhere, is that “‘anti-Zionists’ will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.” The Times also noted our Israel guidelines that spell out that Hillel “will not host or work with speakers or groups that deny the right of Israel to exist; “delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel”; support boycotts, divestment or sanctions against Israel; or “foster an atmosphere of incivility.”
This is hardly a policy of censorship or free speech. As Alan M. Dershowitz said to theTimes: “I don’t think this is a free-speech issue. The people who want divestment and boycotts have plenty of opportunity to speak on campus. The question is a branding one. You can see why Hillel does not want its brand to be diluted.” In 2010, Hillel developed its Israel guidelines precisely because every responsible organization needs to establish certain rules. Ours, created with a wide group of stakeholders, are appropriate and we intend to maintain them.
I was quoted correctly in the Times saying, “If we’re an organization that is committed to building Jewish identity and lifelong connections to the Jewish world and to Israel, then we certainly have to draw lines.”
We have drawn that line. We are unwavering.
Hillel will continue to reach out to all college students who have questions about Israel. Some have deeply held disagreements with Israel’s policies and still consider themselves Zionists. Others mistake their deeply held disagreements with the policies of the Israeli government as anti-Zionism, while others are swept up in the anti-Zionism of friends or faculty, or simply in the passion of being young and on campus. With all students, our professional and student leaders will work heartily to provide knowledge and build trust. But there are some who are simply not interested in any such thing. We will still welcome them as students for Shabbat dinner and other events, but we cannot and will not let them guide our programming.
Hillel loves Eretz Israel because it is part of our Jewish identity. It is our job, together with other Jewish organizations and leaders, to encourage Jewish college students to embrace this love of Jewish life, learning and Israel as part of the character and self-identities they are building while in college. We will continue to take all necessary steps to support and promote this mission.
|Drew Faust||December 24th 2013|
Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars. The recent resolution of the American Studies Association proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.
Drew Faust is President of Harvard University.
|Rudy Fichtenbaum and Henry Reichman||December 11th 2013|
On December 4, the American Studies Association (ASA) announced that its National Council had voted unanimously in favor of endorsing an academic boycott of Israel. The council has submitted this resolution to a vote of the association’s membership, to be completed by December 15. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which opposes academic boycotts as violations of academic freedom, is disappointed by the council’s vote and urges ASA members to reject this resolution.
The AAUP, as an organization, neither supports nor opposes Israeli government or Palestinian policies, although many of our members certainly have strong beliefs on one side or the other. As the principal and oldest organization of American college and university faculty defending academic freedom, we understand that we do not have the organizational capacity to monitor academic freedom at institutions in other countries, nor are we in a position to pick and choose which countries we, as an organization, might judge. However, the AAUP does stand in opposition to academic boycotts as a matter of principle. Our position was fully enunciated in the 2005 report On Academic Boycotts. This report established the following principles:
- In view of the Association’s long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts.
- On the same grounds, we recommend that other academic associations oppose academic boycotts. We urge that they seek alternative means, less inimical to the principle of academic freedom, to pursue their concerns.
- We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test. We understand that such selective boycotts may be intended to preserve academic exchange with those more open to the views of boycott proponents, but we cannot endorse the use of political or religious views as a test of eligibility for participation in the academic community.
- The Association recognizes the right of individual faculty members or groups of academics not to cooperate with other individual faculty members or academic institutions with whom or with which they disagree. We believe, however, that when such noncooperation takes the form of a systematic academic boycott, it threatens the principles of free expression and communication on which we collectively depend.
- Consistent with our long-standing principles and practice, we consider other forms of protest, such as the adoption of resolutions of condemnation by higher education groups intended to publicize documented threats to or violations of academic freedom at offending institutions, to be entirely appropriate.
- Recognizing the existence of shared concerns, higher education groups should collaborate as fully as possible with each other to advance the interests of the entire academic community in addressing academic freedom issues. Such collaboration might include joint statements to bring to the attention of the academic community and the public at large grave threats to academic freedom.
- The Association recognizes the right of faculty members to conduct economic strikes and to urge others to support their cause. We believe, however, that in each instance, those engaged in a strike at an academic institution should seek to minimize the impact of the strike on academic freedom.
- We understand that threats to or infringements of academic freedom may occasionally seem so dire as to require compromising basic precepts of academic freedom, but we resist the argument that extraordinary circumstances should be the basis for limiting our fundamental commitment to the free exchange of ideas and their free expression.
In light of these principles the AAUP recognizes the right of individual scholars to act in accordance with their own personal consciences. No scholar should be required to participate in any academic activity that violates his or her own principles. In addition, faculty members have the right to organize for or against economic boycotts, divestment, or other forms of sanction. However, an organized academic boycott is a different matter. In seeking to punish alleged violations of academic freedom elsewhere, such boycotts threaten the academic freedom of American scholars to engage the broadest variety of viewpoints.
We encourage ASA members to read and consider carefully the arguments developed in our 2005 report. We urge ASA and those of its members who oppose Israeli policies to find other means to register their opposition.
Rudy Fichtenbaum, President, AAUP
Henry Reichman, First Vice-President and Chair, Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, AAUP Read more ..
|Itamar Marcus||November 17th 2013|
I was pleased to see Edwin Black's articles on salaries to Palestinian terrorist prisoners paid by the PA using US and other Western funding (see Financing Mideast Flames with Terrorist Salaries, Page One November 17, 2013). Palestinian Media Watch first exposed this story in 2011, and has been updating it ever since – including the debates in parliaments around the world against continued funding. The entire history of the story and impact this is having around the world can be seen on our website here: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=1005.
Itamar Marcus is the director of Palestinian Media Watch.
Edwin Black replies: Palestinian Media Watch has been at the forefront of exposing terrorist salaries. In my book, PMW is robustly and repeatedly credited for its work both in the chapter text and its footnotes.
|Dan Riffle||September 18th 2013|
A bill that would remove all penalties for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana by adults 21 and over and allow the District to license facilities to produce and sell marijuana has been introduced in the DC Council. The bill, introduced by Councilmember David Grosso, would also impose an excise tax on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare. An April poll showed more than 60% of DC voters would approve such a law. The District, which already has a medical marijuana program with cultivation centers and dispensaries producing and distributing marijuana to authorized medical users, would become the third jurisdiction in the country to make marijuana fully legal and provide for a tightly regulated system to control production and distribution. Voters in Washington and Colorado passed initiatives establishing similar laws in November 2012, and both states are scheduled to begin accepting license applications later this fall. Marijuana prohibition has been a disastrous public policy failure. The District has the highest marijuana possession arrest rate in the country, with black residents more than eight times as likely to be arrested than whites, even with similar levels of use. Despite spending millions of dollars to make thousands of arrests and ruin countless lives, marijuana is almost universally available. It’s time for a smarter approach. By taxing and regulating marijuana we can take the lucrative market out of the hands of criminals and drug cartels and put it in the hands of tax-paying, law-abiding businesses. More importantly, we can stop arresting adults simply for using a substance less harmful than alcohol and focus our law enforcement resources on violent crimes and real threats to public safety.”
|Danny Gonzalez||September 11th 2013|
The nation’s largest pro-troop grassroots group, Move America Forward, reacts to President Obama’s prepared remarks to the American public by questioning his leadership and the consistency of his strategy. September 10, President Obama reversed himself again when he asked Congress and the American people to wait on Russia before authorizing a military strike. This is a week after he asked Congress to authorize a military strike against Assad’s regime in Syria and claiming all diplomatic efforts had been exhausted. Confusing? We thought so too. It’s confusing, it’s muddled, and it’s contradictory and incoherent. In his short speech, the President presented conflicting arguments in favor and against taking action in Syria. It was not clear which was the right course. He then concluded that we would let Russia determine our policy based on their stated control over the Assad chemical weapons stockpile. The President said in his address that Assad’s regime poses no military threat to the United States, but he still claimed there is a national security interest for the United States in Syria when he clearly stated ‘Our ideals, principles, as well as our national security is at stake in Syria.’
“Either there is a threat or there isn’t. If there is no threat, then why are we risking American lives? If there is a threat, then why is President Obama relying on Russia instead of taking care of America’s security himself. He promised no troops on the ground, but what happens if Syria responds and attacks American interests? Is he then prepared to say that we won’t respond to a direct attack? The President delivered a stumbling address that left Americans as disinterested in taking military action now as ever. The President also recognized that Al Qaeda is in Syria and working against Assad. That remains to be a major concern to many Americans who don’t feel we should be helping the same terrorist organization that engineered the tragedy of 9/11. Yet on the eve of that anniversary, President Obama asked Americans to contemplate terrorist ascendency without an explanation as to why it helps us.
|David Brog||August 22nd 2013|
Events in Egypt this week highlight yet again the tragedy facing the Christians of the Middle East. Once again, Christians are being targeted for murder. Once again Christian schools, businesses and churches are being attacked. And once again, the world is largely silent. This is a modern pogrom. The silence must end. The United States must lead. We must make it clear to the Egyptian government, the Muslim Brotherhood and the world that we will not ignore this tragedy. An important first step must be the immediate passage of H.R. 301, which would ensure that a top administration official will be focused on this issue at all times.
David Brog is executive director of Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world.
|Alyza Lewin||July 24th 2013|
The recent Court of Appeals decision permits the State Department to continue its misguided policy of denying to American citizens born in Jerusalem the right that Congress gave them in 2002 – to declare on their passports that they were born in Israel. Federal government agencies have recognized in official documents and statements to the media that Jerusalem is in Israel. The State Department’s passport policy remains an isolated holdout, denying what is universally acknowledged, to the detriment of a right that a duly enacted law gives to American citizens. The majority and concurring decisions acknowledge that the constitutional issue presented by this case is significant and calls for resolution by the Supreme Court. When the case was first on the Supreme Court’s docket in 2011, the Court, on its own, asked the parties to brief and argue the constitutional question. After the legal issues were fully briefed and argued orally, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals with the Chief Justice’s observation, after he summarized the historical arguments on both sides, “To say that Zivotofsky’s claim presents issues the Judiciary is competent to resolve is not to say that reaching a decision in this case is simple.” This difficult case is now almost one decade old. We initiated it less than one year after our client was born. We will continue to press his claim in the Supreme Court and trust that the Court will agree to hear and decide the important questions presented. We hope that before Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky’s Bar Mitzvah he will be able to bear a passport that recognizes his birthplace as “Israel.”
|David Langum||July 12th 2013|
In 2008 the publisher Random House self-censored for political reasons by refusing to publish Sherry Jones’s The Jewell of Medina, even though it had thoroughly vetted the manuscript and paid a substantial advance. The reason was political: the book might offend some in the Muslim community. Five years later it has committed the same offensive act by backing out of the publication of the latest cookbooks of Paula Deen, the Southern food maven.
A few weeks ago Paula Deen admitted in a deposition that thirty years ago she had used the infamous n-word. Immediately, the political correctness crowd denounced her. Business after business tossed red meat to this mob while it undulated in a frenzied dance, chanting “She used the n-word! She used the n-word!” The cable company that carried her cooking show dropped her, as did many retailers who carried her products or were her sponsors, such as Sears, J.C. Penny, Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot. It would seem that this constituted vastly disproportionate punishment for a one time use of the n-word thirty years ago. Yet it really did not touch upon the work of our foundation until late June when Random House determined to yank the publication of her latest cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament, scheduled for October 2013 as well as four additional books for which she was under contract. Her book was running very high in advance sales; indeed, it was the number one seller on the Amazon list of advance sales and continued so well after the n-word revelation. We cannot pretend that it was a fear of economic backlash that motivated Random House. It was simply a political decision to appease a particular mob and an act of cowardly self-censorship. This represents a threat to all literature, not merely cookbooks. Back in 2008 we imposed a boycott on Random House for consideration of their books for our prizes until The Jewel of Medina was published by a different publisher. Our action received a lot of notice, both of praise and criticism, but the only critique that made sense to us was that it might be unfair to authors whose books were already in the process of publication by Random House. So today we announce a two-year boycott on all imprints of Random House/Penguin for consideration for our prizes, but to take effect prospectively, on July 1, 2014, all books published prior to that date remaining eligible.
|Victoria Parker||June 5th 2013|
While those at the IRS are participating in line dancing, graffiti lessons, and 200-plus conferences in two years to the tune of $50 million on our hard-earned tax dollars..., yesterday, my 83 year old mother...who lives alone in a city far from me...drove herself down to the local IRS office in Tallahassee, Florida at 8:30 a.m. attempting to learn why she has not received her overdue income tax refund. She filed her income tax months ago and has heard nothing. Upon arriving at the IRS office at 8:30 a.m., there was a line out the door of people waiting...who had been there waiting since 7:30 a.m. She was told she could not come inside as only 6 people were allowed inside at a time because they only had 6 chairs inside. All others had to wait outside...no seats...standing in the Florida heat. All this while there was ONE...I repeat--ONE IRS representative behind the counter to help everyone in that long line. Well, my 83 year old mother waited for TWO long, hot, difficult hours...sometimes sitting on the floor because it is difficult for her to stand for any period of time...until she couldn't endure it any more. After two hours, she then gave up (unable to endure such a wait at her age), got in her car and drove home.
I would like those at the IRS to know that my 83-year-old mother, like many Americans today, struggles from month to month to care for herself on a fixed income. While you IRS employees are dancing and partying in fancy hotels, some months she cannot afford to pay her electric bill, buy her much-needed medications, or even go see a doctor when necessary because she cannot afford to pay the copay. If she has to pay the copay, then she cannot eat. She eats potatoes for days and days, and tells no one...suffering this in silence as she tries to remain independent. She counts on that IRS income tax refund to "catch up" on unpaid bills or necessities she has refused to allow herself throughout the year...she counts the days and hours for that refund to arrive...checking her mailbox anxiously every day. I assure you, she is not alone in this situation. How many Americans have lost their homes, are living in their cars or with relatives or under bridges...while these IRS employees and our government that supports them....dance and party wasting our tax dollars. I'm so disgusted I can barely write this. Heads should roll. This agency needs to be gutted and reformed immediately. In fact, the entire tax code needs reform and simplification.
I'm terrified that these are the same people who will now be placed in charge of our health care. What is going to happen to us? What can simple citizens do?
|Abraham H. Foxman||May 13th 2013|
New York City
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is expressing shock and outrage at the decision by the Newseum to proceed with honoring two members of the Hamas terrorist propaganda television operation Al-Aqsa TV as part of its ongoing memorial to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2012. Despite vocal public criticism of the decision last week, Newseum officials have said they will go ahead with including the terrorist operatives in its annual ceremony honoring fallen journalists. ADL says the inclusion of Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi in the Newseum Journalists Memorial is "a dark day for an American institution devoted to free speech and the First Amendment." Salama and Al-Kumi were members of Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State. Salama and Al-Kumi were terrorist operatives working for a network that routinely promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence. These men were working for a propaganda outlet, not a legitimate news organization." ADL urges the Newseum to reconsider the decision and remove the names of Al-Kumi and Salama from the roster of the Journalists Memorial before they are officially added to the permanent memorial scheduled to be unveiled on Monday.
|Danny Gonzalez||April 27th 2013|
The Nation’s largest grassroots pro-troop organization Move America Forward has asked President Obama in an open letter to classify the terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a military combatant in order to allow interrogators more time to determine if he has links to Al-Qaeda or other organized terrorist groups. President Obama currently has the ability to interrupt the legal proceedings and allow investigators to interrogate Dzhokhar as an “Enemy Combatant”, which is now necessary because he has stopped cooperating with investigators immediately after being read his Miranda Rights. MAF spokesperson and Gold-Star Mother Debbie Lee, whose son was the first Navy SEAL to be killed in the war in Iraq, sent the letter to President Obama at the White House, stressing that the issue hits home for millions of American who have been affected by the War on Terror and atrocities committed by terrorists against American citizens. “My son Marc gave his life in Iraq to protect this country from men like Tsarnaev who wanted to kill Americans. President Obama, we must not pass up an opportunity to interrogate terrorist suspects in our custody to determine if they have links to Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Tsarnaev could still have vital information that might save lives. If he has information, we must stop at nothing to get it. We owe that to every American who has lost a son or daughter in the War on Terror or a terrorist attack.” said Lee.
The agenda being promoted by the people in the streets would do nothing to remedy a broken system. It would do nothing to ensure that our immigration laws are enforced in the future and that newly amnestied illegal aliens are not replaced by a new wave of illegal immigrants. It would do nothing to repair our bloated legal immigration system that admits excessive numbers of people without regard to their likelihood of succeeding in the United States. The American people witnessed the spectacle of lawbreakers taking to the streets demanding amnesty and other rewards before. After similar marches in 2006 and 2007, the American people overwhelmingly rejected amnesty disguised as immigration reform. Americans continue to reject amnesty as an answer to illegal immigration. They recognize that with high levels of unemployment and more people dropping out of the labor force than jobs being created, amnesty and the admission of still more foreign workers would deliver a lethal blow to the middle class. They understand that with federal deficits exceeding a trillion dollars annually, legalizing millions of poorly-skilled illegal aliens would be fiscally irresponsible. Illegal aliens and their supporters are poised to make a lot of noise, but as we have seen in the past, the American people will make their voices heard as legislation makes its way through Congress.
|Joseph K. Grieboski||April 3rd 2013|
North Carolina's recent bill to establish an official state religion is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and the 14th Amendment. The bill filed by North Carolina's state legislature on Monday states that the United States Constitution does not restrict states from making laws respecting an establishment of religion and furthermore asserts that North Carolina's General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings that would restrict their ability to make laws concerning establishment of religion. Not only is North Carolina's declaration that states are exempt from rulings of the United States Constitution and federal courts directly contradictory to the Constitution, but their attempt to establish an official state religion specifically violates the 14th Amendment which says that states cannot 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Religious freedom must be protected for all. To establish a state religion is to give unfair and unequal privilege to members of one faith under the law which is in violation of every American's Constitutional rights to equal protection and free exercise of religion.
|Abraham H. Foxman||March 22nd 2013|
New York City
We applaud the restoration of relations between Israel and Turkey, two of America’s most reliable allies in the region. The long friendship and mutual cooperation between Israel and Turkey has been beneficial for both countries and an important model for partnership between Muslim nations in the region and Israel. Full diplomatic relations at this time of increased regional instability will serve the interests of both and contribute to international efforts to address the many challenges ahead. We express our appreciation to those who have been working to make today’s development happen, including the direct facilitation of President Obama.
|Danny Gonzalez||March 6th 2013|
Move America Forward, the nation’s largest grassroots pro-troop organization has publicly called a sitting U.S. Congressman ‘shameful’ after Representative Jose E. Serrano (D-NY) praised the late Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez on the day his death was announced by the government of Venezuela. “Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.” read, Rep. Serrano’s tweet, now famous on twitter. It is an outrage and shameful that a sitting U.S. Congressman would praise a foreign dictator like Hugo Chavez. Far from being a champion of freedom, Chavez was the chief progenitor of suffering and misery for millions of Venezuelans. Chavez was a dictator who tried to take over the country by force of a coup before he ever considered using the democratic process. As dictator, Chavez stole wealth from those who produced it, creating egalitarianism in Venezuela by reducing everyone to poverty and squandering the country’s oil resources. Chavez nationalized every sector of the economy, crushing private industry and driving out entrepreneurs. Most insulting of all, Chavez openly hated the United States and opposed any effort to spread freedom, democracy and free markets to Latin America. He was cozy with other anti-American dictators like Castro and Ahmadinejad. For Representative Serrano to praise a leader like Chavez is irresponsible and embarrassing to the citizens of New York he represents.” concluded Gonzalez.
The Times relentlessly criticized Bush on what it refers to as torture. Operating the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. And water boarding. Now water boarding may be unpleasant but no one dies or is injured. It's not torture. If it were then there should be criminal charges rising from the 25,000 U.S. servicemen and women who've been water boarded as part of their POW training. Since the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times has published about 200 articles, editorials and letters attacking Bush over torture. It's a different story regarding Obama and drone strikes that have killed thousands of suspected terrorists and civilians. Obama personally approves many drone strikes - including those that killed three Americans -- one a teenage boy. Hundreds of innocent civilians -- including women and children -- killed in drone strikes are considered collateral damage. In contrast to the 200 stories on Bush, the New York Times published less than a dozen on Obama. And some offered favorable coverage.
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