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This week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad again used chemical weapons to brutally massacre innocent Syrian men, women, and children. There is absolutely no place in human society for chemical weapons, and those who would use these barbaric tools must be held accountable. President Trump's missile strike was a measured response to deter further use of chemical weapons by Assad and the Syrian regime. However, this strike will not solve the Syrian crisis nor provide humanitarian assistance to millions of Syrians so desperately in need. President Trump must now present to the American people and Armed Forces a comprehensive, long-term strategy for ending the Syrian crisis, providing stability to the region, removing Assad, and holding him accountable for his crimes.”
|Kevin Mitchell||December 7th 2016|
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) applauded the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in filing a civil antitrust lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed merger of Alaska Airways (“Alaska”) and Virgin America (Virgin”). Preserving competition and the incentive to contest new markets is paramount in a domestic industry where four airlines control some eighty percent of seats – down from eleven airlines in recent years.
DOJ offered a proposed settlement wherein Alaska would need to discontinue its codeshare arrangement with American Airlines (“American”) on routes where Virgin competes directly with American and also where Alaska would likely initiate new service in competition with American post merger. DOJ would allow continued codesharing on routes that could offer some consumer benefits, e.g., to destinations one of the airlines would not likely serve on its own in the near term.
Likewise, DOJ advised that any sale or lease of gates or slots by Alaska that were acquired by Virgin as part of the settlement of DOJ’s lawsuit challenging the 2013 merger of American and US Airways would require DOJ pre-approval. This would ensure that American does not regain control of those assets. Airports where those assets are housed are Dallas Love Field Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Virgin America and Alaska Airways are both innovative, quality airlines that provide the competitive rivalry necessary to discipline prices for consumers and keep pressure on airlines to improve customer service levels on many routes Start-up airline entry is very difficult today and remedies for the many competition and consumer problems are few. As such, the preservation of existing competition is critically important."
|Asaf Romirowsky||December 6th 2016|
Today, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) praised the bipartisan legislation to fight anti-Semitism on college campuses around the country. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA), and passed unanimously, will provide the Department of Education (DOE) the necessary statutory tools to examine anti-Semitic incidents in the most broadest and effective way possible. Additionally, it was very encouraging to see the companion bill introduced by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL). The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will mirror the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism definition of anti-Semitism which includes the critical language where anti-Israel conduct crosses the line into anti-Semitism. As such, the new Act enhances the Department of Education’s (DOE) ability to identify, investigate, and punish all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment.
When asked about the Act, Senator Casey listed the following examples of anti-Semitism in his explanation of the bill:
• Calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews
• Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
• Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all interreligious or political tensions
• Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation
Further, the Act also recognizes that according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have properly concluded that it “prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.”
I commend Senators Scott and Casey, and Representatives Roskam and Deutch, for understanding the growing threat of anti-Semitism and introducing these two complementary pieces of legislation as they will help ensure that our faculty and students can continue to support Israel without hesitation on their campuses.
|Carol VanWinkle||November 29th 2016|
Peoria County has two War Memorials: a Soldiers and Sailors monument, commemorating the Civil War, and a War Memorial dedicated to World Wars I & II (with approximately 1,000 engraved granite brick pavers surrounding it). We are in the process of building our third War Memorial (named our Final Salute) dedicated to all conflicts involving the U.S. Military after World War II. We have raised the money and 'broke ground' on the monument, itself. We are still raising money to pay for the statues, the concept of which is a soldier evocative of each era (Korea, Vietnam, and the War on Terror) will be in the center of the greenery at the courthouse, returning to their bunker...appropriate called "Soldiers on Patrol". There is some question as to how, or even if, we can put a sandbag wall at the back of the memorial - we would like to, but concrete is too susceptible to decay - and we want this monument to last. We have the funds raised for two of the statues, still raising capital for the third.
We are selling engraved granite bricks to help with raising the money. Any dollars left over after the monument is completed will go into a special, dedicated fund for the maintenance of the monument. Those making a donation (not buying a brick) will be listed on a plaque at the site of the monument (turned so it does not take away from the engraved names of those who died in service on the walls of the monument. Different amounts apply, the minimum is $1,000. The area available is much less than the WWI&II monument; therefore the number of pavers is considerably reduced. Cost for a paver is $150 for a 4x8" (3 lines, 21 characters/spaces per line) and $500 for a 12x12" (9 lines, 21 characters/spaces per line). All engravings must be appropriate - no advertisements. Many who do not have anyone particular they wish to honor have specified something such as "Honor and Gratitude" and their name.
A certificate, suitable for framing, will be created immediately and sent to the purchaser for review and authorization. The certificate will have a light background of the planned memorial with, on the left, the exact phrasing for the brick as specified. On the right the names of the contributor/s. We have found families like to send a certificate, (brick purchased amongst family members with all names listed [up to nine]) and send the certificate to a Veteran (perhaps in a nursing home in Florida). The Veteran receives the gift, can hang on a wall. Upon the finalization of the brick, a postcard is sent to the buyer (1) with a photo of the memorial on the back of the card, with an 'x' marking the approximate location of the engraved brick.
This has been a labor of love for our large committee. Our hope is the memorial will be completed in 2017.
|Michael Makovsky||November 28th 2016|
We are pleased with the array of highly qualified candidates that President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering for Secretary of Defense. The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) - an organization dedicated to a robust U.S. national security posture and a strong U.S.-Israel security relationship - does not and will not endorse any candidate for this or any other government position. However, we feel compelled to convey that characterizations of one candidate, General James N. Mattis, USMC (ret.), as anti-Israel are ill-founded and unfair.
The criticism revolves around extemporaneous remarks General Mattis made at the Aspen Institute in July 2013 on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They were made shortly following his retirement after a very distinguished four-decade-long career in the U.S. military, with his last position as Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), where his area of responsibility covered much of the Middle East and Central Asia (excluding Israel).
We understand and share many of the objections to his remarks, including that he seemed to blame mostly Israel for the impasse, despite the critical challenges it faces in lacking a stable, moderate Palestinian partner that genuinely seeks a durable peace with the Jewish state. Some American Jews and even Israelis make the same mistake. In any case, he has not repeated those remarks.
On the larger U.S. military and strategic issues related to the Middle East, which a Secretary of Defense will have to address early on, General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust U.S. military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career, and its importance to American security and the restoration of America's position in the Middle East - views JINSA has strongly propounded. Along similar lines, he has stressed the need to stand by our longstanding regional friends.
General Mattis' outlook on these issues aligns perfectly with Israel's, which considers an aggressive Iran its greatest strategic threat, and a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat. Israel also seeks a strong U.S. presence in the Middle East. General Mattis has noted this alignment of views with Israel, and correctly explained the synchronization of Israeli and Arab outlooks on these subjects. This should be heartening to the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that a strong State of Israel is necessary for its own sake and important for a strong America.
JINSA's experiences with General Mattis have been very positive, including many private discussions in the last few years on the Middle East. We recently consulted several notable Israelis and Americans in the civic and military spheres who also have interacted with him and they share our confidence in his support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Were General Mattis to become Secretary of Defense, and work more closely with Israel in that position, an opportunity he lacked at CENTCOM, we believe he will become an even closer friend of the State of Israel.
|Robert G. Samet, Mark H. Lazerson, Carol Greenwald, Barbara Leber, and Jeffrey Ward||November 27th 2016|
There was a time when the Anti-Defamation League or ADL, under the leadership of Abe Foxman, tried to remain apoltical and stand for the fight against anti-Semitism across the political spectrum. Under the new leadership of Jonathan Greenblatt that is no longer true. Who is Jonathan Greenblatt? Prior to taking over the leadership of the ADL in 2015, Greenblatt held a position in the White House as Special Assistant to Barack Obama and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. At the same time, he worked for the billionaire, George Soros, at the Aspen Institute, a self-styled social justice organization. Much has been written about George Soros and his hate war against Israel, but it can be concisely summarized as follows:
"But perhaps the archetype of Israel-hating is billionaire, George Soros. Mr. Soros spends millions of his own money each year to support anti-Israel organizations and pressures the American government to support the supposed “victims” of Israel."
Before his stint with the Obama administration and with the Soros funded Aspen Institute, Greenblatt was an aide in the Clinton White House, and in 1992, he worked on Bill Clinton's first Presidential campaign. All of which would not matter if Greenblatt was capable of avoiding partisanship and steering the ADL on a straight and narrow, non-partisan course. But that's not what he is doing, and if allowed to stay in this position, he will destroy the ADL as we have come to know it.
Two issues illustrate the partisanship Greenblatt has adopted for the ADL's agenda.
First, a movement arose this year in many states to pass legislation that would have barred government contracts with groups supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. It is important to understand that these laws did not prevent the anti-Israel and usually anti-Semitic BDS campaigners from exercising their First Amendment rights and continuing their campaigns to attack Israel. BDS activities themselves were not banned or criminalized. But the proposed laws restricted state government agencies from indirectly supporting BDS groups by preventing government agencies from bestowing government contracts upon them. There was nothing wrong with such legislation, yet the ADL publicly opposed it. Many former ADL supporters were stunned by the ADL's perfidy in acting to help those attacking Israel. This article in Frontpage magazine illustrates Greenblatt's protection of the BDS movement and other left wing groups that attack Israel, such as J Street.
Second, a most recent example of Greenblatt's partisan transformation of ADL is its praise of Representative Keith Ellison, a leading candidate to chair the Democratic National Committee. Ellison, a Muslim congressman from Minnesota, has a long history of anti-Israel advocacy. He has labeled Israel a proponent of Apartheid, blamed Israel for causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, defended the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case involving the funneling of funds to Hamas, and voted against the bill to provide $225 million in funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. But perhaps most egregious is Ellison's 9 year association with Louis Farrakhan and his notoriously anti-Semitic Nation of Islam organization. Ellison in the past wrote under the names "Keith E. Hakim, in which he spoke respectfully of Farrakhan and defended the NOI's national spokesman and Farrakhan's right-hand man, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, notorious for his anti-white, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay opinions. Elsewhere, Ellison used other pseudonyms, including Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison Muhammad." Ellison appeared on stage with Khalid Abdul Muhammad at a rally in which Muhammad proclaimed "If words were swords, the chests of Jews, gays and whites would be pierced." Two years earlier Muhammad "described Jews as 'hook-nosed, bagel-eatin', lox-eatin' impostors...." http://www.meforum.org/2756/keith-ellison-stealth-jihad
You can read the ADL's statement of support for Ellison here , and you can read criticism of the ADL's position and Ellison's anti-Israel past in this Algemeiner article and this article from Tablet Magazine.
Although it has only been a short period of time since Greenblatt took over at the ADL, another change in leadership is needed to avoid the destruction of the reputation it earned over many years.
Members of the Lebanese diaspora, particularly those who have made the United States their home, have always expressed their aspirations to see their motherland secure, free, sovereign, and independent, particularly in light of the internal challenges and external dangers it faces.
In the wake of Lebanon’s election of Michel Aoun as its new president on Monday, the Lebanese Information Center in Washington, D.C., in its quest to uphold Lebanon’s status in the international community, states the following:
· First: We congratulate the Lebanese people on the election of a president after nearly two and a half years and 45 failed parliamentary sessions. This achievement should be a source of pride for Lebanon’s citizens, already weathering volatile developments in a region ruled by dictatorship, despotism, and extremism.
· Second: This presidential election constitutes for Lebanon an opportunity to return to its tradition of proper democratic practices. For the last quarter century, foreign powers - chiefly Syria, through its military and political occupation of Lebanon - have dictated how state institutions function and who is at their helm.
· Third: After 29 months of a presidential vacuum prolonged by the deliberate disabling of the constitutional process, we cannot but call on the Lebanese Parliament to amend Article 49 of the Constitution, to prevent the imposition of a two-thirds quorum for its electoral sessions and thereby avoid any further wrongful interpretations of the constitution by ill-intentioned politicians. Laws and constitutions are meant to mobilize governments and legitimate authorities, not block the democratic process. The intentional boycott of presidential elections by members of parliament constituted unacceptable behavior that warrants the impeachment of responsible MPs.
· Fourth: The election of a Christian head of state in the Middle East is a clear translation of Lebanon’s ideals of true partnership and power-sharing among its various religious communities. The presidency is the highest post for Christians in Lebanon, and its filling after months of vacuum gives them hope for real representation in parliament and other government institutions in the future.
· Fifth: With the start of a new presidential term in Lebanon, we look to the president to maintain good relations with Lebanon’s global allies, and particularly the United States. We expect him to respect Lebanon’s international commitments and obligations, especially the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701, for the sake of a free and sovereign Lebanon.
· Sixth: We emphasize to the new president the importance of Lebanon's success in its fight against terrorism, building on the tremendous success of Lebanese armed and security forces in defeating extremist militias threatening Lebanon’s security, both from the Syrian borders and from within Lebanon.
· Seventh: Similarly, Lebanon’s new president cannot ignore the danger posed by internal militias, Lebanese and others, chiefly among them radical Shiite movement Hezbollah. Hezbollah has intentionally developed into a state-above-the-state, hijacking national decision-making processes, threatening peace, security and stability among Lebanese communities, and executing Iran’s foreign agenda at the expense of the Lebanese people.
· Eighth: The rampant corruption within the government is a rising menace, destroying the Lebanese citizen’s faith in national institutions. We call on the new president and future government to eradicate this plague, in order to build a truly functioning state in the service of its citizens.
· Ninth: The Lebanese Information Center in the US remains committed to work through its organization, bolstered by its grassroots support and longstanding relationships with the US government, to build a free, sovereign and democratic Lebanon, for the good of the Lebanese people and in the interests of the United States of America.
|Sarah Stern||October 13th 2016|
The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is disturbed by the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic resolution passed by UNESCO declaring that the Jewish people have no connection to the Old City of Jerusalem. On Thursday, October 13, 2016, the 200 session of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) met in Paris, France. Where they voted on Item 25 of the provisional agenda under “Occupied Palestine” that disregards the historical and validated Jewish and Christian ties to the Old City of Jerusalem. There were 24 countries that voted in favor of the resolution while 6 voted against and 26 abstained.
The resolution refused to refer to the Temple Mount as anything but the Islamic names “Al-Aqsa Mosque” and “Haram al-Sharif.” Further more, it went on to establish that the site is sacred only to Muslims and fails to mention the sacred and historical background of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people. UNESCO is supposed to be an organization that exists to promote international understanding through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity, but sadly this action portrays a different picture – one of cultural hatred toward the Jewish people and an effort to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel.
“No forum or body in the world can say that there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and to Jerusalem. A body that does so is imply humiliating itself” said Israeli President Reuven Rivilin in response to the vote. There have been a myriad of historical, factual, and archaeological connections between the Jews and Christians and Jerusalem. There is a deep-rooted historical and religious connection of Jews and Christians to Jerusalem that cannot be denied. For over 2,000 years, the Jewish people have been sustained in their belief of a return to Jerusalem, our holiest city. The return to a united, rebuilt Jerusalem has been part of the prayers that we say three times a day. For many years the Palestinian Authority and its cohorts in the international community have tried to erase our history and our historic, religious and cultural ties to Jerusalem. It is absurd to believe that international body is strong enough to eradicate the irrevocable connection of the Jewish people to their holiest city.”
|Roz Rothstein||September 29th 2016|
Shimon Peres was a symbol of the reborn Jewish state and strode the world stage representing the hopes and dreams of everyday Israelis and Jews around the world. A kibbutznik, he became the personal right-hand man of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. He is the last of Israel's “founding fathers” whose seventy years of public service to Israel included Member of Knesset, Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and President. Driven by his vision of peace he was a primary architect of the ill-fated Oslo Peace Process - ultimately rejected by Yasser Arafat in 2000 with tragic consequences for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples - for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Even when ending conflict seemed distant, Peres never lost hope and launched a multitude of efforts aimed at building peace between Arabs and Jews. As President, he became Israel's elder statesman. He used his office to promote high tech innovation to be used for the advancement of humanity around the world, often with humor and charm. He was equally at home with world leaders and common citizens alike - from kings, presidents, generals and popes to shopkeepers, workers, and green IDF recruits. Shimon Peres had spoken of his praise for the work of StandWithUs in reaching out to people around the world about Israel. His unremitting commitment to Israel and the Jewish people will be his enduring memorial. May his memory be a blessing.
|Nita Lowey||September 28th 2016|
I join millions of people in Israel, the United States, and around the world in mourning the loss of former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres. As one of Israel's founding fathers, President Peres played an integral role in firmly cementing the Jewish state as a beacon of democracy in the region and America's closest ally. President Peres was one of the most admired peacemakers of our time. Throughout tumultuous periods in Israel, including wars, assassinations, and political upheaval, President Peres remained committed to the goal of peace between Israel and all her neighbors. He worked tirelessly to resolve the complicated differences between Israelis and Palestinians, never giving up on the vision of two states for two peoples. Part of his indelible and everlasting legacy instructs each of us to never give up on peace. As we mourn the loss of this extraordinary leader and world-renowned statesman, let us redouble our commitment to the many causes to which he devoted his life. President Peres' memory is a blessing and an inspiration to all.
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-Rockland/Westchester) is Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee
West Bloomfield MI
An Open Letter to Macmillan Publishers:
Regarding the slanders and gross inaccuracies concerning Israel’s history in your textbook “World Regional Geography” that shows your editors and writers are clearly uninformed and obviously biased. We see:
“Israel’s excellent technical and educational infrastructure, its diverse and prospering economy, and the large aid contributions (public and private) it receives from the United States and elsewhere, have made it one of the region’s wealthiest, most technologically advanced and militarily powerful countries.
The Palestinian people, by contrast, are severely impoverished and undereducated after years of conflict, inadequate government and meager living […] often in refugee camps. Through a series of events over the past 60 years, Palestinians have lost most of the lands on which they used to live.”
Why are the Palestinian Arabs "impoverished and undereducated”?
It is because their Arab leadership has used them as pawns to further their aims of destroying Israel with their use of Jew hatred rhetoric in their mosques, schools and media? Is it because their entire educational system has always been directed toward the destruction of Israel rather than positive, creative pursuits?
Why do the Palestinian Arabs have “inadequate government and meager living” despite the billions of dollars given to them by the EU and U.S.? It is because their Arab leadership has used the funds to enrich themselves and purposely contain their people in squalor to create a class that hates their “oppressors” – Israeli’s and Jews.
Why haven’t the Arabs taken advantage of “Israel’s excellent technical and educational infrastructure, its diverse and prospering economy” to enhance their society? It’s because they prefer overwhelming Jew hatred force fed by their leaders and their dream of destroying Israel to improving their people’s lives.
Where are your comments on the Arab child abuse that creates child murderers to murder Jewish families, that indoctrinates them every minute of every day to hate Jews, that maintains “refugee camps” (better Arab retention/indoctrination camps) supported by our tax dollars thru UNRWA.
Do you mention Arab children’s summer camps that indoctrinate, teach and train how to murder Jews?
While I’m at it – where is your mention of the 800,000 Jewish refugees driven out of Arab lands after 1948 and absorbed by Israel?
Why haven’t the Arab “refugees” been accepted by the Arab countries?
It’s because the Arab leadership’s purpose of using them as pawns to further their aims of destroying Israel.
Finally - your distortions without facts include “Palestinians have lost most of the lands on which they used to live.”.
Exactly what “lands” have they lost? They lived in the Palestine Mandate, refused the U.N. partition plan and went to war.
|Joan Giller||August 9th 2016|
Okay. I read all the many articles, critiques, and rejoinders regarding Mr. Black's excellent survey of victimization of Black people (see Nazi Policy and Black Victims--Before, During, and After the Holocaust--from Africa to Berlin to North Carolina), and also Martin Barillas informative report (see Award-winning Historian Innovates Global Conference Call to Answer Reader Questions). I learned an extraordinary amount from Mr. Black's clear and shocking continuity. Clearly, Prof. Best is trying to colour Mr. Black's intent, guessing at his intentions and beliefs. That is not acceptable. Even more unacceptable is the fact that Prof. Best did not even make an effort to join the global conference and ask a question-- or answer one. He therefore insulted all those who could have gained from this event. On the other hand, we see Mr. Black doing something that I see as a first. He actually offered to answer any questions from anywhere in the world. I have read three of Mr. Black's books and I am happy to see this research will yield another.
It seems this is Prof. Best at his worst and Mr. Black at his best.
|Mark Cohen||August 8th 2016|
I just read the article the article by Martin Barillas (see Award-winning Historian Innovates Global Conference Call to Answer Reader Questions) on the conference call in response to a critique in History Network News. Sorry I missed the call and chance to ask Edwin Black some questions. Having looked at Jeremy Best's theoretical interpretation of Edwin Black's turning point article about Nazi theories and actions that affected Africans and African-Americans, and the original essay (see Nazi Policy and Black Victims--Before, During, and After the Holocaust--from Africa to Berlin to North Carolina), and having followed the back and forth a bit, I think Best seems pretty off-base. Black's work covers much more than the African genocide and extends into the late twentieth century eugenics and sterilization covered by his book War Against the Weak. The continuity is stunning. Black seems right in his comments about safe Ivory Tower quibbles by Best. Best should probably remain in his Ivory Tower as suggested. It takes guts to expose some of these atrocities.
|Cynthia Haft||May 30th 2016|
In June 2006, a highly regarded historian of the Holocaust of the Jews of Greater Hungary, amidst a flurry of activity concerning the lawsuit against the SNCF (French National Railroad) and albeit short-lived, victory in a French court, asked me if we could then embark on a suit against the MAV (Hungarian National Railroad) for its role in the murder of the Jews of Greater Hungary, complicity in murder, aiding and abetting attempted murder and as it turned out a long time later, the spoliation of the Jews. I approached the Floersheimer Chair in Constitutional Law (Prof. Richard Weisberg) at Cardozo University, who had won great things for survivors and their heirs, from France, in the matter of spoliation of Jewish assets in banks there during the Holocaust.
The rest is history. Suit was filed for the first time in 2010 with other colleagues (Pavich Law Group) in the Chicago district court for the first time in 2010. A class action suit against the railroad, an instrumentality of the Hungarian government in the names of survivors, and second and third generations the world over. Suit enjoyed small disappointments and small victories. Of course, it had to be adapted to American law—within the framework of a role in genocide, to overcome the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act), a stress on financial loss, spoliation.
Of course, MAV was none too pleased. MAV contended that it had the right to bring this case to justice in its own court system. We contended that all survivors who had ever filed anything in Hungary in the way of claims were dissatisfied, displeased and felt to be been brushed over like an annoying hair in the eye, with requests for documents that obviously weren’t available (death certificates from Auschwitz? Birth certificates from cities and villages no longer Hungary (and speaking a variety of some 6 other languages at least), marriage records; a slew of insurmountable barriers especially for those then residing outside of Trianon Hungary. All stated to us, producing in many cases, documentary proof of refusal, that they were exhausted from having to “exhaust” local remedies such as the MAV wished, and to no avail. They cited the suit in Hungary in the first score of 2000, against the OTP bank and the Nemzeti bank, which went as far as the Supreme Court, and was rejected all the way through. They cited Hungarian “justice” as concerned war crimes trials.
Appeals began in 2012. And here we are, 2016, almost June, and we were told late 2015 that all courts in the US had sided with the Hungarian pleas and we were to try in Hungary first, and perhaps if we were not satisfied, we could come back to Chicago. Needless to say, we ve lost some third of the survivors on the way, and it’s still a long road ahead.
There is no class action in the Hungarian judicial system. We filed a test case with an attorney in Budapest, on Feb. 19 for a claimant from Brooklyn, a survivor, with an excellent memory and an airtight case. Mentioned in the brief are the 153 survivors who were still with us at the time of the filing. To date, all we've heard is a request for further (exorbitant) fees. The survivors aren t getting any younger. Neither actually are any of us. We re exhausted too. All of us. I was hopeful—I said the MAV would do anything to keep away from the American judicial system.
So MAV, prove me right!
See original Hungarian documents as presented to the court on Feb 19, 2016, with English translation
|Xavier William||March 28th 2016|
As the masses gathered with their loved ones to celebrate the festivity of Easter and others to celebrate a holiday at the Gulshan Iqbal Park Lahore, where a large number of Christian community members were celebrating Easter Sunday a suicide bomber ripped through the laughter of the innocent children killing over 72 and injuring over 350. "There was blood and bodies everywhere, it was devastating, I almost fainted" said John Masih a young man who was at the park with his family. Army was deployed at the crime scene, according to the reports the situation in the all the hospitals in Lahore is tragic due to the shortage of the beds in the hospitals, the injured were treated on the floors. Mary John a mother of 3 in tears was searching for her children after the blast, " my whole world has ended, the children insisted to come to the park to enjoy themselves, now I cannot find them, I have lost everything." A family of 7 members were in Lahore from Sanghar, lost their lives in the incident. 8 teenagers from Youhanabad are also among the deceased, the religious leaders have condemned the brutality and visited the injured at the Services hospital and Jinnah hospital.
"A large number of people, majority of them women and children, were present in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore when the suicide bomber blew himself up. Mostly women and children are killed and injured in the blast, Experts say nearly 20kg of explosives were used in the blast. There were 4 attackers, 3 ran away and 1 exploded himself. " Said Lahore Police Chief Dr. Haider Ashraf. The police chief said there was an unusual rush of the people in the park due to the weekend and Easter. He said a large number of Christian community celebrating the holy day were present in the park. "Most of the dead and injured are women and children," said Mustansar Feroz, the police superintendent for the area in which the park is located. Police officials said they had recovered the body of the suicide bomber. He seems to be between 25 and 30 years old, he said. The civil society responded and rushed to the hospitals to donate blood for the injured, they vowed to stand united against extremism.
Life For All Pakistan has condemned the brutality and issued a statement, “Religious intolerance, sectarian violence and blatant terrorism is destroying the very core of our social fabric. In a plural Islamic Society, which is what we must aspire and strive to become, there is no place for intolerance, violence and appeasement of extremist groups who are trying to make our nation hostage to their obscurantist ideology. Make no mistake, the Pakistan Military is fighting a decisive battle to crush them. We know their days are numbered and Pakistan's better days are ahead of us. We have to show resolve in fighting and crushing these extremists and bringing back peace and stability to our beloved country.
|Kevin Mitchell||January 4th 2016|
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) strongly cautions Maryland lawmakers not to play politics with the state’s travel economy by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto of SB190, a new sales tax on the service fees charged by local travel agents, tour operators, and event planners. This new tax would be passed on to corporate, university and government travel departments along with significant new costs for legal obligations and accounting complexities, compliance requirements and audits. SB190 is a new tax on the services provided by local small businesses. Travel and meeting managers, including state government travel offices and state universities, are under great pressure to watch every penny of travel spend. All of these administrative costs would be on top of the new tax and would be translated into higher transaction fees from the travel agency to the travel department. As such, a double incentive would have been created to choose a less expensive destination than Maryland, if possible. If not possible, there would be less money to spend in Baltimore or Annapolis on restaurants, entertainment and other destination services adversely impacting jobs and economic activity. Not only would this bill result in downward pressure on demand for lodging properties of all sizes, it would do harm to Maryland’s 1,100 travel agencies most of which are small businesses whose owners are endeavoring to scratch out a living for themselves and their employees. BTC expects legislators will understand very well the incentive new taxes and administrative costs would provide organizations to reconsider the great state of Maryland as a business travel destination. Therefore, BTC strongly encourages lawmakers to vote against any veto override.
|Richard Allen||December 21st 2015|
The following open letter, written by 20 combat officers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was delivered to over 100 major donors to The New Israel Fund, including Alisa Doctoroff, The Jewish Communal Fund, Rabbi Gordon Tucker & Temple Israel of White Plains, The Jim Joseph Foundation & others. It is an appeal for American Jews to stop funding organizations that harm the Israel Defense Forces. The letter follows:
Dear Rabbi Gordon Tucker & The Leadership of Temple Israel of White Plains,
In recent years, you have donated significantly to numerous Israeli organizations and associations. The goal that you sought to achieve with your donation was to support Zionism and support organizations working for human rights and against anti-democratic activities. You support organizations that you believe work towards creating a better, saner, more democratic, and more moral Israel. The reason why you donate funds is not in doubt, nor has it ever been. However, the funds you donate are not being used to serve the purpose for which you donated them. We also know that you donate to the New Israel Fund and we wholeheartedly believe that you love the New Israel Fund, support its activities, and want to strengthen it. We wonâ€™t argue the point. However, there is one thing we ask, and, as active-duty and reserve soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, we feel it is our right to ask.
Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations that defame us IDF soldiers, in Israel and around the world. These include organizations such as Breaking the Silence, Bâ€™Tselem, Yesh Din, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Gisha â€“ Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Machsom Watch.
Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations which protect terrorists who have attacked and stabbed Israelis, even in the current wave of terror which has been plaguing Israel for over a year. These organizations, which are supported by the New Israel Fund, include: Bâ€™Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha â€“ Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Bimkom â€“ Planners for Planning Rights, Taâ€™ayush, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights â€“ Israel (PHR-IL), and Rabbis for Human Rights. Just this week, Israelâ€™s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya'alon, forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all IDF bases. This is an extraordinary move expressing how deeply Israeli society perceives that is has been hurt by this organization. Israelâ€™s Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, announced that he forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all Israeli schools. Those same organizations are delegitimization organizations. Their purpose is solely to defame the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and the State of Israel around the world. The activities of Breaking the Silence are extremely anti-Israeli and are perceived as such by the majority of Israeli society.
The organization works in various ways against Israel: They lie both within Israel and around the world, claiming that many IDF soldiers are â€œwar criminals.â€ Several of these organizations deal with promoting lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers in Israel and around the world. They hold events at the United Nations and participate in conventions held by the European Union, where they falsely present the State of Israel as an apartheid state, a state that practices ethnic cleansing, and other horrifying lies. In interviews to the international media they claim that the soldiers of the IDF are war criminals, that the State of Israel is a war criminal. They defend terrorists in court, even those who were caught in the act, and file petitions for their release and against revoking their Israeli citizenship. These organizations take legal action to prevent the destruction of terroristsâ€™ houses by the state, and defame the state of Israel in every arena possible.
Their actions, the things they say and write against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in the foreign press feeds anti-Israel and anti-Zionist campaigns, and even terror organizations such as Hamas quote from things Breaking the Silence say during Hamas actions against the State of Israel on the international stage.
The worst of it is not that you support and fund these organizations, but that so do European countries and Palestinian foundations. Palestinians fund their actions. The question is whether you, dear donor, knew of this activity. Does it reflect your values and do you agree that this is the use for the money which you donate to these organizations?
Dear lover of Israel â€“ donâ€™t let these Foreign Agent organizations, funded by foreign governments, tear away at Israeli democracy. Donâ€™t let them tamper with the State of Israel.
Sergeant Bar Shalev, Judea and Samaria Division; Air Force Officer Daniel Salame,; Staff Sergeant Ori Moskovich, Unit 926; Sergeant Major Matan Milles, 3 Squadron, The Navy; Staff Sergeant Chaim Prince, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Aviad Harush, Unit 7002; Staff Sergeant Ilana Valdman, The Home Front Command; First Sergeant Hanani Ladel, Regiment 188; Staff Sergeant Almog Qashty, The Military Police; â€‹Sergeant Major Ze'ev Lev, Unit 7012;Staff Sergeant Eli Baraz, Regional Brigade Binyamin; Staff Sergeant Matan Haratz, Unit 710; Sergeant Major Lev Liberman, Central Command; Sergeant Major Matan Arad, Supply Unit 91; Staff Sergeant Naama Carmel, Intelligence; Lieutenant Ofir Levine, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Tzur Ofir, Unit 9135; Staff Sergeant Ariel Iskov, Unit 868; Staff Sergeant Uria Peled, Air Defence Forces; Sergeant Major Nadav Simantov, Unit 43.
|Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld||August 4th 2015|
New York City
I sadly reflect over the last few days in the midst of our communityâ€™s divided response to the Iran deal crisis. When we view ourselves today in the light of our history as portrayed in the scriptures, how as a community can we American Jews be less shamed than American Jewry should have been over their poor and divided response to the Holocaust? As Golda might have opined â€“ â€œdonâ€™t be so modest; weâ€™re not so great.â€ I have examined the American Jewish response to the Holocaust for many years, sometimes to the point of obsession. We recall the New York Times burial of Holocaust news when the Ochs-Sulzbergers published anything at all on the subject. We recall the strife between Rabbi Stephen Wise and the Bergson Group, with the former working mightily to distance the White House from the â€œinfamousâ€ march of the rabbis to save the small remnant of Jews still alive in Europe. We recall the false analyses of the War Department to suppress any thought of bombing Auschwitz rail lines. For those who excused our collective behavior by arguing the tenor of the times, the unprecedented nature of the crisis and so forth â€“ what do they say today, armed with that history, about a regime that seeks endless weaponry including nuclear capability and whose â€œShemaâ€ is â€œDeath to Israel?â€ How can it be that there is a land governed by would-be exterminators of the Jewish people and Jews in the US actually have â€œdifferences of opinionâ€ on a deal which lays the path for Iran better than it did for the strengthening and arming of Nazi Germany? We delude ourselves that somehow our â€œTalmudic debating historyâ€ encourages such division on the question of self-preservation? Where is there another people on this earth who would react in the divided manner that we do?
We have leaders who make platitudinous pronouncements about â€œpluralism,â€ diversity of opinion and the like â€“ because Jewish liberalism gives them overwhelming faith in one political party and president to remedy this crisis. I am ashamed of organizations who are there for everyone else â€“ but unlike everyone else, are not there for their co-ethnics. I am ashamed that our umbrella organizations, and indeed many of our federations, including our beloved UJA here in New York must be mindful of this â€œpluralismâ€ and difference of opinion lest they tear this â€œunited communityâ€ asunder. We should not be proud â€“ we should be shamed for our warped view that reciprocity in uni-directional. We should be ashamed for NOT remembering, for NOT recalling our recent history and for the inability to understand and internalize â€œDeath to Israel.â€
|Roz Rothstein||July 15th 2015|
While StandWithUs welcomes international efforts to end Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy, the details emerging about the agreement reached yesterday, July 14, 2015, between the P5+1 and Iran raise serious concerns. It appears the deal will not prevent Iran`s regime from developing nuclear weapons, moderate its aggressive policies, or persuade it to stop sponsoring terrorism. Rather it only delays its pursuit of nuclear weapons and allows it to continue promoting violence and instability around the world. We hope that Congress, which has 60 days to review the agreement after it is submitted by the administration, will ensure that the deal protects the U.S. and our allies, and prevents nuclear proliferation in the region. This should not be a partisan issue. The stakes are too high and this will impact too many people in the international community. Here we have the world`s main sponsor of international terrorism, a fundamentalist regime that believes in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, that calls for the elimination of neighboring states, abuses its own people, and leads chants of "death to America." All Americans should work together to prevent this regime from gaining more destructive ability. The choice is not between this agreement or war. It is between an agreement that will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and one that will not. We hope that both parties in Congress work together to ensure that the only deal America agrees to is one that will rein in Iran and keep it from getting nuclear weapons not just in the short term, but in the long term. In the not too distant past, liberal democracies failed to stop a fascist, racist, anti-Semitic regime. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake. We will do all we can to alert the public and encourage Congress to hold fast to the terms the United States and the world needs to prevent a nuclear-armed regime in Iran.
|Michael Spaney||July 14th 2015|
The European coalition STOP THE BOMB sharply criticizes the announced agreement of the UN Security Council members and Germany with the Iranian regime. With what is known until now, this agreement leaves nearly the whole nuclear infrastructure of the nuclear and missiles programs intact. It does not prevent the Iranian bomb, but rather institutionalizes its necessary components. A nuclear arms race with the Arab states has already started. The aggressive regional expansion of the Iranian regime has been ignored in the talks just as the annihilation threats against Israel which have been repeated several times amid the negotiations. STOP THE BOMB regards the planned removal of sanctions as especially disturbing. Reinstating sanctions in case of Iranian violations of the agreement will prove unworkable. It took 10 years to establish the anyway insufficient sanctions architecture, which was met by harsh resistance. The Iranian regime exactly knows that there will not be a rapid reinstatement once the sanctions are removed. Billions of dollars currently blocked will soon be unfrozen as a result of this deal and at the anti-Semitic regimeâ€™s disposal. This will enable the regime to sponsor its terror proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah in unprecedented ways. The terror against the Iranian population will not decrease, but increase. Already now more people have been executed under allegedly "moderate" President Rouhani than under his predecessor Ahmadinejad.
|Kevin Mitchell||July 2nd 2015|
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) applaudes the decision of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate recent public communications by major U.S. network airlines that could prove to represent illegal coordination among industry competitors to restrict capacity in domestic U.S., transatlantic and other international markets for the purpose of maintaining and/or increasing upward pressure on ticket pricing. DOJ is no doubt observing the reduction in competition and concomitant increase in total air travel prices and decrease in product innovation and declining customer service satisfaction levels. The DOJ investigation is coming at a critical time for consumers. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal's (D-CT) recent leadership on this problem is welcomed, and the European Commission should join in on this investigation. There is precedent for this investigation per previous U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigations and rulings with respect to tacit competitor coordination â€“ especially on analyst calls. The number one concern that antitrust experts have - with no close second - as with regard to radical consolidation of any industry, is the risk of tacit competitor coordination on policies, practices and prices among a reduced number of industry participants. Since recent U.S. airline mega-mergers, we have witnessed near constant airline CEO calls for 'capacity discipline' during industry gatherings and analyst earnings calls only to be echoed by analysts in follow-on earning calls with other airlines. This represents perhaps the darkest hours of airline coordination as well as a too-cozy harmonization between airlines and Wall Street. Sadly, this apparent tacit coordination on capacity is accompanied by an even more aggressive and widely coordinated attack on price transparency, consumer protections and competition.
|Kevin Mitchell ||May 26th 2015|
The American people would be saddened and sickened to learn that some Members of Congress not only put their own personal interests before their constituents but also can go much further and inflict financial harm on the traveling public, mid-size communities and those seeking employment in the travel and tourism industry.
Members are allowed to double and triple book flights home from Washington and pay nothing week in and week out for multiple changes while, in contrast, ordinary citizens can pay hundreds of dollars to make just a single flight change.
Airlines cultivate a cozy relationship with Members through that practice as well as special reservations desks that begin the very exceptional treatment Members receive throughout the entire travel experience. Airlines are repaid handsomely when they receive generous legislative support and when Members sign letters that airline lobbyists put before them.
While this convenient relationship substantially undermines credibility, specifically of a recent letter that 262 Members of the House of Representatives signed on behalf of the BIG 3 U.S. airlines - American, Delta and United - it nevertheless underscores what is so very wrong with Washingtons unyielding focus on its own interests and those of Special Interests at the expense of everyday consumers.
The BIG 3 claim that the Gulf airlines -- Emirates, Qatar and Etihad - receive government support that is harming the U.S. carriers. The Congressional letter supports the BIG 3s call for a freeze in new air services by the Gulf airlines -- all without having allowed those carriers an opportunity to respond to the allegations, not to mention the glaring hypocrisy that the U.S. airline industry, by the BIG 3s very own math, has been the most heavily taxpayer subsidized and structurally advantaged in history of commercial aviation.
Now that U.S. airlines have secured antitrust immunity for their global alliances and achieved radical consolidation of the U.S. airline industry, they want to block new competition. Members are all too willing to lend a hand in this building of Fortress America first by supporting U.S. airlines continuing quest to prevent Norwegian Air International from introducing new competitive flights to the U.S. and second by endorsing the airlines overarching strategy to increase profits by foreclosing on new competition from the Gulf carriers.
If successful in frustrating foreign carrier new entry and robust competition, then Members of Congress will have inflicted financial injury on virtually all Americans through the Mother of all Subsidies -- artificially higher airfares and fees. Whats more, Members will be responsible for lost travel and tourism jobs and reduced economic development for mid-sized communities due to lost connectivity to the worlds important business centers and emerging markets.
When it comes commercial aviation, antitrust and competition policy, the consumer represents the North Star; policy needs to be in alignment with consumers interests. Moreover, in the U.S. free enterprise system, consumers have sovereignty -- the power or freedom to have final say. In the end, consumers determine whether any business succeeds or fails. Government protectionist policies rob consumers of this power and distort markets. No market in the world is fair; to succeed market participants must play to their unique strengths and advantages. Members of Congress need to understand this and act accordingly and in the best interests of consumers.
For more information, see: BusinessTravelCoalition.com
|Asaf Romirowsky||May 21st 2015|
It is with great sadness that SPME mourns the loss of our friend and colleague Robert Wistrich who died suddenly on Tuesday in Rome. Robert was the Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the Universityâ€™s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. The world has lost one of its leading experts on antisemitism but, SPME lost a dear friend who has been a guide and supporter of our work from the very start and he will be sorely missed.
Robert was a preeminent scholar on the study of antisemitism. A true intellectual - who mastered the history of antisemitism and became a leading scholar on the contemporary manifestations of this longest hatred - a term Wistrich made popular. He was intimately involved with the subject of antisemitism. Wistrich was born in Lenger, in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, on April 7, 1945. His family fled antisemitism in Poland a few years early but, were met with similar animosity in the Soviet Union, where his father was twice arrested by the secret police. After World War II, the family returned to Poland but encountered more Jewish hatred and relocated to France and from there to England. At the age of 17 Wistrich won an open scholarship in history to Queensâ€™ College, Cambridge, eventually earning his masters degree in 1969, followed by a doctorate at the University of London in 1974. Robert's scholarly achievements are unparalleled. Among his dozens of books and essays, Socialism and the Jews received the American Jewish Committee Award; The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph won the Austrian State Prize for Danubian History and Anti-Semitism; The Longest Hatred was awarded the United Kingdom's H.H. Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction and became the basis of a PBS documentary on antisemitism, which Robert created. With the global rise of antisemitism today â€“ it was Robert who became a guardian of the Jewish People and the gold standard for all of us.
May his Memory be a Blessing to all of Us.
Itâ€™s estimated that in the last century we have lost 97 percent of the worldâ€™s tigers. In just the last 13 years there has been a 76 percent decline in the elephant population. Last year alone, there were over 1,200 rhinoceros killed. Each of these animal populations are being severely depleted in large part due to illegal wildlife trafficking, an issue that our own government has recently announced it is taking on in an effort to combat the problem. Now, people have the opportunity to learn more about the world of illegal wildlife trafficking at a new exhibit, called â€œIvory, Tortoise Shell, & Fur: The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Traffickingâ€ at the Crime Museum, located in Washington, D.C.
â€œIllegal wildlife trafficking is an issue that we should all be concerned with,â€ states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the Crime Museum. â€œThe manner in which these poached animals are killed is horrific. If we educate the public on this cruelty, maybe consumers will stop purchasing goods like ivory earrings or tortoise shell necklaces.â€
By collaborating with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other amazing partners, the Crime Museum is able to offer the Wildlife Trafficking exhibit to the public. Itâ€™s estimated that the illegal trade market for wildlife products is around $20 billion annually. Being so profitable, it leads many people abroad to illegally kill animals for particular parts that they can sell on the black market. The items being traded include tiger bones, elephant ivory, bear and fish bladders, rhinoceros horns, sea turtles shells, and more.
Many of these products make their way to the American consumer, as well as other foreign shoppers. Many people do not realize when they purchase things made from ivory or turtle shells that the animal has been illegally poached for that purpose. Products readily available made from such harvested items include Asian medicines, wall hangings, trinkets, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, statues, and more.
Recently, the Obama administration announced a plan to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking. Using American intelligence agency power, they will help locate those who are profiting from the illegal trade. The president also called it an â€œinternational crisis.â€ Even Prince William has come out and publicly condemned illegal wildlife trafficking, saying that it â€œâ€¦erodes the rule of law, fuels conflict and may even fund terrorism."
"The 'ugly truth about wildlife trafficking' is that by purchasing certain products people are contributing to the killing of endangered plants and animals, helping invasive species and diseases spread around the world, and supporting the actions of criminal networks threatening the security of many nations. But all is not hopeless,â€ says Jennifer Sevin, President, Youth Environmental Programs, Inc. â€œThere are innovative tools and techniques being implemented, such as those highlighted in this exhibit, by agencies and organizations tirelessly working to combat this illicit practice. We hope that visitors of the exhibit help reduce the demand and take action to stop wildlife trafficking."
The Wildlife Trafficking exhibit will be at the Crime Museum from June 2015 through February 2016, giving people an opportunity to see if they are contributing to the problem, and how they can help. The Crime Museum also offers a variety of other temporary and traveling exhibits, summer camp programs, walking tours, educational hands-on exhibits, and more. For more information to purchase tickets, visit their site at www.crimemuseum.org.
|Jim Little||April 18th 2015|
In the community's must-do file, add an urgent cautionary note for the Huron campus worksite in Endicott that sits atop a toxic pool of trichloroethylene. About 1,500 people work at the former IBM site where the ground and water table is contaminated with the chemical that IBM used in its manufacturing operations. TCE vapors have been detected in the buildings at the property that IBM sold in 2002 to Huron Real Estate Associates. BAE Systems Electronics, i3 Electronics (formerly Endicott Interconnect), Binghamton University and other smaller firms have operations on the property. An expert on TCE contamination recently told a workers and residents meeting in Endicott that employees at the location ought to be getting more information about the TCE vapor testing and the chemical's concentration levels in the indoor air. State and federal regulations have weak provisions mandating notification to workers when TCE is detected in workplaces. Workers ought to know whether the air they inhale at work carries TCE vapors and what the concentration is. Of particular concern in Endicott and at other spill sites across the country is that TCE exposure is now associated with birth defects for women exposed to it for short periods of time over days or weeks. TCE exposure has previously been linked to several serious human diseases. In 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency determined the chemical was a carcinogen.
The problem with TCE wafting into workplaces in Endicott may continue for years. Earlier this month in reporting on an in-depth look on the 35-year-old cleanup, writer Tom Wilber found there is no remedy for draining the pool of solvents from under the manufacturing site. Wilber learned from Alex Czuhanich, an engineering geologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, it may take years before a proven remedy is found. That leaves the workers in those buildings facing years of additional exposure. Meanwhile, the known risks from the TCE vapors at concentrations measured in a few micrograms per cubic meter of air is uncertain. The state Health Department determined after a 2005 study that the TCE levels at the Huron campus present a "low" health risk to people working there. That decision remains "under review" as more information comes to light, said Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond. Such reassurances provide little comfort to those working in those buildings and even smaller comfort to pregnant workers whose unborn children may be especially vulnerable to health problems from TCE exposure.
|Ari Morgenstern||March 11th 2015|
On Tuesday, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nationâ€™s largest pro-Israel organization, sent an action alert encouraging senators to support the Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S. 615). The emails to senators noted in part â€œThings are moving quickly. The Administration may reach a framework agreement with Iran by the end of this month. You must act now to ensure that any final deal is subject to your final approval.â€
â€œIt is unconscionable that the President would consider signing a deal of this import without Congressional approval. Congress is the voice of the people, and the massive response to this action alert makes clear that on Iran, the people want their voice heard,â€ said CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee. â€œEvery major arms control agreement in recent history has been submitted to Congress for approval. A deal with Iran should be no different. Both our national security and our Constitutional balance of powers are at stake here. We expect our senators to stand up for both.â€ added CUFI executive director David Brog. With more than 2 million members, Christians United for Israel is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world. CUFI spans all fifty states and reaches millions with its message. Each year CUFI holds hundreds of pro-Israel events in cities around the country. And each July, thousands of pro-Israel Christians gather in Washington, D.C. to participate in the CUFI Washington Summit and make their voices heard in support of Israel and the Jewish people.
|Deborah Owens||February 25th 2015|
Rev. Williams Owens, President and Founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) called on Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from the same-sex marriage case to be heard by the Court this session, citing their stated bias. In order to preserve the integrity of the Court, CAAP also announced its intention of launching a petition campaign that would bring attention to the Justiceâ€™s lack of impartiality. The move sprung from public comments made by Justice Ginsburg regarding her conviction that that American public would accept a ruling for same-sex marriage as well as actions by both Ginsburg and Kagan that confirm their biased position on the issue. Both Justices have performed same-sex weddings.
A Justice of the Supreme Court is called on to avoid the appearance of biasâ€”especially on a highly controversial and sensitive issue that is currently before the Court,â€ stated Rev. William Owens, President of the Coalition of African American Pastors. â€œAnd yet, both Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan have taken a public stance in favor of same-sex marriage, even going so far as to officiate at a same-sex wedding. Not only is this a breach of ethics, but it calls into question the integrity of the Court and the supposed balance that the judicial branch is meant to provide in Constitutional interpretation,â€ Rev. Owens continued. â€œIt is beyond objectionable that no action has yet been taken to ensure that the case will be adjudicated fairly. And so it falls to us, the people, to take action. CAAP is launching a petition urging Justices Kagan and Ginsburg remove themselves from decision-making on this issue and prevent a crisis brought on by the taint of a biased judiciary.
Rev. Owens noted that members of the public were welcome to sign the petition on the CAAP website at caapusa.org. The Court has shown willingness in the past to insert itself in matters that are more properly the domain of the voters," he said. "For a case that promises to dramatically affect the future of family, religious freedom, and much more, there cannot be any question of political bias on the part of the judges involved. We ask that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan disqualify themselves from involvement in this case or that the Chief Justice Roberts takes the action needed to protect the integrity of the Court.
|Sarah Stern||February 5th 2015|
It has become quite clear that the voice of concerned Americans is not being heard by the White House. Like millions of Americans, Endowment for Middle East Truth is concerned about the failing Iranian nuclear negotiations and the breakdown of the US-Israel relationship, including the recent inflated obsession with a matter of simple protocol of a routine invitation by House Speaker John Boehner to a foreign leader to address Congress. This had been handled no differently than the 2011 invitation from Speaker Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that was before the President was a â€œlame duckâ€ and did not need the support of the Jewish community. It is appalling that this is occurring at the precise time that the Islamic terrorist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS) reached a despicable new low as they released a video showing the captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive in a cage. Lt. al-Kaseasbehâ€™s murder is a stark reminder that the ISIS organization is the kind of evil that is not only a threat to the US, but an affront to humanity. That brutal organization is functioning now on Israelâ€™s northern border in Syria. Yet while facing these crucial national security problems for the United States and its one democratic ally in the region, the State of Israel, the White House continues to promote an ineffective foreign policy which is weakening the image of America abroad, ignoring the concerns of its citizens, and throwing our allies under the bus. Each of us will have to ask ourselves one day: did we stand aside while radical Islamists like ISIS attacked our way of life and our ally, Israel, or did we do something to help stop them? After seeing ISIS murder thousands of people, including the beheading of three Americans, you may wonder what you, as a citizen, can do. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the White House to change its policy. There will be no change unless you make your voice heard.
|Andrew Borans||February 4th 2015|
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the anti-Semitic hate crime that recently occurred at the University of California, Davis. (UC-Davis). AEPiâ€™s 9,000 undergraduate and 85,000 alumni brothers stand strongly in solidarity and support with our brothers at UC-Davis. On campuses throughout North America and Europe, AEPi brothers have been leading the Jewish community and leading the student movement to defend Israel. Because of that leadership, in the last few months alone, our brothers have been the targets of anti-Semitic attacks at a dozen universities including Oregon, the Claremont Colleges, Arizona, Calgary, Loyola, Ohio, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Temple, Emory, SUNY-Oneonta, Tufts and, now, in Davis. Last week, our UC-Davis brothers proudly defended Israel while the student government voted to adopt a hostile anti-Israel resolution. Within hours of that vote, during the Sabbath night, our fraternity house was vandalized with swastikas. Anti-Semitism is on the rise on college campuses across the world, and the â€œBDS movementâ€ -- the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel -- is the chief face of campus anti-Semitism. Alpha Epsilon Pi International has dispatched staff and security experts to Davis to assure that our brothers are safe in their university and safe when expressing their Judaism and support for Israel. We are cooperating with university and law enforcement authorities in the ongoing criminal investigation. Additionally, we are working in coordination with the Secure Community Network -- the national homeland security initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- to assure the safety of our Brothers across the world and to educate students, college administrators, and local communities about the rising tide of anti-Semitism. AEPi will not allow any brother -- or any Jew -- on any campus to be intimidated or threatened because of their ethnicity or their support for Israel.
|Bliss Baker||January 30th 2015|
Today, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) criticized a new report by World Resources Institute (WRI) for its false data on the environmental and land use impacts of biofuels. The report titled, â€˜Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Landâ€™, makes several hypothetical predictions about biofuels but fails to substantiate its claim that bioenergy is competing for food crops and land.
The report, authored by Timothy Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich, claims that biofuels have increased competition for land and food but fails to show how. Several major studies, which have looked at this issue using actual historical data not hypothetical projections, have shown that increased global demand for agricultural crops has been mostly met by increased productivity, such as increased production on existed agricultural land, and not through additional land use. This means that, based on historical trends, increased use of crops for biofuels will not cause significant additional land use. Despite referring to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) throughout the report, the authors ignore recent comments from the FAO Director-General Mr. da Silva who praised biofuels for their social, agricultural and environmental benefits. The FAO chief said that biofuels are part of a necessary paradigm shift in global agriculture that will support increased food production.
Global ethanol production utilizes only 2% of grain supplies, not enough to compete with food production or significantly alter food prices. When biofuels are produced so too are food co-products such as animal feed which benefit food security, as recognised by the UN FAO, a benefit which solar panels do not have. At the same time, the significant impacts of global food waste on food supplies â€“ 50% of global food production is wasted â€“ are completely ignored by this report. Addressing this food waste, and its unsustainable consequences, is where real action is needed to ensure the world has enough food. Additionally, the positive environmental impact of biofuels are very well established. According to F.O. Licht, global ethanol production was forecasted to reach 90.38 billion litres in 2014 and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally, equal to removing 21 million cars off the road annually.
|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 Carterâ€™s concluding analysis that the Paris attacks are a wakeup call in the fight against a â€˜new evolutionary development in terrorism,â€™ 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 email@example.com 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.
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