Cantor implores Jews to ‘remove blinders’

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor speaks Nov. 8, 2009 in Washington during his address at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. (Robert A. Cumins/Jewish Federations of North America)

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor speaks Nov. 8, 2009 in Washington during his address at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. (Robert A. Cumins/Jewish Federations of North America)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The only Jewish Republican in the U.S. Congress said the Jewish community must speak out louder against threats to Israel and the Jewish people.

The community needs to "remove the blinders from our eyes," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in Washington at the opening session of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly.

"Many men are pointing guns at Israel, indeed at Jews, everywhere," he said, but "too many Jews have become desensitized" and believe "it can’t happen to us."

"When we allow ourselves to be lulled ourselves into silence when political correctness beckons, it may be too late," he said. "When we dally and threaten and wring our hands but fail to do anything to really stop" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "where are we then?"

Cantor listed a number of developments that concerned him, from the Goldstone report, to a Scandinavian newspaper article earlier this year that accused Israel of harvesting human organs, to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s alliance with Iran.

He added that Israel is in "dire straits" and "mortal danger."

Cantor also said that "the case I press before you is not a Jewish cause or an Israeli issue, but challenges to America," adding that "Israel’s security is synonymous with our own."

"I await your leadership before it it too late," he said.

The opening plenary session of the General Assembly also included speeches by Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren and Ken Feinberg, the Obama administration’s special master for TARP executive compensation — popularly known as the "pay czar" — and co-chair of the GA.

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