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  • At RJC forum, Republican hopefuls preview their lines of attack

    At the Republican Jewish Coalition’s forum for presidential candidates, GOP hopefuls took turns slamming Obama on Middle East policy.

  • Jewish groups push Dems to avoid helping Obama admin water down Iran sanctions

    Jewish groups are urging their supporters to inundate the telephone lines of two key Democrats in an a bid to stop the lawmakers from weakening an Iran sanctions bill currently being considered by Congress.
    The Republican Jewish Coalition and NORPAC, a non-partisan pro-Israel outfit based in New Jersey, have both independently urged their supporters to call the offices of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in a bid to prevent them from helping the Obama administration water down the provision.
    As I first reported, the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to weaken the Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions amendment. The measure would impose crippling sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran by forcing foreign companies and countries to choose between doing business with Iran and doing business with America.

  • White House holds Hanukkah reception in the wake of frenzy over officials’ comments

    On the heels of a trio of comments that have sent the pro-Israel world into a frenzy, the White House opened its doors last evening to Jewish leaders and others for its annual Hanukkah reception.
    More than 500 guests packed into the White House’s Grand Foyer to munch on vodka Scottish smoked salmon (whatever that is) and fresh sushi rolls as they listened to President Barack Obama discuss the importance of Hanukkah — and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

  • At RJC candidates’ forum, it’s not about aid to Israel

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry doubled down Tuesday on his belief that all U.S. aid to foreign countries should "start at zero" — though he made it abundantly clear that military aid to Israel would "increase under a Perry administration."
    His remarks — made at the 2011 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum — elicited rousing applause and appeared to allay concerns among some pro-Israel forces that, as president, Perry would cut aid to Israel.
    "I am adamant that any discussion of foreign aid should start at zero," Perry told RJC members. "But let me be clear. Israel is our strategic ally. America long ago ended traditional foreign aid to Israel. Strategic defense aid to Israel will increase under a Perry administration."
    The Republican candidates’ stance on aid to Israel became a flashpoint among Democrats and many Jewish voters earlier this year, after Perry, as well as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, stated at a debate that all U.S. aid to foreign countries should start at zero. (Following the debate, Perry’s campaign attempted to walk back his comments with regards to Israel, while Romney’s camp said that the candidate was referring solely to Pakistan.)
    For weeks, Democrats have been highlighting the foreign aid issue in an attempt to drive a wedge between Jewish Republican primary voters and the top candidates.
    For that reason, some found it surprising that aid to Israel – which comprises a central cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship – was barely mentioned by the other Republicans who spoke at the RJC forum, specifically Romney and Gingrich, both of whom notably avoided the topic.

  • After attacks, Berman explains his stance on Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions

    After taking heat for his initial stance on a congressional measure that would cripple Iran’s central bank, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) is ready to "set the record straight." In a statement e-mailed to me just a bit ago, Berman claims that his stance on the Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions amendment was distorted purely for political purposes….

  • Sherman: Kirk-Menendez got ‘it absolutely right’

    Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) says that when it comes to authoring powerful Iran sanctions, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have "done it absolutely right." In a rebuke to Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) — who told me earlier today that he will work alongside the Obama administration to ensure that a final version…

  • Remarks on Israel by three U.S. officials spark furor

    Comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the U.S. ambassador to Belgium are causing headaches for some Jewish supporters of President Obama.

  • Will Iran sanctions bill be watered down at Obama administration’s request?

    As a major Iran sanctions bill moves closer to passage, Capitol Hill observers are beginning to wonder whether the measure will be watered down when the House and Senate get together to agree on final language. According to a letter jointly sent last evening to leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Sens….

  • Kirk: If Iran gets nukes, US will have ‘failed our generation’s greatest test’

    If Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear weapon, the United States will "have failed in what could be our generation’s greatest test," according to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who’s gearing up to deliver a major policy address on Iran later this morning. An advance copy of Kirk’s remarks were provided to me. "Today, the Islamic…

  • NJDC: Ambassador’s comments ‘wrong and unfortunate’

    After telling Commentary Magazine earlier today that it had "no comment" about the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium’s remarks about anti-Semitism, the National Jewish Democratic Council has decided to declare the remarks "wrong and unfortunate." In an interview this evening, David Harris, the NJDC’s top official, told me that "Ambassador Gutman’s comments were wrong and unfortunate,…