January 21, 2021
Your weekly look at the latest news, analysis, and RJC activities around the country.
— Featured —
RJC Board of Directors member Sheldon Adelson a"h, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks, and RJC National Chairman Senator Norm Coleman
Reflections on the Extraordinary Life of Sheldon Adelson
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks wrote a warmly personal article about the late RJC Board of Directors member, Sheldon Adelson, that was published by Newsweek:
Horatio Alger wrote rags-to-riches stories in the 1800s about poor boys who became wealthy through pluck, luck and good deeds. Sheldon Adelson did him one better, actually living a rags-to-riches story rooted in hard work, vision, courage—and good deeds. With Sheldon's passing, we have lost not only a remarkably successful business leader and an extraordinary philanthropist, but someone I was privileged to call a dear mentor and friend.
Read the whole thing here.
Looking Back on Trump Successes
The end of Donald Trump’s term as President prompted commentators to review the successes of the last four years. RJC Board of Directors member Ari Fleischer served as White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush. He offers his thoughts here, and writes:
Trump had some remarkable accomplishments on his watch.
…Trump stood up to China, resetting the terms of relations between our countries. He understands that China is a growing threat to America — economically, morally and militarily. He opened people’s eyes to these problems and stood up to China using tariffs — a tool no typical politicians would have used.
Deroy Murdock writes, “In short, like FedEx on steroids, President Trump delivered on the right’s economic, cultural, and national security agendas.” Among the accomplishments Murdock notes are:
— Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, fracking projects, and other initiatives have made America energy independent. The US is now a net energy exporter, to OPEC’s regret and the frustration of Russian President Vladimir Putin - Trump’s "boss," according to four years of baseless, unsubstantiated, evidence-free Democratic lies.
— For those who care, expanded natural gas production under Trump helped cut US carbon dioxide emissions to their lowest level since 1985.
— Trump and the GOP Senate placed 231 constitutionalist jurists on the federal bench: Three Supreme Court justices, 54 appellate judges, and 174 trial-court appointees. The 2nd (New York City), 3rd (Philadelphia), and 11th (Atlanta) circuit courts of appeals all had Democratic-nominated majorities in 2017. Trump’s designees have turned these into Republican-majority appellate bodies.
Wendy Sherman has been nominated for Deputy Secretary of State.
Biden Chooses Familiar Faces
Biden Policy in the Middle East
Sam Faddis, writing at the Washington Times, worries that President Joe Biden will walk away from President Donald Trump’s incredibly successful foreign policy in the Middle East. Faddis reminds us that:
As Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency, he has made no secret of his intention to steer a very different course than Donald Trump in the Middle East. Most presidents were they to announce a course change would be reacting to failure and hoping for success. President-elect Biden has chosen a bold new direction. He intends to walk away from what may be the longest string of foreign policy successes in American history and return to the abject failures of Barack Obama’s tenure.
James Phillips, also at the Washington Times, urges President Biden not to “rush to failure” on Iran nuclear negotiations. He writes:
The US cannot afford to return to the JCPOA because that deal did too little for too short a time to restrict Iran‘s nuclear ambitions effectively. Key JCPOA restrictions on uranium enrichment gradually sunset after 10 years and let Tehran expand its uranium enrichment activities to an industrial scale. This paves the way for a possible sprint to a nuclear breakout, if Tehran shrugs off its nonproliferation commitments — something it has done many times before.
The JCPOA was built on a foundation of Iranian deception. It contained inadequate verification provisions that allowed Iran to block U.N. inspectors at undeclared nuclear sites.
If Washington fails to call this bluff and unwisely returns to the old deal, then Iran once again will pocket billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which it will plow back into its military buildup, network of proxy forces, or its nuclear program.
Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reports:
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Monday that the country was producing almost 500 grams of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity a day, after beginning to do so earlier this month in breach of the 2015 nuclear accord… Uranium enriched to 20% is a short technical step away from weapons-grade 90% enrichment.
Deep dive: Bret Stephens has written a long but very informative review of how the US, Israel, and Arab states arrived at the Abraham Accords and how the process of normalization in the Middle East can continue.
Fighting Antisemitism: Words Have Meaning
As the [Joe] Biden administration prepares to take on major international issues of the day, a debate has emerged within the American Jewish community over whether the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism should be adopted into law.
A group of left-wing Jewish and Israeli groups issued a joint statement last week in opposition to adopting the definition, claiming that doing so would silence criticism of Israel.
The collection of groups—known as the Progressive Israel Network—include Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations pushed back against the Progressive Israel Network and expressed support for the IHRA definition.
As Blake Flayton explains at The Algemeiner:
The IHRA’s definition specifies classical tropes as antisemitic, such as accusations of dual loyalty; marking Jews as cheap or greedy; or insisting Jews control global institutions. It also notes that the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, such as suggesting the state has “no right to exist,” should be considered intolerant towards Jews.
The Republican Jewish Coalition issued a statement in solidarity with the other mainstream Jewish organizations supporting the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The RJC noted that:
The IHRA working definition of antisemitism protects free speech while clearly delineating rhetoric and actions that are antisemitic.
Some fringe groups in the Jewish community oppose the IHRA definition; they are the same groups that support the BDS movement that seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel. Groups that seek Israel’s destruction and attack Jews who support Israel are, in and of themselves, antisemitic. Their hatemongering should have no place in American government policymaking.
Democrats chair Senate and House committees – a list
Jewish Insider provides a Who’s Who of the Democrats chairing key Senate and House committees in the 117th Congress.
Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates of parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority for May 22 and July 31, respectively. This is the first time since 2009 that such a decree has been published, and that election was ultimately called off. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.
Why I am a Zionist
Doug Feith articulates the positive reasons to be a Zionist.
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