Republican Jewish Coalition

The RJC Weekly Newsletter

February 11, 2021

Your weekly look at the latest news, analysis, and RJC activities around the country.

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- Featured - 

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Pres. Donald Trump, Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed at the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords.

Recognizing the Trump Administration’s Success in the Middle East

President Donald Trump, former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Boris Epshteyn, who served as special assistant to President Trump, writes at Newsweek that the team that brought about the Abraham Accords deserves that recognition

President Trump, Kushner, and Berkowitz are being honored for their leading roles in negotiating the historic Abraham Accords. The accords established normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, the first of their kind in more than 25 years.


…The Trump administration implemented a groundbreaking policy in the Middle East by focusing on turning the Arab world toward Israel and away from the terror regime in Iran. That policy resulted in more Middle East peace deals signed in 5 months than had been signed in the previous 70 years.


…Thanks to the Trump administration, if the Biden team is serious about its intentions to bring more peace to the Middle East, the opportunity for additional agreements is ripe. The Abraham Accords have shown Arab countries that peace with Israel can be accomplished safely and will lead to further deals that can improve the security of the entire region. These lessons appear to have been internalized in the Arab world. There has already been speculation that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Mauritania are considering normalizing with Israel as well.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Times of Israel, another key member of the Trump administration Middle East policy team, former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, offers his opinion on why that team was so successful:

Friedman maintains that by coming in as outsiders without any diplomatic experience, he and others in the administration were able to smash precedents and deliver a number of policy objectives long sought by Israel and many in the United States: moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, normalizing with parts of the Arab world, pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, threatening the International Criminal Court over a war crimes investigation into Israel, declaring that Israel’s West Bank settlements do not violate international law, and calling the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement “a manifestation of anti-Semitism.” 

Read more of the Friedman interview here.

The United National Human Rights Council chamber in Geneva.

Biden Returns US to UN Human Rights Council

Politico reports: Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that the US will reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council, marking another reversal of Trump administration policy.

The AP provides some background:

[President Donald] Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, as well as the number of authoritarian countries among its members and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.


In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia, and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) and 44 more House Republicans sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to keep the US out of the “morally bankrupt” UN Human Rights Council. The letter explains that the Council has failed in it core purpose of defending human rights and “systemically shields some of the world’s worst human rights abusers from accountability and gives countries like China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Somalia an international platform to speak on human rights.” See the full signed letter here

Republicans Urge Biden Not to Reenter Iran Deal

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) led 120 Republican members of the House of Representatives in sending a letter urging President Joe Biden not to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama-Biden Iran nuclear deal, without first strengthening the deal. Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5), Joe Wilson (R-SC-2), and David Kustoff (R-TN-8) also led this effort. The Republican Jewish Coalition successfully lobbied House members to sign the letter. See the signed letter here.

Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and Special Assistant to the President Avi Berkowitz in front of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018.

Republicans Stand Firm on Jerusalem

Last week, Republicans in the Senate and House expressed their support for keeping the US Embassy in Jerusalem. The US Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday, February 4 to keep the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. Only Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tom Carper (D-DE) voted against the measure.


On the House side, more than 90 Republicans urged the Biden administration on Wednesday to keep Israel's US embassy in Jerusalem. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Congressmen promised to oppose any attempts to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Secretary of State George Shultz with President Ronald Reagan.

Passing of George Shultz

Presidential historian Tevi Troy offers a thoughtful remembrance of George Shultz, who died on February 6. He writes

Economist, academic, business leader, diplomat, and patriot George Shultz has just died at 100. He is one of only two Americans (along with Elliott Richardson) to hold four cabinet-level positions—serving as Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor, as well as director of the Office of Management and Budget.


… Freedom was a priority for Shultz. He pressed hard for the release of Soviet “refuseniks,” Jews who wanted to leave the repression of the Soviet Union for the freedom of life in Israel. He called the moment when refusenik Ida Nudel called him and said, “This is Ida Nudel. I’m in Jerusalem,” one of the most moving he had had as Secretary of State. But Shultz’s long tenure serving the nation gave him many such moments to choose from. He was not just a former cabinet secretary. He was a Secretary for America.

Leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition (then called the National Jewish Coalition) met with Secretary Shultz on several occasions. Shultz was an honored speaker at a NJC reception for present and former members of President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet in August 1988. He told the audience that the “friendship and the warmth I feel for you is very deep and is one of the things I will carry away from this role as secretary of state and will cherish all my life.”

- Short Takes - 

Claudia Tenney wins New York House race

The last contested race of the 2020 election has been settled. The decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte ordering counties and the state elections board to certify Claudia Tenney’s victory ends a three-month legal battle with another House flip for Republicans, whittling the Democratic majority to 221-212. Tenney will unseat first-term Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D).

If you thought the 2020 elections were chaotic, just wait

J. Christian Adams raises concerns about HR1, the first House bill of the new Congress, and S1, its companion bill in the Senate. The bills lay out election mandates that states must adopt, including “all of the greatest hits of 2020: mandatory mail ballots, ballots without postmarks, late ballots and voting in precincts where you don't live.

Yemen: Magician Biden's misdirection with the Houthi rebels

Shoshana Bryen warns us about the misdirection in Joe Biden’s Mideast policies. For example, lifting the terror designation from the Houthi rebels in Yemen wasn’t about Yemen - it was about Iran, which has stoked the Houthi insurrection and given it materiel to use against Saudi Arabia. She writes, “Instability, chaos, anti-Americanism, anti-Israelism, anti-Westernism, and anti-Christianity... are what Iran seeks.”

In historic flight, UAE spacecraft ‘Hope’ enters orbit around Mars

A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates swung into orbit around Mars on Tuesday in a triumph for the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The craft’s arrival puts the UAE in a league of just five space agencies in history that have pulled off a functioning Mars mission. As the country’s first venture beyond Earth’s orbit, the flight is a point of intense pride for the oil-rich nation as it seeks a future in space.

- Tweets - 


- Events - 

Atlanta: Virtual Event with Jonathan Schanzer

Sunday, February 21 at 4:00 PM EST
Jonathan Schanzer is Senior Vice President for Research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). 

Topic: "American Foreign Policy in the Middle East Under Biden: Continuity or Change?
Click here to register.

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