Edwards Responds to YDAJC Questions

December 21, 2007 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

The United States has a strong bilateral alliance with the state of Israel, and also has played a historic role as a leader in the peace process. This dual role raises a series of questions. How would you characterize the U.S.-Israel alliance, and what role should that friendship play in U.S. Middle East policy? What role should the United States play in the peace process? What should be the role of other international leaders in the Middle East peace process? How could other states in the region help promote peace and fight terrorism? How should the U.S. balance Israeli security in an atmosphere of increasing pressure for concessions to the Palestinians? Should the United States continue its commitment to maintaining Israel’s ability to deter and defend against foreseeable combinations of threats, and maintain its qualitative military edge? What role should the United States play if Israel comes under attack and, in a worst-case-scenario, is unable to defend itself successfully?

The peace process today stands on the brink of either great promise or great peril. Israel and the Palestinian Authority could achieve more in the coming years than they ever have before, but they could also slide back to the past. Nobody can play a greater role in this process than the United States, and we must stand by Israel and prevent the backsliding by the Palestinian Authority that has prevented progress in the past. Progress will require a steady and firm hand in putting the region back on the roadmap to peace authored by the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. Time and time again, the Israelis have demonstrated their desire for peace and a future where two states can live side-by-side in peace. The U.S. must work with moderate Palestinians who renounce violence, recognize Israel, and are committed to past agreements like the Roadmap.

As president, I will see to it that the United States is engaged in the Middle East. The U.S. must do everything it can, through diplomatic, economic, and military aid, to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge and keep Israel strong and safe in a dangerous region so that there is no “worst case” scenario. America must stand by Israel—our ally and partner—to ensure its security, while doing everything in our power to achieve peace and stability in this vital part of the world.

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Richardson Responds to YDAJC Questions

December 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

What conditions do you see as necessary for fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

At its most basic level, the conditions necessary for fostering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians will require Israelis to feel safe, secure, and welcome in the region, and for the Palestinians to have a coherent homeland where they can build a strong economy.

Continue Reading Richardson Responds to YDAJC Questions…

Jewish rookie making waves in Congress

December 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

(JTA) A leading political newspaper chose a Jewish Democrat as its congressional rookie of the year.

The Politico named Ron Klein of Florida for his policy ideas, knowledge of how to wield political power and fund-raising ability.

Klein had also notably broken with his Democratic colleagues to push a joint resolution with Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) condemning the threat that Iran poses in Latin America.

Klein, a self-described pro-business Democrat, represents a district that includes wealthy neighborhoods in Palm Beach and the working-class factories of Fort Lauderdale.

He introduced legislation to help stabilize insurance for homeowners in hurricane-prone districts.

“There is a solution for every single problem,” Klein told The Politico. “We sat down with various groups, talked about the insurance crisis and said, ‘We’re going to find an answer.’ ”

Klein’s colleagues on Capitol Hill described the 14-year veteran of the Florida Legislature as energetic and knowledgeable.

Klein, who has been known to spend hours making fund-raising calls, has in excess of $1.4 million in campaign funds on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records.

YDAJC questions candidates on issues

December 16, 2007 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

The Young Democrats of America Jewish Caucus sent a questionnaire to each of the Democratic Presidential candidates to get their views on a series of issues of particular concern to the Jewish community.  As they answer, their responses will be posted in their entirety.  The nine questions posed to each candidate are as follows:

1. What conditions do you see as necessary for fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

2. What role should the United States play in building Israeli- Palestinian peace?

3. In your view, what kind of a threat does Iran pose to the United States and to our allies?  What should we be doing about it?

4. What would your administration do about the situation in Darfur?

5. On what basis should the United States formulate its immigration policy (i.e. who should be let in for what reasons)?  What do you plan to do with those who have migrated to this country illegally?

6. What role should the government play in addressing poverty and hunger?  Should social welfare programs targeting the poor be expanded, kept about the same, or shifted to private forms of assistance?

7. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on the ability to have an abortion?  Should laws be put in place requiring parental notification when minors request an abortion?

8. How would you characterize the role of the Faith-Based Initiatives program?  How would it change, if at all, in your administration?

9. Are you in favor of or opposed to a voucher program that would subsidize public school students to attend private and/or parochial schools?  In what circumstances would this be acceptable/unacceptable?

Jewish groups laud Senate on Darfur

December 14, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

(JTA) Jewish groups praised the passage in the U.S. Senate of the Sudan Divestment Act.

The bill passed unanimously late Wednesday prohibits federal dealings with companies that deal with Sudan’s oil, mineral and arms industries and provides legal protections to U.S. states considering similar measures. A similar bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the spring.

Jewish groups have led the drive to isolate Sudan’s government until it allows peacekeepers into the Darfur region to keep government-allied militias from massacring civilians. So far, the militias – part of the government’s effort to quell separatist aspirations – have killed as many as 400,000 civilians.

“Once signed by President Bush, the Sudan Divestment and Accountability Act will force companies invested in Sudan to choose between receiving lucrative U.S. government contracts and funding a government responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of its own citizens,” said Ruth Messinger, the president of American Jewish World Service, the group that has led Jewish community activism on the issue.

B’nai B’rith International also praised the bill’s passage

Rivals gaining on Jews’ favorite candidates

December 13, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Announcements + Events | Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It’s still a Hillary vs. Rudy race for American Jews, but national polls suggest that their top challengers are rapidly gaining ground.

This week the American Jewish Committee released a survey that showed U.S. Jews giving the highest favorable ratings to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor.

The AJC phone survey of 1,000 Jewish Americans found that Clinton was rated favorably by 53 percent of American Jews, with Giuliani finishing second at 41 percent.

Among Jews who identify as Democrats, Clinton scored a 70 percent favorable rating, compared to 48 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and 45 percent for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Giuliani registered 75 percent among Jewish Republicans, followed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at 49 percent, and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 32 percent.

The findings come as polls show former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leading in Iowa and tied with Giuliani across the country, and Obama gaining ground on Clinton nationally and in position to challenge her in several early primary states.

Respondents in the AJC survey were not asked about Huckabee, because at the time the poll was conducted last month he did not meet the organization’s threshold of 10% in national polls.

Clinton and Giuliani are prominent political fixtures with national profiles in the city with the largest Jewish population in the country. Both boast prominent Jewish supporters and have not been shy about taking lead rolls in advancing causes backed by the Jewish community.

Giuliani’s strong showing in the AJC poll, which was conducted Nov. 6-25, is unusual in a community that trends strongly Democratic. The survey, with a 3 percent margin of error, had Giuliani with a higher favorable rating than all the Democrats except Clinton, including Obama and Edwards, who tied at 38 percent.

According to the survey, 58 percent of Jews identify as Democrats, 26 percent as independents and 15 percent as Republicans, diverging from the third-third-third breakdown that is the norm in polls of the general U.S. population.

“Even though the sample is heavily weighted to the Democratic side, Giuliani does better than two of the three leading Democratic candidates,” said David Singer, the AJC’s director of research.

“Giuliani is a known commodity in the Jewish community,” Singer said. “He was the mayor of New York City, where a significant piece of the Jewish population is familiar with him.”

The Giuliani campaign did not return multiple requests for comment.

Giuliani’s popularity among Jews derives partly from his unstinting support for Israel, but also because he is the most moderate Republican, corresponding with the positioning of some Jewish organizational leaders and pro-Israel activists who are hawkish on foreign policy but liberal on domestic issues like church-state separation, gay marriage and abortion.

“There’s no pretending he’s not a moderate,” said Steve Rabinowitz, a political strategist who is backing Clinton’s candidacy. “The only Republicans who are acceptable to Jews are moderates.”

Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, has sought to position himself as the choice of Christian conservatives while also highlighting his ability to work with both sides of the aisle during his years as governor of Arkansas.

Even while noting his staunchly conservative issues on social issues, several liberal commentators have praised Huckabee for his emphasis as governor on fighting poverty and improving race relations. These commentators also point out that he has drawn criticism from economic conservatives for pushing through some tax increases.

Some conservatives have slammed Huckabee as well for refusing to stop benefits for the children of illegal immigrants.

Still, Rabinowitz said, Giuliani would clearly be the more formidable candidate.

“Of course Democrats would rather run against Huckabee, who is a true conservative,” he said.

The 58 percent self-identification was the statistic that Jewish Democrats plucked from the AJC poll. The National Jewish Democratic Council noted a steady rise in Jewish Democratic self-identification, from 48 percent in the AJC survey in 2002.

“As a Jewish Democrat I am encouraged by this news, but not surprised,” Ira Forman, the NJDC’s executive director. “The new Democratic Congress has been great on Israel, and American Jews side with the Democratic agenda on all major domestic priorities.”

Giuliani was the only candidate whose unfavorable rating, 38 percent, was in a dead heat with his favorable rating. That’s the norm for Clinton in polls of the general population, but among Jews her favorable rating was far ahead of her unfavorable rating of 29 percent.

Par for the course, said Ann Lewis, Clinton’s senior adviser.

“From providing universal health care and calling for a new energy policy to standing up for the security of Israel, our community knows her as a trusted and reliable friend,” Lewis said to JTA in an e-mail. “She has the strength, experience, and the saichel” — Yiddish for “common sense” — “to be a great president.”

Clinton has assiduously cultivated Jewish communal leaders, almost always making time to address every major Washington forum, trending hawkish on Iran and becoming a leader on combating incitement in Arab nations.

The poll was a bright spot for a campaign that has seen Obama nip on Clinton’s heels in recent national polls. The latest surveys show Obama leading or even with Clinton in early primary states and as little as 10 percent behind in national polls.

Singer said the AJC was still examining subgroups closely, but said one revelation undermined arguments in recent years that the Orthodox are increasingly becoming Republican.

Self-identified Orthodox Jews constituted 8 percent of the respondents, he said. Of those, 30 percent were Republicans and 42 percent were Democrats.

“There’s a tendency in the general media to equate Orthodox Jews as Republican, and it’s clear they’re much more open to Republicans” than other Jews, Singer said. “But it’s also clear that a plurality are Democratic.”

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