John Kerry: Strengthening Israel’s security and bolstering the US-Israel special relationship

During Sen. John Kerry's unsuccessful run for President in 2004, his campaign released the following statement of his record on Israel:

John Kerry has been at the forefront of the fight for Israel’s security during his nineteen years in the US Senate. His pro-Israel voting record is second to none.

John Kerry did not wait until he was running for president of the United States to visit Israel – he has been there on numerous occasions throughout his public life. Through his meetings with Israeli political and military leaders – and especially his interaction with ordinary Israelis – he has experienced the everyday security threat that Israelis face and this has deepened his understanding of Israel’s security needs. In short, John Kerry will never do anything to compromise that security.

John Kerry believes that particularly in uncertain times like these we must reaffirm and indeed strengthen our special relationship with Israel, our most steadfast friend and ally in the region. His commitment to a safe, secure, democratic Jewish state of Israel is unwavering. It comes from a personal belief that Israel’s cause must be America’s cause.

John Kerry understands that anti-Semitism masked in anti-Israel rhetoric is a dangerous trend threatening both Israel and Jewish communities around the world. John Kerry has always fought against anti-Semitism and as president, he will take governments around the world to task for failing to address this escalating threat.

Israel’s Right to Respond to Terrorism: Kerry supports Israel’s right of self defense to eliminate threats to its citizens, including actions taken by Israel against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in Gaza. In spring 2002, when Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield to root out Palestinian terrorists and dismantle the Palestinian infrastructure, Kerry co-sponsored a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel and called for continued assistance in strengthening Israel's homeland defenses.

Supporting Israel’s Plan to Withdraw from Gaza: John Kerry expressed support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unprecedented plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. He recognizes that in any final settlement for Israel to remain a Jewish State, Palestinians must settle in a future Palestinian State rather than in Israel, and that in light of demographic realities, a number of settlement blocks will likely become a part of Israel.

Fighting Against Saudi Government Anti-Semitism: John Kerry has forcefully spoken out against anti-Semitic statements by Saudi government officials, saying it calls into question their commitment to combating terrorism and pledging that as president, he will never permit these kinds of attacks to go unanswered.

Israel’s Security Fence Is A Legitimate Right of Self Defense: John Kerry supports the construction of Israel’s security fence to stop terrorists from entering Israel. The security fence is a legitimate act of self defense erected in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli citizens. He believes the security fence is not a matter for the International Court of Justice.

New Palestinian Leadership: John Kerry believes that Yasser Arafat is a failed leader and unfit partner for peace and therefore has supported his total isolation. He has demanded a new, responsible Palestinian leadership, committed to ending the violence and fighting terror – in word and in deed – and will work tirelessly to ensure that this new leadership emerges.

Foreign Aid to Israel: John Kerry has always voted to maintain critical foreign aid to our ally Israel, resisting any attempts to cut it over his years in the Senate. In the early 1990s, he fought President Bush when his administration restricted aid to Israel through the loan guarantees program.

The UN and other International Organizations: John Kerry has always believed the US must stand solidly behind Israel at the UN and other international organizations. He recognizes the UN must establish more credibility on Arab-Israeli matters and would never hesitate to wield a US veto on the Security Council in the face of anti-Israel/Anti-Zionist resolutions.

Fighting to Move the American Embassy to Jerusalem: John Kerry has long advocated moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s indisputable capital. In 1999, he signed a letter taking President Clinton to task for not moving the embassy.

Maintaining Israel’s Military Superiority: John Kerry understands that America must guarantee Israel’s military superiority and supports carefully restricting arms sales to Arab countries in the region. He opposed the sale of Maverick missiles and F-15 fighter planes to Saudi Arabia.

Financing Terror: Kerry will demand accountability and action from Arab and European countries to eliminate sources of funds that flow freely to terrorist organizations. Kerry strongly believes the US must “end the sweetheart relationship with a bunch of Arab countries that still allow money to move to Hamas and Hezbollah and Al Aqsa Brigade.”

Isolating and Punishing Regimes of Terror: Kerry co-sponsored the Syria Accountability Act, which includes a ban on the export of military and dual use items to Syria. He believes that “we must ensure that Syria does not acquire and distribute additional weapons thereby exasperating tensions in the Middle East, raising potential threats to Israel, and undermining arms control.”

Preventing a Nuclear Armed Iran: John Kerry understands that a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable. He believes the failure of the Bush Administration to thwart Iran’s efforts to amass nuclear weapons poses a real threat to the safety and security of Israel, the US and the rest of the free world.

Guiding Principles for John Kerry on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

  • As President, John Kerry will never force Israel to make concessions that compromise its security.
  • As President, John Kerry would not expect Israel to negotiate without a credible Palestinian partner for peace – something that unfortunately does not exist today.
  • As President, John Kerry would work to ensure and embrace strong bi-partisan support for matters concerning the security of the State of Israel.
  • As President, John Kerry will provide the political and military support for Israel to fight terrorism. He understands that just as Israel has stood with the US in our fight against terrorism and Al-Qaeda, the US must stand firmly with Israel as it fights against terrorism and terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah. We must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder against terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism.
  • As President, John Kerry will work to strengthen the economy of Israel, an economy that has suffered dramatically over the last few years during the latest violence in the region. In particular, he will act to jump start the high tech sector working to adapt many of the innovative “technologies” Israel has invented to combat terrorism. He will work to strengthen the US homeland while simultaneously strengthening the Israeli economy.
  • As President, John Kerry will strengthen the working relationship and cooperation between the US Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli security establishment to share technology and lessons learned. In addition, he will establish a commission to see what the US can learn to strengthen the security of our homeland from Israel’s experience and success on matters such as airline and port security, nuclear plants and chemical storage facilities.
  • As President, John Kerry will implement measures and programs to improve the social, economic, and political conditions throughout the Middle East as part of a comprehensive multilateral effort to move the region forward towards democracy and freedom and away from Islamic fundamentalism, including a wide-ranging Middle East trade agenda.


Source: John Kerry for President

Election 2012: What no president can do

As I write this, I still don’t know who’s won the presidency. But by the time you read this, barring an Electoral College tie, you certainly will know.

Which means that while I’m still in suspense, you’re probably reading articles like “What Four More Years of Obama Means” or “What America Will Look Like Under Romney.”

So, here’s my dilemma: How can I discuss what’s on everyone’s lips if I don’t know the winner?

After all, it’d be foolish to underplay the results. As right-wing commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in The Washington Post, the stakes this year are enormous:

“An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.”

A Mitt Romney victory, on the other hand, “could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.”

While we often hear that any given election is the “most important in our lifetime,” Krauthammer believes that this time it might actually be true, because at stake is “the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.”

Let’s allow, then, that regardless of which camp you’re in, the ideological stakes are indeed enormous. But what about the personal stakes? Can we overplay those?

Here’s what someone wrote on this subject four years ago, right after Barack Obama won:

“It struck me that no matter who runs the White House  — even after a historic victory that my grandchildren will talk about — they still won’t be able to help me with the most important things in my life: how I raise and educate my kids, how I deal with my friends and community, how ethically I lead my life, how I give back to the world, how I grow spiritually, how I stand up for Israel and the Jewish people, how I live an eco-friendly life — in short, how I help my country by taking personal responsibility for my own little world.”

That someone was yours truly, in a Journal column titled “Yes, I Can.”

The point I was making is that no matter who ends up in the White House, “99 percent of our happiness is in our own hands.”

I wrote that “while we await universal health care, we should take better care of our bodies and our health and save the country billions.

“While we await a better education system, we should read to our kids every night and teach them the values that will make them productive citizens. 

“While we await government action to fight global warming, we should go green in our own lives.

“While we await a fix to the economic meltdown, we should learn to budget and spend within our means, and, for those of us who can afford to help, have the kindness to help those who have fallen through the cracks of our debt-ridden safety net.”

In fact, since I wrote those words, I can say that President Obama (just like President Bush before him) has had very little to do with my happiness, the mitzvahs I have done or the progress of my kids.

Said another way, for all the enormous importance on who wins the White House, the winner will never come to your house to help you raise your kids.

He won’t set your Shabbat table and ask your kids what they learned this week.

He won’t help you become a better husband, a better citizen or a better Jew.

He won’t make you call your grandmother, visit the sick, get on the treadmill or feed the poor.

He won’t help you fall in love and meet your soul mate.

This isn’t to say that presidential policies — like universal health care and tax increases — don’t impact our lives. They do. But the reality is that most of the important things in our lives have little to do with the government, and these are the things that usually make us the happiest and most fulfilled. 

Yes, the country will go in a different direction, depending on who wins, but we are always in control of our own direction.

It’s worth remembering all this as you jump for joy because your man won, or as you drown in your sorrows because he lost.

The winner in the White House has a lot of power, but he doesn’t have the power to make you a winner in your own house.

33 Parties File for Israeli Elections

Thirty-three Israeli political parties signed up by Tuesday night’s registration deadline to run in the May 17 Knesset elections, breaking the previous record of 27 parties. In addition to the large political parties, several special-interest parties and newcomers to the political scene registered, including the Casino Party, which seeks to legalize gambling, and the Green Weed Party, whose platform calls for the legalization of marijuana and other recreational drugs.

Six candidates met Tuesday’s deadline to run in Israel’s May elections for prime minister: Likud incumbent Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak of Labor, centrist candidate Yitzhak Mordechai, right-wing bloc leader Ze’ev “Benny” Begin, Israeli Arab legislator Azmi Beshara and former right-wing Knesset member Yosef Ba-Gad. Begin’s candidacy was almost invalidated when the election committee found that some 11,000 of the 58,000 signatures required to support his candidacy were forged. But Begin was allowed to run, after he secured the backing of 10 Knesset members, an alternative to the petitions. — JTA