Jewish Organization Presidents ‘Deeply Troubled’ At Talk of Leveraging Israel Aid

November 6, 2019
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The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of 50 Jewish organizations, released a statement on Nov. 1 condemning the Democratic presidential candidates saying that aid to Israel should be used as leverage over the Jewish state, Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.

Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said, “We are deeply troubled by recent statements that would place conditions, limitations, or restrictions on the US security assistance provided to Israel, so vital for the defense and security of the country, the protection of essential US interests, and stability in the region. This approach would harm American objectives in the Middle East and would undermine the ability of our key ally to defend itself against the threats it faces on all its borders.”

They added that former Vice President Joe Biden was correct in saying that leverage aid to Israel “would be absolutely outrageous,” arguing that such proposals don’t target the “true sources of instability and the obstacles of meaningful negotiations,” which Stark and Hoenlein said were Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

“Those who advance these misguided proposals make no mention of Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, which runs Gaza and is responsible for the launching of thousands of rockets at Israel, attempts to penetrate the border, and digging terror tunnels to carry out attacks against civilians. While it instigates this violence against Israel, Hamas subjugates the people of Gaza,” Stark and Hoenlein said. “The same is true in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for denying the people a better future, while its corrupt government engages in the ‘pay-to-slay’ policy that rewards and encourages terrorist attacks against Israelis.”

They concluded that claims “that US money is funding the occupation is patently false and undermines the efforts to arrive at a peaceful outcome between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said during the J Street conference on Oct. 28 that he would tell Israel that they would “have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza. I would say that some of that $3.8 billion should go right now to humanitarian aid in Gaza.” Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., similarly said during the J Street conference that he’s not sure if the U.S. should provide aid to Israel if they annex the West Bank. Similarly, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said at an Oct. 19 campaign event that “everything’s on the table” on attempts to stop Israel from increasing settlements in the West Bank, including aid. 

The New York Jewish Week reported on Nov. 6 that the statements from Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg have pro-Israel Democrats concerned “that the front-runners are taking their cues from party upstarts in questioning an aid package that traditionally has drawn unflinching bipartisan support.” The Jewish Week cites a quote from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to Jewish Insider saying, “The Israelis need it for defense. Whether we approve or disapprove of specific policies, we shouldn’t use military aid as a pressure point on specific policies — because Israel’s security is paramount.”

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