Commentary Magazine


Topic: Alan Solow

Jewish Leaders Fall for the Obama Charm Offensive

When Obama penned a letter to the Conference of Jewish Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, I wondered whether this sort of puffery and rhetorical cotton candy would hush up American Jewish officialdom. Well, it seems it has, for the most part. As this report notes:

The Obama administration is projecting a new attitude when it comes to Israel, and is selling it hard: unbreakable, unshakeable bond going forward, whatever happens.

Jewish leaders have kicked the tires and they’re buying — although anxious still at what happens when the rubber hits the road.

“It’s a positive development,” Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents Of Major American Jewish Organizations, said of the recent Jewish outreach blitz by the administration. “There are two questions, though, that will only be answered over time: Will the outreach be sustained, and will the policy be consistent with the positions being expressed in the outreach?”

Apparently, that’s all it took — a few platitudes, an ill-conceived Jewish joke, a few back slaps — and back on the bandwagon climb the “leaders” of most Jewish organizations. Well, they want to see how it all turns out, but they seem not the least bit perturbed that the new sunny rhetoric bears no resemblance to the policy initiatives of the administration. Could it be that they are so anxious to clamber back on board with the Democratic president that they don’t much care what the administration does, so long as it doesn’t sound so overtly hostile to the Jewish state? They have nothing to say, it seems, about the invitation of Mahmoud Abbas following the multiple snubs to Bibi. It’s charm offensive time, so everyone is smiles again.

It doesn’t seem that the administration has given any substantive assurances to Jewish leaders. Indeed, they admit they will have to watch to see if the administration really intends to shift gears:

Jewish leaders said they would closely watch the aftermath of next month’s visit to Washington by Abbas, when the sides are expected to announce the resumption of talks. The nitty-gritty of the talks may yet derail the new good feelings; how that works depends on communications, said William Daroff, who heads the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“This charm offensive is part of a prefatory way of setting up the communications so that when we get to proximity talks we will all move forward instead,” he said.

But what about the administration’s ineffective Iran policy? What of the continued insistence on unilateral concessions by Israel? Oh, well, the Jewish leaders hope for the best. This is, to put it mildly, embarrassing. Unless Jewish “leaders” insist on more than platitudes, the Obami will keep right on doing what they have been — distancing themselves from Israel and inching toward a containment policy with Iran. But he writes lovely letters, so all is well.

When Obama penned a letter to the Conference of Jewish Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, I wondered whether this sort of puffery and rhetorical cotton candy would hush up American Jewish officialdom. Well, it seems it has, for the most part. As this report notes:

The Obama administration is projecting a new attitude when it comes to Israel, and is selling it hard: unbreakable, unshakeable bond going forward, whatever happens.

Jewish leaders have kicked the tires and they’re buying — although anxious still at what happens when the rubber hits the road.

“It’s a positive development,” Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents Of Major American Jewish Organizations, said of the recent Jewish outreach blitz by the administration. “There are two questions, though, that will only be answered over time: Will the outreach be sustained, and will the policy be consistent with the positions being expressed in the outreach?”

Apparently, that’s all it took — a few platitudes, an ill-conceived Jewish joke, a few back slaps — and back on the bandwagon climb the “leaders” of most Jewish organizations. Well, they want to see how it all turns out, but they seem not the least bit perturbed that the new sunny rhetoric bears no resemblance to the policy initiatives of the administration. Could it be that they are so anxious to clamber back on board with the Democratic president that they don’t much care what the administration does, so long as it doesn’t sound so overtly hostile to the Jewish state? They have nothing to say, it seems, about the invitation of Mahmoud Abbas following the multiple snubs to Bibi. It’s charm offensive time, so everyone is smiles again.

It doesn’t seem that the administration has given any substantive assurances to Jewish leaders. Indeed, they admit they will have to watch to see if the administration really intends to shift gears:

Jewish leaders said they would closely watch the aftermath of next month’s visit to Washington by Abbas, when the sides are expected to announce the resumption of talks. The nitty-gritty of the talks may yet derail the new good feelings; how that works depends on communications, said William Daroff, who heads the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“This charm offensive is part of a prefatory way of setting up the communications so that when we get to proximity talks we will all move forward instead,” he said.

But what about the administration’s ineffective Iran policy? What of the continued insistence on unilateral concessions by Israel? Oh, well, the Jewish leaders hope for the best. This is, to put it mildly, embarrassing. Unless Jewish “leaders” insist on more than platitudes, the Obami will keep right on doing what they have been — distancing themselves from Israel and inching toward a containment policy with Iran. But he writes lovely letters, so all is well.

Read Less

Time for Jews to Take On the President

Obama wrote a letter to Alan Solow of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which reads in part:

“As for our relations with Israel, let me be very clear: we have a special relationship with Israel and that will not change. Our countries are bound together by shared values, deep and interwoven connections, and mutual interests. Many of the same forces that threaten Israel also threaten the United States and our efforts to secure peace and stability in the Middle East. Our alliance with Israel serves our national security interests.”

“As we continue to strive for lasting peace agreements between Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel’s neighbors, all sides should understand that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable and that no wedge will be driven between us. We will have our differences, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies.”

This is, quite bluntly, nonsense coming from this president and an insult to the intelligence of Jewish voters. The appropriate response to Obama is: “Mr. President, you’re not fostering the special relationship; you are undermining it. You are not confronting the most lethal of those ‘forces that threaten Israel [which] also threaten the United States,’ namely Iran. You have resigned yourself to a nuclear Iran and eliminated the most feasible tactics for preventing a nuclear Iran. When, Mr. President, you ‘condemn’ Israel, you do not demonstrate that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable. Instead, you sow doubt about our willingness to defend the Jewish state. And, Mr. President, no American president has ever driven a larger wedge between the U.S. and Israel than you have. You have not treated Israel as a close ally, but rather as a pariah and an impediment to your effort to cozy up to the ‘Muslim World.’”

As for his additional representation to Solow that “he would not impose ‘peace from the outside; it must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history,’” Solow would be well advised to demand that Obama therefore publicly rebuke his advisers who have suggested otherwise and announce there will be no further consideration of an imposed peace deal.

But, of course, Solow is not likely to say any of those things in public, and certainly not in writing. And this is precisely what is wrong and entirely dysfunctional about American Jewish officialdom these days. Jewish “leaders” privately grouse and express horror over Obama’s Israel attacks, but they are unwilling to declare that the emperor has no clothes when he says the most ludicrously disingenuous things. In doing so they actually harm the Israel-U.S. relationship and only encourage Obama’s anti-Israel gambit. When they politely nod — and worse, tout the letter as an accomplishment – they give cover to the president’s anti-Israel animus. If the Conference and other Jewish organizations won’t call them like they see them and take on this president, they risk becoming irrelevant and counterproductive. Really, isn’t it time to risk losing precious “access” to the White House in order to deliver a full-throated and candid condemnation of the administration’s Israel-bashing?

Obama wrote a letter to Alan Solow of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which reads in part:

“As for our relations with Israel, let me be very clear: we have a special relationship with Israel and that will not change. Our countries are bound together by shared values, deep and interwoven connections, and mutual interests. Many of the same forces that threaten Israel also threaten the United States and our efforts to secure peace and stability in the Middle East. Our alliance with Israel serves our national security interests.”

“As we continue to strive for lasting peace agreements between Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel’s neighbors, all sides should understand that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable and that no wedge will be driven between us. We will have our differences, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies.”

This is, quite bluntly, nonsense coming from this president and an insult to the intelligence of Jewish voters. The appropriate response to Obama is: “Mr. President, you’re not fostering the special relationship; you are undermining it. You are not confronting the most lethal of those ‘forces that threaten Israel [which] also threaten the United States,’ namely Iran. You have resigned yourself to a nuclear Iran and eliminated the most feasible tactics for preventing a nuclear Iran. When, Mr. President, you ‘condemn’ Israel, you do not demonstrate that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable. Instead, you sow doubt about our willingness to defend the Jewish state. And, Mr. President, no American president has ever driven a larger wedge between the U.S. and Israel than you have. You have not treated Israel as a close ally, but rather as a pariah and an impediment to your effort to cozy up to the ‘Muslim World.’”

As for his additional representation to Solow that “he would not impose ‘peace from the outside; it must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history,’” Solow would be well advised to demand that Obama therefore publicly rebuke his advisers who have suggested otherwise and announce there will be no further consideration of an imposed peace deal.

But, of course, Solow is not likely to say any of those things in public, and certainly not in writing. And this is precisely what is wrong and entirely dysfunctional about American Jewish officialdom these days. Jewish “leaders” privately grouse and express horror over Obama’s Israel attacks, but they are unwilling to declare that the emperor has no clothes when he says the most ludicrously disingenuous things. In doing so they actually harm the Israel-U.S. relationship and only encourage Obama’s anti-Israel gambit. When they politely nod — and worse, tout the letter as an accomplishment – they give cover to the president’s anti-Israel animus. If the Conference and other Jewish organizations won’t call them like they see them and take on this president, they risk becoming irrelevant and counterproductive. Really, isn’t it time to risk losing precious “access” to the White House in order to deliver a full-throated and candid condemnation of the administration’s Israel-bashing?

Read Less

Muslim Envoy Lied: He Did Vouch for Terrorist

When last we left the tale of Rashad Hussain, Obama’s envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he had denied vouching for a convicted terrorist. Yesterday was Friday, the official news dump day, so of course that’s when the confession came. He really did. Jake Tapper reports:

Presented with a transcript of his remarks at a 2004 conference, Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s nominee to be special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a statement Friday evening acknowledging having criticized the U.S. government’s case against Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Originally, the White House claimed that Hussain denied having made the comments, attributing them instead to Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila. But Politico’s Josh Gerstein obtained an audiotape of the remarks, in which Hussain said that Al-Arian’s case was one of many “politically motivated persecutions.”

But it gets worse. You see, he tried to cover his tracks:

Hussain, currently in the White House counsel’s office, said, “I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated.” The controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley,  later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn’t recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain’s comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks. Now we know at least part of the story as to why the comments were removed: Hussain called the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to protest.

So let’s get this straight. The president’s choice to represent us to the OIC complained that a convicted terrorist was the victim of political persecution. That sounds a lot like what you’d hear from CAIR. But that makes sense because Hussain goes to CAIR training events. Then he lies about his comment and tries to conceal the evidence. Is he still the president’s choice? Hmm. It’s not an auspicious debut, to put it mildly.

But it is revealing of the sort of characters whom Obama thinks fit to conduct “outreach” to the “Muslim World” — those that will confirm the victimization mindset, which is at the root of much of what prevents peace from being processed as well as real economic and political reform from being advanced in many of the member nations of the OIC.

Perhaps we instead should find someone who can deliver this sort of message to the “Muslim World”:

“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace. . . . The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”

No, I don’t think Alan Solow wants the job. But that message, as opposed to the suck-uppery of a dishonest envoy, is precisely what we — and the “Muslim World” – need. And in the meantime, unless the Obami want to once again be on the side of an indefensible appointee, they should dump the candor-challenged Hussain.

When last we left the tale of Rashad Hussain, Obama’s envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he had denied vouching for a convicted terrorist. Yesterday was Friday, the official news dump day, so of course that’s when the confession came. He really did. Jake Tapper reports:

Presented with a transcript of his remarks at a 2004 conference, Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s nominee to be special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a statement Friday evening acknowledging having criticized the U.S. government’s case against Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Originally, the White House claimed that Hussain denied having made the comments, attributing them instead to Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila. But Politico’s Josh Gerstein obtained an audiotape of the remarks, in which Hussain said that Al-Arian’s case was one of many “politically motivated persecutions.”

But it gets worse. You see, he tried to cover his tracks:

Hussain, currently in the White House counsel’s office, said, “I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated.” The controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley,  later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn’t recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain’s comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks. Now we know at least part of the story as to why the comments were removed: Hussain called the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to protest.

So let’s get this straight. The president’s choice to represent us to the OIC complained that a convicted terrorist was the victim of political persecution. That sounds a lot like what you’d hear from CAIR. But that makes sense because Hussain goes to CAIR training events. Then he lies about his comment and tries to conceal the evidence. Is he still the president’s choice? Hmm. It’s not an auspicious debut, to put it mildly.

But it is revealing of the sort of characters whom Obama thinks fit to conduct “outreach” to the “Muslim World” — those that will confirm the victimization mindset, which is at the root of much of what prevents peace from being processed as well as real economic and political reform from being advanced in many of the member nations of the OIC.

Perhaps we instead should find someone who can deliver this sort of message to the “Muslim World”:

“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace. . . . The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”

No, I don’t think Alan Solow wants the job. But that message, as opposed to the suck-uppery of a dishonest envoy, is precisely what we — and the “Muslim World” – need. And in the meantime, unless the Obami want to once again be on the side of an indefensible appointee, they should dump the candor-challenged Hussain.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.