Tag Archives: Barack Obama

UN Racism Conference Starts Today–Ahmadinejad Accuses Israel of Genocide

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

European diplomats walk out in protest as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Israel during a speech Monday at a U.N. conference in Geneva. (Michael J. Jordan)

European delegates walk out during Ahmadinejad's speech (via JTA)

Well, it’s not as if the United Nations Durban II conference against racism was ever going to avoid controversy. The primary storyline going into the conference was the contentious–if not by any means surprising–abstention by the United States and Israel (as well as Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Holland). 

But news has just come out about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech earlier today that we must post first.

JTA has the scoop on the speech, which occurred a few hours ago, in which European diplomats walked out in protest:

In a speech at the U.N.-sponsored anti-racism conference in Geneva, the Iranian president first blamed the West for injustice, then went on the offensive against Israel, calling it the “racist perpetrators of genocide.”

“Under the pretext of Jewish suffering, they have helped bring to power the most oppressive, racist regime in Palestine,” Ahmadinejad said, to heavy applause from Iranians in the upper gallery and pockets of Muslims elsewhere on the floor. “They have always been silent about their crimes.”…

At the first mention of “Jewish,” representatives of the 23 European Union countries that chose to participate in the conference noisily got up from their seats and marched out the door—a move met by more clapping from Iranian and Arab delegates, while other diplomatic delegations refrained…

Ahmadinejad went on to criticize the United States for the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the global economic crisis.

He railed against those who use their “economic and political influence” and control of the media to back the “barbaric racism” of the “Zionist regime.” He called for the world to “put an end to abuses by the Zionists” and the “conspiracies by some powers and Zionist circles.” Continue reading

obama’s first tv interview as prez on middle east peace, to al-arabiya

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

As you can see in the video above, President Barack Obama gave his first television interview yesterday, to Dubai station Al-Arabiya. The full transcript can be found here.

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Former Senator George Mitchell to be Obama’s Middle East Special Envoy

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Sen. George MitchellPresident Barack Obama (still sounds so new, doesn’t it?) announced that he has chosen former Senator George Mitchell to be his special emissary to the Middle East. Mitchell is a veteran negotiator, most known for an agreement he brokered in Northern Ireland, and the appointment of such a high ranking diplomat points to the Obama administration’s desire to make real progress in the region.

Although Mitchell was born to a Lebanese mother, experts agree that he will bring a neutral perspective to the region. From the New York Times:

“He’s neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and an adviser to the Clinton administration. “He’s, in a sense, neutral.”

Stay tuned to ITM for further analysis.

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Clinton Confirmation Hearings: Good or Bad?

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

First of all, hello! We at Moment and ITM hope you had a lovely holiday season. Here’s to a beautiful 2009! (Or at least one without World War 3 and total economic meltdown.)

In case you haven’t seen it, our January/February issue is out, with a pretty set of photographs chronicling Jewish/black relations in this country to celebrate the inauguration of our 44th president. Darn, what’s his name again?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

The important news of the day involves yesterday’s confirmation hearings of Hillary Clinton for Secratary of State.  Clinton took the opportunity to prepare the country for a new kind of State Department that would have a renewed focus on diplomacy and direct negotiation with Iran and other previously untouchable rogue states; thereby signaling a break from the kind of shunning politics the Condoleeza Rice State Department often utilized.

We are all hanging on every thread of information that could clue us in to how the Obama administration will deal with Israel, especially with the Gaza crisis upon us. Clinton did not get into specifics, but she drew the line on inclusive diplomacy at Hamas. Here’s what she said, from the LA Times:

“The president-elect and I understand — and are deeply sympathetic to — Israel’s desire to defend itself under current conditions and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets,” she said. “However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

Clinton echoed the Bush administration stand in part by declaring: “You cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements. That is just for me an absolute. That is the United States government’s position; that is the president-elect’s position.” Continue reading

Orthodox Jews Were Not Affected By “Obama Bad For Israel” Rhetoric

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

According to data based on precincts “with High-Concentration Of Orthodox Jewish Voters,” Orthodox Jews were not only unafraid of Barack Obama, some communities voted for him in larger numbers than they did for John Kerry in 2004.

Shmuel Rosner blogs (and has a nice chart) about the data , compiled by The Public Policy office of the Orthodox Union, at JPost. He gives four explanations for the data:

  1. Like many Americans, Orthodox Jews thought it was time for the GOP to get its butt kicked.
  2. The economy has a profound impact on Orthodox families with a lot of children and a lot of expenses.
  3. Bush was rewarded in 2004 for his friendship toward Israel. McCain wasn’t.
  4. Sarah Palin was a downer to Jews, some Orthodox included.

Either way, we know that the rumors and the rhetoric swirling around Obama as bad for Israel and bad for Jews didn’t work among this demographic.

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Waxman and Cohen Move Up: US Congress Jewish Update

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

In the aftermath of the election and an entirely new incoming administration, the Republican and Democratic parties have shuffled their rosters to prepare for the next Congress. As a result, some Jewish members have been promoted and now hold top positions.

This week, representatives Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Henry Waxman (D-Cal.) got significant promotions in their parties’ and Congress’ hierarchy.

On Wednesday, Rep. Cantor (see above video) was unanimously elected House minority whip by his fellow Republicans. The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz both had pieces about Cantor and the GOP’s post-election efforts this week. Ha’aretz had this quote:

“As a rising star in the Republican party and an outstanding legislator, Rep. Cantor is a source of tremendous pride for the Jewish community,” Republican Jewish Coalition official Matt Brooks said. “While the many challenges facing this country, and our party, are daunting, with Rep. Cantor taking on new leadership responsibilities as House minority whip, this is an occasion to be hopeful and to look towards the future.”

Also this week, Rep. Waxman beat out John Dingell (D-Mich.) for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Continue reading

Former Critics Fall in Line, Begin Accepting Obama

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

IPA Logo

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since Barack Obama was elected, and preliminary indications do not point to a massive restructuring of the fundamental American traditions (besides the ones that said only white people should be president). No, Obama has not nominated Leon Trotsky or Eugene Debs as honorary economic advisers, and former critics are starting to fall in line behind the president-elect.

The Orthodox Union‘s Institute of Public Affairs is one such example. Known for their conservative view on things, the IPA gracefully embraced Obama post-election, and, in a recent post entitled “It Was Only A Matter of Time; We All Love Obama (for) Now”, say that other former critics in the Jewish community have too.

Specifically, they link to an editorial written recently by the editors of The Jewish Press that acknowledges their criticisms of Obama while also overcoming them for a larger purpose:

This page made no bones about our support of Sen. McCain and our discomfort with many of Mr. Obama’s positions and much of his political history. His relationships with some individuals who despise America and Israel and who blame the threats and actions of rogue countries and terrorists on American foreign policy bothered us no end, as did his unconvincing attempts to explain those relationships. We were also made uneasy by his promise to level the international playing field and his blessing the notion of “spreading the wealth” here at home… Continue reading