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Monday, March 22, 2010

AIPAC President Lee (Rosy) Rosenberg: Better than expected?

Here's part of a speech given by incoming AIPAC President Lee (Rosy) Rosenberg. It got three standing ovations (Hat Tip: Noah Pollak).
In recent days we have witnessed something very unfortunate.

In a world that often is muddled, where messages are often grey, I want to speak clearly and directly about the events and tensions which have ensued.

During Vice President Biden's trip to Israel, designed to celebrate the alliance between the two countries, an incident, which Prime Minister Netanyahu has called "regrettable," occurred with the announcement of a permit approval of a housing project in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized -- four separate times -- and said the announcement was hurtful and should not have occurred.

In any relationship, mistakes are going to happen, and even the best of friends are going to disagree. Disagreements over policy between the United States and Israel -- between any two allies -- happen. That is a given. But how friends disagree, how they react when missteps occur, that can determine the nature of the relationship.

So let me make three points.

Number one, the people of Israel and the democratically elected government of Israel passionately believe in peace. And Israel is committed to its alliance with America.

Number two, the United States and Israel both have a responsibility to work with one another and achieve that peace. That is what allies do.

And three, allies should work out their differences privately.

(Standing ovation.)

History shows that when American pressures Israel publicly, it provides an opportunity for those who wish to derail the peace process to have their way.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us be clear, the reluctant partner in this peace process is not Israel's elected leader Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Standing ovation.)

The recalcitrant partner are the Palestinians and their leader -- President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinians are bitterly divided between Hamas and Fatah -- that is a problem. The failure of President Abbas to end his nay-saying and come to the table for direct talks which Prime Minister Netanyahu has been committed to from the start -- that is a problem. The failure of the Arab world to begin normalizing its relationships with Israel -- that is a problem.

Israel is not the problem. Israel is America's partner. (Standing ovation.)
Two points. First, keep in mind that Rosenberg is (or was) close with Obama and clearly is placing the blame for what happened last week in the administration's court. As Noah Pollak points out, that has potentially serious implications for the Democrats' ability to fund raise in the pro-Israel community. Despite the fact that the Democrats in Congress have largely stuck with Obama on last week's incident, it's questionable whether the Jewish rank and file has.

Second, if those words from Rosenberg got three standing ovations, it may show wall-to-wall support from American Jewry. One of the reasons that AIPAC is so powerful is that it unifies Jews from the Right and the Left - across the political spectrum - in favor of Israel.

Hillary Clinton speaks on Monday. I doubt her reception will be as enthusiastic as Rosenberg's. Will they boo? I hope so.


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope they boo as well. If she wants respect she needs to give it.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

And to add yet more anti-Israel fodder, President Obama, NOT Netanyahu, NOT Abbas, decides to delay George Mitchell's start of the proxity talks.

The sole purpose was to allow for pressure to keep the Israeli "insult" alive and thereby force more one-sided Israeli concessions.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel is not the side holding up peace. Its an insult to think that after 16 years, it shouldn't be obvious every one. The Palestinians have complete self-rule apart from having an army and if Netanyahu had pointed out that fact at Bar-Ilan last year, all they would be entitled to is the autonomy they have right now. The Russians have never given the Chechens a state, the Chinese have never given the Tibetans a state and the Canadians have never given the Quebecois a state.

Why should Israel be the first to do what no one else has done? If I was Netanyahu, I'd tell Obama to give up Puerto Rico before we ever give up Yesha and divide Jerusalem. Its a very good point.


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