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Washington - Rahm Emanuel to Rabbis: U.S. "Screwed Up" Message to Israel

Published on: May 15, 2010 10:04 PM
By: JTA /  JPost
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FILE - President Barack Obama, from left, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor David Axelrod (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)FILE - President Barack Obama, from left, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor David Axelrod (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Washington - The Obama Administration has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel over the last 14 months, and it will take “more than one month to make up for 14 months,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Thursday to a group of rabbis called together for a meeting in the White House.

“During the elections there were doubts about President Obama’s support for Israel, and now they have resurfaced,” Emanuel said, according to one of those who participated in the meeting. “But concerning policy, we have done everything that we can that is in Israel’s security and long range interests.  Watch what the Administration does.”

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Dennis Ross, who runs the Administration’s Iran policy, allayed fears during the meeting that by calling for a nuclear free Middle East the US policy regarding Israel’s nuclear capabilities was changing.

Since 1995, Ross explained, the Administration’s policy, supported by Israel, was to support a nuclear free Middle East in conjunction with comprehensive peace. Emanuel, according to a participant in the meeting, said  “We understand Israel’s full layer of deterrence.”

These comments came during the second of two White House meetings with a carefully selected slate of 15 rabbis from across the US representing the Orthodox, reform and Conservative streams.  The first meeting took place on April 20, shortly after Obama was widely perceived to have treated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shabbily during their last White House meeting.

In addition to Emanuel and Ross, the other Administration officials in the meetings were Dan Shapiro, the deputy national security adviser who supervises policy for Israel and its neighbors; Susan Sher, the chief White House liaison to the Jewish community; and Danielle Borin, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Special Assistant to Vice President Joe Biden.

Ross opened Thursday’s meeting, saying he hoped that the rabbis “had seen the manifestations of the change” of the Administration’s tone since they met the first time a month ago.

Ross quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who last week in Washington declared that regarding defense and security the relationship between Israel and the US has never been stronger.

Ross said that the US was providing Israel with everything it needed “in a tough neighborhood,” integrating Israel into America’s “military architecture,” especially in the missile defense sphere.

Ross said that both he and Shapiro were meeting Israeli officials on a weekly basis, either in Jerusalem or Washington, regarding defense issues.

Shapiro pointed out the Administration on Thursday announced a $205 million allocation for the Iron Dome missile defense system,  on top of the annual $3 billion in military aid.  One of the participants in the meeting quoted him as saying there could be no two state solution without effective missile defense and no successful peacemaking if others perceived any gap between the US and Israel.

Emanuel said, according to a participant in the meeting, that he has worked for two US administrations, and was a congressman during a third, and that the cooperation between the two countries on security issues has never been better.  But, he said, things have been “static” at “the top,” which has created “some angst” out there.  He pointed out that the US pushed Israel’s acceptance this week into the OECD.

Regarding Iran, Emanuel said that the US could not unilaterally impose sanction and have them effective.  He said that if the US would move before sanctions pass the UN Security Council, it would give a gift to Russia and China and get them off the hook as far as having to take a stand on sanctions.

The sanctions that are being drawn up will not be incremental and will impact the Iranian economy in a serious way, Emanuel was quoted as saying.  But the sequence is important, he said, and has to be first UN sanctions, followed then by EU ones and then finally by steps from Washington.

Emanuel said that the Administration’s priorities in the Middle East centers around three issues: isolating Iran, “removing America’s footprint in Iraq” which is perceived as an intrusion into Arab and Moslem lands, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which he said is key to Israel’s security, and also helps both Isarel and the US

Regarding the proximity talks, which will enter a second round later this week with the arrival of US envoy George Mitchell, Ross said both sides needed to create an atmosphere where the talks could succeed. He said the US was not looking to impose a settlement, but that when the sides reached an impasse in negotiations they often needed a third party to suggest a way to bridge the gaps.

During the first meeting in April, Emanuel, according to a participant at that meting, said that Obama understood why Israelis were cynical of the peace process, since bilateral negotiations – the Oslo process – led to the terrorism of the Second Intifada; and unilateral action – withdrawal from Lebanon and disengagement from Gaza – left them with a strengthened Hamas and Hizbullah.

He also said that no Israeli government could make peace without security, and that Israel needed to know that the US was behind them.

Jack Moline, a Conservative rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in
Alexandria, Virginia, initiated the two meeting meetings after a talk he had Emanuel about the Obama administration¹s perceived deficit of friendliness toward Israel.

The two meetings were part of a charm offensive after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting last month.

In recent weeks, several high-profile US Jewish communal figures have slammed the Obama administration over the intensity and public nature of its criticisms of Israeli actions on these fronts.

Moline said the rabbis, all of whom attended both of the meetings, were selected because of the high profiles they have in their communities, and because they had concerns about how the Obama administration was conducting Middle East policy ­ but they had not displayed outright hostility to the president.

The rabbis who were in this group were chosen because they’re in touch with their different congregations in different parts of the country, Moline said.

One source said the meeting was a sign that the Administration was concerned they may “be losing the Jews.”

Not all the rabbis came away entirely mollified, but they were impressed at the seriousness of the outreach.

Efrem Goldberg, the rabbi at Florida’s Boca Raton Synagogue, which is Orthodox, said he left the meeting still wondering if the administration is on the right track, but cautiously optimistic because of the depth of commitment to Israel he heard.

I left with a clear impression that these individuals have a real passion about Israel, even if he did not agree with them on tactics, Goldberg said.

There was a lot of highlighting of the actual activities and policies of the administration, Moline said ­and some frustration that what the Obama administration has done for Israel has not been comprehensively and accurately reported. They emphasized that whatever the messaging has been over the past year and half, the policies have been in place.


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1

 May 15, 2010 at 10:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Who were these "Rabbis"

2

 May 15, 2010 at 10:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Don't be fooled by these meetings the Obama administration showed its true colors allready its only that elections are looming and jewish support for democrats and obama is at record low levels keep strong and vote the bums out in november.

3

 May 15, 2010 at 10:12 PM Anonymous Says:

I guess they see the real world but we should not believe them remember "Its election" year

4

 May 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM yoelyg Says:

Barack obama tries to bring peace in isreal if they not happy how he is doing it don't cry for money to defense ur self, obama doing a good job, two states is the best solution we are in still
in gulis

5

 May 15, 2010 at 10:21 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Who were these "Rabbis"

Rav Moline is from Agudas Achim in Alexandria Virginia...the other rabbonim were from orthodox and conservative groups in the D.C. area and major cities around the country. All have been strong advocates for EY but are also willing to engage in open dialogue with the Administration. None are the "J Street" types.

6

 May 15, 2010 at 10:23 PM dont fall for it Says:

There is no question the Administartion is feeling the heat. The Jewish community are fools but not that big a fool. jews are abandoning the Obama ship fast and they know it. Sadly the White House as usual picks and chooses who they feel will carry their message and so mainstream Orthodox Rabbi's are not invited. The Orthodox communuity from Young Israel to Agudah to lubavitch and Satmar are on to them and have zero chance of being invited to such meetings because they refuse to drink the cool aid.
Outreach mean real outreach with those that dont buy your message and the orthodox community is not buying so they are simply not invited.
So much for bering the President for all people. What a joke.
DONT FALL FOR IT!

7

 May 15, 2010 at 10:32 PM to # 4 Says:

get your english in order, are you one of those that stands near the UN with signs against israel, obama is a SOYNE ISRAEL very clear, and i got news if not for the state of israel you would not be able to walk in the streets of america as a jew

8

 May 15, 2010 at 10:37 PM Anonymous Says:

why didn't any of those rabbis question emmanual's comment about "the two stae soluton is for israel's security". the two state solution clearly endangers the lives of every jew living in israel, as has been proven every time israel had given anything to the arabs.

9

 May 15, 2010 at 10:46 PM sb Says:

words words words words words

10

 May 15, 2010 at 10:51 PM Anonymous Says:

If we are not sure who all these rabbis are then we cannot support them "yet". We have to know and be sure of all the facts!!

11

 May 15, 2010 at 11:01 PM Anonymous Says:

I have one word "Election"

12

 May 15, 2010 at 11:02 PM yoelyg Says:

Reply to #7  
to # 4 Says:

get your english in order, are you one of those that stands near the UN with signs against israel, obama is a SOYNE ISRAEL very clear, and i got news if not for the state of israel you would not be able to walk in the streets of america as a jew

Not true! Just the opposite NOW all the gouim hate us much more because we taking away the arabs places, not talking in isreal there is much scarier to walk

13

 May 15, 2010 at 11:03 PM OMG Says:

Reply to #6  
dont fall for it Says:

There is no question the Administartion is feeling the heat. The Jewish community are fools but not that big a fool. jews are abandoning the Obama ship fast and they know it. Sadly the White House as usual picks and chooses who they feel will carry their message and so mainstream Orthodox Rabbi's are not invited. The Orthodox communuity from Young Israel to Agudah to lubavitch and Satmar are on to them and have zero chance of being invited to such meetings because they refuse to drink the cool aid.
Outreach mean real outreach with those that dont buy your message and the orthodox community is not buying so they are simply not invited.
So much for bering the President for all people. What a joke.
DONT FALL FOR IT!

Don’t fall for it says;
“The Orthodox communuity from Young Israel to Agudah to lubavitch and Satmar are on to them and have zero chance of being invited to such meetings because they refuse to drink the cool aid”

Maybe it is the opposite that the Obama administration knows that they formentioned group will not listen to any logic and you did drink the cool-aid but it is the rightwing nuts cool-aid. And no matter how much logic is used you are still going to be drunk with the cool-aid. The fact is that the only solution is a two state solution. And the Jewish rightwing doesn’t care about realty. They only care for their interpretation of the Torah.

14

 May 15, 2010 at 11:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

why didn't any of those rabbis question emmanual's comment about "the two stae soluton is for israel's security". the two state solution clearly endangers the lives of every jew living in israel, as has been proven every time israel had given anything to the arabs.

Even Netanyahu has endorsed a "two state" solution so that argument is over and settled just as is the notion that Yerushalayim will remain under Jewish control. THe only question is the prerequisites to finalizing the two state solution and when/how the needed land exchanges and security guarantees for the remaining settlements in the West Bank can be negotiated. There will also have to be some financial exchanges to compensate those Palestinians who will not be allowed to return to their homes.

15

 May 15, 2010 at 11:07 PM golus mentality Says:

Reply to #4  
yoelyg Says:

Barack obama tries to bring peace in isreal if they not happy how he is doing it don't cry for money to defense ur self, obama doing a good job, two states is the best solution we are in still
in gulis

Yes you have a golus mentality if you think that a 2 state solution is the onl solution. You have even a dangerous mentality. Because the US promises today to aid in defense or with money it means that they always be? If the territorial concessions could put Israel in danger, no assurances from any US president should be taken as valid. The geula mentality calls for not giving up not even an inch from the land given to us back by Hashem especially in such a miraculous way. The land is ours, G-OD given and weshould not anymore entertain even a thought of share it with anybody.

16

 May 15, 2010 at 11:25 PM Anonymous Says:

That's not the only thing they screwed up...

18

 May 15, 2010 at 11:10 PM Syracuse Maven Says:

(Reply to #7) You make no sense, Jews were walking around in America before Israel was around, and if anything Jews cannot walk freely as proud Jews in certain parts of Europe and all the Muslim country's because of Israel.

19

 May 15, 2010 at 11:18 PM Anonymous Says:

So why don't they ask Rahm:

Why did this administration publicly make a non-issue such as building in Yerushalayim a new issue for the Arabs?
Why does this administration send observers to Israel making sure they are not building?

Why did this administration publicly humiliate Netanyahu nunerous times & report it in the press afterwards, making sure the message gets through?

Why does this administration encourage Egypt in drafting a resolution to equate Israeli nuclear armaments with Iran?
Why does this administration feel it has a right to try to influence the Israeli electorate in getting a PM more to its liking?
Why does this administration even last week say that Israel will be held accountable for any indirect peace talk failures?

This is nothing but a sinister ploy by this band of reshoim to get some lost Jewish votes for the next elections. After November there will be a full court press against Israel. If they can't force a peace treaty by 2012, then expect another try to make nice to Jews until ther November, 2012 election.

The Rabbis should have told them, ENOUGH. We're not going to help you sell Jews down the drain like it was done in WW2 for you.

20

 May 15, 2010 at 11:26 PM Albert Einstein Says:

The child in the White House, and all the children around him are finally being hit with the reality of the situation in the Middle East. But it is too late for them. They only have two years left before they're voted out of the White House, and that is not enough time to accomplish anything.

21

 May 15, 2010 at 11:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
OMG Says:

Don’t fall for it says;
“The Orthodox communuity from Young Israel to Agudah to lubavitch and Satmar are on to them and have zero chance of being invited to such meetings because they refuse to drink the cool aid”

Maybe it is the opposite that the Obama administration knows that they formentioned group will not listen to any logic and you did drink the cool-aid but it is the rightwing nuts cool-aid. And no matter how much logic is used you are still going to be drunk with the cool-aid. The fact is that the only solution is a two state solution. And the Jewish rightwing doesn’t care about realty. They only care for their interpretation of the Torah.

#13
Right wing nuts? Please, your premise is flawed and damaging. There are hundreds of thousands of normal Jews who do not subscribe to the zeolotry you are reffereing to. Simply put the White House has refused to reach out to orthodox jews who represent the only growing segment of the Jewish community and are very skeptical of this Administartion. They have done nothing to calm the fears of those who suspect the worst. The White house should be scared. Less than 3 years left.

22

 May 15, 2010 at 11:55 PM Peter Says:

Actions speak louder than the words of politicians and their courtiers. Obama bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia while visiting there and he also visited Egypt. He sent his flunky number 2 guy, Biden, to Israel, the one who is famous for his gaffes. Then Obama lets it be known to the world that the US might not veto certain anti-Israel UN resolutions, thereby allowing certain EU and Arab countries to declare open season on Israel. Obama, Emanuel and Axelrod showed their true colors regarding Israel -- they view Netanyahu as the obstacle to peace, not Arab rejectionism of Israel's right to exist and incitement to terrorism. Don't be fooled by the Obama administration's back peddling and Siren song-oratory skills.

23

 May 15, 2010 at 11:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
yoelyg Says:

Barack obama tries to bring peace in isreal if they not happy how he is doing it don't cry for money to defense ur self, obama doing a good job, two states is the best solution we are in still
in gulis

Yoily: your place is not here just keep listening to Kol Mavaser

24

 May 16, 2010 at 12:32 AM Well put #22 Says:

Republican administration had a great way to solve the palastenian problem: Stay out of it. Too bad Israel then did some suicidal moves like give into terror which invites more. Lets get republicans back in the white house.

25

 May 16, 2010 at 12:39 AM happy Says:

ITS ELECTION YEAR . the sad part were so stupid that we fall for this crap

26

 May 16, 2010 at 01:15 AM Anonymous Says:

I know that Rabbi Goldberg from Boca Raton is very pro-Israel. For example, their shul has a reserved seat for Gilad Shalit and the other Israeli MIAs. (He also wears a black hat, if anyone's wondering.)

27

 May 16, 2010 at 02:06 AM UncleMoishy Says:

So the "messaging came across wrong"!!
What kind of message does he think is received when he sits with his feet on the desk when meeting with Netanyahu?? How about when leaving in middle of a meeting with Netanyahu to have "dinner with his family" leaving the Israelis completely on their own??? I think the message was crystal clear. I think the message Osama's been getting is crystal clear too. That's where these "Rabbis" meetings come to play.

28

 May 16, 2010 at 03:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

So why don't they ask Rahm:

Why did this administration publicly make a non-issue such as building in Yerushalayim a new issue for the Arabs?
Why does this administration send observers to Israel making sure they are not building?

Why did this administration publicly humiliate Netanyahu nunerous times & report it in the press afterwards, making sure the message gets through?

Why does this administration encourage Egypt in drafting a resolution to equate Israeli nuclear armaments with Iran?
Why does this administration feel it has a right to try to influence the Israeli electorate in getting a PM more to its liking?
Why does this administration even last week say that Israel will be held accountable for any indirect peace talk failures?

This is nothing but a sinister ploy by this band of reshoim to get some lost Jewish votes for the next elections. After November there will be a full court press against Israel. If they can't force a peace treaty by 2012, then expect another try to make nice to Jews until ther November, 2012 election.

The Rabbis should have told them, ENOUGH. We're not going to help you sell Jews down the drain like it was done in WW2 for you.

Hey, you missed this one: how about ignoring Irans quest to build nuclear weapons while at the same time staging an international comedy when a developer in jerusalem decides to build residential homes?

29

 May 16, 2010 at 04:20 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
OMG Says:

Don’t fall for it says;
“The Orthodox communuity from Young Israel to Agudah to lubavitch and Satmar are on to them and have zero chance of being invited to such meetings because they refuse to drink the cool aid”

Maybe it is the opposite that the Obama administration knows that they formentioned group will not listen to any logic and you did drink the cool-aid but it is the rightwing nuts cool-aid. And no matter how much logic is used you are still going to be drunk with the cool-aid. The fact is that the only solution is a two state solution. And the Jewish rightwing doesn’t care about realty. They only care for their interpretation of the Torah.

Time to wake up. The reality is that peace is not possible with a violent society. Go to any Arab-Muslim country, and look how violently they treat themselves. Men killing their own sisters in "honor-killings", fathers mutilating their daughters to maintain their "purity".
Believe me, it is much safer to be a Jew accross the road from an Arab village, despite the rocks that get thrown at us, than to be an Arab inside that village.

They attacked us and lost. Now they have to suffer the consequences of not ruling in the government, and of being second class citizens. They're getting more than they deserve.

30

 May 16, 2010 at 09:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Aside from the syatta dishmaya, we need a combination of a right wing PM and government in Israel plus a president and administration that understands terror and supports Israel without limitations. In past years, we did not have that combination. We're out of synch. I am among those who realize the danger of the Obama administration, both for Israel as well as for America. Will we replace our own administration while maintaining the corresponding government in Israel?

31

 May 16, 2010 at 10:10 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
Well put #22 Says:

Republican administration had a great way to solve the palastenian problem: Stay out of it. Too bad Israel then did some suicidal moves like give into terror which invites more. Lets get republicans back in the white house.

Can you explain what makes you think a Republican would be any kinder to us?

George W. was the exception, not the rule.

His father's foriegn policy was run by Israel bashers.

Reagan sold AWACs to the Arabs and at Bitburg showed he couldn't tell the difference between an SS guard and his victim. He was generally good for Israel but no better than Bubba.

Nixon saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War for his own reasons, not out of any love for Israelis or Jews in general. Ike almost declared war on Israel in 1956.

Bottom line: Lets not lose sight of the fact that they are all politicians.

32

 May 16, 2010 at 10:48 AM OMG Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

#13
Right wing nuts? Please, your premise is flawed and damaging. There are hundreds of thousands of normal Jews who do not subscribe to the zeolotry you are reffereing to. Simply put the White House has refused to reach out to orthodox jews who represent the only growing segment of the Jewish community and are very skeptical of this Administartion. They have done nothing to calm the fears of those who suspect the worst. The White house should be scared. Less than 3 years left.

I am not sure what you are trying to convey, are you telling us that the current Republican Party is the same party who voted for Ronald Reagan? Let me just tell you that in today’s Republican/Tea Parties. Ronald Reagan would be challenged in his own primary, by the far rightwing nuts who took over the asylum. If necessary I could point to at least 5 issues which Ronald Reagan stood for or did, that in today’s purity test he would fail too.
The reason why I would not reach out to the orthodox communities, it is simple they you and I know that he will never win them over, why waste money and resources on a failed cause. In particular if it is political in nature.
In regard to the next presidential election, I don’t think the President is worried about that. He will win handily.

33

 May 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM OMG Says:

Reply to #29  
Anonymous Says:

Time to wake up. The reality is that peace is not possible with a violent society. Go to any Arab-Muslim country, and look how violently they treat themselves. Men killing their own sisters in "honor-killings", fathers mutilating their daughters to maintain their "purity".
Believe me, it is much safer to be a Jew accross the road from an Arab village, despite the rocks that get thrown at us, than to be an Arab inside that village.

They attacked us and lost. Now they have to suffer the consequences of not ruling in the government, and of being second class citizens. They're getting more than they deserve.

You are correct that a violent society will not look for peace, they will look for any method i.e. violence to achieve their goals. And the same goes for the Jewish far right-wingers who are using Torah is a pretext to act in a violent manor, I am not absolving the Arabs from their crazy action, but we cannot allow a small crazy Jewish minority, permeate, into a majority.

34

 May 16, 2010 at 04:34 PM Shimon Says:

Reply to #31  
Anonymous Says:

Can you explain what makes you think a Republican would be any kinder to us?

George W. was the exception, not the rule.

His father's foriegn policy was run by Israel bashers.

Reagan sold AWACs to the Arabs and at Bitburg showed he couldn't tell the difference between an SS guard and his victim. He was generally good for Israel but no better than Bubba.

Nixon saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War for his own reasons, not out of any love for Israelis or Jews in general. Ike almost declared war on Israel in 1956.

Bottom line: Lets not lose sight of the fact that they are all politicians.

George W Bush was at the first year of his presidency not very friendly to Israel, only after 9/11 he became super pro Israel

35

 May 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM rt Says:

it seems that many of you expect Pres Obama to be more pro-Israel than the leaders of Israel themselves. They are the real problem. I personally don't have much doubt that Sharon was pressured by Bush to abandon Gaza (he needed to attack Iraq). Sharon gave in & look at the peace we got there.

36

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