Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Could U.S. humanitarian aid to Israel be cut off next year?

I received an email message from the Jerusalem Prayer Team warning me that Jerusalem residents were in a panic, afraid that humanitarian foreign aid from the U.S. State Department would be cut off under the new administration.


Could we breathe for a moment?

This is what I told the emailer:

Please assure Jerusalem residents that U.S. humanitarian and military funding for Israel is safe. During his one Senate term, President-Elect Obama always voted for foreign aid bills that included funding for Israel. Furthermore, foreign aid to Israel is so popular in the U.S. Congress that even if the president were to veto such a bill, G-d forbid, Congress could override the president's veto with a two-thirds vote. Believe me, that won't happen. The President-Elect is not the slightest bit interested in reducing his massive 77%-23% edge in the Jewish vote. With the imminent appointment of a Jewish, very pro-Israel U.S. Congressman from Chicago as the new White House chief of staff, Israelis should breathe easier about qualms they may have had about the new Administration.

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It’s also worth pointing out that since Israel’s 1948 independence, both elected U.S. presidents voted out after one term were perceived as anti-Israel. (Perceived correctly, I think.) Successive presidents, including the next one, have surely taken careful note of that record.

Any action our new president would take against Israel would doom goodwill he had built within the American Jewish community, where he enjoyed a 77%-23% voting edge. He’s way too smart to make such a grave error.

Will the President-Elect move to divide Jerusalem?

My latest “Jerusalem Prayer Team” email message warned that the new White House Chief of Staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.), was a proponent of a divided Jerusalem when he last worked in the White House, in the Clinton Administration. Would Emanuel push again to divide Jerusalem, including possibly ceding control of the Temple Mount/Kotel area to the Palestinian Authority? (Good luck walking down and davening there if that happens.)

To me, that’s a concern. We don’t know how committed the President-Elect is to an undivided Jerusalem. He told the AIPAC Conference in June that Jerusalem should remain undivided. One day later, he said he was just kidding—the status of Jerusalem is subject to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. So which is it? We don’t know. Kind of like gay marriage. Kind of like the right of Americans to own guns. The President-Elect can’t make up his mind.

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