President Trump's Middle East Trip
President Donald Trump recently left the Middle East after a brief visit
to Saudi Arabia and Israel. While the president did not do and say
everything we would have asked, we were very pleased with this visit.
He began with an important speech in Saudi Arabia. The President did not apologize for American behavior or focus on old grievances. Instead, he stressed the two greatest threats to the United States and our regional allies today. First, he condemned Islamic terror in clear terms and called upon our Arab allies to join us in combatting it. Then he focused on the more specific threat of a newly enriched and emboldened Iran bent on regional hegemony. He offered a new alliance and new resources for our Arab allies willing to join us in resisting Iran's dark ambitions.
Trump then traveled to Israel where he reminded us all that he is a true champion of the US-Israel relationship. We were deeply moved by the president's warm words throughout his visit. And we appreciated his decision to be the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. The picture of our president praying at that holy place communicated support for Israel and respect for Judaism that will be noted throughout the region and beyond.
We in CUFI had hoped the President would announce that the US was moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and we are disappointed that he did not do so. But it is early in the president's term. We will continue to communicate to him our strong desire that he keep his pledge and move our embassy.
While the President was still in Israel, a horrific bombing killed 22 and injured at least 120 people attending a pop concert in Manchester, England. This carnage was the work of the same radical Islamic terrorists that the president singled out in his Saudi speech. The attack is a gruesome reminder that terror is not a problem confined to Israel or even the Middle East. Peace will be possible only once terrorism is defeated. As the president said so well, "We must obliterate this evil ideology."
Boycott, Divest from and Sanction (BDS)
The effort to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction (BDS) Israel, is an anti-Semitic movement whose end goal is the destruction of the Jewish State. BDS activists have repeatedly acknowledged that “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”
Despite the immense hatred for the Jewish state displayed by proponents of BDS, CUFI is defeating them at every turn. Nearly half the states in the Union have passed legislation or seen executive orders issued banning the state from investing in or engaging in contracts with entities that are boycotting Israel.
For a concise overview of the BDS movement, check out this video of CUFI director David Brog testifying before the Nevada State Senate Government Affairs Committee.
JOIN THE FIGHT!
The key tool in our effort to defeat BDS is anti-BDS legislation such as that which was passed recently in Texas . We advance this legislation by bring bringing truth, context and morality to the discussion.
• There has been an uninterrupted Jewish presence in Israel for more than 3,000 years.
• When in 1947, the UN resolved to divide the Holy Land into two-states, one for Jews and one for Arabs, the Jews accepted the partition, the Arabs rejected it and tried to destroy the newly independent Jewish nation.
• Since Israel’s independence every Israeli offer of peace with the Palestinians has been rejected.
• Jordan controlled the West Bank illegally in 1967 when Israel took control if it in a war of self-defense. The territory is disputed, not occupied.
• Settlements are not the obstacle to peace. Israel has repeatedly offered peace deals to the Palestinians in which land swaps would account for any territory in the West Bank in which Israelis live.
• Legislators, have limited time, and a virtually unlimited agenda. So, they will often ask: Why pass this legislation now?
o The answer is simple: One does not wait to lock their doors until after they’ve being robbed. The anti-Semitic BDS movement is seeking to infect the American economy. As a leader among the states, Texas should lead on this issue of both local and national importance.
• BDS activists like to blame the entire Arab-Israeli conflict on so-called Israeli settlements. As the facts above indicate, this is demonstrably false. Moreover:
o This legislation does seek to comment or pass judgement on Israeli communities in the disputed territories. Rather it is an acknowledgement of the reality on the ground: namely that Israeli businesses in the West Bank hire and pay a strong wage to both Israelis and Palestinians.
o In addition, what better way for Palestinians and Israelis to understand each other than for them to work together, make products together and spend time with one another? Only someone who is anti-peace would be pro-BDS.
• BDS activists argue that they should have the freedom to boycott Israel – and we agree, but…
o This legislation does not outlaw boycotting Israel, it merely states that the government will not engage with entities that do so.
o The people have the right to choose with which companies their government will associate. Entities that participate in the BDS movement are supporting a movement to destroy the world’s only Jewish state. The people have the right to ensure their tax dollars are not complicit in that immoral effort.
• Sometimes good and decent people, miss the forest for the trees; we need to help them see the light : Investment managers, accountants, and other state employees and contractors that are associated with retirement funds or who secure contracts on behalf of the state may argue that the people are best served by placing no restrictions on investments and/or with whom the state contracts – we disagree.
o Ours is not an amoral society, nor should our government behave with no moral compass to guide it.
o Just as we encourage the hiring of veterans and contracting with minority owned businesses, so too must we allow our better angels to guide the state’s investments and contracts. In this context, doing so means refusing to give our taxpayer dollars to entities that seek to end the existence of a free and democratic American ally.
John Kerry's Alternate Reality
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech outlining his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This speech made clear why Kerry is merely talking about peace instead of achieving it. This confused man simply does not comprehend why his prior peace efforts -- and all prior peace efforts -- have failed.
The reason why there's no peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is not because of settlements, Israeli intransigence or Israel's "right wing" politicians. The Israelis have repeatedly offered the Palestinians their own state in Gaza, East Jerusalem and almost all of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The Israelis have made this offer as long ago as 1937 and as recently as 2008. In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted John Kerry's peace initiative and agreed to resume negotiations with the Palestinian with no preconditions.
The Palestinians have turned down every single one of these offers. And they refused to resume negotiations under Kerry's peace initiative. They have made clear in both word and deed that they will not agree to any peace deal that requires them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and end their conflict with Israel.
Simply put, the only real barrier to peace in the Middle East is the Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any size, shape or form. Instead, Israel's supposed partner for peace -- the Palestinian Authority -- is busy making cash payments to terrorists and their families while naming town squares, streets and parks after the worst of these terrorists. Having educated their citizens to hate Israel, Palestinian leaders cannot now turn around and make peace with her -- not if they want to survive.
Secretary Kerry's words will reward this Palestinian intransigence and embolden these Palestinian terrorists. But they will do nothing to bring peace.
Israel and the Election
The American people have spoken and the results are in. Donald J. Trump will be our next president.
Over the last several months, CUFI leaders have been privileged to meet with members of Trump’s team to discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. CUFI leaders have also known Vice President-Elect Mike Pence for years.
Simply put, we are well positioned to work closely with the incoming administration to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. We intend to do so.
We're glad to see that this relationship is already off to an excellent start. Immediately after the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated Trump on winning and called him a “great friend of Israel.” Trump responded by inviting Netanyahu to come to DC for a diplomatic visit as soon as possible.
We also recall that President-elect Trump has been a strong critic of the deal with Iran. And since this deal was an executive branch initiative never ratified by Congress, we know that a President Trump will be able to immediately take steps to stop the flow of cash and business deals to Iran.
We're looking forward to a busy and productive Trump administration. We will do everything we can to ensure that this administration is one that rewards America's friends and is tough on our enemies.
CUFI minute: Erick Stakelbeck at the Fortress of Elah
In this CUFI minute video, Erick Stakelbeck is at the Fortress of Elah one of the most amazing archaeological sites in Israel. This fortress was home to King David’s soldiers. Walking where King David walked, Erick shows us that just this one site proves Israel’s Jewish history goes back over 3,500 years. The archaeological evidence confirms Israel’s biblical history over and over.
Israel was not born in 1948 when Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s modern independence. It was not born in 1896 when one of modern Israel’s founding forefathers, Theodore Herzl, wrote The Jewish State and sparked a movement among Jews worldwide to return to the land. No, Israel has been the Jewish homeland for over 3,500 years and they never stopped dreaming of coming home. God promised the Jews they would return, and there was always a remnant of Jews who never left. God kept His promise, and 1948 marked the official homecoming of the Jewish people to their land after 2,000 years of wandering in exile.
Israel’s Undeniable Jewish History Uncovered
We usually use our talking point e-mails to make you aware of new threats and challenges facing Israel. Today, we'd like to share with you some important but far more uplifting news. Over the course of the summer there have been a series of fascinating archeological discoveries in Israel. These discoveries confirm the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible that we read. And these discoveries demonstrate the Jewish people's ancient connection to the land of Israel. No one can say that the Jews have no claim on this land, because every time someone digs in Israel they find more evidence that Jews have lived there for thousands of years.
One of the most significant recent finds was the discovery of an extremely rare synagogue from the Second Temple Era in the foothills of the Galilee. Only eight such synagogues have been found, and this is the first one found in what would have been a rural village at the time. Archaeologists say this could have been one of the synagogues where Jesus taught (Matthew 4:23), and this important discovery confirms what the New Testament says about the area where he ministered in the Galilee. This first century synagogue was uncovered only a few weeks ago, and provides an exciting glimpse of Jewish community life in the Galilee before the Romans destroyed the Second Temple
In another part of the Galilee, at a different ancient Jewish synagogue, archaeologists uncovered part of a beautiful mosaic floor depicting scenes from the Bible. Several biblical scenes had already been found at this site, but the two scenes found this summer are very rare. One of them shows Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by giant fish in the Red Sea, and the other shows the pairs of animals loaded onto Noah’s Ark.
In Jerusalem, excavations have revealed an ancient neighborhood that may have been where the temple priests lived. This neighborhood was certainly wealthy, and archaeologists have found several rare items in these ancient houses - including a bathtub that has only been found in three other places in Israel. The artifacts found here paint a fascinating picture of how Jerusalem's elite Jewish citizens lived thousands of years ago.
One of the most common arguments Israel’s detractors use against modern Israel is the claim that Jews are foreigners brought to Israel after the Holocaust. This is a false talking point used by Israel’s enemies, but archaeological evidence irrefutably demonstrates that Jews have lived continuously in Israel for over 3,500 years. This is their homeland, and the ground is filled with the proof.
Keep Your Eye on the Nuclear Ball
We in CUFI were opposed to President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. And we opposed it with everything we had. We recognized that Iran is an aggressive power with no interest in peace. We knew that this deal would not appease Iran but merely embolden it. And, once the deal was signed, we prayed that we would be proven wrong.
Sadly, we have not been proven wrong. The ink is barely dry on the Iran deal, and Iran is already baring its teeth. Shortly before the new year, the Iranians fired a missile that came within 1,500 yards of the American aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. Talk about a shot across our bow!
Even more provocatively, Iran has conducted two ballistic missile tests over the past 3 months, with the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts concluding that the October 10th ballistic missile test violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.
How did the Obama Administration respond to these dual tests? You guessed it. It did absolutely nothing. The Administration announced that it would issue new sanctions against Iran. But then it quickly abandoned this course. Yet another red line has been crossed with absolutely no consequence.
An emboldened Iran is not ignoring Israel. On January 4, the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah planted a roadside bomb on the border between Lebanon and Israel, striking a convoy and injuring IDF troops.
We were right about the Iran deal. And we are now seeing the harvest of aggression and terror we predicted. But we can’t just sit back and tell our leaders and neighbors that we told them so. We need to show them the error of this deal. It is not too late to turn past support for this deal into future opposition. A consistent messages to our elected representatives, friends and neighbors — and electing wiser leaders next November — will help us roll back this disastrous deal.
Terrorism is Terrorism
A wave of unprecedented terrorism is sweeping the globe. Our oldest ally, France, is reeling from its own “9/11” and Israelis continue to deal with stabbings, shootings, and vehicular attacks.It has been confirmed that Tashfeen Malik, the female shooter and wife of terrorist Syed Farook, had publicly pledged loyalty to ISIS.For its part, the terror group praised its “young lions” in California, bringing the “faraway” terror threat to America in the worst attack since 9/11. Tragically, it appears that Farook specifically targeted a co-worker, Nicholas Thalasinos, a Messianic believer, after the two had argued about Islam.
Yet some in the international community fail to recognize terrorism as terrorism. Yesterday, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven claimed that the stabbings in Israel are not terrorism. He later tried to clarify his remarks, but his message was heard loud and clear. We strongly agree with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that “there isn’t one moral standard for Israel and one for the rest of the world.”
Let us resolve never to be silent in the face of such atrocities. Let us resolve to treat Israeli lives with just as much respect as French and American lives. And let us send a strong signal to all those who target innocent life – you will not prevail.
Israel Steadfast Amid “Wave of Terror”
Jewish communities in Israel are now facing
what has been described as the “Third Intifada,” and the hourly escalation in
attacks all over Israel has residents simultaneously on edge and resolute. On
Thursday, October 1, a Hamas terror cell was dispatched from Nablus, and five
armed men shot and killed Eitam Henkin and his wife, Naama, while the couple’s
four children sat in the car their parents were driving in Samaria.
Our Jewish friends are less safe this Yom Kippur than last year
Tonight, Jewish families all over the globe are preparing for Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. Yet by all accounts, our Jewish friends are less safe this Yom Kippur than last year. We live in a more perilous world than we did a month ago, a year ago, a generation ago. European Jews are being told not to wear anything that identifies them as Jewish for fear they will be attacked. In America, many synagogues will have a police presence to ensure that the congregation can worship in safety. And in Israel, the IDF will be on high alert against terrorist attacks.
As our Jewish friends are on high alert, we are standing up and speaking out against anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. When political commentator Ann Coulter tweeted anti-Semitic comments last week, CUFI immediately issued a statement condemning the tweet and reminding Ms. Coulter that "There are tens of millions of Christians in this country who stand with the Jewish state." When San Antonio's Orthodox synagogue was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti last month, Pastor Hagee immediately went to the synagogue to declare that an attack against San Antonio's Jews was also an attack against its Christians.
We pray that next Yom Kippur our Jewish friends in Israel, Europe and the United States are safer because of our efforts.
Be outraged and join us as we fight on
In the wake of President Obama
receiving enough support in the Senate to uphold his disastrous Iran nuclear
deal, the free world is now facing an invigorated foe. Tehran's tyrants no
doubt believe that they have won.
But we must be fearless, we must stand up and we must fight on. And that is precisely what CUFI intends to do. First of all, we will continue to fight for every Democratic vote to ensure that President Obama will be forced to use his veto. In addition, we will continue to fight against Iran's support of international
terrorism. While the Iran nuclear deal inhibits our ability to sanction Iran for its nuclear activities, the Islamic Republic remains the world's leading sponsor of terror. And this leading sponsor of terror will soon receive billions more with which to spread death and destruction. CUFI will lead the charge in efforts to sanction Iran for its backing of organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas and those who have killed so many of our soldiers in Iraq.
Finally, the sequence of events that led up to the now imminent advancement of the Iran nuclear agreement has brought into stark relief the old axiom that elections have consequences. We can never again allow a president so disconnected from the
realities of the Middle East to occupy the White House. Therefore, we simply cannot sit and watch as people who share our values sit at home on Election Day.
The fight is not over. Do not cower; do not lick your wounds, do not throw up your hands. Rather, be outraged and join us as we fight on.
The Iran Bad Deal
Watch Pastor John Hagee, Founder of Christians United for Israel, discuss the Iran dangerous Deal. Please go to support.cufi.org/baddeal to ask Congress to vote against the disastrous Iran deal.
The alternative to the Iran Deal is not War
Supporters of the President's Iran deal argue that there are only two options: the deal or war. In reality, the inverse of their argument is true. This deal could lead to war by providing the world's principal sponsor of terror with $150 billion in cash and paving the Islamic Republic's path to a nuclear bomb.
In order to get an acceptable deal we need to block this dangerous deal. With each passing day, new details emerge making clear just how bad of a deal Secretary Kerry and his team struck. Just today the AP reported that the UN actually agreed to allow Iran to use its own inspectors to investigate Parchin, a site that Iran has likely been using to develop nuclear weapons. It is no exaggeration to say that any deal which trusts Iran to inspect itself is not a good deal, and not progress, but a pathetic surrender.
Over the last month CUFI has been laser-focused on ensuring that Congress votes against the deal. We brought over 5,000 CUFI members to Capitol Hill to tell their elected officials to oppose the deal. Over 350,000 CUFI members have emailed and thousands more called Congress asking them to vote against this disastrous agreement.
These efforts have borne fruit: the majority of both houses of Congress are now against this deal, including Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ), but there's more work to be done. A majority isn't enough. In order to overcome a Presidential veto thwarting the will of the people and sustaining the Iran nuclear deal, we need two-thirds of the House and Senate to vote against this deal. That means we need you to email and call your elected officials and let them know exactly where you stand.
Update on the Dangerous Iran Deal
President Obama's dangerous Iran deal is the
preeminent foreign policy challenge of our day. Congress is now almost half way
through the 60 day review period for deciding whether or not to support this
disastrous agreement that will put $150 billion in the hands of the world's
leading sponsor of terror and will birth a Middle East nuclear arms race.
Monmouth University released a poll this morning that found 61% of Americans do not trust Iran to abide by the terms of the agreement. This distrust was validated by a report released today that a Hamas tunnel digger captured by Israel confirmed Iranian financial backing and advanced weapons training for Hamas.
But, there is encouraging news over the last few days... Nearly a dozen Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressmen Elliot Engel and Brad Sherman, have come out in opposition to the deal. This is a good start, but we've much work to do and an uphill battle to climb.
CUFI is laser focused on defeating the Iran deal. Over the last 3
weeks, CUFI members have sent over 300,000 emails to Congress asking them to oppose this deal. Thousands of CUFI members called their members of Congress asking them to oppose the deal.
We have collected the most comprehensive list of town hall meetings being held by undecided members of Congress and are organizing our members to attend the meetings and ask questions about the deal.
You can view all the town hall meetings here. We are also setting up in-state and in-district lobbying meetings with undecided Members of Congress to ask them to vote against the deal.
In order to be successful we need veto proof majorities in both the House and Senate. We need your help.
If you have not called Congress asking them to vote against the deal, please click here now. If you've already called them, please call them again.
If you would like to attend a town hall meeting or meeting with your member of Congress please, email email@example.com.
The Historically Bad Iran Deal
On Tuesday morning, the day that over 5,000 CUFI members from all 50 states were headed to Capitol Hill, the President announced that America and the other P5+1 nations reached a nuclear deal with Iran.
Let us be clear- this deal is dangerous for Israel, the United States and the entire world.
Armed with information about this historically bad deal our CUFI members headed to Capitol Hill demanding that their Members of Congress vote against the agreement because it failed to meet even the following most basic requirements:
1. Sanctions Relief. Any sanctions relief should be gradual and phased in only as Iran complies with its obligations under an agreement. Providing Iran with tens of billions of dollars upon signing a piece of paper, would give them a tremendous windfall in exchange for something that is worth next to nothing: their word.
2. Anytime, Anywhere Inspections. Iran lies and cheats. Iran has a long record of hiding its nuclear program from inspectors. Iran has built and hidden entire nuclear facilities. Any deal that does not allow for anywhere, anytime inspections will simply be a license for Iran to continue cheating.
3. Past Nuclear Activity. Iran must reveal all of its previous nuclear and related weaponization work. In the absence of this disclosure, there is no baseline and therefore no possible way for inspectors to ensure Iran is complying with its new obligations.
4. Non-Nuclear Sanctions. Any sanctions relief under this deal should be limited to those sanctions imposed in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has never agreed to end its support for international terror (in fact, in these negations, the Obama Administration never even asked them to do so). There is therefore no reason to end sanctions imposed upon Iran because of its support for terror.
5. Arms Embargo. The arms embargo was imposed because of Iran’s support for international terrorism – it has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. The arms embargo must remain in place until Iran stops supporting terror.
6. Term. The deal would enable Iran to become a nuclear power with the full blessing of the international community in as little as ten years. If a nuclear Iran is an unacceptable threat today, then it will continue to be an unacceptable threat a decade from now. An agreement must deny Iran the bomb, not merely postpone the day of reckoning.
Congress will have 60 days to review this deal. Over the next 60 days we will be calling upon you to share with your Members of Congress the dangers of this historically bad deal.
We need your help over the next 60 days help protect Israel and America from a nuclear Iran. When called upon please be ready to email, call and meet with your Members of Congress. We were created for such a time a this. Together we can make a difference for our children and grandchildren.
Iran Nuclear Talks -- More Warning Signs
Yesterday, June 30th, was the deadline by which America and the other P5+1 nations were supposed to reach a deal with Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program. This was not the first such deadline. Yet once again, the deadline came and went without a deal.
Meanwhile, we continue to receive troubling reports from Geneva that the negotiations have largely consisted of Iran exploiting our government’s desperate desire for a deal to turn our red lines into green lights. As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu noted yesterday, “In the nuclear talks, to my regret, what we are seeing are Iran’s increasing demands, and the major powers’ concessions which are also increasing, in keeping with the Iranian pressure. This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day.”
If and when a deal is announced we will be quick to examine it. We will pray for the best. But if this deal is as bad as reports indicate, we will not be silent. We will speak out, and we will ask you to speak out with us. In particular, we will ask you to demand that your leaders in Congress vote down a bad deal. In the meantime, please stay tuned and stay in touch. We need you now more than ever.
The Pope and the Palestinians
We were disappointed to see initial reports that Pope Francis called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an "angel of peace." We were relieved to see reports that the Pope was likely misunderstood. It seems that what he said to Abbas was that he "could be" an angel of peace.
And indeed, President Abbas could be an angel of peace. In order to rise to this role, he would first have to his express his moral -- not just tactical -- rejection of terrorism. He would have to renounce the unrepentant terrorists of Hamas as a legitimate governing partner. He would have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and reject the so-called Palestinian right of return. And he would have to bring himself to accept one of Israel's generous offers of a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
If he did all of these things, then Abbas certainly could be an angel of peace.
Having done none of these things, Abbas is far from earning his wings.
Sadly, however, we fear that the Vatican's recent decision to formalize its recognition of the "State of Palestine" will not prod Abbas towards compromise. We believe the opposite to be true. As recently as 2008, Abbas refused a Palestinian state because he was unwilling to risk his career -- and his life -- by taking the steps outlined above. As an increasing number of nations around the world have since rewarded him with recognition, Abbas has less incentive than ever to take these risks for peace. He now sees that he can have it all -- intransigence and recognition. And this is a tragedy for all concerned, Christian, Jew and Muslim alike.
Obama's Dangerous Iran Framework
Yesterday, President Obama announced with great pride that he has reached an agreement with Iran on the framework for a nuclear deal. The details of this framework agreement are still unclear. In fact, Iran has already challenged the Administration’s vague characterization of these parameters. But we already know enough to know that nothing about this agreement is good news.
More than anything, the framework agreement confirms repeated reports that the U.S. has capitulated to Iran’s core demand that it retain all of its nuclear infrastructure. Under the parameters announced last night, Iran will not have to close any of its nuclear facilities, including the underground center at Fordow and the heavy water reactor at Arak. Likewise, Iran will not have to dismantle any of its 19,000 centrifuges.
The only alleged benefit from this deal is Iran’s commitment not to use this infrastructure beyond certain limits for the next decade or so. But pledges from Iran are entirely worthless, and no one should pretend otherwise. Iran has cheated and lied about its nuclear program since the day this illegal program was first discovered. Making matters even worse, this deal seems to base our oversight of Iran’s compliance with its pledges on the same failed inspections regime that’s already in place.
Finally, this deal appears to provide accelerated sanctions relief to Iran. If this is true, we will lose all of our leverage over Iran early in this process. And Iran will quickly reap the vast cash infusion that has motivated it to participate. A newly flush Iran will soon have more resources than ever to invest in its aggression in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond. This is good news for Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi rebels and every other group who relies on Tehran for missiles, explosives and training. This is bad news for America, Israel and every one of us.
Obama, Netanyahu and the Israeli Election
CUFI is a bipartisan organization. We have gone out of our way to acknowledge President Obama when he has stood by Israel. But now we must note that President Obama has crossed the line. His disrespect of the Israeli people and the leader they just reelected by a wide margin are simply unacceptable. The fact that he blasts Israel while embracing and forgiving Iran only ads salt to the wound.
The Israeli people have spoken. In this time of enormous danger in the Middle East, they want a pragmatic leader who does not conjure peace partners out of thin air or base their security on a foundation of shifting sands. Meanwhile, President Obama continues to live in a fairytale world where there could be peace and security tomorrow if only Israel left the West Bank. To believe in this nice story, the President must ignore all of the Israeli peace offers that the Palestinians have rejected. He must likewise turn a blind eye to the likelihood that Hamas would seize these strategic territories in short order. And he must pretend that ISIS would not take over in the long term.
It seem that President Obama's fantasies regarding the Palestinians are similar to those he believes regarding Iran. But ignoring danger does not make it go away. President Obama may prefer to belittle Prime Minister Netanyahu for recognizing these realities. But we would all be better off if President Obama looked past Bibi and saw these dangers for himself.
Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act
CUFI is deeply committed to ensuring that President Obama will not have a blank check to negotiate a bad deal with Iran that will endanger America, Israel and the West. We believe that Congress has a moral and Constitutional obligation to review any nuclear deal that is reached.
There is an important bill in Congress -- the Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act -- that will ensure Congress reviews any nuclear agreement with Iran. President Obama has announced that he will veto this legislation Thus it is not enough that Corker-Menendez pass, but it must pass by a veto-proof majority of 67.
Last week, CUFI launched a multi-front campaign to build support for Corker-Menendez. We began with an action alert that has thus far generated more than 72,000 emails from CUFI members to their senators demanding that they support this bill.
This week, we ran full-page advertisements urging support for Corker-Menendez in the home-state newspapers of four Democratic senators we view as critical to building a veto-proof majority: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mark Warner (D-VA). We followed up these ads with targeted e-mail and phone call campaigns.
A Washington Post columnist wrote that "CUFI is doing what very few Jewish pro-Israel or other pro-defense groups are doing: Putting the spotlight on those who talk big and hide in the shadows, too timid to oppose the White House."
Our campaign has helped narrow the gap. We are now two senators away from the veto-proof majority we need. With your help, we intend to keep the pressure on until these last two votes are secured.
As most of you know, some of the largest mainline Protestant denominations have turned on Israel. When the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) or the United Methodist Church take action relating to the Middle East, it’s to debate divesting their funds from Israel; and it is from Israel — not Iran — that they divest. This betrayal did not happen overnight; it’s over a generation in the making. For decades,anti-Israel activists have targeted these churches. They have exploited Christian morality and language to make the case that Christianity demands opposition to Israel. Today they are reaping the toxic harvest of these years of lies.
Now the anti-Israel crowd is working hard to repeat this success in the evangelical world. They are trying to turn our young people against the Jewish state. And they are doing so by exploiting the high-minded values and spirit of love that characterize our millennial generation.
We cannot let this pattern be repeated. We cannot let these attacks go unanswered. We cannot, and we will not.
We are proud to announce the launch of an official movement to push back against these lies called The Israel Collective (www.IsraelCollective.org). This new effort is being run by millennial Christians for millennial Christians. Their goal is to demonstrate that Christian values demand that our young people stand with the Jewish state. Millennials are focused on Jesus’ love and compassion. And Israel is the only country in the Middle East living out this love — including the love of one’s enemies — on a daily basis. Millennials stand with the oppressed. And Israel provides the only safe haven for oppressed Arab Christians and Muslims in the entire region. Millennials love diversity. And Israel is the most diverse country in the Middle East, if not the planet.
We were pleased to announce that CUFI has reached an important
milestone. Today we have surpassed the two million member mark. We
could not have reached this point without your support. We
thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of our CUFI team.
We are proud of our growing numbers. We are also proud of our prolific activism. Thus far, CUFI has held 2,162 pro-Israel events in cities and towns across the country. That number will rise again before today is done. Next week, 150 of our top student leaders from around the country will arrive in Texas for our annual winter training. They will join the over 2,600 student leaders we have trained to make the case for Israel on their campuses. We have taken hundreds of pastors and young Christian leaders to Israel so that they can make a lifelong connection to the land. And we have raised our voice and our profile in Washington with e-mail blasts, telephone campaigns, and our annual Washington, DC summit. We have no intention of slowing down.
Our joy at meeting this milestone is diminished by the news of the tragic murders of 12 journalists in Paris yesterday. Let's be clear -- these men were killed by Muslim terrorists because they had dared to exercise rights we cherish: freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. And let's also be clear -- today the victims are Jews and journalists. But it won't stop with them. It never does.
Israel is not the cause of Islamic terror. Israel is our first line of defense against Islamic terror. When we stand with Israel, we stand with all who suffer at the hands of these forces of hate. When we stand with Israel, we strengthen all we hold dear.
Europe is Abandoning Israel
Our goal in Christians United for Israel is to ensure that the United States continues to support our ally, Israel. We are not a European organization, and we have never held much hope that Europe would stand up for Israel as strongly as America does.
But recent events have disappointed our already low expectations. Simply put, Europe is rapidly turning against Israel. In late October, Sweden officially recognized a Palestinian state. Since then, the parliaments of Britain, France, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Luxembourg have voted in support of recognizing a Palestinian state. This week, the EU voted to recognize a Palestinian state "in principle."
There are, of course, many Israelis and friends of Israel who support the creation of a Palestinian state. But they all support the creation of such a state as the result of a peace process. The want to trade land for peace. These Israelis are willing to give up land so long as the Palestinians agree to end their conflict with Israel and give up their claim to a "right of return" for millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees. This is exactly why Israel offered to give the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Gaza -- with East Jerusalem as its capital -- in 2000, 2001 and 2008.
The Palestinians turned all of these offers down. The Palestinians don't want land for peace. They want the land without having to concede anything to Israel. And now one European nation after the other is lining up to give them exactly that. Europe is demanding that Israel withdraw from strategically vital and historically precious land in exchange for ... absolutely nothing. This would be the first step in the creation of another Hamas -- or even ISIS -- base overlooking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This would be a repeat of Gaza. This is not a recipe for peace; this is a recipe for disaster.
While most Americans were focused on their upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations, the world took yet another step down the plank towards a dark abyss. As the November 24th deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran approached, the Obama Administration and its negotiating partners agreed to extend the talks yet again, this time for another seven months. This means that Iran will enjoy seven more months of eased sanctions. This also means that Iran will continue to advance its nuclear weapons program for seven months in violation of its agreement to the contrary.
The latest charges of Iranian cheating don't come from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. This month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) complained that Iran has been stonewalling their questions about its suspected weaponization research at its secret Parchin facility. And as recently as November 17, the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security issued a report concluding that Iran has continued to test advanced centrifuges in violation of the interim agreement just extended.
None of us should be surprised. Iran has tried to hide its nuclear program from the start. We only discovered that Iran was enriching uranium because Iranian dissidents who don't trust the Ayatollahs with a nuclear bomb discovered it and disclosed it. Ever since -- for well over ten years -- Iran has been lying, cheating and stalling for time as they get ever closer to their obvious goal. As the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens recently put it, "Iran came to the table cheating on its nuclear commitments. It continued to cheat on them throughout the interim agreement it signed last year. And it will cheat on any undertakings it signs."
The only people who still seem to take Iran at its word are
President Obama, Secretary Kerry and chief negotiator Wendy Sherman.
Either that, or they are lying to the American people. Neither
option is acceptable.
Early this morning, four rabbis were murdered in Jerusalem as they
gathered for morning prayers. The attackers left behind bibles and
prayer shawls soaked in Jewish blood. The victims left behind 24
fatherless children. Our prayers are with the victims' families.
This was a premeditated act of terrorism. The attackers -- two cousins from East Jerusalem -- entered the synagogue when they knew it would be filled with worshippers and began shooting and hacking while shouting" Allahu Akbar" -- Allah is great. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has claimed credit for these murders. And Palestinians in Gaza have been dancing in the streets and handing out sweets to celebrate the bloodshed.
According to the terrorists' relatives, they killed the rabbis to protest what Israel is doing on the Temple Mount -- the place where the First and Second Temples stood and which is now the site of two important Muslim mosques. But what exactly is Israel doing on the Temple Mount other than exercising surprising restraint? Israel liberated this site -- the holiest site in Judaism -- in 1967. Yet in deference to Muslim sensibilities Israel has allowed a Muslim Authority -- the Waqf -- to continue governing the Temple Mount. And in further deference to Muslim demands every Israeli government including the current one has forbidden Jews from praying at the Temple Mount. Non-Jews are merely allowed to visit in small groups.
These events should demonstrate an important fact about Israel's conflict with her neighbors: sometimes restraint is not rewarded. And sometimes, the truth just doesn't matter. Murderous grievance can flow from complete myth or pure hate. The Christians being crucified, beheaded and murdered by similar Muslim extremists throughout the middle east have fallen to the same evil.
Let us pray for the families of these victims. And let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And let us insist upon telling the truth as the best way to protest these murderers and their lies.
The media is awash in articles declaring that the U.S.-Israel
relationship has hit a new low. And yes, when you have an unnamed
Administration official calling the Prime Minister of Israel a
"chickensh**t," things have definitely gotten bad.
But what troubles us more than the childish name calling is the persistent policy. In recent months, we have seen this Administration take a number of disturbing actions towards our ally, Israel, including:
• Delaying shipment of critical weapons to Israel in the middle of Israel's summer war with Hamas.
• Denying Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon key meetings with the Vice President and the Secretary of State during his recent visit.
• Implying -- as Secretary of State Kerry recently did -- that Israel is in danger of becoming an apartheid state and that the failure to solve Israel's conflict with the Palestinians is somehow fueling the growth of ISIS.
At a juncture like this, it's more important than ever that we in
CUFI speak up in support of our ally Israel and remind our neighbors,
friends and elected officials of certain fundamental truths.
It is absolutely true that Israel is exercising enormous caution as it contemplates an attack to stop the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. This caution in the face of such a challenge should not be mocked as if Israel is ducking a schoolyard fight. Israel's concern for the lives of its own citizens and those of Iran should be respected. Last we checked, the Obama Administration was sending signals that it will do little more than capitulate to Iran's main demands in the ongoing nuclear negotiations.
Israel remains the only U.S. ally in the region, and the world, that is on the front lines fighting our shared enemies in Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda for us.
Israel is not boosting ISIS recruitment. The true source of ISIS' appeal is its ugly, genocidal ideology and the absence of clear U.S. leadership in the Middle East.
The bloodthirsty terrorists of ISIS have dominated our headlines in recent months. It is good that this evil army is getting attention. And it is good that the world is finally mobilizing to stop their murder spree.
But we must remember that ISIS is nothing new. While they may kill their opponents more graphically, they are simply the latest in a long line of Islamaic supremacist murderers in the Middle East.
There are many other terrorist groups and terrorist sponsors which, like ISIS, seek to kill Christians and destroy Israel. And the greatest threat of all still remains the potential for the number one state-sponsor of terror -- Iran -- to obtain the ultimate weapon of mass destruction: a nuclear weapon. During his speech at the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was absolutely right to warn the international community that “To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”
Despite our ongoing negotiations with Iran, they have done nothing of substance to dismantle their nuclear weapons program. Earlier this month, 353 Members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern “with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” and noting “The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”
As we see the attention shift to ISIS, we should be glad that the conscience of the world will not tolerate their evil. But we must also speak up to ensure that ISIS does not distract us from the far greater threat of a nuclear Iran.
Yesterday, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. This operation is an effort to stop the recent escalation in Hamas terrorism and missile fire.
- Since the beginning of the year,
over 450 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel.
Yesterday alone, 80 rockets were fired into Israel.
- Once again, the residents of southern cities such as Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva have returned to the bomb shelters.
- Today, a missile fired at Tel Aviv was stopped by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.
- Israel has blamed Hamas for the brutal murder of three students kidnapped on their way home from school.
In the coming days, many will criticize Israel's actions while glossing over the necessity for them. As we pray for the safety of the Israel Defense Forces and innocent civilians on both sides of this conflict, we must not be silent. We must know our facts and speak out in Israel's defense. Israel must not be condemned for doing what any responsible government would do to protect its citizens from terror. We must not permit Israeli defense to be equated with Hamas aggression.
Earlier this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to form a national unity government with Hamas. In so doing, Abbas crossed a bright red line that should disgust all who seek peace. Hamas is a terrorist organization that is recognized as such by both the United States and the European Union. To this day, Hamas refuses to recognize the State of Israel and refuses to renounce terrorism. Quite to the contrary, Hamas has claimed credit for suicide attacks that have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and has launched tens of thousands of missiles into Israel. The Hamas charter doesn't only call for the death of all Israelis; it calls for the death of all Jews. By reaching out to Hamas, Abbas has turned his back on peace.
CUFI Talking Points on the Iran Deal
The deal that the Obama Administration reached with Iran in Geneva last month is looking worse with each passing day. This deal revives the Iranian economy by easing economic sanctions on Iran at the very point when these sanctions were beginning to work. In exchange for this very real economic relief, we got a handful of meaningless Iranian promises. This deal gives Iran a green light to continue enriching uranium up to 5% in violation of no less than six United Nations Security Council resolutions. The deal does not require Iran to dismantle any part of the vast nuclear infrastructure it assembled in direct contravention of these resolutions. And the deal does nothing to stop Iran from using its new installments of cash and time to advance the weakest parts of its nuclear program — bomb technology and the ballistic missiles needed to deliver such bombs to Israel, Europe or the U.S. CUFI will continue to do everything in our power to support the toughest possible sanctions on Iran as soon as possible since this is the only thing short of war that can stop the unthinkable prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.
NGO Monitor: U.S., U.K., Netherlands fund anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference
The U.S., U.K., and Dutch governments are helping to fund a conference called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which attempts to sway Evangelical Christian opinion against Israel and whose themes have anti-Semitic undertones, according to a new report issued by the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor.
The report titled “Christ at the Checkpoint: How the U.S., U.K. and Dutch Governments Enable Religious Strife and Foment Mideast Conflict,” first obtained by JNS.org, examines how the American and European governments are directly and indirectly funding the conference.
“Direct and indirect funding to the organizers of Christ at the Checkpoint is mystifying and deeply concerning to us,” said Yitzhak Santis, Chief Programs Officer and “BDS in the Pews” Project Director at NGO Monitor.
Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) is a biennial event held in Bethlehem, organized by the Bethlehem Bible College and the Holy Land Trust. First launched in 2010, the conference was again held in 2012, and another conference is being held from March 10-14, 2014. The stated goal of CATC is “To challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel-Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God,” according to the conference website. Read more.