Sunday, January 29, 2012
Florida Stands with Israel
Florida citizen lobbyists attended a prayer breakfast yesterday at the University Club on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee. The prayer breakfast was sponsored by Christian Family Coalition (CFC). Present were representatives of the Southeastern region of the Zionist Organizations of America (ZOA), Christians and Jews United for Israel, Americans for a Safe Israel. Among the speakers at the kickoff of a day of citizen lobbying with Florida legislators were GOP Presidential hopeful former US Senate Majority leader from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon. Haridopolos had just come back from a trip to Israel. Santorum is an unabashed friend of Israel from his Congressional Days. While the CFC lobbying was focused on social issues, they also were supporting a Florida Stands with Israel resolution. The Florida resolution is modeled on one authored by State Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach and unanimously passed by the South Carolina legislature last session. The South Carolina support for Israel resolution has sparked controversy over whether its passage will vault support for the Jewish state into a ‘wedge issue’ in the 2012 Presidential and Congressional races. The Democrats have already raised that concern over GOP intentions. The Jewish Week of New York noted this in a recent article, “Dems ‘welcome’ GOP Contenders to Florida:”
Republicans are trying to make Israel a wedge issue among Jewish voters and contributors this year, especially in Florida with its large Jewish population.
In a conference call with the Jewish Week and other reporters from Anglo-Jewish and Israeli media, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) accused Republicans of “lying and distorting” the President’s record on Israel.
Support for Israel was recently condoned by the Republican National Committee (RNC) at its winter meetings in New Orleans. The group endorsed a resolution introduced by South Carolina RNC Committeewoman, Cindy Costa. That resolution contained language that was criticized by some on the left as effectively supporting a one state solution, the Jewish State of Israel. An article on The Third Way (TTW) website, “GOP Officially Endorses One State Solution”, authored by Mitchell Plitnick, noted this excerpt from the GOP endorsed resolution:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.
TTW author Plitnick immediately jumped to the conclusion that this meant “there is no interpretation possible other than that the RNC is also advocating complete Israeli annexation of the West Bank, including granting citizenship to the Palestinians living there.” Neither Plitnick nor other critics recognize the legitimate rights of over 650,000 Jews and Christians in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem.
The news has yet to sink in with Plitnick and other pro-Palestinian supporters that the PLO-Fatah and PA President Abbas have effectively abandoned further peace plan discussions following meetings with Israeli officials in Jordan that ended on Wednesday, January 25th. Note this Jewish Press report, “Peace Talks Over, Abbas said:”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared peace talks with Israel over on Wednesday, ending a series of low-level meetings that brought no tangible results despite pressure from the United States, the European Union and the talks’ Jordanian hosts.
[. . .]
Even before the meeting on Wednesday, PA and Israeli officials declared the talks fruitless, with each side trying to portray the other as the recalcitrant one.
GOP Presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, during the final Florida primary debate in Jacksonville on Thursday, January 26th expressed the concerns of many Floridians captured in this CBS News report:
The former governor said Mr. Obama "disrespected Benjamin Netanyahu," for announcing a major policy change the day before a bilateral meeting in the White House.
"I think he threw Israel under the bus with regards to defining the '67 borders as a starting point of negotiations," Romney said.
“I think he has time and time again shown distance from Israel, and that has created, in my view, a greater sense of aggression on the part of the Palestinians," Romney said. "I will stand with our friend, Israel."
The Florida Stands with Israel Resolution, developed under the auspices of the ZOA, is a hybrid. It is based in part on the original South Carolina proposal authored by State Rep. Alan Clemmons but with attention to the legal rights of the State of Israel under international law.
Given soundings over the past few weeks and a number of co-sponsor ‘dear colleague’ letters that have been signed by both Democratic and Republican Florida State legislators, the Stand with Israel Resolution hopefully may replicate the unanimity displayed by the South Carolina legislature vote last year.
The Florida Stands with Israel resolution (HR 1447/SR 1396) has the following objectives:
To encourage peace by promoting the rule of law within Israel and the international community;
To recognize the legal and historic facts that support Israel’s right to self-determination and self-defense on the entirety of its lands; and,
To recognize that Israel and America share the same values and enemies, and remain the greatest of allies.
The factual basis in support of the Florida Stands with Israel resolution is grounded in recognition of Israel’s sovereignty and self defense under International law. Specifically:
The unanimous support of 52 members of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922;
Concurrent resolutions of both Houses of the US Congress endorsing Israel’s rights passed on June 30, 1922 and signed by President Harding on September 21, 1922; and,
Article 80 of the UN Charter that implicitly recognizes by reference the Mandate for Palestine of the predecessor League of Nations.
Read the full text of the Florida Stands with Israel Senate Resolution SR-1396 introduced by Sen. Alan Hays (Dist 20), here. - http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/1396/BillText/Filed/PDF
The citizen lobbyists of the CFC and Jewish Zionist advocates reminded Florida Senators and Representatives that, today, January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day designated by the UN General Assembly in 2005. January 27th is the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by advancing Russian forces, who found less than 7,000 survivors of the more than 1.4 million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazi SS in unspeakable ways. They noted the comments of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Auschwitz on Yom Ha Shoah April 23, 1998, “at the time the Jews didn’t have a state, nor the political force to protect themselves.”
As the Florida citizen lobbyists reminded their State legislators, “millions of Christians and Jews support the bastion of the Jewish State of Israel”.
The Florida legislature ends its session on March 9th. Let’s hope that the Florida Stands with Israel resolution passes unanimously and becomes a model for adoption by other state legislatures across the US and ultimately, the US Congress.