Subscribe to The Jewish Standard free weekly newsletter

 
font size: +
 

‘Unambiguous’ support for Israel: Christie

Trip seen as success, but lack of non-Orthodox invitees is noted

 
|| Tell-a-Friend || Print
 
 
image
Gov. Chris Christie, First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the New Jersey delegation visit the Western Wall. photos Courtesy Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen

JERUSALEM – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie displayed his support for Israel on a visit to the Jewish state this week that, political observers speculate, was intended in part to buff his foreign policy credentials as a future presidential candidate.

Recognizing Christie’s standing in the Republican Party, President Shimon Peres met with him at length April 2 and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a closed-door working meeting and a friendly dinner with Christie the same day.

Christie told Peres that it was an honor to meet him and that Peres’s leadership was “an inspiration to so many people in the United States.”

Peres called Christie “a friend of Israel” and thanked him for bringing with him a delegation of some 15 state Jewish and business leaders. He expressed his affection for New Jersey, even as he poked fun at the state.

“For us, New Jersey is like New York without the same fanfare, but with the same connections for Israelis and the Jewish people,” Peres said. “I will never forget one year when our finance minister was told on April 1 that he needed a visa to go from New York to New Jersey.”

Netanyahu also joked about New Jersey, saying that Israel was the same size and had roughly the same population, but that “your voters have better neighbors.”

The talks with Netanyahu and Peres focused on economic issues, as well as the political changes taking place in the Middle East.

Christie’s visit was described by his office as part of his administration’s broader initiative to strengthen New Jersey’s economic and diplomatic relationships with foreign nations.

The visit was the fulfillment of a promise he made to Jewish leaders in a meeting in Whippany several months ago to make Israel the first foreign country he visited as governor. Christie brought along his family, visiting tourist sites like Jerusalem’s old city, the Western Wall, and the Galilee.

Expenses for the trip are being covered by the Republican Jewish Coalition and Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit organization formed by business executives in 2010. The group, founded with Christie’s blessing, describes its mission as “lowering taxes, reducing government regulation and spending, and creating a better location for business today and in the future.”

Christie noticeably did not schedule meetings with Palestinian officials on his trip. He did go from Israel to Jordan, where he was set to meet with King Abdullah II, whom he called “a force for good in this region.”

Although billed as a trade mission, Christie’s trip inevitably raised questions about his political ambitions, as well as his foreign policy views.

In an interview with The New Jersey Jewish News, Christie was asked what advice he would give Israel’s leaders concerning peacemaking and averting war with Iran.

Christie responded that there were others who knew more than he, but that America’s leaders should be handling Israel differently.

“It’s very important for you to know what you don’t know,” Christie said. “I am not going to stand here and pretend I have answers to questions that people with more experience than me don’t know.

“But there are general principles that our country stands for,” he said. “Our country was founded on pluralism, liberty, and freedom, and we should be standing with those in the world who stand for those principles.”

Without mentioning President Barack Obama by name, Christie criticized the administration in Washington for not doing enough to support Israel and for sending mixed messages about its loyalty to the Jewish state.

“There should be unambiguous policies standing for Israel,” Christie said. “The problems Israel is facing cannot be solved without unambiguous American commitment to Israeli security and prosperity. Our partnership with Israel is not based on generosity but because they have earned our support. Rather than use cute words and phrases, our commitment to Israel should be unambiguous and easily understood. If the world shows that solidarity, peace will be easier to achieve, not harder.”

Asked about his future national political ambitions, Christie sought to clarify a statement he made to Oprah Winfrey in January that suggested he would be prepared to run for president in four years. He said his remarks were taken out of context.

“I said I hoped we will be re-electing President [Mitt] Romney in 2016,” he explained. “But I said that, of course, I would be better prepared to run in 2016 after doing this job for a while. It would be helpful if you could put that out there.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council took note of Christie’s trip and endeavored to score points with an April 2 news release suggesting that his time in Israel “would be the perfect occasion to apologize to these senior Jewish elected leaders for the tremendously inappropriate things you’ve said to them.” The news release noted that Christie had referred to Sen. Frank Lautenberg as “a partisan hack” and that he had urged the media to “take the bat” to New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

Among those accompanying Christie on the trip were Jacob Toporek, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations; Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ; and Mark Levenson, chair of the New Jersey-Israel Commission

Kleinman said he was delighted that the governor kept his promise to come to Israel. He noted with disappointment, however, that even though the governor called his delegation “diverse,” no Reform or Conservative rabbis were invited. The group included Teaneck resident Josh Pruzansky, New Jersey regional director for public policy at the Orthodox Union; Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, executive director of Chabad at Rutgers University; Rabbi Aharon Kotler, executive director of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood; and State Sen. Robert Singer (R-Dist. 30).

Levenson said New Jersey could cooperate with Israeli companies in science, high-tech, clean-tech, defense, and pharmaceuticals. Levenson acknowledged, however, that business was “not the prime motivation” for Christie’s visit.

“The governor is a courageous person,” Levenson said. “He knows the turmoil that Israel endures and that Israel and the U.S. have shared values. He wanted to make a statement that this would be his first overseas trip as governor, and he kept his word.”

Carlebach said he was impressed by the enthusiasm for Israel and Judaism that Christie displayed throughout the trip.

“His words don’t matter; his feelings matter,” Carlebach said. “What matters is that he came. He went to the Kotel [the Western Wall]. He met with the president of Israel. We have accomplished enough already. There are words that have to be left unsaid, but Israel recognizes that he is not just a governor, that the future is here.”

Displaying those emotions, Christie said he insisted on visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where, he said, he uttered a personal prayer. He said he was proud that New Jersey was the first state that mandated Holocaust education in its schools.

“Yad Vashem is an overwhelming reminder for me of how much work we have to do as human beings in terms of the way we treat each other,” Christie said. “It’s extraordinary that there is a place like that to remind people and also give them hope.”

The New Jersey Jewish News

Gill Hofman is Israel correspondent for The New Jersey Jewish News.
 
|| Tell-a-Friend || Print
 
 

Stay tuned for the return of comments

 

Praying while female at the Kotel

Women of the Wall representative to speak locally

What’s going on with the Women of the Wall now?

What’s happening with gender equality and pluralism in Israel, now that the Israeli election is over?

Women of the Wall, made up of women from across the Jewish spectrum, has fought for the right to pray at the Kotel — Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the symbolic center of Jewish life, the magnet that draws observant and non-observant Jews, non-Jews, poets, and often even skeptics, close to it, as if they were pure iron filings.

The group, which was formed in the late 1980s, has been bolstered by legal wins. Its most important recent victory was the April 2013 decision by Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court, who ruled that the city police were wrong when they arrested five women for the crime of wearing tallitot at the women’s section of the Kotel.

 

Twenty years later

Stephen Flatow remembers his murdered daughter Alisa

When you ask attorney Stephen Flatow of West Orange how many children he has, his answer is immediate.

“I have five children,” he says.

Not surprising. What father doesn’t know how many children he has?

And how are they doing?

Four of them are flourishing; they are all married and all parents. Mr. Flatow and his wife, Rosalyn, have 13 grandchildren, and another one’s on the way. (And three of the Flatows’ children live in Bergen County.)

But the fifth, his oldest, Alisa, was murdered by terrorists when she was 20; her 20th yahrzeit was last week. She has been dead as long as she was alive.

“Just because she isn’t there now, that doesn’t mean I’m not her father,” he said. “I just don’t have any recent pictures of her to show.”

 

‘A do-it-yourself disease’

Before Saddle Brook walk, families of ALS patients talk about the disease’s impact

In early 2014, just shy of his 12th birthday, Eitan David Jacobi of Teaneck told his parents he was having trouble raising his arms. It was particularly hard for him to shoot basketballs.

This was a first for the youngster, said his mother, Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi, who described her son as an active, funny, and very social kid.

In fact, she said, he had spent the previous summer as a camper at Ramah Nyack. And when he fell off a horse in early November, “we told him to get back on.” Usually that’s good advice. But Eitan did not have the strength to stay on the horse.

“We didn’t have a clue,” Rabbi Forman-Jacobi, a past vice-principal of the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. “It took us until Thanksgiving to get to a neurologist.” By that time, Eitan was “unable to reach to get to the microwave or to open cabinets.”

 

RECENTLYADDED

Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
S M T W T F S
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31