Brog's Blog

February 1, 2010

Victory in the Senate

Filed under: All Posts — brogsblog @ 7:53 pm

Last Thursday, the United States Senate passed the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act.  This legislation combines CUFI’s two top legislative priorities into one bill.  In particular, this legislation 1) authorizes the President to impose tough new sanctions on any company that sells gasoline or other refined petroleum products to Iran and 2) provides legal protection to state and local governments and fund managers who divest from energy companies doing business with Iran.
This bill passed by voice vote, with no senator objecting.  Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in December.  Finally, both houses of Congress have acted to employ the toughest economic means at our disposal to stop Iran from going nuclear.
This Senate action is a significant victory for CUFI. We have made these Iran santions bills the focus of our Capitol Hill meetings for the past two years.  We have also sent repeated action alerts to sustain momentum for them — and you have responded by contacting your legislators in overwhelming numbers.  We know that our efforts demonstrated to Congress that support for tough Iran sanctions was broad and deep across America.  And we know that our focus and persistence made it clear to Congress that we would not sit by quietly if they failed to act.
While this Senate vote is an important milestone, our work is not yet complete.  These Iran bills will now go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions.  Then each chamber must vote once more on the compromise language that emerges.
We promise to continue closely monitoring the progress of this legislation.  We will let you know if and when we once again need your help to ensure that this legislation continues to move forward.
No one knows for sure if these sanctions will stop Iran’s steady march towards nuclear weapons.  But the fact that weak sanctions have not worked in the past is no excuse for not trying tough sanctions now.  And we all know that the stakes are too high not to try all peaceful means at our disposal.
Haiti:  A Window to Israel’s Soul- January 25, 2010
Last Thursday, we sent out an e-mail appeal inviting you to donate to an Israeli nonprofit — IsraAID — doing lifesaving work on the front lines in  Haiti.  This was a departure for Christians United for Israel.  At our Nights to Honor Israel, we typically raise funds for charities doing work in Israel proper.  We save our e-mail appeals for raising the funds that enable us to continue our own operations here at home.  But we believed that the emergency in Haiti demanded an exception.  We have been encouraged to see from your generous response that you agree.
As we watched the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, we were proud to learn that Israeli search teams were among the first to rescue survivors, and that Israeli medical teams had taken the lead in treating them.  I know that this pride was widespread throughout the pro-Israel community.  Over and over again, friends of Israel forwarded each other links to videos and articles praising Israel’s humanitarian efforts.  It was as if members of our own family had traveled down to Haiti to help.
Why such a groundswell of pride?  After all, this is hardly the first time that Israel has accomplished an amazing feat.  Israel defeated five Arab armies in six days.  Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor.  Israel has more high technology companies listed on the NASDAQ than any other country in the world except for the United States.  The list of outsized accomplishments goes on.
Yet the fact is that Israel’s efforts in Haiti do touch us more deeply, and they do so for a reason that goes to the very heart of our Judeo-Christian values.  In Leviticus, God commands the children of Israel to love their neighbors as themselves.  Jesus would later cite this commandment as one of the two most important in the Bible (next to loving God).  The rabbis who wrote the Talmud would do likewise.  “Whoever saves a life,” the Talmud teaches “it is as if he has saved the entire world.”  In addition, both Judaism and Christianity anticipate that Israel will play a special role in bringing these blessings of love and respect to all mankind: “and through Israel will all of the nations of the world be blessed.”
Both Judaism and Christianity stress the supreme value of human life and the need to love our fellow human beings.  Yet when it comes to our support for Israel, we rarely get to celebrate these higher values.  Harsh reality forces us — as it forces the Israelis themselves — to turn our attention to war and security.  Israel is locked in a battle for its very survival with terrorists and fanatics.  To defend its citizens, Israeli soldiers must often fight terrorists who plot and attack from the midst of civilian centers.  And, as we know from our own experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, such battles too often result in the injury and even death of innocents.
The fact is that Israel’s enemies force her and her supporters into roles we despise.  The Israelis must embrace — and we must explain — the use of guns, missiles and other machinery of death.  Yet last week, for a brief moment, we saw Israel playing the role that the Bible promised it would play.  For a welcome interval, the Israelis got to do the work they and we have always longed to do.  Suddenly, it was as if the dark struggle for survival was put on hold, and Israel could finally emerge into the bright sunshine of our most cherished values.  To many observers, Israel’s display of humanitarian zeal was a surprise they dismissed as a mere ploy.  To us, Israel’s efforts were a reminder of the deep humanism we’ve always recognized in this embattled ally and its people.
Soon, the news from Haiti will begin to fade.  Israel will return to the often ugly work of fighting a war on terror that appears to be without end.  The world will soon return to seeing Israel as the aggressor and the oppressor.  But we will remember Haiti.  And we will remember what we’ve known in our hearts all along: through Israel will all of the nations of the world be blessed.  The sooner that Israel is finally living in peace with her neighbors, the sooner the Israelis will be free to focus their energy on what really matters most: serving humanity.  We will stand by Israel in its fight while we join the Israelis in their daily prayers to learn war no more.

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