B’nai B’rith International welcomes President Obama’s strong support for Israel as a “Jewish state,” during the State of the Union address. We appreciate his attention to specific issues, domestic and international, that we view as priorities.
In referring to “the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side…” the president reconfirmed the strong alliance between the United States and Israel. With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, while we share the administration's objective of a peaceful resolution to this contentious conflict, in order to do that, we support a long-term security presence for Israel along the Jordan River line, and the absolute necessity, if there is to be any chance of an end-of-conflict, that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
On Iran, there is no question that all of us want an Iran without nuclear weapons. There is, though, an honest disagreement on the issue of additional pressure on Iran to make it absolutely clear to Tehran that it has no room to dissemble and deceive its way out of totally dismantling its nuclear weapons program and the infrastructure that comes with it. It was important that the president acknowledged Iran’s support for terror groups such as Hezbollah. B’nai B’rith has consistently called for the strongest sanctions against Iran, including those now being considered by the Senate. But we will watch with great caution and concern the global engagement with Iran and the president’s warning that he will veto additional sanctions measures. Sanctions have proven effective in impacting Iran’s economy—their strong, and continuing bearing on the Iranian economy should serve as a constant reminder to the Iranian regime that it must end its nuclear ambitions.
As a long-standing advocate of meaningful gun control, B’nai B’rith is encouraged that the topic of gun violence was given significant attention.
Energy independence received renewed attention as well. Our current dependence on foreign oil undermines our security as it forces the United States to rely on fossil fuels from countries whose interests are at odds to our own. B’nai B’rith supports the president’s call for investment in alternative energy programs.
We commend the president for once again spotlighting immigration reform. B’nai B’rith is a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. As a country of immigrants, America must embrace a reform plan. Creating a path to citizenship for millions of the country’s undocumented immigrants will contribute to the well-being of the country.
We are disappointed more attention was not given to issues facing senior citizens—a core issue for B’nai B’rith. The president’s only major mention of retirement, or aging in general, was about his “MyRA” idea which would create an IRA-like savings vehicle for more Americans. While noting this initiative, we are concerned he did not address ways to make Social Security more adequate for the millions of Americans who, as workers, live pay check to pay check and cannot avail themselves of existing or new IRAs simply for lack of disposable income.
We recognize the State of the Union is a framework and a guideline for the president’s top priorities. But it does offer constructive insights. B’nai B’rith will review additional details and continue our strong advocacy on our top priorities.