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(Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2019)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:

It is difficult to discuss any issues today without addressing the utter breakdown in bipartisanship among our elected officials. We welcome President Donald J. Trump’s attention during his State of the Union address to the issue of compromise. We cannot focus on our most important concerns, nor hope to achieve successes, without a significant measure of cross-party support. We are deeply disappointed in the collapse of bipartisan agreement on issues big and small.

B’nai B’rith is committed to a peaceful and secure existence for the State of Israel, and by and large, Congress and the White House have agreed that supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is vital to stability in the region. We are encouraged that the president expressed his support for the longstanding U.S.-Israel alliance and highlighted the 2018 move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Israel’s rightful capital.  We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s hegemonic tendencies in the Middle East and the existential threat it poses to Israel. We welcome the president’s forceful commitment to keep Iran and the threat it poses globally in check.

We appreciate the special attention given during the address to the frightening rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. with the inclusion of Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting survivors Judah Samet and injured police officer Timothy Matson as special White House guests in the House gallery.

B’nai B’rith is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, which, of course, has become one of the most contentious issues of our time. While we support the need for border security, we continue to be committed to a compassionate and legal immigration system.

In June, B’nai B’rith wrote to the attorney general to express our deep concern with the administration’s immigration policy. In our letter, we noted: “The American Jewish community well understands the plight of immigrants fleeing violence and oppression in hope of a better life. We believe that how the United States treats its newest arrivals reflects on the values and ideals of our country.”  We also noted: “Founded by immigrants to the U.S. fleeing persecution abroad, B’nai B’rith sympathizes with new immigrants to our country and the many struggles they face. We are therefore committed to a compassionate immigration system that reflects the crucial values of family unity and justice.”

We had hoped for a greater focus on the health and housing needs of low-income seniors. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low income, nonsectarian housing for seniors, we are committed to all aspects of healthy aging. We hope the White House and Congress will focus resources on lowering prescription drug prices and providing more affordable housing for seniors of limited means. Currently, too many seniors are forced to self-ration prescribed medications because they just cannot afford what their medical care team says they need to maintain their health, and we welcome the president’s commitment to bipartisan efforts to address the high cost of prescription drugs. The waiting list for affordable apartments for seniors of limited means is years-long. Any discussion of investments in infrastructure should include bipartisan commitment for more senior housing.

The recent partial government shutdown proved just how vital government services are to our nation’s economy and its moral fabric. As we approach another funding deadline, we hope the parties will pause to consider the collateral damage extreme partisanship has on the American people and opt for compromise.