(Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2020)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
A focus on Iran had a rightful place in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. Trump noted that sanctions against Iran were negatively impacting the Iranian economy. We continue to favor the approach of sustained pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and other malign activities.
We are encouraged by the Israel-Palestinian peace plan Trump reiterated in his State of the Union address. Unveiled last week, the plan provides some crucial measures: it takes into account Israel’s vital security needs and reaffirms Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, among other key provisions. Crucially, it also would not allow for the Palestinian “right of return,” which would end the State of Israel’s Jewish majority and, by extension, the state of Israel. We support this plan that is predicated on direct negotiations between the parties.
We were disappointed that the president did not acknowledge the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. With Jews under attack – physically as well as through relentless social media assaults – a plan to combat anti-Semitism would have fit in well with his overall themes of security and equality.
We commend the president for acknowledging Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, who wishes to restore ties with Israel.
We support the energy independence Trump noted in his speech. Energy independence is vital to ensure the United States does not rely on oil from countries whose interests are not aligned with our own. While we affirm the need for energy independence, we are open to opportunities for clean alternative energy.
Immigration reform remains a troubling issue in the country. We are committed to comprehensive immigration reform that respects the need for border security while offering a compassionate system of legal immigration. The president did salute a border officer who worked to protect migrant workers. In sum, we support a bipartisan solution to combine border enforcement with a path to citizenship.
The president addressed gun rights and we continue to hope for sensible bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing gun violence.
We have a long history of advocacy on issues important to seniors, such as ensuring such social safety nets as Social Security and Medicare. We are interested to learn details about how the president will support these programs. We also support a bipartisan effort to lower prescription drug prices. We also were pleased to witness roaring support for a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the provision protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions.
The president supported freedom of religion with a passing reference to prayer in school. We urge adherence to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause which prohibits the endorsement by school officials of one particular religion.
B’nai B’rith International will monitor details of some of the initiatives announced tonight as they become available.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org