Lifting the Blockade of Gaza
Residents of Gaza which is blockaded by Israel feel they live to a “besieged castle that can fall at any moment.” In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers from Gaza. The Israelis left behind greenhouses which had been used to grow valuable produce exported to Europe.
Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and commenced launching rockets into Israel and sending terrorists through underground tunnels to murder Israelis. In response, Israel blockaded Gaza. To end the blockade, Hamas simply has to recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence. The Palestinian Authority which governs the West Bank has already accepted these onerous terms.
Defending Senator Robert Menendez
A recent Op-Ed by Carolyn Glick featured in the Jerusalem Post levied erroneous accusations of anti-Semitism against Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of David Friedman. These accusatory remarks, based on a question of Friedman's adherence to his prospective duties as Ambassador, are gross distortions of Senator Menendez's stance on Israel and his relationship with his Jewish constituency.
The Senator was questioning whether Mr. Friedman, who is personally passionate about a particular issue – in this case Israel – would be able to make the transition from private citizen-advocate to an official representative of the United States government. In policy making and diplomacy for any issue, personal passions must often be put aside.
Senator Menendez has a long history as one of the staunchest supporters of the Jewish community and the state of Israel. He was among the first members of his party to publicly denounce the 2015 Iran Deal, a deal which the author of the op-ed in question also heavily lambasted, and he has been either the author or leading sponsor on almost all bipartisan pro-Israel legislation. He has regularly fought to promote the safety and security of Israel, even at times against his own party leadership, which entailed significant personal risk and cost. The largest Jewish newspaper in Bergen County appropriately labeled Senator Menendez the “Father of the Iron Dome.” In battles large and small, he has fought for Israel as the “one true democracy in a sea of autocracy,” to use a phrase he often favors.
Senator Menendez speaks out, constantly, and consistently, in public and privately with foreign and domestic leaders against discrimination towards Jews and towards support for our ally Israel. He’s been a fierce critic of BDS, and a fierce critic of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Middle East, and on college campuses right here at home.
In my personal capacity as the National President of NORPAC and as a board member of multiple major Jewish organizations, I have found no stronger and consistent advocate on our issues than Senator Robert Menendez.
I respect Carolyn Glick. We met when I chaired a dinner at the ZOA when she was honored. While she is usually on target, on this matter she was incorrect and owes the Senator and her readers an apology.
Ben Chouake, MD (Dr Ben)
NORPAC National President
Thriving Jewish Life in Great Neck
The beautiful Great Neck peninsula with an area of 10 square miles is located in northwest Nassau County bordering the city of New York. It encompasses nine villages and unincorporated areas within the Town of North Hempstead. Embracing at least 20 parks and recreational centers, Great Neck is surrounded by Long Island Sound on the north, Manhasset Bay on the east and Little Neck Bay on the west.
Three major arteries, the Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway (known as Grand Central in Queens) and Cross Island Parkway provide access from the city. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) services the area with frequent trains for the 25 minute ride to mid-town.
For the past three decades, Jewish life has been thriving on the peninsula. There are at least 15 orthodox synagogues for both Ashkenazi and Sefardi congregants. In contrast earlier years, kosher food is now available within minutes of reach on the peninsula, including 4 supermarkets, 3 butcher shops, 10 restaurants, 3 pizza shops and 2 cafés.
Residents have a choice of growing Yeshivot and Jewish schools around the town. There is a positive trend of enrollments at Jewish educational institutions for children of all ages from kindergarten through high school.
The housing supply in the area has been responding to the rising demand. Soon to be available, Avalon Bay will launch 191 rental apartments, some of which enjoy views of Manhasset Bay. Plans for a few apartment buildings have been approved by their respective municipalities. Builders are currently also offering new state-of-the-art single family houses.
For many years Great Neck has been a very attractive area for Orthodox Jews who want to live in style. The community warmly greets and heartily welcomes every new member.
Welcome to Great Neck!
DeBlasio & Cuomo Feud Continues
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio recently traveled to Albany to testify at a State Legislature Committee meeting to make his case for more aid to NYC. There was no meeting with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. During the last major snowstorm. each held separate news conferences. It appears that the ongoing feud between Cuomo and de Blasio has now entered the fourth year. Both events represent the latest chapter in the respective behavior and ongoing fights between Cuomo and de Blasio. Based on past history between previous Governors and Mayors, this is really nothing new.
Democrats Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have a lot in common with the late Republicans Governor Nelson Rockefeller (1959 - 1974) and NYC Mayor John Lindsay (1966 - 1973) along with Governor George Pataki (1995 -2006) and NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (1994 - 2001). The same is true for the late Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo (1983 - 1992) and New York City Mayor Ed Koch (1978-1988). Nelson Rockefeller, George Pataki, Mario Cuomo and son Andrew Cuomo deal with Mayors who want equal billing on the political marque.
Lindsay's urban, Koch's Big Apple, Giuliani's safety/quality of life and de Blasio's progressive agenda is dependent upon both increased state and federal assistance. de Blasio envisions himself as the national spokesperson for progressive Mayors from all cities. This conflicts with Governors who have to worry about all 62 counties making up New York State. It also creates problems for Governors like Cuomo who harbor Presidential ambitions in 2020.