Ahead of State of the Union, Jewish leaders prioritize Israeli-Palestinian talks and Iran

President Barack Obama delivers the 2012 State of the Union address. Credit: Pete Souza/White House.

(JNS.org) Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations and the Iran nuclear program are at the top of the Jewish community’s agenda ahead of tonight’s annual State of the Union address, in addition to issues such as immigration and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America, told JNS.org that the Jewish federations urge President Barack Obama to “reiterate his commitment to ensuring Iran does not develop a nuclear weapons capacity, while keeping ‘all options on the table.’”

Sarah Stern, president and founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, said she would “be encouraged to see (Obama) say that ‘yes, we’d like to see two (Palestinian and Israeli) states living in peace side by side, but it is unlikely to come about, as long as the Palestinians continue to teach their children that one day all of the land will be theirs.”

“I’m obviously not happy with the Iran deal and I would like to hear him say that if Iran doesn’t meet all of the expectations, not only will the U.S. pull out, but they will at the same time ratchet up sanctions that they’ll impose in the Menendez-Kirk bill,” Fred Zeidman, national chairman of Israel Bonds and vice chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told JNS.org.

Dina Siegel Vann, director of the Latino and Latin American Institute of the American Jewish Committee, stressed her hope that Obama calls comprehensive immigration reform a top priority for his administration. “Fixing our broken immigration system has to contemplate a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, effective enforcement, increased visas for high and low-skilled immigrant workers to satisfy the labor needs of American businesses to remain competitive in a global economy, and support for family reunification,” she said.

Regarding healthcare reform, Mark Olshan—associate executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International—said, “We’d like to see references in particular to the importance of continued outreach to the younger, more-healthy older population—those in their 50s and 60s who could not get insurance coverage before the health reform and affordable care was enacted, but now obviously can, and we strongly endorse and support that.”

Posted on January 28, 2014 .