NORPAC June 2017 Newsletter
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. BenMessage from the President

We are well into the 2018 election cycle and the news is dominated by health care reform and concerns on foreign intervention on our elections. 

The initiative of President Trump to realign America with the Sunni bloc of nations led by Saudi Arabia in the Middle East over the Shiite states led by Iran has changed the paradigm in the that region toward less focus on Israel as an adversary by these Sunni states. While we admit this is a low bar for these historically anti-Semitic countries, it is still welcome.

The war against ISIS, as predicted by Henry Kissinger, has had the unfortunate consequence of opening up a land route for Iran to the Mediterranean. Since the Trump administration's successful efforts against ISIS, land access to Syria and Jordan is now open to Iran for the first time in years. This has the unfortunate consequence of having a dominant Persian influence from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea. Power vacuums are quickly filled in this volatile region and Israel now has a well-funded and well-armed adversary at its northern border.

Wasted Money
We have been making the case to Members of Congress that funding to the Lebanese Army should be eliminated as there is no longer daylight between them and Hezbollah. In addition, we have also been recommending a re-evaluation US of funding of UNRWA. This so-called UN "relief" agency has been funding a 5 generation population of perpetual refugees committed to the demise of Israel. 

According to the UNRWA website, the US gave $380 million in 2015: https://www.unrwa.org/how-you-can-help/government-partners/funding-trends

According to this Reuters article, aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) topped $220 million in 2016, making Lebanon the fifth-biggest recipient of American military assistance that year: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-military-usa-idUSKCN10K0XI

Bipartisan Efforts
One of our efforts over the last 25 years that NORPAC has been around is to 
facilitate bipartisan support for our issues. We have worked hard to always make the moral case for any of our issues. We do raise money for candidates, but in the scheme of things, the sums are by comparison modest, especially in these days of poorly regulated SuperPACs. By making our issues align with American strategic and moral values, we have been highly effective. Because our issues are those of the heart, and by the kindness of Hashem (Gd), our fundraising and advocacy have been effective.

Every Senator and many House Members in leadership roles are centers of American Political Power and it behooves us to have a voice in these offices. 
 
 
 
 
 
NORPAC Members of the Month:
Howard & Debbie Jonas


Howard & Debbie Jonas

Each month we recognize the accomplishments of our members and community leaders who help to advance the cause of pro-Israel advocacy. This month we express our great appreciation to Howard & Debbie Jonas.

Howard Jonas is the founder, chairman, and controlling shareholder of IDT Corporation. He graduated from Bronx High School of Science and then got a BA in economics from Harvard University.

Debbie Jonas is also a graduate of Harvard University and an accomplished attorney and a graduate of Cardozo Law School where she was a member of the Immigration Justice Clinic and the Criminal Defense Clinic. She took a break from law to raise her 9 children, and spent 27 years teaching grade school. Together with her husband, they are among the leading Jewish philanthropists in the USA.

In addition to their tremendous charity, Howard & Debbie have been staunch supporters of Israel and the US-Israel relationship. Since becoming NORPAC members in 1999, they have hosted dozens of Senators at their home in Riverdale, NY, and at the IDT office in Newark. Most recently, Senator Menendez met with hundreds of IDT workers at a June event co-chaired by their son Shmuel.

Howard and Debbie are among the most active pro-Israel advocates in America. Their constant devotion to this cause, and their generosity to charity causes both here and overseas, is a tremendous inspiration to all of us and continues to be a leading force behind NORPAC's efforts on Capitol Hill.
 
 
 
 
 
2018 Senate Races

The list below contains information on the 2018 current cycle Senate races.

To date, we have Event Chairs for the following Senate races:
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ) by Kevin & Lori Lemmer Date pending
  • Ben Cardin (D-MD) by Dr. Bob Goodman and separately by Dr. Munr Kazmir 
  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO) by Rella Feldman & Curtiss Pulitzer
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS) by Leon & Roslyn Kozak
  • Bob Corker (R-TN) by Drew & Careena Parker September 24 and separately by Dr. Munr Kazmir July 16
  • John Barasso (R-WY) by Diane & Ron Strobel and Alan & Mark Berger
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ) by Mort Fridman and separately by Moshael Straus and Separately by Howard Jonas 
  • Jon Tester (D-MT) Reuven & Leah Escott Date Pending
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX) by Trudy & Stanley Stern Date Pending
  • Josh Mandel (R-OH) by Raphael & Linda Benaroya, and separately by Adam Sasounis date pending. 
  • John Thune (R-SD) by Drs. Marc and Alan Berger Date Pending

We are looking for hosts for other members of the Senate up for re-election. If you have an interest in one of the members below, please contact me at bchouake@aol.com

State 2014 PVI Incumbent 2012
result
Cook
Feb. 9
2017
[6]
Roth.
Feb. 10
2017
[7]
Alabama R+14 Luther Strange (R) N/A Safe R Safe R
Arizona R+7 Jeff Flake (R) 49% R Lean R Likely R
California D+9 Dianne Feinstein (D) 63% D Safe D Safe D
Connecticut D+7 Chris Murphy (D) 55% D Safe D Safe D
Delaware D+8 Tom Carper (D) 66% D Safe D Safe D
Florida R+2 Bill Nelson (D) 55% D Lean D Tilt D
Hawaii D+20 Mazie Hirono (D) 63% D Safe D Safe D
Indiana R+5 Joe Donnelly (D) 50% D Lean D Tossup
Maine D+6 Angus King (I) 53% I Lean D Safe D
Maryland D+10 Ben Cardin (D) 55% D Safe D Safe D
Massachusetts D+10 Elizabeth Warren (D) 54% D Safe D Safe D
Michigan D+4 Debbie Stabenow (D) 59% D Likely D Safe D
Minnesota D+2 Amy Klobuchar (D) 65% D Likely D Safe D
Mississippi R+9 Roger Wicker (R) 57% R Safe R Safe R
Missouri R+5 Claire McCaskill (D) 55% D Lean D Tossup
Montana R+7 Jon Tester (D) 49% D Likely D Tilt D
Nebraska R+12 Deb Fischer (R) 56% R Safe R Safe R
Nevada D+2 Dean Heller (R) 46% R Lean R Lean R
New Jersey D+6 Bob Menendez (D) 59% D Likely D Safe D
New Mexico D+4 Martin Heinrich (D) 51% D Safe D Safe D
New York D+11 Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 72% D Safe D Safe D
North Dakota R+10 Heidi Heitkamp (D) 50% D Likely D Tossup
Ohio R+1 Sherrod Brown (D) 51% D Lean D Lean D
Pennsylvania D+1 Bob Casey (D) 54% D Likely D Lean D
Rhode Island D+11 Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 64% D Safe D Safe D
Tennessee R+12 Bob Corker (R) 65% R Safe R Safe R
Texas R+10 Ted Cruz (R) 57% R Safe R Safe R
Utah R+22 Orrin Hatch (R) 65% R Safe R Safe R
Vermont D+16 Bernie Sanders (I) 71% I Safe D Safe D
Virginia Even Tim Kaine (D) 53% D Likely D Likely D
Washington D+5 Maria Cantwell (D) 61% D Safe D Safe D
West Virginia R+13 Joe Manchin (D) 61% D Likely D Tossup
Wisconsin D+2 Tammy Baldwin (D) 51% D Likely D Tilt D
Wyoming R+22 John Barrasso (R) 76% R Safe R
 
 
 
 
 
NORPAC Mission 2017 - A Success!

NORPAC proudly sent a thousand pro-Israel advocates to Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 17th to meet with 94 Senate offices and the majority of the House of Representatives. You can view our talking points online here.

You can read more about the trip in these articles in the Jewish Link and the Jewish Standard.

We hope to see you with us on our next Mission to Washington!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Congratulations to NORPAC Members

​​​​​​​Drs. Mort & Esther Fridman on the birth of a grandson from Rabbi Daniel and Chaya Fridman.
To Esther & Ben Chouake on the graduation of their daughter Tovah from Medical School and their son Jason from Residency 
To Charles and Even Epstein in the marriage of their daughter Robin to Ron Kauderer
To Dr. Alan and Connie Kadish on the birth of a grandson
To Eric and Orly Herschmann on the birth of a daughter
To Jack and Moran Halpern on the birth of a son.

Please send announcements to avi@norpac.net 

 
 
 
 
 
US-Israel Relations In The News

Iran
Iran has emboldened its stance in the Middle East in recent weeks by their firing of six ballistic missiles against ISIS with a range of 700 kilometers. With such range, these missiles could potentially hit major Saudi cities, among other targets in the region. In the meantime the Trump administration has maintained a consistent stance that Iran, the world’s main state sponsor of terrorism, poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East

In mid-June, the Senate voted 98 to 2 for the first major piece of foreign policy legislation the chamber has considered this year, a bill stepping up sanctions against Iran and Russia. This Iran sanctions legislation is now in the house. One of the problems with this legislation is that they amended it to include sanctions against Russia as well. Given the current environment on anger over alleged hacking by Russia during the American election the Senate put in the Russia Sanctions without an executive waiver. Historically all administrations have opposed sanctions legislation and vehemently unless an executive waiver was included. this and we anticipate the Trump Administration will use it's influence in the House to change the legislation to allow for an executive waiver slowing down the passage of this bill. 

Former U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, now an advisory board member of United Against Nuclear Iran, recently published an op-ed on Iran's continued money laundering and terrorism financing activities since the signing of the JCPOA. You can read the article online here.

Hezbollah
Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and other nations, has been a crucial fighting force in Syria's civil war, integral to the survival of the Assad regime. While the Lebanese militant group’s popularity across the Middle East has plummeted, its military might has been hugely strengthened, an evolution that is being anxiously watched by Israel and America.

There is pending legislation in the US Congress to further sanction Lebanese and other foreign entities that conduct business transactions with Hezbollah.

Syria
In June, U.S. forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet in what they said was an act of self-defense. The incident is the fourth time in as many weeks that the United States has shot at pro-Syrian-government forces, and it carries the potential for further escalation — particularly with Russia threatening to target U.S. aircraft that fly into parts of Syria. For its part, the Trump administration has made no public statement committing to advancing American involvement in the region. The administration has made it clear that it will have little tolerance for the use of chemical weapons by Assad. We applaud the moral clarity of the Administration on the use of chemical weapons. 

Peace Process
President Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner recently joined Jason Greenblatt, the President chief negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also scheduled to go to the West Bank for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. The trip marks the Administration's continuing efforts to lay a groundwork for a peace deal.
 
 
 
 
 
NORPAC Legislative Efforts

There were several important legislative efforts in Congress over the past months to bolster US-Israel relations. Most of these were part of our Mission to Washington 2017 Talking Points.

Military Assistance and Aid to Israel
We applaud the House Appropriations Committee and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees for advancing U.S.-Israel missile defense assistance and cooperation in the 2018 defense appropriations and authorizations bills. These funds will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats, and contribute to America’s missile defense programs.

These committees provided a total of $705 million for research and development and procurement funding for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense systems. This funding represents a $558 million increase above the president’s budget request for these programs, and $105 million over last year’s adopted funding level. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider its version of the defense bill later this year.

Iran
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the United States Senate on a nearly unanimous vote in favor of S. 722, (98-2) placing sanctions on Iran for its terrorist activities.

S. 722 was authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and SFRC Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bipartisan bill will deter any entity from assisting Iran in its ballistic missile program by threat of sanctions, and places sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety. The legislation in no way violates the letter or spirit of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. It will likely be modified in the House to reinstate executive waivers. 

Hezbollah
Following the NORPAC Mission, additional sanctions on Hezbollah are expected in a bipartisan bill being drafted by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY). This legislation will expand upon 2015's Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act by targeting any entity conducting business with the terrorist group. NORPAC was instrumental in facilitating the first Hezbollah sanctions bill and we advocated for the pending legislation during our last Mission to Washington.  

BDS
We are pleased to announce that the Combating BDS Act of 2017 has now been re-introduced by Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) in the House of Representatives as H.R. 2856. You can find co-sponsors and more information here.

The Combating BDS Act of 2017 provides clear, legal authority for state and local government divestment efforts from entities knowingly engaged in BDS economic warfare against Israel. By clarifying this authority, the Act will protect state and local governments from lawsuits alleging that they are unreasonably burdening or discriminating against interstate or foreign commerce.

Please thank your Members of Congress for their actions this month on behalf of US-Israel relations.

Taylor Force Act
This bill is good in concept. We are advised the bill needs technical corrections to make it more effective. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Corker and Ranking Member Senator Cardin are working on the wording and we expect it to have broad bipartisan support when it comes out hopefully soon.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Upcoming Events
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Sunday, August 27th in Englewood, NJ
Eric & Orly Herschmann welcome Senator Joe Manchin to a NORPAC event on August 27th in Englewood. Senator Manchin was one of four Democrats to vote against the JCPOA. 
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Robert Casey (D-PA)
Tuesday, August 29th in Teaneck, NJ
Ken Hoffman will be hosting Senator Robert Casey at his home in Teaneck in August. For those wishing to participate please contact avi@norpac.net.
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Sunday, September 17th in Englewood, NJ
Marion & William Weiss welcome Senator Deb Fischer to a NORPAC event at their home in Englewood on Sunday, September 17th. The Gontownik family will be Chairing the event with the Weiss family. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Upcoming Events (Dates Pending)
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Pending: September 24 in Englewood NJ
Drew & Careena Parker welcome Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to an event later this Summer. For those wishing to participate please contact avi@norpac.net.
 
 
 
 
 
Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ)

NORPAC's Edison & Highland Park chapter looks forward to welcoming Rep. Leonard Lance to an event chaired by Robert Kreitman later this year.

Congressman Leonard Lance serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he is Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

Lance currently leads the House Congressional Israel Caucus for 114th Congress. "Israel is the preeminent democracy in the Middle East and a steadfast partner of the United States.  Together our Nations have worked collaboratively toward common interests and goals including the safety, security and freedom of all people around the world.  Our work in the Caucus will continue to facilitate cooperation between our two Nations,” said Lance.

Please join us in support of this event later this year.
 
 
 
 
 
Senator John Thune (R-SD)
Senator John Thune will be joining us for his first NORPAC event, hosted by Drs. Alan and Marc Berger later this year.

John Thune is Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. He is pushing hard to make sure that the United States Senate is doing its job in support of Israel, making sure that they are able to defend themselves, and that the funding for the Iron Dome which has been so effective as a defense mechanism against Hamas rocket attacks is funded in a way that allows Israel to continue to use it in that capability.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Recent Past Events
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Thursday, June 22nd in Teaneck, NJ
From Left: Curtiss Pulitzer (Host), Sen. McCaskill, Rella Feldman (Host)

 
 
 
 
 
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sunday, June 18th in Englewood, NJ

Senator Barrasso (Center) with hosts Ron & Diane Strobel and their Family
 
 
 
 
 
Josh Mandel for Senate (R-OH)
Monday, June 5th in Englewood, NJ

From Left: Ben Chouake (Chair), Josh Mandel, Raphael Benaroya (Host)
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Monday, June 5th in Newark, NJ

Senator Menendez (2nd-to-right) at IDT in Newark, NJ
 
 
 
 
 
Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY)
Monday, May 8th in Flushing, NY
Congressman Crowley at the home of Paula & David Berger in Queens
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sunday, April 30th in Teaneck, NJ

From Left: Dr. Robert Goodman (Host), Senator Cardin
 
 
 
 
 
Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
Thursday, April 20th in Englewood, NJ

From Left: Arthur Sinensky (Co-Host), Rep. Gottheimer
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Sunday, March 26th in Englewood, NJ

From Left: Dr. Roslyn Kozak (Host), Senator Wicker, Leon Kozak (Host)
 
 
 
 
 
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sunday, March 26th in Englewood, NJ

From Left: Moshael Straus (Chair), Senator Menendez, Ben Chouake (Host)
 
 
 
 
 
Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
Monday, February 20th in Closter, NJ
From Left: Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Sima Kazmir, Dr. Munr Kazmir (Host)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Does Dr Ben Own a Suit

I have thick skin for certain criticisms. Certainly, if I can sit next to the old Gabbai in shul who has been complaining about my clothes for 20 years, it must be so.

Some may wonder if I even own a suit. In fact, I do own one suit that fits, for weddings and some events. I actually do own a lot more suits, but since I have gained about 35 pounds writing these newsletters instead of exercising, those suits are way too tight. I guess I could buy new ones, but in my head, I keep hearing my European grandmother of blessed memory moaning how could I waste the money instead of losing the weight. Time to convert the treadmill from a clothing hanger to an exercise machine.
 
 
 
 
 
Seeking Hosts for Events

We like to host as many Senators and important House members as we can each election cycle.

We are seeking hosts for events for the following candidates at this time:

Senate Members:)
Connecticut - Chris Murphy (Democratic)
Delaware - Tom Carper (Democratic)
Florida - Bill Nelson (Democratic)
Hawaii - Mazie Hirono (Democratic)
Indiana - Joe Donnelly (Democratic)
Maine - Angus King (Independent)
Massachusetts - Elizabeth Warren (Democratic)
Michigan - Debbie Stabenow (Democratic)
Minnesota - Amy Klobuchar (Democratic)
Montana - Jon Tester (Democratic)
Nevada - Dean Heller (Republican)
New Jersey - Bob Menendez (Democratic)
New Mexico - Martin Heinrich (Democratic)
New York - Kirsten Gillibrand (Democratic)
North Dakota - Heidi Heitkamp (Democratic)
Rhode Island - Sheldon Whitehouse (Democratic)
Texas - Ted Cruz (Republican)
Utah - Orrin Hatch (Republican)
Virginia - Tim Kaine (Democratic)
Washington - Maria Cantwell (Democratic)
Wisconsin - Tammy Baldwin (Democratic)
House Members
Representative Carolyn Maloney
Representative Alcee Hastings​​​​​​​

Time to step into the Ring (Host an Event)
Now that we have had the Mission to Washington, here comes the followup. We are busy contacting the Members and staffers, working to form relationships, and hopefully solidifying key contacts with Members.

Sponsoring a parlor meeting in your home is a sign of friendship and leadership, and is well-recognized by the Members of Congress. It sets you in an elite class of citizen advocates that is engaged both on a time and energy basis, and a financial basis. If you wish to take such a leadership role please contact me at bchouake@aol.com
 
 
 
 
 
Educational Initiative

The college campus climate against Israel and Jews has gotten overtly hostile, and the NORPAC leadership has taken the task to help protect and prepare our students. NORPAC lay leadership is coordinating with the Yeshiva Day Schools to facilitate training students for Jewish Advocacy.  We plan to teach them how to defend Israel and themselves as Jews in class, how to debate, practice public speaking, and how to address fellow students about these issues.

Training our high school students is the most cost efficient and most effective way to prepare the next generation for what lies ahead.

NORPAC has posted curriculum from various sources on the Website and our members are engaged with the schools in setting up the programs and integrating advocacy knowledge and skills into the school curriculum. For anyone interested in a leadership role at their school, please contact avi@norpac.net or bchouake@aol.com.

Current lay leaders funding this initiative at various schools include:
Abigail & Scott Herschmann, Monique & Mort Katz, Anne & Jerry Gontownik, Esther & Paul Lerer, Esther & Ben Chouake.

We are looking for additional lay leaders for this Student Advocacy team. Please contact me or Avi if you are willing to help. 

We applaud Rabbi Ciner and Dr. Stein for implementing a national model of student advocacy training at Frisch Yeshiva High School. We thank the staff at Myaanot for initiating their program as well. 
 
 
 
 
 
Renew Your Donation

Pray for the safety of the IDF and Israel, and do something more. Donate to - and participate with - NORPAC, an organization in the front lines of virtually every struggle to ensure the survival of the Jewish homeland. Our work gives Jerusalem greater agency to protect its people.

The NORPAC general fund is becoming depleted with the enormous volume of events we have sponsored. It is our responsibility to contribute so that this miracle in our lifetime can continue.  Please do your part so that we can continue to facilitate the survival of America, Israel, and the Jewish people. Your donation is more than Tzedakah (charity), it is Pikuach Nefesh (saving lives).

Every dollar counts. Please go to http://norpac.net/contribute to donate, or call Avi Schranz at 201-788-5133.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at future events.

Ben Chouake, MD (Dr Ben)
 
 
 
 
Paid for by NORPAC