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Editor's Notes: Boosting family ties
By STEVE LINDE
26/12/2013
US-Israel relations to top the agenda at Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.
 
When I asked an Israeli official about the current state of Israel’s relations with the United States, he employed the analogy of a family possessing what has been termed “an unbreakable bond.”

No one likes the idea of spying on each other. That’s not what families or friends do.

We resent it when the Americans push us too far on the Palestinian track. They hate it when we make a noise about the Iran deal.

It is similar to a father’s relationship with an irritating son, the official told me. You don’t like it, but it doesn’t mean you stop loving him.

US-Israel ties have been strained in the wake of the Geneva agreement reached last month between the six world powers, including the US, and Iran. Israeli leaders did not think it went far enough in ensuring that Tehran would halt its nuclear program. This week’s revelations in documents leaked by Edward Snowden of American espionage on emails of Israeli leaders, including then-prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2009, did not help patch things up.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered an inquiry and sought clarification, declaring, “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things that are forbidden and unacceptable to us.”

Asked about the Israel-US relationship this week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told The Jerusalem Post, diplomatically: “The US remains Israel’s indispensable partner. What defines this special relationship is a sense of shared values, ethos and interests, not least in our shared global security concerns. These ties are great, historic and secure, shared at many levels from the American people to the highest levels of public office.”

Liberman will be a keynote speaker at The Jerusalem Post’s third annual conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on April 6, 2014. The event, like the highly successful ones in 2012 and 2013, aims to promote Zionism and the brand name of Israel’s premier English-language newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. The theme will be “Israel, the US and the new Middle East.”

After a buffet breakfast, guests will be treated to newsworthy addresses by prominent Israeli personalities: Olmert, Liberman, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (who also heads negotiations with the Palestinians), Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Post’s Senior Contributing Editor Caroline B. Glick, Communications and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler.

Then, following a sit-down lunch when visitors can mingle with our VIPs, there will be two fascinating panel discussions. Among those participating in the first panel on the security threats facing Israel, moderated by Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon, will be former IDF chief of staff Lt.- Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, Liberman, Livni, Olmert and Glick.

“At the United Nations, US-Israel ties are characterized by our commitment to joint interests and close cooperation across all UN bodies,” Prosor told the Post ahead of the conference.

“From assisting Israel’s recent acceptance into WEOG [the Western European and Others Group] to combating the Palestinian campaign of incitement throughout the UN, the United States stands together with Israel in defense of our common values.

Today, our vocal concern about Iran’s nuclear program is being echoed by a choir from other countries at the UN, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.”

The second panel, focusing on the economy, tourism and investment in Israel, will feature Israel’s consul-general in New York, Ido Aharoni, businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Post columnist Martin Sherman, executive director of the Israel Institute of Strategic Studies, Erdan, Landau and Barkat.

JERUSALEM POST CEO Ronit Hasin-Hochman promises that this conference will be the best to date, attracting extensive coverage in the US and Israel.

“This is the third year that we are having the conference, which is now considered the Jewish world’s most significant news event,” said Hasin-Hochman. “We are proud of the fact that through this conference we can provide Jewish community leaders with the opportunity to have a direct dialogue with top Israeli politicians, security officials and decision-makers, listen to their addresses and panel discussions, ask questions and express opinions.”

This year, she said, the event is expected to sell out its 1,500 audience seats and attract close to 100 media cameras. Those interested in attending should, therefore, reserve a place before it’s too late. Details on purchasing tickets are available on The Jerusalem Post’s popular website, JPost.com.

We are at a critical crossroads in the Middle East. The nine-month deadline for a peace agreement with Palestinians is drawing closer (negotiations resumed in July 2012), terrorists are stepping up their campaign against Israel, the international community is working hard to implement the nuclear deal with Iran and the region is struggling with the forces of democratic change.

Against this backdrop, Israel and the US should be reducing any tensions in bilateral ties and cementing their “unbreakable bonds.”

Toward that goal, we must stop mutual spying and recriminations. We should really be treating each other like close relatives and good friends. This is the time to forgive past sins and move on.

We appeal to US President Barack Obama to free Jonathan Pollard immediately so that he can realize his dream of living in Israel with his wife, Esther.

As the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote in its letter to Obama this week, Pollard has served longer than any person convicted of a similar offense and his sentence should be commuted to the 28 years he has already served.

“We hope that in this holiday season, as we approach the new year with hope and expectation, that this request would be considered favorably and that Mr. and Mrs. Pollard would be allowed to rebuild their lives after his having served more than 10,000 days in prison,” the letter stated.

My prayer for 2014 is that the Pollards will be our special guests at the third Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in April.

steve@jpost.com
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