US groups forego Thanksgiving to visit Israel

Conference of Presidents demonstrates solidarity with Israel; Peres thanks American people for their support.

President Shimon Peres Conference of Presidents [file] 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres Conference of Presidents [file] 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
Like several other concerned American Jewish organizations, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations decided to forgo Thanksgiving celebrations in the US and to come to Israel in a demonstration of solidarity.
“We felt that we were in the middle of a war ourselves,” Conference chairman Richard Stone told President Shimon Peres on Thursday night at the President’s Residence, and made it clear that he and his colleagues had delivered the message about Israel’s right to defend herself to the American people, to the government, to the administration and to Congress.
Just before the meeting, between Peres and the delegation, The Jerusalem Post asked Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, what his organization was doing with regard to Jonathan Pollard.
“We’re working on it all the time,” said Hoenlein. “We support all efforts for clemency for Pollard.”
Peres who has had countless meetings with Conference delegations over the years declared how moving it was for Israel that members of the delegation had come at their own initiative on such an important day for Americans. He expressed appreciation to the American people for standing morally and courageously with Israel, and particularly US President Barack Obama “for what he said and what he did.”
The main question now, said Peres is what happens next. “The army chapter is over and now there’s a new political chapter with new players.”
In this respect he singled out Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who he credited with showing great statesmanship and making a significant contribution to the cease-fire.
“He’s a new player in the Middle East and he’s started off on the right foot,” said Peres.
The support that Israel received from so many different quarters during the conflict indicated that contrary to widely held belief, Israel is not alone. “We have a lot of friends,” said Peres.
He also noted that Israel had not initiated the hostilities, and that it was wrong for people to make comparisons about the number of casualties on each side.
What was important he said, was that Hamas was firing on Israeli children every day as they went to school.“We didn’t look for a confrontation,” he said. “They started it.”