Fighting Anti-Semitism, Defending Unalienable Rights, 2020 Update

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fighting Anti-Semitism
It was an extraordinary time at the Washington Convention Center yesterday evening as thousands of Christians gathered for a Night to Honor Israel celebration.  I wish all of you could have been there!  (I encourage you to watch it here.)  Below are just a few of the highlights:

  • David Friedman, America's ambassador to Israel, delivered a moving speech about the ancient Jewish connection to Jerusalem, how so much of the Founders' inspiration for the Declaration of Independence came from the Bible and how our two nations share such a rich heritage. 
  • Friedman also recited an incredible list of pro-Israel accomplishments by the Trump Administration with the audience of thousands shouting "Dayenu" (It would have been enough!) after each one.
  • Pastor John Hagee delivered a powerful address denouncing the sin of anti-Semitism and warning against growing anti-Israel, anti-Zionist attitudes in the United States.  "We need to fight this evil darkness until it is destroyed in our Congress, in our churches, in our colleges and universities across our nation," Pastor Hagee declared.

And that is exactly what thousands of pro-Israel Christians are doing today! 
This afternoon, 5,000 CUFI members went to Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional representatives and to encourage their support for the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019 (S. 852).  The legislation creates a clear definition of anti-Semitism that the Department of Education can use when investigating allegations of unlawful harassment against Jewish students. 
Please call your members of Congress right now at 202-224-3121.  Urge them to support the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019.
Defending Unalienable Rights
Last week, the nation celebrated our freedom and the 243rd anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.  America's "mission statement" can be found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . "
I am pleased to report that the Trump Administration is taking a big step toward reorienting our foreign policy toward a greater focus on values and the promotion of human rights. 
Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of a new Commission on Unalienable Rights.  The commission will advise the secretary "on human rights grounded in our nation's founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights." 
I had a chance to speak with Secretary Pompeo yesterday, and he is extremely excited about the new commission and what it can accomplish.  The commission will be led by Professor Mary Ann Glendon and features several distinguished faith leaders and scholars, including my friend Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.
I understand that there are often competing interests in the formation of every government policy, but some values should take precedence over others. 
As you know, I have often been critical of U.S. trade policy toward China.  We were told that trade with China would change China.  It has not.  Overtime, trade with China changed us.  While we overlooked China's gross human rights abuses, we became addicted to its low-cost labor and cheap products. 
The timing of Pompeo's announcement seems divinely inspired.  It comes amid fresh reports of increasing persecution against Christians by Beijing's communist regime. 
Recently, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on which I am honored to serve, urged the Trump Administration to designate China as a "country of particular concern" for its outrageous abuses of religious liberty and to "integrate religious freedom and related human rights diplomacy into ongoing trade negotiations."
Next week, I will be participating in the State Department's second annual Ministerial on the Advancement of Religious Freedom.  After eight long years of the previous administration largely ignoring religious freedom overseas while attacking it here at home, I am pleased to see this administration is once again restoring America's leadership on this paramount issue.
The Left Abandons Reform
If there's one thing Americans of all political stripes agree on, it is the need for reform.  Immigration reform, entitlement reform, government reform, healthcare reform -- you name it.  "Drain the swamp" -- a call to reform -- remains a powerful slogan.
Sadly, when it comes to educational reform, the left isn't interested.  You don't have to take my word for it.  Consider this headline from the liberal Washington Post"Democrats Abandon Charter Schools As 'Reform' Agenda Falls From Favor."
A cavalcade of presidential candidates has appeared before recent teachers' union events and virtually all of them are now denouncing charter schools. 
Education Week commented on the stunning reversal by noting that in 2000 then-Vice President Al Gore proposed "tripling the number" of charter schools.  Today the progressive candidates "are hesitant to say anything positive about charters, and some have sought to distinguish themselves through sharp critiques."
The left claims to be all about "choice," except when it comes to giving parents real choices in how their children are educated.
2020 Update
There's been a major development in the 2020 presidential campaign.  Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) dropped out yesterday and billionaire Tom Steyer jumped in today.
Steyer's candidacy has the potential to really shake up the race. 
As you may know, Steyer has made headlines in recent years for his advocacy of progressive causes.  Most recently, he has bankrolled a myriad of impeachment efforts.
Steyer is vowing to spend $100 million on his campaign. 
In other news, Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted a very strong fundraising report, outraising Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, and coming close to matching Joe Biden.  But all of them were outraised by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeig.  His $25 million haul stunned rivals and party elders.