Obama Addresses Embassy Ceremony Honoring Righteous: 'We Are All Jews'

President Barack Obama spoke at the Righteous Among the Nations Ceremony on Wednesday becoming the first sitting president to deliver a speech at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

President Obama said that anti-Semitism is on the rise and that not only must we not be silent, but "When any Jew anywhere is targeted just for being Jewish, we all have to respond [that] 'We are all Jews.' "

President Obama stated that "when voices around the world veer from criticism of a particular Israeli policy to an unjust denial of Israel's right to exist, when Israel faces terrorism, we stand up forcefully and proudly in defense of our ally, in defense of our friend, in defense of the Jewish State of Israel. America's commitment to Israel's security remains, now and forever, unshakeable. And I've said this before -- it would be a fundamental moral failing if America broke that bond."

President Obama also said that showing we've learned from the past "means taking a stand against bigotry in all its forms, and rejecting our darkest impulses and guarding against tribalism as the only value in our communities and in our politics. It means heeding the lesson repeated so often in the Torah: To welcome the stranger, for we were once strangers, too. That's how we never forget -- not simply by keeping the lessons of the Shoah in our memories, but by living them in our actions. As the book of Deuteronomy teaches us, 'Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof' -- 'Justice, Justice you shall pursue.' "

Read (or better yet, watch) the speech, and ask yourself honestly: Can you imagine any of the Republican candidates giving a speech like that? Few can speak as eloquently as President Obama, but it's not that hard to imagine those words coming from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

The best Iran Implementation Day article:  You should read all of it (it's not long) to understand what the deal accomplishes, where we would be without a deal, and what we learned from North Korea. Phil Gordon and Richard Nephew explain that the right response to Iranian support for terrorism is not to scrap the nuclear deal, as proposed by most Republican presidential candidates, but to enforce it to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, to use all the tools at our disposal to confront and contain Iran in the region, and to use the valuable time bought by the nuclear deal to explore whether a better relationship with Iran is possible.

Critics of the deal will try to undermine it, either by taking away the president's authority to waive sanctions, as proposed in a bill put forward just this week, or by deliberately reintroducing nuclear sanctions under some unrelated pretext, with the goal of provoking the Iranians to stop implementing the deal. Either approach would isolate the United States from nearly all of its international partners -- undermining significantly the actual impact of the proposed sanctions -- and leave it with no viable alternative to halt the Iranian program.

U.S. policy bans West Bank goods from being labeled "Made in Israel." This is nothing new. For 20 years, the U.S. has barred products made in the West Bank from being labeled "Made in Israel."

AIPAC says it has no problem with the law already on the books mandating "West Bank" labels for West Bank products. "This long standing Customs policy, in contrast to the actions of the European Union, was not intended to stigmatize Israeli products but to merely facilitate duty free access to the U.S. market for Palestinian goods," said AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman. "It does not distinguish among manufacturers in the territories."

The State Department said that a reminder from U.S. Customs about these requirements "was simply a restatement of previous requirements. There is nothing new." Pretty clear signal. Yet some people who claim to be pro-Israel are acting as if there is something new; how is that effective advocacy for strong U.S.- Israel relations? 

U.S. law requires country of origin labeling for all imported products, so products from abroad must be labeled something. No U.S. administration has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and Israel has not annexed the West Bank, so it's hard to see how goods made in the West Bank could accurately be labeled "Made in Israel." Rather than work ourselves up over a 20-year old law that has had no adverse effect on U.S.-Israel relations, we should continue to firmly oppose boycotts of goods made in Israel or the West Bank and work toward a two-state solution that will moot this controversy.

Sign up for Steve Sheffey's Pro-Israel Political Updates here.