Forward Thinking

At Obama Fundraiser, a 'Shout-Out' to Koch

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Edward I. Koch

At a fundraiser for Jewish supporters in Manhattan, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to military cooperation with Israel, and to the imposition of tough sanctions on Iran.

The 100-person gathering on January 19 at high-end Upper East Side restaurant Daniel raised upwards of half a million dollars, according to an estimate by Alan Solow, a former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and one of the event’s hosts.

“Since I’ve been in office, we have unequivocally said that Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” Obama told the audience, echoing remarks made at a November fundraiser with Jewish donors in New York. “Part of that has been to make sure that we’ve got the strongest military cooperation that we’ve ever had between our two nations.  That’s not my opinion, by the way, that’s the Israeli government’s opinion.”

In an off-the-record question and answer session, Obama “made very clear that he’s serious about prohibiting Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Solow said. Though the president maintained that the hopes for achieving those ends are through sanctions, he said that the Iranians are aware that all options are on the table.

Event hosts included Marc Stanley, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, and Kirk Rudy, a real estate developer and a top Obama fundraiser.

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch was also among the event’s hosts. Koch and the president clashed briefly in the fall, when he called a special election for a Queens congressional seat a referendum on Obama’s policies on Israel. Koch warned that he would “campaign against [Obama] not only in New York, but in other parts of the country” if the president did not change his positions.

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Only Nice Words for Obama

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Jack Rosen

You wouldn’t expect a host to say anything bad about his guest of honor. But American Council for World Jewry chairman Jack Rosen was especially gracious about the message delivered by President Obama at a fundraiser held at Rosen’s Manhattan home.

“He made, I think, a solid case for having stood with Israel on the crisis issues facing Israel, which are security cooperation and Iran,” said Rosen, a real estate developer who came to prominence as chair of the now-inactive American Jewish Congress.

Rosen, who has raised money for both Democrats and Republicans, called the Forward a couple of days after the event. He readily conceded that Obama came with hat in hand. Besides raising cash, he also wanted to send an inclusive message to Jewish leaders.

“He came because fundraising took place, but I also think he wanted to reach out and have a dialog with the Jewish community, and that was an added benefit here,” Rosen said of the November 30 event. “We had a frank discussion on the issues that mattered to the community, certainly with regard to Israel.”

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