In his State of the Union address Feb. 12, President Barack Obama pledged to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb and to “stand steadfast” with Israel.
“The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon,” said Obama, who was recently sworn in for a second term.
Obama also said he would continue to back democratization throughout the Middle East.
“And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace,” he said. “These are the messages I will deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month.”
Regarding the president’s statements on Israel, Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, said he “was not surprised.”
“I was pleased to hear his statement of support but not surprised,” Budish said Feb. 13.
Much of Obama’s address focused on domestic issues, including job creation proposals, particularly involving infrastructure building, and reducing the deficit through spending cuts and tax reform.
The president also talked about immigration reform, addressing climate change and bringing about new gun controls. Survivors of shootings and relatives of victims were among the guests of the Obamas at the address.
Budish applauded the president’s emphasis on jobs and immigration.
“I thought that his speech laid out a very positive vision for the future focusing on jobs and job creation and strengthening the middle class,” he said.
“I was pleased to hear his strong support for a bipartisan platform for immigration reform. … We are a nation of immigrants and certainly we as Jews understand the importance of fostering immigration in the United States.”
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett criticized Obama’s message, saying the president’s economic plan is lacking.
“The president proved again tonight that talk is not cheap,” Bennett said in a statement.
“He continues to spend money that our children will have to pay back and now – for the lack of a reasoned plan – he will give us random layoffs of government employees in Dayton, Cleveland, Mansfield and other Ohio communities. All this because he won’t accept a Republican plan and neither he nor his fellow Democrats in the Senate will pass a competing plan. Democrat slogans on more taxes won’t solve America’s spending problem.”
Cleveland Heights native Barry Curtiss-Lusher, the new chair of the Anti-Defamation League, applauded Obama’s message, saying the ADL backs the Obama administration’s efforts to pass legislation that would reduce gun-related violence, enact comprehensive immigration reform, further voting rights and beef up prosecution of hate crimes.
“What the president talked the most about is the importance of a strong America, here at home and out in the world,” Curtiss-Lusher wrote in an email.
“When America is strong, and comes together as citizens acting together, we can better address the issues of extremism, bigotry and discrimination that we at ADL care about. A strong America is good for the Jewish community, is good for all people who care about bringing out the best in us. And as Israel’s strongest and most important ally, a strong America, standing steadfast with her ‘in pursuit of security and a lasting peace’ is important.”
JTA contributed to this article.