Political stars speak on security at Agudah breakfast


In the latest example of its sophistication and political influence, Agudath Israel hosted a dozen local elected officials at its second annual legislative breakfast near Wall Street. This year’s theme addresses security concerns, speakers included elected officials, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, and Jarrod Bernstein, who was recently appointed as President Obama’s liaison to the Jewish community.

“We’ve realized an unprecedented level of military cooperation with the state of Israel,” said Bernstein.

“The administration requested $2.775 billion specifically for assistance for military cooperation with Israel. That’s the largest request in U.S. history.” Bernstein added that American economic sanctions on Iran are creating economic instability, something that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged before his parliament. “That’s not something you hear every day in Tehran,” said Bernstein.

Prior to assuming his current position, Bernstein served as an official at Homeland Security, which according to Agudah Exec. Vice President Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, made the mitzvah of lulav possible this year. “Lulavim from Egypt, 200,000 sets, were being held up three days before Yom Kippur,” said Rabbi Zwiebel. “We reached out to Jarrod and within a few hours the lulavim were released.”

Speaking on the changing tactics of Al Qaeda, Lynch spoke her office’s cooperation with federal and local law enforcement agencies in preventing acts of terrorism. “Our primary focus is the prevention of terrorist attacks before they occur,” Lynch said. “The nature of the threat has shifted. The mobilization of the lone wolf terrorist, coached by the larger group but acting alone. Another shift is the rise of the home-grown terrorist.” Lynch listed off a list of recently thwarted terrorist attacks, noting that some 400 individuals have been prosecuted over the past decade for attempting to organize attacks. These individuals received Al Qaeda’s message through strategic marketing via the internet and a magazine. Lynch added that two of Al Qaeda’s American-born propagandists were recently terminated by air strikes.

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