Obama pledges to stand with Israel, stop Iranian bomb

In a State of the Union speech focused mostly on domestic issues, 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,” Obama said Feb. 12 in Washington.

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.”

Much of Obama’s speech was devoted to job creation proposals, particularly involving infrastructure building and reducing the deficit through spending cuts and tax reform.

The president also talked about immigration reform, climate change and new gun controls. Survivors of shootings and relatives of victims were among the guests of the Obamas at the address.

The D.C.-based Jewish Council for Public Affairs called the speech “a call to action and ambition” and, along with B’nai B’rith International, singled out the president’s attention to gun control, immigration reform, energy independence and rebuilding the economy.

“In just a few short weeks, dramatic spending cuts will threaten important national programs, from national security to education to foreign assistance and medical research,” said JCPA president Rabbi Steve Gutow, referring to the sequester measures poised to take effect March 1. “The JCPA and our member agencies will continue to work with members of Congress, community organizations and civil society groups to develop constructive, consensus policies that protect the most vulnerable and position our nation for growth.” — jta & j.staff