No Mention of Israel in Christie's Jewish Gala Speech

Image: No Mention of Israel in Christie's Jewish Gala Speech

Monday, 19 May 2014 09:41 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, courting powerful Jewish donors for the second time in two months, did not specifically mention Israel on Sunday night while calling for a more aggressive foreign policy abroad and slamming the Obama administration.

In his 18-minute speech, to a full house at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in New York, which included casino magnate and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, Christie instead spoke about the world's perception of the United States, BuzzFeed reported.

Last month, during a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Christie was roundly criticized after a verbal gaffe made when he described being overwhelmed by displays of religious tolerance while he was on a trip to Jerusalem, Fox News reported.

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In that speech, Christie described taking a helicopter ride "from occupied territories," a term offensive to the Israeli government and most of Israel's supporters in the United States, which includes Adelson. Israel does not believe that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territory.

Shmuley Boteach, a New Jersey rabbi who hosted Sunday night's gala, told the crowd that in Christie's last speech, he "said something some people said he shouldn't have said about Israel," but still absolved him of the words, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"I could care less about verbal gaffes," said Boteach, according to the Inquirer. "I'm not interested in perfect people. This is not a dinner for angels."

Nonetheless, Christie met privately with Adelson after his speech in April to apologize, and Sunday night's speech was his second chance to impress the powerful donor.

Adelson's net worth has been estimated at nearly $40 billion, and in 2012 he donated more than $90 million to Republican candidates and their allies, according to Fox News.

Christie, along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, shared a table with Adelson on Sunday night. While the New Jersey governor did not mention Israel specifically in his address, he did address another topic Adelson champions — an aggressive American foreign policy that defends American values overseas.

"No one understands any longer who America stands with or against," Christie said, according to BuzzFeed. "It's not good enough to say that we tried. We must succeed."

Christie also slammed Obama for not enforcing his self-drawn "red line," when he declared there would be retribution for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"It is time, in every respect, whether it’s our national debt or an out-of-control entitlement system, our unreformed tax system, or our failure to set a strong clear [message] or more importantly a strong clear action on behalf of our friends around the world," Christie said. "It’s time for our leaders to stop singing a happy tune to the American people about the condition of our country. It is time for us to tell the truth about that condition."

Adelson declined to comment before the event about what he expected from Christie's speech for the awards ceremony, which honored Adelson and actor Sean Penn, among others.

Perry also gave a brief address before Adelson accepted his award.

"America must be clear, Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state," Perry said, according to BuzzFeed.

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