James Besser's blog

The Jewish Republicans' Paul Problem: Ron and Rand

If I were running the Republican Jewish Coalition, I'd be getting a little nervous about the battle going on in their party.

On one hand, the GOP stands to benefit with Jewish voters in 2012, at least a bit, from the perception President Obama has been either too tough on Israel or too inept in Middle East policy.

Romney and Huntsman: Are Mormon politicians catching up to Jews?

 There's been a lot of buzz in recent days about Mormons in politics – and the claim that church members, long the victims of discrimination in the political world, may be coming into their own in much the same way as Jews have entered the political big leagues in recent decades.

Former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney remains a strong contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination; Jon Huntsman Jr. , a former Utah governor and now U.S. ambassador to China, is widely expected to make a run for the nomination.

The best lobbyists for Egypt's U.S. aid: Israeli diplomats

Washington is buzzing with talk that Congress may cut off Egypt's big foreign aid allocation – the second biggest in the U.S. foreign aid program, behind Israel's. Members of Congress, in particular, are making noise about cutting or ending aid going back to the Camp David peace agreement.

Think it's going to happen? Don't bet the kibbutz. In the past, Egypt has had some mighty important lobbyists who pulled out all the stops to ensure that the aid to Cairo continued – and I'm not talking about million-dollar-a-year K Street hired guns.

Obama: Guilty as charged on Egypt?

I've been writing off and on that the Obama administration inherited a situation in Egypt that was bound to go bad, but today's Jackson Diehl column in the Washington Post suggests there's a lot more culpability at the Obama White House than I assumed.

Egypt: an impossible situation of our own making?

 Watching the chaos in Egypt and the confusion at the White House, it seems to me that decades of shortsighted U.S. policy – touting democracy while propping up undemocratic strongmen like Hosni Mubarak, and somehow believing nobody is noticing the gap between our words and deeds - have left policymakers here in an impossible situation.

If we press for the immediate departure of Mubarak, we create a vacuum which forces we fear – not without reason – may effectively exploit.

Huckabee's dangerous delusion

I wonder how many Israeli leaders will be misled into thinking the hopes of those who want to hold on to the West Bank forever – and the hopes of those who just want to put off painful compromises as long as possible - now reside in Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and likely contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Egypt: Miller on Israel's fear of Arab democracy, Kristol blasts Beck and more

 With questions about exactly how and when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will leave the scene and who will replace him still up in the air, today's papers and blogs are full of interesting writing on the subject.

Superbowl XLV: Which team is Good for the Jews?

Being in the business of writing about what's good for the Jews – which, more often than not, means actually writing about what people think is bad for the Jews – it's only natural for me to take a look at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Dallas, a critical national event rich with meaning for every American.

I mean, if an event featuring a bunch of giants pounding the stuffing out of each other to the accompaniment of million-dollar TV ads that are treated as major cultural events doesn't define our national character, what does?

Sen. Rand Paul unrepentant on Israel aid

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) has elaborated on his recent call to end all foreign aid – including Israel's $3 billion allotment, and the Tea Party Republican isn't backing down in the face of strong criticism within his own party.

Speaking to ABC News, he said the Tea Party movement is serious about wanting big cuts in federal spending and that “[t]here’s a disconnect between Republicans who want a balanced budget but aren’t maybe yet brave enough to talk about the cuts to come.”

How will Mubarak's departure affect Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations?

 How will the apparent end of Hosni Mubarak's long regime affect stalled Middle East peace talks?

Some on the left are hoping the change to something else – a transitional government, a government led by Mohammed ElBaradei, a coalition that includes the feared Muslim Brotherhood, something we can't even forsee – will convince Israeli leaders that time is running out for a two state solution.

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