James Besser's blog

Settlements: not a non-issue, not the only issue

I've been pretty critical of the Obama administration's approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, but I also have a lot of sympathy; they can't walk away and maintain international credibility, but every option for breaking the negotiating deadlock is fraught with risk of a backlash in Israel – and with political risk here.

What brought this into focus was a conversation I had yesterday with a longtime pro-Israel activist who generally favors an active peace process.

Joe Lieberman and the Jews: a complicated story

Update: the National Jewish Democratic Council just released a statement praising Lieberman for his "years of dedicated and loyal service" and saying that "his presence and voice in the Senate will be missed."

It'll be hard to find anybody who's surprised at today's expected announcement that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is calling it quits next year after four terms in the Senate.

Democrat makes another (really stupid) Nazi comparison

Honestly, what is it that these guys in politics don't understand about the inappropriateness, not to mention the danger, of using Nazi analogies in everyday political dialog?

Today it was Rep. Steven Cohen (D-Tenn.), who should have known better, but then, being Jewish doesn't make you smart, I guess.

Speaking on ABC, Speaking on the House floor, Cohen was attacking the GOP effort to reverse last year's Democratic health care reform package.

Jeff Goldberg on Glenn Beck's 'Jewish problem'

Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg stirs the pot today with his item on “Glenn Beck's Jewish Problem,” citing the Fox news commentator's “recent naming of nine people -- eight of them Jews -- as enemies of America and humanity”

Most of Beck's targets are “already the targets of straightforward attacks in the dark, anti-Semitic corners of the Web,” he writes, so it's hard to believe Beck didn't know his list was top heavy with members of the Tribe.

Barak's bombshell: bad news for the Obama administration?

This being a holiday, we're not hearing much from the Obama administration about today's Jerusalem bombshell – the announcement Defense Minister Ehud Barak is leaving the Labor Party and forming his own.

But I don't imagine they're busy writing congratulatory messages to Barak, a man they once regarded as the most responsive, responsible member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet but who, according to numerous reports in the Israeli press, has fallen from grace.

Martin Luther King and Jewish isolation

On Martin Luther King's birthday, we're going to hear a lot of starry eyed reminisces about the glory days of black-Jewish amity during the civil rights movement, and muttered complaints about anti-Semitism among African Americans. And we're going to hear the usual stories about how King wasn't a perfect human being and how he sometimes opposed the things most of the Jewish community supports.

New Middle East task forces, familiar faces, same old problems

 Over at Politico. Laura Rozen is reporting that the Obama administration has created two task forces to seek new ideas about how to get beyond the current stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Palin, 'blood libels' and our own culpability

Sorry, I'm not going to join those jumping all over Sarah Palin for her use of the term “blood libel” in referring to those claiming that the right is at fault in Saturday's Tucson massacre.

No, it's no accurate; “blood libel” has a very particular, chilling meaning. It's a stupid comparison, and not just a little offensive.

But Palin is hardly alone in using it as a synonym for “unfair charges.”

Political incitement on the airwaves: Not a balanced equation

I didn't blog today because I was busy writing a story about political incitement, the nation's toxic political mood and the appalling shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson on Saturday. (Yes, I've finally learned how to spell “Tucson.” Keep those cards and letters coming.)

And I was busy getting frustrated by all the people who were telling me that it's important to note that it's not just right wingers who are hurling rhetorical grenades.

Well, they're right – but they're also playing cute games with the facts

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