James Besser's blog

Department of Silliness: Alan Grayson for president?

I heard it first from Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner, who included outgoing Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) in his long list of potential primary challengers to President Barack Obama in 2012.

UPDATE: Apocalyptic words about Israel's democracy

Update: Just one day after Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg expressed his anxiety that Israel is turning away from its democratic roots, a new poll suggests his concern may be justified.

In a survey by the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, “a full 44 percent of Israeli Jews support a letter issued by leading Israeli rabbis published earlier this month forbidding the sale or rental of properties to non-Jews. The survey reported that 48 percent of Israeli Jews oppose the rabbis' religious edict,” according to a report in Ha'artz.

That edict was termed a “perversion of Jewish and democratic values” by the Anti-Defamation League; I imagine those who share Jeff's concern about where Israel is headed will see that 44 percent as shockingly high in the Middle East's only democracy

Apocalyptic words about Israel democracy

Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg's anguished assessment that Israel could be well on its way toward abandoning the democracy that was a cherished value of its creators could be the most important blog of the year for Jewish leaders.

Iran sanctions and business as usual

A bunch of Jewish groups are indignant about last week's New York Times report that “over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism.” 

Israel aid boost on hold as budget paralysis continues

JTA is reporting that U.S. military aid to Israel for 2011, including extra funding for missile defense, is being delayed “following the Obama's administration's difficulty in passing the annual 2011 budget, which forced the president to sign a presidential order extending the current budget through March.”

No doubt President Obama's detractors in the Jewish community will paint this as more proof of his hostility to the Jewish state.

Israel's 'self-delegitimization,' apartheid and the settlement building boom

I was going to blog about about Ethan Bronner's report in the New York Times last week on the new West Bank settlement boom and the fact that it is happening “especially in more remote communities that are least likely to be part of Israel after any two-state peace deal,&rd

Kissinger redux: understanding the context, missing the point

In his latest defense of his indefensible comments about Soviet Jews during the last days of the Nixon administration, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once apologizes, sort of.

All criticism of Israel isn't 'delegitimization'

With “delegitimization” public enemy number one for pro-Israel leaders and the Israeli government these days, isn't it about time we define exactly what we mean by the term?

I say this because I hear it used loosely, to cover a variety of positions on Israel.

To me, “delegitimization” refers to efforts to promote the idea that Israel is not a legitimate member of the community of nations – that its creation was improper, or that it has somehow rendered itself beyond the pale through its actions.

Israel Aid Anxiety: Is It Overblown?

Suddenly I'm getting emails from Democratic lawmakers warning of possible cuts to Israel's big foreign aid allotment when the new Congress takes over in January – but I'm not sure I buy it.

Now the Jerusalem Post is reporting that “Democrats are blasting the prospect that a GOP-led House of Representatives might trim aid to Israel or consider it separately from the rest of the foreign aid budget,” citing as evidence comments by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – the incoming Foreign Affairs chair – that it's not inconceivable the House GOP leadership could impose across-the-board aid cuts that would not exempt Israel.

The census, reapportionment - and Jewish political muscle

  You can bet a lot of pols in both parties are pouring over the 2010 census, released today in Washington.  While the numbers look good for Republicans and for Western and Southwestern states as the expense of Democrats and the Jew-rich Northeast, drawing too many conclusions about the impact of today's numbers on Jewish political clout is risky.

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