James Besser's blog

New poll: tepid support here for active US peace role, skepticism about Arab Spring

An interesting poll in today's edition of The Hill.

On Israel, some 27 percent of voters surveyed by the Capitol Hill newspaper said this country is “too supportive of the Jewish state,” with 31 percent saying U.S. policy is not supportive enough – and 31 percent saying it's just “about right.”

After Obama at AIPAC: do his critics have a plan? (And does the President?)

 Numerous Republicans have hit President Obama for his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps - an explicit way of stating what has been implicit in U.S. policy since Bill Clinton's administration.

Which leads to the question: exactly what are the critics for?

Do they support those in Israel and the small minority in the American Jewish community who say Israel has a right to the West Bank and Gaza and should not give them up, period?

Obama, at AIPAC, takes on the 1967 borders issue

An interesting morning at the AIPAC policy conference. Then again, how could it not be with President Barack Obama addressing more than 10,000 participants only days after giving a major policy address on the Middle East?

I half expected a purely political speech, reaffirming his strong support for Israel, using key slogans like Israel's qualitative military edge and banging away at Iran, and avoiding his call the other day for peace negotiations kith the Palestinians based on the 1967, with negotiated land swaps.

Instead, Obama addressed the issue head on.

Obama's speech: where's the followup?

Days after President Obama's big Middle East speech at the State Department, the Jewish left is caught between skepticism and hope, the right is on the warpath – and I suspect most American Jews are wondering what the fuss is all about.

Yes, President Obama uttered the words “1967 borders” on Thursday along with “mutually agreed swaps,” all of which has been more or less U.S. policy for a long time even though that particular rhetorical formulation hasn't been used.

Obama's speech, AIPAC's problem

 President Barack Obama's “Cairo II” speech yesterday may have complicated life for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose annual policy conference he will keynote on Sunday.

In his speech at the State Department, Obama advocated an Israeli-Palestinian agreement with borders “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

Christian Zionists: not a lobby like AIPAC

 A reader commented on my story this week about AIPAC – the pro-Israel lobby giant that, according to everything I hear, has not been weakened by the attacks by Walt-Mearsheimer acolytes or the rapid growth of J Street.  (AIPAC's annual policy conference begins on Sunday.)

What? You never heard of the gay Jewish Republican running for president?

Being a political reporter means getting a lot of strange calls, letters and emails, so I wasn't surprised yesterday when a friend forwarded me a press release from the Jewish gay guy who's running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination on a pro-gay rights, pro-choice platform.

What, you never heard of Fred Karger? He's a California political consultant and gay rights activist who's running against slightly better known folks like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Fred Karger

Obama upstaging Netanyahu at AIPAC?

Today's announcement that President Barack Obama will address the AIPAC policy conference on Sunday changes the dynamics of the huge annual gathering – although most reports indicate the president will give a speech mostly intended to reassure pro-Israel voters, not announce any new Israeli-Palestinian initiatives.

The pro-Israel credibility gap on Iran starts with Pakistan

A nuclear Iran is clearly a danger to the world and a particular threat to Israel, but I've always wondered: how much of the intense focus on Iran among pro-Israel groups here is the result of a sober analysis of the threat, and how much is about finding a good organizing and fundraising focus for groups that do the best when they confront a dire menace and a clear cut villain?

May I suggest a test?

Huck out, Jewish GOP givers waiting for a winner?

Some pro-Israel hawks are undoubtedly disappointed with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's announcement yesterday that he won't run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

But I didn't see a big “Jews for Huck” surge developing, and I've heard of very few Jewish Republican campaign finance heavyweights who were waiting for him to throw his hat in the ring.

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