James Besser's blog

Mitchell quitting; what took so long?

There's only one question I have about today's annoucement that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is calling it quits: what took so long?

With an administration that still can't decide if it wants to seriously press both sides to return to the negotiating table or offer U.S. proposals to break the stalemate and with Israeli and Palestinian leaders not much intererested in calls for a resumption of negotiations, it's not clear Mitchell had anything to do.

Stop the presses: Jewish Dems, Republicans agree - on Ron Paul

This is really cool; the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) actually agree about a presidential candidate

The subject of this rare amity: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the libertarian/Tea Partier who today announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

A reader reminds us: delegitimization works both ways

In this hyper-polarized age it's always surprising to hear a controversial position expressed civilly – especially on an emotional issue like the Middle East.

It happened today; a self-described “observant, yeshiva-educated, Jewish educator who made aliyah to a country I deeply love” commented on the recent Jewish Week op-ed headlined Response To Delegitimizers Starts From Within.

More on the Case of the Missing Hillary

Reading the comments and emails on Rabbi Jason Miller's Jewish Week  blog about the Yiddish-language newspaper that Photoshopped out Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House terrorism official Audrey Tomason from an official photo, I've been struck with how many readers, choking on outrage, seemed to blame the Jewish Week.

How could we do it, many fumed?  We should be ashamed.

Paralysis on Syria

One of these day the Obama administration is going to have to figure out a policy for dealing with the unrest in Syria and the Assad regime's brutal repression. Unfortunately, it will probably be after it's too late.

Today's New York Times reports that the crackdown is intensifying, with hundreds now under arrest and the death toll rising.

The Kushner affair: what kind of pro-Israel movement do we want?

In view of the furor over CUNY's decision to revoke an invitation to playwright Tony Kushner to receive an honorary degree, first reported in the Jewish Week, I would just ask this: what kind of pro-Israel movement do we want?

The bin-Laden raid: big political risks for Obama, limited gains?

 I just published a story on the aftermath of the successful raid in Pakistan that gave Osama bin-Laden the martyrdom he apparently craved. But it's a fire sale kind of martyrdom; he died the leader of a diminished al Qaeda and the non-leader of what is potentially the biggest transformation in the Arab world in generations.

Must-read story on the sharia scare: Jewish law could be next

In the “must read” category, check out Ron Kampeas' story headlined “Anti-Sharia Laws Stir Concerns that Halachah Could Be Next.”

Ron looks at the still-growing movement in states across the country to ban sharia, or Islamic law, a movement that the ADL's Abe Foxman called "camouflaged bigotry.”

Proponents of such legislation play on absurd fears of an Islamic plan to take over the legal system of the United States.

Two perspectives on the Pakistan problem

 Amid the journalistic outpouring on the killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin-Laden, I was struck by this Daily Beast opinion piece by novelist Salman Rushdie, who focused on the issue of Pakistan.

He wrote:

First take: Bin Laden's death, U.S. Middle East policy

The first email I received after the news terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces asked the inevitable question: will this embolden the Obama administration and possibly lead to a new U.S. initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and possibly new pressure on the Netanyahu government?

The short answer is, it's way too early to tell.

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