James Besser's blog

Bad news for a recovering, refocused B'nai B'rith

You have to feel a little sorry for B'nai B'rith International. Just as the group seemed to be carving out a new place for itself in the Jewish communal world, its president, indicted on federal tax fraud charges, has resigned and a shadow has been cast over the venerable group.

Jewish lawmaker has novel idea: pay as you go war

 A Jewish lawmaker has a novel response to all those politicians in both parties  who want the United States to go to war at the drop of a hat – but who also think government spending and the national debt are out of control.

J.J. Goldberg gets it on Richard Jacobs, Reform, J Street

Okay, he works for the competition and all, but I have to say it: the Forward's J.J. Goldberg nailed it  on the issue of Rabbi Richard Jacobs, recently selected as the new president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Don't stop the presses: DC school voucher bill passes House. Again.

This is one of those recurring stories that writes itself: the House of Representatives has revived the District of Columbia “Opportunity Scholarships Program” - read here “school vouchers” - and the Orthodox Union is happy, the Reform movement unhappy.

The program was mostly shut down in 2009, but getting it back on track was a priority for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

But getting it through the Democratic Senate won't be easy, and President Obama is opposed.

Putting off peace: a delusion?

It's almost a given among the Israeli center and right that there's no urgency to the matter of making peace with stubbornly hostile Arab states. Maybe in ten or twenty years, the climate in the region will be better, they say, so why rush?

Marla Gilson's plight

Somehow you expect more from Jewish organizations when it comes to relations with employees – who, after all, are mostly in it because they care about communal causes, not because of the big paychecks and great benefits.

Is the Obama administration ready for PA-Hamas reconciliation?

Since I'm on a tear about the Obama administration's somewhat incoherent foreign policy (And I have to say it's a little less incoherent after Monday night's speech on Libya, which answered some of my questions) , let me ask this: does the president's foreign policy team have a plan for what the U.S. response will be if the Palestinian Authority manages to patch things up with Hamas?

Obama's Libya speech: will we finally hear coherent foreign policy?

This morning I almost choked on my coffee when I read this  JTA headline:  “Clinton: U.S. Not Ready to Intervene in Syria.”

Seriously, is there anybody out there suggesting a U.S.-led no-fly zone over Syria to stop Bashar Assad from killing the protesters who are sick of his family's autocratic rule, or maybe U.S. ground troops?

Nuance in the delegitimization debate: why is the Jewish establishment so scared of it?

You want to know what bothers me the most about Jewish communal life?

In our zeal to protect Israel and our anger at a world that is habitually unfair to the Jewish state, we insist on rigid orthodoxies that can only undermine the cause we say we believe in.

There's no place for thoughtfulness and nuance in this world, only slogans, litmus tests and exclusion of those who disagree with specific ideologies about what's best for Israel.

AJC criticizes "inappropriate" Knesset hearings on J Street

J Street still makes some major Jewish leaders nervous, but that doesn't mean they like the idea of Israeli politicians mucking around in the internal affairs of the a diverse American Jewish community.

Today the American Jewish Committee criticized this week's Knesset hearings into whether J Street is really the pro-Israel, pro-peace group it claims to be.

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