James Besser's blog

Political Insider on break

The Political Insider is taking a week off.  See you on the other side!

Dizzying spin on this week's White House meeting

I thought I was done with this week's meeting between President Obama and a group of Jewish leaders assembled by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, but the spin surrounding the meeting keeps reverberating in pro-Israel circles.

It seems to me the event is almost a textbook example of the difficulty of reporting the news on anything touching on Israel and the Middle East.

The interim statehood nonstarter

Here we go again.

Reports from Israel indicate that the Netanyahu government, under pressure from the Obama administration to come up with some kind of plan to advance the stalled peace process, is floating the idea of abandoning talks for a final agreement with the Palestinians, and instead pressing for an interim agreement that would create a kind of Palestinian quasi-state with temporary borders.

The deficit and the Pinocchio Test

 With the federal budget Topic Number One on Capitol Hill and the prospects for serious cuts to critical programs growing by the day as a Tea Party-driven House Republican caucus flexes its muscles, today's Washington Post Fact Checker column offers a useful reality check.

Obama meets the Jews: interpretation is everything

JTA is reporting that a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with President Obama on Tuesday and that the meeting went well, with Mr. Obama expressing his undying commitment to Israel's security and the assorted Jewish leaders proclaiming themselves satisfied – at least on the record.

J Street lobbies Congress for Israel and Palestinian aid

 J Street, wrapping up its second national conference today, will fan out over Capitol Hill for a round of lobbying meetings that will deliver a message that could – at least in part -- could warm AIPAC's heart: don't cut aid to Israel.

That, along with a call to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority in the interests of a two-state solution, is the sole “ask” in about 250 Hill meetings – mostly local J Streeters going to their own representatives offices, taking another page out of AIPAC's play book.

Blogging J Street, just a little

I can't spend a lot of time at J Street's second national conference, going on now at Washington's cavernous Convention Center, but I was there yesterday as a panelist in a session on the Jewish vote and spent a little time shmoozing, and I've been watching the sessions streamed on the J Street Web site.

Assessing J Street

Since last week's story on J Street, several readers have asked about my assessment of how the group is doing after almost three tumultuous years.

Glenn Beck apologizes; was it enough?

Commentator Glenn Beck has apologized for yesterday's slur against Reform rabbis, in which he claimed they focus more on social justice than on religion, and used an analogy to radical Islam.

Chicago's first Jewish mayor: the earth trembles

 

This is something I just can't quite wrap my mind around.

I grew up on Chicago's South Side – my very first journalistic assignment as staff photographer for my high school newspaper was an interview with our alderman, who went by the name of “Fast Eddie” -- and back then everybody knew: to be mayor of the Windy City, you had to be Irish, come from the Back of the Yards neighborhood, and probably have a face with excessive jowls.

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