James Besser's blog

Glenn Beck: Reform rabbis and "radicalized Islam"

The Reform movement is less than pleased – okay, they're really outraged – that Glenn Beck, who has been waging a campaign against religious groups that dare talk about “social justice,” thinks their rabbis are sort of like radical shieks.

Obama set to name new ambassador to Israel

This just in: sources here confirm a Politico report that Dan Shapiro, a top White House Middle East adviser, will be the new U.S. ambassador in Tel Aiv.

Mideast turmoil: a peace process window or another reason not to negotiate?

Former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), now the head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, thinks the turbulence washing across the Middle East offers a window of opportunity for the Obama administration to take a more assertive role in forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

A tale of shifting Jewish priorities

 

Here's a little insight into Jewish priorities these days that probably won't surprise you.

Last week I received at least 25 statements and press releases from Jewish groups and assorted Jewish politicians urging a U.S. veto of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Israel's settlements. (The U.S. DID veto the resolution on Friday, and there's no evidence pressure from Jewish groups was the reason).

What the U.S. veto at the U.N. means

Does it matter much that the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council resolution labeling Israel's settlement activity illegal? Naturally, it depends on who you ask, but my answer is: probably not.

Mostly, it strikes me as an action by an administration that has concluded – rightly or wrongly – that the current status quo is the best it can hope for in the Middle East.

UN resolution hysteria: how to make enemies, not friends

It used to be that a primary goal of Israel's friends in this country was to ensure strong U.S.-Israel relations and to create a genuinely bipartisan wall of support for the Jewish state in U.S. politics.

Now, the goal seems more to take advantage of today's bitter partisanship to advance a specific vision of U.S.-Israeli relations or support a particular political viewpoint in Israel. Or to use Israel as just another wedge issue in the U.S. partisan wars.

For Washington, lose-lose UN settlements flap

Update: the always thorough Ron Kampeas debunks the claim from the Republican Jewish Coalition and echoed by others that "the United States has historically opposed U.N.

It's baaack: the issue that won't go away

This one is so old it has whiskers: Orthodox groups are supporting, church-state separation groups are opposing and most other Jewish groups are ignoring the latest chapter in the perennial battle over a District of Columbia school vouchers program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, created in 2004, was the first school voucher program involving federal dollars, which made it a particularly explosive issue for supporters and opponents alike.

Obama budget a huge problem for Jewish social justice groups, but will they fight?

A Jewish community that relies on federal, state and local government programs to help fund a wide range of health and social services is about to feel the repercussions of a budget fight in Washington that will almost certainly result in severe cuts; the only question is, how severe.

Yesterday President Obama presented his $3.7 trillion budget outline that includes substantial cuts in a number of programs long favored by Democrats. Education and health would get more under the Obama plan; anti-poverty programs would get clobbered.

AIPAC's spokesman as press punching bag

So AIPAC has a new press spokeman. I wish Ari Goldberg well; he's going to need it.

In 25 years of covering the pro-Israel lobby I've grown to have a certain sympathy for its press minions – at times human punching bags standing between a skeptical press and wary organization officials who shun publicity – except when they want it.

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