As tax battle looms, Jewish groups dive for cover

This is just so predictable, it makes me want to scream.

Congressional Republicans and the Obama administration will go head to head next month in what could be their biggest battle. The issue: whether or not to let Bush-era tax cuts expire in the face of incomprehensibly large deficts and an economy that has not yet recovered from the Great Recession.

And a slew of Jewish groups with a big stake in the debate will be struck mute.

More on the AJ Congress - and the perils of progressive domestic activism

The other day I blogged about the sad demise of the American Jewish Congress and laid much of the blame for its protracted demise on its decision to turn away from the progressive domestic focus that was its traditional bread and butter.

A caller with long connections to the group took me to task.

Sometimes Even the Cats Get Heartsick

I saw the strangest thing yesterday.

Late afternoon, I was waiting for the bus on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem when suddenly, I heard gasps from a few teenage boys.

“Whoa! I don’t believe it!” said one.

They were all staring at something in the middle of the street.

I looked and there, as if in a daze, was a cat, its head hung low between its front paws, its whole figure dejected.

The decision to take the plunge.

Well, it’s official. I’ve finally decided to act upon the urge I’ve been resisting for the past two years — I’m going to move my journalism career to the Middle East, to Israel.

The decision was by no means a light one, as my friends, family and colleagues can all affirm. Luckily, I was able to get my bosses’ “blessing” because, quite honestly, leaving The Jewish Week was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, as I’ve loved my job here.

Is There Such Thing as A Good Banker?

Jews have been an integral part of finance since at least the middle ages.  The fact has been used against them for just as long, but Niall Ferguson's new  biography, "High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg," of the once-prominent London i-banker, raises the question of whether finance can ever be pure. 

It appears that Ferguson hues closer to the answer yes, it can be, as he writes of Warburg (1902-1982): "An intellectual whom fate rather than free will had made into a financier, [Warburg] was always more interested in the organisational challenge of running a firm than in the bottom line."

Curious, you might say.  Most reviewers, many of them prominent economic writers, have heaped praise on Ferguson's book.  And there is no doubt that, either explicit or implicit, their praise is meant to the advance a larger aim of Ferguson's: to offer a counter to today's rapacious financial mandarins.

To be sure, there are some critics who are less thrilled. Writing in the current TLS, Tom Cogdon, an economist and former advisor to England's Conservative party, argues that there's no getting around it: "Much of high finance is tacky. ... Its distinctive activities ... are riddled with conflicts of interest, and accompanied by decisions on executive remuneration, and the hiring and firing of individuals."

Can any mensch do work like that?

Good News On Hate Crimes. Or is it?

The Anti-Defamation League's decision to change the way they classify anti-Semitic incidents really sucked the air out of our coverage of the group's annual report of attacks against Jews.  Because they, for better or worse, are no longer classifying the painting of a swastika as an attack on Jews if it is not specifically aimed at Jews, the ADL for the first time in 30 years did not contrast the latest numbers with the previous year, figuring the comparison would be skewed.

Poll: Obama standing sinking in Arab countries, not just Israel


In the “Can't win for losing” department, President Obama's abysmal popularity standings in Israeli public opinion polls may soon be matched by low scores across the Arab world.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, released today by the Brookings Institution, shows a precipitous drop in optimism about U.S. policy in six Arab countries - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

Birthright citizenship, illegal immigration and my Aunt Rose

My great aunt Rose came to America in the early 1900s, a refugee from Czarist Russia, and family legend has it she arrived smuggled in a trunk.

By any standard, she was an illegal immigrant – yet she didn't behead anybody and leave the body in the Arizona desert and she didn't fraudulently get welfare services. She went on to a productive life in America, working for almost a half century in the millinery industry, paying taxes and contributing to – and ultimately benefiting from – Social Security.

Nu, Rabbi Ponet: You Never Call, You Never Write...

 I am shocked to report that Rabbi James Ponet, although he never calls, never writes to ME (what am I, chopped liver?) agreed to talk to The New York Times.

Don’t worry about me, Rabbi Fancy-Pants Too Good For The Jewish Week, I’ll just sit in the dark.

What Happens When a Dating Columnist Has No Dates?

You know the Dylan song, You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go?

That's how I feel about my dog, Mister Trevor.

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