Douglas Bloomfield's blog

Obama's Religious Mission To Mideast

There is an important aspect to Barack Obama's Middle East trip this week that is overshadowed by the announced issues of Iranian nuclear plans, the Syria civil war, upheaval in the Arab world and a desire to restart peace negotiations but is no less important. 

The President, who began his first term with an effort to repair relations with the Muslim world, this week will be carrying a message to Muslims about the need to respect the religion of others.

Meridor: Time To Freeze Settlements

Outgoing Israeli Deputy PM Dan Meridor and longtime prominent Likud figure now finds himself on the outside looking in, and he says that may be because he has become an outspoken advocate of the two-state solution and reinvigorating the peace process.

Bibi's 'Let's Make A Deal' Nears Results

It appears Israel will have a new government in place by the time President Barack Obama arrives late next week. 

The country's top politicians are in the final stages of Israel's version of "Let's Make A Deal," the buying and selling of government ministries known as forming a coalition government.

Obama: No 'Grand Peace Plan' For Mideast

President Obama confirmed what I reported earlier in my Washington Watch column, namely that he has no plans to take a "grand peace plan" on his Middle East trip later this month. The prospects for peace are "bleak," he told leaders of several Jewish organizations at a White House meeting on Thursday.

Carl Levin Is Leaving The Senate

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the senior Jewish member of the U.S. Senate, announced Thursday he will not seek a seventh term next year.

As a longtime member and now chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee he has played a major role in shaping American national security policy for more than a third of a century.  He also has been an important leader in building and strengthening close U.S.-Israeli security cooperation.

What A Bunch Of Wuses

The annual Gaza Marathon organized by UNRWA, the UN agency that perpetuates refugee status for Palestinians, was cancelled after Hamas banned women from competing.

The reason given was respect for local Islamic customs, but can that the real motive?  Women -- more modestly dressed than the men -- were allowed to compete in the two previous runnings of the event, and 266 of this year's 551 registered local runners were women. 

Separate But Unequal

In the same week that the President of the United States and Congressional leaders unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol honoring the woman who refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Israel inaugurated its latest version of segregated busing.

Defenders called it a security measure, critics called it racism.

AIPAC To Hill: Don't Touch Israel Aid

At a time when sequestration is about to take a big bite out of the Pentagon budget, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will be sending thousands of its citizen lobbyists to Capitol Hill next week to make sure Israel is exempted from any spending cuts.

This could prove a very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle, from the defense budget to the school lunch program.

But not aid to Israel, which will be untouched if AIPAC gets its way.

Lautenberg: Oldest Senator Re-retiring

With the announced re-retirement of Frank Lautenberg, the U.S. Senate is losing its last World War II veteran and one of its staunchest liberals.  He has been a leader on a wide scope of causes, most near to the hearts of the majority of American Jews, including gun control, economic opportunity, anti-smoking, aviation safety and security, environmental protection, reproductive rights, health care reform and helping AIDS patients.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

On his first major foreign trip as President in June 2009, Barack Obama went to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but he had no time to stop by in Israel, an oversight that would haunt him for the next four years as he came under brutal attack from many of the Jewish state’s supporters.  Taken with his blundered demand for a total settlement freeze on his second day in office, critics saw the failure to visit Israel as further evidence of an administration tilt away from historic support for the Jewish state.

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