Douglas Bloomfield's blog

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.

Good News From Gaza

In case you were beginning to despair and think all the news out of Gaza is bad, here are some items to lift your spirits.

Bulgarian security officials gave the boot last week to three Hamas officials.  They had claimed parliamentary immunity as members of the Palestinian legislature on official business, but the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry called its Bulgarian counterpart to say the three did not represent the PA and were not on any official mission.

Rubio Makes Holy Land Pilgrimage

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) packed his water bottle and jetted off to the Promised Land this weekend where he plans to visit both banks of the River Jordan in his quest for the Holy Grail:  his party’s presidential nomination.

Such pilgrimages to the Holy Land have become required stops for politicians with serious White House ambitions. George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney made pre-nomination trips along with crowds of rivals and also-rans who never even made it past their parties’ primaries.

Obama Needs To Talk Tachlis With Abbas

When Barack Obama goes to Ramallah next month he needs to probe whether the Palestinian president is looking for opportunities to make peace or excuses to avoid it by injecting new demands and racist invective.

Obama arrives in Israel on Wednesday, March 20 and spends the whole day there before going to Ramallah the next morning to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  He is scheduled to return to Jerusalem by noon for more meetings and a major speech; he flies to Jordan Friday afternoon.

Sherman Bumped Again

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) may be popular among constituents in the San Fernando Valley but the same can't be said regarding his colleagues on Capitol Hill, especially on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and in the Democratic leadership.

Lieberman, To Get Job Back, Must Stay Out Of Jail

Avigdor Lieberman, who was forced to resign as foreign minister when he was indicted for fraud and corruption, wants his old job back, and he can have it if he stays out of the slammer, Israeli media are reporting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will hold the portfolio until his Yisrael Beiteinu partner is exonerated. 

Lieberman earlier told Israel's Channel 2, "This was a done deal before the elections."

Obama To Visit Israel Before Pesach

Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him he plans to make his first trip to Israel as president this spring, the White House announced Tuesday morning. 

The trip reportedly will begin March 20, just before Pesach, which begins five days later, will be an "opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds" between the two countries, said White House press secretary Jay Carney. Details will be announced in coming weeks, he added.  The President is expected to visit Palestinian leaders in Ramallah as well.

Space Nuts

Finally, there's some good news out of Iran.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has volunteered to become the first Persian man in space following what his government claimed last week was the successful launch and recovery of a monkey.  

High Hopes, Low Expectations

President Shimon Peres is expected to ask Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend to form a new government in the wake of last month's Israeli elections.  That election won't bring peace with the Palestinians any closer -- it wasn't even an issue except for two small parties -- but it could keep peace from slipping even farther away.

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