Douglas Bloomfield's blog

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.

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."

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