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Obama's immigration reform speech: first reactions

President Obama, coming off a handful of important legislative victories, hinted today in a major speech that he might try his hand at legislation on the third rail of American politics – immigration reform.

That's good news for Jewish groups like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the American Jewish Committee, as well as a coalition of some 600 faith leaders that gathered at the White House today and delivered a letter urging strong action to pass legislation that “both protects our interests and abides by our values” before the end of the year.

Stuart Levey: The Man Trying to Make Iran Sanctions Work

07/01/2010
JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Stuart Levey was given a big stick when the Bush administration made him the first under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. But the stick only started to hurt its targets -- terrorist groups and rogue nations -- when he figured out how to soft-talk nations and private businesses into going along.

Levey is that rarity -- a senior government official who has transitioned not just between two administrations, but between two presidents with profound foreign policy differences.

Stuart Levey (U.S. Treasury Department)

Joan Arnow, Philanthropist, Dies At 80

06/30/2010

Joan Arnow, 80, who died Tuesday at her home in Scarsdale after a long bout with melanoma, was recalled lovingly by family members at funeral services Wednesday as a remarkably warm and generous woman, both emotionally and philanthropically.

Top Ten Reasons To Hate Newsweek's Annual Top Rabbis List

Since 2007, Newsweek has been issuing an annual list of America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis. I am pleased to say that several rabbis who are welcoming of interfaith families, including Rabbi Kerry Olitzky of the Jewish Outreach Institute, are on this year’s list.

A hearty mazel tov to Rabbi Olitzky and many of the other people I know personally, like Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and Rabba Sara Hurwitz, who made the list.

However, the list itself irritates the hell out of me and I am hoping that, with the struggling news magazine now on the auction block, this year’s list will be the last. Here, in no particular order, are my reasons:

Intermarriage In The Motor Suburbs

 For two years in the late 1990s, Detroit’s northwest suburbs — where most of its Jews live — were my stomping (or, more accurately, driving) grounds.

Settlement Freeze, Iran, Peace Talks to Headline Vital Obama-Bibi Meeting

06/30/2010
JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The joke making the rounds in Jerusalem ahead of next week's Netanyahu-Obama summit: Time to bone up on geology.

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters this week that he was misheard when he was quoted as telling Israeli diplomats that a "tectonic rift" was emerging between Israel and the United States. The Israelis didn't get it, said the U.S.-born Oren: He meant there was a "tectonic shift."

Disturbing Decision On Guns

06/30/2010
Editorial

Firearms are not the inherent evil that some gun control advocates claim, but as New Yorkers we have a common-sense understanding that the easy availability of everything from pistols to assault rifles is part of the fear and insecurity that we live with on a daily basis.

Netanyahu In D.C., The Sequel

06/30/2010
Editorial

 If all goes according to plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call on President Barack Obama at the White House next week for a visit postponed after Israel’s interdiction of the Gaza flotilla in June. All signs point to a continuation of the kiss-and-make-up efforts by two leaders who understand that public friction between the close allies serves the interest of neither.

Anxiety Over Legislators’ Funding As Budget Wraps

06/30/2010

The apparent demise of member item funding for hundreds of state legislators in this year’s overdue budget process is causing anxiety for neighborhood social programs that rely on the grants.

Gov. David Paterson vetoed the grants as part of his showdown with the Legislature over state spending as Albany grapples with a $9.2 billion deficit.

Judge In Israel’s Flotilla Inquiry Wants Wider Scope

06/30/2010

(JTA) — The judge who is leading an Israeli inquiry into its interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla has requested a wider scope for the investigation.

Jacob Turkel, a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, has threatened to resign unless his independent committee is given the right to conduct a full judicial inquiry, according to Israeli reports Tuesday. He also has requested to add two members to the committee.

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