United States

Gaza Isn’t Mexico: The Hasbara Dilemma

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 James Besser in Washington I confess to great uncertainty about Israel’s current offensive in Gaza.  That Israeli’ leaders were justified in taking strong action against relentless rocket attacks is not an issue for me. Whether the current massive operation is the best option is something I don’t feel qualified to judge.

Jerusalem Embassy Act Waived (Yawn) Again

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Here’s the non-surprise of the year: President George W. Bush has once again waived provisions of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act mandating that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Back in 2000  Bush, running for the presidency,  promised to begin the move “as soon as I take office,” but then changed his mind, repeatedly invoking the law’s “national security” waiver position.

The Jewish Right and the Obama Administration

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 James Besser in Washington In the current issue, the Jewish Week examined the reaction of a worried Jewish left (read the story here) to a Barack Obama administration that some fear may be shaping up as too centrist for their taste.  But what about the Jewish right?

McCain Teleconference: Give and Take, or Staged Campaign Event?

Sunday, October 19th, 2008 James Besser in Washington It was billed as a “tele-town hall with Jewish leaders nationwide,” but Sen. John McCain’s electronic meeting on Sunday sounded more like a staged campaign event than a give-and-take with community leaders.

Obama and the Rabbis

Friday, September 19th, 2008 Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seems to think that the road to keeping the Democrats’ big majority of Jewish votes in November may run through the bimah. First there was emergence of “Rabbis for Obama,” a groundbreaking group that has collected more than 400 signatures - mostly from the Reform and Conservative realms, as we reported last week, but with a smattering of Orthodox rabbis.

Biden Hits Bush Mideast Policy, Pokes AIPAC in the Eye

Thursday, September 4th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Since becoming the Democratic vice presidential nominee last month, political observers have been wondering whether Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) - known for his outspoken and unpredictable ways - would curb his tongue. After all, he’s no longer just a senior senator but the junior partner in the highly disciplined Barack Obama campaign organization. A Wednesday teleconference with Jewish reporters provided a partial answer. 

Shelley Berkley, Pro-Israel Hawk, On Obama’s Congressional Team

Thursday, August 28th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Denver - As I reported this week, Jewish Democrats in the House and Senate are playing a key role in the Barack Obama campaign’s efforts to crank up the candidate’s Jewish numbers on November 4 and ease concerns about the nominee’s Mideast policies. And none could be as important as Rep. Shelley Berkley D-Nev.).

McCain Campaign Takes Up ZOA Refrain on Kurtzer

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 James Besser in Washington The John McCain campaign is starting to sound a lot like the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) in its efforts to win over Jewish voters. This week the campaign reprised a favorite ZOA them when it went after former diplomat Dan Kurtzer,  a Barack Obama foreign policy adviser who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005.

J Street Poll: Jews Eager for Compromise but Wary on Jerusalem; Good but not Great News for Obama

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 James Besser in Washington A new poll by J Street, the pro-peace process political action committee and lobby, showed overwhelming Jewish support for new peace moves in the region, but strong resistance to territorial compromise on Jerusalem.

Mordechai Gafni Is Back

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

The last time Mordechai Gafni was in the news was two years ago, when the charismatic and controversial rabbi accused of sexual misconduct here and in Israel was dismissed as the rebbe of Bayit Chadash, a spiritual renewal community in Tel Aviv.

Faced with sexual abuse complaints filed with the police in Israel by several women who were former students or employees of Bayit Chadash, Gafni came to the U.S., issued a public statement apologizing to those he had hurt, said he was “sick” and needed treatment, and disappeared.

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