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Obama's Jewish charm offensive: what does it signal about his Israel policy?

We've read a lot in the last few days (see this JTA story in the Jewish Week)  about President Obama's Jewish charm offensive, which reached a kind of peak with yesterday's White House visit by Elie Wiesel, who proclaimed himself satisfied that the president does not have it in for Israel.

What we don't know: what does this all-out effort to ease the concerns of pro-Israel voters signal about administration policy?

Unnecessary Comment

05/04/2010

Why, oh why, did Gary Rosenblatt feel it necessary to mar an otherwise comprehensive column on the British chief rabbi’s appearances in the United States and the status of halachic leadership of Modern Orthodoxy with the unnecessary and erroneous parenthetical comment that “many prominent rabbis have been brought down by scandal?”  (“Hail to the Chief,” April 23).

Manhattan
 

Muted Optimism For Proximity Talks

Jewish leaders expect no breakthroughs from Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy, but say they could bear modest fruit.

05/04/2010
Washington Correspondent

Rarely have peace negotiations started with such low expectations — but that doesn’t mean the indirect “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians, due to begin as early as this week with new rounds of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, are doomed to failure.

While suggesting that major breakthroughs are unlikely, many analysts say the talks could prove fruitful, but only if the Obama administration understands the limitations of what the parties themselves can reasonably be expected to do.

Mideast envoy George Mitchell, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month.

Mother’s Day: Creating A Jewish Home

05/04/2010
JInsider

To transform Mother’s Day from a greeting-card holiday to one that nurtures the Jewish neshama (soul), here is practical advice on how parents can inspire and cultivate a Jewish life for their children. We are hopeful that our Mother’s Day gift will keep giving and possibly impact future generations.

Three generations of Sackses.

White House Charm Offensive Pays Off: Wiesel Says Tension is 'Gone’

05/04/2010
JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- When Elie Wiesel says it's all kosher, it's good.

For now, anyway.

President Obama capped an intensive two weeks of administration make-nice with Israeli officials and the American Jewish community by hosting Wiesel, the Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist, for lunch at the White House.

"It was a good kosher lunch," was the first thing Wiesel pronounced, emerging from the White House to a gaggle of reporters.

And not just the food.

Dershowitz Reportedly Rejected Israel’s U.N. Envoy Job

05/04/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Alan Dershowitz reportedly turned down an offer to serve as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman assiduously courted the well-known Jewish-American lawyer, Yediot Achronot reported Tuesday.

If he had accepted Israel's most senior diplomatic post, Dershowitz , 72, would have had to make aliyah.

Dershowitz is a prominent advocate for Israel in the United States.

Delegates Walk Out on Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech

05/03/2010

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Delegates to a United Nations conference on nuclear proliferation walked out as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his speech, which attacked the United States and Israel.

The delegates from the United States, Britain, France, Hungary, New Zealand and the Netherlands left the room at the start of the Iranian president's address Monday.

Animal Cruelty and Jewish Law

05/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: This may sound weird, but I think my neighbor is cruel to his pet beagle. I know that if this was a person we were talking about, Jewish law would obligate me to go to the authorities. But this is a DOG. What's my obligation here?

A. You need to pursue this. I say this not merely because I am life-long pet-o-phile, a vegetarian with two cuddly standard poodles. I say this also because it is the right thing to do. Jewish culture has long championed animal rights.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Looking Up: 24 Countries Walk Out On Iran

Here is the list of the countries whose delegates walked out when Ahmadinejad ascended to the UN podium (at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference) and started his usual anti-Israel, anti-US diatribe. Most interesting and hopeful, is that one delegate from an Arab-Islamic country -- Morocco -- walked out, as well. For all those who continue to link modern German and Poland to the crimes of yesterday, it should be noted that Germany and Poland also walked out on the Holocaust denier and threat to Israel.

No good options for Jewish leaders as Ahmadinejad heads to New York

You gotta feel a little bad for Jewish leaders here, who were sandbagged by last week's announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in New York on Monday for, of all things, the UN's nuclear nonproliferation talks.

The last-minute announcement by the Iranians meant there wasn't enough time for the customary debate over the best communal response, inevitably followed by the various Jewish organization going their own way, anyway.

And when you come down to it, what can Jewish organizations do?

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