Bibi-Obama meeting high on atmospherics, low on specifics going forward.
James D. Besser
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu staged a diplomatic dance in Washington on Tuesday meant to show the world — and their respective constituencies — that they are still in step.
But the carefully choreographed atmospherics belied potential difficulties ahead and many unanswered questions, starting with these: will President Barack Obama stick to his stated goal of moving aggressively on the Israeli-Palestinian front despite a plateful of international and domestic political problems?
Tonight's Israeli newspapers are touting President Obama's promise to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. will press for “direct” talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible instead of the indirect “proximity” talks now underway.
This is supposedly a victory for Netanyahu, who in news stories leading up to today's White House summit was portrayed as putting direct talks at the top of his Washington wish list, but I wonder; is that what he really wants?
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.
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.
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."
The number of people who attended last month’s Israel Day Concert, the annual right-wing rally in support of Israel’s settlement movement, and a joint event, two weeks later, between Jews and Muslims, would almost certainly be zero if it weren’t for one person — state Assemblyman David Weprin.
New sanctions surge could lead to new dilemmas for groups that have banked on issue.
James D. Besser
Recent breakthroughs in the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Iran could change the political calculus for American Jewish groups that have benefited hugely from their decades-old focus on Iran — and which have largely succeeded in making Iran’s threat to both U.S. and Israeli interests a top policy for Congress and the White House.
A year and a half after the left side of his body was torn head-to-toe by shrapnel in the Gaza war, 23-year-old Ron Lichi was enjoying a relaxing tour of the Empire State Building, the White House and the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite, among other American tourist destinations.