James Besser

Obama Meets the press, calls for “persistence” in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 James Besser in Washington There was plenty of Mideast news this week, starting with the dramatic decision by Labor Party leader Ehud Barak (this Barak v. Barack business is going to hard on journalists who trust their spell checkers)  to join a new government led by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu.  But you’d never know it by listening to President Barack Obama’s prime-time press conference last night.

J Street Poll shows strong support for Obama, weak support for Lieberman and complex views about Iran and Gaza.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009 James Besser in Washington A new poll by J Street, the pro-peace process political action committee and lobby, contained good news for President Barack Obama, worrisome signs for incoming Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu and some predictably bad news for Jewish organizations facing an unprecedented economic crisis.

Jewish Groups united on budget proposal — well, almost

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Jewish groups are pretty much united on wanting more government spending for critical health and social service programs as part of the federal budget for the next fiscal year. But as Congress began chewing on next year’s budget proposal,  a letter signed by more than 100 local and national organizations, organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), was conspicuous in the lack of any Orthodox support.

Internet Rumors, Republicans and Refugees from Gaza

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 James Besser in Washington It’s getting harder to tell urban legends from reality in this age of drive-by talk radio and an anarchic Internet. Case in point: the widely proliferating rumor that the Obama administration is spending $20 million of your taxpayer dollars on “resettling Palestinians with ties to Hamas in the United States.”

A Madoff Victim Bailout? I don’t think so

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Just in case you haven’t read enough about mega-swindler Bernie Madoff, check the book-like article about many of his victims in the current Vanity Fair. Needless to say, most of the victims interviewed are Jewish, and the tales are poignant, like the story of the wealthy physician’s widow who invested with Madoff and ended up working as a kind of maid.

Bernie Madoff and Jewish Angst

Friday, March 13th, 2009 James Besser in Washington So Bernie Madoff is going to the Big House, and his many victims won’t get to see him strung up by the thumbs.  I’m sure there’s  a lot of disappointment (I sort of liked Elie Wiesel’s suggested punishment for the Ponzi King: put him in a jail cell with a flat panel TV, and run continuous pictures of his victims).

Freeman Out as Intel Panel Chair; Controversy unlikely to end

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Just as I was getting set to write yet another blog item on the Chas Freeman controversy, word came that he is turning down his appointment as chair of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman’s defenders are no doubt busy writing their own blogs, describing how his nomination was torpedoed by pro-Israel forces, and they won’t be entirely wrong.

US will boycott Durban II: Update

Friday, February 27th, 2009 James Besser in Washington UPDATE: JTA just reported that the administration is withdrawing from participation in the Durban II conference, a move expected to clear the way for several European nations to do the same (full story here).
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