James Besser

Sen. Cardin, Senior Jewish Lawmaker, Meets Syria’s Assad, Sees Few Signs of Change

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 James Besser in Washington With Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in limbo because of the political division between Gaza and the West Bank, many analysts are touting the potential for breakthroughs on the Syria-Israel track. A senior member of the Jewish delegation in Congress, fresh from a trip to the region that included a meeting with Syrian president Bashar Assad, says maybe – but don’t count on it.

Gillibrand comments on Israel jeopardize Jewish campaign contributions, votes

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 James Besser in Washington Does anybody want to take up a collection to rent Sen.  Kirsten Gillibrand a couple of Jewish advisers?  They’re not that expensive these days, and they could do her a world of good.

Is the economic meltdown changing the fundraising calculus for Jewish groups?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 James Besser in Washington Times really must be changing; this week I received a fundraising call from the local Jewish Federation on their “Super Sunday.” Why the big deal, you ask? In 22 years of reporting for Jewish newspapers – with my name in synagogue directories and bulletins, with public appearances and  ties to local community leaders – this is the first fundraising call I’ve ever received from a local Jewish group.

White House Reaches Out to Hadassah, Economic Recovery bill passes senate

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 James Besser in Washington When President Barack Obama went before a Ft. Myers, Fla. audience to pump for grassroots support for his economic recovery plans, the White House made sure there was a substantial delegation from Hadassah in the room.

Israel Goes to the Polls - And Everyone Will Be Unhappy

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Israelis are going to the polls in higher-than-expected numbers today, and official Washington might be worried about the outcome – if it wasn’t so completely preoccupied with a collapsing economy at home and the increasingly bitter, partisan effort to stop the slide.

The Lieberman Factor Worrying Pro-Israel Leaders Here

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Question: what are pro-Israel leaders here doing in preparation for Tuesday’s elections in Israel? Answer: Worrying. At least that’s what’s happening behind closed doors even as most Jewish leaders publicly insist there will be no change in U.S.-Israel relations no matter who becomes prime minister and gets to figure out how to cobble together a new government.

Are Jewish Groups living in economic la-la land?

Friday, February 6th, 2009 James Besser in Washington It just me, or is there a kind of surrealistic atmosphere surrounding Jewish activism in the early days of the Obama administration? The issues are mostly the same as always, but the context has changed dramatically. And it’s not at all clear our leaders understand the potential extent of that shift.

Mitchell Off to the Mideast, Jewish Groups Conspicuously Silent

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Former Sen. George Mitchell is getting a running start; only days after his appointment as special envoy to the Middle East, he is heading to the region for an eight-day getting-to-know-you session with leaders of several countries and with the men and woman vying to become Israel’s next leader after next month’s  elections.

The Pro-Israel Language Muddle

Sunday, January 25th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Update: I just read NY Times reporter Ethan Bronner’s interesting take on the different, seemingly irreconcilable narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, and the difficult of using “neutral” language in reporting on the conflict. Definitely worth a read. Get it here.
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