lawmaker

Notes from the AIPAC Policy Conference

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 Is the legendary AIPAC “roll call” getting old? In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the story: at every year’s policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,  leaders of the group read out the names of all the congressional, administration and diplomatic officials attending.  Reporters keep count, hometown delegations cheer for their representatives and the message has the subtlety of a good sock in the jaw: this is a lobby with real clout.

Jane Harman controversy - unwelcome backdrop for AIPAC policy conference

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 James Besser in Washington With its annual policy conference approaching,  the last thing AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, needed was a lot of new publicity about the Espionage Act case involving two former employees. Well, that’s what it’s getting, thanks to a controversial and bizarre story in CQ Politics – a publication of the respected Congressional Quarterly.

Bashing J Street

Monday, March 30th, 2009 James Besser in Washington What is about J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action committee, that has the leaders of major Jewish groups in such a snit? I’ve had calls from three of them in the past two weeks, complaining about the new kid on the pro-Israel block; even some liberal Jewish leaders are joining the anti-J Street chorus.

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.

Jewish Winners and Losers in the Stimulus Wars

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 James Besser in Washington The huge economic recovery act just passed by Congress, which President Obama will sign in Denver today,  could present some interesting twists for several Jewish members of Congress.

Obama Inaugurated, Jews Party

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 James Besser in Washington It was a day of joyous celebration for the many thousands of African Americans who came to Washington to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but Jews weren’t exactly slackers in the celebration department. Inaugural events provided ample opportunity for Jewish machers to see and be seen – and for advocacy groups to display their political connections.

Kucinich Wants “Independent” UN Investigation of Israeli Gaza Offensive

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 James Besser in Washington This just in: Rep. Dennis Kucinich  (D-Ohio) is calling for  an “independent” investigation into “Israel’s war against Gaza,” which he says amounts to “collective punishment.” (Read his statement here)

Emanuel Senior Speaks, Junior Apologizes

Friday, November 14th, 2008 James Besser in Washington When Rep. Rahm Emanuel was named chief of staff to President elect Barack Obama, some predicted the volatile, outspoken lawmaker, former Bill Clinton aide and dead fish message sender would get himself in trouble with some kind of outrageous outburst.

McKinney Gets Green Party Nod, Pro-Israel Activists Yawn

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 James Besser in Washington The Green Party has apparently decided to accelerate its plunge toward political irrelevance. Last week the party, most remembered for its spoiler role in 2000, nominated former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) as its presidential candidate.

Jesse Helms and the Pro-Israel Divide

Sunday, July 6th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who died on Friday at the age of 86, was a perfect lightning rod for one of the critical divides in Jewish life. For many pro-Israel activists, Helms’ conversion from staunch foe of their agenda  — in 1983 he suggested breaking diplomatic relations with Israel because of the war in Lebanon, and he was a consistent foe of foreign aid  - to ardent Likudnik was the stuff of legends and a turning point in pro-Israel politics.
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