Okay, my secret is out: I'm retiring after 24 years on this beat for the Jewish Week (please hold your applause and your decaying vegetables). It seems like the right time to reflect on the changes I've seen in the Jewish world and Jewish politics during that period.
Many of the activists I met way back in the day are still toiling in Washington, and some of the issues that preoccupied them more than two decades ago are still in play, while others are long forgotten. How many remember the Lautenberg Amendment? In 1987, it was on the lips of most Jewish leaders.
It's been a crazy week in the ongoing soap opera, "Bibi and 'Bama," and given the reception Prime Minister Netanyahu got in Congress, I think the GOP wishes Netanyahu could be their standard bearer in 2012. There are so many fascinating dynamics at work here that it would make for a top notch TV comedy if the situation weren't deathly serious.
Like so many others, I've been intrigued by the California radio preacher and his gullible flock who predicted doomsday on May 21, and are now engaged in furious rationalization to explain why they were right even though the world seems to be continuing on its merry way.
Numerous Republicans have hit President Obama for his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps - an explicit way of stating what has been implicit in U.S. policy since Bill Clinton's administration.
Which leads to the question: exactly what are the critics for?
Do they support those in Israel and the small minority in the American Jewish community who say Israel has a right to the West Bank and Gaza and should not give them up, period?
A reader commented on my story this week about AIPAC – the pro-Israel lobby giant that, according to everything I hear, has not been weakened by the attacks by Walt-Mearsheimer acolytes or the rapid growth of J Street. (AIPAC's annual policy conference begins on Sunday.)
J Street, Walt-Mearsheimer seen having little impact on AIPAC’s clout.
James D. Besser
With the rise of J Street, continuing attacks by Walt-Mearsheimer acolytes and Israel’s growing isolation, critics of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which holds its annual policy conference in Washington next week, have ratcheted up their claims that the pro-Israel lobbying giant is on the ropes.
Most evidence belies those claims — on Capitol Hill and across the political world, AIPAC’s clout appears undiminished, and in many ways has grown in recent years.
New campaign going well despite tough economic climate.
It’s been hailed widely as a way to keep the younger generation of Jews in the fold, so to speak. And it’s been panned by some as a thin exercise in Jewish solidarity, long on party atmosphere and short on substance.
Is it kosher for Jews in the diaspora to speak out against Israeli policy? As a Jewish-American opposed to the occupation of the West Bank, this question has special relevance for me.
Until recently Jewish-American politics was dominated by organizations that have been supportive of the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Feeling uncomfortable with these right-wing groups, I limited my activism regarding Israel to working through groups like UJA-Federation of New York and the New Israel Fund, which aid disadvantaged Israelis.
Today's announcement that President Barack Obama will address the AIPAC policy conference on Sunday changes the dynamics of the huge annual gathering – although most reports indicate the president will give a speech mostly intended to reassure pro-Israel voters, not announce any new Israeli-Palestinian initiatives.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- President Obama will address this year's AIPAC conference.
Obama's decision to keynote the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference, rumored for days, was confirmed Monday by Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, to reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One. AIPAC confirmed the news.
The Associated Press quoted Carney as saying that Obama will not outline policy in his speech but instead will focus on the "deep bond" with Israel.