Friends knew Tom Diaz was changing when he started reading about ants. It wasn’t just the science that intrigued him, although the Capitol Hill staffer was known among colleagues as a wonk’s wonk. It was the miracle of creation — the endless variety, the questions science couldn’t answer.
The ants were early signs of a personal reassessment that ultimately produced a dual conversion in Diaz’s life — to Judaism and away from the gun culture that had always been part of who he was.
New Labor government poses challenge for pro-Israel lobby
This weekend’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference will feature all the usual elements of the annual pro-Israel extravaganza: congressional and administration machers by the score, foreign diplomats, on-the-make politicians and more than 900 charged-up AIPACers and 600 college students.
But the mood may be dampened by a new challenge facing the powerful lobby group: how to adjust to a new Labor government in Israel that includes officials who have harshly criticized AIPAC for a pro-Likud tilt.
That squeak audible over Washington this week was the sound of the pro-Israel lobby turning on a dime. Stung by criticism by some Labor leaders of a longstanding pro-Likud tilt, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), began a quick readjustment at this week’s annual policy conference in Washington.
“What you’re hearing is an organization adapting to a new environment,” said Gary Polland, a longtime AIPAC activist from Texas who objected to the softening of some traditional AIPAC positions.
Administration officials are straining to keep up their public facade of impartiality as the election campaign in Israel heads toward a noisy conclusion. But just below the surface are mounting concerns about the impact of a victory by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the promised U.S. effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian talks — and a growing realization that even a victory by his chief opponent, Labor leader Ehud Barak, is no guarantee that a new U.S. initiative will advance quickly.
The debate over school vouchers is heating up around the country, and Jewish groups on both sides of the issue are jumping into the fray. But despite all the noise, most observers agree Jewish voters haven’t strayed too far from their traditional opposition to plans that provide indirect public support for private and parochial schools.
The impetus for the new push comes from Florida, where the state legislature passed a major voucher plan last week.
While the American public continues to look kindly on Sen. Joe Lieberman — with his religious observance either a non-issue or looked upon favorably by Christians — Jews on the right and left continue to make him a target of their religious and/or political agendas.
Are these negative stories on Lieberman fair game, or efforts to embarrass him? And why are they coming primarily from Jewish media?
New Haven, Conn.
As Sen. Joe Lieberman and his supporters baked in the afternoon sun and basked in the endorsement of a local congresswoman at a subsidized housing project here Monday, Dan Garrett stood across the street holding a “Joe’s Gotta Go” sign.
Philadelphia — Clifford Lipkin is a lifelong Democrat who has been active in local party politics. But with barely three weeks before the election, his vote is up for grabs.
“I’m so disillusioned” with Democrats and their candidate, said Lipkin, 71, a retired public school administrator, standing in the doorway of his home in the Sun Valley neighborhood of the northeast suburbs here.
As the political landscape continues to shift under a re-elected and re-energized Bush administration, local Jewish agencies are bracing for what could be a sea change in government assistance to human services in an age of tax cuts and a surging federal deficit.
Federal funds and aid to states that allow local grants amount to about 50 percent of the billion dollars on which UJA-Federation depends to run its vast network of beneficiary agencies.
Wading into the delicate fray over the alliance between Jews and pro-Israel Evangelicals, former President Jimmy Carter last week reportedly said it was a mistake for Jews to accept such ties, and that he was working to convince Southern Baptists to change the way they look at Judaism and the Middle East.
Christian Zionists can be better friends of Israel by challenging its government’s policies, while accepting Judaism as a legitimate path to God, Carter told a group organized by Rabbi Michael Lerner in California last week, according to the rabbi.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.