Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Ron Paul, tea parties and the GOP's Jewish problem

More than a few people wrote to complain about my story last week on the potentially damaging impact of the “tea party” movement on the Republican Party's continued outreach to Jewish voters.

The tea partiers “love Israel,” one  said.  Others accused me of just parroting  a tired old liberal line equating conservatism to anti-Semitism.

More J Street Silliness

When are Israeli leaders going to get smart about American Jews? Not soon, if their clumsy efforts to brand J Street an anti-Israel group are any measure.

Gridlock in Washington: Let's blame ourselves

I was much taken with Washington Post business writer Steve Pearlstein's column today.  Pearlstein had the audacity to point to two of the biggest reasons for the political and legislative gridlock in Washington – an electorate that demands completely contradictory things from the people it elects, and a president who apparently lacks the backbone to tell it like it is.  (See t

Keith Ellison, Gaza and what it means to be "anti-Israel"

I keep getting emails and reading blogs about the infamous “Ellison letter” - the congressional letter to President Obama urging him to press Israel to lift the Gaza blockade (many of the writers put the word “blockade” in quotation marks, as if it bears no connection to reality).

What are New Israel Fund critics afraid of?

As the controversy over grantees of the New Israel Fund and their alleged role in supplying information used by the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war rages here and in Israel, I can't help but wonder this: what are the critics so afraid of?

There's an irony here. Unlike its adversaries in the Middle East, Israel actually has a vigorous, outspoken and independent  human rights movement  willing and able to critically examine the actions of its own government. That's a good thing, right?

The Jerusalem Embassy Act and other pro-Israel political games

Is this news, or just restating the obvious?

This week President Obama invoked waive provisions of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, which requires the State Department to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

U.S. policy has always been that the status of Jerusalem is a matter for negotiations with the Palestinians, and that moving the embassy before that would compromise this country's ability to serve as an effective peace mediator.

New Air Force Chief a MOT

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Remember the recent controversy over proselytizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy? And charges by some groups that the service branch has become a very uncomfortable place for religious minorities, including Jews? That could change with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ appointment last week of a new Air Force chief. His pick: Lt. General Norton Schwartz, a 1973 Air Force Academy graduate, onetime cargo aircraft pilot and official Member of the Tribe.

Regulation and Amnesia

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 James Besser in Washington Isn’t it interesting how Democrats and Republicans alike have turned “regulation” into the foulest of political expletives – but as soon as things go bad, complain that the regulators weren’t on the job?

Chas Freeman and the pro-Israel lobby: watch your definitions

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Was it really the  “pro-Israel lobby” that scuttled the nomination of Chas Freeman as head of the National Intelligence Council, as Freeman himself charged in an outburst after his withdrawal on Wednesday and prominent columnists like the Washington Post’s David Broder agree? Well, it depends on you definition of “the lobby.”

Harry Schwarz, anti-apartheid crusader and South African Jewish leader, dies

Today JTA is reporting that Schwarz, a refugee from Nazi German and a  longtime South African Jewish leader, has died at the age of 86.

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