Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Birthright citizenship, illegal immigration and my Aunt Rose

My great aunt Rose came to America in the early 1900s, a refugee from Czarist Russia, and family legend has it she arrived smuggled in a trunk.

By any standard, she was an illegal immigrant – yet she didn't behead anybody and leave the body in the Arizona desert and she didn't fraudulently get welfare services. She went on to a productive life in America, working for almost a half century in the millinery industry, paying taxes and contributing to – and ultimately benefiting from – Social Security.

Will Marc Stern's move doom the American Jewish Congress?

 Coming back from an Internet-free vacation, I learned that Marc Stern, the longtime legal guru of of the American Jewish Congress, has signed on to serve as associate general counsel for legal activity of the American Jewish Committee.

That should put a conclusive end to speculation about a merger between the two groups whose similar names have given generations of Jewish journalists fits, for the simple reason that with Stern's defection, the AJ Congress has absolutely nothing the American Jewish Committee could possibly want.

Report from Middle America: who cares about foreign policy?

During 12 days away from the news – in the middle of Iowa, if you can believe that - I was reminded of the curious bubble that those of us who live and work in the midst of the American Jewish world inhabit.

In that time, I didn't hear Israel, the Middle East or Iran raised a single time –unless I raised it.

Jewish positions generally unchanged as CUFI, John Hagee begin Washington summit

Vacation plans mean I'm missing this year's Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington summit, which begins today. I'm sorry because CUFI puts on a pretty impressive show, and the Jewish community's ambivalence about the meaning of this and other “Christian Zionist” groups is endlessly interesting for journalists.

Netanyahu 1, Abbas 0, peace process - who knows?

Whether or not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a strategic vision for peace I'll leave to the experts in the mysteries of Israeli politics. One thing I can say with confidence: in the day-to-day diplomatic trench warfare with Palestinian leaders, he looks like a genius.

The latest example: his ongoing call for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, which has now become a refrain of the Obama administration.

Emergency Committee for Israel: It's about Jewish campaign money, stupid

Jewish Washington was buzzing this week with the news – first reported in Politico, expanded on in the Jewish Week – that a few Republican heavy hitters have created an “Emergency Committee for Israel” to slam the

Arizona immigration law lesson: political demagoguery works

There are a lot of scary aspects to Arizona's Draconian new immigration law, but the scariest might be this: it has worked like a charm for the politicians who supported it.

Obama's Israel interview, and the U.S.-Israel emotional gap

What is it about the Israeli psyche that talks about a U.S.-Israel alliance, but really demands an America that lavishes love on the Jewish state? And what is it about American policymakers that make them so blind to this need?

Jack Lew to head budget office, deal with flood of red ink

The job will look familiar, but when Jack Lew takes over as director of the Office of Management and Budget the challenges will look a whole lot more daunting than when he held the post during the last two years of the Bill Clinton administration.

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