Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

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.

Meg Ryan, the "cultural intifada" and stupid PR tricks

First the term was used by Palestinians, referring to artsy events meant as protests against Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank; now Israelis and their supporters here are using “cultural intifada” to describe the accelerating trend of pop music and Hollywood stars who've decided to boycott Israel.

Cool; I'm sure Israel's brilliant PR mavens are patting themselves on the back for co-opting the phrase .

The Presbyterians, Israel and the value of community relations

In a world where Israel has fewer and fewer friends, Jewish groups here increasingly face a choice: do they treat Israel's critics as implacable adversaries? Or do they look for ways to work with some critics and perhaps change their mind on some issues?

Increasingly, muscular pro-Israel groups take the first approach; the second, which defines  the whole Jewish community relations movement, is in disfavor in many Jewish circles.

The last word on the Netanyahu - Obama summit: what we don't know

What we know after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Washington visit this week: both the Israeli leader and President Obama have decided that for various reasons it's best not to be quarreling, especially in public. Both have a strong vested interest in restoring the public trappings of the “special” U.S.-Israel relationship.

The problem is what we don't  know; the pomp-rich visit leaves us with more questions than answers:

Michael Steele: right on Afghanistan, sort of?

The whole Michael Steele controversy – the latest in a long series for the foot-in-mouth-prone Republican National Committee chairman – must be making Jewish liberals very uncomfortable.

Steele is getting savaged by fellow Republicans for saying the Afghanistan war is a “war of Obama's choosing,” and that the one thing the President should know is that you “don't ... engage in a land war in Afghanistan... because everyone who's tried over a thousand years of history has failed."

The ADL, Arizona and anti-immigrant craziness

Some of the nastiest email I get is on the issue of immigration reform. To read these missives, you'd never know that Jewish groups have been at the forefront of the effort to overhaul a badly broken legal immigration system and offer a path to citizenship for those here illegally.

Different takes on the Netanyahu - Obama summit

Lots of different perspectives on yesterday's Netanyahu – Obama summit, but still not a lot of information about what happened behind closed doors.

Netanyahu - Obama summit: who won, who lost?

Tonight's Israeli newspapers are touting President Obama's promise to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. will press for “direct” talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible instead of the indirect “proximity” talks now underway.

This is supposedly a victory for Netanyahu, who in news stories leading up to today's White House summit was portrayed as putting direct talks at the top of his Washington wish list, but I wonder; is that what he really wants?

Netanyahu in Washington, Part 1

 U.S.-Israel summits are generally pretty predictable affairs, but today's Barack Obama – Benjamin Netanyahu meeting takes the honey cake.

A kiss-and-make-up session, we learned weeks ago. A chance for Netanyahu to demonstrate all the “unprecedented” things he's done to advance the peace process, to use a word that pro-Israel groups here can't seem to get enough of. An opportunity for Obama, chastened by the intense political reaction to his earlier dealing with Netanyahu, to show he's a nice guy who really likes Israel and can get along with Netanyahu.

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