Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

“Radical centrism” and the Jewish community

Does hyper-polarized America need a new “radical centrism” to get us past the stale ideologies of both right and left and the resulting national paralysis?

Obama's big headache: Afghanistan, not Israel

To listen to Jewish bloggers and pundits, you'd think President Obama's Middle East policy and his chilly relations with Israel will be his biggest foreign policy headache when he faces voters in 2012.

Well, maybe it'll be a big problem with a small minority of a small minority, but nothing like the problem he could face if the Afghanistan war is still going on – and if he's still clueless about how to fix the problem.

A Flotilla for Gilad Shalit?

I have to confess: I don't know exactly what to say about the planned “True Freedom Flotilla” for Gilad Shalit, a project of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Richard Cohen Psychoanalyzes President Obama

President Obama, cool and detached and still sounding more like a professor than a president, remains a mystery to many analysts. In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen takes a stab at psychoanalyzing the chief executive, and the results are interesting.

In Congress, J Street, AIPAC fight over Gaza flotilla letters

Update: I had a call this afternoon from an AIPACer who took me to task for writing that the 79 Senators who signed the AIPAC-endorsed letter - now over 80 - was "not a slam dunk."

Point taken; getting 4/5 of the Senate to sign anything is no mean achievement.

The Gaza flotilla, Turkey - and some ugly talk about the Armenian Genocide

Here's something pretty ugly percolating just beneath the surface of Jewish politics these days.

For years, Armenian Americans have appealed to the Jewish community for help in their efforts to get official U.S. recognition of the World War I era Armenian Genocide by Turkey.

Jews were their natural allies, they thought, because of our own history, but pro-Israel leaders had different ideas.

B'nai B'rith poll: the latest in the 'who can slam J Street the most' sweepstakes?

Update: the folks at Americans for Peace Now point out that I missed a key finding of the B'nai B'rith survey. APN spokesman Ori Nir, in a press release, points out that "a full 55 percent agreed" with the statement "A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is essential to Israel's survival as a national home of the Jewish people as a vibrant democracy."  

BP oil spill: Obama's 'Katrina?'

 For weeks, Republicans have been gleefully predicting that the massive BP oil spill and the uneven response of the federal government would be President Obama's Hurricane Katrina.

Generally, I've scoffed at the claim Obama's response will define his presidency – and that the definition would include the word “incompetence.”

But now I'm not so sure, but not necessarily for the reasons the Republicans say.

Coming soon: a new Iran day of reckoning for pro-Israel groups?

Could pro-Israel leaders here face a grim day of reckoning on the issue of Iran's nuclear program?

Last week the UN Security Council passed new sanctions demanded by the Obama administration, which won the support of China and Russia – the biggest obstacles to a new sanctions regime. Congress seems poised to pass tougher U.S. sanctions targeting companies, individuals and states that deal with Iran's nuclear sector, JTA reports.

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