Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

The perils of Arlen: does Specter have an Elena Kagan problem?

As if he needed more tsuris in in his fight for a sixth term – this time as a Democrat – Sen. Arlen Specter, the veteran Jewish lawmaker,  now may have a major Elena Kagan problem.

Kagan is President Obama's nominee to fill the seat of the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, and Specter – back when he was a Republican, which was after he was Democrat – voted against her last year when Obama appointed her solicitor general.

Bizarre twist in Mojave cross case: it's gone

Will the Mojave Desert cross controversy ever end?

You may recall that last month the Supreme Court ruled that the 7 foot Christian symbol, erected in 1934 to honor fallen U.S. servicemen, was not necessarily a violation of church-state separation just because it was erected on federal land, a ruling that disturbed groups like the American Jewish Committee.

Pakistan and jihadist terrorism

 A great column yesterday by Newweek's Fareed Zakaria on Pakistan's role as a “terrorist hothouse even as jihadism is losing favor elsewhere in the Muslim world.”

Oren says Netanyahu not humiliated at White House, readers don't believe it

So Amb. Michael Oren, Israel's eloquent ambassador in Washington, says it didn't happen; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn't dissed when he came to the White House on March 23, according to this JTA  story  and numerous other reports.

More on Elie Wiesel, politics and Jerusalem

Reading Jewish Week editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt's interview with Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, I can't help but wonder if this moral paragon is on his way to being perceived as just another political activist. Given Wiesel's eloquent and moving contributions to our understanding of the Holocaust and its aftermath and his stature as a moral teacher on the issue of genocide, that would be sad.

Holocaust sensitivity silliness, and a reasonable warning from the ADL on Arizona's immigration law

This is so silly, I can barely stand it.

The New Jersey Education Association is taking Gov. Chris Christie to task for inappropriately using the phrase “final solution” in a Washington speech.

Obey retiring, don't expect any tears from some pro-Israel groups

You can bet some pro-Israel hardliners won't be weeping salt tears over today's announcement by Rep. David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat and the dean of the congressional appropriations process, that he will be retiring.

But a lot of pro-Israel lobbyists who have worked with him over the years say his departure after 41 years in the House will be a big loss for the nation – and possibly for Israel.

Obama's Jewish charm offensive: what does it signal about his Israel policy?

We've read a lot in the last few days (see this JTA story in the Jewish Week)  about President Obama's Jewish charm offensive, which reached a kind of peak with yesterday's White House visit by Elie Wiesel, who proclaimed himself satisfied that the president does not have it in for Israel.

What we don't know: what does this all-out effort to ease the concerns of pro-Israel voters signal about administration policy?

Here we go again: Israel's Palestinian incitement index

Earlier this week Jewish Week editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt broke the story of a new Israeli plan to create an “incitement index” to document Palestinian incitement and the failure of West Bank leaders to extirpate anti-Israel hatred from the schools, the media and even street names.

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