Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Obama's Christianity on display - not that it will quiet the rumor mongers

Over at the Spiritual Politics blog, Mark Silk, who heads the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, has an interesting and provocative analysis of President Obama's appearance at yesterday's White House Easter prayer breakfast.

Jews in Trouble on Capitol Hill

In the Jewish-legislators-in-trouble department, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis) could face his stiffest challenge yet, if current polls are accurate.

According to a survey conducted for Wisconsin Public Radio, Feingold, who is in his third term, trails former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican who hasn't even announced his candidacy yet, by 12 points.

Here's a link to the survey.

An "imposed" settlement?

 Israeli newspapers are seething with rumors of an likely attempt by the Obama administration to “impose” a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That seems unlikely to me, if for no other reason than you can't very well impose a two-state solution when there are, in fact, three entities that are part of this equation, and one of them – Hamas – has no interest in anything resembling peace.

ADL applauds repeal of religious garb ban in Oregon schools

This just in: the ADL is applauding the repeal of an Oregon law barring teachers from wearing religious garb in public school classrooms.

That puts Oregon in line with most other states, which do not prohibit teachers from wearing head scarves, turbans, religious-themed T-shirts - or kippot.

ADL regional director Hilary Bernstein had this to say:

Drill, Baby, Drill: The (barely audible) Jewish response

The Reform movement, which really wants to like President Barack Obama even while some other Jewish segments bash him because of the diplomatic chill with Israel, isn't exactly happy with his newly announced energy policies, which some environmentalists say could turn East Coast beaches into a gooey mess and actually forestall genuine energy independence.

AIPAC letter reveals: Obama Israel policies making House members nervous

 So AIPAC has convinced some 327 members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter essentially telling the Obama administration to keep its criticisms of the Israeli government private.

Mazel tov; that's an impressive achievement for the pro-Israel lobby group, although it probably didn't take much arm twisting; there's a lot of unease on Capitol Hill about where this administration's Mideast policy is headed.

New J Street poll: American Jews support Obama Mideast moves

There's a new poll of American Jewish public opinion by J Street, and I'm just going to take a wild guess and say Jewish Republicans and mainstream pro-Israel groups are going to dismiss the whole thing as propaganda because it's done by...well, J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action group that everybody else loves to hate (see the J Street results here).

Bibi, Barack and the Big Chill

 Okay, I confess, I missed the AIPAC policy conference this week, the first I haven't attended as a reporter in 23 years. But it's okay, I had a note from my editor because I was working on the new Jewish Week Web site, which you're now reading and I hope you're liking.

But you didn't need to be on the floor of the Washington Convention Center to know there's something afoot in the U.S.-ISrael relationship that worries the leaders of mainstream pro-ISrael groups and has given new hope to groups that favor a more robust U.S. peacemaking effort in the region.

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