Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

US joins UN Human Rights Council: Can it be reformed?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 As if it didn’t have enough on its plate, the Obama administration is now set to try to work some reform magic on the UN Human Rights Council, a group set up to monitor human rights conditions around the world but which is led by some of the  worst abusers anywhere and which seems to have little interest in anything but Israel. On Tuesday the General Assembly elected the United States to the council following a decision by the Obama administration to seek membership.

Is the Demjanjuk case a lose-lose one for the Jewish community?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 Does anybody else find the seemingly endless spectacle of John Demjanjuk pathetic, dispiriting and confusing? Is this way the noble effort to call Nazi war criminals to account for their horrific  misdeeds ends  – with a furtive ambulance ride for an 89-year-old retired auto worker who’s been chased by federal authorities for three decades  and then a late-night flight to Germany, where he has been charged with assisting in the killing of at least 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp?

DC Vouchers: Obama straddles, Jewish groups not thrilled

Monday, May 11th, 2009 If you thought the issue of school vouchers for parents whose kids attend private and parochial schools would fade away now that the Democrats control both the White House and Congress, guess again. Last week President Obama announced a proposal that would allow a controversial Washington, DC voucher program that has divided Jewish groups to keep its funding for now but not provide money for new students.

AIPAC’s positioning problem

Friday, May 8th, 2009 AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, sure is sensitive about claims by some that it is tilted to the political right – a persistent image that could prove political awkward now that there’s a new administration in Washington that wants to move forward quickly on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Anti-gay, anti-Semitic group targeting Holocaust Museum, ADL, synagogue

Thursday, May 7th, 2009 Washington area Jewish institutions are about to be visited by the wandering group of religious activists who believe they are winning friends and supporters by picketing the funerals of dead U.S. servicemen and women with their message that America is damned because of its tolerance of homosexuality. The response by the Jewish institutions?  To deny the demonstrators what they want most: publicity.

Specter forgets which party he’s in, endorses Coleman bid

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 No doubt Senate Democrats are happy that Sen. Arlen Specter now has a “D-Pa.” next to his name instead of an “R,” but there will occasional second thoughts when the unpredictable lawmaker’s foot finds its way into his mouth. It happened again this week, when Specter seemed to forget which party he now  calls home. In a New York Times Magazine interview, Specter was asked if he cares that, because of his party switch, there are now no Jewish Republicans in the Senate.

Obama, the Orthodox Union and the National Day of Prayer

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 President Obama is getting pounded by the religious right for not holding a “National Day of Prayer” event at the White House tomorrow, but he is getting support from a key Orthodox group. In his Institute for Public Affairs Blog, OU public policy director Nathan Diament reviews the history of the event, which began in 1952 and which “has been marked in various ways by all presidents since then.” Diament goes on to say this:

Notes from the AIPAC Policy Conference

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 Is the legendary AIPAC “roll call” getting old? In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the story: at every year’s policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,  leaders of the group read out the names of all the congressional, administration and diplomatic officials attending.  Reporters keep count, hometown delegations cheer for their representatives and the message has the subtlety of a good sock in the jaw: this is a lobby with real clout.

Rabbi Jack Moline Names His Own Poison, Takes On Major Washington Role

Monday, May 4th, 2009 For years, Rabbi Jack Moline – leader of a synagogue in suburban Washington  – argued that the Conservative movement needed a stronger, more visible Washington presence, like the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, both of which are active players in the capital.
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