Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

George W. Bush for — get this — Mideast envoy?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 In the craziest-idea-of-the-month sweepstakes,, this one can’t help but come up a winner. Writing in Newsweek, Gregory Levey suggests replacing U.S. special Mideast envoy with – are you ready for this – former President George W. Bush.

Obama slammed on faith based office

Monday, July 27th, 2009 It’s no secret that many liberals and church-state separation advocates are angry about  President Obama’s handling of the faith-based initiatives of his predecessor. Although they’ve mostly kept quiet about it, the folks at the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee – which were hoping for much more of a rollback from policies of the George W. Bush administration – can’t be happy.

NJ Mayors, Rabbis and the BBC

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 Like many in our community, I’ve been transfixed by the dramatic FBI arrests in New Jersey that netted prominent rabbis as well as mayors, city council presidents and other officials. It’s both titillating and scary; first Bernie Madoff, now this.  There haven’t been so many high-profile Jewish baddies since Leopold and Loeb. And this one looks huge, involving as it does some of the leading figures in the Syrian Jewish community, money laundering and trafficking in human organs.

Christians United for…Settlements?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 I confess: because of other assignments, I didn’t get down to the Christians United for Israel Washington summit this week, the first one I’ve missed. But based on past years events and interviews with several folks who attended this week’s, I’ve reached one new conclusion about the group. From the beginning, CUFI has embraced the Israeli settlers movement in a way no major Jewish group has.

More J Street craziness

Jeremy Ben-Ami. Photo: J StreetOkay, I’d resolved  not to blog about J Street for a while, since every time I do it takes days to sort through the angry email, but I just have to ask again: what is it about this group that drives people so batty?

Read through J Street’s press statements, Web site and op-eds, and it’s obviously a strongly pro-Israel group, even if its views of what constitutes the best policy to secure Israel’s future aren’t the same as the Israeli government’s or AIPAC’s and even though it is clearly not a big fan of the current government.

Jewish leaders meet Senate Democrats

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 A gaggle of Jewish leaders met with a record number of Senate Democrats today – 22 lawmakers in all, according to one count, including most of the top leadership. The meeting, put together by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), demonstrated the breadth of concerns of the community, according to several participants.

Iran, Israel and deterrence

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 Is the Obama administration starting to think about policy for meeting the challenge of an Iran that has already gone nuclear? In an interview this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested the United States would extend a defense umbrella “over the region” if  Iran does  develop nuclear weapons (read a VOA news report on her comments here).

Grim study on recession’s impact on Jewish life

Monday, July 20th, 2009 It’s not happy reading, but studying it should be a mandatory assignment for  every Jewish activist. Steven Windmueller’s  paper on The Unfolding Economic Crisis: Its Devastating Implications for American Jewry, lays out a crisis that will continue to impact the Jewish communal world for many years even if the economic downturn ends soon.

More J Street Craziness

Monday, July 20th, 2009 Okay, I’d resolved not to blog about J Street for a while, since every time I do it takes days to sort through the angry email, but I just have to ask again: what is it about this group that drives people so batty?

White House Jewish outreach on steroids

White House Jewish outreach on steroids

Pretty much every Jewish reporter was focused this week on President Barack Obama’s meeting with 16 Jewish leaders at the White House – a presidential performance described as masterful even by some participants uneasy about his evolving Middle East policies and his determination to speak bluntly to Israel about issues such as settlements (read the Jewish Week story on the meeting here).

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