Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Israel Goes to the Polls - And Everyone Will Be Unhappy

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Israelis are going to the polls in higher-than-expected numbers today, and official Washington might be worried about the outcome – if it wasn’t so completely preoccupied with a collapsing economy at home and the increasingly bitter, partisan effort to stop the slide.

The Lieberman Factor Worrying Pro-Israel Leaders Here

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Question: what are pro-Israel leaders here doing in preparation for Tuesday’s elections in Israel? Answer: Worrying. At least that’s what’s happening behind closed doors even as most Jewish leaders publicly insist there will be no change in U.S.-Israel relations no matter who becomes prime minister and gets to figure out how to cobble together a new government.

Are Jewish Groups living in economic la-la land?

Friday, February 6th, 2009 James Besser in Washington It just me, or is there a kind of surrealistic atmosphere surrounding Jewish activism in the early days of the Obama administration? The issues are mostly the same as always, but the context has changed dramatically. And it’s not at all clear our leaders understand the potential extent of that shift.

Obama Announces New Faith Based Office, Many Questions Unanswered

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 James Besser in Washington President Barack Obama unveiled his revamped faith based initiative today, but the rollout left a lot of questions for Jewish groups that have been bitter adversaries on questions surrounding  government funding for religious health and social service providers.

Gillibrand and Kosher Chicken

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Politicos are still puzzling over last week’s appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton’s seat in the U.S. Senate and  Gov. David Paterson’s missteps in announcing his choice – a “mishandled circus,” according to CUNY political scientist Douglas Muzzio.. But one thing you can take to the bank: Gillibrand, who will face voters statewide in 2010, is going to be eating a lot of kosher chicken in the months ahead.

Mitchell Off to the Mideast, Jewish Groups Conspicuously Silent

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Former Sen. George Mitchell is getting a running start; only days after his appointment as special envoy to the Middle East, he is heading to the region for an eight-day getting-to-know-you session with leaders of several countries and with the men and woman vying to become Israel’s next leader after next month’s  elections.

Follow the Bouncing Joe: Lieberman and the Democrats

Monday, January 26th, 2009 James Besser in Washington It’s not always easy keeping up with Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent-turned-John-McCain-supporter who now wants to sound like ..well, a Democrat. According to media in Connecticut, Lieberman was gushing over President Barack Obama’s inauguration last week, even though he spent months trying to defeat him.

The Pro-Israel Language Muddle

Sunday, January 25th, 2009 James Besser in Washington Update: I just read NY Times reporter Ethan Bronner’s interesting take on the different, seemingly irreconcilable narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, and the difficult of using “neutral” language in reporting on the conflict. Definitely worth a read. Get it here.

Mitchell, Israel and “Even-handedness”

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 James Besser in Washington Here’s a paradox for you: most leaders of major American Jewish groups believe there has to be a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but many are very nervous about the appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell as the Obama administration’s special envoy in the region (Read the Jewish Week story here).  Why?

New Gig for Coleman: Senator-in-Limbo Joins RJC

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 James Besser in Washington UPDATE: a longtime pro-Israel lobbyist saw the blog item on Norm Coleman and called with this analysis: “He’s toast. You don’t take a job like this as a kind of temp.  This is the clearest indication yet he knows he’s not going back to the Senate.
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