Bintel Blog

Meridor: Desire To Make History May Keep Obama, Bibi on Track

By Nathan Jeffay

Judging by the title, sparks were going to fly. A much-anticipated session at the second annual Israeli Presidential Conference, today was called “Jerusalem, Washington, US Jewry — Is the Honeymoon Over?”

The honeymoon is over, implied Elliott Abrams, former policy advisor to President George W. Bush, saying that he “had a wonderful honeymoon with Sallai,” referring to fellow panelist Sallai Meridor, former Israeli ambassador to America.

But while panelists agreed that relations are being put to the test and should become more intimate, in the main they were circumspect, and at points upbeat. Meridor, who was ambassador when Obama took office, said that whatever the clashes between Obama and Netanyahu, both leaders’ desire to make history will keep them on track. They both “see things in a very strategic historic manner,” he said.

He elaborated:

I think that Netanyahu looks at his term as a historic term more than a personal term and I think that President Obama looks at his presidency as an historic phenomenon.

I think that both individuals from my impression, beyond ideology, and both of them have a strong ideological basis, are strategic and are looking make major changes and if they are able and I hope they are to find the middle ground … the right thing for the world, for America, for Israel.

I think this would take precedence for them over political considerations.

Stanley Greenberg, former advisor to President Bill Clinton, cited another reason why ties are not in danger. He pointed to the “continuity and depth of support” between the two allies, saying the “bottom line” is that the US-Israel alliance “is grounded in real things, values, deep support on both sides.”

But when, in a later session, participants heard from one of the most powerful figures in the Israeli government, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, there was indication that a major fault line is already opening up.

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Was the White House Dog Named After a Torah Portion?

By Jane Eisner

First, there’s a Seder in the White House. Then a dog named for a Torah portion?

Given all the hubbub about the Obama’s new dog — a closely guarded secret that somehow was leaked over the weekend — it strikes some of us as more than curious to see the connection between the dog’s new name and the holiday that Jews (and others) are now celebrating.

The official story is that Malia and Sasha named their adorable, black-and-white Portuguese water dog “Bo” after the famous musician Bo Diddley, and because that was their maternal grandfather’s nickname. (The fact that Bo also can be read as B.O., their famous father’s initials, seems to have garnered little notice in the breathless coverage of this major event.)

But learned Jews might also note that “Bo” — which in Hebrew means the command “come” or “go” — is the first word uttered in the Torah portion from the third book of Exodus describing the plagues visited upon Pharoah for refusing to let the Jewish people leave Egypt. And while the portion is usually read in synagogue in January or February, the dramatic story it tells is headlined in the Haggadah that was read at last week’s Seders.

So could there be a connection here — between the Seder held in the White House on Thursday and the naming of the new dog just a few days later?

At least the four-legged pet didn’t arrive a couple of weeks from now. Can you imagine a dog — or anyone else — answering to Tazria-Metzora?

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Worst Argument for Staying in Iraq… Ever

By Daniel Treiman

Should we stay in Iraq because kids are dying in Chicago? This silly shot at Barak Obama came to our attention via the Republican Jewish Coalition’s blog. But the RJC’s blogger seems to like the reasoning.



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