Lawmaker Plans Controversial Hearings on Islamic Threat
Why Kissinger Said U.S. Jews Acted 'Traitorously'
A Talmud Ace Tackles Thorny Issue of Net Neutrality
The Biggest Pro-Israel Group in America? That’s Us, Says Christians United
Senate Fight Over Arms Reduction Treaty Puts AIPAC in the Hot Seat
AIPAC Gets Down and Dirty in Pushback vs. Defamation Suit
The Rise, Then The Fall of GOP’s ‘National Rabbi’
Terror Expert Emerson Feels His Own Heat Over Finances
Jewish Voters, Obama and the Great Elephant Hunt
Jewish Congressman Loses Florida Seat to Hard-Line, Pro-Israel Republican
Forward Closeup: Some Israelis Hoping for A GOP Win, But Will History Repeat Itself?
Forward Closeup: Boxer-Fiorina Race Redefines 'Negative'
Forward Closeup: Wisconsin's Feingold Fights for Political Life
Forward Closeup: Israel Is a Campaign Issue, But How Big?
Forward Closeup: New York Candidates Court Hasidic Vote
Forward Closeup: J Street Flap Shines Spotlight On George Soros And His Money
Opinion: What J Street Can Learn From The Tea Party
Forward Closeup: How Christian Is the Tea Party?
Forward Closeup: Grayson Defying Convention in Florida
Forward Closeup: Cantor Gunning For Another Revolution
Senate Race To Watch: Fiorina Threatens Boxer in California
Senate Race To Watch: Ex-Bush Official Vies With Ohio’s Jewish Lt. Gov.
Senate Race To Watch: Obama's Banker Friend Takes On Illinois Rep.
Senate Race To Watch: Three-Way Race Heats Up Florida
Senate Race To Watch: Israel Looms Large in Penn Contest
House Race To Watch: Newbie Wisconsin Republican Takes Lead Over Feingold
House Race To Watch: A Choice, Not An Echo in Affluent Chicago Suburbs
House Race To Watch: Black War Vet Challenges Jewish Incumbent in South Florida
House Race To Watch: Democrat Withstanding Challengers on S.I. Despite ‘Jewish Money’ Flap
Forward Closeup: The Ten To Watch in 2010
Forward Closeup: New Conservative Group Targets Democrats Working With J Street
Forward Closeup: Pennsylvania Senate Race Turns Into Battlefield for Dueling Pro-Israel Groups
Forward Closeup: Battle for Jewish Votes In a Florida Race That Threatens To Oust Incumbent
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The Wall Street Journal opinion page is one of the most reliably pro-Israel editorial pages in the country. When its deputy editorial page editor, Bret Stephens — who also has the distinction of being the youngest person ever appointed editor of the Jerusalem Post — spoke at Drexel University this week, he not only carried the WSJ flag in the pro-Israel department, but explained why others should join his camp.
Stephens began his talk by explaining that his philosophy on current events in the Middle East came courtesy of the comedian Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Human rights are breaking out all over. (When they’re not being tamped down and trampled, that is.) What role does Judaism play?
Earlier this week at Cardozo Law School in Manhattan, the topic of human rights and Judaism was explored in a panel discussion involving three top legal minds as well as a history professor. Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Law and the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and supported by the Leonard and Bea Diener Institute of Jewish Law, the speakers included Shahar Lifshitz and Yair Lorberbaum, both from the law faculty of Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, Suzanne Stone from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, and historian Samuel Moyn of Columbia University.
Moyn recited a quote from the McGill International Colloquium on Judaism and Human Rights adopted in Montreal in 1974. “Human rights are an integral part of the faith and tradition of Judaism. The beliefs that man was created in the divine image, that the human family is one, and that every person is obliged to deal justly with every other person are basic sources of the Jewish commitment to human rights.”
Moyn proposed that this was an act of apologetics.
When North Carolina’s largest city was named in February as the Democratic party’s choice for its presidential nominating convention in the late summer of 2012, Jews in the “Queen City” began giving some thought to their role.
With a local Jewish community roughly the size of Obama’s slim margin of victory in North Carolina in 2008, Jews in Charlotte say they’ll be ready. Depending on how you define “Jewish,” Charlotte has anywhere between 8,000 and 14,000 Jews — in a city of 757,000 — and the entire state of North Carolina has an estimated 26,000 Jewish residents (0.3 percent of the total population).
Here’s a look at what else is going on in politics, culture and media.
Wisconsin: A Jewish fight Some Jews in Wisconsin are joining the protests in Madison, fighting against Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for public-sector employees, reported the Jewish Standard. And why shouldn’t they, wrote Laurie Zimmerman in JTA, who attended the protests last weekend. She said her group demonstrated “Jewish expression for our deepest values” of charitable acts, justice, community, and compromise. “The governor’s legislation threatens these values.” Besides, it echoes the Jewish narrative, said Elissa Barrett and Aryeh Cohen in the Jewish Journal. “Jewish tradition has been clear and consistent—the treatment of workers and their right to organize are among the basic underpinnings of a just society … Our heritage, as the sweatshop workers and copper miners of yesterday, bears witness to it. Our tradition compels it.”
For many weeks, thousands of people have massed in public squares across the Arab world, protesting for democracy. Many of the largest gatherings have occurred on Friday, Islam’s day of public prayer, sometimes stretching past sunset and continuing the following day.
The protests have drawn young and old, religious and secular, men and women. But if an observant Jew wanted to attend a protest on Friday night or Saturday, what would halakha and Jewish values have to say?
Another day, another Jewish conspiracy.
And another smear campaign against Julian Assange?
Here’s what happened. According to the New York Times, Julian Assange called Ian Hislop, the editor of British magazine Private Eye on Feb. 16 and rambled on and on about a Jewish conspiracy spearheaded by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
The Times reports:
He was especially angry about a Private Eye report that Israel Shamir, an Assange associate in Russia, was a Holocaust denier. Mr. Assange complained that the article was part of a campaign by Jewish reporters in London to smear WikiLeaks.
It is a tradition of Washington advocacy conferences: After hearing from experts, debating with activists and getting pumped up — it’s time for participants to take their message to Capitol Hill.
This morning, J Street conference participants mounted the buses and left for more than 200 advocacy meetings in congressional offices. Some will get to meet their representatives, while others will sit with staff members and convey to them the J Street message.
And this message is one that should be easy to swallow, at least for most Democrats.
Here’s a look at what else is going on in politics, culture and media.
Who gets to make Nazi comparisons? Billionaire George Soros, while slamming Fox News during an interview, used Holocaust imagery to warn of the dangers of the network. “They succeeded in — in Germany, where the Weimar Republic collapsed and you had a Nazi regime follow it,” Soros said of Fox News’ influence. Fox has been under pressure from the group Jewish Funds for Justice to prohibit Nazi comparisons or Holocaust imagery on air. But the group defended Soros’s comments, contending that his comments were misinterpreted and made a legitimate point. Not everyone saw this distinction. They “would rather play the hypocrite than to take on Soros for the same offense,” argued Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary Magazine. Let’s just cut out these comparisons altogether, said Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider. “I think we can safely say that much like none of these other things are like Nazis, neither is Fox News. Nazis are like Nazis.”
Officials from Comcast, which provides cable service to one-fifth of the homes in the United States, met today with representatives of Al Jazeera English (AJE) to discuss the possibility of adding the channel to the Comcast cable lineup. Currently, the 24-hour AJE is not available in most U.S. cable television markets. It is only offered in the United States through MHz Networks multicast channels on Comcast, Verizon Fios, and Cox to 2.4 million subscribers in Washington, D.C., Toledo, Ohio, and Burlington, Vermont.
Al Jazeera came to the meeting with momentum: The channel’s strong reporting on the protests in Egypt and Tunisia has resulted in more than 10 million people, including 3.5 million Americans, viewing the live feed on the AJE website in recent weeks. To boost support, the network is running ads in major newspapers including the New York Times and New York Post encouraging readers to “call your local cable operator to request AJE.”
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who is Jewish, is a practical, no-nonsense chief executive who might see a business opportunity in adding Al Jazeera to his company’s lineup. Members of the Roberts family are philanthropic but are not considered major leaders of the Jewish community in Philadelphia.
Laura Rozen at Politico has the scoop: Dan Shapiro is President Obama’s pick for the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.
There is still no official confirmation from the White House or State Department, but if nominated (and confirmed by the Senate), Shapiro would make a sensible choice for the post. He is deeply involved in all issues relating to Israel as the National Security Council’s senior director for Middle East and North Africa; he has strong ties with the Israeli government; and Shapiro also gets along well with the two senior administration Middle East hands, adviser Dennis Ross and special envoy George Mitchell.
Shapiro would replace James B. Cunningham, whose term ends this June.
Here’s a look at what else is going on in politics, culture and media.
Could Obama cut Jewish funds? President Obama’s budget-cut proposal could put some national and local Jewish groups at risk, according to JTA, if they rely so heavily on government money. We should have “all vulnerable Americans” in mind when fighting for our funds, said a Jewish Week editorial. “The welfare of our own community is in so many ways linked to the well being of our neighbors.” Some Jewish groups praised the U.S. budget for preserving aid to Israel, but others, like B’nai B’rith International, worry that cuts could jeopardize the future of retirement in America, says the Jewish Journal.
Even in times of bitter partisan bickering, there is one issue that easily gets bipartisan support: the Iranian nuclear threat.
Two Republicans and two Democrats joined forces today to introduce a new piece of legislation meant to keep the pressure on the regime in Tehran. The Iran Transparency and Accountability Act is co-sponsored in the Senate by New York Democrat Kirstin Gillibrand and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, and in the House by Indiana Republican Dan Burton and Florida Democrat Ted Deutch.
The idea behind this bill is to tighten already existing sanctions against Iran and to close loopholes by going after companies traded in the New York Stock Exchange that have business ties with Iran either directly or through subsidiaries. The bill would require these companies to file a quarterly report with the SEC detailing their dealings with Iran. From there, it will be up to the government to decide if they breached already existing sanctions and if so what measures should be taken against them.
Jewish Democrats are sounding off alarms over the rising popularity that Republican libertarian Ron Paul is gaining within his party. Paul — that’s longtime representative from Texas Ron Paul, not his son Rand, a freshman senator from Kentucky — won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll last week, with 30% voting for him as the Republican they’d like to see nominated to run for president in 2012. He came in ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Two other leading potential candidates, former governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, did not attend the CPAC conference in Washington.
The National Jewish Democratic Council issued a statement blasting the choice of Paul and arguing that he has been at odds with the Jewish community on many key issues including aid to Israel.
Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, kicked off the book tour for his memoir, Known and Unknown, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on February 9. Historian Michael Beschloss, the author of eight books on American presidents, moderated the event.
The title “Known and Unknown” is a wink and nod to Rumsfeld’s much-ridiculed answer about Iraqi plans to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. At a press conference in 2002, Rumsfeld said, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
In a private conversation with Rumsfeld as he signed my book, I asked him for his current thoughts about Israel in light of the recent monumental changes in the Middle East. He said, “If I was Israel, I would be worried with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Israel has many friends in Congress. In fact, any pro-Israel letter or resolution easily gains hundreds of supporters in the House and a large majority in Senate.
But on Wednesday night, supporters of Israel managed to fill only half a room in one of the congressional office buildings at the Allies of Israel Caucus reception on Capitol Hill. In attendance were 10 members of Congress, some of them freshmen who had to step up and introduce themselves to other members and staffers who came to the reception.
The caucus, which was established in 2006 by Florida Republican Rep. Dave Weldon and New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, describes itself as bipartisan. But while members include representatives of both parties, the group has a decidedly hawkish tone. The Israeli sister organization of the caucus, which was established by Christian supporters of Israel, is filled with right-wing members of Knesset.
Foreign aid to Israel is one of those issues that serve all political sides well. This was demonstrated in recent weeks by the latest uproar over the suggestion by Rand Paul, the recently elected U.S. Senator from Kentucky, to cut U.S. aid to Israel.
For Paul, who mentioned in a CNN interview that he supports slashing the $3 billion aid package to Israel, and then reiterated the point in an ABC interview, the statement plays out well with his crowd. As a leading Tea Party politician, Paul knows he was sent to Washington in order to cut government expenses. Taking on the most explosive expense of all — aid to America’s foremost Middle East ally — just shows voters how serious he is about cutting costs.
With nine-term Jewish congresswoman Jane Harman stepping down Congress is loosing a key pro-Israel voice and one of its leading Democratic centrists.
Harman’s close ties with the pro-Israel lobby made her a subject of a 2006 FBI wiretap in which she was allegedly asked by an Israeli agent to intervene on behalf of two former staffers of AIPAC who were facing espionage charges. The case was since dismissed and investigators made clear there was no suspicion relating to Harman.
In an e-mail to supporters, the California lawmaker said she was leaving Congress for a position as president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. She will replace former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who recently announced his resignation.
The call for the release of Israeli convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is gaining momentum: Now adding his name to the list of supporters is Bernard Nussbaum, who served as the White House legal counsel for President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1994.
Nussbaum — along with Philip Heymann, who was deputy Attorney General at the time — was in charge of dealing with the requests to release Pollard during the first Clinton administration. At the time, both high-powered attorneys thought Pollard should remain in prison.
But now both have made clear they believe circumstances have changed.
We know about the falling out between the dovish J Street lobby and prized endorsee Rep. Gary Ackerman. Now, after both sides articulated their positions at length (to recap: Ackerman basically said J Street lost its brains, and J Street responded that Ackerman didn’t understand its positions) — it is time to calm down.
And so J Street is apologizing.
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