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
J Street has lost one of its key supporters in Congress, as New York Democrat Gary Ackerman announced he is disassociating himself from the group because of their stance on condemning Israel’s settlement activity in the UN General Assembly.
Now, while it is true that J Street’s power in Congress isn’t judged by one member’s decision to take their endorsement or by another who gives it up, Ackerman is a special case.
When trying to explain his decision not to seek another term in Senate, Senator Joseph Lieberman went to the Bible.
“The reason I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012 is best expressed in the wise words from Ecclesiastes: ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven,’” Lieberman said. “For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under Heaven.”
For those less familiar with the bible, Lieberman also jokingly offered another reason: “I promised Hadassah” he said, referring to his wife who stood next to him at the Stamford, CT, event on Wednesday, “that when Regis leaves television, I will leave the Senate.” Regis Philbin had just announced a day earlier he would retire from co-hosting his morning TV show after 28 years.
Lieberman, 68, made the announcement at the Marriott hotel in Stamford, which was built on the site where the house of the senator’s immigrant grandparents once stood. Lieberman was flanked by family members – three of his children with their spouses and six of his ten grandchildren. The four-term Jewish senator denied rumors his decision had to do with the tough race facing him in 2012. “I’ve never shied away from a good fight, and I never will,” he said. Political analysts have been noting for a while that Lieberman’s Democratic challengers could prove to be strong, given the strong anti-Lieberman sentiment among many Connecticut Democrats.
The reason for this sentiment dates back to Lieberman’s last senate campaign.
As the 112th Congress gathers steam this month, a major immigration-rights bill, the DREAM Act — which enjoys broad Jewish support and passed in the lame duck Democratic House of Representatives last year — faces a cloudy future in the new Republican-majority House.
Despite the more conservative Congress, as well as the previous Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act, many Jewish organizations involved with domestic policy vowed to continue making immigrant rights a top priority. Groups including the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), had formally endorsed the act and encouraged their members to call politicians asking for their votes in favor of it.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would create paths to American citizenship for qualifying non-citizen children brought to the U.S. by their parents. “It makes no sense to punish the next generation of young people,” said JALSA Director Sheila Decter, who said the act made sense for both moral and security reasons, because it would help the children of undocumented workers to ultimately benefit America’s workforce by allowing them to acquire skills rather than keeping them marginalized.
When do we stop being surprised by Sarah Palin and the strange things that emerge from her mouth?
The latest is her invocation of the words “blood libel” in the course of a videotaped speech denouncing both the shooting of 20 people in Tucson, Arizona and the blame she has taken for contributing to violent political rhetoric that may encourage such violence.
It’s still a mystery why she would so blithely use a phrase that refers, historically, to the accusation that Jews were murdering Christian children so they could use their blood in making matzo. Was she equating herself with persecuted Jews? Just trying to keep the rhetorical fires burning? Or did she simply not know what she was saying?
In the shaping of his perspective as a conservative political commentator, Stanley Kurtz credits his Jewish upbringing and studies of Jewish history and the Tanakh in college. Kurtz engaged historical sources directly as he researched the controversial book he published this fall, “Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism” (Threshold Editions), which spent a week at No. 33 on The New York Times extended bestseller list.
“I’m non-practicing, but of course I’m proud of my Jewish upbringing and heritage,” wrote in an e-mail interview. “Judaism interests you in history. When I was in college, I took a number of courses on Jewish history and the Bible. I discovered there that you could write a surprisingly sophisticated paper by choosing a very small passage from the Bible, and then reading what ten Biblical commentaries had to say about it. By comparing, and contrasting, you could reach a semi-scholarly level, even as an undergraduate. My teachers loved it, and I was hooked.”
Kurtz completed a doctorate in the anthropology of religion at Harvard University, following undergraduate studies at Haverford College. Now he’s a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank in Washington D.C., which also is home to Catholic theologian George Weigel and other conservative writers as well as former elected officials and political appointees.
“As political correctness took over the American academy, I rebelled and became a critic of the new wave,” Kurtz told MitzVote. “I was inspired in that by Allan Bloom’s book, ‘The Closing of the American Mind.’ That led me to a career as a journalist and commentator. When I began to research my book on Obama, I used my scholarly techniques.”
Irving Moskowitz, the Florida businessman and champion of right-wing causes in Israel, is also a big donor for the incoming Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Laura Rozen in Politico reported Monday that Moskowitz and his wife donated in this past election cycle $9,600 to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who this week assumed the chairmanship of the House committee that oversees foreign policy.
But this is not the only place where Moskowitz is putting his money. He is also the developer and funder of a 20-unit apartment complex in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah. This complex will be built over the ruins of the building known as the Shepherd Hotel, which was demolished this week by Israeli authorities in order to make way for the new project.
And this is where it gets interesting.
Republicans are all ready to assume their leadership roles as Congress convenes on Wednesday, but one Republican House staffer is probably less then thrilled with the amount of attention he is getting.
Aharon Friedman, a 34-year-old tax expert on the Republican side of the House Ways and Means Committee, is in the midst of an ugly divorce that has led to protests outside his suburban Washington home and to requests that his bosses in Congress call him to order.
The Tea Party and the Talmud … do those things really belong in the same sentence?
At a recent seminar sponsored by the Institute of American and Talmudic Law — a Manhattan provider of continuing legal education courses for lawyers — two Jewish scholars explored the Tea Party movement, the law, and the principles that guide both. George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen and Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe, dean of the Institute, discussed the libertarian-conservative movement’s relationship to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the movement’s moral principles in relation to Talmudic law.
Rosen received a firsthand understanding of the movement by attending a Tea Party march and a constitutional seminar, which he outlined in a New York Times Magazine article this fall. It focused on newly elected U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, whose constitutional viewpoint Rosen described as representing in its own way a “coherent idea of the Constitution, one that is consistent with certain familiar strains of legal conservatism and constitutional scholarship but at the same time is genuinely eccentric and extreme.”
Former U.S. Rep. Stephen J. Solarz died one month ago, succumbing to esophageal cancer on November 29 at age 70. A graduate of Brandeis and Columbia, Solarz, a Democrat who represented constituents from Staten Island as well as his native Brooklyn, had an eventful career in politics. It spanned over two decades, beginning in 1969 with his days in the New York State Assembly and ending in 1993 in the House of Representatives. (He was succeeded by Republican Susan Molinari; Michael Grimm of the GOP will represent the 13th District as of January.) In particular he was considered by colleagues to be a foreign policy expert, chairing both the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs and the Subcommittee on Africa.
Among his most enduring achievements, however, was the protection of religious freedoms and Constitutional rights. Thanks to the efforts of the late congressman, whose parents were of Polish-Jewish background, Jewish military service members have greater freedom to practice their religion without government intrusion.
Solarz’s involvement with this issue grew out of a 1986 Supreme Court case, Goldman v. Weinberger (as in former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger), which concerned an Orthodox Air Force officer who was ordered not to wear his yarmulke. It was an order that the officer refused to obey.
In its last days, the outgoing 111th Congress drew the battle lines for the next debate Democrats and Republicans will have about Israel.
And the debate is all about money.
The failure to reach a bipartisan understanding on a new spending bill forced both sides to agree to a short-term continuing resolution, which will keep all government spending at the same levels of 2010 through March. That’s where the problem begins for the pro-Israel community.
U.S. foreign aid to Israel is set according to a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that includes an annual increase in funding. In 2010 Israel received $2.775 billion and in 2011 it expected to receive $3 billion. But freezing spending means that at least until March, Israel gets less money.
In a meeting yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission, under the leadership of former yeshiva bucher Chairman Julius Genachowski (whose background in Talmud the Forward recently explored), passed a set of rules that allow the government to regulate the Internet.
Genachowski crafted his own version of the much-discussed concept of “net neutrality,” the term used to describe a free network, under which all Internet users would have the right to send and receive packets of information equally, as opposed to having that ability affected by one’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other parties. The Internet may now seem free, since it allows you and me to access various websites and services. But the connection and interactivity of the Internet depend on the controls of ISPs, since we pay them to connect us through their networks. They can shape our online lives. That is where the FCC steps in with its new rules.
If Julian Assange were an observant Jew, would he still have publicized his WikiLeaks?
Aside from shaking up the world of foreign policy, the flood of diplomatic cables that Assange released November 28 has caused a corresponding flood of questions about the leaks’ morality and legality.
Assange’s defenders claim that he’s making the world a more open place by creating transparency and promoting freedom of information — values long championed in democratic society. Those who oppose WikiLeaks, however, claim that Assange has caused irreparable damage to the trust and confidentiality needed for successful diplomatic correspondence. Some accuse Assange of trying to undermine the United States’ global influence.
But don’t look to Jewish law to decide whether Assange is a hero or a villain.
Connecticut Independent Senator Joe Lieberman has felt his share of Jewish rage in the past years. Many Jewish Democrats never forgave him for running independently after loosing the Democratic primary in 2006, and Jewish liberals forcefully disagreed with his support for the Iraq war.
Things took a turn for the worse when Lieberman was a deciding voice on allowing healthcare reform to move forward in the Senate and insisted not to let it pass as long as the plan included a public option. This approach led rabbis and members of the Connecticut Jewish community to protest outside Lieberman’s home and to write a letter denouncing his refusal to allow healthcare reform to move forward. Jewish groups expressed their dismay with Lieberman’s insistence, which at the time was seen as potentially derailing the entire reform.
The White House is enlisting faith groups to help fight for the approval of the DREAM Act, a law that would provide a path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants who serve in the military or attend college.
On Thursday, the Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships put together a conference call with religious leaders who support passage of the DREAM Act (the acronym stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). The bill passed the House of Representatives but is still waiting for the Senate to vote on it. As the clock ticks toward the end of this session, chances of passing the legislation are waning — and with a stronger Republican presence in next Congress, passing the DREAM Act will be even harder.
Congress is heading into the last days of its lame duck session and the agenda is packed with major legislation to deal with — but there’s always time to slip in a pro-Israel resolution before legislators leave the city.
The resolution, H. Res-1734, which passed Wednesday without a vote, is a response to what Israel and the U.S. administration view as a rapidly growing threat — the possible unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Recent decisions by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize Palestinian statehood helped drive home the message that such a declaration could be imminent, if peace talks fail.
Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has been involved in politics for more than three decades. He rarely claims the spotlight — but last week Sanders garnered national attention, as he took to the floor of the Senate to speak against the compromise tax deal President Obama brokered with Republican lawmen.
And he spoke, and he spoke, and he spoke.
Sanders delivered an eight-and-a-half hour-long filibuster on Friday, doing his best to block the approval of legislation which would extend Bush-era tax cuts in return for providing unemployment benefits and several other measures the administration was seeking. It was a symbolic attempt and is unlikely to change the final outcome of this political debate, but it transformed the 69-year-old Jewish senator into a hero of the liberal camp.
As the Obama administration gets ready to roll out new ideas meant to overcome the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, the Saban Center at the Brookings Institute on Thursday presented a set of three public opinion surveys that can help President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton better understand what the people in the region actually want.
The surveys, directed by professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, provide a trove of information about Israeli and Arab attitudes toward the key questions of the peace process. But just as interesting is the survey conducted in the U.S., which could give American peace brokers an idea of what people back home are thinking.
Do the American people think their leaders should spend time on getting Israelis and Palestinians to make peace? The answer is positive. Only one-third of Americans don’t believe Middle East peacemaking should be at least one of the top five priorities of the administration. And Obama seems to be doing quite enough on this issue, according to 41% of respondents to the survey. Another 30% thought he should try harder, while 21% said he is trying too hard. When asked if they approve of Obama’s attempt to kick off direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, 72% of Americas responded positively, a staggering figure when one takes into consideration both the fact that Obama doesn’t enjoy these high approval ratings on any other issue and that Palestinians and Israelis in the region have a much more skeptical view of the president’s efforts so far.
But here is where it becomes interesting.
The Obama administration’s announcement that attempts to extend the Israeli settlement freeze was met with an outburst of joy among Israel’s pro-settler politicians and also from an unlikely source — Democratic congressman Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.
“I sincerely hope this decision represents a strategic shift in the Obama Administration’s approach to the Middle East,” Ackerman, who represents New York’s 5th District on Long Island, said in a statement issued hours after administration officials said they are no longer pushing for a settlement freeze.
Eric Cantor is in for another two years of lighting the Republican congressional menorah on his own.
Randy Altschuler, who represented the last chance for getting another Jewish Republican elected, conceded Wednesday to incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.
It was the only House race still contested after the November elections and both sides were following each and every vote that was disputed and recounted. Coming out of election day, Bishop was announced winner with a 2,000-vote margin, but the next day election officials said the results in New York’s 1st District, on eastern Long Island, were mistaken and Altschuler had a small lead. What followed was a prolonged process of examining votes and absentee ballots, with each candidate acting as if he had already won. Bishop went to Congress to discuss his committee assignments for the next session and Altschuler attended the new congressmen’s orientation meeting.
Republican Joe Straus was elected speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in late 2009, but ever since this November’s elections he has been working to fend off challenges to his leadership coming from Tea Partiers and conservatives in his own party.
Above the ground, the debate is over politics and conservative values (Straus’ opponents accuse him of not being strong enough on abortions,) but in recent weeks a strong undercurrent about Straus’s faith has been added to the mix.
Straus, who represents the suburbs of San Antonio, is Jewish.
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