Jewish Journal

James D. Besser

  • Cooling down the the Iran rhetoric can help get real results

    June 7, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The Jewish community is just as concerned as ever about the menace of a nuclear Iran, but it is starting to temper its red-hot rhetoric on the issue.

    The reason: a growing sense that calling Iran the new Nazi Germany, its madman leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Hitler reborn, is hurting...
  • Too-bright spotlight on religion marks Presidential bids

    May 31, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Should candidates for the White House have to pass a religious test? The Constitution says no, but increasingly American political culture says otherwise.

    The excessive focus on religion is already evident in the early days of the 2008 presidential race. That's bad news for the...
  • Correcting the tilt in Jewish politics—it’s not just Israel, stupid

    May 17, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    What will it take to convince politicians that Jewish voters care about a wide range of issues, not just Israel?

    The creative folks at the Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) think they have an answer.

    This week the group is conducting an online survey of domestic priorities, with the...

  • Notes from the campaign trail: Israel and the Dems; Mitt Romney; GOP faves

    May 3, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Presidential campaigns keep getting longer and uglier, but the candidates, at least, are volunteers. Hapless voters are a kind of captive audience -- bombarded by attack ads and money, pummeled by the ever-shifting conventional wisdom and dizzily spun by candidates whose views change...
  • Evangelical leader’s speech backing Israel alarms some

    March 29, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The tent-revival pro-Israel speech by the Rev. John Hagee thrilled many delegates at the recent policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    However, others were alarmed. It was not by Hagee's message, which was hardly new, but by the reaction of a...

  • Faith-based foreign policy faces perils ahead

    March 1, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Ideology is fine for campaigners, bloggers and talk show hosts, but it often wreaks havoc in the real world, where effective policy requires flexibility, not rules dreamed up in think tanks and advocacy groups.

    That lesson has defined Israeli policy for decades, but it is being...

  • Analysis: Jewish silence on Iraq continues

    January 25, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Congressional Democrats and President Bush are on a collision course over plans to increase the number of U.S. troops in the conflict, an issue that will dominate the 110th Congress and the early days of the 2008 presidential race.

    But don't look for much of a response from the...

  • Is turnabout fair play for 110th Congress?

    November 30, 2006 | 6:59 pm

    Last month's electoral earthquake means the 110th Congress, which convenes in January, will look very different from its do-nothing predecessor. But gridlock, the dubious hallmark of the past few sessions, will continue unless leaders in both parties decide to start working across...
  • Latest poll bad news for Jewish Republicans

    October 26, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The Republican Party continues to lavish money on Jewish voters, arguing that only their candidates are reliable on critical questions like support for Israel and terrorism. Jewish Democrats are firing back, blasting their GOP counterparts for undermining the longstanding...
  • Lieberman War View Triggers Backlash

    January 19, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) has earned the appreciation of a Republican administration he has resolutely defended on the issue of the Iraq War. One prominent Jewish activist described Lieberman's "powerful sense of mission" in supporting the war.

    But that steadfastness also has...

  • Poor, Darfur Lose in Budget, Israel Gains

    January 5, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Jewish agencies around the country could have to ante up tens of millions of dollars in the next five years, thanks to a year-end budget package approved by Congress.

    That assessment from a top Jewish activist here could be just the tip of the fiscal iceberg, as activists try to...

  • Names to Watch on Way Up, Down in ‘06

    December 29, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Here are a handful of people to watch in the coming 12 months -- some on the way up; some on the way down.

    Jack Abramoff: The once-high-flying Republican lobbyist, Jewish benefactor and GOP best buddy has become the most radioactive man in Washington, thanks to controversial deals...

  • Reform Body Rejects Science Distortion

    December 1, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest body of religious Jews in the nation, has forcefully come out against the "politicization" of science at a time when the issue is boiling over in state legislatures, churches and classrooms.

    The strong statement came as delegates to...

  • Tax Cuts Bring Shameful Silence

    November 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    "Listen, we're broke. Let's face it," said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, according to the Washington Post. Boehner, the chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, spoke as congressional Republicans haggled over big spending cuts for critical health and...

  • Abbas Gets Warm, Cold Reception

    October 27, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas got a warm White House reception last week, but got a colder shoulder from Congress and few top items on his Washington wish list, starting with a commitment by President Bush to move forward aggressively with the stalled Mideast "road map" peace...

  • Katrina Touches Off School Voucher War

    September 29, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    The Hurricane Katrina recovery effort is turning into the latest front in the bitter war over government aid to parochial schools. And that fight is already putting Jewish church-state groups in an awkward position.

    "On its face, what the administration is proposing is an outrage,"...

  • The Darfur Genocide Is Still on

    September 22, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Jews aren't among those being killed, raped and displaced in the Darfur region of Sudan, but the situation there is nonetheless a Jewish disaster.

    The slogan, "never again," the redeeming lesson of the Holocaust, is turning into a farce in the African nation, as world leaders...

  • Disaster Exposes Government Failures

    September 8, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    President Bush and Congress talk a good game when it comes to homeland security, but the tragic truth is that the country is less able to cope with disasters than before Sept. 11, 2001. The proof is on the flood-ravaged streets of New Orleans, where an unprecedented natural disaster...

  • Links to Christian Zionists Pose Peril

    September 1, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    People are judged by the friends they keep. And for the Jewish right, some friends are unsavory, indeed.

    Take the Rev. Pat Robertson, who was back in the news last week for statements that were both buffoonish and chilling. For some on the Jewish right, the...

  • Sucker Punched on Divestment

    July 14, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish groups were sucker punched last week when the United Church of Christ (UCC) abandoned a carefully crafted compromise and instead voted to support "divestment" from Israel.

    Some outraged Jewish leaders publicly suggested anti-Semitism as a motive. Others were uncomfortable...

  • Jews Face Awkward Court Fight Position

    July 7, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    The political brawl over the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her resignation last week, could be the most bitter since Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 confirmation battle.

    And that free-for-all, which liberals and conservatives alike predict...

  • U.S. Acts Cautiously on Mideast Issues

    June 16, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    It may be the most ideological presidency in recent memory, but on at least one issue, the Bush administration is pure pragmatism.

    As Israel gets set for its summer of disengagement discontent, the administration has responded with a cautious, practical approach that has angered...

  • AIPAC—Let the Sun Shine In

    June 2, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    By most measures, last week's policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was a success.

    The sessions were substantive and well-led; the speakers top-rank. The large number of under-40 delegates suggested the organization's future is strong.


  • Washington Watch

    June 2, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Air Force Fight Moves to the Hill

    The issue of religious coercion at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is starting to reverberate on Capitol Hill -- with what one Jewish legislator said are ugly overtones.

    And a chaplain who was fired for raising the issue of...

  • The Faith Wars Heat Up

    May 19, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    It's nothing less than a revolution; in states across the country, an empowered Christian right is changing laws, rewriting textbooks, transforming the judiciary and even redefining science.

    The nation's culture wars have taken another leap in intensity. Since the 2004 elections,...

  • Presbyterians Won’t Budge on Divesting

    April 14, 2005 | 8:00 pm


    You have to hand it to those Presbyterians. Their leaders know what they want, and they won't be deflected by things like logic, fairness or the well-being of people in the Middle East.

    Church leaders in Louisville, Ky., appear determined to single out Israel for corporate...

  • Gaza Strife and American Jews

    March 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Civil strife in Israel over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan could cause new strains in the American Jewish community and accelerate the turning away from the pro-Israel cause, especially among younger Jews.

    The mounting strife, which includes death threats...

  • The Golden Rule of Jewish Leadership

    March 10, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) has long provided one of precious few forums for Jews from across the political and religious spectrum to come together and debate the great issues of the day. But at last week's JCPA plenum in Washington, there was a palpable chill when...

  • Torture, Genocide and Jewish Silence

    February 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Jews around the world have worked hard to give life to the slogan "never again," but there are painfully abundant signs the world isn't listening. And, worse, a number of our own organizations have been reluctant to speak out on some of the moral rationalizations that contribute to...

  • Jewish Groups Stay Silent on Tax Cuts

    February 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    For many Jewish activists, the dilemma is excruciating: Congress and the administration are debating a revolution in American life, but Jewish organizations, with rare exceptions, have been struck dumb.

    For a variety of reasons, including a lack of consensus within key...

  • Rice Promises More Mideast Presence

    January 20, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    U.S. Mideast policy during the second Bush administration will be even more focused on the White House, with a new secretary of state who will be more directly involved in implementing the president's policies.

    That was one message Condoleezza Rice, the president's choice to...

  • U.S. Faces Tough Policy Challenges

    January 14, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    With Sunday's elections, the Bush administration got something it demanded from the Palestinians: the beginnings of a democracy. Whether that produces a real, functional democracy remains to be seen -- and as that drama plays out, the administration faces some tough decisions and...

  • Battles Shaping Up in New Congress

    January 6, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    With the holidays and the congressional interregnum, Washington has been a quiet place in recent weeks. But that quiet belies feverish behind-the-scenes planning as political partisans and advocacy groups get set for a particularly contentious legislative session.

    Despite high...

  • 2004 Takes Some Unexpected Turns

    December 30, 2004 | 6:59 pm


    There's nothing as risky as end-of-year predictions, as 2004 so painfully demonstrated.

    Twelve months ago, otherwise sober analysts were predicting a political upheaval among Jewish voters and that Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, was a cinch to win the 2004 Democratic...

  • U.S. Wavering on Mideast Democracy

    December 9, 2004 | 7:00 pm


    Last week, President Bush said it plainer than ever before: Palestinian democracy, not just an end to terrorism, is the essential precondition for any new U.S. peace efforts in the region.

    With Palestinian elections only a month away, the Bush administration hopes the vote will...

  • Israel Can’t Ignore Divestment Threats

    December 2, 2004 | 7:00 pm


    American Jewish leaders see it as a dire threat, but in Jerusalem, the current push for divestment by mainline Protestant groups eager to punish the Jewish state is a nonissue -- so much so that at a recent conference, Israel's foreign minister admitted he didn't have a clue about...

  • Gay Marriage: A Real Threat?

    November 25, 2004 | 7:00 pm


    The intersection of religion and politics became a talk show hit after Nov. 2, when the religious right played a huge, and perhaps pivotal, role in the re-election of President Bush.

    Jews are not of one mind about the new focus on faith in politics, but many in the large...

  • Peace Opportunity Requires U.S. Action

    November 18, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    With Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah grave and President Bush promising to renew efforts to create a Palestinian state, speculation is mounting about exactly what the administration's next Mideast moves might be.

    There's plenty of talk about what the Palestinians need to do to curb...

  • Stakes Loom Big in Future of High Court

    November 11, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) gets it and so does the Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism. Both groups have made careful scrutiny of the Bush administration's judicial nominations a top priority in the past year.

    Groups on the religious right get it, as...

  • Mixed News for GOP Jews

    November 4, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Republican hopes for a big Jewish surge in this year's presidential contest were dashed on Tuesday when President George W. Bush, in his successful bid for a second term, claimed only about 24 percent of the Jewish vote nationally, according to exit polls published by major news...

  • ELECTION 2004

    October 28, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    In some ways, it's political business as usual in the Jewish community as a critical national election approaches.

    The Democrats will win the lion's share of Jewish votes Nov. 2, but the Republicans are poised to make important gains. When the votes are counted, both sides will work...

  • Candidates Blow Campaign Smoke

    October 21, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    It's crunch time in the presidential campaigns. With less than two weeks to go and most polls pointing to a photo finish, both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are pulling out all the stops -- as long as those stops are in a tiny handful of swing states.

    The spin machines are in...

  • Should Jews Oppose Evangelical Help?

    October 7, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    In Israel this week, televangelist Pat Robertson inveighed against giving territory to the Palestinians, claiming that the goal of Islam is to "destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of...

  • Should Jews Oppose Evangelical Help?

    October 7, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    In Israel this week, televangelist Pat Robertson inveighed against giving territory to the Palestinians, claiming that the goal of Islam is to "destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of...

  • Jewish Senators

    September 30, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, 34 seats are up for grabs on Nov. 2. And while a few races feature intense campaigns with too-close-to-call outcomes, most resemble the reelection effort of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is so far in front of his Republican...

  • Is Israel Spy Claim a Neocon Backlash?

    September 2, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Hours after CBS News first reported that federal officials were investigating a possible Israeli "mole" at the Pentagon, the first analysis hit the wires claiming that the emerging scandal wouldn't damage U.S.-Israel relations.

    It was quick journalistic work, but it wasn't worth the...

  • Study Points to Big Church-State Shift

    August 26, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    A new study reveals that the Bush administration is succeeding beyond the most optimistic projections of supporters -- and the most pessimistic fears of critics -- in funneling government social service dollars to religious groups, despite the refusal of Congress to pass most of its...

  • Kerry Must Walk Mideast Tightrope

    August 5, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), who claimed the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in Boston last week, is almost certain to win a substantial majority of Jewish votes on Nov. 2. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have Jewish problems.

    Paramount among them: how to...

  • U.N. Failing in Conflict-Resolution Role

    July 22, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    In Indiana in the 1960s, billboards proclaimed a central message of the John Birch Society: "U.S. Out of the U.N."

    The United Nations, the right-wing crusaders believed, was part of a communist plot to undermine our sovereignty. Soon, Americans would be slaves to the puppet masters...

  • Left, Right Playing Blame-Israel Game

    July 1, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Conspiracy theories unite the political extremes, a fact that stands out starkly as the fruitcake left and loony right converge around theories blaming Jewish neoconservatives for an Iraq War they despise.

    The blame-Israel surge, which erupted on the Senate floor recently when Sen....

  • Anti-War, Anti-Israel?

    June 3, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    ANSWER Rallies Return

    With things going badly in Iraq, the anti-war movement in this country is trying to expand its political base with a series of high-profile marches scheduled for this weekend.

    And once again, planners of some of the events are using rising discontent over...

  • Drama in Israel, High Stakes in the U.S.

    June 3, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Israeli politics is always a mix of high drama and low comedy, but the current fight within Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's divided government is anything but entertaining for Jewish leaders here.

    Israeli commentators have noted that it is a struggle for the soul of the Likud party....

  • Danger Lurking in U.S.-Israel Linkage

    May 27, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Israel and the United States have more in common than ever as both nations fight the terror scourge. That's good news, but Jewish leaders would be wise not to get smug about it.

    True, this growing commonality may lead to a new understanding in Washington of the difficult decisions...

  • Vote Frenzy in Full Swing

    May 20, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    For such a small segment of the electorate, Jewish swing voters in this country are sure getting a lot of attention these days.

    President Bush's reelection team has developed a fast, efficient Jewish operation aimed at a select segment of Jewish voters in key states and Jewish...

  • Record Gridlock Good for Liberals

    April 29, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Stalemate has become standard operating procedure for Congress in recent years, but this year's legislative gridlock could be headed for the record books. That's a source of frustration for Jewish activists across the political spectrum -- but also of guilty relief for some.


  • Shuls, Day Schools Push for Security Aid

    April 15, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Should synagogues and Jewish day schools get federal tax dollars to help them beef up security to meet the rising terror threat?

    That debate is playing out in congressional offices in Washington and communal boardrooms in New York as lawmakers begin work on a measure that would...

  • Gaza Plan Foes Face Evangelical Aid Loss

    April 8, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    With the Gaza disengagement plan picking up momentum and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon getting set to pitch the proposal to the Bush administration at Camp David next week, right-wing Jewish groups are counterattacking, hoping to forestall U.S. support for the plan. Their partners in...

  • Speaking Truth to Power—Not

    April 1, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    There's nothing bashful about Jewish organizations, but in 2004, many suddenly go mute if the subject involves potential conflict with the Bush administration. 

    The silence epidemic has been particularly evident in the ongoing Capitol Hill battles over President Bush's proposals...

  • Kerry’s Lead Alters GOP Jewish Strategy

    February 12, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    More and more, it looks as though the precipitous plunge of former Vermont governor Howard Dean will deny the Republicans what they wanted most this year: a liberal Democratic patsy for President Bush to trounce on Nov. 2.

    The rise of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as the Democratic...

  • Joe: What Went Wrong?

    January 29, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Sen. Joe Lieberman's visions of the presidency collided with an unpredictable New Hampshire electorate on Tuesday. Lieberman did better than some polls predicted, but probably not enough to salvage a candidacy that was out of synch with the changing political perspectives of the...

  • AJC Poll Punctures Political Wisdom

    January 15, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    The 2003 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey of Jewish public opinion released this week was hard on the propagators of political conventional wisdom.

    The survey contained mixed news for Jewish Democrats and Republicans, although both sides spun the results as an unqualified...

  • Republican Redux: Jews Going Right?

    December 11, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    In a town famous for hot air, the Washington Post made a major contribution over the weekend with an oft-repeated tale of how Jewish voters, concerned about terrorism and Israel, are about to migrate to the greener pastures of the GOP.

    Jewish Democrats reacted angrily, saying it was...

  • Pols Face Israel Litmus Test

    October 16, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    What is the proper pro-Israel litmus test for presidential candidates? And who gets to decide?

    That recurring question has already had special relevance for former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, the surprise frontrunner in the 2004 Democratic presidential contest -- the kind of...

  • Four Words Slow Fight Against Terror

    October 9, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    At home, the Bush administration is trying to convince a dubious nation that it needs even more law-enforcement powers to wage an effective war against terrorism, and around the world it continues to wage an uphill battle to enlist the rest of the world in the fight. But those...

  • Upsetting the Bipartisan Applecart

    October 2, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    It is a troubling paradox: Israel may be protected from new pressure from Washington by the upcoming presidential election, but that protection could foreshadow long-term damage to U.S.-Israel relations.

    The reason: more and more, the pro-Israel effort is getting sucked into the...

  • The DeLay Factor and the Jews

    September 25, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The recent clamor over Howard Dean's demand for U.S. "evenhandedness" in the Middle East was sweet music to the ears of Jewish Republicans, who hope 2004 will be a watershed in their long but frustrating effort to rally Jewish voters to their cause.

    But the Republicans could...

  • Washington Watch

    September 25, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Clark Looks for Jewish Money

    Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who jumped into the crowded Democratic ring last week, isn't Jewish, but his Jewish roots could figure prominently in his strategy for winning the 2004 presidential nomination.

    The reason: Clark, a latecomer to the race,...

  • Chance for Peace Gains Wary Support

    July 31, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    With the Mideast "road map" inching forward and a new Palestinian leadership gaining traction both at home and in Washington, Jewish leaders here -- with the usual exceptions -- are ready to give peace a chance.

    That was evident at last week's meeting between Palestinian Prime...

  • Pro-Israel: Solidarity or Retail Politics?

    July 10, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Pro-Israel lobbyists are patting themselves on the back these days for yet another congressional resolution declaring solidarity with the embattled State of Israel, and the kudos are justified.

    Pro-Israel resolutions these days are routinely passed with only token opposition;...

  • The Right of Return Goes Both Ways

    July 3, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    With the growing worldwide focus on displaced Palestinians, Jewish groups are suddenly raising the issue of a different kind of refugee: the almost 1 million Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries after the creation of Israel in 1948.

    The timing is no accident. While the effort...

  • U.S. Jewish Leaders Face Risky Situaton

    May 29, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    As a new round of Mideast peacemaking begins, U.S. Jewish leaders are putting themselves on the line for a government in Jerusalem, whose real intentions are more impenetrable than ever.

    In a flurry of actions and statements in recent days, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon just added to...

  • ‘Map’ Won’t Play Key Election Role

    May 15, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Opponents of the recently released Mideast "road map" are reassuring themselves that presidential politics will keep the Bush administration from pressuring Israel too hard to accept the plan, which proposes a diplomatic sprint to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.


  • Domestic Attention Deficit Disorder

    May 8, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Last week's release of the Israeli-Palestinian "road map" signaled the start of a new round of U.S. Mideast diplomacy and a new challenge for the pro-Israel groups that don't like some interpretations of the plan.

    It signaled something else, as well: It will be even harder to get...

  • ‘Map’ Puts Pressure on Bush and Sharon

    April 30, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    With a new Palestinian government almost ready to roll, the Bush administration may be in the uncomfortable position of getting exactly what it asked for.

    But that's nothing compared to the potential conflicts facing Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon, who now may have to make the...

  • Silence on Tolerance Issue Stirs Concern

    April 24, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish leaders were uncharacteristically silent last week as Islamic groups raged against a Department of Defense decision to allow a notorious Islam basher to deliver a Good Friday sermon at the Pentagon.

    Part of that silence was an accident of timing: the controversy erupted at...

  • Road Map’s Route Leads Toward Clash

    April 10, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Why are pro-Israel groups in this country so fussed about the "road map," the blueprint for Palestinian statehood that could be officially delivered to Israel and the Palestinians in the next few weeks?

    Despite the fact that the three-stage plan demands a quick end to Palestinian...

  • Democrats Facing Fight For Jewish Soul

    March 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    The Democratic Party may be about to experience a battle for its Jewish soul. Less than a year before the first primary, the field for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination has turned into a crowd, but two names have special significance for Jewish voters and the politicians...

  • The Right’s Secret Weapon: Red Ink

    March 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Students of political irony are having a banner year. A Republican president who campaigned against "nation building" is on the brink of a war intended to rebuild not just a nation -- Iraq -- but an entire region. And conservatives, long the archenemies of deficit spending, are...

  • The Jews and Iraq

    February 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Pollsters didn't survey American Jews after last week's dramatic United Nations speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell, but if they did the results would probably show that the community is on the same wavelength as a confused, anxious American public.

    Ask any rabbi or community...

  • Danger Ahead for Europe’s Jews

    February 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    State Department officials in recent weeks have quietly urged their European counterparts to take preemptive action to prevent new anti-Semitic attacks in the wake of a United States-led military action against Iraq.

    European officials have listened -- but that's about all. Some...

  • Polls Find U.S. Jews Worried but Calm

    January 30, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    It's been a busy few weeks for pollsters who study the Jewish community -- and for the politicians who turn each new survey into partisan fodder. At least three major surveys focused on different issues, but beneath the statistical mumbo jumbo, they pointed to the same thing: the...

  • The Pros See Some Cons on Lieberman

    January 16, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Now that his kippah is officially in the presidential ring, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) is expected to win enthusiastic support from Jews across the country. But his formal announcement on Monday has also touched off a quiet undercurrent of concern that 2004 may not be as...

  • Jewish Silence on Tax Plan Deafening

    January 16, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Washington is buzzing about the Bush administration's huge new tax cut proposal, but the silence from Jewish groups is deafening -- and revealing.

    Many activists believe big, new cuts that don't immediately stimulate the faltering economy will have a devastating impact on...

  • Extra Israel Aid:  No Slam Dunk

    December 5, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they can't wait to prove their friendship for Israel. They'll get their chance when the new Congress convenes in January, but some may wish they could take a pass.

    The test will come when lawmakers take up a huge new aid request Israeli...

  • The Arafat Factor

    November 28, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    According to a poll released last week by Americans for Peace Now (APN) and the Arab American Institute (AAI), U.S. Jews continue to support an active Mideast peace process and a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, despite two years of horrific terrorism and the...

  • DeLay’s Dilemma

    November 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Pitched partisan battles are what's in store for the upcoming 108th Congress. And for an anxious Jewish community, the shift to GOP control on Capitol Hill could contribute to something else: a renewal of the old fight between battle between single-interest pro-Israel activists and...

  • Partners in Dysfunction

    November 14, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Israel and the United States have a lot more in common these days, and it's not just because the Bush administration has apparently adopted an Israeli military tactic they previously criticized: targeted assassinations.

    That became apparent last week when a CIA-operated drone plane...

  • GOP Sweep Boosts Bush

    November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    It was a stellar night for the Republicans across the nation, and Tuesday's dramatic election results, with the GOP snatching back control of the Senate and tightening its grip on the House, will be a big boost for the foreign policy agenda of the Bush administration.

    But with a...

  • Increasing Political Isolation for Jews

    November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    If all those statistics are true about Jews still being one of the most liberal voting blocs in the nation, why are they increasingly estranged from the American left?

    Easy: The left, ranging from the anti-globalism fringes to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to some segments of...

  • Wellstone—One of the ‘Frozen Chosen’

    October 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    As Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) began campaigning for a third term, some pro-Israel activists tried to generate support for his opponent by whispering that the two-term incumbent was insufficiently supportive of Israel. But in almost every respect Wellstone, who died in the crash of...

  • The Power of the Swing Vote

    September 26, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Last week's Gallup Poll on Jewish political affiliations had some good news for both Democrats and Republicans, but most of all, it had good news for the Jewish community.

    Jewish Democrats reacted gleefully to one finding -- that approximately 50 percent of Jews identify themselves...

  • Washington’s “What, Me Worry?” War

    September 19, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Finally, it's over: the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in Washington and New York was a media extravaganza that provided a blend of remembrance, healing and strong TV ratings.

    But there was a glaring gap. Despite the somber patriotism of the day, there were few...

  • The Jews’ Best Friends

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Who are the Jewish community's best friends in Washington -- members of the Congressional Black Caucus or Republican conservatives?

    That question has taken on a sharp new edge as Israel battles suicide bombings and international condemnation, and this country mobilizes for its own...

  • Jews Quiet on New Iraq War

    August 15, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    A recent Internet posting on hundreds of discussion forums accused American Jews of leading the drumbeat for a new war against Iraq.

    Beyond its crude anti-Semitism, the message was just plain wrong; Jewish groups have been all but invisible as the Bush administration engages in...

  • Budget Danger Ahead

    August 8, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    In Jewish communal boardrooms in New York and Washington, all eyes are focused on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tricky matter of U.S.-Israeli relations in a changing era.

    But in communities around the country, many Jewish leaders have another big worry: the...

  • Budget Danger Ahead

    August 8, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    In Jewish communal boardrooms in New York and Washington, all eyes are focused on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tricky matter of U.S.-Israeli relations in a changing era.

    But in communities around the country, many Jewish leaders have another big worry: the...

  • The Democracy Trap

    July 4, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    In diplomacy, it's important to be careful what you wish for, because you may get it in spades.

    That's the joker in the deck as the Bush administration begins looking for ways to implement President Bush's latest Mideast vision -- a stunning policy turnabout that demands serious...

  • Irreconcilable Differences

    April 25, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    It was a hot talk show topic: The Bush administration's Middle East policy zigzags are making analysts dizzy.

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a "man of peace," the president says, even as he pressures the Israeli government to continue withdrawing from West Bank towns.

    Yasser Arafat...

  • Helpers Harm

    April 18, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    It's one of the oddities of world affairs that the worse things get in the Middle East, the more various countries, international bodies and individuals want a piece of the diplomatic action. The region could use some help, but sadly, recent offers by a number of hopeful mediators...

  • Making the Case for a Jewish State

    March 28, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Jews in more than 100 communities across the nation gathered on Sunday, March 24, to show their support for Israel -- a welcome, if hastily organized, expression of solidarity as the Jewish state faces continuing terrorism and an increasingly treacherous diplomatic climate.

    The same...

  • The Arab Anti-Semitism Surge

    March 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    In the hierarchy of concerns of American Jews, anti-Semitism usually trumps every other issue, even concern about Israel.

    That fact poses a big problem for those Jewish leaders here who hope -- as do a majority of Israel's citizens -- that even in the midst of the current carnage, a...

  • Zeidman’s Challenges

    March 14, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Fred Zeidman is coming to Washington to straighten out the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and a lot of people wish him well. But it will take more than good wishes to help the spectacularly successful, periodically troubled council and the Holocaust Museum it runs.


  • Security vs Civil Liberty

    February 28, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    As the United States intensifies its war against terrorism at home and abroad, the Jewish community may be poised to serve as a bridge between the Bush administration and some of its critics in the civil liberties community.

    That was evident at last week's Jewish Council for Public...

  • Escalation, Redux

    February 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    The killings came so fast that Israel's online newspapers couldn't keep up. This week's surge of Mideast violence and hints of a new level of sophistication by Palestinian terrorists have once again forced Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to reconsider his government's strategy in what...

  • In Israel’s Interest

    February 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    President George W. Bush fired the first volley in the second phase of his anti-terror war last week when he used the annual State of the Union message to gird the nation for the challenges ahead.

    But the biggest challenge may be the domestic one facing his administration: how to...

  • Clueless In Jerusalem

    January 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    It's one thing you can take to the bank: Every time a new Middle East crisis explodes on the world's front pages, there's another hue and cry in the Jewish world about the need for better hasbara (public relations).

    Commissions study the issue, politicians blame their rivals and...

  • Washington Reassesses

    January 17, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    The Bush administration, reeling from a week of explosive developments on the troubled Israeli-Palestinian front, is reexamining even its limited efforts to win a cease-fire in the 16-month-old intifada.

    That reassessment -- that resulted in this week's indefinite postponement of a...

  • Big Questions for a New Year

    January 3, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    It is a new year, but the world and nation are still agonizing over a lot of old problems. President George W. Bush has promised that the long, hard fight against terrorism has just begun, but it is far from clear exactly what the next phase in that war will be. At home, a faltering...

  • Moments of Truth

    December 6, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    On Sunday, with crews still collecting body parts and shredded flesh after three horrific explosions in Israel, Secretary of State Colin Powell said it is the "moment of truth" for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

    He was wrong; that moment has come and gone numerous times, and...

  • Durban, the Sequel

    November 29, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Geneva and Ann Arbor, Mich., may be a world apart, but they now have something in common: both are settings for a reinvigorated effort to undercut the very legitimacy of Israel.

    The same folks responsible for turning this summer's Durban conference on racism into an anti-Israel...

  • Good News and a Big Squeeze

    November 8, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    President George W. Bush last week plugged a gaping hole in the U.S. war against terrorism by expanding the executive order freezing the assets of terror groups to include Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad.

    Jewish leaders hailed the...

  • Worrysome Headlines

    November 1, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    If ever a president went into a period of national crisis with a surplus of good will, it was George W. Bush.

    The nation responded positively to his leadership after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. There were promises the White House and Congress would now pull together toward a great...

  • Diplomatic Train Wreck

    October 25, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Israeli officials were stunned by Monday's stern State Department rebuke over Israel's stepped-up military effort against the Palestinian Authority. And the fact they were surprised hints of deeper trouble to come along the U.S.-Israel axis.

    Put simply, the government of Israeli...

  • Target One, Target All

    October 4, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Is President George W. Bush serious about waging a global fight against terrorists and the nations that support them? Or is he just targeting the sprawling network of Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks in Washington and New York?

    So far, most evidence...

  • Arab, Muslim Leaders Want Linkage

    October 4, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    A parade of Arab and Muslim leaders is passing through Washington, promising support for the U.S.-led effort against terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden -- but also urging the administration to press harder for a cease-fire and new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.


  • Linkage, Redux

    September 27, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Despite aggressive spin control by Jewish leaders in the United States, the battle against the worldwide terror network of Osama bin Laden is already churning U.S.-Israel relations and resulting in intensified pressure on Jerusalem to work out a cease-fire with the Palestinians.


  • New—and Risky—Game for Mideast

    September 20, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The devastating terrorist attacks in Washington and New York changed everything in America, and the repercussions of what President George W. Bush is calling the "first war of the 21st century" will be felt throughout the Middle East, as well.

    Already, the crisis has knocked the...

  • Exploding American Complacency

    September 13, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Terrorism, a part of everyday life in Israel for decades, exploded in the face of a complacent America with the twin terror attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11 and left a gaping, charred hole in the Pentagon in Washington.

    The bombings could have...

  • The Good News About W.

    August 30, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Good news has been in short supply since the Mideast peace process crashed and burned last September and the region was engulfed with violence, which shows no sign of abating.

    But for pro-Israel activists, there is one bright note: Bush II is proving to be a far cry from Bush I.


  • Biased Forum Feared

    August 2, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish leaders are trying to spin a hopeful story about the fight to prevent the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance from turning into an Israel bash-a-thon.

    But recent events offer little cause for optimism about the...

  • Peacekeeping Conundrum

    July 26, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Speculation about a possible observer force in Gaza and the West Bank reached a fever pitch this week, thanks to proposals by the G-8 and the European Union, and a confused response from a U.S. administration that is foundering in the whirlpool of Mideast politics.

    First, officials...

  • Chandra Levy’s Jewish Angle

    July 19, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    According to one Washington, D.C. rabbi, the calls started coming in within days of the first reports about the missing young woman with the Jewish name, and they haven't stopped.

    Callers want to know: Does anybody in the community know the attractive Washington intern? Did she...

  • Israel-Bashing Feared at Racism Conference

    July 12, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Israel-Bashing Feared at Racism Conference

    Jewish groups and Israeli diplomats met in London last week to map out strategies for fighting Arab and Muslim efforts to hijack an upcoming international conference on racism that is shaping up as the biggest bash-Israel session ever.


  • Slavery: Conflict or Commonality ?

    June 28, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    It's starting with a few tentative steps, but it could eventually become a stampede; lawmakers on Capitol Hill may soon consider pending legislation creating a national museum focusing heavily on the issue of American slavery.

    The movement to create a new museum of African American...

  • Fighting the Israel Bash-a-Thon

    June 7, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Critics of the United Nations have been handed a big load of new ammunition as the international body careens toward a high-profile conference that could be the biggest Israel bash-a-thon ever.

    The Bush administration is working to thwart the hijacking of the World Conference against...

  • Senate Shocker

    May 31, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The stunning change in the U.S. Senate triggered by Sen. James Jeffords' switch from GOP to independent status means a seismic shift in the war over a host of domestic issues, including the church-state skirmishes that have preoccupied Jewish groups.

    The change is less likely to...

  • Blurred Image

    May 24, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Israel is fighting a war of attrition with the Palestinians, and militarily, the Jewish state is holding its own. But it's taking a drubbing in the battle over public opinion here and around the world.

    In part, that failure is a natural result of the kind of battle that is shaping up...

  • Tax Plan Could Endanger Services

    May 24, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    This week congressional Republicans tried to put the finishing touches on a compromise version of President George W. Bush's giant tax cut that some Jewish leaders say could ravage a wide range of health and social service programs serving the community's neediest citizens.

    But few...

  • Laying Out Markers

    May 17, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The Bush administration, determined to scale back U.S. Mideast involvement, is being drawn into the seething center of the conflict as Israeli-Palestinian confrontations rage.

    But President George W. Bush and his foreign policy team, anxious to avoid the overinvolvement of their...

  • Bush Administration Feels Its Way

    April 26, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    If you had to pick a word to summarize the mood among American Jewish leaders as they watch the Bush administration deal with surging Israeli-Palestinian violence, it is this: uncertainty.

    President George W. Bush and his foreign policy team have been sending some extraordinarily...

  • Bush Ups the Ante—Cautiously

    April 19, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The Bush administration, this week facing its first critical Mideast crisis, is seeking a new formulation to enable it to play a role in keeping conflict from spreading without requiring intensive direct mediation.

    The strategy included a blunt assessment blaming the Palestinians for...

  • Washington Watch

    March 29, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Likely Orthodox Nominee Spurned by Some

    The next U.S. ambassador to Israel could be an Orthodox Jew, the first to hold that post.

    But the expected selection of career diplomat Daniel Kurtzer has generated intense opposition from an unlikely coalition of right-wing Jewish and...

  • The Age of Coalitions

    March 22, 2001 | 6:59 pm

    Two recent events in Washington pointed to some interesting -- and potentially troubling -- changes in the Jewish political landscape in the new century.

    First, the Census Bureau started releasing data from the 2000 survey of the nation. The most dramatic finding: a surging Hispanic...

  • Dear Bill: Thanks a Lot

    February 15, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Dear Ex-President Clinton:

    We couldn't help but notice that some of your most controversial last-minute pardons and commutations went to our fellow Jews.

    Thanks a lot, boychik.

    Many of your actions seemed justified, but a few had the pungent aroma of political payoff, which badly...

  • Opportunities Ahead—Maybe

    February 8, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Talk to Jewish Republicans these days and you hear a palpable sense of coming out of the wilderness.

    After an agonizing eight years -- with Bill Clinton in the White House and Jews snapping back to their traditional allegiance to the Democrats -- things may be changing, they believe....

  • The Faith-Based Blitz

    February 1, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    What a difference a few months make.

    Last fall, a host of Jewish groups were sharply opposing various "charitable choice" plans favored by religious conservatives.

    But with a Republican in the White House and an emerging bipartisan consensus on turning some of the nation's...

  • Scrambling for Access

    January 11, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Listen closely, and you can almost hear the sound of panic sweeping through the boardrooms of Jewish organizations around the country.

    A new administration is taking over in Washington, and Jewish machers are faced with the loss of their most treasured political commodity:...

  • It’s the Economy Again, Stupid

    December 21, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Will the religious right dominate the Washington agenda as a Republican president, backed by a mostly GOP Congress, takes the reins of government?

    That scenario is on the minds of many Jewish leaders who worry that abortion, school prayer, vouchers and other issues championed by...

  • A Tough Transition

    December 14, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Presidential transitions are tough even in the best of circumstances. And with the outcome of this year's political brawl delayed by weeks of legal and political maneuvering, the 2001 transition will be tougher than most.

    That could play out in dangerous ways in the seething...

  • Looking Ahead to Bush II

    December 7, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    The results of the strangest-ever presidential election are still not official, but Texas Gov. George W. Bush is accelerating his transition efforts.

    And despite the morass of legal challenges to the bungled vote in Florida, a growing number of Democrats believe the GOP nominee...

  • Washington Watch

    October 19, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Last week's terrorist bombing of a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden may boost a new anti-terrorism bill introduced early in the month by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

    The new legislation is intended to implement the...

  • New Challenges

    October 12, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Yasser Arafat, that master of missed opportunities, has done it again: He has won the battle but lost the war.

    In less than two weeks, the Palestinian leader has apparently accomplished his tactical objective by using violence to provoke a strong Israeli response, thereby turning...