StandWithUs has grown from a small group of volunteers meeting at the Rothsteins' home to an international organization with offices in Los Angeles, New York and three other U.S. locales as well as Europe and Israel. With a staff of about 40, a budget of $3 million and a number of printed materials -- including a 43-page glossy guide, "Israel 101," and flyers comparing Walt and Mearsheimer's book "The Israel Lobby" with "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" -- StandWithUs acts, as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said, as an "intellectual Delta Force."
What exactly is the state of the pro-Israel peace movement in America? Does the Jewish institutional establishment represent the position of the American Jewish community? And if not, why are alternate voices not being heard?
Recently, I spoke to Reform rabbinical students in their class on "Jewish Political Tradition." Which is, exactly, what? My expertise, I told them, is politics, not theology. Here was my dilemma: to talk reality or defer to the orthodoxy of Reform Jews, which is to say, political liberalism. (Forget the Reconstructionists, i.e., Jewish Unitarians, who are oxymoronic "religious" secular humanists.) How confusing all this, especially for non-Jews, who are further told that Conservative Jews are somewhere between Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews -- sort of like the words "liberal" and "conservative."
Labor Day weekend, I went on a pilgrimage, with my girlfriend, Sue Ellen, to a vast, very dry, very dusty and, as it was the end of the summer, sizzling hot lake bed on the outskirts of Black Rock, Nev., approximately two hours northeast of Reno, to hang with some friends and meet new friends at the annual Burning Man festival.The festival is a celebration of counterculture, music, art, theater, theatrics and individual self-expression, where anything and everything goes, except commerce, which is not allowed.
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 party lines.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is picking a fight with longtime powers in Sacramento instead of trying to be everybody's pal, raising a question of whether he can bring voters along with him who are torn by their desire for good government but angry over mounting partisanship.
Voters, according to a recent Mervin Field California Poll, are open to the governor's four reform ideas heading into a probable November special election, even though voters don't personally approve of Schwarzenegger as much as they once did.
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has taken a fateful turn in the past several weeks. The rise -- or re-emergence -- of Sen.
John Kerry of Massachusetts, the decline of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and the withdrawal of Sen. Joe Lieberman make the quadrennial dream of Republicans that Jewish voters will vote Republican more difficult to achieve.