Israelis are almost never shy about offering their opinions, especially when it comes to politics.
Nettie Price voted for Obama in 2008, and in the past the registered independent has voted mostly a straight Democratic ticket. But not this year. Standing outside her polling place at Castle Heights Elementary School in Beverlywood, Price said this time she voted a straight Republican ticket, based on one issue: economics.
Polling places often move around from year to year, but normally not on Election Day itself, as happened to the polls at Sinai Temple this year.
For Miriam, an outspoken woman in her 80s who wouldn’t give her last name, there isn’t the slightest possibility she will vote against President Barack Obama on Election Day.
The voters of California have put in place two elements of major reform to our election process. The first was taking the redistricting process out of the hands of special interests and career politicians.
An American Jewish Committee survey of Jewish voters in Ohio, a battleground state, has the community favoring President Obama in similar numbers to polls elsewhere.
Sixty-nine percent of Florida Jews say they will likely vote for President Obama, as opposed to 25 percent for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to a new survey.
The Republican Jewish Coalition launched a $5 million television advertising campaign aimed at Jewish voters in swing states.
Here is a truism we all already know: Jews are news. The fact is, no matter how tiny the American Jewish community might be — between 1.5 and 2 percent of the population — the battle for Jewish votes will be extensively reported and analyzed.
The Egyptians stunned even themselves in the vote to elect their next president — and observers are warning that the U.S. and Israel should be ready for continued uncertainty in their relations with Egypt.
Egypt is holding its first round of balloting for its first presidential election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak during an uprising more than a year ago.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supported an early general election in four months' time, a ballot polls say could strengthen his hand as Israel confronts Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Always interested in the gritty and unpredictable side of participatory politics, I dropped in on Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, both of whom are vying to represent the newly reconfigured 30th congressional district, as they each hosted community meetings at San Fernando Valley schools last week.
Members of Israel's Likud Party went to the polls to elect a party chairman and a new Central Committee, more than a year before scheduled national elections.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who govern the most populous county in America, are entering a critical debate over redistricting that pits Latino empowerment against the stability of district lines. The nature of the board’s majority is also at stake.
Circumcision, or "brit milah," has long been the stuff of cheap jokes and comedy. But in recent weeks, what used to be nothing more than harmless fare has taken on a much more serious tone. So-called “intactivists” on the fringe left of American politics have pushed the radical notion that infant circumcision is an act of genital mutilation, so unacceptable in fact that it ought to be illegal.
Marijuana is everywhere. Smokers come from every walk of life — from the college student to the cancer patient, from the wealthy older couple to the heroin addict who started out just smoking weed.
A poll based on a small sample suggests that Jewish identification with Republicans has surged.
Joseph Stalin is reputed to have said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." I think he had it half right.
Jewish groups are expressing anger that government officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, have scheduled a special election in Orange County to fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year for Jews.
As Antonio Villaraigosa campaigns for mayor in the Jewish community, he will face the same big question asked by all non-Latino voters: Are you too Mexican?
The question is especially important to Jews, because our community's long-time relationship with Latino and African American Los Angeles has been a powerful force in the city's history.
George W. Bush wasn't the only Republican to win big on election night. Larry Greenfield, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) of Southern California, also fared quite well.
Surrounded by a crowd of 250 Jewish Republicans partying at Beverly Hills' Level One club, a beaming Greenfield looked more like a giddy teenager than a 42-year-old man in a dark suit. As news of the Republican triumphs came in, RJC members hugged and high-fived Greenfield, who has become the public face of Southern California's Jewish Republicans.
Call it the tale of two Mellmans.
Mark Mellman, one of John Kerry's top four advisers, launched a talk with Jewish Democrats in Boston last month with a drasha (short sermon) on the meaning of Tisha B'Av, the Jewish fast day that happened to fall during the party convention. Then, with nary a comment from the crowd, Mellman glided into the case for the Massachusetts senator.
Contrast that with the introduction this Sunday for Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman at a similar Jewish event.
"One of us, Ken Mehlman -- let me repeat that, one of us, Ken Mehlman -- is running the Bush-Cheney campaign," said Morris Offit, a Republican and the president of the New York federation, barely containing his grin as he emphasized Mehlman's Jewishness.
"I will concede that conservative Jewish Republicans like myself are in the minority, especially out here on the Left Coast," reader Gillee Sherman e-mailed me. "But we are growing in numbers every day, and this election should see a huge improvement for Bush in the Jewish community."
When it comes to action at the United Nations, Europe -- considered by many observers to be the organization's moral bellwether -- often decides the course.
That was the case again this week as the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution demanding that Israel comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that it must tear down its West Bank security barrier and compensate Palestinians affected by its construction.
Now that he's running for president, Sen. John Kerry's openness to a broad range of Jewish opinion is making some in the pro-Israel community nervous -- and others hopeful.
First a disclaimer: I have never met Arnold Schwarzenegger, have never spoken to him, was never contacted by his political people, no one ever asked me to support him, or offered me money to do so. I supported him because I respect him and because I am convinced that he will be good for California. In fact, if I may brag just a little, I started predicting that he would be the next governor of California many months ago, when only a few hard-line nuts seriously considered that a recall could be successful. I didn't think/hope that Gray Davis would be recalled. I just was sure that Arnold would run and win the next race.
If there was a presidential candidate whose father accused "the Jew media" and "Jewish pundits in New York and Los Angeles" of beating the drums for war, and said he had no problem with harassing and punishing the Jews -- but such things shouldn't be done in "a loud clamor" -- would you vote for that candidate?
Darrell Issa has met repeatedly with leaders in the region to encourage cooperation in the war on terrorism and to advance the "road map" to peace.
Next week's vote for mayor of Jerusalem will be unprecedented: For the first time since the reunification of the city in 1967, no major national figure is running.
I knew better. I had about as much business being there as an elderly tourist has of being on Skid Row after midnight with a map in his hand and a blank cashier's check taped to his forehead. I was in grave danger of a psychological mugging, and I knew it.
I kept telling myself to walk away, hail an emotional cab and get out fast, but I couldn't. The pull was too strong. I had to know.
Am I annoying?
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 the mainstream liberal community, has adopted policies and perspectives that even many progressive Jews regard as offensive and dangerous.
It is a simple enough question: yes or no? Voters on Nov. 5 will answer the question many times, and the independence of California's judicial system depends on the answer.
Justices for the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are appointed for 12-year terms by the governor. They are confirmed by a committee consisting of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the presiding justice of the Court of Appeal. If a judge is appointed to serve the remaining term of a retiring or deceased judge, or when the judge has finished a 12-year term, the jurist must be approved in an election in order to remain on the bench.
Among the judges up for retention on the Nov. 5 ballot are a handful of Gov. Gray Davis appointees with close ties to the L.A. Jewish community.
Jewish groups are supporting a resolution from their umbrella organization backing the Bush administration's use of force against Iraq "as a last resort."
While the Jewish vote apparently split down the middle in James K. Hahn's victory over Antonio Villaraigosa in the contest for mayor, there was bad news and good news for Jewish candidates in other races.
When voters cast their ballots for mayor in next week's primary, they may be electing to that office the first Jew, the first Latino or the first woman.
The more time I spend trailing the Los Angeles mayoral candidates, the more I find myself musing about rehabilitating the commissariat as a form of government. Or, failing such "Red Dawn"/"Red Alert" scenarios, perhaps we might seek something akin to the national unity administration now under contemplation in Israel. I say this not just to be provocative -- well not only. It just strikes me as a huge waste of precious talent, integrity and commitment to be forced by a winner-takes-all electoral system to have to pick just one of these outstanding people for mayor while jettisoning the others.
Initially, one cannot help but think that the surge of retired, elderly Jews to Florida, augmented by this year's Lieberman Factor, has redefined Florida politics into an Israel-style method of governance. While the rest of America was voting and deciding on Tues., Nov. 7, Florida was telling us - just as Israel runs under Barak - "Wait 48 hours, and then we'll decide." Two days later, as the last recount came in from Seminole County with Bush a nose ahead, Florida essentially told us, "Well, wait 48 more hours, and then we'll really decide." Even today, Nov. 17, with all the incoming mail ballots from those Floridian voters stationed out-of-state in the military and on campuses tallied, we still have the proverbial 48 hours and more. Recounts. Manual recounts. Just like Barak's Israel.
Since August, all of us have been the targets of television advertisements supporting and opposing Proposition 38. No doubt proponents of the initiative will be quick to use the results of a recent Harvard University study that found an improvement in academic achievement of some African Americans, particularly low-income families that received vouchers and are enrolled in private schools.
On any given weekday, Elat Market, the Pico-Robertson supermarket, is already a hub of hustle and bustle for the Persian community. So one can imagine the human traffic on the Friday morning before Yom Kippur - getting ready before Shabbat and yontiff. Standing outside the market on this busy morning, it becomes apparent that Elat is somewhat of a de facto community center, a nexus where friends - young and old - run into one another and splinter off into small congregations of conversation.
Ralph Fertig, a retired judge and current community activist and novelist, has what a lot of progressive Californians are looking for: a solution to voting on Nov. 7.
California's ballot initiatives have been making laws and national headlines since 1911. Designed by Governor Hiram Johnson to take politics directly to the people and over the heads of a corrupt legislature, the initiative process often focuses on populist issues. California voters have used their votes to spotlight issues across the political gamut from environmental concerns (Proposition 65) to property taxes (Proposition 13) to immigration (Proposition 187) to affirmative action (Proposition 209), campaign finance reform (Proposition 208), and legal gambling (Proposition 5) .
Two decades ago, after hearing the then-Col. Ehud Barak deliver a eulogy for a fallen comrade, popular Israeli poet Haim Guri predicted: "One day, this man will be prime minister." On May 17, Israel's voters proved him right. Barak was elected by a landslide, his 56 percent to 44 percent for the right-wing incumbent, Binyamin Netanyahu -- the younger brother of the man Barak eulogized in 1976, Yonatan Netanyahu, who was killed rescuing a planeload of hijacked passengers at Entebbe airport.
Most of the people I know in Israel voted for Barak; a few preferred Netanyahu. But on the part of almost everyone, outcome aside, there was a tremendous sense of excitement, of participating in what felt like an intense moment of change.
If you closed your eyes and sat very still, you could almost feel history unfolding last week in Conference Room No. 1 at national United Jewish Appeal headquarters in New York. One of the most broadly representative parliamentary bodies in organized American Jewish life was gathered to vote itself, in effect, out of existence.
Rabbi Barnett Brickner sits, frowning in his study at Temple Judea of Massapequa, N.Y. He's been asked his opinion of the proposed new "platform" of Reform Judaism, which comes up for a vote next May at a national convention of Reform rabbis. The platform says that the Torah was revealed by God at Sinai and that its commandments "call to us even though we live in modernity." It urges Reform Jews to pray daily, to make the Sabbath a holy day, to follow dietary laws, and more. Brickner is alarmed.
Kenneth Bob, a software executive from Long Island,N.Y., is registered to vote in this month's World Zionist Congress elections, but he's having a hard time deciding how to cast his ballot.
Close to half the Reform temples in Alabama are named "Emanuel," which is Hebrew for "God is with us." Jews all over the state are hoping it proves true this fall, when voters pick a governor.
The big political story that's emerged from last week's California primary is not the Davis-Lungren gubernatorial race nor the high-profile propositions. The big story is yet unfolding and takes us to a small corner of our town, in the east end of the San Fernando Valley. At this writing, former Assemblyman Richard Katz is only 33 votes behind City Councilman Richard Alarcon in a race to replace veteran state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal. While awaiting the inevitable recount, observers of the new American ethnic politics are peering over the map of Senate District 20 block by block for what is being done right -- and wrong.
Just after dawn two years ago today, May 29, 1996, the all-night vote count finally tipped against Shimon Peres and for Binyamin Netanyahu, who would become the new prime minister. In the intervening two years, Peres was succeeded as head of the Labor Party by the slain Yitzhak Rabin's protegé, Ehud Barak. After a long stretch of running ahead of Netanyahu in the polls, Barak has now slipped behind.