WASHINGTON – From accolades like “compelling” to accusations like “Auschwitz borders” to radio silence, to label the Jewish response to President Obama’s speech on Middle East policy as diverse understates matters.
The very breadth of the Middle East policy speech — 5,600 words and covering the entire Middle East and decades of history — helps explain the wildly divergent responses from Jewish groups and opinion shapers, even among some who are otherwise often on the same page.
One could as easily pick out points for Israel — slamming the Palestinian Authority’s pact with Hamas as well as its bid for unilateral statehood — as one could the demerits — for many, the most explicit endorsement of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for future borders by any American president.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) initiated the resolution last week after Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, retracted a key conclusion of the U.N. report he helped author on the 2009 Gaza war -- that Israel had targeted civilians as a policy.
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.
Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.
WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.
Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.
WASHINGTON – The event was typical Gabrielle Giffords: no barriers, all comers — Democrats, Republicans and independents welcome to talk about what was on their minds and in their hearts.
While she was deep in a conversation with an older couple about health care — the issue for which she was willing to risk her career — a gunman strode up to the Arizona congresswoman and shot her point blank in the head.
The critical wounding Jan. 8 of Giffords and the slaughter of six people standing near her — including a federal judge, her chief of community outreach and a 9-year-old girl interested in politics — brought to a screeching halt the easy, open ambience that typified Giffords’ politics, friends and associates said.
WASHINGTON – Jewish leaders expressed outrage at an attack by Glenn Beck on George Soros’ World War II childhood.
Beck, the Fox News Channel provocateur, is running a series this week on his radio and TV shows portraying Soros, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, as attempting to control the U.S. economy.
In his radio show Wednesday, Beck revived an unfounded claim that Soros as a child in Hungary helped ship Jews to death camps.
“And George Soros used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off,” Beck said. “And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening.
WASHINGTON — A same-sex Israeli couple struggling against U.S. immigration laws is set to become the face of the fight to extend one of the foundations of immigration policy to gays and lesbians.
Adi Lavy and Tzila Levy have been caught in the bureaucratic red tape of the American immigration system since Lavy, who suffers from a kidney ailment, arrived in the United States in 2011 to seek treatment.
The couple, whose New York marriage is not recognized by the federal government, have been able to stay together during Lavy’s illness and her subsequent return to Israel to care for an ailing parent thanks only to a series of interventions by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). But an estimated 36,000 binational LGBT couples are potentially at risk of separation should one partner be forced to leave the country.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) was addressing the Reform movement’s Consultation on Conscience conference about his passion — human rights — and his success in creating mechanisms to combat human trafficking and shine a light on global anti-Semitism. The crowd gathered in a large Capitol Hill conference room Tuesday afternoon was transfixed, laughing along with Smith’s practiced self-deprecation and applauding his commitment.
Until Joanna Blotner, a reproductive rights activist, asked him about his other signature legislation — a bid last year to cut all funding for abortion except in cases of “forcible rape.” Why, Blotner wondered, would Smith seek to limit women’s options?
WASHINGTON — History will remember former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for relentlessly facing down communism and helping to turn back more than three decades of socialist advance in her country.
But it was Thatcher’s embrace of British Jews and insistent promotion of Jews in her Conservative Party that inspired an outpouring of tributes from Jewish and Israeli leaders following her death Monday at 87.
Thatcher, who suffered from dementia in her later years, died peacefully after suffering a stroke, her spokesperson said.
WASHINGTON — For a trip that U.S. officials had cautioned was not about “deliverables,” President Obama’s apparent success during his Middle East trip at getting Israel and Turkey to reconcile has raised some hopes for a breakthrough on another front: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The question now is whether Obama has the means or the will to push the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who stayed behind to follow up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s team on what happens next, made clear in his statement on Israel’s apology to Turkey to place it in the broader context of the region’s tensions.