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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WorldPublished: 04 April 2011

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.

 
 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WorldPublished: 10 January 2011

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.

 
 

Giffords known for her openness and Judaism

WorldPublished: 10 January 2011

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.

 
 

Beck attack on Soros outrages Jewish leaders

WorldPublished: 12 November 2010

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.

 
 

Iran deadline approaches

Skeptics on both sides draw dueling red lines

WorldPublished: 03 July 2015

WASHINGTON — It’s deadline time at the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers, and skeptics on both sides are laying out red lines in a bid to shape a final deal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who had been wary of the talks, last week outlined his own expectations for the deal — and where there would be no compromise.

On the American side, a five-point memo circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been influential in shaping how Congress and others are pressing the Obama administration.

Among the contentious issues are the period that restrictions must stay in place and how much Iran must reveal of its nuclear past.

Officials on both sides say that the talks being held in Vienna, Austria, will stretch for a week or so beyond Tuesday’s deadline.

 
 

Ruling on Jerusalem passport limited

Met with relief from pro-Israel community

WorldPublished: 12 June 2015

WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the Supreme Court decision that will keep “Israel” off the passports of Jerusalem-born Americans, begins by calling Jerusalem a “delicate subject.”

Competing claims to the Holy City were not the only timeworn and sensitive issue the justices contended with in their 6-3 decision on Monday, which upheld the State Department’s policy of not allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to list “Israel” as their birthplace. The Supreme Court in Zivotofsky v. Kerry waded into tensions dating to the founding of the United States over whether the executive or the legislative branch determines foreign policy.

The ruling effectively nullified a law passed by Congress in 2002 requiring the State Department to list “Israel” as a birth country for Jerusalem-born Americans, should the citizens request it. Like its predecessor, the administration of President George W. Bush, the Obama administration said recognition of another nation’s sovereignty over territory was a matter strictly for the executive branch.

 
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Where did it go wrong?

Looking at the shattered Obama-Netanyahu relationship

WorldPublished: 05 June 2015

WASHINGTON — When David Axelrod, then a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, first learned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly had referred to him and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as “self-hating Jews,” he remembers feeling stung.

“For people to suggest that I would be anti-Israel or worse, anti-Semitic — it hurts,” Axelrod recalled of the 2009 episode.

Robert Wexler, the former Florida congressman who was Obama’s Jewish community liaison in the 2008 and 2012 elections, remembers his own oh-no moment with Netanyahu.

It was in May 2011, when Netanyahu, irritated by Obama’s call for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 lines, decided to use an Oval Office photo opportunity to lecture Obama publicly on Middle East history.

 
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Obama at Adas Israel

‘I have same high expectations of Israel as I do of U.S.’, he says

WorldPublished: 29 May 2015

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has a message for American Jews: I don’t shy away from disagreeing with Israel publicly, because I care about Israel and our shared values.

The president marked Jewish American Heritage Month with a speech at Washington’s oldest Jewish congregation, Adas Israel, last Friday. His remarks glided from the triumphs of American Jewish accomplishment to Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement.

When it came to Israel, Obama was, as usual, unstinting in his pledge to protect the interests of the Jewish state. He noted that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still disagree over how best to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said, “I will not accept a bad deal” in nuclear talks now underway between Iran and the major powers.

 
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After Baltimore

How Jews are trying to make things better

WorldPublished: 08 May 2015

WASHINGTON — From roundtable discussions to protests and prayers to candid talk with law enforcement officials, Jewish communities are joining in the debate about community policing in the wake of several high-profile deaths of unarmed black men while in police custody.

Officials were short on specifics, but several said that protests in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray on April 19 have sparked a determination to confront the tensions between police and minority communities.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella public policy body, last week called for a “new national conversation” about police tactics.

“At this critical time in our nation’s history, it is abundantly clear that a conversation not only needs to be had between law enforcement and disenfranchised communities, particularly the African American community, but within our own communities,” JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said in a statement.

 
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Sheldon Adelson looms large

Jewish kingmaker and casino magnate oversees Republican cattle call in Las Vegas

WorldPublished: 01 May 2015

LAS VEGAS – “It’s so noisy,” Kenny says.

Yes, it’s noisy. This is Vegas. The Venetian. The casino floor.

The bikinis, the brides-to-be, the blonde with the “I’m 21, bitches” T-shirt. The whoops, the hissing, the groans, the bells.

This is Las Vegas, where Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian, is the unanointed king. It’s also where the Republican Jewish Coalition, the organization over which his largesse looms like a beloved, entitled uncle, holds its annual national four-day convention, attracting hundreds of party loyalists, including politicians seeking his blessing.

The melding of politics, Jewishness, and sin is confusing, and not just if you’re 85, like Kenneth Bialkin — that’s “Kenny,” according to his RJC name tag — a national Jewish leader and prominent New York City lawyer.

 
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