National

Netanyahu speech straining bipartisanship ahead of AIPAC conference

The Center for Economic and Policy Research Holds Briefing On Rising Inequality And Its Impact On Social Security

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s congressional address and its biggest-ever annual conference,  AIPAC wants to keep the focus squarely on Iran and the traditionally bipartisan nature of American support for Israel. Good luck with that. Tensions between Democrats and the Israeli prime minister are… Read more »

Netanyahu ‘regrets’ partisan perception of speech; Rice calls planned address ‘destructive’

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, shown addressing Jewish leaders during the National Leadership Assembly for Israel in July 2014, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress "destructive." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, shown addressing Jewish leaders during the National Leadership Assembly for Israel in July 2014, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress "destructive." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told top Senate Democrats he regretted that his planned address to the U.S. Congress is being perceived as partisan, as President Barack Obama’s top security adviser said the speech was “destructive.” Netanyahu wrote Tuesday to decline an invitation from Sens. Dick… Read more »

On foreign policy, Jeb Bush navigates between brother and father

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisors who have worked for his father and brother as he eyes a run for the presidency. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisors who have worked for his father and brother as he eyes a run for the presidency. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As clearly as Jeb Bush has stated that he does not want his foreign policy chops assessed against that of his brother — or his father — his choice in advisers has only made things murkier. Of 21 advisers to the former Florida governor and putative… Read more »

Where does war authorization aimed at ISIS leave Iran?

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Don’t make the enemy of your enemy your friend. That’s the message some lawmakers hope to convey to the Obama administration as they consider its request for a war authorization to combat ISIS. Concerns about how best to shape such an authorization… Read more »

Freundel pleads guilty to 52 voyeurism charges

Rabbi Barry Freundel, left, with his lawyer, Dmitriy Shapiro, outside the Washington courthouse where he pleaded guilty to 52 misdemeanor counts of voyeurism for spying on women at his Orthodox synagogue's mikvah, Feb. 19, 2015. (Dmitriy Shapiro / Washington Jewish Week)Rabbi Barry Freundel, left, with his lawyer, Dmitriy Shapiro, outside the Washington courthouse where he pleaded guilty to 52 misdemeanor counts of voyeurism for spying on women at his Orthodox synagogue's mikvah, Feb. 19, 2015. (Dmitriy Shapiro / Washington Jewish Week)

WASHINGTON (JTA/Washington Jewish Week) — Rabbi Barry Freundel, the former spiritual leader at a prominent Washington synagogue, pleaded guilty to 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism. The plea Thursday means that Freundel could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 52 years in prison and ordered to pay tens of… Read more »

As David Cohen becomes CIA’s No. 2, Jews appear to have smoother sailing at security agencies

David Cohen, seen here at a Capitol Hill hearing on Iran sanctions in 2011, was recently named to the No. 2 position at the Central Intelligence Agency. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)David Cohen, seen here at a Capitol Hill hearing on Iran sanctions in 2011, was recently named to the No. 2 position at the Central Intelligence Agency. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — David Cohen’s path to second in command at the Central Intelligence Agency is, in many respects, a typical one in Washington. A seasoned Ivy League lawyer who began his career defending the right of religious groups to display menorahs on government property, Cohen was the Obama… Read more »

Despite Speechgate drama, U.S.-Israel defense relations stay solid

Ashton Carter, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, at his confirmation hearing, Feb. 4, 2015. The hearing had none of the sharp exchanges over Israel that were featured in the confirmation proceedings of the last defense secretary, Chuck Hagel. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)Ashton Carter, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, at his confirmation hearing, Feb. 4, 2015. The hearing had none of the sharp exchanges over Israel that were featured in the confirmation proceedings of the last defense secretary, Chuck Hagel. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — American-Israeli relations may be enduring a challenging period due to the political drama surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress, but you’d never know it from the recent confirmation hearing for defense secretary nominee Ashton Carter. Carter’s appearance on Feb. 4… Read more »

Le’Or aims to put marijuana legalization on the Jewish agenda

Roy and Claire Kaufmann, the founders of the nonprofit Le'Or, with their children. (Courtesy of the Kaufmann family)Roy and Claire Kaufmann, the founders of the nonprofit Le'Or, with their children. (Courtesy of the Kaufmann family)

(JTA) — “You know, it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them?” That was President Richard Nixon speaking to his top aide, H.R. “Bob”… Read more »

Dems’ confronting of Israelis raises Netanyahu speech stakes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In tense meetings, top congressional Democrats — including a number of Jewish lawmakers — confronted Israeli officials about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, met Wednesday with Yuli Edelstein, the Knesset… Read more »

For Orthodox, tax-defined ‘upper’ incomes are often stretched

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) – For Orthodox Jews, President Barack Obama’s proposed tax reforms present a numbers-crunching paradox: Income he designates as well-off may mean just getting by for large families. Obama’s 2015 budget, which was introduced Monday, aims to offset economic breaks to upper-income families to… Read more »

Islamic radicalism poses dilemma for Jews in interfaith dialogue

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, with microphone, meeting in Tel Aviv with, from left, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Jan. 20, 2015. (JCPA)Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, with microphone, meeting in Tel Aviv with, from left, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Jan. 20, 2015. (JCPA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Kari Alterman heard from every one of her Detroit-area Muslim dialogue partners, all of them calling to express their sadness and concern. They just didn’t do so publicly. Statements condemning violence are normally made after formal dialogues… Read more »

In Tel Aviv, it’s Super Bowl Early Monday Morning

Some Israelis stayed up all nightto watch the Patriots celebrate their fourth Super Bowl victory in 14 years, Feb. 1, 2015. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Some Israelis stayed up all nightto watch the Patriots celebrate their fourth Super Bowl victory in 14 years, Feb. 1, 2015. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — There were wings, beers, giant TV screens, and football fans wearing New England Patriots sweatshirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys. If not for the fact that it was 1 a.m. and former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid stood in the center of the bar, it could… Read more »

What Jewish ethics tell us about ‘Deflategate’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft are all smiles after beating the Inidanapolis Colts, but will a Super Bowl victory be tainted by "Deflategate?" (Elsa/Getty Images)New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft are all smiles after beating the Inidanapolis Colts, but will a Super Bowl victory be tainted by "Deflategate?" (Elsa/Getty Images)

(JTA) – “Deflategate,” the controversy surrounding the New England Patriots that has made national news, made its way to a Houston business conference led by a rabbi. Rabbi Yossi Grossman, dean of the Jewish Ethics Institute, on Monday transformed the football prattle into a high-minded look at ethics on… Read more »

Netanyahu’s planned speech roils Jewish lawmakers, pro-Israel community

WASHINGTON (JTA) — When Israel wants something from the United States, it typically makes three stops: the pro-Israel lobby, Jewish members of Congress and the White House. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored all three when he accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address Congress about… Read more »

Sanctions bill founders again on Obama veto threat

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — For the second year running, a bid to pass a bill intensifying sanctions against Iran appears to be foundering on threat of a presidential veto. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama vowed to veto further sanctions legislation, saying it would… Read more »

For Jewish Republican donors mulling 2016, it’s electability, stupid

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — The key consideration for Jewish Republicans in what appears to be a burgeoning race for the party’s presidential nod is electability, top party donors said. Whereas in the past, a donor’s closeness to a particular candidate or his embrace of a favored policy may… Read more »

What Selma means to the Jews

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right), marches at Selma with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C.T. Vivian. (Courtesy of Susanna Heschel)Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right), marches at Selma with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C.T. Vivian. (Courtesy of Susanna Heschel)

HANOVER, N.H. (JTA) — The 50th anniversary of the 1965 march at Selma is being commemorated this year with the release of the film “Selma.” Regrettably, the film represents the march as many see it today, only as an act of political protest. But for my father Abraham Joshua… Read more »

Jewish Federations stand with France’s Jewish community

In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris, the Jewish Federations of North America expressed its solidarity with the 500,000-strong French Jewish community, the families and friends of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the entire nation of France. JFNA has opened an emergency mailbox… Read more »

Can Reform center’s new director maneuver in polarized D.C.?

WASHINGTON (JTA) — With an agenda that has come to match almost perfectly with the priorities of the Democratic Party, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center has not had an easy time of it in an increasingly polarized Washington. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the center’s incoming leader, may have… Read more »

After Paris, reassessing how nations thwart attacks

Mourners seen carrying one of the bodies for burial during the funeral ceremony at Jerusalem's HarHaMenuchot cemetary for the four Jewish victims in the Paris Hyper Cacher attack, Jan. 13, 2015.  (Miriam Alster/Flash90)Mourners seen carrying one of the bodies for burial during the funeral ceremony at Jerusalem's HarHaMenuchot cemetary for the four Jewish victims in the Paris Hyper Cacher attack, Jan. 13, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – These are the lessons of the Paris attacks for American Jews and U.S. law enforcement: Keep calm and cooperate. Enhanced communication between governments has been a key element of America’s counterterrorism successes since 9/11, experts say, and more is planned in the wake of last week’s… Read more »