National

‘Clarity’ or inconsistency? Conservatives debate surging Gingrich

The rise in the Republican presidential polls by Newt Gingrich, shown speaking at a GOP leadership conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 19, 2011, has refocused attention on his foreign policy statements. (Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — On the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich has given his fellow Republican presidential candidates a wide berth, often going out of his way to praise them. Instead of attacking his rivals, Gingrich has focused his fire on President Obama. The strategy appears to be paying off. The… Read more »

In Sherman-Berman race, grass-roots strength faces off with Capital Hill heft

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The California race between Democratic congressional incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman is seen as pitting experience against energy, compromise against confrontation and — painfully for many in the Jewish community — pro-Israel stalwart against pro-Israel stalwart. “These are two guys who are extraordinary leaders on… Read more »

Barney Frank leaves as he served: With a sharp wit

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, shown addressing the World Economic Forum in Siwtzerland in January 2010, was influential in advancing gay rights and on economic reform. (World Economic Forum via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Barney Frank’s talk of retirement was anything but retiring. The veteran Jewish congressman’s announcement on Monday that he would not seek re-election was replete with the same caliber of verbal bombs — lobbed and received — that characterized much of his career. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat,… Read more »

Jewish leaders meet Biden in Thanksgiving week appeal for Pollard

Jewish leaders who met with Vice President Joe Biden, shown here checking out an iPhone app in the White House with President Obama in July 2011, said in a statment that they had a "meaningful and productive" meeting the vice president about Jonathan Pollard. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Four drug dealers, a trafficker in stolen goods, a gambler and a turkey made President Obama’s Thanksgiving freedom list, but Israel’s best-known spy did not. But advocates of releasing Jonathan Pollard aren’t giving up hope. Seven Jewish leaders who met Nov. 21 with Vice President Joe… Read more »

‘Buy Israel Week’ campaign promotes Israeli products

Their effort may be coming on the heels of “Black Friday,” but organizers of a new nationwide campaign are hoping that consumers will hold on to some of their shopping dollars to show support for Israel. Jewish newspapers, pro-Israel groups, Israeli companies and retailers are joining together to launch… Read more »

U.S. tightens sanctions on Iranian economy

With new measures tightening sanctions on Iran, the United States moved one step further toward effectively cutting off the Islamic Republic’s economy from the West. President Obama issued the measures Monday in the form of an executive order. At a news conference the same day, Secretary of State Hillary… Read more »

House weighs Holocaust bill that has divided Jewish community

Leo Bretholz, a Holocaust survivor, testifying at a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on allowing lawsuits to go ahead against SNCF, the French national railroad, for its role in deporting Jews to death camps, Nov. 16, 2011. Bretholz fled from such a transport. (Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives again is considering Holocaust compensation legislation that has pit survivors against some leading Jewish organizations. The House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would make it easier for claimants to make their case against Holocaust-era insurers in… Read more »

Jews reeling in wake of Penn State scandal

Philadelphia (Jewish Exponent) — Rabbi David Ostrich, who leads the lone congregation in State College, Pa., couldn’t bring himself to sermonize last Shabbat on the scandal that’s on everyone’s mind. For one thing, it’s all too raw and too much remains unknown, said the religious leader of Congregation Brit… Read more »

Republicans’ ‘Starting from zero’ aid proposal startles pro-Israel community

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, shown campaigning in Iowas on Nov. 14, 2011, has raised concerns among pro-Israel officials for proposing a policy on foreign aid that would have recipients make their case every year. (IowaPolitics via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — “Starting from zero,” the foreign assistance plan touted by leading Republican candidates at a debate, is getting low marks, and not just from Democrats and the foreign policy community. Pro-Israel activists and fellow Republicans also have concerns. Texas Gov. Rick Perry introduced the plan during the… Read more »

Sarko said, Obama said — but what does it all mean?

A derogatory exchange about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and President Obama, shown during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, has sparked debate, Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton, via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Does Nicolas Sarkozy really hate Benjamin Netanyahu? Does President Obama really sympathize? And does it really matter? The fleeting, private exchange between the French and U.S. presidents at a summit in Cannes, France, made international headlines, and its meaning is still being parsed by political pundits… Read more »

Dennis Ross legacy: Iran isolated, but peace still missing

Dennis Ross, shown speaking at a Washington Institute for Near East Policy conference, and the White House cited his desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for stepping down as President Obama's top Middle East strategist. (Stan Barouh, courtesy of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dennis Ross got back in the driver’s seat, yet three years later the peace is still missing. Ross, a veteran of four failed presidential pushes for Middle East peace, announced Nov. 10 that he would be leaving his post as President Obama’s top Middle East strategist… Read more »

Is Jerusalem in Israel? Supreme Court hears passport case

Ari Zivotofsky and his son Menachem speak to the press outside the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 8. (Richard Greenberg)

The U.S. Supreme Court convened Monday to ponder the implications of a single word that is conspicuously missing from the passport of a 9-year-old boy who was born in Jerusalem. His name is Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, the son of Ari and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, Americans who made aliyah in… Read more »

Giffords vows return in forthcoming memoir

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is determined to return to Congress. “I will get stronger. I will return,” Giffords writes in a memoir she co-authored with her husband, Mark Kelly, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow, according to the Associated Press, which got an advance copy. “Gabby: A Story of… Read more »

­AJWS Reverse Hunger campaign targets U.S. global food aid policy

(New York) — American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, unveiled its new Reverse Hunger campaign last month. The campaign seeks to rally the American Jewish community to challenge and change a critical factor contributing to global hunger — U.S. food aid policy. Developing… Read more »

Experts: IAEA report makes case for tightened Iran sanctions

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency found that there is "credible" information suggesting that Iran's nuclear program has military dimensions. Pictured here is a heavy water nuclear reactor near Arak, Iran. (Wikipedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The international nuclear watchdog has spoken on Iran, and although its report does not have the smoking gun some had anticipated, it makes a cumulative case damning enough for the Obama administration to ask for increased sanctions. JTA canvassed Washington Iran-watchers on Tuesday afternoon in the… Read more »

Giffords wants to come back to Congress

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is determined to return to Congress. Giffords, who is recovering from being shot in the head in January, reveals in a book she co-writes with her husband, Mark Kelly, that she plans to keep her job, according to a report Friday by… Read more »

After stumble, Herman Cain stresses pro-Israel bona fides

Danny Danon, a Knesset member and a leader of the settlement movement, making a point to Herman Cain after leading the Republican presidential candidate on a tour of the tunnels beneath Jerusalem's Western Wall, August 2011. (George Lange Studios)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Call Herman Cain the crash-course pro-Israel candidate. Since stumbling in May on a question about Palestinians and the right of return, the one-time pizza executive who recently rocketed to the top of GOP presidential polls has visited Israel and read up about the Jewish state. “Mr.… Read more »

What happens now that the U.S. has cut UNESCO funds?

UNESCO designated Tel Aviv's "White City" -- its 4,000 Bauhaus buildings -- a heritage site in 2003, facilitating funds for rehabilitation projects. (David Lisbona via Creative Commons.)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The immediate consequence of UNESCO’s vote to grant the Palestinians membership is clear: A cutoff of American funding for the U.N.  agency governing the protection of cultures and sharing of scientific knowledge, which stands to lose roughly a fifth of its budget. What’s less certain is… Read more »

On Arlington’s Chaplains Hill, fallen rabbis get a place of honor

Unveiling of the monument on Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetary to 14 Jewish chaplains who died in service to the United States during World War II, the early years of the Cold War and in Southeast Asia. (Karen Wendkos)

ARLINGTON, Va. (JTA) — Fourteen Jewish military chaplains who gave their lives in service to their country finally have a place of honor in Arlington National Cemetery. Family members of the fallen chaplains were joined Monday by community leaders, politicians, and current and retired military personnel for a ceremony… Read more »