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Dems complain about RJC at Rice briefing

Six Jewish Democrats in the U.S. Congress asked Condoleezza Rice to explain why she invited a Republican Jewish group to a briefing on the Middle East. Rice briefed leaders of 15 Jewish groups two weeks ago on her plans to revive Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. One of the groups invited was the Republican Jewish Coalition; its counterpart, the National Jewish Democratic Council, was not. “We are concerned that such briefings have great potential to become partisan in nature if only one political wing of the organized Jewish community is included while the other is left outside looking in,” says the letter, from Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Penn.). The RJC’s presence has been standard at White House meetings with Jewish leaders under President Bush, as was the presence of the NJDC at such meetings under the Clinton administration. NJDC Executive Director Ira Forman told JTA that he had no problem with a partisan tinge to White House briefings, but that the State, Justice and Defense Departments should be above partisanship.