Political tidbits: Kurtzer possible envoy, David Gregory’s Jewish journey

  • A "senior Israeli diplomatic source" says Barack Obama is considering naming former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer as a special envoy to the Middle East, reports Akiva Eldar in Haaretz: "Obama’s decision to appoint a special envoy reporting to him directly, rather than to the secretary of state, indicates that the president-elect attaches special importance to the regional peace process. Reportedly, several of Obama’s advisers recommended the appointment.  The special envoy job could infringe on the prestige of Hillary Clinton, who was appointed secretary of state on Monday. On the other hand, it could ease any apparent conflict because of Bill Clinton’s close ties with the Gulf States"
  • Likud deputy Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein writes in the Jersualem Post that Obama would work well with Benjamin Netanyahu if he were elected prime minister: "I believe that he will come to the conclusion, as has Netanyahu, that significant, long-term economic and political development is necessary in the Palestinian Authority before a permanent diplomatic accord can be reached. To this end, he will find Israel under Netanyahu a reliable, willing and effective partner. It will welcome an intensified global effort to propel the emergence of a prosperous, mature and peaceful Palestinian society."
  • Both Al Franken and Norm Coleman say they will withdraw some of the ballot challenges they’ve made during the Minnesota U.S. Senate recount, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "With the state Canvassing Board scheduled to meet in two weeks to finish the recount, and nearly 6,000 votes being challenged by the two campaigns, a Star Tribune tally late Monday showed that Coleman leads by 340 votes. Coleman had challenged 188 more votes than Franken. The Franken campaign claimed its own internal tally — which was quickly dismissed by the Coleman campaign — showed that Coleman’s lead had dropped to just 73 votes."
  • The new host of "Meet the Press" is David Gregory, reports Politico. Gregory studies Jewish texts with a top Jewish educator in Washington and spoketo the United Jewish Communities Washington young leadership conference earlier this year about how he discovered the importance of Judaism in his life. From a March Washington Jewish Week article (scroll down to the last few paragraphs): "Gregory recounted how he was brought up Jewish — son of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother — with a sense of "peoplehood and tradition," but not much "theology or spirituality." But, with the encouragement of his non-Jewish wife, it was "enough to carry me to a sense of identity" and give him a desire to "probe further" the question of "Why be Jewish?"What I decided was [that] what mattered was not just a sense of actual knowledge" or attending High Holiday services, "it was to understand how to live Jewishly … [and] find daily meaning in Judaism."
  • Roger Cohen in the New York Times has some advice for Hillary Clinton on the Israeli-Palestinian issue: "Getting to … a two-state deal at, or close to, the 1967 borders will require concerted U.S. involvement from day one of the Obama administration. Its tone should be one of tough love, with the emphasis on tough. JTA’s Uriel Heilman responds that "it’s not tough love Cohen is arguing for, but a specific approach. … Cohen’s recipe for what Israel ought to be doing to solve its own long-term security needs may or may not be right — there are plenty of Israelis who make similar arguments — but it’s not about the United States pressuring Israel vs. supporting Israel. It’s about Cohen anticipating a right-wing administration in Israel come February 2009, when Israel elects a new Knesset and prime minister."

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