- Jason Horowitz in the New York Observer calls Hillary Clinton "the great kosherizer" in Barack Obama’s administration:
Mrs. Clinton’s first Senate race, New Yorkers may remember, was dominated for a long stretch by energetically delivered media stories about her feelings toward Israel, her (literal) embrace of Yasser Arafat’s wife at a public event and even a dubiously sourced allegation that she once, in a fit of rage, called someone a Jew bastard. Yet for pro-Israel voters and officials, her actions over eight years since then as the junior senator from New York have transformed her into a talisman, providing reassurance that Israel’s interests will be provided for in an administration led by a president who received strong support from American Jews, yet whose calls for direct engagement with Iran still causes some concern in the Israel lobby.
- MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, at the Huffington Post, tells Barack Obama to "go for it":
For Israel’s sake, and our own, President Obama should appoint a Special Envoy to the Middle East charged with implementing the Arab Initiative and Arab-Israeli peace. With 365 electoral votes, a Congress in the hands of his party, and with the votes of 80% of American Jews in his pocket, President Obama has no excuse not to act. Nor do I think he is looking for one. Barack Obama will be the President who ends this conflict.
- Politico says Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who represents a heavily Jewish district in the Chicago area and has big fans in the pro-Israel community, could run for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell:
Operatives from both parties agree Kirk would be a strong candidate. Running from a North Shore House seat, Kirk would have political strength in the Chicago suburbs, said the operative. And having been challenged in consecutive cycles, he’s a formidable fundraiser, raising over $5 million for his House seat this cycle. A naval officer, Kirk has a clean image with no ties to Springfield or the Chicago political machine.
- The president-elect tells the Chicago Tribune he’ll use his full name — Barack Hussein Obama — when sworn as president, and that he plans to reach out to the Muslim world by giving a speech in an Islamic capital:
"I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” Obama said Tuesday, promising an "unrelenting" desire to "create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together." The world, he said, "is ready for that message."
- The only thing ZOA and Hezbollah seem to have in common — they both don’t want to talk to Jimmy Carter. Reuters reports:
Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah has refused to meet visiting former US president Jimmy Carter to discuss legislative elections set for the spring, Carter’s spokesman said on Wednesday. "We have sought meetings with all the main parliamentary blocs and parties in the upcoming election and Hezbollah was one of those meetings we had requested," Rick Jasculca, a spokesman for the Carter Center, told AFP.
"Hezbollah declined the request," he added without providing further detail.
- "The Nanny" wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Yes, Fran Drescher isn’t joking, reports the Associated Press (and no comment yet from Mr. Sheffield):
Publicist Jordan Brown delivered the straight line that Fran Drescher is serious about becoming the next junior senator from New York. Brown cited Drescher’s experience as an actress, advocate for women’s health and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department.
- As the Minnesota recount drags on, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the FBI is looking into allegations that a longtime friend and benefactor of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman steered money to his campaign:
Houston is where the first of two lawsuits was filed alleging Nasser Kazeminy, a Bloomington financier, tried to steer $100,000 to Coleman via his wife’s Minneapolis employer. The second suit, filed in Delaware, alleges Kazeminy initially tried to get money directly to the senator. Both Coleman and Kazeminy have denied any wrongdoing, and Coleman last month said he welcomes an investigation.