One of Barack Obama’s pitchmen to the Jewish community was Tony Lake, the Clinton administration national security adviser who had in recent years converted to Judaism. Lake’s "Jew by choice for Obama" stump speech was a poignant way for a old foreign policy hand to make the pro-Israel case for a greenhorn senator from Illinois.
Lake all but disappeared after the campaign. He made a reappearance Monday night, not at Washington’s main Jewish event — but at the Arab American Institute dinner eight blocks away.
AAI President Jim Zogby warmly praised Lake’s insights as a foreign policy heavy at a time when American Jews and Arabs routinely worked together to try and make the Oslo peace process work.
It was an odd, nostalgic note at an AAI event otherwise (understandably) fraught with the aftermath of the Gaza Strip war. An official of Anera, the Palestinian relief group, described the devastation in the area. Its 17 staff and office were unharmed, and were beginning to distribute food and medicine to Gaza’s residents.
Most jarring, perhaps, was the Al Jazeera-English set-up in a corner of the Fairmont Hotel ballroom. Producers pulled over passersby for comment on U.S. foreign policy. More than once, their voices rose above the natural crystal-clinking party din.