Tidbits: News on Ross and Shapiro, Lipsky for NYT post? (UPDATE #2)

  • The Reform movement is welcoming the George Mitchell appointment, as well as the unanimous Supreme Court decision on a sexual harassment case: "The Crawford decision, which prohibits the firing of individuals who provide evidence in an internal sexual harassment investigation, but do not themselves initiate a sexual harassment complaint, acknowledges that sexual harassment remains an insidious and persistent problem in the workplace. It ensures that employees will not risk their jobs if they divulge potentially incriminating evidence concerning a colleague who is being investigated for sexually inappropriate behavior."
  • Agudath Israel of America is objecting to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s statement in a Sunday interview that funding contraception in the economic stimulus package will "reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." The Haredi oragnization argues that "viewing the funding of birth control as a fit and proper means of stimulating the economy – and by extension children as essentially burdens on the treasury — should be beneath a public servant, much less someone of your accomplishment and influence."
  • Politico reports top Jewish Republican Eric Cantor is taking on a bigger fundraising role than his predecesors in the whip position: "Unlike his predecessors, who constantly whipped votes in fights against the Democratic majority, Cantor has a smaller, conservative minority that doesn’t have to worry about wayward moderates. And it knows it’ll lose most roll call battles against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s troops, anyway. Which is why Cantor is more focused on raising money — he was in California on Monday raising campaign dough before heading back to Washington."
  • ProPublica notes that Cantor voted against the release of the next $350 billion in bailout funds last week, even though the government has bought stock in Emigrant Bank, which employs his wife, with bailout funds: "Rob Collins, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, said the congressman didn’t know the bank was seeking bailout money and never interceded on the bank’s behalf with government regulators. He also said Cantor had never intended the bailout bill to be used to buy up stock in banks."
  • Laura Rozen at ForeignPolicy.com has news on Dennis Ross: "Dennis Ross has indeed been tapped as the U.S. envoy to Iran, with the possible title ‘ambassador at large.’"
  • Rozen and Hilary Krieger at the Jerusalem Post also say that Dan Shapiro will be National Security Council senior director for the Near East and South Asia: "Among Shapiro’s responsibilities, sources say, will be supporting the mission of Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, who is expected to travel to the region this week." (UPDATE: Rozen reports that Shapiro’s title will now be NSC senior director for the Middle East and North Africa.)
  • Jewish conservative Bill Kristol has written his last column for the New York Times, reports the Times. He will be writing a monthly column for the Washington Post, and has apparently also agreed to debate Matt Damon, according to Andrew Breitbart, after Damon called the neconoservative pundit an "idiot."
  • Who will replace Kristol on the Times’ op-ed page? Ben Smith at Politico nominates the founding editor of The Forward: "My nomination: My old boss at the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky, who, along with certainly being right-wing enough (at least on foreign policy) to qualify, is a pugnacious, entertaining writer with gift for the unconventional, so-crazy-it-just-might-work editorial angle."
  • Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic talks Middle East peacemaking with former Clinton administration official Martin Indyk:

Jeffrey Goldberg: When I was listening to Barack Obama talk about the events of the past month, particularly when he spoke of Hamas, it almost sounded as if he were giving us George Bush’s understanding of the Middle East. Do you see significant change coming down the road?

Martin Indyk: I too was struck by how close Obama stuck to requirements enunciated by Bush: the need for a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem; Israel’s need for security and its right to defend itself; Hamas’s need to recognize Israel, forswear violence, and accept previous agreements; and the need to support the Palestinian Authority (particularly as the primary vehicle for channeling aid to Gazans in the wake of the latest conflict). But Obama’s appointment of George Mitchell as Middle East peace envoy and his immediate dispatch of this heavy-hitter to the region, together with his promise of sustained, persistent American diplomatic engagement, highlight his differences with Bush who preferred to sit back and leave the parties to their own devices. This return to energetic peacemaking diplomacy of the kind the United States undertook in the 1990s actually makes Barack Obama sound more like Bill Clinton than George Bush. The peace process is back!

  • The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait says J Street has replaced "right-wing shibboleths with left-wing shibboleths": "Right-wing Zionism thrives on a sense of victimhood and encirclement. J Street has won a cult following among liberal bloggers by tapping into an equivalent narrative of persecution and bravery."
  • The American Prospect’s Ezra Klein responds that he agrees with just one part of the article, Chait’s contention that J Street’s "narrative of persecution and bravery" is overblown : "Criticizing Israel is not an act of courage because it’s not actually dangerous for your career. This is despite the best efforts of Chait and his magazine, and, I’d submit, arguably because of them.
  • Chait responds by noting that it’s a "rule of faith" from some on the left: "If you write political commentary disagreeing with the J Street analysis of Israel, you’re a thuggish ideological enforcer. If you write political commentary supporting the J Street analysis, you’re a courageous ideological freedom fighter."
  • Shmuel Rosner, in Commentary, looks back at the overwhelming Jewish Democratic vote in the 2008 election and declares: "The question now is whether Republicans have any hope of winning the Jewish vote at any point in the future. The answer is: Perhaps. In a generation. If certain demographic trends hold firm."
  • Hisham Melham, who interviewed President Obama for al-Arabiya television, talks to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg about what he thought of the exchange: "He talked about Israelis making sacrifices and that Israelis and Palestinians endure pain the same way. I’m not willing to say there is a shift in substance, but there is a shift in approach on the tone vis-à-vis Palestinian suffering. He showed that he understands the need for dignity and a place to call their own."
  • Day two of the trial to decide the Norm Coleman-Al Franken Senate race featured testimony from absentee voters who say their votes were rejected "for no good reason," reports CNN: "The six voters who took the stand range from a man who said, according to a letter from the state, that his ballot was rendered moot due to a mispelling in his name to yet another man whose ballot may have been rejected because his girlfriend signed his signature on his ballot application while he signed the actual ballot, meaning the two signatures did not match."


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