Tidbits: Obama and a settlement freeze

  • Former AIPAC staffer, and upcoming AIPAC trial defendant, Steve Rosen discusses "Obama and a Settlements Freeze" at the Middle East Forum: "A majority of the public in Israel, and the leaders of all three of the largest political parties (Kadima, Labor, and Likud), have at times expressed a willingness to agree to a settlement "freeze" as part of a package of confidence building measures undertaken by both sides, depending on what is meant by the term "freeze".  … But, with regard to a freeze on natural growth in the settlement communities that already exist, Israeli governments insist on three limiting principles which are regarded as fundamental. … The real heart of the Obama team’s policy toward settlements, will be determined by how it responds to these three principles that Israelis consider essential."
  • National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira Forman, at the Huffington Post, warns House Republican Whip Eric Cantor about "people in glass houses" after a reported crack Cantor made about not paying taxes at Tom Daschle’s expense: "In 2003, Representative Cantor failed to report or pay for the expense of a fundraiser that then ‘super lobbyist’ Jack Abramoff held for him at his D.C. restaurant. Though it was a clear violation of the federal election law, Cantor’s spokesperson referred to his oversight as ‘a paperwork issue’ and referred to the controversy as ‘chicken droppings.’ "
  • On the 25th anniversary of Yentl, Barbra Streisand talks to the Associated Press and says she didn’t attend the inauguration: "I was supposed to go, I was asked to go, but I’m in the middle of this recording … and I just couldn’t go. It was the most thrilling thing to watch this man Obama, Barack Obama, become the president of United States. It’s such a wonderful thing for our country and our world. He’s so intelligent and so smart, and that is such a change, and such a relief."
  • The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait wonders why Norm Coleman’s alleged receipt of payments from a friend is not getting anywhere near the coverage of the Rod Blagojevich scandal: Of course, Coleman has not yet been proven to have committed a crime. But the same can be said of a certain floppy-haired former Illinois governor whose guilt has nevertheless been universally assumed. The comparison between Coleman and Blagojevich is instructive because the allegations entail the same basic crime, which is to leverage political power for personal gain.
  • The Jewish Week’s Jim Besser writes that pro-Israel lobbyists are smiling about Sen. Judd Gregg’s (R-N.H.) appointment as Commerce secretary: Gregg isn’t anti-Israel, but he has never been regarded by major pro-Israel groups as a friend, and he has conspicuously refused to meet with pro-Israel lobbyists over the years, a sin of almost Biblical proportions.  That coolness has taken on special significance because Gregg, a  former Budget Committee chair,  is currently ranking Republican on the Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.

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