Tidbits: Urging quick action on stem cells, some reaction to Samantha Power

  • The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, of which Hadassah is a member, urges President Obama to sign an executive order lifting the federal restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research: "We strongly urge you to issue a straightforward Executive Order that simply reverses President Bush’s policy and calls on the National Institutes of Health to issue appropriate guidelines. Follow-on legislation that codifies an Executive Order may be appropriate but, in the interest of timing and clarity of policy, the two do not need to be linked."
  • The National Jewish Democratic Council commends the Senate for rejecting an amendment last week that it says would have "violated the constitutional separation between church and state: "The DeMint Amendment was an attempt to remove the provision in the economic recovery bill that prohibited the government from providing federal funds to construct or repair buildings used for religious purposes. The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that the establishment clause of the first amendment of the Constitution prohibits federal grants to be used for capital improvement of structures devoted to worship or religious instruction."
  • The latest on the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Florida from Politico: Jewish Democratic State Sen. Dan Gelber, as well as U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, are in, Jewish Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein is still mulling it over (and the Republican side is frozen as it waits for Gov. Charlie Crist to make a decision).
  • Jewish "Democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders scores a victory, writes Politico, as limits similar to those he proposed on executive compensation last fall are adopted by the president: “We are on the verge of a depression that these people helped cause, so that helps wake people up,” Sanders said, explaining the increased support for his proposal. “It should have been done years ago, of course.” Sanders is often dismissed as a novelty in two-party Washington. But the move toward heightened corporate regulation moves him a step closer to the political mainstream.
  • Samantha Power’s appointment to an NSC post dealing with multilateral institutions has made some in the Jewish community unhappy, writes Hilary Leila Krieger in the Jerusalem Post: "Given her apparent anti-Israel bias, we are deeply concerned about her new role as head of multinational institutions, where she will have responsibilities for international organizations that are already unfriendly to Israel, such as the UN and UNRWA," said the leader of a more centrist pro-Israel organization, who spoke on condition of anonymity so his relationship with the new administration wouldn’t be jeopardized. "Israel needs a friend, not another critic, when it comes to dealing with the ‘blame Israel first’ crowd at the UN," he said. He did point out that Power didn’t have the Israel portfolio at the National Security Council, so her role on those issues would be somewhat curtailed, making the result of her selection still unclear: "The proof will be in the pudding – and that pudding is still being mixed," he said.
  • James Besser at The Jewish Week wonders if the Jewish world realizes how much Jewish activism could change because of the awful economic conditions: "Sure, church-state will remain a vital concern for many Jewish groups. But with so many Jews, like their neighbors, facing drastically lower incomes, changed retirement plans, threats to their jobs and possibly their homes, will they be paying as much attention to what sometimes seem like arcane constitutional questions? Israel remains a core issue for so many American Jews, but intensive pro-Israel activism is a kind of luxury – something that is possible because Jews have ridden the crest of post-World War II prosperity."
  • Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman, in the Forward, explains why "evenhandedness" is the wrong way to go about negotiations in the Middle East: "It is self-evident that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require concessions on both sides, and America’s role should be to give incentives to the parties to move in that direction. ‘Evenhandedness,’ however, fails to take into account the vast differences in the historic relationships the two sides have had with America, in the institutional characters of the two societies, in the meaning of democratic values in each and in their respective approaches to peace.
  • Jared Polis, one of the new Jewish Democratic congressmen is one of two subjects of a "reality show" about life on Capitol Hill called "Freshman Year" for cnn.com, reports the New York Times : Mike Toppo, the senior supervising producer for news production at CNN.com, said his team looked for “articulate and personable freshmen” with interesting biographies and contrasting backgrounds. They found two from neighboring states: Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado, and Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah. … The congressmen are using high-definition Flip cameras to document their days."
  • Steve Clemons, at the Huffington Post, asks Israelis to "Give us Netanyahu. Please" because "the more irresponsible both sides are about their situation, the more achievable a ‘new equilibrium arrangement’ may be": "His re-ascension will help Americans realize that the false choice approach the Bush administration had been taking in Israel-Palestine affairs was flawed — and that Obama’s team must change the game or face a serious rebuke from Middle East watchers in the US and around the world."

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