Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Catching up...

I've been busy over the long weekend and thus, posting was very light to where I hardly had the time to blog.

If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to say that he wants to work with Democrats, he's done a bad job at doing so. McConnell is a Republican that isn't out to cooperate with the Democratic Party. In fact, I have no idea where I would agree with him other than on issues relating to Eretz Yisrael. Senator McConnell delivered this speech on the Senate floor last week which pays tribute to Alben Barkley, a Democrat.

Evan Bayh has recently taken a trip to Iraq to survey the situation on the ground.
A news release issued by Clinton’s office quotes Bayh as saying he wants “to hear from Iraqi officials about how they plan to stem the violence there and start making some of the tough decisions necessary for this country to succeed. I’m also looking forward to speaking with our military leaders and troops to thank them for their service and get feedback from them about the situation on the ground.”
I'm all about debating the issues but why does former president Jimmy Carter continue to refuse to debate Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.
"The book departs from the president's traditional position of mediator and honest broker," said Atlanta businessman Steve Berman, one of the 14 who left. "He has embraced one side."

The group said the book, now No. 5 on The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, portrayed tension between Israel and its neighbors as one-sided, with Israel "holding all of the responsibility for resolving the conflict."

Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor who has successfully defended O.J. Simpson and other unpopular figures, said he would take Carter to task when the former president addresses a forum at Brandeis University near Boston on January 23.

"I will have my hand up the minute he finishes. It will be polite. It will be dignified but it will be tough," Dershowitz told Reuters. "There are some very, very hard questions that have to be asked to him. "

Dershowitz said he wanted to ask Carter why he had accepted money from Saudi Arabia and why the Carter Center, an Atlanta-based humanitarian organization, had criticized Israel while not looking into human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

"He claims that Jewish money buys the silence of politicians and the media, and yet he denies that Arab money has bought his silence," said Dershowitz.
Not surprisingly, the former president's spokesperson did not comment. It does speak measures though when fourteen members of the board at the Carter Center resign over the book especially since the book is so one-sided!

Had he still been alive, last Thursday would have been the 100th birthday of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
As Americans pause to mark King’s memory Jan. 15, the Jewish community is gearing up to honor the legacy of one of the 20th century’s great Jewish thinkers on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In March, Brandeis University will host a two-day symposium on Heschel, who was born Jan. 11, 1907, and over the next 65 years became one of America’s most prominent rabbis, renowned for his political activism and his innovative writings on theology and the Jewish prophets.

Other events are scheduled at the Manhattan school that bears Heschel’s name, at a spiritual retreat center in Connecticut and in cities as far afield as London, Berlin, Milan and Krakow.

King’s birthday has become a national holiday and an occasion to reflect on America’s interracial relations, but at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the institution where Heschel taught for the last 27 years of his life, no public memorials are planned.

Heschel’s relationship with JTS is said to have been fraught with tension. But the seminary’s incoming chancellor, Arnold Eisen, says a two-hour meeting he had with Heschel in his book-laden office around 1970 was personally transformative.

“It overwhelmed me,” said Eisen, adding that he considers Heschel the most important Jewish thinker of the 20th century.[...]

Nevertheless, Heschel’s legacy has aged well. He is the most frequently cited rabbinic source on issues of social justice and perhaps is most widely remembered for the arresting photo of him marching beside leaders of the civil rights movement in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

His influence is felt everywhere from the National Mall in Washington, where thousands of Jews of all denominations gathered last summer to protest the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, to the slums of the Third World, where American Jews now volunteer through groups like the American Jewish World Service, an organization whose leader was influenced by her childhood encounters with Heschel.

“He was very much a person who enjoyed his Judaism and his scholarship and made a huge effort to apply it to the times in which he lived,” AJWS President Ruth Messinger said. “And that had a real impact on young and not-so-young Jews at that time. And that’s something that we at AJWS continue to do.”

While it was unusual in Heschel’s era to see bearded rabbis marching with black leaders, Jewish leaders are now routinely active on the most pressing issues of the day, a change many lay squarely at the feet of the soft-spoken professor with thick black glasses and an unruly, Einstein-esque shock of white hair.

Heschel was ahead of his time in other ways, too. He was among the first rabbis to energetically reach out to leaders of other faiths, meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1964 and becoming, in 1965, the first rabbi appointed to the faculty of New York’s Union Theological Seminary, a liberal Christian institution.
Like many, I do believe that Iran is a threat to Israel, as well as the entire world. This threat should be taken very seriously.

Senator Joe Lieberman did not endorse his fellow Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd with regards to the presidential election in 2008 as of yet. Dodd campaigned for Lieberman in 2004 and in the 2006 Senate primary.
"I've worked closely with Chris Dodd for 18 years," he said. "His experience, his ability makes him a very credible candidate for president. I wish him well. I've had a lot of politics over the last two years. I'm staying out of any presidential campaign for a while."

Dodd appeared with Lieberman on the program and laughed as his colleague began to answer the question. "Oh, don't put Joe in that position," he told moderator Tim Russert.
Whether or not he will actually run or not, I do not know. However, Illinois Senator Barack Obama will be filing papers with the FEC this week to form an exploratory committee in order to test the waters.

Back to the issue of Iran, this piece of news is very important and I am glad to see such legislation in Congress.
The nonbinding resolution brought last week to the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee and initiated by Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the destruction of Israel amount to crimes according to the 1948 Convention on Genocide.

The convention not only provides for punishment for genocide, Rothman and Kirk wrote in a letter to their colleagues, but “also prohibits ‘direct and public incitement to commit genocide.’

It further provides that individuals committing genocidal crimes shall be punished ‘whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.’

Ahmadinejad’s hateful rhetoric calling for the elimination of Israel, a Member State of the United Nations, qualifies as inciting genocide.”

The resolution has garnered 22 sponsors.
The text of the legislation can be found here. The list of sponsors are to be found here.

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