By Michelle Boorstein
For a new crop of American Jewish leaders picked to lobby the new White House, this is a complex, touchy time.
Israelis recently elected a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who has decidedly different views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from President Obama – Netanyahu does not endorse a two-state solution, a basis of Obama’s agenda for that region.
Some of the biggest players picked to come to Washington to lobby on Israel (and other Jewish issues) have longstanding ties to Obama, including Lee Rosenberg, the brand new president of lobbying powerhouse AIPAC, and Alan Solow, the new chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Both supported Obama as a candidate.
The potential land mines are laid out a bit in a new piece in The Forward, the country’s largest Jewish newspaper, which says relations between Washington and Jerusalem “could be rocky.”
Advocacy for and about Israel has been growing in the last few years in general, including the founding of left-leaning lobbying firm J Street (meant to counter AIPAC) and new groups focused on strengthening the bond between American Jews and Israel. Many experts and pollsters believe that connection is getting weaker, partially because of young Jews’ fatigue with the Palestinian conflict.
The Rabbinical Assembly, the worldwide body of rabbis from the Conservative Movement, yesterday announced it has created a new Israel Advocacy Office in Washington. Potomac Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt was named head of the group, just weeks after Alexandria Rabbi Jack Moline was picked to run the group’s office of public policy.
The Assembly seems to be making a bigger push in Washington, picking a crop of local leaders already known around Capitol Hill. Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg, who was the longtime rabbi at Temple Adas Israel (Washington’s biggest Conservative synagogue), is president of the group.
Do you think we’re in for a shift in U.S.-Israel relations?