51st: Cutting the nose despite....

....the face. Those who have been following the drama of the Palestinian Authority going to the UN for some form of international recognition no doubt expect some kind of deal will be cut to keep the U.S. from having to veto the PA request in the Security Council, that will give the PA greater international recognition, and that will calm down PM Netanyahu of Israel.In all of the twists and turns of the discussion, some members of the U.S. Congress have busied themselves with threats to cut U.S. aid to the Palestinians if they proceed with their plan (these are the congressional reps who have created a hidden constitutional amendment to make foreign policy in place of the president). 51st rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is leading the charge.This posturing has had a mixed reception both in Congress and within the organized American-Jewish community. It turns out that some of the current aid goes to training and beefing up PA security forces which has been good for both the Palestinians and the Israelis in reducing violence. "Elliott Abrams [of all people!], a former aide to U.S. President George W. Bush now at the Council on Foreign Relations, said 'there are grave doubts about significant cuts in aid to the Palestinian Authority' within American Jewish organizations.'" Senators John Kerry and John McCain have expressed skepticism about cutting funds. Haaretz, naturally, has the whole story. Stay tuned!Update: Fall-out from the Republican victory in NY 9 spreads. Are we about to see a campaign over whether President Obama should do whatever PM Netanyahu demands? Media blathering here is to be expected, but doesn't the US have far more to worry about (see Peter Nixon above)?"Republicans see a chance to change [the Jewish voters preference for Democrats]... in 2012, with President Obama locked in a tense relationship with Israels leaders and criticized by many American Jews as being too tough on a close and favored ally. Tuesdays Republican upset in New Yorks Congressional election, they say, is a sign of bad things to come for Mr. Obama."Sensing trouble, the Obama campaign and Democratic Party leaders have mobilized to solidify the presidents standing with Jewish voters. The Democratic National Committee has established a Jewish outreach program. The campaign is singling out Jewish groups, donors and other supporters with calls and e-mails to counter the Republican narrative that Mr. Obama is hostile to Israel." Oy vey!

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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