Fri. Dec 19, 2008
Representatives of 29 Jewish groups from the dovish J-Street and Brit-Tzedek to the hawkish ZOA and JINSA met with members of the Obama transition team in
The Obama team, which included five senior staff members, listened, wrote down notes and provided little new information about the president-elects intentions.
Still, even that was enough to leave Jewish leaders deeply impressed.
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Each Jewish representative in attendance was given a chance to talk during the two-hour meeting, which was also videotaped as part of Obamas promise for transparency in government.
Many of the groups around the table have been shunned by the outgoing Bush administration, which had limited community outreach efforts to like-minded organizations within the community.
Another significant shift from the Bush-era interaction with the Jewish community was the renewed focus on domestic issues. While for the past eight years White House meetings with Jewish leaders focused mainly on foreign policy issues relating to Israel, the discussion with the Obama team this week was evenly divided between foreign and domestic issues and touched upon concerns regarding the economic stimulus plan, poverty, civil liberties, energy and judicial nominations. It was great that they had real serious domestic policy people at the meeting, said
The focus on domestic issues, said one participant in the meeting, reflects not only the great concern in the Jewish community over the financial crisis, but also the broad agreement Jewish groups have with the incoming Democratic administration on social issues.
In accordance with the new spirit of post-partisanship, most Jewish leaders attending the meeting stressed the broad consensus within the community over domestic priorities and foreign policy concerns.
Still, some friction was noticed when the discussion touched on the IsraeliPalestinian issue. Several speakers told the Obama team that both in
It was in tandem with president-elect Obamas wish to move forward from the ideological fissures that sometime paralyze