Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams delivered one of his Middle East briefings last week during a breakfast meeting of Jewish Republicans.
The gathering was part of a little-known forum that is directed by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, chief deputy minority whip and the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives. Cantor has been gathering Jewish Republicans — Capitol Hill and administration staffers, officials in Jewish organizations, and lobbyists — on a regular basis to socialize and hear policy presentations from key political figures. Among the speakers who have appeared at Cantor’s forum are former senator George Allen, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois and former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman.
“This is an informal way for Jewish Republicans to meet,” said one participant who requested not to be identified — as did all others who were approached by the Forward — due to the off-the-record nature of the meetings.
The forum’s most recent meeting, with Abrams, took place the day after the submission of the Winograd report, which detailed the blunders made by Olmert’s government in launching last summer’s war in Lebanon. Abrams briefly referred to the political uncertainty the report has created in Israel, saying that it will be difficult to see any movement on the peace process before the political situation in Israel becomes clear.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.