Ben Smith
December 19, 2008 - 1:00am

Senior Obama aides met with the leaders of an unusually broad spectrum of 29 Jewish groups today at transition headquarters.

Transition aides listened more than they spoke during a meeting that lasted almost two hours, and they heard a lot about Iran, but also about the question of boycotting a second Durban conference on racism next year.

Most interesting than the substance, perhaps, was who was there: Hawkish leaders who had been critical of Obama, like the Zionist Organization of America's Mort Klein, were invited, as were the leaders of conservative groups like the Orthodox Union and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; Aipac was also represented.

But leaders of a series of liberal, peace-oriented groups were in attendance: Peace Now, J Street, the Israel Policy Forum, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.

"I’ve been to a lot of Jewish meetings that the Bush adminstiration has done, and Peace Now, IPF, J Street, and Brit Tzedek were never at those meetings," said one attendee.

Several attendees, speaking on background, said that transition aides, who included Jim Messina, Michael Strautmanis, Tonya Robinson, Eric Lynn, Dan Shapiro and Tom Perez.

"President-elect Obama's transition team shrewdly invited just about every national Jewish organization to participate in a wide-ranging round-table discussion that touched on just about every issue of concern to the Jewish community," said William Daroff, the vice president for public policy at the United Jewish Communities. "Left-leaning groups, Right-leaning groups, and all of us in between were included in the meeting — in a truly unprecedented effort to ensure representation by the vast spectrum of American Jewish opinion."


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