Tuesday, April 15, 2008

After Baras, Kurtzer pinch-hits for Obama

Daniel Kurtzer, former commissioner of the old Israel Baseball League, is leaving baseball behind-- but stepping into a new Israel-related controversy with an increasingly prominent role as foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama as he angles for a role in Obama's Presidential administration.

Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to both Israel and Egypt, was a very prestigious name for Boston bagel baron Larry Baras to add to the roster of sports and industry bigwigs that propped up a league that brought MLB-style play to Israel last summer. But days after Tabloid Baby revealed the details of a federal lawsuit that accused Baras of securities fraud in connection with the league's startup, Kurtzer resigned his post in November, leading an exodus of board members and helping ensure the fall of Baras' house of cards.

This morning, the JTA news service reports that Obama's camp is using Kurtzer ("the first Jewish U.S ambassador to Egypt and the first Orthodox Jew to serve as envoy to Israel") to bolster Obama's appeal among Jewish voters in advance of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary:

"President Bill Clinton named him to the Cairo post in 1997, and President Bush sent him to Tel Aviv in 2001. Such credentials are important for a candidate whose Jewish campaign has been dogged by questions about the fierce criticism of Israel embraced by his former pastor as well as some advisers who counsel more balance in the U.S. ...

"Yet Kurtzer, 58, could prove to be more problem than solution, at least among the more established elements of the pro-Israel community. If anything, he is more pronounced in advising a balanced approach to Middle East peacemaking than any of the real and purported advisers to Obama already singled out for criticism by pro-Israel hawks..."

At the very least, in light of our exclusive report yesterday that THERE WILL BE NO PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL IN ISRAEL IN 2008, Kurtzer has a new job lined up.

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