Washington is the city with major power. At a glance, its C-SPAN–ready inhabitants may all look alike, but over time you learn to distinguish the import of the differences that Washingtonians allow themselves. If you see a gaggle of people smoking outside a formal dress event, for instance, you're likely looking at Republicans. Men with close-clipped beards tend to be Democrats who work at nonprofits, or Arab diplomats, And then there are the kippahs (well, kippot, to use the Hebrew plural, or yarmulkes, to use the Yiddish).
Of all the rifts in Washington, the great kippah divide has stirred up the most controversy of late. That, of course, is not what anyone is calling the most recent round of controversy over the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has been charged by academics, liberal journalists, and bloggers with having an undue influence on U.S. policies in the Middle East. : an intra-Jewish community divide over religious practices, concern for Israel, and political affiliation during an era of resurgent liberalism and new Democratic Party strength.