J Street Daily News Roundup 2/5/14

February 5th, 2014

J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street's positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email newsroundup@jstreet.org

J Street in the News

On Threat of BDS, Don’t Shoot the Messenger, J Street

J Street said that “recent criticism from some in Israel and the United States of Secretary of State John Kerry for warning that Israel will face a strong boycott and disinvestment movement if his current peace initiative fails is profoundly misguided and misplaced.”

Row continues over Kerry’s boycott comment and the criticism of it, Jerusalem Post

“J Street, meanwhile, defended the secretary of state, issuing a statement saying that ‘criticizing Kerry for speaking the truth is akin to shooting the messenger.’”

A victory for diplomacy, J Street

J Street said that those opposing diplomacy with Iran “are giving up for now on their effort to bend American policy – and the White House – to their will. They are returning to a tactic that has long served them well – ensuring overwhelming bipartisan passage of a resolution that satisfies their desire for chest-thumping. Thankfully, their effort will have no impact on American policy.”

WH Iran policy gaining ground with Dems, The Hill

“J Street, a rising pro-Israel group, posted a petition on its website Monday asking its supporters to sign on to [a] House letter” which opposes additional sanctions against Iran.

AIPAC Lost Iran Sanctions Battle — Not War, Forward

Brent Sasley argued that “the political terrain is also changing, dislodging AIPAC’s once-unchallenged position in Israel advocacy. The emergence of J Street and the willingness by groups on the far right to undermine the organizational consensus on Israel have changed the nature of Jewish lobbying in the US, pulling AIPAC in two different directions. It needs to maintain the traditional bipartisan consensus on Israel without being outflanked by the right or the left.”

Limiting Debate On Israel Will Only Hurt Us, New York Jewish Week

Sid Schwartz said that “Jeremy Ben-Ami and J Street experienced a full-on communal assault on their legitimacy, even though their position on a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict is endorsed by a large majority of American Jews.”

Academic Freedom — Not Boycotts — Should Be Focus of Israel Academia Debate, Forward

Questioning whether “we, who oppose these sorts of boycotts, [are] truly committed to academic freedom for people of all views on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Samuel Fleischacker noted, “One leader of a Jewish institution I know met me in a restaurant far from his workplace so that he could get my advice on whether it might cost him his job if he attended a J Street conference.”

Top News and Analysis

Jewish Groups Sit On Fence as John Kerry Readies Middle East Peace Framework, JTA

As the Obama administration prepares to unveil a framework plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, most Jewish groups have responded by laying low.

Israel rejects U.S.-Palestinian proposal for anti-incitement panel, Haaretz

The Israeli government has refused a Palestinian-American initiative to convene a tripartite committee to address incitement and education toward peace both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

US negotiator hears, amid skepticism, Senate support for diplomacy with Iran, Al-Monitor

With support waning for Iran sanctions legislation, top US Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman and Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen testified on the Iran nuclear deal to the Senate foreign relations panel Tuesday.

The third Intifada, The New York Times

Thomas Friedman warns that “this Third Intifada isn’t really led by Palestinians in Ramallah. It’s led by the European Union in Brussels and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe. Regardless of origin, though, it’s becoming a real source of leverage for the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel.”


Israel grateful for Kerry’s peace efforts, Peres says, Times of Israel

President Peres praised Kerry’s peace efforts, defending the top American diplomat from recent criticism leveled at him from local right-wing politicians.

Military experts: NATO is very effective compared to UNIFIL, Ynet

According to Israeli military experts, President Abbas' suggestion to deploy international troops at future Palestinian state could be effective in maintaining security, depending on troops' capabilities, authorities.

Rabbis to Kerry: Cease mediation or face divine retribution, Haaretz

A group of rabbis calling itself "The Committee to Save the Land and People of Israel," warned Kerry to cease his pursuit of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians or face divine retribution in a letter sent by them Sunday.

Ministers to mull bill annexing all West Bank settlements, Haaretz

A bill sponsored by Likud MK Miri Regev calling for the application of Israeli law to all West Bank settlements and all roads leading to them will be discussed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Amid peace talks, permits given for some 550 residential units in east Jerusalem, Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Municipality’s Committee for Planning and Building gave building permits for more than 550 housing units Wednesday to be constructed in Jewish settlements in three east Jerusalem neighborhood.

World should punish ‘racist’ Israel, PA official says, Times of Israel

Saeb Erekat, the chief peace negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, castigated Israel on Tuesday as a “racist regime” that the world should rise up against and punish, and reiterated that the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a key Israeli demand during the current peace talks.

Iranian FM in hot water for taking softer tone on Israel, Times of Israel

Senior Iranian lawmakers reportedly denounced Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif’s statements to the effect that the Islamic Republic would consider recognizing Israel, and possibly restore diplomatic ties, if a peace agreement with Palestinians was reached.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli security officials recognize change in Iran, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports that “the sounds and images coming out of Tehran are inspiring great hope among [Israeli] defense officials. Something real is going on there, they say, adding that this is no act. Searching for a path, Iran is deliberating and struggling in a way we have not been accustomed to seeing.”

Politics v. Defense: Hamas Backfire, Shin Bet Purge, Forward

According to JJ Goldberg, Israel may be provoking Hamas to resume rocket attacks while Netanyahu is playing politics with Israel’s security services.

Confessions of a Disengaged Young Jew, Forward

Reflecting on her Birthright trip to Israel, Elissa Strauss writes, “In response to the Pew study’s findings that young American Jews are more likely to be critical and less likely to feel attached to Israel, Jewish leaders claimed that those suspicious Jews are probably just uninformed. But seldom do any of these leaders stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, they could be trying a little harder to provide Jews with more of a knowledge base.”

Ameinu to Bibi: Oppose Attacks on Kerry, True Friend of Israel, Ameinu

Ameinu President Kenneth Bob “calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to take all steps necessary to manage his coalition and government to serve the majority and reach peace. If he acts courageously he will have the support of his people, as well as true friends of Israel like Secretary Kerry. The Prime Minister can rely on Ameinu and so many in the Diaspora Jewish community who will never abandon our vision of a peaceful, just and democratic Jewish homeland in Israel.”

David Hirsh on Jewish anti-Zionism, Partners for Progressive Israel

Ralph Seliger discusses David Hirsh’s writings on “studies on the Jewish left anti-Zionism.”