J Street Daily News Roundup 11/21/13

November 21st, 2013

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.

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J Street in the News

J Street Backs Geneva Effort to Reach Iran Nuclear Deal, J Street

J Street reiterated its strong support for efforts by the United States and its partners in the P5+1 to reach an agreement with Iran that could serve as a significant first step in efforts to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon. “We need to see how the talks in Geneva resolve and what the terms of the agreement are, but our understanding is that this first step will freeze and begin to roll back the Iranian program for several months while keeping the vast body of sanctions in place,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “As such, it should be welcomed by the whole world, including Israel, as a major step toward averting the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran without resorting to military action.”

Despite critique, Jewish groups continue Iran push, Times of Israel

“J Street also issued a statement Wednesday, in which it reiterated ‘its strong support for efforts by the United States and its partners in the P5+1 to reach an agreement with Iran that could serve as a significant first step in efforts to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon.’”

On Iran, give Obama the support he deserves, New Jersey Jewish News

Referencing American Jewish support for President Obama’s handling of Iran, J Street Central New Jersey Communications Chair David Eden wrote, “The United States must continue to work for a peaceful and successful end to these negotiations. We should continue to support President Obama’s efforts and leadership on this issue. The Senate needs to hold off on imposing additional sanctions while the current sanctions are having the desired effect.”

Barack or Bibi? Trust, loyalty and Iran, Jewish Journal

Jonah Lowenfeld said that “pro-Israel groups on the left who are supporting the president’s call to delay any increase in sanctions against Iran have been quite vocal about their positions. Americans for Peace Now and J Street both have encouraged their followers to contact senators in support of the president’s request to hold off on imposing additional sanctions against Iran.”

Co-founder of contentious political group Breaking the Silence speaks on campus, Daily Californian

“UC Berkeley students Shayna Howitt, J Street U’s national communications co-chair, and Elon Rov, a co-chair of J Street U at Berkeley, said they hope Breaking the Silence’s appearance will spark dialogue about Israeli-Palestinian relations within the campus Jewish community rather than divide students over the issue. ‘The fear is that people will come to Breaking the Silence and mistakenly infer that every single soldier in the IDF is somehow committing war crimes … [and] come away with this hatred of the IDF or this feeling that the IDF is evil,’ Howitt said. ‘[But] Breaking the Silence is not painting the entire military as committing war crimes.’”

Top News and Analysis

France, Iran trade barbs but ministers may come for nuclear deal, Reuters

France and Iran traded tough words on Thursday as major powers struggled to finalize an interim deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, with Paris urging the West to remain firm and Tehran deploring a loss of trust. Each side appeared to be tempering anticipation of an imminent breakthrough after the United States, Russia, China,France, Britain and Germany came close to winning concessions from Tehran in the last round of negotiations two weeks ago. Several Western diplomats said there was a good chance Secretary of State Kerry would join foreign ministers from the other five members of the six nation group in Geneva in another attempt to nail down a long elusive deal with Iran. One diplomat saw a "very high probability" of ministers coming.

Active and Improvising, Kerry Is Taking on Tough Problems, The New York Times

According to Mark Landler and Michael Gordon, “Kerry’s effort to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians is still an uphill struggle. But he may be poised to begin delivering another major goal Mr. Obama has long sought: an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program.”

Israeli public closes ranks with Netanyahu on Iran, Shlomi Eldar

Shlomi Eldar urges, Israelis “must not close our eyes and ears to the gamut of other reports and voices that differ from Netanyahu’s recurring declarations and threats on” Iran.


Dermer: US, Israel rift over Iran doesn't amount to crisis in relations, Jerusalem Post

Israel's new ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, defended Obama Wednesday night in a closed-door session with a bipartisan group of thirty Members of Congress, insisting that the current rift between Israel and the US over Iran's nuclear program does not amount to a crisis in relations.

PA blasts Hamas’s belligerent new school curriculum, Times of Israel

A Palestinian Authority Education Ministry official accused Hamas of deepening the six-year-long political divide by introducing new militaristic textbooks to middle schools under its control in the Gaza Strip.

Soldier suspected of carrying out ‘price tag’ attacks, Times of Israel

The Petah Tikva Magistrates Court on Wednesday extended the remand of an IDF soldier and his brother who are suspected of spray-painting racist invective in two West Bank settlements last Saturday night.

Labor Party members to choose leader, Times of Israel

Some 55,000 members of Israel’s Labor Party will have a chance to choose a new leader, or stick with the current one, in a hotly contested party primary Thursday. Shelly Yachimovich, who has led the opposition party since September 2012 but faced some criticism after its middling performance in Knesset elections earlier this year, will try to retain her seat against challenger MK Isaac Herzog.

Opinion and Analysis

A time for courage, The New York Times

“I wonder if individual courage in leadership can make a comeback,” says Roger Cohen. “It is needed. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has just invited Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to come and speak in the Knesset and said he is ready to go to Ramallah. From a supreme short-term tactician, the invitation felt manipulative, but still Netanyahu is right. Peace will demand a grand gesture, something solemn and symbolic and unspun.”

Netanyahu is paying a steep price for fanning fear and hatred, Haaretz

Carlo Strenger argues, “If Netanyahu has seriously changed his view on Israel-Palestine, he will have to muster the nerve to make serious changes. He will have to oust [Economics Minister] Naftali Bennett and his extremist Habayit Hayehudi party that is doing everything to undermine any agreement with the Palestinians by pushing settlement expansion in the West Bank. Netanyahu will also have to accept Labor Leader Shelly Yachimovich’s standing offer to support him if he engages in a serious bid for peace.”

A speech in Ramallah, a speech in the Knesset, Jerusalem Post

Gershon Baskin imagines “speeches that Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu should each give if they were to speak directly to the people from the Knesset and from Ramallah.”

US should be wary of Iran’s goal to dominate the Middle East, Washington Post

Joseph Lieberman and Vance Serchuk contend that “even if we reach an acceptable nuclear agreement with this Iranian government,it is not our budding strategic partner.”