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
What siddur do they use?, Open Zion
According to J Street Rabbinic Director Rabbi Jonah Geffen, Conservative rabbis’ silence on the peace process “runs strikingly contrary to the message that we have promoted in synagogues for over a generation.”
Hillel International, American Jewry’s campus outreach group, appeared headed toward a clash with its Swarthmore College chapter following the Swarthmore Hillel’s decision to allow critics of Israel and Zionism to take part in its programming. J Street U President Jacob Plitman said J Street U has taken no position on the Swarthmore Hillel’s decision but supports efforts to open the conversation to voices beyond the current boundaries. “We think the health of Israel and the Jewish community requires a diverse conversation, and we must accept that this will include Palestinians and anti-Zionists,” he said.
J Street U Director Ira Stup said Hillel’s hard line may have ramifications for efforts to engage Jewish students. “For so many Jewish students Israel is such an important part of their Jewish identity and how they express Jewishness, so that to not have a space where they can explore challenging issues related to Israel ultimately does them a tremendous disservice,” Stup said.
Noting that Nelson Mandela’s passing reminded him of a quote from Rabbi Nachman of Breslev, “If you believe you have the power to destroy, believe you have the power to repair,” Geffen wrote that Mandela’s “ultimate change was to seek the destruction of apartheid with the vision to rebuild the society it had so damaged. He took apart a system and worked to replace it. He joined the word truth with the word reconciliation.”
Top News and Analysis
Secretary of State Kerry is due to arrive in Israel Thursday evening to discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu the administration’s intention to present a permanent status framework agreement to Israel and the Palestinians in the coming weeks. Kerry began discussing a “framework agreement” for a peace treaty with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the head of the Palestinian negotiation team, Saeb Erekat, in Washington on Monday. Kerry’s goal is to bring Netanyahu and President Abbas to a point where they will have to make hard, dramatic decisions about all the conflict’s core issues. These decisions will determine the general lines of the final-status agreement between the sides and provide a basis for detailed negotiations on every issue.
John Kerry is Israel’s best friend, Bloomberg
Calling Kerry “committed, in a bone-deep way, to Israel’s well-being,” Jeffrey Goldberg says that “he has an acute understanding of the existential challenges facing Israel, and he gave the speech of a man who would consider Israel’s disappearance a tragedy.”
Israel PM an enigma, opposition says, Associated Press
Israel's new opposition chief, Isaac Herzog, said that Netanyahu’s views on a peace deal with the Palestinians remain an enigma, and that he's not sure the Israeli prime minister has the "mental willingness" to do what is needed. He said he believed a deal was urgently needed and possible - including on the complex issue of dividing or sharing Jerusalem among both peoples.
Livni sharply criticized Naftali Bennett's HaBayit HaYehudi party on Wednesday, claiming that its members are trying to derail the peace process. Livni also said that the continued construction beyond Jewish settlement blocs harms Israel's security.
The Likud’s central committee will likely vote at next Wednesday’s party convention to split off from Yisrael Beiteinu, the convention’s chairman, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, said on Wednesday. The central committee, which is more hawkish than the general Likud membership, is expected to pass proposals backing annexing Judea and Samaria and endorsing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
Israelis and Palestinians discuss Mandela’s legacy and Marwan Barghouti.
Opinion and Analysis
Akiva Eldar suggests a linkage between Israeli settlements and US security guarantees regarding Iran.
Obama’s relentlessly pragmatic diplomacy, Washington Post
David Ignatius says that this year’s “ secret diplomatic machinations have been dizzying, and sometimes disorienting. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have opened doors and created opportunities for settling intractable conflicts. But the administration’s turnabouts, especially in the Middle East, have been so sudden and unsentimental that Machiavelli himself might blush.”
Reprieve in Bedouin removal plan?, Partners for Progressive Israel
According to Ralph Seliger, “This [Prawer Plan] episode in Israel's dealings with its Bedouin citizens in the Negev has been a public relations disaster, but the scrapping of this bill does not necessarily mean a more positive turn in Jewish-Bedouin and Jewish-Arab relations within the country.”