J Street Daily News Roundup 12/17/13

December 17th, 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.

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

J Street in the News

Hillel And Its Donors Repress Real Conversation About Israel, Jewish Week

J Street U National Student Board President Jacob Plitman warned that “as some conservative donors [to Hillel] demand a tighter conversation and enforce their political values, we risk losing that generation of young progressive Jews who won’t settle for tired hasbara and an Israel right-or-wrong approach.”

J Street Strongly Opposes ASA Boycott, J Street

J Street expressed its strong opposition to the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli colleges and universities.

US scholars' group backs call for academic boycott of Israel, Reuters

“J Street, a liberal American Jewish group that promotes Middle East peace, also strongly opposed the [ASA] resolution, saying ‘unilaterally placing blame on one party ... is an overly simplistic and unhelpful approach to an incredibly complicated and dynamic political situation.’”

The Exodus at the 92 Street Y, Forward

Jane Eisner described how, at a debate on ‘being pro-Israel in America’ that she moderated at the 92nd Street Y, panelist John Podhoretz stormed off the stage after an exchange with J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.

'Pro-Israel' discussion in New York ends in walkout, insults and recriminations, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev said that that “based on the course of the debate [at the Y], ‘being pro-Israel in America’ means ideological chasms, professional rivalries, frayed nerves, inflamed tempers, one of the participants storming out in a huff and then exchanging barbs and insults on the internet with the moderator.”

A Bad Night on 92nd Street, Commentary

Podhoretz wrote, “Bottom line: I’d had a long day and I didn’t see the point in spending more of it getting booed and shushed. So I left. So sue me.”

John Podhoretz Storms Off Stage at 92nd Street Y, New York Magazine

Adam Martin said, “Sounds like a rough night for Podhoretz, Eisner, and Ben-Ami. Although those audience members surely got a more exciting show than they expected.”

Where will we find others like them?, Times of Israel

“These days, as we mourn the death of [Nelson] Mandela, and rejoice in his accomplishments, I also mourn for Rabin, for what could – for what should – have been,” wrote J Street Central New Jersey Communications Chair David Eden. “And hope that we will find others like them.”

American Studies Scholars Now Israel-Free, New York Magazine

Jonathan Chait said that “absurdly discriminatory academic boycotts make anti-occupation (but not categorically anti-Israel) liberals — like, say, J Street  — forget what's so terrible about the occupation and remember what's so terrible about the anti-Zionist left. It's the best news Netanyahu has had in months.”

Top News and Analysis

EU offers ‘unprecedented’ aid to Israelis, Palestinians for peace deal, Times of Israel

European foreign ministers announced that the European Union is ready to provide Israelis and Palestinians with “unprecedented” financial, political and security assistance and a significant upgrade in ties if the two parties reach a peace agreement.

Palestinian official: US pressing us to recognize Israel as Jewish state, Haaretz

The United States has reportedly accepted Israel's position that any peace agreement with the Palestinians must include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. A report said that the Americans are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the Israeli demand and agree to its inclusion in the framework agreement Kerry is formulating.

Kerry, Zarif Spoke Last Week After Fresh Iran-Related Sanctions, Reuters

A US official confirmed that Secretary of State Kerry spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the phone last week about “the importance of moving forward" on carrying out the [Geneva] agreement "and of maintaining a constructive atmosphere as the negotiations continue... The conversation was focused on the way forward,” the official said.

The Kerry Doctrine, Foreign Policy

Douglas Brinkley examines how Kerry’s diplomatic successes with Syria and Iran could bode well for the two-state solution.


EU warns Israel not to announce new settlement building after prisoner release, Haaretz

European states told Israel on Monday that if it declares construction of new settlements after the planned release of Palestinian prisoners at the end of this month, and the talks collapse, Israel will be held responsible.

Report: Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in talks to form unity government, Jerusalem Post

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are reportedly in talks to form a national unity government in preparation for upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

EU to ease sanctions as soon as Iran curbs nuclear work, Reuters

European governments pledged on Monday to suspend some sanctions against Iran as soon as the UN nuclear watchdog verifies that Tehran has curbed its atomic work under last month's landmark agreement.

Iran Official: Final Nuclear Deal Is Possible, Associated Press

A top adviser to Iran's supreme leader says Tehran is ready for a final nuclear deal with the world powers over its disputed atomic program.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu faces next decision of his life, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar imagines what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advisors would say if the prime minister chose to reject Kerry’s proposal on peace.

Water Issues Can Play a Leading Role in the Middle East Peace Process, Reuters

Gidon Bromberg, Munqeth Mehyar and Nader Khateeb call Israeli-Palestinian water cooperation “low-hanging political fruit that can build confidence between the parties to move forward on the other final status issues of the peace process.”

Some lessons in effective scapegoating, Bloomberg

Jeffrey Goldberg notes that “The ASA is also facing an unlikely opponent in its anti-Israel campaign: Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, supports the boycott of settlement-made goods, but he has come out against broad anti-Israel boycotts. The ASA is more Palestinian, in other words, than the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

Mandela’s message for Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem Post

Michael Felsen says, “Today’s Israeli and Palestinian leaders would honor [Mandela’s] memory –- and, more importantly, their peoples’ undeniable interests -- by recognizing and demonstrating, as courageous and forward-thinking members of their societies have, that the seemingly impossible is not so impossible after all.”

Glad to be caught, Jtnews

J Street Seattle media chair Charlene Freadman Kahn praises Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum for “publishing, one of the most heartfelt and thought-provoking opinion pieces relating to the conflict in Israel and Palestine I’ve read in any publication.”