J Street Daily News Roundup 12/18/13

December 18th, 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

A Walkout, and a Furor, During Debate on Israel at 92nd Street Y, The New York Times

Jennifer Schuessler noted that an unusually contentious onstage debate about Israel at the 92nd Street Y, which featured J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, took a dramatic turn when panelist John Podhoretz stormed off the stage. Ben-Ami later tweeted, “Here’s hoping state of pro-Israel discourse in US Jewish comm can only improve from here.”

The divisively unanswerable questions of what it means to be ‘pro-Israel’, Washington Post

Max Fisher examined how  “four pro-Israel Americans can agree that the American Studies boycott is ‘hypocritical and ultimately counterproductive,’... but still find themselves divided by it.”

Why John Podhoretz Stormed Off an Israel Panel Last Night, New Republic

Marc Tracy suggested that “Podhoretz reacted as he did because he felt like a victim—in this case, of being inappropriately silenced, by the crowd and by the moderator. And here’s the thing: Podhoretz’ reaction was so confusing to many observers because most people do not share Podhoretz’ sense of himself and other Jews as victims.”

John Podhoretz has a bad night, Politico

Dylan Byers joked, “Who knew Israel was such a hot-button issue?”

Commentary head storms off panel, Times of Israel

“Podhoretz and Eisner, along with J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami and David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, were taking part in a discussion at New York’s 92nd Street Y on support for the Jewish state when Podhoretz became enraged by one of the panelist’s comments.”

John Podhoretz, Jane Eisner and the brouhaha at the 92Y, JTA

“Tempest in an Upper East Side teapot: What happened last night at the 92Y that prompted Commentary editor John Podhoretz to storm off the stage in a stormy session about Israel that included Forward editor Jane Eisner, J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami and American Jewish Committee head David Harris?”

J Street head urges patience with Iran deal, New Jersey Jewish News

Ben-Ami said that if Congress were to insist on increased sanctions or other moves that would undermine the deal, it could lead to two possible outcomes “both worse than the deal”: Iran continuing its nuclear program full speed ahead or “finding ourselves on the road to a military conflict.”

End of Congress’ year brings odd reversal on Jewish priorities, JTA

J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said that House Minority Whip Steny “Hoyer obviously made a decision as a leader in his caucus that a substantial number in his caucus weren’t going to support a hawkish statement that undermines the prospects for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program.”

Israel, Hillel, & Idolatry, Huffington Post

Rabbi Arthur Waskow recalled that “Harvard Hillel refused to allow a former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Avraham Burg, to speak at Hillel because co-sponsors of his speech included a group of pro-BDS students in the Palestinian Solidarity Committee along with J Street U Harvard and two Hillel-affiliated groups, Harvard Students for Israel and Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance.”

Top News and Analysis

Secretary Kerry’s Derring-Do, The New York Times

Tom Friedman writes, “What [Secretary of State] Kerry is trying to put together are decent, hardheaded deals, in which opportunities can legitimately outweigh the risks for all sides. His chance of succeeding on the Iran or Israel-Palestine fronts is very low, but I greatly respect his daring to fail.”

Iran’s hard-liners resist nuclear deal, Washington Post

David Ignatius says that in nuclear negotiations with the West, Iran is facing an internal struggle over its identity.


Expert talks between Iran and world powers to continue Thursday, Reuters

Iran will continue technical talks with world powers in Geneva on Thursday and Friday, a vital step in implementing a nuclear deal signed last month which suspends key elements of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Knesset plenum rejects bill forbidding negotiations over Jerusalem, Ynet

The Knesset plenum has rejected in a preliminary reading a bill that would forbid holding talks over the future status of Jerusalem without first achieving a two-thirds majority in the Knesset.

Palestinians: Kerry taking Israel's side, no longer neutral mediator, Haaretz

President Abbas is reportedly resisting US pressure to accept an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a framework agreement.

‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’, Times of Israel

A report said that the US security proposal includes Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley highway, located three miles from the Jordanian border.

Ya'alon: Where Jews don't live, there's no security, Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Ya'alon said Tuesday he does not believe Israeli soldiers will remain in the Jordan Valley if there are no Israeli citizens living there. "I'm a man [who believes in] settlements," he said. "Where Jews don't live, there is no security."

Support mounts for Jewish prayer at key holy site, Associated Press

For decades, the religious Jews who bucked a rabbinic ban and visited a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem where the ancient Jewish temple once stood were seen by many as a fanatic fringe. But their cause is gaining support among both mainstream religious Jews and Israel's government. Jewish visits to the politically-sensitive compound are on the rise, and key Israeli lawmakers are lobbying to end a ban on Jewish prayer there.

Netanyahu may face jeers at today’s Likud convention, Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected to decide at the last minute whether to attend Wednesday’s Likud convention despite the strong possibility that he would not be received well. The central committee is expected to vote to end the bond with Yisrael Beiteinu, despite Netanyahu’s opposition. If the motion passes, it would not bind the prime minister, and he intends to ignore it.

Opinion and Analysis

The Real Problem With the American Studies Association's Boycott of Israel, Open Zion

Peter Beinart argues, “The best argument against the ASA’s boycott isn’t about double standards or academic freedom. It’s about the outcome the boycott seeks to produce.”

The Academic Boycott of Israel Is a Travesty, New Republic

Leon Wieseltier asks, “Who is Abu Mazen to speak for the Palestinians, compared with an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego?”

No One Loves a Liberal Zionist, Open Zion

In her last post, Mira Sucharov says she is “grateful that Open Zion has cultivated a wide-open space, one less restricted to those with strictly academic allegiances and inclinations, where these ideas could be parsed and debated.”