J Street Daily News Roundup 1/31/14

January 31st, 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

Obama repels new Iran sanctions push... for now, AFP

“The liberal pro-Israel lobby group J Street played a major role in the anti-sanctions push. Vice president Alan Elsner said the group ‘continues to work hard to persuade lawmakers not to take action that risks sabotaging the negotiations with Iran… We're happy that more and more senators are seeing the logic of our argument,’ he added.”

Pro-Israel PACs Went All In For Senators Supporting Iran Sanctions, But They're Still Losing, Huffington Post

J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said, “We're using our full arsenal of advocacy tools to argue against the legislation of any new sanctions at this time… We, working with other groups as well, have changed that political dynamic over the course of five and a half years… And you're seeing members of Congress feeling more free to promote the policies that they feel are enabling the better policies because they now have the political space to do so."

Young Israelis Need Reason for Hope: Progress on Peace Would Help, Huffington Post

Elsner suggested that “If [Prime Minister Netanyahu] wants to continue in office, now would be a good time to embrace an inspiring vision of hope - by committing himself to peace and doing whatever it takes to get there.”

Interview of Alan Elsner, KQV

Calling the Kerry initiative a test of leadership, Elsner asked, “Are [Netanyahu and President Abbas] going to go down in history as men who just sat there and took the short-term perspective and concentrated on staying in office as long as possible or are they going to take the bold gamble that separates a political leader from a statesman?”

On Fear in the Rabbinate to Publicly Support the Kerry Mission, Jewish Journal

Urging rabbis to speak out about the necessity of two states, J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove quoted Rabbi Israel Salanter, who said, “A rabbi whose community does not disagree with him[her] is no rabbi. A rabbi who fears his[her] community is no mensch.”

Bill de Blasio Is Wrong to Pander to AIPAC, The Nation

The Nation editorial board urged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to meet with representatives of J Street, which “was established in 2008 specifically to back politicians who support a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It also supports the recent interim accord between Tehran and Washington, opposes the new sanctions AIPAC is pushing and—in a pointed rebuke to AIPAC’s bullying tactics—encourages ‘vibrant but respectful debate about Israel.’ Criticism of Israeli policies, it argues, ‘does not threaten the health of the state of Israel—but certain Israeli policies (and the silence that too many in the American Jewish establishment choose when vigorous protest of those policies is necessary) do threaten Israel’s future.’”

Ari Shavit Talks Israel At Columbia University, Tablet

“Columbia sophomore Noah Schoen, who is studying Middle Eastern Studies and leads the campus chapter of J Street, expressed gratitude toward the author, saying [Ari] Shavit ‘demonstrates to American Jews that a deep love of Israel and concern for its security can stand alongside condemnation of occupation.’”

Top News and Analysis

Peace plan would allow 75 percent of Jewish settlers to remain in West Bank, envoy says, Washington Post

US envoy Martin Indyk told American Jewish leaders on Thursday that roughly three-quarters of Jewish settlers in the West Bank would be included in redrawn Israeli borders envisioned under US-backed peace negotiations. Indyk told the group he hopes to win agreement from both sides within a few weeks. His willingness to provide such details to strong US advocates for Israel appears to be part of an effort to rally external support for the effort led by Secretary of State Kerry.

Middle East peace mediators to meet in Munich, Reuters

Top officials from the United Nations, United States, Russia and European Union will meet in Munich on Saturday to discuss how they can help Kerry's drive for a Middle East peace deal.

Western Wall protest: ‘End peace talks at once’, Times of Israel

Hundreds of right-wing demonstrators gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem Thursday to voice their rejection of the peace talks.

Iran Sanctions Bill 'On Ice' As Momentum Fades In Senate, Huffington Post

It took a presidential veto threat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's refusal to budge, but it appears a contentious Iran sanctions bill has been laid to rest. "The sanctions bill is on ice while the diplomatic process plays out," said a senior Senate Democratic aide. "The fact that cosponsors of the bill are now publicly distancing themselves from the measure shows just how hasty and ill-conceived this effort has been."

How John Kerry won me over, Haaretz

Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes that after participating in a lunch with Kerry, “I left the meeting convinced that chances for peace are better now than they have been in a very long time; I left certain about my country’s commitment and concern for Israel; and I left deeply impressed with a secretary of state who has worked, with unflagging devotion, to making Israeli-Palestinian peace a reality.”

Kerry may address Israeli public on peace deal, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports that “Kerry is contemplating addressing the Israeli public himself. Officials at the US Embassy in Israel are looking into the possibility of arranging a kind of ‘state of the union’ address for Kerry, who will face Israelis, look them in the eye and speak from the bottom of his heart. In that address, which would run along the lines of Kerry's appearance before the Saban Forum last December, the US secretary of state will try to convince Israelis to join him. This move is coordinated with the Prime Minister's Office. Kerry is, in fact, coming to assist Bibi in the battle over Israeli public opinion.”


Peres: It’s time to make historic decisions for peace, Times of Israel

In a meeting with Quartet Envoy Tony Blair, President Peres called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make “historic decisions” in order to resolve the ongoing conflict and strike a peace agreement.

Yesha Council: Indyk misleading, will uproot 150,000, Times of Israel

Dani Dayan, foreign envoy of the pro-settlement Yesha Council, said that “Indyk’s vision for the Jews of Judea and Samaria is extremely misleading… When Indyk speaks of 80% of our communities remaining under Israeli rule, he is including Eastern Jerusalem. Which would mean the forceful uprooting and eviction of up to 150,000 Israelis from their homes, which is morally repugnant and unacceptable to all.”

Lieberman: Settlers won’t live under Palestinian rule, Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Lieberman said Israel has no intention of leaving Israelis to live under Palestinian rule as part of a peace deal.

Ministers split on strategic plan over how to counter boycott threats, Haaretz

Government ministries are sharply divided on how to handle the increasing threat of international boycotts and sanctions against Israel over the West Bank occupation and settlements. The Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Ministry, headed by Yuval Steinitz, advocates a public relations counter-offensive, but the Foreign Ministry, led by Avigdor Lieberman, argues that this would play into the hands of boycott activists.

IAF strikes Gaza after rocket fired at Israel, Times of Israel

The Israeli Air Force early Friday morning retaliated against rocket fire into southern Israel hours earlier by bombing the Gaza Strip.

Tensions in the West Bank are rising, together with IDF, settler violence, Haaretz

The UN said that 2013 saw escalation in IDF activity against Palestinians, and Palestinian popular resistance to arrests is on the rise.

Opinion and Analysis

Chameleonic Opposition to an Iran Deal, National Interest

Paul Pillar examines the evolving tactics of those opposed to an agreement with Iran.

On Iran, compromise is needed, Washington Post

Fareed Zakaria discusses “creative compromises that can bridge many of the gaps” between Iran and world powers.

John Kerry in final push to disprove cynics on Middle East peace deal, Guardian

Paul Lewis and Harriet Sherwood spotlight Kerry and his team.

How Kerry Put Netanyahu in a Bind, Bloomberg

Acknowledging that “Kerry is obviously getting somewhere… because all the right people -- the far-right people -- are going a little nuts,” Jeffrey Goldberg warned that “a flood is coming to Israel” if it does not achieve a two-state solution.

Meet Isaac Herzog, the Israeli Politician Who Speaks English With a Democratic Accent, Tablet

Ruth Margalit profiles Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog and his drive to support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The Bibi-Bennett Feud Isn't Over, Forward

“For [Netanyahu,” says Nathan Jeffay, “the concern is to get the best deal for Israel if there’s to be a Palestinian state; for [Economics Minister Naftali] Bennett it is to take the Palestinian state off the table. And so, while this coalition crisis is over, another may well be brewing.”