J Street Daily News Roundup 2/28/2014

February 28th, 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

Main Israel lobby seeks to regain footing as Netanyahu visits US, Reuters

“When Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses an annual convention of Israel's US supporters next week, he will find the group trying to show it has not lost its touch after the White House blocked its push for Congress to impose new Iran sanctions… Though billing itself as strictly bipartisan, AIPAC faces complaints on the left that it has not worked harder to accommodate a Democratic administration. J Street, a smaller, liberal alternative to AIPAC in the American Jewish community, has made modest inroads in its six years of existence.

Dem donors, including Jews, press Congress leaders not to pass sanctions, JTA

“Major Democratic donors, many of them Jewish, wrote to party congressional leaders urging them not to advance new Iran sanctions legislation… These included Morton Halperin, a close associate to George Soros and an adviser to J Street; Alan Solomont, a former ambassador to Spain who also helped found the Israel Policy Forum, a liberal group; and Marc Stanley, who has held leadership positions with the National Jewish Democratic Council.”

Lawmakers accept millions in free travel, USA Today

“AIPAC's foundation funded 77 trips, totaling nearly $1.4 million in value, records show. By contrast, a more moderate pro-Israel group, the J Street Education Fund, sponsored four trips.”

US Policy Is Pro-Israel Because Americans Are Pro-Israel, Not Because of AIPAC, Tablet

Yair Rosenberg said that “over the past 63 years, AIPAC has defined what it means to be pro-Israel, much like NARAL has defined what it means to be pro-choice, and the NRA has defined what it means to be pro-gun. But that role isn’t an inevitability—and, indeed, in recent years, both the dovish activists at J Street and hawkish ones at the Emergency Committee for Israel have worked to fracture AIPAC’s monopoly by arguing that the definition of ‘pro-Israel’ encompasses their own more liberal and neoconservative policies.”

Welcoming J Street U, Princeton Alumni Weekly

“A chapter of J Street U, a student group that has sparked controversy on other college campuses because some see it as too critical of Israel, has been formed at Princeton without friction. J Street U is the student-organizing arm of J Street, a left-of-center lobbying group that advocates a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine dilemma and was founded in 2008 by Jeremy Ben-Ami ’84.”

Apartheid Week sparks controversial discussions, Johns Hopkins News-Letter

“J Street U founder and member, senior Rachel Cohen, sees some good that could come out of Israeli Apartheid Week on campus. ‘J Street U, while unequivocally opposed to the military occupation of the West Bank, rejects the argument that Israel is an apartheid state… If anything, [Israeli Apartheid Week] offers an opportunity for us to discover more students on campus who are passionate about the issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… It could provide us an opportunity to identify and engage more students later on.’”

Top News and Analysis

Obama to take stock of peace talks with Netanyahu, Abbas, Reuters

President Obama will take stock of peace negotiations in upcoming Oval Office meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday and President Abbas on March 17

Poll: Three quarters of Israeli Jews would accept peace deal, Times of Israel

Three quarters of Hebrew-speaking Israelis would support a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on the Arab Peace Initiative, and more than half would vote for Netanyahu if he were to leave the Likud and create a new party, according to a new poll published Thursday.

Obama the inquisitor vs. Netanyahu, Abbas, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports, “Obama’s message to the two leaders is that they have two options: They can cooperate with the US initiative and make progress, or go it alone and be forced to deal with the ensuing reality. Because the reality the two leaders will face after the talks fail will not be a pleasant one… We will not have to wait long to know where things are heading.”


Pelosi on Iran: Let diplomacy work, The Hill

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pushed back hard Thursday against those urging further sanctions on Iran, saying the lawmakers are throwing "sand in the face" of the international negotiators working on a nuclear deal.

Business Coalition Pushes Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu To Forge Peace Deal, Forward

Breaking the Impasse--a coalition of wealthy Israeli and Palestinian businesspeople--is using its members’ influence to apply quiet pressure on government officials and its wealth to try and galvanize the public behind the peace process.

Olmert reveals Abbas accepted Jewish mayor of Palestinian capital, Jerusalem Post

Former Prime Minister Olmert said in an interview that in 2008 negotiations, Abbas agreed to a Jewish Israeli serving as mayor of an umbrella municipality for Jerusalem that would govern the capitals of Israel and a Palestinian state.

Israeli forces use excessive force against Palestinians, report says, Los Angeles Times

Amnesty International said that Israeli security forces use excessive force against Palestinians in the West Bank and display "callous disregard" for human life.

Opinion and Analysis

BDS: Neither Responsible Nor Progressive, American Prospect

Brent Sasley argues, “A global grassroots campaign against the occupation is needed. But it will be immoral if it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. Tactically, it will be more effective if groups work to persuade their own national governments to pressure Israel on the diplomatic front alongside pressure on the Palestinian leadership, with economic penalties focused on the occupation itself. The BDS campaign is too broad to accommodate these realities.”

After Iran sanctions debacle, AIPAC Conference looks to Netanyahu as consoler and cheerleader, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev says, Netanyahu and AIPAC delegates “see completely eye to eye on most issues: they would probably have him as their leader while he would gladly exchange them for his hostile Likud Central Committee.”

Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Options on the Key Issues, Arms Control Association

According to Daryl Kimball and Kelsey Davenport, “A final phase agreement will require hard compromises on the part of both sides, but it is the far more preferable and effective way to resolve the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions.”

Self-fulfilling prophecy, New Jersey Jewish News

J Street Northern New Jersey Communications Co-Chair Martin Levine writes in a letter that Jonathan “Tobin thinks the talks are doomed to failure and should therefore not be pursued at the risk of making things worse, but this kind of thinking would guarantee that a peaceful resolution will never come, leading to the ultimate demise of Israel as a secure, democratic, and Jewish state.”