J Street News Roundup 4/30/2014

April 30th, 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

Jewish Groups Consider Including J Street, The New York Times

“The American Jewish community, increasingly vexed by debate over Israel within its ranks, faces a closely watched test this week… The vote on whether to allow the group, J Street, to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations comes at a time when Jewish institutions have been struggling over how much debate over Israel they are willing to tolerate.”

Kerry criticized for ‘apartheid’ remark, MSNBC

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the real pro-Israel community should be standing up and thanking Secretary of State Kerry for the effort that he’s put into trying to save Israel as a Jewish home and as a democracy, rather than attacking him for using a wrong word at the wrong time.”

Kerry Expresses Regret After Apartheid Remark, The New York Times

“J Street, a pro-peace Jewish organization, defended Kerry. ‘Instead of putting energy into attacking Secretary Kerry, those who are upset with the secretary’s use of the term should put their energy into opposing and changing the policies that are leading Israel down this road,’ it said in a statement.”

Mideast peace process peters out with little fanfare, Financial Times

“However, Mr. Kerry was defended by J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, while supporters pointed out that Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister, used very similar language in 2010 when he warned: ‘If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.’”

An author wades into Middle East controversy with a tale of reconciliation with a bomber, Washington Post

David Harris-Gershon will be in Washington on Wednesday evening to discuss his book  “What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?” His first planned public forum in the District fell through after an invitation to speak at the DC Jewish Community Center this year was withdrawn. “What he chose to do is so important, which is to understand what the Palestinian narrative is here, and how such an horrific event happened,” says Rebecca Kirzner, the mid-Atlantic regional director for J Street, the grassroots Jewish lobbying group that is bringing Harris-Gershon to Washington to speak.

ADL’s Foxman explains his ‘yes’ on J Street, ZOA’s Klein his ‘no’, JTA

According to Ron Kampeas, “Backers of J Street’s admission [to the Conference of Presidents] say they have reached ‘critical mass’ for J Street’s entry — 34 of the conference’s 51 members.”

Gratitude to Reform Movement Institutions Supporting J Street’s Inclusion in President’s Conference, Jewish Journal

J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove said that “J Street has earned clear bona fides as a pro-Israel American Zionist organization supporting two-states for two peoples in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is committed to the two-state solution despite the discontinued negotiations.”

Top News and Analysis

Kerry to resume Mideast peace talks after a pause, Reuters

Aides said Kerry would continue his Mideast negotiations after a pause of several months. After an initial domestic political boost, the aide predicted, Israeli and Palestinian officials would be forced back to the table by the long-term need for a two-state solution.

Israel, Palestinians at UN accuse each other of sabotaging peace, Reuters

Israeli and Palestinian envoys on Tuesday took advantage of a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East to publicly blame each other for the breakdown of the peace talks. Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the Council that Israeli and Palestinian leaders should "convince each other anew they are partners for peace."

Is Israel an Apartheid State?, Bloomberg

Jeffrey Goldberg warns that “the problem is not inside Israel; the problem is on the West Bank. The settlers who entangle Israel in the lives of Palestinians believe that they are the vanguard of Zionism. In fact, they are the vanguard of binationalism. Their myopia will lead to the end of Israel as a democracy and as a haven for the Jewish people.”


Public Divided over Whether Israel, Independent Palestinian State Can Coexist, Pew Research

The American public is divided over whether a way can be found for a peaceful two-state solution, with 46% who said an independent Palestinian state can coexist peacefully with Israel, and 44% who said it cannot happen.

There's No Storm in Sight But Clouds Loom for Israel as Peace Talks Collapse, Forward

Experts’ predictions of what will fill the peace talks’ vacuum range from a new intifada to continued peace and prosperity for Israel.

Netanyahu cancels meeting on settlement construction, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Ya’alon Tuesday to cancel a hearing on settlement construction scheduled for the following day. An Israeli official said, “We are making great efforts to convince the world that [Abbas] rejects peace, [and] embraces Hamas… This is a strong card, and it would be wrong to squander this [opportunity].”

Lapid: We won’t quit coalition even if Livni does, Ynet

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that even if Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's HaT’nuah party quits the coalition over the failure of peace talks, his party, Yesh Atid, does not intend to follow suit.

Israeli official: Kerry's apartheid comment calls US role as honest broker into question, Haaretz

According to Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Kerry's statement about apartheid is one of a series of statements that call into question the Obama administration's "ability to act as an honest broker.”

Abbas: No peace without defining borders, Times of Israel

President Abbas said in an address that “since the creation of Israel, nobody knows what the borders are. We are determined to know our borders and theirs; without that there will be no peace.”

Erekat: Israel wants annexation, to consolidate ‘apartheid’, Times of Israel

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of consolidating an “apartheid regime” and suggested it seeks to annex the West Bank, or parts of it.

Palestinian deal will not make Hamas change: veteran leader, Reuters

Veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that the Palestinian unity deal will not lead Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and will not result in any Gaza militants coming under Abbas's control.

As wave persists, opposition head calls price tag attacks terror, Times of Israel

“Price tag” attacks against the Arab population are terrorism and are opposed by the whole of Israeli society, Knesset opposition head Isaac Herzog said Wednesday as a northern town targeted a day earlier held a general strike against the phenomenon.

Opinion and Analysis

Does it matter that John Kerry compared Israel to apartheid?, Vox

Max Fisher laments that “pretty much the entire American discourse around Israel-Palestine has devolved into an endless stream of language-policing. We've managed to reduce one of the most important and complicated conflicts in the world down to an argument about metaphors.”

Kerry “apartheid” controversy shows limits on debate over Israel, Washington Post

“Kerry has offered us a reminder that in American politics, the debate about our closest ally in the Middle East has all the candor and thoughtfulness of a cabinet meeting in North Korea,” writes Paul Waldman.

John Kerry and the “A-Word”: Three Takeaways, New Yorker

John Cassidy says, “If there’s ever going to be an end to this wretched problem, somebody—and it’s almost certainly going to have be an American President or Secretary of State—is going to have to rise above politics and bring the two sides together. What just happened to John Kerry demonstrated why that’s getting even harder to do.”

Israel worried Indyk will walk, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit urges, “Kerry would be well advised to present to the parties the framework agreement that he has drawn up and define it as an American proposal for an arrangement. He should put it on the table and step away from the ring.”

Palestinian-Israeli Talks: Time for a “Time Out”, National Interest

Shai Feldman calls for a “recalibration” of Kerry’s strategy.