J Street News Roundup 5/12/2014

May 12th, 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

J Street mulls its role in Mideast Peace Process, J Street

J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner wrote, “These are challenging times for those who fear for Israel’s future and the prospects for peace. That makes our work even more vital as we navigate this period. But we do so knowing that the logic of our argument – shared by the US Government – will prevail.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio's secret appearance at right-leaning pro-Israel lobby angered liberal Jewish supporters, New York Daily News

Mayor Bill de Blasio's secret appearance before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee reportedly touched off a behind-the-scenes backlash among his liberal Jewish supporters. De Blasio subsequently held a 10-minute conference call on February 2 with leaders of J Street, while Avi Fink, who oversees Jewish affairs for City Hall, later attended a town hall hosted by the group.

Cheerleaders — or partners?, New Jersey Jewish News

Lamenting J Street’s rejection from the Conference of Presidents, Andrew Silow-Carroll said, “Refusing to talk about this existential issue [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] — and incidents that have a significant impact on it, like the ‘price tag’ attacks — makes us spectators to Israel’s national drama and mute witnesses to a political conversation in Washington and other world capitals that will go on whether we participate or not.”

Loving Israel to death, Haaretz

According to Rabbi Michael Knopf, “Unless we value, respect, and hold space for those with whom we disagree, and who sometimes lovingly disagree with Israel, we will all ultimately be the ones who pay the price.”

Have we Zionists forgotten how to listen?, New Jersey Jewish News

“I… want young Jews to grow up loving Judaism, loving Israel, caring about the US-Israel relationship, and engaging in respectful debate that seeks to truly hear and understand the perspective of the other,” said Rabbi Daniel Cohen. “I fear that rather than accomplishing those goals, our communal echo chamber is simply turning young Jews off even more.”

The Exclusion of J Street and the Denial of Ourselves, eJewish Philanthropy

Robert Hyfler argued, “When we exclude a J Street in the conversation and at the decision making table we are denying and diminishing the collective wisdom that will help us get through the coming challenges – with our lives intact, our values intact and our sense of who we are as one people intact. We are denying a piece of ourselves.”

Fight intensifies over what can, can't be said about Israel in the US, +972

David Harris-Gershon noted that “just weeks ago, unapologetically pro-Israel J Street was denied entry to the Conference of Presidents due to its criticism of the State’s policies and support for the two-state solution. How many hundreds of thousands of liberal Jews will similarly be cast aside by Jewish community for views that its institutional leaders determine to be unacceptable?”

What’s Next for J Street’s Operation In Philadelphia, Jewish Exponent

J Street in Philadelphia is hoping to stage an event featuring its president in dialogue with someone on the other end of the political spectrum. It is seeking Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s sponsorship similar to that given an anti-J Street event titled “What It Means to Be Pro-Israel” held in March. J Street Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer Rebecca Kirzner said, “This whole situation illustrates why J Street was formed in the first place. There was a large segment of Israel supporters that felt they didn’t have a home or a voice within the structure of the traditional American Jewish community.”

Top News and Analysis

Senior Israeli official slams Indyk’s ‘hypocrisy’, Times of Israel

A senior Israeli official lashed out at US Envoy Martin Indyk over the latter’s “hypocrisy” for singling out settlement construction as a major factor for the end of peace talks last month.

Palestinian unity gov’t to be formed before deadline, official says, Times of Israel

A PLO spokesperson said a Palestinian unity government will be formed in less than three weeks.

UN nuclear watchdog, Iran to meet before May 15 deadline for progress, Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency plans talks with Iran on Monday ahead of a May 15 deadline for the country to implement a series of measures that could allay concern about its nuclear program that the West fears may have military goals.

Iran's illicit procurement appears to slow amid nuclear talks, Reuters

Iran's attempts to illicitly procure materials for its disputed nuclear and missile programs appear to have slowed down as it pursues talks on a long-term accord with world powers.


Israeli ministers approve bill aimed at blocking prisoner swaps, Haaretz

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed a bill restricting presidential pardons for convicted murderers by a majority of seven to three on Sunday. This approval paves the way for the bill to be brought to Knesset for a preliminary vote.

Lapid says won't leave government over peace process failure, Haaretz

Finance Minister Yair Lapid made it clear that he and his Yesh Atid Party would not leave the government over the failure of the peace talks.

Amos Oz: ‘Price tag’ perpetrators are neo-Nazis, Times of Israel

Amos Oz came out forcefully Friday against the recent wave of “price tag” hate crimes throughout the country, calling the perpetrators “neo-Nazis”.

Rabbis Urge Action Against Arab Attacks on Mount of Olives, JTA

More than 100 Orthodox rabbis, mostly from the United States, are urging action against ongoing Arab attacks on the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Budget-strapped Israeli military banks on future US aid, Reuters

Budget-strapped Israel is pressing the United States to conclude a deal extending defense aid beyond 2017, when Washington's current $3 billion annual payouts to its Middle East ally expire.

US defense chief Hagel to visit Israel next week, Haaretz

Secretary of Defense Hagel will visit Israel next week and meet with Defense Minister Ya'alon.

Hagel is expected to leave for the Middle East on Monday and also visit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Peres speaks out against canceling presidency, delaying election, Jerusalem Post

A new president should be elected at the time prescribed by law, President Peres said Monday in response to rumors that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to cancel the presidency or delay the election.

Opinion and Analysis

New Crop of IDF Chiefs Is Flock of Hardline Doves, Forward

JJ Goldberg writes, “With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process frozen, settler militancy on the rise and right-wing religious nationalists increasingly making their presence felt at the junior command level, [new IDF] appointments make clear that the General Staff, led by chief of staff Benny Gantz, is doubling down on its basic strategic outlook: cooperation with the Palestinian leadership, enforcement of the soldiers’ code of ethics, deterrence on the northern front — and zero tolerance for Palestinian terrorism. Call them the hardline doves.”

Bibi’s big PR stunt, The New York Times

According to Colin Shindler, the demand for recognition as a Jewish state “appears to be more a subtle weapon in Mr. Netanyahu’s public relations arsenal rather than a genuine declaration of belief in the Zionist experiment.”

Where is it really better to be a Christian - Israel or Palestine?, Haaretz

“In the run-up to the Pope's visit, Israel lobbyists glorify how Israel treats its Christian minority versus Palestinians 'persecution' of theirs – but where are Christians truly safe and part of public life?,” says Nicolas Pelham.