J Street News Roundup 5/2/2014

May 2nd, 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

US Jewish coalition rejects lobbying group, Reuters

“An umbrella organization of major US Jewish groups voted this week to reject a membership bid by the liberal group J Street, prompting a frustrated response on Thursday from the lobby that describes itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace.”

Jewish Group Votes to Reject J Street, Time

“The group has tapped into frustration with the existing pro-Israel political movement in the US, particularly among younger, more liberal Jews, claiming almost 60 university campus chapters.”

Major Jewish group shuts out J Street, The Hill

“A number of Jewish groups urged others to vote for J Street’s admission, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Union for Reform Judaism.”

Politico Influence, Politico

“J Street denied admission to an umbrella organization of Jewish groups.”

J Street Turns Tables on President Conference After Application Snubbed, Forward

J Street posted a tongue-in-cheek thank you note to the Conference on its website, while the Reform movement, American Judaism’s largest denomination, has been leading the charge for reform. “As of yesterday, it is clear that the Conference of Presidents, as currently constituted and governed, no longer serves its vital purpose of providing a collective voice for the entire American Jewish pro-Israel community,” said President Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

Has J Street won its fight for mainstream acceptance?, JTA

“Other major groups, including the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly and the Anti-Defamation League, also were calling for an overhaul.”

Presidents Conference Rejected J Street — and Me, Forward

“Just as lavish hasbara efforts cannot protect Israel from dealing with its serious existential crisis, neither can votes like the Conference of Presidents protect the Jewish community from wrestling with the changing sentiments of American Jewry, particularly amongst young Jews,” said J Street U National Student Board Representative Rachel Cohen. “I wish they had voted differently, and I’m grateful to and proud of the organizations that did back J Street. But, at the end of the day, our work goes on.”

A Sad Day for the American Jewish Community, Jewish Journal

J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove wrote, “Clearly, organized American Jewish intolerance for divergent opinion won the day, but this short-sighted decision, regardless of whether one agrees with any particular position that J Street has taken over the six years since it was formed to fill an important gap of opinion in the American Jewish community vis a vis Israel, will be to the detriment of the American Jewish community going forward.”

Where Democracy And American Zionism Butt Heads, Time

According to Michael Scherer, “In America, an inability to face down and debate opposing views under the First Amendment—even bigotry, hate and insanity—is seen as a sign of weakness, not strength. The next generation of American Jewish youth is growing up in a culture and country that disconnects identity from ideology. But a majority of American Jewish institutions are not ready to take that step.”

Actually, J Street won, New York Jewish Week

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik argued that “sometimes you lose but you really win, and that’s exactly what J Street accomplished. It didn’t have to be that way. And the Jewish community as a whole will wind up paying the price.”

Presidents, Relevance, and Naming Some Elephants, Times of Israel

Calling the vote “something between a fiasco and a disaster,” Yehuda Kurtzer suggested, “Perhaps an outpouring of disappointment will help sway our leaders to understand this – maybe not to correct the vote, but at least to help them see things as they are and not hold on to some notion of what they once were.”

Forget J Street; Should We Accept the Conference of Presidents?, Tablet

Liel Leibovitz urged, “If you or anyone you know is a member of a Jewish organization, of whatever stripe, and you imagine yourself to be a person dedicated to the health and vibrancy of the Jewish community, you should pick up the phone today and demand to know how your member organization voted. Because it did so in your name.”

Presidents Conference vs. J Street: 'Mean Girls' Edition, Forward

On the 10th anniversary of “Mean Girls,” this meme said it all.

J Street U Responds to SPJP’s Installation, Swarthmore Daily Gazette

On behalf of J Street U Swarthmore, Rachel Berger, Caleb Jones and Rachel Flaherman wrote, “We reject the idea that supporting Israel or Palestine comes at the expense of the other. As a group that supports a two-state solution to secure Israel’s future and a future state of Palestine, it is both possible and necessary to support the aspirations and dignity of both peoples, as the future of one is tied to that of the other.”

Top News and Analysis

Kerry says he'll pause, reassess after Israeli-Palestinian peace bid, Reuters

In his first public comments since the peace talks deadline passed, Secretary of State Kerry said, “Both parties still indicate that they feel it's important to negotiate and want to find a way to negotiate… So we believe the best thing to do right now is pause, take a hard look at these things and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead."

Israeli ambassador to US has Kerry’s back, Washington Post

Ambassador Ron Dermer defended Kerry from critics, saying, “Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry’s efforts” and we believe that his decades of support for Israel reflect an abiding commitment Israel’s security and it’s future.”

Former US officials detect shift in Israel on Iran nuclear deal, Al-Monitor

The Israeli government increasingly expects that a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will be reached, and has raised concerns with US interlocutors about monitoring and enforcement of the deal. Israeli officials are now focusing on concerns of what happens if a deal is reached, how can monitoring and verification be sufficient to detect if there is a violation, and how would such violations of an agreement be deterred or punished.


PLO official: Netanyahu using Jewish state law to bury peace, Haaretz

A senior Palestinian official said that Prime Minister Netanyahu's attempt to pass a Jewish state law in the Knesset is a euphemism for blowing up the last chance to reach a two-state solution along the 1967 lines.

Abbas rebuffed bid to find mutually acceptable wording on ‘Jewish state’, Times of Israel

Israeli negotiators were reportedly willing to work with President Abbas and his team on the wording of a recognition declaration, towards a formula that would have described the Jewish people’s and the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in precisely equivalent terms, and would have also included phrases to guarantee the rights of Israel’s Arab minority, but the Palestinians refused to consider the idea.

UN chief to Israel, Palestinians: Avoid unilateral steps, Times of Israel

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Israel and the Palestinians to avoid unilateral steps that would put the peace process in further jeopardy.

Jewish groups express outrage at spate of ‘price tag’ attacks, Ynet

The Conference of Presidents sent a message to Israeli law enforcement agencies, urging them to allocate all resources necessary to uproot the phenomena of 'price tag' attacks that have escalated in recent weeks.

Hamas-Fatah truce to kick off with reciprocal prisoner release, Times of Israel

As part of the Palestinian reconciliation deal, Hamas and Fatah will immediately release political prisoners belonging to the other group, and expand political freedom in the area under their control.

Opinion and Analysis

The Danger of Denial for Israel, Forward

The Forward editorial board warns that “Israel’s continued occupation of roughly 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank will corrode its soul and destroy its democracy, diminish its international standing and hasten the alienation that too many American Jews already feel. Palestinians’ continued refusal to accept the reality of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state will prevent them from establishing their own independent nation.”

Binyamin Netanyahu would rather stay in power than pursue a peace deal, Guardian

Aluf Benn says, “Netanyahu avoided the political risk of peacemaking, and kept his coalition together. But eventually, he won't escape the deeper strategic question: how to prevent the risk of a binational state, and save Israel's democracy and Jewish character, now that the door of negotiations is shut.”

A friend in need, Foreign Policy

“When all is said and done, John Kerry may face personal embarrassment at the failure of his peace process gambit, but it's Israel that will experience the real tragedy,” writes Michael Cohen.