J Street News Roundup 5/5/2014

May 5th, 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

Israel at 66, Jewish Journal

J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove wrote, “On the occasion of Israel’s sixty-sixth Independence Day, it is incumbent upon Jews the world-over to seize this opportunity to celebrate our nation-state’s accomplishments, mourn and honor her dead, and affirm the unique place Israel holds in the heart, mind and soul of the Jewish people.”

Challenging “The J Street Challenge”, Jewish Observer

J Street Nashville Chair Ruth Smith asked, “Will it not be much more fruitful to work together on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than creating and escalating an internal conflict?”

A Student Says Enough Of Talking About How We Talk About Israel, New York Jewish Week

“Hillel is not alone in its reluctance to engage with the occupation – much of the Jewish community must reckon with this failing,” said J Street Wash U board member Morriah Kaplan. “As the future of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians remains uncertain, we cannot let cowardice or discomfort get in the way of substance or engagement. That is not the way to be an effective advocate for Israel, nor a politically engaged college student.”

The Reform Movement Must Express its Support for a Two-State Solution in Youth Education, New Voices

J Street U Clark head Hannah Silverfine questioned, “If the URJ is committed to a two-state solution, why is that narrative missing from our education?”

Barriers to discussion, Williams Record

J Street U Williams leaders Miranda Cooper and Carl Szanton said that “peace will only be achieved when both sides recognize the right of the other to exist as separate national entities and accept mutually agreed-upon borders.”

Jewish Organization Acts in an Un-Jewish Fashion, Time

Calling J Street’s rejection from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations “a decidedly un-Jewish development,” Joe Klein noted “a tendency of the neo-conservative Jews to denigrate those who disagree with their extreme right-wing positions… They call groups like J Street ‘anti-Israel,’ when it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that [the Conference’s] hard line will compromise Israel’s ability to thrive in the future.”

American Jewry Is Doomed If It Can't Embrace J Street, New Republic

According to Yochai Benkler, “J Street, and the modern, independent liberal Jewish identity it represents, has to take its place in organized American Jewry. Otherwise American Jewish organizations risk becoming nothing more than a narrow interest group representing a declining portion of American Jews who support an Israel that looks less and less like the one David Ben Gurion declared in 1948 as a Jewish state dedicated to social and civil equality irrespective of race, religion, or sex.”

Lakeview synagogue to host reading of Israeli declaration of independence, Chicago Tribune

“The division [among Jewish organizations] was evident last week when the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted to deny membership to the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, which is sometimes critical of the Israeli government.”

Fear and exclusion of J Street is misguided and destructive, Haaretz

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld argued that “by excluding J Street from the communal dialogue, J Street’s opponents are putting their heads in the sand regarding the complexities Israel faces in the Middle East and the attitudes of a younger generation that grew up in a different era.”

Those Who Reject J Street Are Blind, Forward

Leonard Fein asked, “How can silencing voices such as J Street U’s benefit the case for Israel? How can it make room for all those who care not a whit less for Israel’s safety and destiny as the most fervent member of the Zionist Organization of America?”

Dear American Jews: Time to boycott the Conference of Presidents, +972

Dahlia Scheindlin said, “The response to the Conference of Presidents should be obvious: any Jewish organization that agrees or disagrees with J Street should take a stand against smug bullies telling them what to think as Jews, as Americans, as people who care about Israel or any other topic. Back out. Boycott the Conference of Presidents but without making any demands – just walk away.”

What does pro-Israel mean?, Haaretz

Mira Sucharov wrote that “bringing J Street into the official organizational address of the American Jewish community might have helped keep the marketplace of ideas — where new and unexpected answers can most easily appear — as open and robust as it needs to be.”

The J Street Vote: Updates and Corrections, Forward

JJ Goldberg examined how Conference members voted on J Street.

Blackballing J Street: Who Voted How, Forward

Goldberg revealed that “nobody who voted to admit J Street kept their vote secret. The only members who have chosen to hide their actions were those who voted ‘no’ or abstained.”

J Street Vote: Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations Proves It Is No Longer Major … But It Does Have Lots Of Presidents!, Bumpspot

Jeff Pozmantier said, “J Street doesn’t need the Presidents’ Conference to open its tent as much as the Presidents’ Conference needs a new tent and a revised mission.”

National Council of Jewish Women, Union of Reform Judaism react to vote to exclude J Street, Jerusalem Post

The National Council of Jewish Women and the Union of Reform Judaism have spoken publicly against the referendum, with URJ saying it is considering leaving the conference.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel comes to a standstill as sirens mark Memorial Day, Haaretz

More than a million people are expected to attend Memorial Day services today to remember those killed in Israel's wars, operations and terrorist attacks.

Inside the talks' failure: US officials open up, Ynet

In an interview with Nahum Barnea, a senior American official gives an insider’s perspective on Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative.

US envoy Indyk likely to resign amid talks blowup, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports that US Envoy Martin Indyk is expected to resign, and may have been the official who spoke with Barnea.

Nuclear experts to meet on Iran this week, Associated Press

Nuclear experts from Iran and six world powers are meeting in New York this week amid rising hopes that an agreement can be reached to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons. International nuclear inspectors reportedly plan to visit two sites in Iran in the coming days.


PM: ‘Jewish Israel’ law vital to counter assault on legitimacy, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated his promise on Sunday to advance a constitutional Basic Law expressly identifying Israel as a Jewish nation-state. Netanyahu rebuffed criticism of the plan, saying the state currently lacked “adequate expression” of Israel’s “existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Former security chiefs say Israel doesn't want to stop hate crimes, Haaretz

Former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon and former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit criticized the government for failure to crack down on “price tag” attacks.

PA, Hamas chiefs hold first talks since unity deal, AFP

President Abbas is expected to hold talks with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar  for the first meeting since their rival movements signed a surprise unity deal.

Hamas leader: We’ve never discussed disarmament, Times of Israel

Hamas political bureau deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouk said that Hamas and Fatah have never discussed disarming Hamas’s military wing, nor does Hamas intend to recognize Israel or abide by previously signed agreements.

Lapid: Like the PLO Hamas could drop terror, recognize Israel, Haaretz

Finance Minister Yair Lapid suggested that Hamas could follow the Palestine Liberation Organization and eventually renounce terror and recognize Israel.

Palestinians officially join 5 UN treaties, Times of Israel

The United Nations said the Palestinians have become a formal party to five global treaties banning torture and racial discrimination, and protecting the rights of women, children and the disabled.

US delegation to visit Israel ahead of renewed talks with Iran, Haaretz

National Security Adviser Susan Rice will visit Israel this week, against the background of an impending agreement between Iran and its international negotiating partners on the nuclear issue.

Opinion and Analysis

Independence and Nakba: Intertwined and inseparable, Haaretz

Avraham Burg asks, “Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space?”

David Ben-Gurion, like Kerry, warned of future Apartheid, Times of Israel

According James Adler, “From David Ben-Gurion to John Kerry the word rings loud and clear and true — that — not now, but in the future, if no peace, and with Israeli continued settlement expansionism, then, yes, there will be apartheid.”

With demise of talks, attention turns to shaky coalition, Haaretz

Yossi Verter says that “the loss of a justification for [Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni and her HaT’nuah party to stay in the government is also making Netanyahu uneasy, and clashes between HaBayit HaYehudi and Yesh Atid are a no less ominous sign.”

Netanyahu, unscathed by peace talks collapse, finds new agenda, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit examines the political fallout of the negotiations’ end.