J Street News Roundup 8/1/2014

August 1st, 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 and them, Economist

“Many liberal American Jews, opposed to the settlements and put off by Israel’s rising religious nationalism, have gravitated towards new organisations that support Israel while opposing its government’s policies. The most important of these is J Street, a doveish group founded in 2008 whose members include former officials of Bill Clinton’s and Mr Obama’s administrations. It lacks the political heft of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has for decades promoted bipartisan congressional support of Israel. But the existence of a mainstream Jewish group that criticises Israeli policy has made it easier to dissent without being painted as an enemy of Israel or even anti-Semitic.”

Our allies are counting on us, J Street Blog

On the J Street delegation to Israel, Diana Shaw Clark urged, “J Street has work to do. Our allies toward peace and security are counting on us.”

Fear-mongering won’t lead to peace, JWeekly

J Street U Georgetown co-president Elijah Jatovsky warned that “operating under the mindset that we will forever be threatened hampers our community’s desire to take risks for peace and alienates us from viable, moderate partners on the other side.”

The Reform Movement Must Apply its Values to Israel, New Voices

J Street U American board member Hannah Ehlers said, “If not for organizations like APN and J Street U, many Jewish peers and I would be less involved with Israel and with the Jewish community.  For those of us motivated by a love of Israel and hope for a better future, and who wish to apply the progressive Jewish values that our religious education has instilled in us, APN, J Street, and like-minded groups offer a viable and safe home.”

Top News and Analysis

LIVE UPDATES: IDF soldier feared taken captive in Gaza; cease-fire deal collapses, Haaretz

An Israeli soldier has been taken captive by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, hours after a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire agreed upon by Israel and Hamas collapsed after holding for less than two hours. Mortar shells fired from within the Gaza Strip landed near a border-region town some two hours after the truce deal brokered by the United States and the EU kicked in, and shortly thereafter at least 25 Gaza residents were killed and dozens of others wounded by IDF artillery fire directed at the southern Strip.

The number of Israeli military fatalities now stands at 61. Sixteen Palestinians were killed by IDF fire overnight and in the early morning in Khan Yunis. Nine of the deceased belong to the Al-Farah family, of which four are children aged 4 to 12. The Palestinian death toll since fighting began is now at over 1,450, and the number of wounded has risen to over 8,200.

IDF searches frantically for soldier kidnapped in Rafah, Times of Israel

IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, an officer in the Givati Brigade, was abducted in the Rafah area of Gaza on Friday morning, in an attack perpetrated some 90 minutes after the onset of a truce, an IDF spokesman said Friday. Two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack. Hamas’s Moussa Abu Marzouk announced that it had captured the soldier, and claimed it did so before the ceasefire went into effect. A spokesman for the Hamas military wing in Gaza, however, denied any kidnapping.

Behind the scenes of the short-lived Gaza cease-fire, Haaretz

Barak Ravid chronicles the events that led up to the ceasefire announcement.

Way too many people still believe these hideous stereotypes about Israelis and Palestinians, Washington Post

Rabbi Jill Jacobs writes that “empathy will not bring about a peace agreement tomorrow. Nor even a cease-fire. But radical empathy does force us to see the humanity of the other, to reject hate speech and violence, and ultimately to demand a political solution that protects the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis.”

Israel Must Defeat Hamas, But Also Must Do More to Limit Civilian Deaths, New Republic

“Judging these issues from a distance is especially difficult,” says Michael Walzer. “But I would strongly advise anyone contemplating the loss of life in Gaza to think carefully about who is responsible, or primarily responsible, for putting civilians at risk. The high-tech army, for all its claims to precision, is often callous and clumsy. But it is the insurgents who decide that the death of civilians will advance their cause. We should do what we can to ensure that it doesn't.”


In Gaza endgame, some see diplomatic opportunity, Al-Monitor

Former US and Israeli diplomats, security officials and regional analysts said that an agreement that would expand the presence of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, starting with putting the PA in charge of Gaza’s internal border crossings with Egypt and Israel, was in the joint interests of Israel, the PA, Egypt and the United States to boost Palestinian moderates over Hamas militants. Former Shin Bet Chief Ami Ayalon warned that without a political horizon [to advance Palestinian aspirations for a two-state solution], no matter what we shall do on the economy or security or commerce or rockets… it’s only a question of time" until the next outbreak of violence.

Minister Sa'ar confronts Netanyahu: Toppling Hamas should have been objective of Gaza op, Haaretz

An argument broke out during Thursday’s cabinet meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and fellow Likud ministers Gideon Sa’ar and Silvan Shalom over the goals of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip. Sa’ar reportedly told Netanyahu that, from the outset, the goal of the operation should have been to topple Hamas’ reign in Gaza.

Opposition head rallies behind war: ‘It’s a battle for our home’, Times of Israel

Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog said that all of Israel is thoroughly united in its support for Operation Protective Edge because it is seen as a just war being waged responsibly.

UNRWA spokesman denies handing rockets over to Hamas, Times of Israel

Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the UN’s Palestinian refugee relief agency in Gaza, dismissed Thursday as “complete falsehood” Israeli claims that UNRWA returned, directly to Hamas, the rockets it found in its schools

Gaza hospitals struggle to cope with wounded, Haaretz

With wards filled beyond capacity and a never-ending stream of injured people, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza warns of danger of uncontrolled infections, post-surgical complications.

Magen David Adom spending up NIS 2m a day during war, Times of Israel

Magen David Adom has warned the Knesset that it will need an emergency infusion of funds after the current war in Gaza because it is spending NIS 2 million ($580,000) per day over its usual operations to maintain the highest level of alert.

High Court challenges state on settlement construction, Haaretz

The Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the state to explain why it failed to indict the real estate developer who had built homes on an unauthorized West Bank outpost located on Palestinian land.

Opinion and Analysis

12 Signs It’s Time to Get Out of Gaza, Slate

William Saletan determines that “Operation Protective Edge needs to end.”

On Gaza, Israel is losing the Obama coalition, Haaretz

Peter Beinart argues, “As America grows less nationalistic, less hawkish, less religious and less inclined to consider its own culture superior, it will grow less sympathetic to an Israeli government defined by exactly those characteristics… I fervently hope that when that shift comes, it will bring a shift in American policy towards the occupation and not a weakening of America’s commitment to Israeli security, as expressed in systems like Iron Dome. And I fervently hope that when it comes, there will still be a two state solution to pursue.”

Give Kerry a break for his efforts at an Israel-Gaza cease-fire, Washington Post

Eugene Robinson contends that a ceasefire in Gaza is a US interest.

Hamas, you're bursting Israel's bubble, Haaretz

Ari Shavit concludes, “There’s no point in trying to enter Gaza more deeply, a move that could prove disastrous. But when the fire ceases and the boys come home, we’ll be forced to look at the Israeli condition straight in the eye. With the bubble no longer around us, we’ll have to find a creative solution for Gaza and a peace deal for the West Bank. We’ll have to strengthen Israel’s ability to defend itself against its enemies.”

A Cease-fire or Quagmire in Gaza?, National Interest

Dov Waxman warns that “without a lasting cease-fire soon… Israel could easily find itself in a quagmire in Gaza.”

Why Israel's blockade of Gaza was a mistake, Al-Monitor

According to Shlomi Eldar, “This is the time to examine the option of opening the border crossings gradually, and in the framework of negotiations. This is the only way to lessen Hamas’ motivation to invest in military empowerment.”

Goldstein letter on target, Jewish Journal (see below)

James Adler explores the distinction between boycotting Israel and boycotting Israeli settlements.

Goldstein Letter On Target, Jewish Journal

Edward Goldstein’s letter opposing criticism of the Presbyterians is absolutely on target. I strongly oppose BDS against Israel Proper.

However, Israeli novelist Amos Oz and his family, and many hundreds of liberal Israelis, boycott settlement products and events in the Occupied Territories, so why shouldn’t American Jews also boycott what sustains the occupation and expansionism?

This isn’t even BDS against Israel, much less against the Settlements — but against the US. The confusion here is mindboggling.

We supported Gandhi’s boycott of British Salt (the Salt March), we boycotted South Africa, we supported Martin Luther King’s boycott of the Montgomery Bus System, we participated in the Caesar Chavez United Farmworkers’ migrant workers boycott of grapes, we were ready to boycott Florida for its Stand Your Ground law and Arizona for its anti-immigration actions, we are boycotting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Russia’s leadership clique for its occupation of Crimea and threats of territorial interference in the rest of the Ukraine, and we join in the corporate Ethical Investment Movement (which is exactly the same as corporate ethical disinvestment).

But as usual it seems harder to boycott anything even remotely having to do with this rightist Israeli government, even when it is about the occupation and settlements, even when boycotting American and not Israeli companies for sustaining the occupation, and even though hundreds of liberal Israelis like Amos Oz do exactly this too. This is yet another classic example of absolutely omnipresent Pro-Israeli-Right-Wing Double Standards.

James Adler Cambridge