News Roundup for December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

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J Street in the News

UNGA Vote Shows How Jerusalem Decision has Isolated US, Undermined Credibility, J Street

“The result of today’s hugely lopsided vote by the United Nations General Assembly is the latest sign that the overwhelming majority of the international community rejects the Trump administration’s senseless decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital prior to a peace agreement…It is remarkable that only eight other countries voted with the US on this resolution. Rarely if ever before has a US government been so alone on the world stage. We are deeply concerned that the growing, self-inflicted isolation of Israel’s closest ally could prove very damaging to the long-term interests of both countries.”

‘Shame on U(N):’ Right and Left Come Out Against Jerusalem Decision, Jerusalem Post

Lahav Harkov writes, “The J Street advocacy group, however, said, ‘The result of today’s hugely lopsided vote by the United Nations General Assembly is the latest sign that the overwhelming majority of the international community rejects the Trump administration’s senseless decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital prior to a peace agreement.’”

Top News and Analysis

Defying Trump, U.N. General Assembly Condemns U.S. Decree on Jerusalem, New York Times

Rick Gladstone and Mark Landler report, “A lopsided majority of United Nations members rebuked the United States on Thursday, denouncing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignoring President Trump’s threats to retaliate by cutting aid to countries voting against it… The resolution is nonbinding and therefore largely symbolic, but the vote indicated the extent to which the Trump administration’s departure from a 50-year international consensus on Jerusalem’s status has unsettled world politics and contributed to America’s diplomatic isolation.”

Getting Kicked, Taking Names, Slate

Fred Kaplan writes, “Clearly, Trump made his move as a domestic political ploy to please a portion of his ‘base,’ namely, the most conservative American Jews—including his ambassador to Israel, who opposes all restrictions on Jewish settlements—and certain Christian evangelicals. In other words, he made an unwise decision, which has further isolated the United States, for the shallowest of reasons—and now he could make an even worse decision because he’s humiliated. This is the status of American leadership in the age of Trump.”



Jerusalem: Palestinians won’t accept any US peace plan, says Mahmoud Abbas, The Independent

The United States has “disqualified” itself from the Middle East peace process by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said.

Police official: Recommendations in PM corruption probes likely within 3 weeks, Times of Israel

Police are likely to submit their recommendations in the two corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu within three weeks, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday, citing a police source.

US has ‘marginalized itself’ in Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Macron, i24

French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the Trump Administration on Friday for unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

For many Palestinian Christians, Trump is a Christmas killjoy, Times of Israel

Despite overall increase in religious tourism to Israel and West Bank, dozens of groups cancel after US president’s Jerusalem recognition.

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Threats Resemble Narcissistic, Vengeful Autocrats, Says Ex-CIA Chief, Newsweek

President Donald Trump is exhibiting “qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats,” the CIA director said, after the administration threatened nations that do not back its push to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Netanyahu’s New Coalition Whip Is No Fan of Progressive U.S. Jews, Haaretz

If American Jews needed more proof that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has all but written them off, they need look no further than the man he chose as his new governing coalition whip, say liberal Jewish leaders.

Lebanon census turns up two-thirds fewer Palestinians than expected, Times of Israel

The first official census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has revealed that there are 174,422 Palestinians now living in Lebanon, a figure almost two thirds less than previously estimated.

Palestinians Say One Killed in Clashes With Israel Along Gaza Border, Haaretz

One Palestinian was reportedly killed Friday along Israel’s border with Gaza in clashes with the Israeli army, Palestinian medical services said. According to the Palestinians, the man, 24-year-old Zakaria Alqafarna, was shot by a live round by Israeli soldiers.

Opinions and Analysis

Mob Rule, Tablet

Rachel Lithgow writes, “Instead of standing loyally with the individuals who have committed their personal and professional lives to a given Jewish organization, board members and trustees have in recent times too easily come to side with Twitter mobs and those behind them…For a community that obsesses so much over how and why a younger generation feels put off at the prospect of engaging with Jewish institutions, it would seem prudent that they might focus on what their capitulation to these internet storms is transmitting to our kids. The lesson, at least in my case, could easily be that it doesn’t matter how devoted one is to Jewish communal life, and for how many years. In an instant, even for a simple mistake or misjudgment, you can be isolated and vilified by the very people who sold you on the idea of the importance of community.”

Trump’s Failure at the UN Is a Gift to Iran – and Israel Should Be Concerned, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el argues, “This was a worldwide vote of no confidence in the U.S. president, from which Israel will suffer the next time it seeks to draft the international community to some joint effort against Iran or any other enemy. But at least the struggle at the United Nations made some forget the target date of December 12, by which Congress was to have presented a bill calling for new sanctions on Iran… If Congress had wanted to support Israel on a matter so important to Israel’s security, as Netanyahu wants to persuade people, that body would have had enough time to formulate appropriate legislation by now. But it seems that not only has Trump’s charm dissipated on Capitol Hill, so has Netanyahu’s.”

What is the real value of Jerusalem? Washington Post

Asli Aydintasbas writes, “During my visits to Jerusalem, I have been struck by its beauty and light – but not its mysticism. With an imposing decor and a cast of characters that seem to have jumped right out of history books, the old city of Jerusalem can be slightly suffocating. Its array of competing claims is overwhelming. The real power of the city is in its ability to provide a good story – of justice, injustice, suffering and might – to different groups of people. Jerusalem is neither a game changer nor the solution to the chaos in the region. It’s a convenient narrative instrument for regimes, and for populist leaders like Erdogan and Trump.”

Right-wing Dissent Against Netanyahu Is Growing, but They’re Not Turning on Him Just Yet, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Cherlow and like-minded rightists are motivated by true revulsion at the alleged corruption revelations regarding Netanyahu and others in his orbit, as well as the fear that eventually many Israelis who voted for right-wing and religious parties will stay home or even switch votes in the next legislative election. They fear for Israel and of going down in Netanyahu’s sinking ship.  So far, there has been no corresponding move among actual right-wing politicians, who in public at least continue to support Netanyahu. Instead, they have been met with a rising crescendo of criticism – some of it civil but much of it toxic – in the right-wing media and on social media.”

FACT CHECK: Why Israeli UN Envoy’s Speech on Jerusalem Missed the Mark, Haaretz

David B Green writes, “A quick analysis of the speech reveals that Danon preferred to make an emotional defense of Israel’s legitimacy – an Israel that ‘made the desert bloom’ and that has had its hand extended in peace to the Palestinians for at least 20 years, only to have its offer rejected countless times. What he didn’t do was address the text of the resolution that was before the General Assembly, or even make the case for how Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem advanced the cause of peace. Danon’s speech wasn’t full of inaccuracies, but it did contain a number of misleading statements, and employed the rhetorical device of ‘whataboutism’ that is so in vogue these days in many quarters. Here are just a few examples of how Danon changed the subject and thus avoided addressing the thrust of the resolution he so vociferously condemned.