News Roundup for February 15, 2018

February 15, 2018

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J Street in the News

Young Jews Are Leaving Judaism Because Their Rabbis Won’t Denounce Israel, The Forward

Arthur Waskow writes, “Many younger Jews — J Street U, Open Hillel, especially If Not Now — are affirming and strengthening their Jewish identity, even drawing strongly on religious symbols & festivals, when they criticize Israel and its lackeys and toadies in the US. Their distancing from ‘official’ religion in the synagogues is connected with those synagogues’ kowtowing to the Israeli government.”

Top News and Analysis

The Two Things That Will Determine Netanyahu’s Fate, The Atlantic

Natan Sachs writes, “Now the 68-year-old four-term prime minister faces a far stronger criminal threat than in 1997. In fact, Netanyahu is facing his toughest challenge yet. The Israeli police recommended Tuesday that he be charged with bribery in two separate criminal cases. His political career is not over, but he is entering a major, perhaps final battle for political survival. Two factors will determine his fate: the reaction of Netanyahu’s coalition partners and the public’s reaction in the next elections (due no later than the fall of 2019).”

Israel’s Netanyahu may weather corruption allegations for now, but the storm is brewing, Washington Post

Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash write, “If Benjamin Netanyahu survives until the end of his current term, he will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. But now the question is: Can he make it?… The case now shifts to Israel’s attorney general to decide whether to proceed with charges. The more immediate test is whether Netanyahu can hold together his six-party right-wing coalition — which showed little sign of crumbling Wednesday.  His coalition partners said they would stay united while Israel’s attorney general decides whether to proceed. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s own party has rallied to his support.”

Netanyahu, Defiant, Calls Bribery Case ‘Full of Holes, Like Swiss Cheese,’ The New York Times

David Halbfinger reports, “Fighting back against new allegations of corruption from the Israeli police and calls for his resignation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Wednesday assailed investigators’ findings as ‘full of holes, like Swiss cheese,’ and vowed to serve to the end of his term. After a yearlong graft inquiry, the police recommended late Tuesday that Mr. Netanyahu face prosecution on bribery, fraud and breach-of-trust charges. They said there was evidence he had accepted nearly $300,000 in gifts in exchange for official actions benefiting his patrons, and had back-room dealings with the publisher of a leading newspaper to ensure more favorable coverage.”

Trump Will Be the Big Loser If Netanyahu Falls, Bloomberg

Zev Chafets writes, “This is not merely a local political situation. Netanyahu is, for better or worse, one of the world’s most important statesmen. On matters pertaining to the Middle East, he has been President Donald Trump’s mentor, guru and partner. In some ways, his senior partner.  Trump got to the White House without apparently knowing the difference between the West Bank and the West Side Highway. The prime minister comes with a lifetime of expertise, experience and a well-developed Republican world view.”


Putting annexation row behind them, Netanyahu, Trump set March meet, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with US President Donald Trump next month when he visits Washington for the annual AIPAC confab, a White House official said Wednesday.

More Israelis believe police than Netanyahu, polls show, Reuters

Almost half of Israel’s electorate believe the country’s police, who say they have gathered evidence against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for him to be charged with bribery, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Seven Israeli Soldiers Wounded After Running Over Land Mine Near Dead Sea, Haaretz

Seven Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded Wednesday after running over a land mine near Qasr el-Yahud, north of the Dead Sea.

Israel to Deny Tax Breaks, Government Bids From Local Groups Calling for Boycott, Haaretz

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is set to approve in the coming days new regulations to prevent organizations and individuals who support a boycott of Israel from receiving various tax breaks or from participating in government bids. The new regulation will apply to Israeli citizens too.

Tillerson Says Kushner’s Mideast Peace Plan Is ‘Well Advanced,’ Bloomberg

The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan is “fairly well advanced,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday, as he sought to convince regional allies that the U.S. remains an honest broker despite recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Despite Official Boycott, Over Half of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians Want to Vote in City Elections, Haaretz

Almost 60 percent of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents believe they should participate in the city’s municipal elections, while only 14 percent oppose doing so, according to a new poll.

Military court hands down 4 life sentences to Halamish terrorist, Times of Israel

The Judea Military Court handed down four life sentences Thursday to the terrorist who slaughtered Yosef, Chaya and Elad Salomon in the Halamish settlement last July.

Opinions and Analysis

Netanyahu’s All-out War of Self-preservation Heralds Bedlam and Mayhem for Israel, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu’s supporters won’t turn on him, and his party colleagues won’t find the courage to demand his resignation. He’ll be able to continue portraying himself as the heroic victim of a sinister conspiracy. His aiders and abettors in Likud will continue to spin wild tales of coup d’états and putsches. His base will grow even angrier at the alleged plot hatched by the media, the left and the police – George Soros is waiting in the wings, of course – which will spur Likud politicians to go even harsher and more delusional. Instead of dealing with the obvious crisis that now exists in its top echelons in a calm and calculated manner, Israel will descend into political mayhem and bedlam. The law does not require Netanyahu’s resignation, the details released by the police won’t force him to do so and the politicians won’t depose him just because of the havoc he is about to unleash.”

Op-ed: Stop demolitions, build peace with J Street U, Student Life

Michael Berkowitz writes, “Since 2016, we in J Street U and J Street have been resisting demolitions in every way we can. By calling American and Israeli political leaders, raising funds for villages under threat and holding events at universities and synagogues, we believe ordinary Americans, in concert with American policy makers, can make a difference. Specifically here at Wash U, we have engaged with local leaders in the St. Louis Jewish community and are now working to create a broader base of support on campus in order to clearly demonstrate American and Jewish opposition to demolitions. All of us can take a stand against this injustice.”

Netanyahu Is Now Weak and Vulnerable and His Political Partners in Israel Know It, Haaretz

Yossi Verter writes, “The most urgent and practical message in Netanyahu’s remarks were aimed at his coalition colleagues: The government will finish its term, he part announced to them, part pleaded with them. His plea is expected to fall on attentive ears. Finance Minister and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon has no interest in dismantling the government. He’ll wait for the attorney general’s decision. So it is with the rest of his ministerial colleagues, unless something totally unexpected happens.”

Netanyahu’s shamelessness is corrupting Israel, The Guardian

Peter Beaumont writes, “Being caught in the most egregious of untruths is no impediment to a continued career in high political office. Perhaps even the opposite. But Netanyahu and Trump have taken shamelessness to its absurd conclusion: that everything can be denied if everything is a plot by the liberal deep state and enemies within. Above all, this is a wake-up call to all who believe that the strength of democratic institutions are necessarily a sufficient obstacle to the aberrant politicians of our time who trade in fear and plots to protect their own positions.”

No Reasonable Right-wing Jew Can Now Say Trump Is Keeping Israel Safe, Haaretz

Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes, “Nonetheless, the RJC basically functions as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, and there was never any possibility that it would distance itself from Trump or chart an independent course. Like the Republicans in Congress, it has decided that despite the reservations of even its own well-off donors, no action by Trump will be too reckless, too imprudent, or too extreme to shake its ties to the Republican mother ship.  For the RJC, Trump is its destiny. “