News Roundup for March 7, 2018

March 7, 2018

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J Street in the News

Netanyahu denounces Iran nuclear deal in AIPAC speech, NBC News

“J Street, a non-profit rival to AIPAC that bills itself as ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace,’ criticized Netanyahu’s speech in a statement afterwards. ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu offered nothing new or substantive in his speech, only fear-mongering and empty rhetoric,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said. ‘Contradicting the consensus of the Israeli security establishment, he lavished praise on the Trump administration’s incoherent and reckless threats to dismantle the Iran deal, which endanger Israel and American interests, and bring us closer to another war in the Middle East.’”

WAMU, NPR

Daniel Estrin included J Street in his NPR report on AIPAC and Netanyahu’s speech.

J Street hits back at US envoy Friedman after AIPAC jab, Times of Israel

“Dovish lobbying group J Street on Tuesday hit back at the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, after he intimated that the group’s approach to Israel and Middle East peace was ‘dangerous’ and ‘disingenuous.’ ‘It’s not blasphemous to suggest that the settlement movement and its allies in the Netanyahu and Trump governments are not committed to peace.’ J Street founder and director Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.”

US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, decries J Street’s motto as ‘blasphemous,’ JTA

“J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in response that commitments to peace involved taking action…‘If Ambassador Friedman wants to defend settlements, demonize Palestinians, oppose the two state-solution and still claim to support peace, that’s his right,” he said. “Meanwhile, the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement will oppose his policies and continue to work to actually promote peace and secure Israel’s future.’”

U.S. Ambassador To Israel Blasts ‘Blasphemous’ J Street Motto, The Forward

“The president of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in response that pursuing peace required taking action. ‘Contra David Friedman, it’s not blasphemous to suggest that the settlement movement and its allies in the Netanyahu and Trump governments are not committed to peace,’ he said. ‘They have spent years helping to expand and entrench the occupation — undermining the two-state solution and endangering Israel’s future.’”

Under scrutiny at home, Netanyahu cheered at US pro-Israel lobby, The Daily Mail

“Netanyahu’s longstanding concerns about the Iran nuclear deal have found a sympathetic ear in the White House and at AIPAC, but the left-leaning Washington lobby group J Street — which supports a two state solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians — denounced him ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu offered nothing new or substantive in his speech, only fear-mongering and empty rhetoric,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said. ‘He lavished praise on the Trump administration’s incoherent and reckless threats to dismantle the Iran deal, which endangers Israel and American interests, and bring us closer to another war in the Middle East.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Contemplates a Future Without Netanyahu, The New Yorker

Ruth Margalit writes, “Israeli politics increasingly take place in the yawning gap between nice-sounding rhetoric and what is perceived to be a chaotic and volatile regional reality—always too chaotic and too volatile for meaningful negotiations to take place. Absent any diplomatic progress, the debate turns to domestic issues, and elections hinge on perceptions of the political system itself and the legitimacy of its democratic institutions. These are crucial issues, to be sure, but they are ones that shouldn’t be called into question in the first place in a liberal democracy. It is an irony of no small proportions that Netanyahu may, in time, be viewed as the instigator of his own undoing: by neutering political debate in Israel, he has made the focus personal, drawing attention to the murky underside of his governing.”

As AIPAC is out-hawked by Trump, settlers reevaluate ties to pro-Israel lobby, Times of Israel

Jacob Magid writes, “The past year has given rise to a US administration that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, refrained from condemning any particular settlement project approved for construction in the West Bank, and withheld millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians. In this post-Obama climate, settler leaders have identified an opportunity to advance their agenda, successfully lobbying the Israeli government to advance three times as many housing projects in the settlements as in the year prior, and making their strongest legislative push yet for applying Israeli sovereignty over all Jewish communities beyond the Green Line.”

News

Right-wing rabbi says Israel flooded with gay culture, Times of Israel

A prominent national religious Israeli rabbi sparked an outcry on Tuesday when he said that the country has become an “LGBT-stan” inundated with gay culture and urged his followers to “wage war” for traditional family values.

Israeli Army Erects West Bank Checkpoints to Collect Palestinians’ Personal Details, Haaretz

The army a few months ago began collecting the personal details of West Bank Palestinians, as part of its surveillance of public spaces. To this end, soldiers conduct patrols and set up temporary checkpoints. Young men who pass through are required to fill out a form.

Arizona State University sued over enforcement of state anti-BDS law, JTA

A federal lawsuit filed against Arizona State University claims the school is violating the free speech of a student Muslim group by not allowing it to sponsor a speaker who promotes a boycott of Israel.

Police minister rejects claim Netanyahu probes ‘politically motivated,’ Times of Israel

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday rejected accusations voiced recently by many in his ruling Likud party that there are “political motives” driving the ballooning police investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mahmoud Abbas’ Health Deteriorates, and Israel Prepares for Bloody Succession Fight, Haaretz

In recent months there has been a deterioration in the health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will be 83 at the end of the month. Information about his health has been submitted to Israeli political and security officials.

He’s the Jew who inspired the PLO declaration of independence. Now he wants to take down AIPAC, JTA

Thirty years ago, Jerome Segal made headlines in Israel and the United States with an odd pedigree: He was the committed Jew who wrote the Palestinian declaration of independence…Now he has cast himself in another unlikely role: A Bernie Sanders-style contender for the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland currently held by Ben Cardin. Segal believes that if he tops Cardin in the Democratic primary, he can show that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is not as all-powerful as some believe.

Opinions and Analysis

Netanyahu at AIPAC: The Good, the Bad and the Bubble, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev responds to Netanynahu’s AIPAC speehc.

Why Young Jews and Democrats Are Waving Goodbye to AIPAC, Haaretz

Emily Mayer argues, “The lack of celebrity power and political ambition reflected in the line-up reveals a new, encouraging possibility: Democrats with ambition may no longer be required to make a stop at one of the most powerful lobbies in America on their way to political success. As Cory Booker and Gillibrand gear up to run for President by appealing to an increasingly Democratic base, that is a hopeful sign. However, this trend is not final nor inevitable; the progressive wing will have to fight hard to loosen AIPAC’s grip on the party, just as we young Jews are fighting to recommit our community, many of whom have grown up with AIPAC as an integrated part of Jewish life, to face the injustices it enables.

Don’t Let Trump Turn Iran into North Korea, Defense One

Ryan Costello argues, “Unless Congress, Europe and other parties step up and insulate the agreement from Trump’s sabotage, the JCPOA will collapse and Iran’s nuclear program will be unshackled. Then, Trump will face two potential national security disasters: the prospect of a disastrous war of choice with Iran over its nuclear program, which regional actors are certain to clamor for, and the prospect of Iran following North Korea’s path and obtaining nuclear weapons. Failing to learn the mistakes of the past, we may be doomed to repeat them.”

When Israel Hatched a Secret Plan to Assassinate Iranian Scientists, Politico

Ronen Bergman writes, “There were times when the words of the generals were taken as sacred by most Israelis. But their campaigns against Netanyahu have thus far failed to topple him, and some say they have even bolstered him. Israel has undergone drastic changes in recent decades: The strength of the old elites, including the generals and their influence over the public agenda, has ebbed. New elites—Jews from Arab lands, the Orthodox, the right wing—are in ascendancy.”

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