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“On Wednesday, the left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street is releasing television ads that praise the nuclear deal, looking to shore up Democrats in the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Senate races. The group hopes to expand the effort — using online ads at least — to Senate races in Illinois and New Hampshire, while also engaging in direct mail outreach. The J Street effort — details of which were shared exclusively with POLITICO — is rare, possibly unprecedented, in this election cycle. The group has raised $750,000 so far for its effort ($500,000 of which is going for the two TV ads) but Republican groups across the country are already putting millions of dollars into their own ads attacking Democrats on Iran, an issue the GOP believes can move votes in key Senate and House races. The difference, said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, is that ‘the facts are on our side.’ ‘The deal is actually a good deal. It has made the world more secure — therefore it’s a really easy deal to defend,’ he said…. ‘Proving that you can win having taken a tough vote for diplomacy is exceedingly important for the future of American foreign policy,’ Ben-Ami said of the Democratic lawmakers under fire. ‘If it is perceived that the only way to win politically is to be as hawkish as possible and to attack diplomacy that is a bad thing for American foreign policy.’”
“J Street is launching a half million-dollar campaign against two vulnerable Republicans for their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami on Wednesday will release TV spots to screen in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where incumbents Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., are in tight competitive races. A release said the campaign also will include ‘internet advertising, direct mail and polling.’”
J Street ad campaign to back pro-Iran deal Congressional candidates, Times of Israel
“The liberal Jewish political action group J Street is set to launch a $500,000 ad campaign aimed at supporting Congressional candidates who supported the Iranian nuclear deal signed last year….J Street said it seeks to ‘ensure House and Senate candidates who have backed the Iran nuclear deal in Congress and on the campaign trail prevail at the polls, and in doing so prove that diplomacy-first policies also make for good politics.’ The campaign will include television and internet advertising, direct mail and polling and is part of a ‘multi-state effort focusing on competitive Senate races in which candidates have been attacked for their support of the Iran deal.’”
Ben-Ami has continued over the years to press for Israeli-Palestinian peace and engage in vigorous debates over Israeli policies and solutions to the conflict. Ben-Ami and J Street have vocally rejected the ‘us versus them’ narrative of the conflict and stressed that Israel’s long-term security depends on fulfilling the aspirations of the Palestinian people as well…. ‘For J Street, success means ensuring that American Jews can advocate for a secure, Jewish and democratic future for Israel while standing up for our core values,’ he told The Jerusalem Post. ‘We’re making clear that there is more than one way to be pro-Israel in the 21st century, and providing a strong political voice for an American-Jewish majority that had gone unheard for too long,’ he added.
“Says Logan Bayroff, spokesman for J Street: ‘The continued silence of much of the institutional Jewish community on Trump’s candidacy only stands to substantiate claims that they don’t speak for the younger generation of Jews.’”
In the vice presidential debate, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence repeatedly tussled over whether the Iran nuclear deal stopped Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., at least four times throughout the debate Tuesday night at Longwood University in Virginia, listed the Iran nuclear deal as an accomplishment for his running mate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term. “She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot,” Kaine said.
After weeks of rumors, substantial progress has reportedly been made in talks to form a unity government in Israel, Channel 10 news reported Tuesday. According to the report, the center-left Zionist Union party will join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud-led government in exchange for eight portfolios, including the highly coveted Foreign Ministry. The report was confirmed to Haaretz by sources in both parties. But chairman of the opposition and head of the Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog, denied it. In a message sent out to party members on Tuesday, Herzog called the report “baseless,” stating there have been no contacts with Likud over the Rosh Hashanah holiday as the report claimed. Likud also officially denied the report.
A Haaretz editorial observes, “bama presented himself and Peres as sharing not only a common historical fate with the nations they have led, but also a similar worldview that favors optimism and the pursuit of peace over sowing fear and intimidation…..At the start of the new Jewish year, it is appropriate that Obama’s remarks about justice and hope, about an end to ruling another people and about granting the Palestinians sovereignty — an important reminder of the principles of equality and democracy upon which Zionism is based — should serve as a beacon for the citizens of Israel and its leaders.”
A day after the Palestinian High Court ruled to exclude the Gaza Strip from the local elections – the first in almost a ten years – the Palestinian government in Ramallah decided Tuesday to postpone the vote by four months, until the beginning of 2017, in a move that will will likely heighten inter-Palestinian tensions. The Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Palestinian local elections will take place, but only in the West Bank and not Gaza, as tensions between Fatah and Hamas continued to mar what was to be the first democratic exercise in the Palestinian territories in a decade.
Israel paid $20 million in compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims. The money was transferred Friday into the Justice Ministry of Turkey’s account, the Daily Sabah, a Turkish news service, reported.
A rocket fired from Gaza exploded in the Israeli border city of Sderot on Wednesday after sirens sounded in communities near the Gaza border. No injuries were reported and Israeli forces have closed off the area. The Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. The IDF responded to the rocket fire by firing tank shells at Hamas targets in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, nearly an hour later.
The Israeli governmentis set to approve construction of nearly 300 new housing units near the West Bank settlement of Shilo, situated between Nabulus and Ramallah, in an apparent compensation for a Supreme Court ruling ordering the eviction and demolition of the wildcat Jewish settlement of Amona. An initial 98 units were approved by Israel’s Civil Administration’s Planning Authority on Wednesday, with another 200 units set to be okayed by the authority in a second stage of construction, a report by Israel’s Channel 2 news said.
Hundreds of women march on Jerusalem for peace, Times of Israel
By the the light of flaming torches, hundreds of women set off Tuesday night on a 200-kilometer march from the north of the country to Jerusalem, where they will assemble outside the prime minister’s and president’s residences during the upcoming Sukkot festival to demand a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some 2,000 people gathered in the dark at the northern coastal area of Rosh Hanikra to take part in the opening event for the march, which was organized by Women Wage Peace, an organization formed after 2014’s war in Gaza that comprises Jewish and Arab women calling for coexistence.
Around 500 women and men marched Friday afternoon in the city of Lod to protest the gender violence and murder of women in Arab society. The march, which began in Lod’s old city and ended in a vigil outside the old municipality building, marked a week since the murder of Dua’a Abu Sharkh— a murder that sparked the largest-ever women’s protest movement, what Samah Salaime termed a “women’s intifada.” Both the protest and the vigil mark the height of the community involvement in Lod in the struggle against gender violence in Arab society, the result of the hard work of local women’s organization, Na’am.
A new poll found that 81 percent of Jews are dissatisfied with the government’s approach to issues of religion and state, a slight increase over last year. While dissatisfaction is high among all types of Jews, haredi Jewish satisfaction doubled to 39 percent this year, from 19 percent last year — apparently thanks to their parties’ impact in government.
Will Abbas reconcile with Hamas over Dahlan?, Al-Monitor
Ahmad Abu Amer reports, “Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to resist Arab pressure to reconcile with dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan. Abbas has also been under pressure to back the Arab road map, which calls for internal reconciliation within Fatah between Abbas and Dahlan, followed by a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and ultimately leading to a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement.”
Lisa Goldman observes, “It took the president rather a long time to realize he was dealing with a totally recalcitrant and unmovable person who lacked any vision for the future beyond the preservation of his own power. Once he did internalize that message, as well as the very clear signs that Netanyahu had no problem insulting the president over and over, Obama very understandably turned away. But he still had a message to convey — a message of aspiration and encouragement.”
A Palestinian family was forced to demolish parts of their own home in the al-Saadiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, following an order from the Jerusalem municipality saying the rooms were built without the required Israeli-issued licenses.
How Abbas proved his courage to Israelis, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar writes, “Abbas demonstrated great courage, showing that unlike his portrayal in Israel, he is not afraid of domestic criticism. If he has to embrace dramatic moves in a peace process with Israel, he will be able to follow through with determination. Anyone who is willing to supply his rivals with propaganda weapons only to pay his last respects to his partner to the Oslo process can also make brave decisions in a diplomatic negotiation.”
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