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News Roundup for September 30, 2016

September 30, 2016

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J Street in the News

Obama joins world leaders in mourning Shimon Peres — and a dormant Middle East peace process, Washington Post

“Peres’s role as one of the nation’s Zionist founders assures that his memory will remain a powerful force in Israeli society….His death presents Obama and many Israelis a chance to reflect on the country’s founding democratic principles and the long-standing hopes for peace. ‘What a statesman like Obama can and should do is to remind people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is something they should be aiming for,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Washington-based advocacy group J Street.”

Word on the Street: An Antidote to Despair, J Street Blog

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “For some commentators, Peres’ death closes a chapter in Israel’s history and symbolizes the death of the dream of peace with the Palestinians. Naysayers look around and see few leaders of his stature and vision, capable of his passionate risk-taking and creativity. They see Israeli-Palestinian relations at a low ebb and little progress toward solutions. Their negativity could not be farther from Peres’ own approach to life, or the lessons he sought to convey. He was always changing, always striving, always optimistic. Even in his nineties, even in his final months, he never gave up — always focusing far more on the future than the past.He was a living embodiment of the founding ethos of Israel and Zionism: that independence in Israel gives the Jewish people the power to shape our people’s destiny.

Bay Area leaders, Jewish groups share memories of Peres, J Weekly

“J Street said Peres ‘will be remembered for his tireless efforts to keep Israel safe and in his latter years to reach a just peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.’ The liberal Jewish Middle East policy group in a statement called Peres ‘the grandfather of the entire nation (who) was in many ways its moral conscience, preaching untiringly the need for peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians.’”

Top News and Analysis

Obama: Peres Understood the Jewish People ‘Were Not Born to Rule Another’, Haaretz

President Obama eulogized Israel’s former President Peres on Friday by quoting the statesman as having said that “the Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people.” “He would say: We are against slaves and masters.” Obama said. Obama said further that he saw Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ presence at the late statesman’s funeral “is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace.” Obama said that the younger generation remembers only Peres’ unsuccessful quest for peace, and was shaped by the critics who said he “refused to recognize the wickedness of the world and called him naive.” But, as Obama saw it, Peres’ “pursuit of peace was never naive.”

Under Jerusalem Sun, Allies and Bitter Rivals Mourn Peacemaker Shimon Peres, Forward

“Israeli and Palestinian leaders shook hands during a brief chat and U.S. President Barack Obama gently reminded them of the “unfinished business of peace” at the funeral Friday of Shimon Peres, the last of a generation of Israel’s founding fathers…..“Long time, long time,” Abbas told Netanyahu and the prime minister’s wife Sara, after shaking his hand before the start of the ceremony held in the ‘Great Leaders of the Nation’ section of Mount Herzl cemetery, overlooking a forested valley. Welcoming Abbas, as participants recorded the encounter on their mobile phones, Netanyahu said of the Palestinian leader’s attendance: ‘It’s something that I appreciate very much on behalf of our people and on behalf of us.’” In Israel for just a few hours to pay tribute to Peres, Obama said in the eulogy that Abbas’s “presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace.” He was the only speaker to acknowledge Abbas’s presence.”

35,000 Mourners Pay Last Respects to Shimon Peres at Knesset Memorial, Haaretz

An unending flow of visitors flooded the plaza at the entrance to the Knesset in order to pay their last respects to former president Shimon Peres….A squad from the Knesset Guard carried Peres’ coffin into the plaza. President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein laid wreaths at the foot of the bier…..Around midday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton emerged, having arrived to the plaza immediately after landing in Israel. In an exceptional step, it was decided not to stop the flow of visitors. Clinton approached the bier. At first he stood by himself, and then Rivlin and Edelstein joined him. The three of them circled the coffin. Clinton, emotional, placed his hand over his heart as a farewell gesture.

Peres and the Passing of Hope, The New York Times

Roger Cohen writes, “Think what you will of Peres — and he was an early supporter during the 1970s of settlements in the West Bank as well as a politician who never won a clear mandate from Israelis to be their leader — he was a man of restless creativity. He thought big about Middle Eastern peace. He dreamed big of prosperity allied to security for Israelis and Palestinians. He lived big, unrequited to the end. His convictions evolved…..In contrast, Netanyahu has merely endured. He has been static in thought, going nowhere. If the passing of Peres contains a message to Netanyahu and to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, it must surely be: Imagine!”

News

Rivlin Lauds Peres’ Peace Efforts: Your Death Marks End of an Era, Haaretz

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin eulogized late statesman Shimon Peres at his funeral on Friday as a peace seeker who moved mountains whose death marks “the end of an era” for the country, also apologizing for vociferous right-wing criticism of his diplomatic achievements.

Shimon Peres Slammed Donald Trump as ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Ignorant’ in Last Interview, Forward

In one of his last interviews, on Bloomberg TV, Peres made clear that he rejects Trump’s worldview. “The idea of Mr. Trump, to isolate America,” Peres said, “Shall I say, in a nice way, it’s unbelievable, ignorant.”

Palestinian President Abbas to Attend Shimon Peres’ Funeral, Haaretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s request to attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Friday was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior Israeli official said.

Memorial to Peres held at UN headquarters in New York, JTA

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he “had the privilege to benefit from his wisdom” at a memorial service for former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the world body’s headquarters in New York. Ambassadors from more than 40 countries attended the memorial held by Israel’s UN mission on Thursday, a day after Peres died following a massive stroke. Among those on hand was US Ambassador Samantha Power.

Human rights groups urge US to probe Israeli soldiers’ killing of Palestinian-American teen, JTA

Fifteen human rights and religious organizations called on President Barack Obama to investigate the killing of a Palestinian-American teenager by Israeli soldiers earlier this year. In the letter sent Wednesday to Obama, the groups also asked the president to demand that Israel release evidence related to its investigation of the death of 16-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan. Shaalan was shot in February as he allegedly attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint near the Beit El settlement.

UNRWA employees planning strike over salaries, staff shortages, Ma’an

The union of workers for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Thursday that they were planning a one-day strike in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank to protest cuts to aid and services.

Opinion and Analysis

Why criticism from former PM Barak rattles Netanyahu, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit observes, “Barak resigned from political life in 2013 and disappeared from the political map. Now he is making a comeback. The former prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of staff has declared war on his former partner Netanyahu and is attacking him on a daily basis in radio and television interviews and through frequent tweets and posts on social media. Barak may be 74 years old, but he looks born anew. This is causing Netanyahu to lose his equilibrium and along with it plenty of sleep. Public support for Barak is still very low, but the buzz that he generates puts Netanyahu under pressure. Barak has identified a vacuum and managed to sneak inside, just as he did in the good old days, when he was a commando.”

The Gloomy State of Israeli Foreign Policy, Matzav Blog

Nimrod Goren writes that a new poll “[P]rominently illustrates overwhelming public dissatisfaction with Israel’s standing in the world, the government’s performance in the realm of foreign policy and the ability of the Foreign Ministry to fulfill its mission…Negative perceptions concerning the state of Israeli foreign policy are particularly problematic when taking into account the optimism shown by the public about the fundamentals within which Israel’s foreign policy exists: The public perceives Israel as a regional superpower, opposes the assertion that “the whole world is against us”, believes in the feasibility of regional cooperation with Arab states, and indeed sees Israel as connected to its regional geographic surroundings. Thus, according to the poll, Israeli foreign policy seems to have a good chance of success. However, in reality, it misses the mark at best, and demonstrates negligence at worst.”

 

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