News Roundup for April 10, 2018

April 10, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street Appalled by Chemical Attack in Syria, J Street

“J Street is appalled and outraged by the Assad regime’s hideous chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma, in which at least 42 people have reportedly died. The reports and images emerging from the scene of this attack are truly devastating. We have not engaged in policy advocacy on the Syrian conflict, and we are cognizant that there are no easy or clear-cut solutions to the ongoing Syrian tragedy. Yet our core values compel us to speak out against this flagrant crime against humanity, a crisis which demands the attention and action of the whole world. This latest example of the Syrian regime’s ongoing brutality against its own people requires a determined and resolute response to prevent future similar atrocities. We call on the US government to coordinate closely with the international community to ensure that Assad and all those responsible for this crime are held accountable.”

Liberal Jewish groups join opposition to Trump appointees John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, JTA

“[A] recent statement by six liberal Jewish groups said Bolton’s record ‘shows him to be a fierce advocate for belligerent policies that would endanger the national security of the U.S., Israel and our allies around the world.’ The groups are J Street, Americans for Peace Now, the New Israel Fund, T’ruah, Ameinu, and the National Council of Jewish Women.”

Top News and Analysis

Hamas leader, Israel PM dig in on Gaza border flare-up, Washington Post

“The leader of Gaza’s ruling Hamas group and Israel’s prime minister staked out tough positions Monday, making de-escalation on the Israel-Gaza border in the near future unlikely….Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh renewed a pledge Monday that the marches would pave the way for a return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel…..He stopped short of threatening a mass breach of the border, though another Hamas leader has done so in recent speeches…..Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Sderot, an Israeli community near Gaza, and said Israel’s top priority is its security. ‘We have one clear and simple rule and we seek to express it constantly: If someone tries to attack you — rise up and attack him,’ Netanyahu said. ‘We will not allow, here on the Gaza border, them to hurt us. We will hurt them.’”

Cease Fire on the Gaza Strip, Haaretz

The editorial board writes, “The Gaza protest is far from over. After two lethal weeks, in which the IDF killed 29 unarmed people by live fire, the army has made even more menacing threats. If the demonstrations continue, the army will respond with aerial attacks on Hamas military targets, according to Amos Harel’s report in Sunday’s Haaretz. These threats are inappropriate. Instead of looking for nonlethal means to deal with the tens of thousands of protesters, the IDF is threatening to attack Gaza from the air. The role of the IDF is to preserve the sovereignty of the state and defend its residents. It has no authority or right to suppress nonviolent and unarmed demonstrations conducted behind the border fence. It must focus on its role and make an effort to do so with the minimum of loss of life.”


Video Shows Motionless Palestinian Shot by Israeli Sniper to Sound of Soldiers’ Cheers, Haaretz

The Israeli military is examining the circumstances surrounding a video showing a sniper shooting a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, after which exuberant cheers are heard. It was not immediately clear where and when the video was taken. According to the IDF, the video appears to document an incident that occurred several months ago, and the military will thoroughly investigate it.

Ronald Lauder disavows anti-Muslim videos of a group he gave $1.1 million, JTA

Ronald Lauder, a leading Jewish philanthropist, disavowed the anti-Muslim videos of a beneficiary organization, saying he had contributed because the group opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

Israel: Alleged Syrian chemical attack a ‘crime against humanity’, Times of Israel

Israel on Monday accused Syria of committing “crimes against humanity” over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town, saying President Bashar Assad’s regime was responsible. “Israel strongly condemns the chemical weapons strike carried out by Syria on April 7, one year after the mass murder carried out by the regime in Khan Sheikun,” a Foreign Ministry statement said, referring to a widely condemned chemical attack on rebel-held town late year.

Senior Iranian Official: ‘Israel’s Crime’ of Syria Strike ‘Will Not Remain Without Response’, Haaretz

The top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday described a strike on a military airbase in Syria as “Israel’s crime” and said it “will not remain without response,” the Lebanese al-Mayadeen channel reported. Ali Akbar Velayati was speaking upon his arrival in the Syrian capital Damascus, reported al-Mayadeen, which is well connected in government-held parts of Syria.

As Fatah-Hamas feud deepens, PA withholds salaries from workers in Gaza, Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority has paid salaries to its West Bank employees this month, but not those in the Gaza Strip, officials said Monday, amid an ongoing split with the strip’s Islamist rulers, terror group Hamas. It was not immediately clear why the salaries had not been paid and if the delay was temporary, but it comes as relations between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Hamas are at rock bottom. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been vowing to step up sanctions against Hamas.

Russian Foreign Ministry Summons Israeli Ambassador for Talk Following Syria Strike, Haaretz

The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned Israel’s ambassador to Moscow for a conversation on the attack of the Syrian air base which occurred Sunday overnight, officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday.

Opinions and Analysis

The Lonely Man of Faith, New York Magazine

Abraham Riesman profiles Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Israel’s Labor Party pays the price for political integrity, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem observes, “On the refugee issue, the chairman of Labor showed admirable opposition leadership. He supported Netanyahu’s move when it fit with the Labor Party’s platform, but at the moment it became clear that Netanyahu folded, Gabbay became an effective machine gun and attacked Netanyahu on all fronts: on the radio, television and social media, accusing him of a lack of leadership, cowardice and dodging responsibility….Gabbay and the Labor Party will benefit from this clear and unequivocal stance on the issue of immigrants, in that they led a straight path and did not set their sights on the masses in the Likud. This is what will connect the electorate to them in the end, or else what’s the point? You could just choose the original.”

Netanyahu’s U-turn on migrant deal shows power of his base, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Netanyahu proved that he does not hold the strings in his relationship with his large group of supporters, but that the opposite is true: He is the one being controlled by them. They dictate the path to take and he does as they say, instead of assuming the leadership position himself….Netanyahu no longer even tries to create an illusion of leadership, of a captain steering the ship. As of now, he is a leader who marches behind his supporters, putty in their hands and attentive to their every desire.”