News Roundup for April 12, 2019

April 12, 2019

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J Street in the News

18 Jewish groups urge Congress to pass bill to end Trump’s travel ban, JTA
Among the signatories are official groups representing the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jewish denominations as well as the Orthodox social justice organization Uri L’Tzedek. American Jewish World Service, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street and the National Council of Jewish Women also signed.

20 religious groups call on Congress to ‘stop weaponizing anti-Semitism’, JTA
“The letter directly referred to an incident last month when Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., quoted from Hitler’s 1925 book ‘Mein Kampf’ on the House floor, comparing present-day Democrats with members of the Nazi Party. ‘We welcome bipartisan efforts aimed at combating anti-Semitism,’ the letter says. ‘However, much of the recent rhetoric and political maneuvering on the issue seems cynically focused on showing that one party cares more about anti-Jewish bigotry than the other.’ Organized by the Interfaith Alliance, the letter also was signed by a number of Jewish groups including Hadassah, HIAS and J Street. ”

J Street concerned by Omar Barghouti’s denial of entry into the US, J Street
“J Street opposes the BDS movement and vehemently disagrees with many of Barghouti’s views. Nonetheless, we believe it would be an unacceptable attack on free speech and open debate to deny him entry to the United States on the basis of his political views and advocacy. Just as we vocally opposed Israel’s enactment and application of a law denying BDS supporters entry to Israel, we believe that banning BDS supporters on the basis of their political opinions or non-violent activism is equally wrong in this country.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinian Boycott Activist Denied Entry to United States, New York Times
The United States barred a prominent Palestinian activist from entering the country on Wednesday, a move that rights groups said was an attempt by the Trump administration to silence Palestinian voices. The activist, Omar Barghouti, is one of the co-founders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, also known as B.D.S., which encourages broad economic pressure on Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. The movement has increasingly come under fire in the United States, with some 27 states passing laws that punish companies or individuals who support the boycott.

America must stop Binyamin Netanyahu from annexing Palestinian land, The Economist
The Economist’s editors write, “Israel faces a stark choice. Jews and Arabs count roughly equal numbers between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. So Israel cannot permanently hold on to all the land without sacrificing either its Jewish majority or the ideal of a proper democracy that does not discriminate against Arabs. The more Mr Netanyahu abandons land-for-peace, the more the choice will be annexation-for-apartheid. That dilemma is something even Bibi cannot conjure away.”

American Jews, Don’t Walk Away From Israel, Haaretz
Debra Shushan writes, “The reaction among American Jews to Israel’s elections will not be monolithic. A minority, right-wing hawks and many Orthodox Jews, will celebrate. Among the progressive majority, some will join the growing BDS movement, for which Trump and Netanyahu are the best recruiters. Others will simply walk away from Israel. There is another way. It hinges on Israel’s progressive civil society – which, though diminished through years of delegitimization – is still alive, creative, and vibrant. If Israeli democracy is to be rescued, they are the ones, our fellow blue staters, battling mightily against the red state that Israel has for now become, who will save it.”

News

Final Israeli Election Results: Bennett Wiped Out; Netanyahu’s Likud Gains One Seat, Haaretz
The Central Elections Committee published Thursday night the final results of the Israeli election, ending two tense days of specualtion as to the makeup of the 21st Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has 36 seats in the next Knesset, after initially tying at 35 with Kahol Lavan, the political alliance led by former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz.

Boycotting Israel is anti-Semitic, newly appointed Trump envoy says, NBC
Elan Carr, the Trump administration’s new special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Thursday that organized boycotts of products made in Israeli settlements is anti-Semitic, even if the settlements are not recognized by international law. “An individual has a right to buy or not buy what they please. However, if there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic,” Carr said. “We are going to focus relentlessly on eradicating this false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

9 major generals, 29 women, 49 rookies: Meet the 21st Knesset, Times of Israel
With the complete results from Tuesday’s election announced on Thursdaynight after two days of tense vote counting, we now finally know how many seats each party will have in the 21st Knesset, and the identities of the 120 people who will fill them.

Bibi 2019 and Trump 2020: The Trump Pollster Who Helped Netanyahu Win Reelection, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video on the eve of Tuesday’s election with U.S. President Donald Trump’s pollster John McLaughlin, together sounding the alarm that if Likud and the right-wing base do not turn out in full on Election Day, a “leftist” government will take over Israel. “Mr. Prime Minister, right now we are losing the race,” McLaughlin tells Netanyahu, in a video to voters that highlights the premier’s last-minute push to mobilize his base.

Omar Defends Herself On Colbert About Anti-Semitism, Stephen Miller, The Forward
Omar explained that her experience “really has been one of growth for me.” “Oftentimes when you’re speaking, you might not understand the historical context of some of the words you might use and the kind of pain it might incite for people,” she continued. “So in this process, I’m learning that everything is not as simple as we might think we might want to state it. And as I’ve said to my constituents, to my colleagues, when you tell me that you are pained by something that I say, I will always listen and I will acknowledge your pain.”

Hamas: Ceasefire Understandings With Israel Not a Peace Agreement, The Jerusalem Post
The recent Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas are not a peace or truce agreement, senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri said on Thursday. Arouri, who was speaking by phone to supporters at a rally at Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, said his movement will not accept any solution that calls for recognizing Israel.

Evil Jewish Plot’ Anti-Semitic Posters Found At University Of North Carolina, The Forward
Anti-Semitic posters were found at on bookshelves and tables at a library at the University of North Carolina on Wednesday. It’s the second racist incident to occur at the school in the past two weeks. The posters, which warned of an “evil Jewish plot,” were condemned by the university administration.

Swastika burned into asphalt near Denver school playground, JTA
A swastika was burned into the asphalt near the playground of a Denver public elementary school. Gasoline was used to burn the anti-Semitic symbol at Ellis Elementary School on Monday night, the Denver Post reported. The swastika was covered up before students arrived at school the following morning, according to the report.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s victory means the far right in Israel is about to get a lot more powerful, JTA
David Halperin and Evan Gottesman writes, “If there is no mainstream opposition in Washington to annexation, the field will be completely ceded to those who see growing opportunities to formalize a Greater Israel reality. As Netanyahu enters coalition negotiations in the months ahead, he and his partners in the White House will be looking for signs of exhaustion from their political opponents on both sides of the Atlantic as an opening to advance their platform. The key is not to show them what they want to see or let up.”

The Lesson Of Netanyahu’s Victory: Israel Will Not Change Without Pressure, The Forward
Peter Beinart writes, “I wish there was another way. I wish my brethren in the Jewish state were angelic creatures whose consciences alone could move them to stop oppressing millions of their fellow human beings. But the Haggadah that we will read later this month reaffirms what Frederick Douglass taught: The world doesn’t work that way. Power concedes nothing without a demand. I hope that demand is made non-violently and with love. But for the Democrats running for president — and the people choosing them — the lesson of this week’s Israeli election is clear: The demand must come, now.”

It’s Not anti-Semitism That Makes Defending Israel in America So Hard. It’s Netanyahu, Haaretz
Eric Yoffie writes, “And so it’s Bibi. God help us. American Jews, it should be said, admire Israel’s democracy, respect the will of Israel’s voters, and don’t believe that Israel is on the threshold of fascism or authoritarianism, despite the irregularities and excesses of this election. But make no mistake. They are dismayed by the outcome and deeply concerned about Israel’s future. Most American Jews saw Bibi as a disaster and wanted him gone, for two reasons…”

It’s Netanyahu’s Israel Now, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger writes, “Even without annexation in the mix, Mr. Netanyahu’s settler- and ultra-Orthodox-dominated government, and his effusive embrace of President Trump, have rapidly alienated Israel from predominantly liberal and less-observant American Jews, the largest diaspora community and a pillar of Israel’s security since its founding. Israel is becoming a partisan issue in the United States like never before, already forcing those seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 — including Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke — to distinguish their support for Israel from their disapproval of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies.”

The Best Chance for Israeli Right’s Dream of Annexing the West Bank: The Palestinians, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The [Kushner] plan will set back American interests in three critical realms, Satloff forecasts. It is liable to lead to Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank, to give Saudi Arabia heightened bargaining power over the United States (which needs Riyadh to advance the plan), and to divert attention from a significant administration achievement in the region: namely, ratcheting up the pressure on Iran. ”

The kids are all right-wing: How Israel’s younger voters have grown more conservative over time, JTA
Laura Adkins and Ben Sales write, “Like lots of millennials who have catapulted to fame, May Golan got her start on the internet, blogging about life in her South Tel Aviv neighborhood. From there she gained a platform as a social activist, with 25,000 followers on Facebook and 16,300 on Twitter. On Tuesday, hours before she won a seat in Israel’s Knesset, she reached out to voters in one last Facebook video. ‘The right wing government is in danger,’ she warned viewers, wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Netanyahu. Right-wing. Strong. Successful.’ emblazoned in blue and white block letters.”

Blue and White ignored Israeli Arab vote at own peril, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar writes, “With the sadness from Labor’s stunning defeat visible on her face during an interview with Channel 12, [Labor Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich] said that if she were in Gantz’s position, she would go knocking on the Arabs’ doors to apologize and ask for their support. The idea that Arab voters have no firm ideological position and that they could be easily moved by a simple apology testifies more than anything else to the fact that even the left-wing parties have a condescending attitude toward Israeli Arabs, yet still expect their parties to bail them out when they are in trouble.”

Likud’s hidden cameras at polling stations are this election’s ‘Arabs in droves’, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “Israel’s Arab citizens make up some 20 percent of the general population, but in Israeli politics they are usually portrayed as villains or, in the best case, walk-ons. No Arab party has ever been part of a government coalition, and in that tradition virtually every mainstream party running in Tuesday’s race for the 21th Knesset has preemptively ruled out a partnership with either of the two major Arab slates.”

Trump’s botching of the nuclear deal destroyed US leverage on Iran, Newsweek
Ryan Costello writes, “Some, perhaps deluded by wishful thinking, have argued that growing despair and economic plight in Iran is a recipe for the end of the regime. However, both the history of sanctions and the Islamic Republic itself cast severe doubt on this assumption. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has expanded both its economic and political power amid US sanctions, while ordinary Iranians who have proven capable of pushing their government in a more moderate direction – despite severe limitations – have suffered. What we are beginning to see instead is an increasingly hardline Iranian regime looking for improved relations not with the West, but authoritarian regimes in China and Russia.”

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