News Roundup for April 16, 2019

April 16, 2019

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J Street in the News

Progressive Jewish groups call attacks on Omar ‘dangerous and unconscionable’, The Hill
“‘Already, this incitement has led to death threats against the congresswoman, putting her life and security in danger,’ J Street said in its statement. ‘In the face of this hatred, it’s vital that all responsible voices, from advocacy groups and community leaders to elected officials and presidential candidates, make clear that we stand firmly behind Rep. Omar and the Muslim community.’”

President Trump’s campaign of hatred and incitement endangers Rep. Omar and Muslim Americans, undermines our democracy, J Street
“Led and promoted by President Trump and his allies in politics and the media, the despicable attacks on Rep. Omar seek to demonize the first black Muslim woman in Congress. They are clearly calculated to incite fear and hatred against the congresswoman, people of color and Muslim Americans — and could easily help trigger further acts of xenophobic violence such as those that we have seen in Charleston, Pittsburgh, New Zealand and elsewhere in the US and the world.”

Top News and Analysis

Ocasio-Cortez: Cutting US Military, Economic Aid to Israel Is ‘On the Table’, Haaretz
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday she viewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection as part of  “the ascent of authoritarianism across the world,” and that reducing military and economic aid to Israel as a way of signaling opposition to its policies is “on the table” and “can be discussed.”  Speaking on Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast, Ocasio-Cortez called Netanyahu a “Trump-like figure” and responded in the affirmative when asked whether the Israeli premier’s campaign statements promising to pursue annexation of parts of the West Bank should affect US policy toward the Jewish state. 

Netanyahu secures majority backing after right-wing parties recommend him as PM, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured the backing of a majority of Knesset members Tuesday as Yisrael Beytenu, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Kulanu recommended him to form the next government in their official consultations with President Reuven Rivlin.


Democrats, Republicans Endorse anti-BDS Resolution in Rare Bipartisan Agreement, Haaretz
A group of 48 Democratic and Republican lawmakers has endorsed a joint resolution denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement issued by the group, which calls itself “The Problem Solvers Caucus,” is a rare expression of bipartisan agreement at a time when partisan differences are shaping the discussion in Washington over Israel and the Palestinians.

Liberals’ frustration with Pelosi rises over her response to Omar dispute, Washington Post
The far left’s frustration with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the rise, as liberal advocates and lawmakers fume that she hasn’t done enough to defend freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar from attacks by President Trump and other Republicans and has undermined their policies and leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On Israel, Kamala Harris breaks with liberal 2020 pack, McClatchy
California Sen. Kamala Harris is resisting pressure from the left flank of her Democratic party to take a more critical stance on the Israeli government and its policies towards Palestinians, holding firmly to her moderate approach to U.S.-Israel relations in her 2020 run for president.

US Member of Jewish-Arab NGO Questioned, Separated From Luggage at Israel’s Airport, Haaretz
A member of a Jewish-Arab nonprofit was held up at Ben-Gurion International Airport Saturday night while requesting to board her return flight to San Francisco. Laura Mandel, a board member of The Abraham Initiatives, told Haaretz that during her security check she was asked, among other questions, “why an American Jew would be interested in relations between Jews and Arabs.”

PA foreign minister: Abbas ready to meet Netanyahu if Russia plays host, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if Russia hosts the gathering, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Sputnik, a Russian state-run news site. Palestinian officials have said that Abbas agreed to accept a Russian suggestion to meet Netanyahu in Moscow last year, but the prime minister turned it down.

As Long as Jerusalem Isn’t on the Table, Trump’s Plan Won’t Be Either,’ Abbas Adviser Warns, Haaretz
“As long as Jerusalem is not on the table, Trump’s [Middle East peace] plan will not be on the table,” Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in Ramallah Tuesday during a meeting with Israeli journalists, which was organized by the HL Peace Education Inc. The organization, also known as the Geneva Initiative, is a nonprofit group that aims to establish an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Liberal streams, ADL not on White House list for ‘pertinent’ meeting with Jewish leaders, JTA
The leaders of three of the four major Jewish religious streams were not invited to a White House briefing on issues “impacting the community,” nor was the Jewish community’s leading civil rights advocacy group.

Why was Arab voter turnout so low in Israel’s elections?, Al-Monitor
Botrus Mansour, director general of the Nazareth Baptist School, blames political marginalization for the low turnout. “The marginalization of Arabs and their lack of influence, despite their abilities, is a major reason for this feeling of desperation,” he said.

Conspiracy Theorists Blame Jews, Muslims For Notre Dame Fire, The Forward
As the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris became engulfed in fire on Monday, conspiracy theorists quickly got to work – blaming the blaze on Jews. French police quickly said they were treating the fire as an accident, possibly linked to the church’s renovation work. But despite – or perhaps because of – that statement, online bigots quickly got to work.

Opinion and Analysis

Anti-Zionists Deserve Free Speech, New York Times
Michelle Goldberg writes, “In recent years, the American right has presented itself as a champion of free expression. Conservatives are constantly bemoaning a censorious campus climate that stigmatizes their ideas; last month, Donald Trump signed an executive order on campus free speech, decrying those who would keep Americans from ‘challenging rigid far-left ideology.’ The president said, ‘People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.’ If that last line is true — and, uncharacteristically for Trump, I think it is — it says something about the insecurity of Israel’s defenders.”

13 Lessons From Netanyahu’s Victory for Democrats Hoping to Beat Trump in 2020, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Donald Trump can win the 2020 election. No matter how inconceivable the thought may be to Democrats, it can happen. Unless they do things exactly right, it will happen. And even if they do things right, it can still happen.”

How Israel Marginalizes Its Arab Citizens, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “Instead of hitting back against Netanyahu, Gantz seemed to turn his back on Arab lawmakers, vowing that he would cooperate only with ‘Jewish and Zionist’ parties in a building a new coalition. The final slight came on the morning of Election Day. Election observers from Netanyahu’s Likud party posted to several Arab towns arrived with hidden cameras bulging from their shirts. Videos of tense confrontations went viral on Arab social media. After the voting was finished, executives from a public relations firm working with Likud bragged that the stunt had helped lower the Arab turnout.”

One State, Two States, Times of Israel
David A. Teutsch writes, “The Israeli right has a different version of a one-state solution that is being abetted by the rapid expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In that version, Israeli citizens have the vote and Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza do not. Of course, that would not be a true democracy. It would entail continued military control of the Palestinian population, which would have second-class status indefinitely. Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank would not be allowed free movement throughout the country. If this arrangement became permanent, describing it as a form of apartheid would not be unfair. “

Netanyahu May Have Won, but Israel’s Political Landscape Has Fundamentally Changed, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The disappearance of Labor and arrival of the largest centrist party in Israel’s history means that the next political battles will be fought on new issues: Not on peace or the Palestinians, but democracy.”

Annexation is more than just a declaration, +972 Mag
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man writes, “For far too long the international community, supporters of Israel in the United States, and even those on the left in Israel have, by allowing themselves to be lied to about Israel’s intentions about a two-state solution, been naively deceiving themselves. Much of that deception was rooted in the discourse of closing windows of opportunity. We need to act before it’s too late, they would say, without any willingness to discuss when or where the “too late” line lies. Worse, they refused to ask themselves honestly what would happen — or what they would do — when it was crossed.”

What Will Trump Do First: Make Mideast Peace or Strike Iran?, Haaretz
Daniel B. Shapiro writes, “Fresh off the president’s help securing re-election, Trump and Netanyahu appear more closely aligned than ever. But both that alliance, and relations with their Arab allies, is about to face a series of severe reality tests.”

Israel Will Be Liberal Again, One Day., The Forward
David N. Meyers writes, “Nothing remains static in history. The demographic future of Israel, surely within the Green Line and all the more so if Israel retains control over the West Bank, will dictate new realities. For example, it is estimated that a majority of Israelis in 2059 will be Arab and Haredi Jewish. While at present these two groups represent starkly opposing political camps, they may well develop a shared interest in pushing for political and economic enfranchisement in Israel society. This presents an opportunity for new alliances that requires long-term strategic vision and imagination.”

Passover 2019: The 10 Plagues of Pharaoh Netanyahu and a Word About His Worst Enemy – Hope, Haaretz
Bradley Burston writes, “[The] Pharaoh made covenants with rulers who were made strong by multitudes who hated the Hebrews. And Pharaoh laid gifts at the feet of the rulers, and praised them greatly, and feasted with them, and these rulers bore false witness to the heritage of the Hebrews, and the Pharaoh whose name was Netanyahu fell silent.”