News Roundup for April 23, 2019

April 23, 2019

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J Street in the News

2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran, say they’d put US back in nuclear deal, The Hill
“The 2015 debate over whether to support the deal was heated, with pro-Israel lobbyists pushing hard against it and some high-ranking Democrats such as Schumer opposing it. But things have changed since then, said Logan Bayroff, a spokesman for the progressive Jewish group J Street […] Trump’s decision to withdraw can be framed by Democrats as one of several moves that have alienated allies and ‘pander to a far-right political base,’ Bayroff said. ‘We just think this is a clear slam-dunk policy position for a Democrat,’ he said, citing a May 2018 Morning Consult survey that found 68 percent of Democrats supported the deal.”

2020 Democrats Promise to Re-enter the Iran Deal, and Israel Is Concerned, Haaretz
“In the United States, the fight to preserve the nuclear deal is being led by left-wing groups focused on foreign policy, including the Jewish progressive organization J Street, which is behind a campaign to get Democratic candidates to commit to re-entering the deal. The organization is keeping track of which candidates have already made such a commitment and which ones still haven’t spoken out. “

Eva Borgwardt ’20 wins Truman Scholarship following Israeli-Palestinian advocacy, The Stanford Daily
“Borgwardt is currently national president of J Street U, the campus organizing branch of pro-Israel and pro-peace groups advocating for the United States to pursue a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. J Street refers to the fact that in Washington D.C., one can walk H, I and K street and find that J Street is conspicuously missing. In the same way, J Street, the organization, represents the missing voice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Top News and Analysis

US to impose sanctions on allies in drive to push Iranian oil sales to zero, Washington Post
The Trump administration said Monday that it will start imposing sanctions on a handful of countries, including key U.S. allies, unless they stop buying oil from Iran after waivers expire next month. “We’re going to zero,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. He added that “any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.”

Look at the Photos, Netanyahu, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “The reality in the occupied territories is conveyed to the citizens of Israel almost exclusively via the Israeli army spokesman. But photographs and video clips of confrontations between the Israeli army and Palestinians make it possible to demonstrate the horrifying discrepancy between the statements that the army feeds Israelis in shaping their consciousness of the situation, and the actual reality.”

Trump Isn’t Just Reversing Obama’s Foreign Policies. He’s Making it Impossible for His Successor to Go Back to Them, Politico
Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write, “The goal isn’t just to drive a stake through the peace process but to ensure that America’s traditional conception of a two state solution won’t rise from the dead. Why couldn’t a new administration truly committed to engaging Iran and pushing forward on a two-state solution simply return to traditional policies? We cannot rule this out; but this possibility faces very long odds, particularly if the Trump administration is in charge until 2024.”


Bernie Sanders: Israel now run by Netanyahu’s ‘racist government’, Times of Israel
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders excoriated the Netanyahu government as “racist” Monday night as he participated in a CNN town hall event with Democratic voters. Without discussing specific details, the 2020 presidential hopeful called for a change in America’s policy toward Israel, describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach toward the Palestinians as oppressive, and said that his administration, should he be elected, would be more sympathetic to Palestinian concerns.

Trump administration discourages use of ‘two-state solution’, JTA
The White House is discouraging the use of the term “two-state solution” when describing possible outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A senior White House official on Monday confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a report that appeared over the weekend on Sky News Arabic, a satellite TV station, and picked up by the Times of Israel. “The two-state solution term means different things to different people,” the official told JTA. “There is no point in using a phrase that never achieved peace. Our plan provides a clear, realistic and detailed vision of what peace could actually look like.”

Hidden cameras in Arab voting booths were Netanyahu’s idea – TV report, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally suggested sending 1,200 activists with hidden cameras to voting stations in the April 9 Knesset elections, Channel 13 reported Monday. On election day, Likud activists arrived with hidden cameras in voting booths in Arab towns throughout the country. Officials from Netanyahu’s party admitted to having been behind the scheme, which they said was designed to counter alleged voter fraud in “high-risk” areas.

PLO to discuss revoking Israel recognition, ending security coordination, The Jerusalem Post
The PLO Central Council (PCC) will convene in Ramallah on May 15 to discuss suspending all relations with Israel, including security coordination between Palestinian Authority security forces and the IDF in the West Bank. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit several European Union, Arab and Islamic countries before the meeting to brief leaders on the decisions the Palestinians are planning to take ahead of the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century.”

In Bid to Secure Coalition, Likud Proposes Compromise on Haredi Draft Bill, Haaretz
In a bid to resolve one of the main sticking points in the ongoing negotiations to form a new governing coalition after Israel’s general election, Likud officials have proposed a compromise on a bill to draft ultra-Orthodox men for military service – a bill that contributed to the last government disbandment – which would allow both ultra-Orthodox politicians and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Iranian parliament labels entire US military as terrorist, AP
Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that labels all US military forces as terrorist, state TV reported, a day after Washington ratcheted up pressure on Tehran by announcing that no country would any longer be exempt from US sanctions if it continues to buy Iranian oil. The bill is a step further from the one last week, when lawmakers approved labelling just US troops in the Middle East as terrorist, in response to the US terrorism designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard earlier this month.

After Criticism, Israel Lets Gazans Celebrate Easter in Jerusalem, West Bank, Haaretz
Israel has allowed 500 Christian Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s Interior Ministry announced Monday, days after reports of an Israeli decision to give special permits to only 200 of the 1,200-strong Gazan Christian community drew criticism of Israel’s “arbitrary” change in policy.

Trump administration offers $10 million for information that would disrupt Hezbollah cash flow, JTA
The State Department posted the reward on Monday, listing some ways to get the money: providing the names of donors to the Lebanese terrorist militia; Hezbollah-owned businesses and front companies; the names of brokers who facilitate Hezbollah transactions; and criminal schemes run by Hezbollah.

Opinion and Analysis

Canadian Jews Love Israel. Out of Love, We Must Learn to Criticize It, Haaretz
Mira Sucharov writes, “A new landmark survey of Canadian Jews offers good news, and less good news. It portrays a Jewishly literate and Israel-connected community, together with a deep skepticism that Israel’s right-wing government is sincerely committed to peace. But it also shows that people like me – deeply attached to Israel, yet highly critical of the direction – are still dissenters withing the community. We’ve got our work cut out for us to show that emotional attachment to Israel doesn’t mean backing the occupation.”

How Trump’s push to end Iran oil exports could backfire, Axios
Barbara Slavin writes, “Pompeo claimed the US is acting in the interests of the Iranian people, but they will pay the biggest price as Iran’s hard currency earnings dwindle and their government shores up support among its conservative base […] Long accustomed to sanctions and to changing US policies, Iran will likely hunker down and ride out the Trump administration and its threats.”

US Sanctions, Internal Pressure May Curb Trenchant Threats by Iranian Guards’ New Chief, Haaretz
Yaniv Kubovich writes, “As Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps comes under increasing external pressure following its designation as a terrorist organization by the United States, the appointment of hardline Hossein Salami as its commander, announced Sunday by Iranian media following Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s decision, is seen as necessary in the Iranian context.”