News Roundup for April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017

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J Street in the News

Word on the Street: Remembering the Shoah, J Street

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “As the child of a Holocaust survivor, who himself is no longer here to testify, I have always felt a great personal responsibility to bear witness. I spent years collecting, writing and publishing my family’s tragic story…..In our own country and around the world, there seems to be a rising tide of discriminatory and exclusionist nationalism, exploiting fears and demonizing ‘the other’ for political gain. Time and again, leaders of this trend have demonstrated a shocking disregard for the facts, details and lessons of the Holocaust…..I do believe that the Holocaust is a birthright we must handle with care. We cannot allow its lessons to be cheapened by misused or diluted by overuse. But neither is the Shoah an historical artifact to be guarded and preserved in museums and archives. It is a living legacy that summons and challenges us in all of our political work here, in Israel and around the world. It is a touchstone for all we do and all we are. And this year of all years, the challenge is stark and the task is clear.”

Top News and Analysis

President Rivlin at Holocaust Day Ceremony: Not Every Criticism of Israel Equals anti-Semitism, Haaretz

“President Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday that it was wrong to think that every criticism of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism….Rivlin said in his remarks that not every criticism of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism. The president rejected the approach according to which ‘the justification for the existence of the State of Israel is the prevention of the next Holocaust,’ and ‘every threat to Israel is a threat to survival, every Israel-hating leader is Hitler.’….But Rivlin also rejected what he called the universal approach, which views the Holocaust as ‘just one specific occurrence of genocide’ that targeted the Jewish people….Continuing, Rivlin offered a third approach, one that is built on self-defense, on the shared destiny of the Jewish people and the ‘sacred obligation’ to remember that all human beings were created in God’s image.”

Evicted Israeli settlers wait and wait for Netanyahu’s promised new home, Washington Post

“The government has proposed resettling the families on a site just outside the Jewish settlement of Shvut Rachel, to what would be the first new Jewish settlement in 20 years. But it remains unclear when, or even if, the new settlement will be built. A multitude of obstacles stand in the way, such as bureaucratic complications, Palestinian claims to the land and international pressure….The Israeli government’s approval on March 30 to build a new settlement was widely condemned by much of the international community and viewed by the Palestinians as another Israeli attempt to take over their land….What Netanyahu did not mention is that the new settlement is slated for an area far from the blocks of West Bank Jewish communities that would most likely remain part of Israel under any peace agreement. If a Palestinian state is created, the new settlement and others around it would have to be removed.”


Israeli fire kills three in Syria at pro-government military base: militia, monitor, Reuters

An Israeli attack against a military base for the Syrian pro-government National Defence Forces in southern Syria killed three NDF members on Sunday, the NDF militia and a monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said it remained unclear if the source of the bombardment in Quneitra province was an air strike or shelling.

Palestinian Teen Stabs 4 On Tel Aviv Beachfront, Forward

A Palestinian man stabbed four people in Tel Aviv in two separate attacks. The assailant, identified by police as an 18-year-old Palestinian, was captured and arrested. The attacks took place in two hotels along the Tel Aviv beachfront promenade, located near the U.S. embassy on the same street. Three of the injured are in their 50s and one is 70, Magen David Adom said, and are in light condition.

First Jewish-American Group Cancels Trip to Israel Over Travel Ban Against Boycott Supporters, Haaretz

Concerned that its delegates might be stopped at Ben Gurion International Airport and denied entry into the country due to recently enacted legislation, a prominent Jewish-American organization has cancelled its annual summer trip to Israel. Americans for Peace Now is the first organization that regularly brings groups to Israel to respond in this way to the law, passed last month in the Knesset, that would bar from Israel any foreigners who have publicly expressed support for a boycott of the country, even if that boycott only includes the West Bank settlements.

6 Israelis Arrested For Racist Attacks On Arabs Who Dated Jews, Forward

Six Israelis from the southern city of Beersheba were arrested for violent attacks on Arabs whom they suspected of engaging in romantic relationships with Jews. The agency, known as the Shin Bet, announced the arrests on Sunday. It did not say when the arrests took place. Among those arrested were a minor, who cannot be named, and two soldiers. The attacks, which have been taking place since December, were carried out with weapons including knives, metal batons and crowbars, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Citing anti-Semitism, Democratic lawmakers urge Trump to fire aide Sebastian Gorka, JTA

Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to dismiss an aide accused of being a member of a Hungarian far-right nationalist group. Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both from New York and Jewish, are sending a letter to Trump urging him to fire Sebastian Gorka, Politico reported Friday. At least 18 House of Representatives members, all Democrats, have signed the letter, according to Politico.

Israeli forces shoot 3 Palestinians, injuring 1 critically, in Ramallah-area village, Ma’an

Israeli forces shot and injured three young Palestinian men, one of them critically, and detained two others during clashes in the village of Kafr Malik in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Sunday, local sources told Ma’an.

Trump to deliver keynote address at US Capitol Holocaust event, Times of Israel

President Trump will deliver the keynote address at an annual Holocaust remembrance ceremony in the United States Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum said Sunday.

Opinions and Analysis

Why is Israeli Labor shifting back to leftist agenda?, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “On July 4, Israeli Labor will elect a new leader to take them to the next election. The most interesting and important phenomenon in this race is that each candidate is highlighting a diplomatic agenda based on that of former party chair and assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. For the first time in years, they are not trying to run away from attempts to brand them as ‘left.’ In fact, quite the opposite is true. Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz is a diplomatic dove and always has been. He is presenting a well-formulated doctrine based on the principle of diplomatic negotiations that led to separation from the Palestinians. Knesset member Omer Bar-Lev, a former chief of the Matkal commando unit, is a zealous advocate of a two-state solution. So is former Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabai. Then, of course, there is Maj. Gen. Amiram Levin, who led a campaign in support of the left-wing group Breaking the Silence and could easily align himself with the left-wing Meretz Party, too. Even the current chair of the Zionist Camp, Isaac Herzog, has made the transition. Just last year, he announced that there was no one to talk to on the Palestinian side. He has since realigned himself firmly with left-wing supporters of the diplomatic process.

Plight of Palestinian refugees now spans 5 generations, ABC News

“As a boy, Palestinian Abdullah Abu Massoud fled the war over the birth of Israel in 1948 and sought refuge in the nearby Gaza Strip. As an adult, Abu Massoud was displaced again when Israeli forces captured Gaza, along with the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in 1967. He escaped to Jordan, where he has been living in a refugee camp for 50 years. Now 77, Abu Massoud is the white-haired patriarch of a refugee family spanning five generations, including a great-great-granddaughter. The future looks bleak.”

Hezbollah’s PR Provocation on Border Comes at a Good Time for Israel, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “The unusual tour for journalists that Hezbollah held along the Lebanese-Israeli border on Thursday seemed like the organization’s attempt to respond to its critics at home, and at the same time to maintain deterrence against the Israeli army….For Israel, this unwise provocation comes at a good time. On the day the journalists’ tour took place, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in the Security Council that Iran and Hezbollah are the main offenders in the Middle East and promised that the United States would work against them. On Thursday, in an interview on Fox News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he believed the Trump administration should ‘repeal or replace’ the nuclear agreement with Iran. The new U.S. administration is behaving in the international arena with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop, but at least as far as its positions on Iran and Hezbollah, the Netanyahu government hopes that the new, rough wind blowing from Washington will help advance Israel’s interests.”

How Abbas is prepping for expected surge in nationalist sentiment, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “The Palestinian leadership is preparing for June 2017, which will mark 50 years since the Israeli occupation began. It is preparing for a great surge of nationalistic sentiments. According to a senior PLO official close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leadership wants to lead this nationalistic wave, which reflects 50 years of despair, rather than be led by it. Ramallah is currently preoccupied with the unrest among Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails. Championed by Fatah’s most famous prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, the prisoners launched a hunger strike on April 17. Also, Abbas’ entourage fears increased radicalization among the younger constituency in the West Bank, driven by Hamas’ virulent criticism of Abbas’ inaction and his security cooperation with Israel. Apparently, this concern over the decline in Abbas’ support is shared by others. A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official dealing with policy analysis in the research branch of the ministry told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the ministry is concerned by Abbas’ weakened position and his possible threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the ministry’s analysis, Abbas is pinning his hopes on Egypt and Jordan applying pressure on the Donald Trump administration to engage in a two-state solution process within a regional framework.”

Explained: Why Secular Israelis Are Burning Mad Over Religious Coercion, Haaretz

Alison Kaplan Sommer observes, “The secular majority is furious over the muscle-flexing by the politically influential ultra-Orthodox parties and their ability to make mainstream politicians bow to their will.”

For pro-Israel Americans, Trump’s support may be less than welcome, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Robert Solomon Henderson writes, “J Street supports a two-state solution because it is the only approach that will create a sustainable and equitable peace between Israelis and Palestinians and preserve Israel as the democratic Jewish homeland. Under this framework a new Palestinian state would peacefully co-exist with Israel separated by internationally recognized borders. Capitals, borders, security arrangements and other details would be determined through negotiations marked by good-faith and compromise. The notion of a ‘one-state solution’ is illusory. The one-state outcome that your editorial wistfully imagines would force Israel to make the impossible choice between preserving either its Jewish character or its democratic system. The Jewish dream of a democratic homeland would evaporate in a single state — an outcome that the majority of Israelis and the overwhelming majority of American Jews could never countenance.”

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