News Roundup for April 25, 2019

April 25, 2019

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J Street in the News

In these dark times, young American Jews are a ray of hope, +972 Mag
“J Street announced it will offer a free trip that will take participants to Israel as well as to Palestinian cities and an Israeli settlement in the West Bank in an attempt to challenge the Birthright narrative. Meanwhile, the membership of left-wing Jewish organizations in the United States like IfNotNow, J Street, and Jewish Voice for Peace is only growing.”

5 Jewish things to know about Joe Biden, JTA
“The thrust of his J Street speech, mid-April? Netanyahu was taking the country in the ‘wrong direction — I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and, more importantly, they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,’ he said.”

Top News and Analysis

Iran minister: Trump’s aim is talks, Bolton wants conflict, Washington Post
Iran’s top diplomat said Wednesday President Donald Trump’s aim “is to bring us to our knees to talk” — but national security adviser John Bolton and key U.S. allies in the Mideast want “regime change at the very least” and the “disintegration of Iran.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he doubts Trump wants conflict because the president ran on a campaign promise “not to waste another $7 trillion in our region in order to make the situation only worse.” But Zarif said what he called “the B team” — Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed — is trying “to push Iran to take action” as a pretext for “crazy” and “adventurous” U.S. actions.

US Public Has Favorable View of Israel’s People, but Is Less Positive Toward Its Government, Pew Research Center
By nearly two-to-one (61% to 32%), Republicans have a favorable view of Israel’s government. By contrast, two-thirds of Democrats view Israel’s government unfavorably, while just 26% have a favorable opinion. Among Republicans, there are religious differences in these views. Evangelical Protestants are more likely than non-evangelicals to express a favorable opinion of Israel’s government (73% of evangelical Republicans vs. 55% of non-evangelicals).

Israel Is Losing the Democrats’ Support on Netanyahu’s Watch, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “wo thirds of Democrats polled said they had a negative view of Israel’s government under Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli public may not be sufficiently familiar with these figures, but the Democratic presidential candidates certainly are, and in recent weeks they have been competing with each other in their blatant attacks on Netanyahu.”


AIPAC pushes back after Bernie Sanders calls Netanyahu government ‘racist’, JTA
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee pushed back against Sen. Bernie Sanders for calling Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “racist.” The pro-Israel lobby, in a tweet that did not mention the Democratic presidential hopeful by name, said it was counterproductive when American leaders used “name-calling” against their Israeli counterparts.

UN: Viability of PA threatened by major financial, political challenges, Ma’an
In a newly published report, the United Nations noted that the scope of the challenges facing the Palestinian people and government is unprecedented. A major fiscal crisis, coupled with growing humanitarian needs, and the lack of a political prospect for a negotiated solution, threatens the stability of the West Bank and the very survival of the Palestinian state-building effort, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

IDF to confiscate Palestinian land for a new Gush Etzion-Hebron road, The Jerusalem Post
In a move to bolster the physical ties between sovereign Israel and the Jewish community of Hebron, Israel is moving forward on a critical bypass road that will expand the major Road 60 artery that links the Gush Etzion junction with the Kiryat Arba settlement. “We’ve been waiting over 15 years for this road,” YESHA chief security officer Shlomo Vaknin said.

Trump Peace Plan Doesn’t Include Confederation With Jordan, Says Envoy Greenblatt, Haaretz
U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt denied on Wednesday “rumors that our peace vision includes a confederation” between Israel, the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Jordan. As the publication of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan nears, Greenblatt said in a tweet that it does not “contemplate making Jordan the homeland for Palestinians.”

The French Ambassador Is Retiring Today. Here’s What He Really Thinks About Washington, The Atlantic
Araud: [Kushner] is totally in real-estate mode. He is totally dry. He’s extremely smart, but he has no guts. He doesn’t know the history. And in a sense, it’s good—we are not here to say who is right, who is wrong; we are trying to find a way. So in a sense, I like it, but at the same time he is so rational, and he is so pro-Israeli also, that he may neglect the point that if you offer the Palestinians the choice between surrendering and committing suicide, they may decide the latter. Somebody like Kushner doesn’t understand that.

Friedman to Post: U.S. thinking ‘out of the box’ with Trump peace plan, The Jerusalem Post
The Trump administration peace plan is an effort to “think out of the box and capture the imagination and hopes of both sides for a better life,” US ambassador David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, explaining why Washington is pressing ahead with the plan even as neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis seems overly enthusiastic. “I don’t think there is a lack of interest, I think there is exhaustion and frustration from so many previous failed efforts,” Friedman said.

White House, Abbas Fight to Win Over Arab World About Upcoming US Peace Plan, Haaretz
The Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority are caught in a battle over how the Arab world will respond to the administration’s Middle East peace plan. Both sides are trying to convince key Arab countries to accept their views on the plan, which could be released after the Muslim month of Ramadan ends in June, with the US administration seeking to have a clear separation between the Palestinian reaction and that of the Arab world.

Israel demolishes West Bank home of Palestinian attacker, AP
The Israeli military says its forces have demolished the home of a Palestinian who killed two Israelis in a shooting and stabbing attack last month […] Residents of the neighborhood were evacuated to a nearby school as the explosives were detonated.

Opinion and Analysis

After Almost 20 Years, Netanyahu May Finally Realize His Vision for ‘Durable Peace’, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu has a solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. If you haven’t heard of it, it‘s because you haven’t read chapter eight of his book ‘A Durable Peace’ […] Netanyahu’s plan is pretty straightforward. Under it, ‘Israel would retain some 60 percent of the territory with all the West Bank’s Jewish population; the Palestinian Authority would have some 40 percent of the area with virtually the entire Palestinian population.’”

With immunity gambit, Netanyahu endangers his legacy and our democracy, The Times of Israel
David Horowitz writes, “The legislation’s personal champion, URWP’s Bezalel Smotrich, asserted disingenuously on Sunday that this was not a move tailored to Netanyahu’s benefit, but rather a wider necessity so that MKs don’t have to spend their time protecting themselves from wild criminal allegations when they should be going about their elected political business.”

The Trump-Netanyahu Axis Pours High-octane Fuel on the Fire Consuming Democrats’ Support for Israel, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu’s pandering gestures are pleasing for many Israelis and Trump’s fans in America, but they make Democratic stomachs turn. Most Democrats view Trump as a clear and present danger to America and its democracy — and his supporters as active collaborators. Netanyahu, who turned Israel into Trump’s most enthusiastic cheerleading squad, has cast himself, in the eyes of Democrats, as the devil’s disciple. Sympathy for him and, by extension, for Israel is plummeting.”

The Israeli left doesn’t need any more generals, +972 Mag
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “The idea that a dues ex machina will arise to create a nation out of scattered opposition tribes needs to be retired. Even Moses had political training – he was raised in the court of kings. It’s logical that non-politicians are the antidote to bad politicians, but it’s also wrong. A decade ago, Barak Obama was the star “outsider;” now the fresh faces among American Democratic candidates are Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Kemala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. All have political experience. They are emerging leaders, but they are already politicians.”

Biden 2020: On Israel and the Mideast, Biden Has a Long, Complicated Legacy to Run On, Haaretz
Alexander Griffing writes, “Biden’s relationship with Israel has been long yet somewhat complex. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk explained in 2010 that Netanyahu ‘humiliated’ Biden when the then-vice president landed in Israel and Netanyahu immediately announced new settlement activities.”

Israelis are not all rightwing. But our leftist parties have lost faith in themselves, The Guardian
Yonatan Levi writes, “The roots of this phenomenon can be found in the aftermath of the second intifada, which ended in early 2005. With the peace process in tatters, a demoralised left allowed a reinvigorated right to invert the basic norms governing public life in Israel. Within less than a decade, an astonishingly effective public campaign carried out by Netanyahu and other rightwing politicians, journalists and NGOs created a new equation according to which leftwingers opposing the settlements in the West Bank are dangerous at best and treasonous at worst. “