News Roundup for April 26, 2019

April 26, 2019

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J Street in the News

Record at a glance: Joe Biden’s long record of often heated exchanges about Israel, JNS
“‘I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past 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,’ Biden told the [2016] annual J Street gala. ‘They’re moving us toward a one-state reality, and that reality is dangerous.’”

Top News and Analysis

For the third time, a federal judge blocks an Israel boycott ban on First Amendment grounds, Washington Post
Bahia Amawi was driving to her children’s Taekwondo tournament near Austin on Thursday when her phone began to buzz. She pulled over and opened a cascade of text messages alerting her to the news that a federal judge had just temporarily blocked enforcement of a state law that said she could either boycott Israel or hold a contract with a local school district to provide speech therapy and early-childhood evaluations. But not both.

Trump’s Strange, Tense Campaign Against Iran, The New Yorker
Robin Wright writes, “From the UN pulpit, Trump warned Tehran’s revolutionary leaders, ‘Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.’ Rouhani rebuffed the overture. He told Macron that he had had enough problems at home after taking a telephone call from President Obama, in 2013—and Obama hadn’t publicly insulted him. ‘We said, ‘Are you joking?’’ the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told me.”

I Wanted To Meet With Arabs – So Israel Treated Me Like One, The Forward
Laura Mandel writes, “I’ve never felt much fear or anxiety about traveling to Israel. I always knew I was protected by my American passport and, above all, by my status as a Jewish person. And I knew that Israeli Arab citizens do not share this sense of safety while traveling to or from their home country. But an experience I recently had at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport taught me a new lesson on the relations between the Jewish majority and Arab minority in Israel.”


UN Experts Urge Israel to Halt Deportation of Human Rights Watch Official, Haaretz
United Nations experts in the fields of human rights and freedom of expression criticized Israel for revoking the work permit of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch. A statement released by the UN human rights commissioner’s office on Thursday called the decision by Israel a ruling that “threatens advocacy, research and free expression for all and reflects a troubling resistance to open debate.” 

Zarif says ‘negotiating table is there’, Al-Monitor
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged today that he had received a letter from Robert C. O’Brien, US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, asking for the release of detained US citizens. He also said he had had his deputy write a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, apparently proposing a prisoner exchange, or raising the issue of Iranians arrested for alleged violations of US sanctions laws.

Senior Fatah Official: The Goal of the New Government in Ramallah Is to Isolate Hamas, Haaretz
The next government is expected to be fully controlled by Fatah with a party veteran that could potentially succeed Abbas.

2 Congress members call for Israeli visitors to have easier entry into US, JTA
Two Congress members called on the Department of Homeland Security to admit Israel into a program that allows some of its visitors expedited entry into the United States. Reps. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., sent a letter Wednesday to the acting Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, urging him to admit the Jewish state into the Global Entry program for “pre-approved, low-risk travelers.”

Lebanon ‘ready’ to demarcate maritime border with Israel under UN supervision, Times of Israel
The speaker of Lebanon’s parliament said Tuesday that Beirut is prepared to demarcate its maritime border with Israel, a move that could resolve an ongoing oil and gas dispute between the two neighboring countries, which are still technically at war.

4 children of couple murdered in West Bank sue Syria and Iran in federal court, JTA
The four children of a couple who were killed by a Palestinian Hamas terror cell while driving in the West Bank have filled a $360 million civil damages wrongful death lawsuit against Iran and Syria in federal court in Washington.

UN confirms 3rd Hezbollah tunnel crossed border into Israel, violating ceasefire, Times of Israel
A UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon Thursday confirmed that a tunnel discovered earlier this year by Israel had crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border, in the third such breach of a ceasefire resolution. Israel in January accused the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah of having dug what it described as the deepest, “longest and most detailed” cross-border tunnel it had discovered.

US and Israel launch reciprocal investor visa programs, JTA
The United States and Israel have launched a reciprocal policy allowing major investors to reside in each country. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Tuesday that it would grant investor visas permitting U.S. citizens, including vital workers and their families, to reside and work in Israel on a temporary basis for the purpose of managing and developing a business venture.

Opinion and Analysis

The New Palestinian Prime Minister Hopes to Regain the Public’s Trust — if It’s Not Too Late, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “Mohammad Shtayyeh’s government has pledged to ‘bridge the gaps’ between the leaders and the people, as the AMAN Coalition for Accountability and Integrity details nepotism and poor governance in a new report.”

On Palestine-Israel, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris miss the progressive wave they seek to ride, +972 Mag
Rebecca Pierce writes, “Senators Booker and Harris’ hawkish records on Israel stand at odds with a democratic voting block that is increasingly connecting Palestinian rights to a host of other racial and social justice issues.”

Biden’s pro-Israel record could help with defense of Iran nuclear deal, Al-Monitor
Bryant Harris writes, “Unlike his rivals, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee boasts a decades-long relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, potentially helping Biden to fend off Republican attacks against his support for Obama’s signature foreign policy effort. That tight connection, however, could prove a liability with some left-wing primary voters who have soured on Israel’s right-wing leadership.”

The Israeli Left’s Bleak Lesson After the Defeat, Haaretz
Emilie Moatti writes, “Ever since I received a platform in Haaretz, I have urged the leaders of the center-left camp to join forces, to anchor the Israeli democratic camp. If a single political party can include Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, why can’t the same thing happen here? Why not Meretz’s Ilan Gilon and Kahol Lavan’s Meir Cohen? Why not Labor’s Omer Bar-Lev and Kahol Lavan’s Ofer Shelah?”

The True Cost Of The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance, The Forward
Jane Eisner writes, “I predict this is a short-term phenomenon, a sugar high before a sharp decline, which will put an even more serious strain on the strategic alliance between the U.S. and Israel. In his sycophantic adulation of Trump, Netanyahu scores a few real triumphs. But he is reaping a pyrrhic victory.”

Jewish and Palestinian Women Create Together. But Don’t Call It Coexistence, Haaretz
Eness Elias writes, “Abu Bakr was initially hesitant about taking part in the project. ‘I was reluctant,’ she says, ‘because what do I have in common with female religious artists from the Jewish society? I never sat at one table with them.’ Indeed, both she and Yael Serlin describe highly charged, very political meetings.”