News Roundup for April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

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J Street in the News

The Real Danger of Anti-Semitism in America, City Watch LA
“Today, AIPAC’s influence is waning because the majority of American Jews reject key policies of the Netanyahu government, including settlement-building in the West Bank […] J Street is committed to a two-state solution, in which Palestinians are able to chart their own political course. In the last election, J Street-endorsed candidates won more seats than ever before. That suggests a sea-change in the political landscape.”

J Street Welcomes Bipartisan Effort to Block Trump from Launching Disastrous War With Iran, J Street
“This vitally-needed bipartisan legislation aims to prevent President Trump from launching a war against Iran without first obtaining congressional authorization. Senators should support it and fulfill their constitutional obligation to act as a check on the president’s ability to take our nation into another disastrous war of choice.”

Top News and Analysis

Congress invokes powers to challenge Trump on war in Yemen, Washington Post
GOP leaders proposed adding language condemning the international boycott movement against Israel and efforts to delegitimize the country. Democrats called the amendment a ploy to kill the Yemen resolution and rallied against it. “This is about politics, this is about trying to drive a wedge into this caucus where it does not belong,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., to applause from Democrats.

Polls: Likud, Blue and White in tight battle, but right-wing bloc clearly ahead, Times of Israel
Likud and Blue and White remained locked in a tight battle for supremacy Thursday, five days before Israelis cast their votes, with each party taking the lead in one of two separate polls, some of the last to be published before the April 9 vote. But both polls showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu best-placed to form a majority coalition.

Editorial: Benny Gantz Is the Best Candidate for Prime Minister, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “In an amazingly short time, Benny Gantz has changed Israel’s political map. For the first time in a decade, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a rival whom the public views as a comparable candidate for prime minister […] Gantz is preferable because on Election Day, you have to choose reality, not dreams. And he offers Israel a better reality than Netanyahu does”


Congress passes historic resolution to end US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen, Vox
To pass the final resolution, Democrats first had to vote to reject adding a pro-Israel amendment against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — a push to boycott Israel. “They are playing games with a bill that speaks to the horrific situation in Yemen and I just don’t think you can play politics,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who chairs the House Rules Committee, told Vox of the maneuver.

Election Poll Shows Gantz Will Struggle to Form Coalition Despite Lead Over Netanyahu, Haaretz
Despite Gantz’s 30-to-26 lead over Likud in the poll, the former military chief of staff would have a hard time forming a government. Netanyahu’s base of ultra-Orthodox, right-wing and far-right parties would have 63 seats, while Kahol Lavan, center-left, left-wing and Arab parties would have 57. There are 120 seats in the Knesset.

Everything You Need to Know About Benny Gantz, the General Vying to Take Down Netanyahu, Haaretz
He has signalled he would make territorial concessions toward the Palestinians but has also sidestepped the question of Palestinian statehood. His party is also running on a platform promising to impose term limits on the prime minister (Netanyahu is seeking a 5th term), invest more in education, allow public transportation on Shabbat and enact civil marriages.

Meet the Woman Set to Shatter Stereotypes About Israeli Arab Lawmakers, Haaretz
In the stereotypically derogatory depictions of them, Israel’s Arab lawmakers spend most of their time sloganeering about the occupation while neglecting the day-to-day needs of their constituents. But Heba Yazbak, the 34-year-old rising star of the hard-line Balad party, could shatter that stereotype.

Boycott Israel’s Election? A Palestinian Rapper Says No, New York Times
Frustrated over their choices in the Israeli election, and at Arab politicians whom they describe as ineffective, some Palestinian citizens of Israel have been gathering popular support for a boycott of Tuesday’s ballot. But a well-known Palestinian hip-hop artist released a powerful new video on Thursday pushing back on the boycott, urging Arab citizens not to waste their votes.

Palestinian Authority blames Hamas for lack of progress, Al-Monitor
The Palestinian Authority (PA) says Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are interfering with PA efforts to gain international condemnation of Israel for its actions against the Gaza Strip. But Hamas says the PA has no one to blame but itself for its failures.

Opinion and Analysis

Final Countdown 2019: A Dozen Reasons Why Netanyahu Will Win the Election – and Half a Dozen Why He Won’t, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Because Netanyahu has been around for so long, Israelis can’t imagine life without him. Which means that the thought of replacing him requires a leap of faith, which his chief rival Benny Gantz may have failed to inspire.”

We Are Too Weak to Stop Israel, New York Times
Raja Shehadeh writes, “Israel has not formally annexed the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, but it lords over these lands like a sovereign power. Or worse. It has seized tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to administer the West Bank; it keeps Gaza under siege. It dictates that we, Palestinians, can only watch from our homes the results of an election whose outcome will govern our lives and the future on our land. Israeli Jews in the West Bank are citizens, but we are not. They will be able to go into Israel to vote. Not us.”

The Potential Kingmaker in Israel: An Ultranationalist Who Wants to Legalize Pot, Wall Street Journal
Dov Lieber writes, “Moshe Feiglin wants Israelis to be able to smoke a joint without legal consequences. He also wants Israel to annex the entire West Bank and strip non-Jews of their voting rights unless they pledge loyalty to the state.”

The Timing Is No Coincidence: The World Mobilizes for Netanyahu’s Campaign, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “The recent chain of breakthroughs is no coincidence. Netanyahu is a master at enlisting the heads of great powers and ‘third-party countries’ to help him in his election campaign. ‘Netanyahu, in a different league,’ says a 12-story high billboard on the northern façade of Likud’s historic headquarters of Metzudat Ze’ev in Tel Aviv. Given recent events in the international arena, one can only conclude that at least this declaration by the ruling party is accurate.”

How Israeli Attitudes Toward Democracy Have Changed Under Benjamin Netanyahu, NPR (Audio + Transcript)
Daniel Estrin reports for All Things Considered, “Under 10 years of Benjamin Netanyahu Israel’s democracy has been put to the test in new ways — with new laws declaring Israel a Jewish state and making work tougher for left-wing advocates.”

Trump and Netanyahu Are BDS’s Best Recruiters, The Forward
Dean Obeidallah writes, “[T]hese BFF’s have something else in common: They both oppose self-determination for Palestinians. And in so doing, Netanyahu and Trump will almost certainly push people desperate for justice to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS.”