News Roundup for April 9, 2019

April 9, 2019

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J Street in the News

Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal would bury the two-state solution, The Guardian
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the US-based progressive advocacy group, J Street, said Netanyahu’s statement was intended to sabotage the creation of a Palestinian state and potentially endangered Israeli lives. ‘If carried out, even a partial annexation would be a disastrous blow to Israel’s security and democracy — and a severe violation of international law … Israel cannot rule permanently over millions of Palestinians while denying them equal civil and political rights,’ Ben-Ami said.”

The Entire Republican Establishment Has Embraced a Classic Anti-Semitic Trope, The American Prospect
“According to a J Street survey, only 4 percent of American Jews say that Israel is one of their top two voting issues […] According to the J Street poll, large majorities of American Jews favor a halt to settlement construction in the occupied territories, want a two-state solution—with East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state—and by a 60-40 margin say the U.S. should play an active role in achieving those goals by ‘exerting pressure on both the Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace.’”

Jewish groups slam Trump’s new smear that American Jews aren’t American, Share Blue
“‘Netanyahu isn’t our Prime Minister. But clearly, Trump doesn’t believe it’s his job to represent us,’ J Street, a Jewish group that backs a two-state solution for peace in the Middle East, tweeted.”

Alma Rutgers: Resisting a disturbing narrative, Greenwich Time
“I’d recently returned from an Israel trip led by J Street founder and president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, during which we spent significant time in the Israeli occupied West Bank, including Hebron where the cave of Machpelah is located. J Street advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on Jewish and democratic values. Seeking a peaceful end to the occupation and a secure democratic Jewish homeland, J Street provides political space for elected officials and policy makers to support policies that advance this vision for Israel’s future. Our trip included five members of Congress.”

2 American Zionist Organizations that liberal American Jews can support, Times of Israel
“[We American Jews need to support] the only effective organization in American Jewish politics that has created a safe space for American policy makers to support Israel and oppose Israeli extremist government policies – J Street. J Street is a mainstream American pro-Israel pro-peace organization with more than 120 congressional and senatorial office holders accepting J Street’s endorsement.”

Top News and Analysis

Haaretz Live Election Updates: Netanyahu Defends Body Cameras in Arab Polling Stations, Haaretz
Polls opened nation-wide Tuesday morning as Israel’s 2019 Knesset election is underway in what is widely seen as a race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. As the parties scramble to rally last-minute voters, the final poll before the election, published Friday, gave the right-wing bloc a solid lead over the center left, headed by Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party.

Netanyahu, Gantz, and five scenarios for the Israeli election, The New Yorker
Bernard Avishai writes, “So Gantz’s bloc could squeak out a win. Or Netanyahu’s could win in a landslide. Or either leader could win a plurality for his party, but not a majority for his bloc. In fact, the polls reveal little about the serious difficulties that either of them, even with a clear win, will face in forming a government. Consider the head-spinning possibilities…”

In Trump, Netanyahu Sees an Ally Who Helps Him Push the Envelope, New York Times
Mark Landler writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank would flout four decades of American policy, under both Republican and Democratic presidents. But nothing emboldened Mr. Netanyahu to take such a risk more than the support of his ally President Trump.”

Whether Israel annexes the West Bank could be up to Trump, not Netanyahu, Washington Post
Shalom Lipner writes, “[The] frame shifted again on Saturday night, when Netanyahu declared that, if reelected, he would pursue annexation in the West Bank. What happens next if Netanyahu retains power will depend to no small degree on President Trump.”


Netanyahu defends hidden cameras in Arab towns, to ‘ensure fair vote’, Times of Israel
A Likud campaign officials defends the party’s deployment of hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab towns saying the “problem is in the behavior of those people in the Arab community,” not in Likud’s measures “to ensure a fair vote.”

Israeli elections to decide Netanyahu’s fate as voters cast ballots, Washington Post
Israelis began casting their votes Tuesday in a fiercely fought election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is battling for political survival after more than a decade in power

Netanyahu Urges Right-Wing Turnout in Tight Election, Wall Street Journal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged right-wing Israelis to vote in Tuesday’s parliamentary election, hoping their support could give him the edge in an exceedingly tight ballot that follows a hard-fought campaign with his rival, former Gen. Benny Gantz.

A look at the field: Major players in Israel’s elections, AP
There is the right-wing flagship, centrist newcomers, ultra-Orthodox parties, Arab parties and fringe movements. But only a handful will win the necessary 3.25 percent of total votes cast to cross the electoral threshold needed to enter the Knesset.

Netanyahu has become an issue in the US presidential campaign, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
At least five of the Democratic presidential candidates, ranging from the Israel-critical to the AIPAC-aligned, have rebuked the Israeli prime minister just days ahead of his re-election bid on Tuesday after he pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Beto O’Rourke went so far as to call Netanyahu racist.

Rep. Ilhan Omar called Stephen Miller a ‘white nationalist.’ GOP critics accused her of anti-Semitism., Washington Post
“Stephen Miller is a white nationalist,” she tweeted on Monday afternoon. “The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.” But because Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, is Jewish, Omar’s fervent detractors on the right saw her comments not as incendiary criticism of Miller’s hard-line immigration policies but instead as part of a pattern of targeting Jews.

New government stresses unity, yet ostracizes Hamas, Al-Monitor
Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh, whom President Mahmoud Abbas has chosen to lead the new government, is expected to take over soon as prime minister. He has wrapped up consultations with many Palestinian factions, seeking their participation, but shunned Hamas.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu is crossing every red line. He must go., Washington Post
Merav Michaeli writes, “Let’s make the distinction Netanyahu is deliberately not making: Yes, there are Arab countries and Islamist terrorists that are hostile toward Israel. Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups threaten our country. But the ‘Arabs’ Netanyahu is talking about are actually rightful citizens of Israel. They are not the enemy. They are not ‘the other.’ But you wouldn’t know that listening to our prime minister.”

Netanyahu Brought Nationalism to the 21st Century, The Atlantic
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “From character assassinations against opponents to dog-whistle politics, from criticizing the media to undermining law and order, the nationalist-populist playbook was pioneered by one leader perhaps more so than any other. He has been feted by President Donald Trump. Brazil’s new right-wing leader, Jair Bolsonaro, paid him a visit in March. The Italian politician Matteo Salvini, the anti-immigrant interior minister of Italy, told me last year that he was an ‘inspiration.’”

How Gantz May End Up Erasing the Israeli Left, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “The left’s indecision in choosing Kahol Lavan or Meretz could cause the right to expand its power.”

Will Jews Will Finally Flock To The GOP? Republicans Vow This Year Is Different, The Forward
Josh Nathan-Kazis writes, “The claims are, on the one hand, a rehash of similar claims made every presidential cycle by Republican Jewish leaders. Republicans haven’t won more than 30% of the Jewish vote since 1984, and today only 26% of Jews identify say they approve of Trump, according to Gallup. Yet this time, Republican Jews say, they’ve got a real shot. Praising Trump for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and pointing to divisions in the Democratic party over Israel, the RJC says they have an opportunity to make the case to Jewish voters. ‘It’s pretty good ammunition to use, and we’re trying to get the word out,’ said Fred Zeidman, a member of the RJC’s board of directors. ”

Netanyahu’s Far-Right Partners Were Birthed by U.S. Terrorists, Foreign Policy
Zach Dorfman writes, “Brooklyn-born militant Meir Kahane’s ideas are becoming dangerously acceptable in Israel. Netanyahu’s gambit obliterates a moral boundary that for decades mainstream Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu’s own conservative Likud party, have dared not cross. Otzma Yehudit, or ‘Jewish Power,’ is, in fact, just the newest face of the old Kach party, the radical movement founded decades ago by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the most infamous Jewish extremist of the latter 20th century.”

Israeli Elections May Show How Right Wing Young Israelis Are, The Forward
Jane Eisner writes, “We will know soon enough whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shocking declaration in favor of extending Israeli sovereignty into the West Bank will motivate enough voters in Tuesday’s election to propel him to an unprecedented fifth term in office. But we already know this: He’s got one segment of the population in his electoral pocket — Israel’s youngest Jewish voters. And this political development could have longer-term implications for the fraught relationship between Israel and American Jews.”

What Another Round of Netanyahu Will Mean for American Jews, The Atlantic
Emma Green writes, “Tuesday’s major election in Israel marks a high point of strain in the relationship between at least some American Jews and Israel, which has changed radically in the past generation.”

Netanyahu 2019: Radicalized by Obama, Unleashed by Trump, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Hostilities with the previous president drove him to embrace the dark right. Infatuation with his successor made him lose his inhibitions.”