News Roundup for August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

The Hate He Dares Not Speak Of, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “Let’s discard the fiction that President Trump wasn’t placating white supremacists by responding so weakly to the neo-Nazi violence that killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counterdemonstrator in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. The neo-Nazis heard his message loud and clear….Mr. Trump is alone in modern presidential history in his willingness to summon demons of bigotry and intolerance in service to himself. He began his political career on a lie about President Barack Obama’s citizenship and has failed to firmly condemn the words and deeds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan leaders and other bigots who rallied behind him. A number of these people, including David Duke, the former Klan imperial wizard, and Richard Spencer, self-styled theorist of the alt-right, were part of the amen chorus of bigots in Charlottesville….One aide not heard from was Steve Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, whose nationalist theories and Breitbart dog whistles helped summon the rage on display in Charlottesville.”

Before You Rip Up That Iran Deal…, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “Opponents of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal often complain that the deal doesn’t address the nefarious ways in which Iran is expanding its influence and further destabilizing the Middle East. Such concerns, while valid, are no reason to blow up the agreement, as President Trump is recklessly trying to do by pressing his administration to declare, with absolutely no evidence, that Iran is in violation of the terms. Critics often ignore the fact that the deal was intended to keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, a crucial and necessary goal. They also ignore the fact that the deal is working, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, which rigorously monitors Iran’s activities, and even Mr. Trump’s own State Department have certified….Iran is too big to be ignored. And if Washington pursues regime change, as some officials seem to favor, the risks will be huge. This is a crucial moment for Iran as revolutionary leaders die off and competition heats up between hard-liners with a strict anti-Western Islamic ideology and pragmatists who back the nuclear deal and international engagement.”


Trump Condemns White Supremacists And Neo-Nazis By Name — 2 Days Later, Forward

President Donald Trump denounced white supremacists including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan on Monday, and said racism, hatred and bigotry had no place in America following a violent white-nationalist rally in Virginia. Trump had been assailed by Republicans and Democrats alike for failing to respond more forcefully to Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, in which a woman was killed when a man crashed his car into a group of counter-protesters.

Israeli Trump Backer Suggests ‘Leftists’ Set Up Deadly Charlottesville Car-Ramming, Forward

President Trump’s top supporter in Israel blamed “leftist thugs” for the violence in Charlottesville and defended the president for failing to directly condemn white supremacists. Marc Zell, head of Republicans Abroad in Israel, also called Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee a “great man” — and said he suspects liberal counter demonstrators were somehow behind the car-ramming attack that killed one person and injured many others. “I will not be surprised if they find that the incident was deliberately provoked by the left,” Zell told Haaretz.

Likud MK holds ‘protest’ office at Temple Mount gate, Times of Israel

A lawmaker from the Likud party held office hours Monday outside an entrance to the Temple Mount in protest of an ongoing ban against MKs visiting the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, imposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Yehuda Glick, who was shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount said it was a one-day action.

Israel Experts Defend H.R. McMaster, Forward

A former leader of Israel’s National Security Council defended US National Security Adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster against claims that the American general is hostile to Israel. Yaakov Amidror, a reserves major-general of the Israel Defense Forces, defended  McMaster, who was appointed in February, in a Jerusalem Post op-ed published Sunday, which Amidror co-authored with Eran Lerman, a former member of the Israeli council and an intelligence specialist. Amidror, who served as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief security advisor for two years until 2015, wrote in the letter that recent allegations of an anti-Israel bias on McMaster’s part were “scurrilous and harmful personal attacks launched by some American Jews and even a few Israelis” and “an offense against the truth, against basic decency and against the best interests of Israel.”

Mossad Chief Heads Delegation to Washington for White House Talks on Syria, Haaretz

A delegation of Israeli defense officials will visit Washington later this week for talks with senior White House and American defense officials. Haaretz has learned that the delegation will be headed by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, and he will be joined by the head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, as well as the head of the Defense Ministry’s political-security department, Zohar Palti. A senior White House official said that the Israeli delegation will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Power, Trump’s special Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, as well as other officials.

PLO condemns US lawmakers for bill targeting payments to terrorists, Times of Israel

The Palestine Liberation Organization has condemned a move by US senators to slash aid to the Palestinian Authority over its stipends to terrorists and their families, saying the proposed legislation amounted to financial extortion that would curtail Palestinian rights. PA President Abbas chaired a Saturday meeting of the PLO Executive Committee to review the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approval last week for a bill to cut US funding to the PA if it does not stop paying wages to terrorists in Israeli prisons.

Israel’s Attorney General Nixes Bill That Would Sanction Institutions Marking Nakba, Haaretz

Authority to withdraw funding from cultural institutions for violating the “Nakba Law” will remain with the treasury and not be transferred to the Ministry for Culture. This was decided at a Sunday meeting between Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. This means the “cultural allegiance” bill initiated by Regev, intended to move such authority to her ministry, will not be advanced at this stage.

Opinions and Analysis

The Battle of Charlottesville, New Yorker

Jelani Cobb writes, “We have seen a great number of false equivalencies in the past two years, and the most recent Presidential election was defined by them. Yet it remains striking to hear Trump imply that Nazis and the interracial group of demonstrators who gathered to oppose them were, in essence, equally wrong….We have entered a new phase of the Trump era. The breach that Trump has courted since he first emerged in public life has become apparent; it is more deadly and its architects more emboldened. What happened in Virginia was not the culminating battle of this conflict. It’s likely a tragic preface to more of the same.”

Scoop: Sheldon Adelson disavows campaign against H.R. McMaster, Axios

Jonathan Swan reports, “Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson has disavowed a campaign against National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, which is being pushed by a group Adelson funds, the Zionist Organization of America….Adelson doesn’t want his intervention to be interpreted as a political endorsement; but rather that he has had nothing to do with, and doesn’t support, the campaign against McMaster.”

Bannon in Limbo as Trump Faces Growing Calls for the Strategist’s Ouster, The New York Times

Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush report, “For months, Mr. Trump has considered ousting Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and relentless nationalist who ran the Breitbart website and called it a ‘platform for the alt-right.’ Mr. Trump has sent Mr. Bannon to a kind of internal exile, and has not met face-to-face for more than a week with a man who was once a fixture in the Oval Office, according to aides and friends of the president….Not least, Mr. Bannon embodies the defiant populism at the core of the president’s agenda. Despite being marginalized, Mr. Bannon consulted with the president repeatedly over the weekend as Mr. Trump struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. In general, Mr. Bannon has cautioned the president not to criticize far-right activists too severely for fear of antagonizing a small but energetic part of his base. But what once endeared him to the president has now become a major liability. After the president waited two days to blame white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville, there is new pressure from Mr. Trump’s critics to dismiss Mr. Bannon.”