News Roundup for August 16, 2019

August 16, 2019

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J Street in the News

Israel Denies Entry to Omar and Tlaib After Trump’s Call to Block Them, New York Times
“Jeremy Ben Ami, the leader of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group in Washington, sharply criticized both Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu […] ‘The very foundations of American and Israeli democracy are being called into question by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu,’ Mr. Ben Ami said in an interview. ‘If you’re not allowed entry into a country because of your views, then we have reached the end of the ability to say the U.S.-Israel relationship is based on shared democratic values.’”

Swift criticism from lawmakers after Israel blocks Omar and Tlaib visit, MSNBC
J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami speaks with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC about the decision.

The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN
Andrew Gillum says, “This is one of those rare, sort of dumbfounding instances. You see J Street and also AIPAC are in alignment and agreement. I believe most of the political apparatus in this country — with the exception of Donald Trump — agree.”

New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, CNN
Karen Finney says, “Any time you have everyone from AIPAC to J Street agreeing that Israel made a bad decision, you know something is wrong.”

Power Up: Trump urged Bibi to diss two members of the ‘Squad.’ Long term, that may be damaging, Washington Post
“Today marks the end of the era that there’s shared democratic values that have bound the U.S. and Israel together for seven decades,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami told us.”

Donald Trump presses Israel into barring entry to American congresswomen, The Economist
“Donald Trump has not yet brought peace to the Middle East, as he promised to do. But on August 15th he achieved something almost as difficult: he got J Street and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), two Israel-related lobby groups, to agree on a matter concerning Israeli security. They usually occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. AIPAC takes a hardline approach, often backing Binyamin Netanyahu’s government and his Likud party, while J Street stays on the doveish side […] AIPAC argued that ‘every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.’ (J Street was even more forceful, calling the ban ‘dangerous, unacceptable and wrong.’)”

‘Netanyahu is essentially an Israeli Republican’, Politico
“‘There’s not much daylight between Netanyahu and Republicans, at least Republican elected leaders,’ said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Brooks’ counterpart, Jeremy Ben-Ami of the Democratically aligned group J Street, agreed but in harsher terms. ‘Netanyahu is essentially an Israeli Republican,’ said Ben-Ami, who believes the political relationship is bad for U.S.-Israel policy, while Brooks believes the opposite.”

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin Weighs In On Israel’s Ban On 2 Freshman Lawmakers, NPR
In response to the question, “Why couldn’t Omar and Tlaib have gone with you?” Rep. Raskin says, “Well, that trip was sponsored by a foundation that’s connected to AIPAC, and AIPAC, to its credit, has spoken out against this attempt to exclude Representatives Tlaib and Omar. There are different trips. There are different trips. There’s also J Street, and I’ve been over on the J Street trip. Look – you know, it’s a very tough situation over there, and we need to bring all sides together.”

Reps. Omar And Tlaib Barred From Visiting Israel After Trump Supports A Ban, NPR
“Several pro-Israel groups promptly criticized the decision, including J Street. President Jeremy Ben-Ami called it ‘dangerous, unacceptable and wrong’.”

Israel denies Omar and Tlaib entry after Trump tweet, The Hill
“Left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street released a statement calling the decision ‘dangerous, unacceptable and wrong’ and demanding it be reversed immediately, warning it otherwise would do damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

AIPAC and other Israel-backers rebuke Israeli decision to bar Omar and Tlaib, Times of Israel
“‘As sitting members of Congress representing hundreds of thousands of Americans in their districts, Reps. Omar and Tlaib have the same right as every one of their colleagues to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the influential left-wing advocacy group J Street.”

Israel’s decision to block congresswomen Omar and Tlaib draws widespread criticism, The Guardian
“The president of the nonprofit J Street – which describes itself as ‘the political home of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans’ – issued a statement slamming the move to block Tlaib and Omar’s trip.”

Netanyahu bans Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar after Trump claims they ‘hate all Jewish people’, New York Daily News
“‘Israel (is) showing gross disrespect to high-profile members of their party,’ Dylan Williams of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street wrote on Twitter.”

AIPAC and other Jewish groups join prominent lawmakers in criticizing Israel’s decision to ban Tlaib and Omar, JTA
“The liberal Israel policy group J Street decried the decision in a statement, saying Trump’s tweet urging Israel to ban the members ‘illustrates that this decision is motivated purely by politics and ideology.’”

Israel bars entry for Muslim U.S. Reps. Omar, Tlaib; draws backlash, UPI
“‘We may disagree with the views that the members hold … but the right approach for a state that values democracy is to welcome criticism and debate, not to shut it down,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said.”

Netanyahu’s Denial of Entry to Omar and Tlaib Is Dangerous and Wrong, J Street
“The fact that President Trump has already tweeted out his own call for these representatives to be denied entry illustrates that this decision is motivated purely by politics and ideology — not by the interests of the State of Israel. It is an affront to Congress and the American people and does severe damage to the US-Israel relationship — and it must be reversed immediately.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Says Rashida Tlaib Can Visit to See Her Grandmother, New York Times
A day after barring Representative Rashida Tlaib under pressure from President Trump, Israel said on Friday that she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank, but only after she agreed in writing not to “promote boycotts against Israel” during her trip.

Barring two U.S. lawmakers from Israel is un-Israeli. Trump’s cheering for it is un-American., Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “The episode is a disgrace to both countries and a demonstration that craven domestic political self-interest drives each leader far more than principle or the underlying importance of what until now has been an enduring alliance. By teaming up with Mr. Netanyahu to block the visit by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mr. Trump demonstrated contempt for the congresswomen and their constituents […] What’s added in this case is the odious assertion that their freedom to travel should be curtailed because of their political beliefs.”

What Are Trump and Netanyahu Afraid Of?, New York Times
The Editorial Board writes, “Though many American presidents have sought to influence Israeli decisions throughout the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, they usually did so diplomatically — and to advance America’s interests. Mr. Trump, by contrast, leaned on Mr. Netanyahu as he would on one of his own appointees, in broad view, and in direct violation of what the president of the United States should be doing when democratically elected lawmakers are threatened with a blockade by an allied leader.”


Former PM Olmert: Gov’t Views Abbas as the Real Enemy, Not Hamas, The Jerusalem Post
“No one demands that Israel engage in a serious political dialogue with Hamas, but almost everyone in the world except – for America – demands that Israel engage in a political dialogue with the PA,” he said. “But Netanyahu doesn’t want peace and doesn’t want to engage with the Palestinian Authority, because that would him lead into to concessions he doesn’t want to accomplish. So therefore, for him, the PA is the dangerous enemy that has to be squeezed into a corner and criticized all the time, not Hamas.”

Democratic leaders blast Israel for banning Tlaib and Omar, Al-Monitor
Key Democratic leaders who had previously clashed with Tlaib and Omar over their vocal support for the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement wasted no time in publicly urging the Israelis to reverse course.

Banned congresswomen call decision ‘insult to democracy’ and a sign of weakness, Times of Israel
In a statement Thursday, Omar called Israel’s decision “chilling,” saying denying entry to sitting members of the US Congress was an “insult to democratic values.”

The Latest: Trump defends Israel move to bar 2 congresswomen, AP
President Donald Trump is defending Israel’s decision to bar two Democratic members of Congress from visiting the country, even as he claims he didn’t “encourage or discourage” the move.

Cop injured in Jerusalem stabbing attack; 2 assailants shot, Times of Israel
Two teenage assailants stabbed a police officer, moderately injuring him, in an apparent terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, officials said.

Two Israelis Wounded in Car-ramming Attack Near West Bank Settlement, Haaretz
One of the wounded, an 18-year-old, was evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital in critical condition, emergency services said. The other, aged 20, is said to be in moderate condition and was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Dagan to Netanyahu: Stop AIPAC’s False Claims Israel Supports Two-States, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must insist that the premier American Jewish lobbying group AIPAC stop falsely stating that Israel supports a two-state solution, Samaria Regional Court head Yossi Dagan said on Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Massive Self-Own, The Atlantic
Daniel Shapiro writes, “Netanyahu will call in whatever he thinks it will take to win, no matter the blows to the two-state solution, no matter the damage to bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. He just wants to be sure that Trump will deliver.”

King Bibi Bows Before a Tweet, New York Times
Bari Weiss writes, “After Trump cowed the Israeli leader into reversing course on Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the biggest loser was Israel itself.”

Israel’s ban of Omar and Tlaib is a grave misstep, Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes, “The ban is a stunning, unprecedented step, one that signals Israel, long a bastion of democracy in the Middle East, cannot tolerate criticism — even from nationals of its closest ally. For Netanyahu it sends the message that he is Trump’s puppet, willing to damage the long-term relationship with the United States to assuage the ego of a president who is in a political tailspin.”

Netanyahu Banned Omar And Tlaib Because The Occupation Must Be Hidden To Survive, The Forward
Peter Beinart writes, “Netanyahu is not a fool. He may have barred Omar and Tlaib partly because Donald Trump asked him to. He may have felt the stunt would appeal to right-wing voters in Israel’s upcoming elections. But he likely also understood that if Omar and Tlaib brought the American media with them to the West Bank, they might begin to puncture the cocoon that he and his American Jewish allies have worked so hard to build.”

Nixing Tlaib and Omar Visit, Netanyahu Harms Israel to Assuage Trump’s Ego, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer announced last month that ‘out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America’, his government would not deny entry ‘to any member of Congress.’ His statement, widely seen as heralding Israeli consent for the impending visit of controversial Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, was the result of meticulous deliberations in Jerusalem, which reached the conclusion that nixing the visit would cause more damage than approving it. So what changed? Only one thing: Donald Trump blew his stack.”

Will Israel’s treatment of Omar and Tlaib finally wake Democrats up?, +972 Mag
Haggai Matar writes, “Now that Israel has banned entry to Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, will Democrats affirm the right to boycott and hold Israel’s feet to the fire? Five takeaways…”

Israel Banned Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Because They’re Anti-Trump, Not Anti-Israel, Slate
Joshua Keating writes, “In large part, this is a problem of Netanyahu’s own making. The prime minister more or less cast his lot with the Republicans years before Trump arrived on the scene, but always at least went through the motions of bipartisanship and will presumably look to mend fences if another Democrat is elected—a task that just became a whole lot harder.”

This Is How Israeli Democracy Ends, The Forward
Emma Goldberg writes, “Today’s news is an escalation of these fear-mongering tactics. To block two sitting U.S. members of Congress from entering the country is a new extreme that ought to set off alarm bells.”

Barring Tlaib and Omar, Israel inexcusably abandons the diplomatic battlefield, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “Closing our doors to these pernicious critics gives them a clear victory and denies us the opportunity to even make our case… as Netanyahu should know best of all”