News Roundup for August 2, 2018

August 2, 2018

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J Street in the News

Wallace Scores J Street Endorsement, Jewish Exponent

“Scott Wallace, the Democratic nominee in the 1st [Pennsylvania] Congressional District, received an endorsement from J Street on July 23. It came as little surprise, considering Wallace has long fashioned himself a ‘J Street Democrat,’ meaning he is left-leaning and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….’I deeply share [J Street’s] commitment that the best ticket to a stable and prosperous Israel, and sustainable peace in the region, is a two-state solution,’ Wallace said in a statement.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu weakens support for Israel in the United States, Washington Post

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “In Congress, dissatisfaction among Democrats with Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank is becoming more visible….For Israelis trying to change the country’s direction, it has long been dispiriting to watch Democratic politicians drop their critical thinking at the door in AIPAC conventions. If more Democrats draw a line between support for Israel and support for Netanyahu’s destructive policies, I’d count that as one of the rays of light in these dark times….Over-the-top condemnations from abroad set off Israelis’ raw feeling of being besieged and shove public opinion rightward. Criticism from Washington can be effective when aimed at specific policies that are already controversial in Israel. Razing Palestinian villages to make way for settlement is such a policy; passing the nation-state law is another.”

U.S. Palestinian Aid Cuts Hit Programs Providing Food And Health For Gaza’s Poorest, NPR

“The Trump administration is withholding millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians, even money that seeks to address a deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Food vouchers for needy families. Doctors sent to Gaza to perform complex surgeries. Money has run out for these projects and more, say U.S.-funded aid groups working in Gaza….This week, 70 Democratic Congress members wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton requesting the administration immediately restore U.S. funding for humanitarian aid in Gaza, noting recent Israeli military officials’ statements expressing concern about the effects of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis on Israel’s security. ‘We all recognize the serious security and political challenges in Gaza. However, U.S. support for the basic human rights of Palestinians living in Gaza must not be conditioned on progress on those fronts,’ their letter said.”

No Fuel, No Gas: Israel Clamps Down on Gaza Over Airborne Firebombs, Haaretz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered fuel and gas be banned from entering the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing starting Thursday until further notice. According to the Defense Ministry, the decision was made in light of the “continued airborne firebombs terror” and the clashes during the weekly protests on the Gaza-Israel border.


Netanyahu warns that Israel will stop any Iranian attempt to close Red Sea, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Iran on Wednesday that Israel, together with an “international coalition,” would not allow the Islamic Republic to close a key regional waterway.

Nation-state Law Backlash: Netanyahu Offers Israel’s Druze New Legislation to Enshrine Their Status, Haaretz

Following the protest sparked by the nation-state law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the representatives of the Druze community to pass a law which would enshrine the status of the Druze and Circassian communities. The plan outlines a Basic Law and a regular law that will recognize the contribution of minorities who defend the country by “enshrining eligibility for the benefits of minority members of all religions and communities who serve in the security forces, for the purpose of closing gaps and promoting social equality.”

High Court: No avoiding evacuation of West Bank Bedouin village, Times of Israel

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday said that there is no avoiding the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and implored the legal representatives of the West Bank Bedouin village to reach a compromise with the state on a new alternative location to move the residents. After gaining the green light from the top court in May to demolish the Palestinian hamlet adjacent to the Kfar Adumim settlement, the state had planned to move the residents to a site near a garbage dump belonging to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis.

Israel inaugurates Jewish heritage center in hotly contested East Jerusalem neighborhood, Washington Post

Israeli officials inaugurated a Jewish heritage center Wednesday in a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, escalating an already fierce legal battle between local residents and Jewish settlers who also claim the land. Amid high security, senior Israeli ministers and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a staunch supporter of Israel, attended the ceremony on a narrow, trash-strewn street in the Silwan neighborhood, a recent flash point for tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Former Shin Bet chief pleads with president to not sign nation-state law, Times of Israel

A former director of Israel’s secret service appealed Wednesday to President Reuven Rivlin and urged that he not sign a law that enshrines Israel as a Jewish state, warning that it will further divide Israeli society and violate the commitment the country has to its minorities. Ami Ayalon, who headed the Shin Bet internal security agency in 1996-2000 and served as a government minister and lawmaker for the Labor party for several years, wrote to Rivlin asking that he refrain from putting his signature on the legislation to prevent it from going into effect.

Israel Kills Seven Armed ISIS Terrorists Approaching Syria Border, Haaretz

Seven Islamic State terrorists were killed in an Israeli attack overnight Wednesday in Syria’s Golan Heights. The terrorists came as close to 200 meters to the Israel-Syria border, at which Israeli troops launched an attack against them, army spokesman Ronen Manelis.

Opinion and Analysis

The Jewish Agency Has a New Chairman. These Are the Five Things He Needs to Do, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The way for Herzog to build trust in the Diaspora is to show there is clear daylight between him and Bibi….There is certainly a role right now for a senior Israeli figure who is capable of simply listening to the concerns of Jews around the world instead of lecturing them, and articulating those concerns to the Israeli public and in Jerusalem’s corridors of power.”

A New Wave Of Hardline Anti-BDS Tactics Are Targeting Students, And No One Knows Who’s Behind It, Forward

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports, “After three years of development, shadowy pro-Israel actors are rolling out a suite of new tactics to oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that are more aggressive, more sophisticated, and more secretive than anything before….The people behind these new tactics are going to great lengths to hide their identities, though they seem to be working in concert with each other. They are conducting surveillance on BDS activists. They are creating anonymous pop-up websites that attack activists and student government representatives. They are hiring top-level political strategists and opposition researchers. And in Canary Mission, they are running a long-term campaign to blacklist student activists.”