News Roundup for August 30, 2018

August 30, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street-Backed Virginia Democrat Smeared By GOP Over Israel Book, Forward

“A Republican campaign flyer linking a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives with last year’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia has been slammed by J Street, which backs the candidate, as one of the most ‘disgusting political attacks we’ve ever seen.’ The flyer, sent by the Republican Party of Virginia, claims that journalist Leslie Cockburn — who is running in Virginia’s expansive 5th district, which includes Charlottesville — “spread anti-Semitic propaganda” after writing an “anti-Jewish” book they said was praised by neo-Nazi groups including Stormfront. The ad also superimposed a picture of Cockburn over tiki torch-carrying white supremacists who marched through the University of Virginia while chanting “Jews will not replace us” during the deadly 2017 protests. ‘Because she co-authored a book decades ago critical of Israel, the mailer accuses her of spreading anti-Semitic propaganda. That’s ludicrous,’ the left-wing Jewish group’s national political director, Ilya Braverman, wrote in response. ‘Criticizing Israeli policies doesn’t make someone anti-Israel. And it ABSOLUTELY doesn’t make someone anti-Semitic. Throwing around such accusations diminishes the very serious and growing threat of anti-Semitism in this country.’”

Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: August 29, 2018, Haaretz

“PRIMARY RESULTS — FLORIDA: In the 6th Congressional District, Nancy Soderberg, a former Bill Clinton National Security aide and U.S. Representative at the United Nations, won the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Ron DeSantis. In J Street’s endorsement of her candidacy, the group highlighted Soderberg’s role in passing the UN Security Council resolution endorsing Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.”


Top News and Analysis

Trump Wants to Help Israel by Cutting Aid to Palestinians. Why are Some Israelis Worried?, Foreign Policy
Neri Zilber writes, “The U.S. government, historically UNRWA’s biggest donor, provides more than a quarter of the agency’s budget. Its plan to eliminate $350 million in funding will leave UNRWA with a massive shortfall and has already forced layoffs. The school year is set to start on time, but officials at the agency can’t guarantee that it will extend past the end of September. Gaza in particular is of utmost concern, with the territory already on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe and Israel and Hamas teetering on the edge of war. Israeli security officials have consistently described Gaza as a “ticking bomb”–one that Israel and Hamas (which rules the Strip) are now trying to defuse via indirect talks.”

What is Trump getting for sucking up to Saudi Arabia?, Politico

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write, “Ever since Franklin Roosevelt’s historic rendezvous in 1945 with Abd Aziz Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, American presidents have been enamored with Saudi kings. But nothing in the 70 plus-year history of U.S.-Saudi ties comes close to the cosmic groveling that now defines President Donald Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and his slavish obeisance to its dangerous and irresponsible policies. Since Trump became president, the U.S. has enabled and supported a disastrous Saudi war in Yemen; watched as Riyadh launched a political and economic war against Qatar that’s split the Gulf Cooperation Council and enhanced Iran’s influence; stood by as the Saudis virtually kidnapped the pro-American Lebanese Prime Minister in a bungled attempt to weaken Hezbollah; remained silent while the Saudis under the guise of reform cracked down on journalists, bloggers, businessmen and anyone else who dared criticize the 30-something crown prince; and said nothing as Riyadh battered Canada—a close U.S. ally that dared challenge Saudi human rights abuses.”



Hamas Leader Threatens Israel With ‘Six Months’ of Rockets on Tel Aviv, Haaretz

The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said Wednesday that talks were underway on reaching a cease-fire deal with Israel, while issuing a threat that “all of the missiles that the Palestinian resistance fired [at Israel] during the 51 days of the last war [in 2014] it can fire in five minutes.”

At Dimona reactor, Netanyahu warns Israel’s foes they risk ruin, Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to a secretive Israeli atomic reactor on Wednesday to warn the country’s enemies that it has the means to destroy them, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to its assumed nuclear arsenal.

PA denies TV report Abbas suffering memory loss, limiting work day to 2 hours, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s health has deteriorated rapidly lately, an Israeli report said Wednesday, prompting swift pushback from the Palestinian leader’s office.

Egypt, U.S. Pressure Abbas to Assume Responsibility for Gaza, Haaretz

On Wednesday, just hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke on the phone with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi about the situation in Gaza, the White House published a statement thanking Sissi for his attempts to bring calm to Gaza – and slamming Abbas for his stance on the same issue.

Trump’s Mideast team takes aim at PA, says Israel will not pay a ‘higher price’, i24NEWS

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, while on a conference call with representatives of the American Jewish Congress on Wednesday, said that the Trump Administration is looking for Israel to “lean in” to US-led peace efforts. Friedman clarified remarks made by President Donald Trump earlier this month stating that Israel would have to “pay a higher price” after the US handed it a win by moving its embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the flashpoint city as the indisputable capital of the Jewish state.

Israel’s ‘Man of Shadows,’ Who Tricked U.S. Nuclear Inspectors, Dies at 95, Haaretz

Benjamin Vered, originally Blumberg, who died on Wednesday at 95, held the most sensitive security positions in Israel for three decades. Some of the operations he orchestrated – at times with the help of producer Arnon Milchan – resembled scenes from a Hollywood thriller.

Iran intelligence chief acknowledges having Israeli spy, Associated Press

Iran’s intelligence minister has boasted on state television about his country’s successful recruitment of a former Cabinet-level official from a “hostile” country, signaling Tehran’s first acknowledgment of compromising an arrested Israeli official.


Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu and Duterte: Is there an equivalency?, i24NEWS

Glenn Field writes, “Israel welcoming Duterte raises many questions. In the age of Donald Trump and the emergence of the ‘political strongman,’ Duterte is often seen in kind, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, North Korean Leader Kim Jon Un, and Russian President Vladmir Putin. But many, particularly among the Israeli Left, also link Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the strongman description, claiming he is undemocratic and antagonistic toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, while Netanyahu rebukes critics who accuse him of policies perpetuating human rights abuses, he may now find himself in a position where he is forced to take a stand on Dutetre’s human rights record. Human Rights Watch (HRW) characterizes the Philippines under Duterte as the ‘worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s.’”

After 21 years at Americans for Peace Now, I am enraged—and hopeful, Forward

Debra DeLee writes, “After 21 years as President and CEO, I am retiring on Thursday from Americans for Peace Now with tangled emotions….What gives me hope? It’s pretty simple. People. Beyond the diplomatic accomplishments regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace over the past two decades — and they are significant — I draw hope from the people. On both sides. When I see the commitment in the eyes of the young, newly-recruited peace activists of Shalom Achshav, I see hope. When I see Palestinian entrepreneurs building their future state, I see hope. When I see tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrating for peace, tolerance and democracy, I see hope.”

Trump turns away from the Palestinians, Al-Monitor

Laura Rozen writes, “The United States has traditionally tried to act as a ‘firefighter,’ discouraging steps that could inflame tensions on the ground, but now it seems to be playing ‘arsonist,’ said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Pentagon and State Department official who worked on the Middle East peace process….While previous US administrations have shared the Trump administration’s inclination that there is no “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, they have always said it is an issue to be determined in negotiations, said former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team Ghaith al-Omari. ‘It is the methodology that is problematic,’ Omari, now a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al-Monitor. ‘The US position has always been … that this has to be resolved by negotiations.’”