News Roundup for August 30, 2019

August 30, 2019

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J Street in the News

The Most Undiplomatic of Diplomats Is Trump’s Man in Middle East, Bloomberg
“As the top American envoy to one of the world’s most volatile regions, David Friedman is anything but diplomatic […] He then became ambassador in March 2017, sparking opposition from liberal pro-Israel group J Street for what it said were his extreme views.”

St. Louis Jewish voices on president’s ‘disloyalty’ comment, St. Louis Jewish Light
“Sally Altman, a founding member of the St. Louis chapter of J Street, a liberal Israel lobby group: ‘I was deeply offended that I could fall into one of two categories: I was disloyal — and I want to know to whom or what was I disloyal — or I was uninformed — and I consider myself well read, informed and not disloyal to anything that I value, which is Democracy, freedom of speech and a commitment to those who are in need.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s shadow war with Iran risks triggering wider conflict, analysts say, NBC News
Yossi Mekelberg, a professor of international relations at Regent’s University, London, said there was a risk Israel would overstep and trigger a retaliation from its neighbors. “If you infringe on their sovereignty — how much are they going to tolerate it?” he said. “We’re talking fine margins here and both sides can miscalculate.”

Netanyahu Strikes Deal With Far-right Leader: Government Portfolio in Exchange for Dropping Election Run, Haaretz
Far-right Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin announced on Thursday that he is dropping out of the September 17 election in exchange for a role of a minister in Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government, should he succeeds forming it.

Questions after US turns away Palestinian Harvard freshman, AP
A Palestinian student trying to start classes at Harvard University was denied entry to the U.S. in a case that critics of the Trump administration call emblematic of overly invasive screening at border checkpoints. Ismail Ajjawi, who had been living in Lebanon, was refused entry into the U.S. after landing Friday at Logan International Airport in Boston, university and federal officials confirmed this week. The 17-year-old freshman said the denial had to do with politically oriented social media posts by his friends.


Germany’s Merkel insists on two-state solution in Israel-Palestine conflict, Deutsche Welle
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Thursday for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict even if this goal is “increasingly difficult to achieve.” Abbas said that Palestinians are ready to negotiate a two-state solution within 1967 borders, but he criticized US President Donald Trump for taking the side of Israel on such issues as the status of Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements.

Rivals tear into Netanyahu for ‘teaming up with extremist’ Feiglin, Times of Israel
Blue and White, the main rival party to Netanyahu in the September 17 vote, panned the deal, accusing the prime minister of “buying” the Zehut party leader with a cabinet seat and claiming he was “teaming up with extremists.”

Iran Accelerating Hezbollah’s Precision Missile Program After Years of Failure, Israel Says, Haaretz
Iran and Hezbollah have sped up their precision-guided missile project over the past year after six years of failure, Israel’s military said on Thursday amid tensions following a strike near Beirut that Lebanon attributed to Israel.

‘Watch out’: In tacit threat, IDF reveals details of Iran-Hezbollah missile plot, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday revealed the identities of four senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials involved in a joint project to manufacture precision-guided missiles for the Lebanese terror group, in a dramatic move apparently intended as a tacit threat to the officers. The army warned that the Iranian-led project was “jeopardizing the stability of Lebanon.”

Tehran says fresh nuclear deal breaches ahead if talks fail, Al-Monitor
Iran has reminded the European signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of its plan to enter a new phase of suspending commitments it has been honoring under the 2015 deal. According to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the “third step” will be taken Sept. 6 unless a new understanding between Tehran and the European sides is achieved.

Fearing Hezbollah attack, IDF said to replace soldiers with dummies on border, Times of Israel
A Hezbollah-affiliated reporter on Thursday said Israel had replaced some of its soldiers along the Lebanese border with mannequins in uniforms, amid heightened tensions along the frontier.

Israeli University Heads Won’t Intervene in Discrimination Against Palestinian Schools, Haaretz
The Committee of University Heads in Israel has declared that the discrimination against Palestinian universities with regard to granting visas for visiting lecturers is a political issue and thus not one in which they will intervene. The announcement was made in response to an appeal made by 33 faculty members at Haifa University to Prof. Ron Rubin, the university’s president and the chairman of the committee.

Iraq accuses Israel of string of attacks on paramilitary bases, Times of Israel
The Iraqi government accused Israel for the first time Wednesday night of being behind an attack on a powerful Iran-backed paramilitary force in its territory earlier this week.

Likud Will Form a Government With Gantz, Netanyahu’s Son Says, Haaretz
The move would be a way to stymie the prime minister’s rival on the right, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Opinion and Analysis

When Ilhan Omar Is Accused of Anti-Semitism, It’s News. When a Republican Smears Muslims, There’s Silence., The Intercept
Mehdi Hasan writes, “I have been reporting on Islamophobia in U.S. politics for more than a decade, and I honestly cannot remember coming across a more brazenly Islamophobic statement from an elected member of Congress. ‘Growing influence of the Islamic religion’ among Democrats? ‘More and more Muslims’ winning elections? The ‘dominant influence’? ‘Anti-Jewish’? […] As I pointed out last week, anti-Muslim bigotry has been normalized in liberal and Democratic Party circles. Meanwhile, anti-Semitism has been weaponized by Republicans eager to smear their Democratic opponents (while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the anti-Semites and white nationalists in their own ranks).”

Anyone but Cowardly, Warmongering Kahol Lavan, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “Vote left, vote right, just don’t vote nothing. The nothing of Kahol Lavan isn’t merely nothing, it’s an actively destructive nothing. It suffocates any possibility of providing an alternative and eliminates any hope for change.”

In Hebron, Tlaib and Omar would have seen Israel’s apartheid city, +972 Mag
Avner Gvaryahu writes, “Had Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar been allowed to visit Hebron, they would have seen Israel’s official policy of discrimination and segregation for the city’s 215,000 Palestinian residents.”

Meet the Israeli Political Party Waging a Holy War Against the LGBTQ Community, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “With a platform straight out of a Margaret Atwood novel, the Noam Party is hoping to win seats in the next Knesset. Even if it fails, its anti-secular agenda is gaining ground on the Zionist, religious right.”