News Roundup for August 7, 2019

August 7, 2019

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J Street in the News

Democrats, Don’t Settle for Aipac’s One-Sided Story, Crooked
J Street’s Ben Shnider writes, “Given that AIPAC is a group that has closely supported the actions of the current Israeli government—and applauded most of the Trump administration’s policies on this issue—it’s fair to question whether they plan to give their participants that kind of balanced and  accurate picture. Previous AIEF delegations have only rarely, if ever, included meetings with ordinary Palestinians living under occupation—or with the settlement movement leaders actively working to prevent a two-state solution. Taking advantage of their time in the region, members should aim to learn as much as possible by asking tough questions—and insisting on answers. Here are eight important questions they should ask…”

Top News and Analysis

Like Netanyahu, Trump Incites First and Cries Innocent Later, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The rabble-rousing hits its peak in the mass rallies that Trump continues to hold as if he’s on a perpetual campaign trail. In Israeli eyes, the crowd’s anger, sparked and fueled by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, is reminiscent of the angry protest demonstrations against the Oslo Accords that preceded Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.”

Lawmakers Redouble Push to Stop Trump From Going to War With Iran, Foreign Policy
Twenty-eight lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties are pushing legislation to ban the use of funds for military action against Iran without congressional authorization, according to an internal letter obtained by Foreign Policy. “Bipartisan majorities in both chambers have spoken up to defend Congress’ constitutional authority over matters of war and peace,” the senators and members of congress wrote in the letter.

Israel advances plans for over 2,300 settlement homes, most deep in West Bank, Times of Israel
During sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee cleared 1,466 homes through an early planning stage while 838 homes received final approval for construction throughout the West Bank. The majority of the homes advanced will be located deep in the West Bank, beyond the so-called settlement blocs.


EU pans new settlement expansion, says move harms chances for peace, Times of Israel
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” the EU said in a statement, decrying what it described as “repeated confiscations, demolitions, displacements and land expropriation” aimed at Palestinians.

Homeland Security Secretary: We Need To Invest More In Fighting White Nationalism, The Forward
Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan was asked on CBS This Morning about a Los Angeles Times report that found that a new Homeland Security office tasked with countering “racially motivated violence” had only a quarter of the staff and 12% of the budget of a similar office set up during the Obama administration. “We need to invest more, no question,” McAleenan said.

Senior Blue and White source: ‘Lapid is standing between us and winning’, Times of Israel
Exposing an ongoing rift within the top brass of Blue and White, senior leaders in the centrist union delivered a sharp rebuke Tuesday to party number two Yair Lapid, saying that his recent efforts to target the ultra-Orthodox are damaging the campaign and that he was personally “standing between us and winning the election.”

Netanyahu Vows He Won’t Establish Unity Government After Israeli Election, Haaretz
“It’s my obligation to Likud voters” to set up a right-wing government, Netanyahu says. Lieberman announced he won’t endorse him in such a case.

5 Things To Know About The Top Republican Who Said Rich Jews Bought Congress, The Forward
A letter he sent to NRCC members in March, which was first reported by the American Jewish World newspaper last week, claimed that the Trump administration’s good works were being covered up by “biased media and hundreds of millions of dollars of anti-Republican propaganda put out by liberal special interests, funded by deep-pocketed far-left billionaires George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.”

Shin Bet busts Hamas cell planning Jerusalem bombing attack, Times of Israel
The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday said it thwarted plans by Hamas members from Hebron to conduct a bombing attack in Jerusalem earlier this summer, retrieving the three-kilogram (6.6 pounds) explosive device they intended to use.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Was Quick to Denounce Rival’s ‘anti-Semitism.’ Here Are 5 Times He Stayed Silent, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “Prime minister slammed a tweet by Kahol Lavan No. 2 Yair Lapid this week, but wasn’t so vocal when his own son shared an anti-Semitic meme.”

What will the new Knesset look like?, Times of Israel
Ofer Kenig writes, “After long weeks of mergers, alliances and splits, the candidate lists have been finalized. Now that the dust has settled and the picture is clear, we know what lists will be competing and who is running on them. This allows us to sketch a picture of the new Knesset. Who will be our 120 representatives? Will the number of women MKs continue to backslide? Will the low level of Arab representation improve as a result of the Arab parties’ decision to once again run on a united list?”

Distorting the definition of antisemitism to shield Israel from all criticism, +972 Mag
Amos Goldberg and Raz Segal write, “The IHRA agreed on a definition of antisemitism in 2016, along with a list of examples, based on previous definitions. It has since become a kind of ‘soft law’ that is binding in many institutions and even states across the world. The problem is that the IHRA definition deals obsessively — more than with any other topic — with the degree of antisemitism in criticism of Israel, making it far more difficult to identify real instances of antisemitism, while casting a cloud of suspicion over nearly all criticism of Israel. Meanwhile, the burden of proof lies with critics of Israel, who are constantly asked to prove that they are not anti-Semites.”

Inside Hezbollah’s American Sleeper Cells: Waiting for Iran’s Signal to Strike U.S. and Israeli Targets, Haaretz
Matthew Levitt writes, “In the unlikely event of a truly full-scale war with Iran, Hezbollah would surely target Israel with salvos of artillery, missile and rocket bombardments. Nasrallah recently bragged that this arsenal has “doubled or tripled” since the 2006 war and that it includes weapons capable of hitting anything from the northern border to Eilat.”

Two Way Street: Tisha B’Av, J Street
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky writes, “I first stepped foot in Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av in 1967. I was a pilgrim on the Ramah Israel Seminar, and they wisely planned the summer’s itinerary so that our final week would be spent in the Holy City. We stayed in Katamon and, although I cannot recall it 52 years later, we probably read the book of Lamentations that evening while sitting on the floor of the Israel Goldstein Youth Village. What I do remember clearly was the next day, when we — and apparently every other Jew in the world — converged on the Wailing Wall.”