News Roundup for December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street: Bolton as State Department deputy would damage US, Times of Israel

“Liberal Jewish group J Street spoke out aggressively Monday night against former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, amid reports that he is President-elect Donald Trump’s preferred choice for deputy secretary of state….while J Street appeared wary of Tillerson, saying it expected the Senate to question him vigorously in hearings — it was outright livid over Bolton, asserting that he was “a completely inappropriate choice for deputy secretary of state, or any role related to America’s relations with the rest of the world. ‘Bolton’s long track-record shows to him to be hostile to the notion of diplomacy itself,’ the organization said. ‘He is an unabashed advocate for premature, unnecessary and dangerous use of military force in the Middle East and around the globe.’ It claimed Bolton’s tenure at the UN ‘is widely viewed as an embarrassing and damaging period for our country, and has been widely denounced by American diplomats who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.’”

Trump’s Pick of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State Spooks Jewish Groups, Forward

The left-wing pro-Israel group J Street focused in its statement, released late Monday, not on Tillerson but instead on the report that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton could be nominated as Tillerson’s deputy. “Bolton’s long track-record shows to him to be hostile to the notion of diplomacy itself,” said the group’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in a statement. “He is an unabashed advocate for premature, unnecessary and dangerous use of military force in the Middle East and around the globe.”

J Street Statement on Reported Picks to Lead State Department, J Street Blog

“The Secretary of State is one of the most important leadership positions in our federal government, serving both as the nation’s chief diplomat and a top advisor to the President in setting US foreign policy. Accordingly, J Street urges Senators of both parties to thoroughly vet Rex Tillerson’s background and qualifications to serve in this critical office….J Street believes John Bolton is a completely inappropriate choice for Deputy Secretary of State, or any role related to America’s relations with the rest of the world. We oppose his nomination and believe his confirmation would greatly set back American diplomacy, our country’s national standing and the foreign policy and security interests of the United States and our allies, including Israel. Bolton’s long track-record shows to him to be hostile to the notion of diplomacy itself. He is an unabashed advocate for premature, unnecessary and dangerous use of military force in the Middle East and around the globe….We note that the Senate in 2005 refused to confirm the nomination of Bolton as UN ambassador, and that he served only as a recess appointee. We strongly urge the Senate to act now in the same fashion, and refuse to confirm such a reckless choice for one of our nation’s most important offices.”

Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Cozies Up to Muslim-haters, but Won’t Meet (Pro-peace) Israel-lovers, Haaretz

J Street U National Board member Ezra Oliff-Lieberman writes, “The fact that Ambassador Dermer would rather engage with an Islamophobic think-tank than with pro-Israel, pro-peace students is one of many indicators that, for the current Israeli government, “pro-Israel” means unconditional support for all of its policies – not critical engagement with the challenges facing Israel, or commitment to the Jewish and democratic values that lie at the core of the US-Israel relationship. That’s made obvious when Israel’s ambassador won’t meet with J Street U, but goes out of his way to say that he looks forward to working with Trump adviser Steve Bannon – a notorious white nationalist whose website traffics in hatred, including anti-Semitism.”

Top News and Analysis

Deal Reached to Relocate Amona Settlers, Bennett Says, Haaretz

“Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that he had come to an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would resolve the controversy over the evacuation of the West Bank Amona outpost. The plan, he said, would relocate the residents as a group to a nearby site on the same hill on land deemed abandoned by Palestinian owners. The Habayit Hayehudi party leader expressed confidence that Amona’s residents would accept it.

Bennett declined to provide details before the plan is presented to the residents of Amona, who are facing a December 25 deadline set by the High Court of Justice, which ruled that the Amona outpost had to be vacated because it was built on land owned by individual Palestinian owners.”

Fearing Attacks on Palestinians, State Demands Peaceful Evacuation Pledge From Amona Settlers, Haaretz

“The government is requiring that the residents of the West Bank outpost of Amona, who are facing a December 25 deadline from the High Court of Justice to vacate the site, sign a written commitment that they allow a peaceful evacuation in return for their relocation to an adjacent site, in an area that is deemed abandoned land. The main reason why the government is requiring that Amona residents sign such a commitment is concern that a violent eviction of the residents from the site would lead to a deterioration in the security situation in the West Bank as a result of attacks by right-wing extremists against Palestinians. At the meeting Monday morning, Netanyahu said that every effort should be made with the outpost residents to ensure the peaceful evacuation of the site, out of concern that the day after would bring a wave of hate crimes against West Bank Palestinians. The prime minister noted that, in such a situation, there was liable to be a counter-response by the Palestinians and broad escalation of the security situation in the West Bank.”


Conway: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem ‘big priority’ for Trump, Politico

Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem will be a major focus for Donald Trump, senior aide Kellyanne Conway said on Monday. “That is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump,” Conway told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on his Monday morning show. “He made it very clear during the campaign, Hugh, and as president-elect I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

Mayor Nir Barkat Says Trump Era Will Be Good for Jerusalem, Forward

It’s been nearly 50 years since Israel captured eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. For the past eight years, Nir Barkat has been this city’s mayor. On Sunday evening, six months ahead of the “united Jerusalem” jubilee, Barkat received an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where he gave the keynote speech. A staunch advocate of Israeli control over all of Jerusalem, he thanked President-elect Donald Trump for his “commitment to strengthen our city by moving the U.S. Embassy home, to Jerusalem, the united and eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

Rocket Fire Along Israel-Egypt Border Suspected After Alarms Sound, Haaretz
Sirens warning of an incoming rocket were reported on Tuesday morning in southern Israel, in the Ramat Negev Regional Council, near the border with Egypt. According to the army, an initial investigation failed to find evidence a rocket had fallen in Israel, and the army believe one was likely fired near the Egyptian side of the border, prompting the rocket alert sirens to go off.

Trump’s team already exploring logistics of moving embassy to Jerusalem — report, Times of Israel

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has begun exploring the logistics of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, and checking into sites for its intended new location, Israeli TV reported on Monday evening, hours after Trump’s campaign manager said the move was “a very big priority” for him.

Shimon Peres’ Son Will Light Menorah at President Obama’s Last Hanukkah Party, Forward

Members of Shimon Peres’ family will light candles at President Barack Obama’s final Hanukkah party using a family heirloom menorah. Chemi Peres, the late Israeli president’s son, and Mika Almog, his granddaughter, will light the candles at the party Wednesday evening, more than a week before the start of the holiday, according to a statement released Monday by the Peres family confirming earlier reports.

2nd aide this week denied entry to Knesset over ‘short’ dress, Times of Israel

A female Knesset aide said Monday she was forbidden from entering the Knesset last week for wearing a dress that guards said was “too short,” in what is at least the second case in a week of Knesset guards denying entry to women because of their clothing. Moria Silfen, an aide to MK Eli Alaluf (Kulanu), told the Hebrew-language daily Haaretz that she was stopped at the entrance to the Knesset last Wednesday for 40 minutes, and was told by guards that she could not enter on account of her dress.

Natan Sharansky Slams Bill Banning Non-Orthodox Prayer at Western Wall, Forward

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky slammed a Knesset bill that would prevent non-Orthodox public prayer at the Western Wall. Sharansky, who led the negotiations on the egalitarian measure along with outgoing Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit, slammed the new proposal, said the measure would torpedo the agreement in January for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall negotiated by the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government.

Opinion and Analysis

MK Bitan Must Be Fired for Racist and Undemocratic Declarations on Voting in Israel, Ameinu

Decrying the anti-Arab comments of MK David Bitan, Ameinu President Ken Bob states that “For the Whip of the ruling coalition to express such contempt for both a large segment of the Israeli electorate and for democracy in Israel itself, which in his case is a frequent occurrence, is disqualifying from leadership.”

Jerusalem of Trump: Where the president-elect might put the US embassy, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahren presents an in-depth look at the history of US representation in Jerusalem and sites the incoming Trump administration are reportedly considering as they weigh moving the US embassy to the city.

Rabbi Boteach’s Bannon Selfie: The Bizarro Morality of Allying With ‘Israel-friendly’ Bigots, Haaretz

Elad Nehorai writes about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach aligning himself with and defending white nationalist Trump appointee Steve Bannon. [T]the concept that we should be willing to sacrifice our wellbeing in order to protect the innocent, does not seem to have become part of the national conversation this year. A man like Boteach will go on television, go on Twitter, and proclaim that aligning himself with the biggest agent of white nationalism is a moral action because it results in “good” for Israel….This is an inside-out, bizarro world, funhouse mirror, morality. An “ends justify the means” way of dealing with reality. It is the most superficial way of going about life.”

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