News Roundup for December 20, 2018

December 20, 2018

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J Street in the News

Sens. Sanders and Feinstein oppose Israel anti-boycott provision, The Hill

Two leading Senate Democrats announces staunch opposition Wednesday to an ongoing effort to protect Israel from boycotts as part of a year-end spending package. Send. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the provision….poses a threat to free speech protections….J Street, a liberal Jewish group advocating a two-state solution with Palestinians, issued a statement Wednesday welcoming the Sanders/Feinstein letter. ‘This misguided legislation would enable greatly expanded federal action to penalize Americans for non-violent political action and speech — including support for certain boycotts of Israeli settlements,’ the group wrote.”

Sanders, Feinstein Urge Senate to Reject anti-BDS Bill: ‘Threat to Free Speech’, Haaretz

“J Street, ‘the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,’  has officially voiced opposition to the bill, on the grounds that it ‘would do nothing to help strengthen Israel’s security or effectively combat BDS,’ saying it stifles free speech and ‘erases the distinction between Israel and the occupied West Bank.”

Feinstein, Sanders urge Senate not to include anti-BDS law in spending bill, Times of Israel

“J Street, the liberal Mideast advocacy group, applauded the two senators’ letter, calling the legislation a ‘misguided’ effort that ‘extends US legal protections to settlements, infringes on First Amendment rights and hurts, rather than helps, efforts to counter the BDS movement. ‘Quietly passing such a problematic and widely-criticized bill without full Senate debate on the merits would be a disturbing subversion of standard and appropriate legislative process,’ it said.”

Left Wing Pushes Back Against Last-Minute Effort to Pass Anti-BDS Bill, Jerusalem Post

“J Street, a liberal advocacy organization that seeks a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, opposes the bill and praised Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont for speaking out on Wednesday….J Street characterized the bill as ‘misguided.’ The anti-boycott bill ‘would do nothing to help strengthen Israel’s security or effectively combat BDS,’ the group said. ‘Instead,’ they add, ‘it would alienate many of the supporters Israel needs most.’”

AIPAC, J Street: It Shouldn’t Be Either/Or, The New York Jewish Week

Rabbi Shira Milgrom writes, “We must find ways to listen to each other. Both AIPAC and J Street sponsor an annual national conference in Washington, D.C. I am planning to attend both conferences this coming year. Several of my fellow rabbis in neighboring Westchester congregations have joined me in this effort to attend both conferences, and to bring members of our congregations with us….I have reached out to the leadership of both AIPAC and J Street in an effort to promote the idea of caring Jews committing to attend and learn from both conferences. J Street officials said they are happy to offer a discount to any person who registers to both the AIPAC and J Street conferences. ‘Debate is a central and honored Jewish tradition,’ said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘I’ve long found the desire to avoid it around Israel to be strange. Embracing robust and healthy debate over Israel will strengthen our community and its relationship with Israel.’”

Top News and Analysis

Bernie Sanders’s new plan to force a genuine debate in Congress on Israel, Washington Post

“It is a lack of debate about Israel — not just about the Netanyahu government’s policies but also about how we in America should react to them — that allows provisions such as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to flourish. But that also means that if you draw enough attention to them, things can change….Sanders and Feinstein represent two influential Jewish senators from different points on the ideological spectrum. On Wednesday morning, they sent a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) not to include the IABA in the latest budget bill.”

Despite the Blow to Its National Security, Israel Will Bow to Trump’s Syria Withdrawal, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “The U.S. President is weak. He is running away, with America’s tail between its legs. He is abandoning Israel, betraying the Kurds and sticking a knife in the back of Bashar Assad’s opponents. He is strengthening Iran, handing a victory to Russia, throwing a lifeline to ISIS and encouraging radical Islam. This is what Benjamin Netanyahu and his disciples would undoubtedly be reciting now, if the U.S. President’s name were Barack Hussein Obama, with added emphasis on his middle name, so that everyone gets the message….This is what happens to a country and a prime minister who have wagered all their chips on empty gestures, such as the embassy move, at the expense of the far greater and more immediate threat on its northern border….This is what awaits an Israeli leader who gets bogged down in the thick molasses of flattery and kowtowing to a U.S. President, to the extent that he effectively loses any ability to challenge him or to enlist Congress and public opinion against his decisions.”


Prosecutor’s Office Recommends Indicting Netanyahu for Bribery in Two Corruption Cases, Haaretz

A team of attorneys working on behalf of the State Prosecutor’s Office  recommended on Wednesday to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery charges in two corruption cases, known as Cases 2000 and 4000. The state prosecutor is likely to charge Netanyahu for breach of trust in his third corruption probe, dubbed Case 1000. Earlier Wednesday, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said the team working on the cases completed its assessment, and that deliberations at the attorney general’s office would commence in the coming days.

ACLU Sues Texas Over Anti-Boycott Law, Forward

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday announced that it is suing the state of Texas over a 2017 law prohibiting government contractors from engaging in boycotts of Israel, which is says is an unwarranted violation of Americans’ right to free speech.

‘Death to Murderers’: Cars Vandalized in Suspected Hate Crime in Palestinian East Jerusalem Neighborhood, Haaretz

The tires of at least two cars were slashed late overnight on Wednesday in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina in a suspected anti-Palestinian hate crime. The anonymous perpetrators also spray-painted hateful graffitti on nearby walls. The slogans read: “Death to murdereds” and “We don’t sleep when the name of God is dishonored.”

After U.S. Announces Syria Pullout, Netanyahu Says Israel Will Increase Actions Against Iran With Full U.S. Support, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel will “continue to act aggresively against Iran’s attempt to entrench itself in Syria.”

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu tries postponing publication of Trump’s peace plan, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying with all his strength to prevent or at least postpone the presentation of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, also nicknamed the Deal of the Century. A very high-placed political source in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that ‘Netanyahu reached the conclusion that if the deal will be unwrapped in the coming months, before Israel’s elections, it will make it very difficult for him to win with a significant majority and it would harm his survival plan vis-a-vis the anticipated investigations and indictments against him.’”

As US leaves Syria, an Iranian resurgence may leave Israel feeling deserted, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahren reports, “The US administration’s planned withdrawal from Syria is bad news for Israel both militarily and diplomatically, experts said Wednesday, leaving a vacuum in the war-torn country that will very likely be filled by Iran. While the US military had only some 2,000 troops in Syria, mostly in the eastern part of the country, and did not actively participate in Israel’s ongoing efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic from entrenching itself there, Iran, and its Russian allies, will likely interpret the American move as an admission of defeat and would feel emboldened to act in Syria as they please.”