News Roundup for December 21, 2018

December 21, 2018

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J Street in the News

Sanders, Feinstein Urge Opposition to Anti-BDS Bill, Jewish Journal

“Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to not include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act into an upcoming spending bill… The bill is supported by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Anti-Defamation League and opposed by J Street and the New Israel Fund.”

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, opposed the bill and praised Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for speaking out on Wednesday.
‘While we do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the rights of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of or actual punishment by the government,” the senators wrote. “This bill would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights.’”

Top News and Analysis

Texas Lawmaker Plans to Tweak Anti-Boycott of Israel Law That Has Drawn ACLU Lawsuits, USA Today

“The Texas lawmaker who wrote an anti-boycott of Israel law that has led to the canceling of contracts for a debate judge, a translator, a speech therapist and a public radio station reporter said Thursday that he will introduce legislation next month to clarify individuals were never the intended targets.
The comments by Texas Rep. Phil King follows the filing of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas over the 2017 law that requires contractors doing business with the state to certify they are not engaged in boycotts of Israel.”

On the Rainy Lebanese Border, IDF Fights Tunnels and Drums Up Support, Times of Israel

Judah Ari Gross reports, “While diplomats in New York discussed the attack tunnels dug into Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday, Israeli soldiers on the border were preparing to seal them shut… Their boots and pants caked with rust-colored mud, combat engineers and civilian construction personnel walked around the site of the first tunnel the army said it found inside Israel, in an apple orchard south of the town of Metulla, boring into the earth with massive construction machines and pumping a concrete slurry into the ground.”


IDF Shoots Dead Palestinian, Injures Another as Car Runs West Bank Roadblock, Times of Israel

“The car broke through the so-called Focus checkpoint, the military said in a statement. IDF soldiers manning the position opened fire on the vehicle, killing one of the people inside and injuring another.”

American anti-BDS Legislation Coming Under Heat in the Media and in Court, Haaretz

“Legislation in the United States outlawing some activity in support for BDS, the anti-Israel boycott movement, is generating a backlash on the legal front and in the media.”

IDF Begins Destroying Hezbollah Tunnels, Jerusalem Post

“The neutralization of the tunnels will be carried out in a number of ways in order to remove the threat and prevent the Hezbollah terrorist organization from using them and implementing its plans, the military said.”

Netanyahu’s Lawyers Call on AG to Denounce Leaks from Corruption Probes, Times of Israel

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers have written a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, urging him to denounce leaks to the media from prosecutors of details from criminal investigations against the premier.”

A Pair Of Brothers Was Behind Two Recent West Bank Shooting Attacks, Forward

“A pair of brothers was behind two recent shooting attacks at West Bank bus stops that took place four days apart. Their father was convicted for participating in the killing of an Israeli soldier in 1978. Jasser Barghouti, their uncle, directed both attacks, Ynet reported citing unnamed Palestinian sources.”

Opinion and Analysis

Donald Trump’s Big Lie on Syria Will Come Back to Haunt America, Haaretz

David Rothkopf writes, “In the days before the decision was announced on Wednesday, Trump advisors had repeatedly pledged a commitment in Syria until the job was done—the Islamic State was defeated, a political settlement was in place, and a de-escalation of the conflict (the goals that were enumerated by Trump’s Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey a month ago.) Jeffrey repeated the point as recently as the beginning of this week. Behind the scenes, they also all urged the president not to pull the troops out suddenly… But then in true Trump style with a tweet, the president announced he was done. He said that the only reason he had troops in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that work was completed.”

Australia’s Jerusalem Statement Benefits No One, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar reports, “Faraway Australia is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council, nor of the prestigious club known as the Middle East Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia). Generally, it cuts and pastes the policy of whichever US administration happens to be in power on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Dec. 15, it declared its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, making international headlines. The decision to fly the Australian flag over a new office for trade and defense to be opened in Jerusalem but not to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is no more than a footnote in the annals of the century-old conflict. However, the language of the decision and the varied reactions it generated faithfully reflect the grim state of what is known as the ‘peace process.’”

Trump and Obama May Be Complete Opposites — but Their Syria Policies Are Nearly Identical, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer argues, “It may be hard to get used to the idea at the moment, but not every U.S. government policy decision is only due to Donald Trump. It’s true of course that the abrupt timing of the American withdrawal from Syria is up to the capricious president, acting against the advice of his national security advisers, but it is totally in line with American policy over the past decade. It’s also in line with the American public’s mood at this time.”