News Roundup for December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

Jared Kushner’s family foundation donated to West Bank settlements, Washington Post

“‘I imagine this will be the end of State Department statements for 50 years calling settlements illegal to illegitimate, unhelpful or obstacles to peace,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street, which strongly supports a separate state for Palestinians alongside the Jewish state. ‘American foreign policy is about to be dramatically shifted.’”

Kushner Family’s Settlement Donations Alarm U.S. Jewish Groups, Haaretz

“’It’s alarming how many of President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers on Israel, including his son-in-law, have a long history of close personal and financial ties to the settlement movement and some of the most extreme settlements,’ said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. J Street supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state….’In recent years, the settlers have amassed power in Israel’s government, setting the country on a course toward a one-state nightmare and permanent occupation,’ said Ben-Ami. ‘Americans who understand that Israel’s future, security, democracy and Jewish nature depend on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be deeply frightened to see the settlement movement’s friends here on the verge of doing the same in the American government.’”

Advocacy groups call on Trump to rescind Flynn appointment, Politico

“Fifty-three advocacy groups have released a joint statement calling on President-elect Donald Trump to rescind his appointment of retired lieutenant Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security advisor, citing concerns over his past statements about Muslims, his position on Iran and his ties to foreign governments. The groups include J Street, a liberal pro-Israel organization that lobbies for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and other anti-war groups, as well as organizations that focus on refugee issues, such as the Syrian Community Network. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the liberal group also signed on. In their open letter to Trump, dated Monday and posted to J Street’s website, the organizations asserted that Flynn is a ‘completely inappropriate choice to serve in the most senior national security position in the White House.’”

53 organizations to Trump: Dump Flynn as national security adviser, CNN

“Progressive organizations including and J Street signed a letter with another 51 other nonprofit groups asking that President-elect Donald Trump dump Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. ‘While deserving respect for the time he has served our country in uniform, we feel General Flynn is unfit for serving in this critical post,’ the organizations wrote in a statement. ‘His appointment will damage America’s standing in the world and pose a threat to our national security.’”

Donald Trump’s Israel Adviser Pledges To Stonewall J Street, Forward

“David Friedman, a top adviser to President-elect Trump on Israel, has pledged not to meet the dovish group J Street if he is appointed U.S. ambassador to Israel.”

US House introduces version of Senate campus antisemitism bill, Jerusalem Post

“A bipartisan slate of leading members of the US House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would expand how the Department of Education defines antisemitism in advising learning institutions on how to identify discrimination….Liberal advocacy group J Street remained undecided about the bill, saying it deserved a hearing and a proper review by Congress. ‘We have questions about the legal impact of this bill and deep concerns about its surprising omission of any mention of the horrific surge in right-wing, white supremacist antisemitism now threatening our community,’ said Dylan Williams, J Street’s chief lobbyist. ‘We believe this legislation can be improved and strengthened with proper consideration, which it did not receive in the Senate, where it was passed by motion without any debate or even having been published in the public record… We are urging House members to ensure the relevant committees take a proper look at this bill.’”

Top News and Analysis

American attitudes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Brookings

Brookings Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami conducted two surveys—one before and one after the U.S. elections—on American public attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Key findings include: “Pluralities of the American public support Obama Administration action at the United Nations on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict before leaving office”; “The American polarization on how to react to Israeli settlements has expanded over the past two years as 60% of Democrats now support imposing economic sanctions or more serious action.”

Israeli Lawmakers Back Outpost Legalization Bill in Preliminary Vote, Haaretz

Israeli lawmakers voted on Monday in favor of a bill that would legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts in a preliminary reading. The legislation was passed by a vote of 60 to 49. Likud MK Benny Begin was the only member of the governing coalition to oppose the bill. The bill, which would legalize the presence of Israelis living on privately owned Palestinian land, will not apply to the illegal outpost of Amona, slated for evacuation under a court order. Passage of legislation into law would require another three votes in support by the full Knesset and any such legislation could be subject to changes as the legislation is debated in committee.

Q&A with former Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni: ‘Israel needs to decide its own policy’, Washington Post

“At the moment, it’s not clear inside Israel or outside what Israel wants. Is it two states for two peoples, as Netanyahu is saying? Or is it what Minister Naftali Bennett [of the right wing Jewish Home party] is saying, that we should forget about the two-state solution? Israel needs to make a decision. It’s a tough decision, but without it, it is difficult to explain to the outside world what Israel is doing.”

Kushner Foundation Donated to West Bank Settlement Projects, Haaretz

“In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner – the son-in-law and trusted confidant of President-elect Donald Trump – have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organizations and institutions located in the West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms….Among organizations and institutions in the West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the leading beneficiary is American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva. Located in one of the more hard-line, ideological settlements, Beit El Yeshiva received $20,000 from the Kushner family in 2013. The president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in Forest Hills, New York, is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs.”


Palestinians Claim Land Directly Where Illegal Israeli Outpost Would Be Moved To, Haaretz

Palestinians filed four claims Monday asserting that they own land where Israel wants to temporarily move the unauthorized West Bank Amona outpost. This would leave just two plots at the site where no ownership claims have been made. All told, four claims were made by Palestinians Monday claiming ownership of land in the Amona area. The new claims filed with the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank follow 29 others that have been filed in recent months for land in the area. The claims are meant to block the plan to temporarily relocate Amona northward, based on the grounds that at the land is property abandoned by Palestinians. The High Court of Justice has said Amona must be evacuated by December 25.

Attorney general says outpost bill still illegal, even without Amona, Times of Israel

Despite harried government efforts to reach a compromise on a controversial bill that will allow the government to legalize outposts on private Palestinian land, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he would still oppose the measure as it rushed toward Knesset approval Monday. Mandelblit, who has said the legislation would not be defensible in court in the past, said his opposition still stands, despite an agreement to drop a clause in the bill that would retroactively override a High Court ruling to raze the Amona outpost by December 25.

Joint List to sue Israeli PM ‘for incitement against Arabs’ in wake of arson accusations, Ma’an

The Joint List, the Israeli parliament coalition representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, said they planned to file a lawsuit against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, in the wake of accusations that a recent wave of mass fires in Israel and the occupied West Bank were caused by Palestinians though politically motivated arson. In statement on social media, head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh said the decision to file the lawsuit “for incitement against Arab citizens” came in response to Netanyahu’s “false incitement during the days of the fires, and for saying that the real threat to the state of Israel is not Palestinians in occupied areas, but Arabs inside Israel.”

Yair Lapid Promises to Recognize Reform and Conservative Judaism ‘My First Week in Government,’ if Elected, Haaretz

Should he become the next prime minister, Yair Lapid promises he would grant full recognition to the Jewish Reform and Conservative movements “my first week in government.”

Speaking to a gathering of Jewish journalists convening in Jerusalem on Monday, Yesh Atid party leader Lapid declared as “unacceptable” the government’s treatment of non-Orthodox Jews. In particular, he denounced its failure to deliver on a promise to build a special prayer section at the Western Wall where men and women could hold mixed prayer services.

B’Tselem: ‘Dispossession of Palestinians most consistent trend in Israeli policy’, Ma’an

As Israel’s Knesset considers a bill which would retroactively legalize settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities have used both official and unofficial means to expropriate Palestinian lands for decades which has “devastasted” the Palestinian territory, according to a report published on Monday by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

NYPD sees ‘huge spike’ in hate crimes post-election — Jews targeted most, JTA

The New York Police Department said it has seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews. There has been a 115 percent increase in bias crimes in New York City following Election Day, with Jews being targeted in 24 of the 43 incidents during that nearly monthlong period. The anti-Semitic incidents represented a threefold increase from November 2015, The New York Observer reported.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email [email protected]