News Roundup for December 6, 2018

December 6, 2018

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J Street in the News

Israel’s Drive to Redefine Anti-Semitism is Dangerous, Times of Israel

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “In responding last week to the online hospitality company AirBnB’s decision to delist about 200 rental properties located, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan called the move not merely regrettable or mistaken but ‘the modern form of anti-Semitic practice’….At a time when nativist, neo-fascist political parties are gaining ground in Europe and when US Jews are facing real physical threat from far-right groups and individuals, flinging baseless charges of anti-Semitism for political purposes demeans the real threats that Jews in this country and around the world actually face….This week, leaders of five American Jewish organizations wrote to Erdan objecting to his language and actions. ‘To accuse Airbnb of anti-Semitism trivializes and distracts from fighting the rising tide of anti-Semitism, which is driven in the United States by the legitimization of white nationalism,’ said the letter, signed by J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami; Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah; Jim Klutznick, Board Chair, Americans for Peace Now; Paul Scham, President, Partners for Progressive Israel and Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund.”

Five Pro-Israel Organizations Send Open Letter to Erdan about Airbnb Decision, J Street

The leaders of J Street, T’ruah, APN, NIF and Partners for Progressive Israel write to Minister Erdan. “Contrary to your claim that Airbnb’s new policy should be characterized as BDS, the company has emphasized its continued commitment to doing business within the Green Line, Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries. Its delisting of rental properties will only occur in illegitimate West Bank settlements which are not part of Israel. Engaging with Israel (whether financially, politically, or morally) while refusing support for the occupation, which imperils its future, is quintessentially pro-Israel. In our view, no one who supports Israeli-Palestinian peace should oppose Airbnb’s action. Your assertion that Airbnb is driven by anti-Semitism is utterly unsupportable. Airbnb objects to the settlements not because they are Jewish but because they usurp Palestinian land, much of it privately owned. The company’s new policy is in line with what much of the world knows: settlements are illegitimate, immoral, and obstacles to peace. To accuse Airbnb of anti-Semitism trivializes and distracts from fighting the rising tide of anti-Semitism, which is driven in the United States by the legitimization of white nationalism.

Birthright: Stop erasing Palestinians, Student Life (Washington University)

J Street U’s Michael Berkowitz writes, “Birthright has an opportunity to provide Palestinian narratives that can speak to the lived realities of life under occupation. Doing so would expose Birthright participants to a more complete picture and allow them to see points of view that are usually hidden. Ending this exclusion is crucial to ending the narrative stranglehold that the right wing has over young Jewish people and creating an open, honest discussion around Israeli policy. This can, in turn, prevent the right-wing Israeli government from pursuing its most damaging policies. Birthright was a great experience. I had a fantastic time. Birthright does a great job of strengthening people’s connection to their heritage and culture, but something has to change. The current situation is untenable if we have any authentic desire to make peace and oppose injustice.”

Top News and Analysis

The Seven Deadly Sins Shared by Right-wing Politicians in Israel and the U.S., Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Right wingers thrive on fear. A world without fear scares them. In a world without fear, politicians are expected to improve society, a task that bores some right wingers and strikes dread in others. After all, right wingers, up to and including Trump and Netanyahu, are in thrall of big money, if not actually in its pocket, and big money is happy with the current state of affairs, which is where they made their bucks in the first place. So they stoke fear for its own sake. If there’s a real threat they will magnify it and if there’s no threat on the horizon, they will invent it. From rapist immigrants to terrorist Muslims, from evil Arabs to treacherous lefties, there’s never a shortage of candidates for the role of bogeyman. For right wingers to survive, they must conjure fear and incite to hate. A world in which people are empathetic and understanding toward each other despite their differences is one in which an average right winger can’t be elected dogcatcher.”


ICC prosecutors report ‘significant’ progress in Palestinian probe, Times of Israel

International Criminal Court prosecutors intend to complete “as early as possible” a long-running preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes in the Palestinian territories, according to a report issued Wednesday. The annual report by ICC prosecutors on progress in nine so-called preliminary examinations underway at the court said that the Palestinian territories probe “has advanced and significantly progressed” in its analysis of whether legal conditions for opening a case have been met. Those legal conditions include whether alleged crimes were serious enough to be dealt with at the global tribunal and whether local authorities are investigating and prosecuting the crimes. The ICC is a court of last resort that only takes on cases when local courts cannot or will not prosecute.

UN Expected to Pass First-ever anti-Hamas Resolution, Haaretz

The UN General Assembly is expected to vote Thursday on two resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which are both expected to pass. The first resolution includes a condemnation of Hamas for its terror activities, and if it passes, it will be the first time that Hamas is condemned by name in a UN resolution. The second resolution was put forth late on Wednesday and is being pushed by the Palestinian Authority. It includes condemnation of Israeli settlements and a reference to the parameters of a future peace agreement.

Huawei CFO arrested on suspicion of violating US sanctions against Iran, Guardian

Canada has arrested Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the US on suspicion she violated US sanctions against Iran, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Hungarian, Israeli Officials in Talks Over Controversial Holocaust Museum Set to Open in Budapest, Haaretz

Israel and Hungary are holding talks on the content of a controversial Holocaust museum, the House of Fates, scheduled to open in Budapest next year. The museum is causing conflicts within the Hungarian Jewish community, which fears that it will serve as a political tool to distort Hungary’s true historic role in the Holocaust. One of the museum’s biggest critics is the president of the large and long-established Hungarian Jewish Federation, Andras Heisler, who is in Israel this week for unrelated reasons. He and his colleagues fear that the museum might gloss over or minimize Hungary’s involvement in the Holocaust, distort history and be exploited by the right-wing nationalist Hungarian government. Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which has been excluded from the talks, has a similar concern.

Opposition head accuses Netanyahu of inflating anti-tunnel operation, Times of Israel

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday of over-dramatizing the IDF’s discovery of Hezbollah tunnels that infiltrated Israel from Lebanon for political gain. Livni told the Kan public broadcaster that while she and the rest of the opposition welcomed the army’s operation to find and destroy tunnels, it “must be kept in proportion.”

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s international anti-Iran coalition looks like it’s falling apart. He doesn’t have a back-up plan, NBC THINK

Trita Parsi writes, “Today, if you’re sitting in Tehran, you’re probably more confident in the future than if you’re in Riyadh or Washington. Trump has thrown everything he has at Iran, and it hasn’t worked. And once the European “Special Purpose Vehicle” — an alternative payment system that will enable companies to defy Trump’s sanctions — is up and running next year, the Trump’s Iran strategy may face yet another crippling blow.”

A Hezbollah Blitzkrieg: Tunnels on Israel-Lebanon Border Reveal Attack Plan, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “In the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as those of Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, it was critical to carry out the operation and to do so now. The right operational and technological conditions developed over the past few months, and according to assessments, Hezbollah might have been able to get the tunnels ready for action within a few weeks, if necessary. In the weeks to come, Israel plans to leverage the discovery of the tunnels for diplomatic gains, as it did with the tunnels dug under the Gaza border by Hamas….The exposure of the tunnels is a stage in a protracted Israel war against Iran and Hezbollah. All the signs suggest that all the combatants plan to continue to clash next year, too.”

‘Gender violence pushed Jewish, Palestinian women into a corner — together’, +972

Edo Konrad interviews Samah Salaime, one of the central organizers in the struggle against gender violence in Palestinian society inside Israel.