News Roundup for December 8, 2016

December 8, 2016

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J Street in the News

Keith Ellison Is No Anti-Semite, Nation

“J Street, the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ group that has earned wide regard for its advocacy on behalf of diplomacy in the Middle East, joined the defense of Ellison…. J Street, which is not endorsing in the DNC chair race, identifies Ellison as “one of a number of worthy candidates who warrants serious consideration for the position.” The group adds that, ‘Representative Ellison is and has long been a friend of Israel, a champion of pro-Israel, pro-peace policies and an admirable elected official whose thoughtful and considered leadership has shown deep respect for Jewish values and the Jewish people.’”

Top News and Analysis

Outpost bill passes Knesset hurdle in first reading, Haaretz

“The Knesset voted on Monday in support of a bill to legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts in the West Bank in first reading. The legislation passed 58 to 51. MK Benny Begin (Likud), a member of the ruling coalition, opposed the bill. If approved in three Knesset readings, the bill would legalize the presence of Israelis on privately owned Palestinian land. The legislation will not however apply to the illegal outpost of Amona, slated for evacuation by December 25 under a court order….Speaking on behalf of the opposition, lawmaker Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that, ‘A real leader would look Amona residents in the eye and tell the truth – that Israel is a lawful state, and that it is sad, but they must leave [their homes].’ ‘What is left from the Herut Movement (the Likud’s predecessor) and Menachem Begin is only Benny Begin,’ she said. ‘Today Netanyahu and his friends are kicking Begin together with integrity and legitimize theft.’”

Israeli settlers see new champion in President Trump, USA Today

“Yoni Binyamin lives on a windy, contentious hilltop slated for demolition, but she is convinced her community will not only remain but also continue to grow after Donald Trumpbecomes U.S. president….One reason for settlers’ faith in Trump: His Israeli adviser, Jason Greenblatt, who served in the Israeli army guarding a West Bank settlement, told Israel Army Radio that the president-elect does not view settlement activity ‘as an obstacle to peace.’ In another hopeful sign for settlers, Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, who might become a Middle East envoy, is a director of a family foundation that made tens of thousands in charitable donations to West Bank settlements in recent years, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday….Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said that ‘less pressure from Trump’ would usher in the end of the ‘era of the Palestinian state’ and an opportunity for Israel to annex the West Bank. Less than a week after the U.S. election, Bennett championed a bill in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that would retroactively legalize more than 100 unauthorized outposts scattered through the West Bank. The bill, revised to allow the court-ordered demolition of Amona, gained initial approval in the Knesset this week  but has to go through more steps before becoming law.”

6 liberal Jewish groups to skip Conference of Presidents party at Trump’s DC hotel, JTA

“Six liberal members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will not attend its Hanukkah party because it is being held at a hotel owned by President-elect Donald Trump. The Union of Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the National Council of Jewish Women, Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu, the progressive Zionist group, and the Workmen’s Circle have all said they will not attend the Dec. 14 party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Some of the groups cited the bigotry they associate with Trump’s campaign in explaining their absence, while others pointed to the conflicts of interest posed by the president-elect’s far-flung business holdings. Two groups, Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish culture and social justice group Workmen’s Circle, also cited concerns about the party’s co-host, the Embassy of Azerbaijan.”


US calls Regulation Bill ‘profoundly damaging’, Times of Israel

The US State Department on Tuesday expressed concerns over an Israeli bill to legalize thousands of settler homes in the West Bank, calling the legislation “profoundly damaging.”

Netanyahu Tells Hollande: Cancel Peace Summit and I’ll Meet Abbas in Paris, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Francois Hollande on Wednesday that he would agree to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but not as part of an international peace summit the French wish to convene at the end of the month. In a phone conversation on Wednesday, the prime minister said he rejects the French invitation for a meeting with Abbas in Paris in two weeks‘ time, if it were to convene under the French peace initiative, following the summit of foreign ministers on December 21.

90 Holocaust remembrance institutions, 70 scholars decry rise in hate speech, JTA

Ninety U.S. Holocaust remembrance institutions, and more than 70 individual scholars and educators, have decried a rise in intolerance and hate speech. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the signatories also called on U.S. lawmakers to condemn white nationalist groups and asked citizens to be vigilant. “Recent months have seen a surge in unabashed racism and hate speech – including blatant anti-Semitism and attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, as well as other targeted groups.  Journalists have been threatened. Places of worship, schools and playgrounds have been defaced with Nazi symbols intended to intimidate and arouse fear. White supremacist groups have become self-congratulatory and emboldened,” reads the statement.

After 4 years of rejecting PA requests, Israel allows delivery of jeeps to Palestinian forces, Ma’an

Israel allowed five armored jeeps to be delivered to Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces earlier this week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday, in a rare move amid the PA’s increased security crackdown in the northern occupied West Bank. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel had rejected the PA’s request to allow the armored vehicles in for four years, but that the “deteriorating security situation” in the West Bank had led Israeli authorities to change their position.

Fresh Amona rehousing plan envisions new West Bank settlement, Times of Israel

The residents of an illegal West Bank outpost set for eviction later this month will reportedly be rehoused in the neighboring settlement of Ofra until a new settlement can be founded. According to a Ynet report published Wednesday, the 40 families living in Amona, which the High Court of Justice ordered demolished because it was built on private Palestinian land, will be accommodated in temporary housing in Ofra. A permanent settlement will be established seven miles to the north, next to the existing Israeli settlement of Shvut Rachel.

Initiative launched in Ramallah to revive Palestinian land near Israel’s Beit El settlement, Ma’an

Volunteers and supporters of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union Tuesday launched a “revive the land” initiative to plant tens of almond and olive trees in lands near the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Attempted Stabbing Reported in West Bank; Suspect Shot and Killed, Haaretz

An attempted stabbing took place in the West Bank’s Tapuach Junction. The suspect, identified by Israeli security forces as an 18-year-old Palestinian, was shot and killed. No one else was injured in the incident.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Point Man in the White House, World Policy Blog

Asher Schechter writes, “Trump and the Israeli right are connected not just by a similar worldview, but also by a shared donor pool and a feeling of being excluded from the political and cultural establishment. It is not for nothing that many of the greetings Trump received from Israeli politicians spoke enthusiastically of upending ‘the old elites.’ Tellingly, both Netanyahu and Trump have spent much of the last year railing against media figures who criticized them….Trump’s election could potentially mean a profound change. While he didn’t do much in the way of curtailing Israeli policies, Obama’s hostility to Netanyahu and his allies has been well documented. Now, however, the Israeli right finally has its own point man in the White House. What both sides intend to do with this remarkable kinship, we’ll have to wait to find out. But if the early celebrations are any indication, don’t hold your breath for peace in the Middle East.”

Will Israel expand settlement to Jerusalem border?, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar observes, “Giant billboards displaying the portraits of late President Shimon Peres, late Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak have in recent weeks augured the impending clash. The clever campaign slogan says ‘following in their footsteps.’ Next to the portrait of each leader is a citation advocating the annexation of the settlement town of Ma’ale Adumim to Israel. For example, Sharon pledged that “Ma’ale Adumim will be built as part of the State of Israel for ever more.” A petition, website, Facebook page, rally and especially pressure running across party lines have all been mobilized to promote a diplomatic measure the likes of which Israel has not undertaken since annexing the Golan Heights in 1981. The Knesset’s Land of Israel lobby, the settlement umbrella organization Yesha Council and the pro-settlement Regavim Movement have all joined forces with Benny Kashriel, the three-term mayor of Ma’ale Adumim and a veteran Likud Party politico, in a bid to push through legislation at the Knesset’s winter session imposing Israeli sovereignty over the town.”

Surveillance of Muslims traumatized my family. With Trump I’m afraid it’ll get worse, Vox

Sameer Sidiqqi writes, “In the weeks since Donald Trump won the presidential election, I’ve realized that most Americans have no idea what I’m afraid of as an American Muslim. The prevailing narrative about our fears is centered on immigration, either in the form of restrictions on refugees or registries for recent immigrants. But like most American Muslims, I’m neither a recent immigrant, nor a refugee. I’m a second-generation Pakistani American living in Washington, DC. I’m frightened by both proposals and deeply concerned for the members of my community and family that will be affected. But I’m equally frightened for my personal safety from law enforcement. I’m genuinely afraid of being reported, interrogated, and arrested on the basis of my religious identity.”