News Roundup for February 23, 2017

February 1, 2017

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J Street in the News

Trump Administration’s Immigration Directive Violates American Values, J Street

“The guidelines issued by the Trump administration on Tuesday laying out a blueprint for greatly expanded deportations of residents living in the United States without legal documents constitute a chilling and vindictive plan that violates all the values we as Americans and as Jews hold dear….As an organization that believes in justice and recognizes the crucial role that immigration has played and still plays in the life of our nation, J Street is committed to joining the fight against these policies. We will lend our political strength and expertise to the opposition and will join coalitions of like-minded groups in the fight against these measures. As a movement, many of whose family members have themselves been targeted and persecuted in living memory and throughout history, we feel a profound moral duty to stand up against such tyranny – and we will do so.”

J Street Shocked by Anti-Semitic Surge: Trump’s Words Not Enough, J Street

“J Street is shocked and appalled by the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis this week – just the latest in a growing wave of anti-Semitic incidents, including four waves of coordinated bomb threats against Jewish community centers, in the past two months. The situation demands immediate and serious action from local, state and federal authorities to identify who is behind these hate crimes and bring them to justice. President Trump’s belated statement on Tuesday decrying anti-Semitism was welcome – but far from sufficient. The President passed up several opportunities to condemn these attacks in recent weeks. He needs to send a firm and unmistakeable message to the nation and the world that he understands the gravity of the situation and will deal with it. There can be no hint of tolerance of bigotry or prejudice of any kind from the administration. President Trump now has the opportunity and responsibility to put real meaning into his words and take firm action against this scourge.”

Top News and Analysis

ADL: We Want Action, Not Just Words From Trump Against anti-Semitism, Haaretz

The Anti-Defamation League demanded on Wednesday that President Donald Trump take action to fight anti-Semitism, following a bomb threat on the organization’s New York headquarters. Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told Haaretz:  “What we are hoping is that the President consistently speaks up about antisemitism, and statements are important, but so are actions. We also need to see actions.”

With Supreme Court Picks, Netanyahu’s Government Launches Anti-constitutional Revolution, Haaretz

Aluf Benn writes, “The appointment of four new justices to the Supreme Court on Wednesday is the most important achievement in the political and social revolution being pursued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked promised to fundamentally alter the character of the judicial branch in Israel, and she has now taken a major step toward fulfilling that promise – one that will impact court rulings and Israeli democracy for many years to come. It is a concrete manifestation of Netanyahu’s old call to ‘replace the elites.’…The justice minister wants to reduce once more the right to stand before the High Court of Justice, and to close it off to public petitioners such as lawmakers and nonprofit organizations. You were defeated in an election? Too bad. Don’t try to shift your political struggle from the voting booth and Knesset to the courthouse.”


Netanyahu: Trump’s Strong Stand Against anti-Semitism Is Very Important, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for publicly condemning anti-Semitic acts after bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centers and vandalism in a Jewish cemetery. “It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism and it’s important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead,” Netanyahu, on an official visit to Australia, said in Sydney’s Central Synagogue.

Israel and Australia Promote Closer Ties in Netanyahu Visit, The New York Times

Prime Minister Netanyahu was warmly welcomed Wednesday by his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, with the Israeli leader promoting the two countries’ growing ties as Israel faces rising international criticism over its settlement policy in the West Bank.

Turkey To Israel: Stop ‘Illegal Settlements’, Forward

Turkey on Wednesday called on the Israeli government to halt what it called “illegal settlement policies” on Palestinian land. Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, made the comment at a news conference in Ankara. Erdogan has previously condemned Israel’s decision to ramp up settlements in the West Bank as an “absolute provocation.”

Israel Opts Out of Invoking Land-grab Law to Save Illegal Settler Homes, Haaretz

The government has informed the High Court of Justice that it sees no point to the request by the residents of nine homes slated for demolition next month in the West Bank settlement of Ofra to have their homes sealed rather than demolished, saying that the new land legalization law does not apply to them.

Pence visits damaged Jewish cemetery, condemns ‘vile’ vandalism, Times of Israel

Vice President Mike Pence condemned Wednesday a “vile act of vandalism” at a suburban St. Louis Jewish cemetery where more than 150 headstones were damaged earlier this week.

Opinion and Analysis

The real story behind secret Aqaba summit on Mideast peace, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “It is unclear why Netanyahu returned to the regional formula that he buried after the Aqaba summit or why he is doing so even before discussing the core issues involved or sending out feelers to the Palestinians about how they feel about the initiative and how they see themselves fitting into the process later on. Perhaps Netanyahu feels that he’ll be able to receive stronger support and backup from the new Trump administration, as opposed to the Obama administration of yesteryear. If Trump shows that he stands by Netanyahu, this could counterbalance the support for the Palestinians given by other Arab leaders: Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Abdullah and Sisi. One way or the other, the Palestinians are rubbing their hands in glee; they are convinced that this time, Netanyahu can’t repeat his disappearing act and ignore his promises for a diplomatic process. What he strangled a year ago at the Aqaba submit (they think), he’ll now be forced to bring back to life. The Palestinians are convinced that very soon, Netanyahu will have to prove to Trump and to Arab leaders that he’s serious and not just making empty promises.”

Valley rabbis speak out against Friedman, Arizona Jewish News

Eight Arizona rabbis write, “We yearn for an Israel that is secure, democratic and the national homeland of the Jewish people. Friedman’s pro-settler positions and opposition to the two-state solution are in conflict with that goal and with the views of the majority of American Jews who see settlement expansion as an obstacle to peace and who strongly support a two-state solution. Friedman’s favored policies would weaken Israel’s security, democracy, and status as the national homeland of the Jewish people. Friedman’s apparent inability to speak respectfully about and to people with whom he disagrees, and his advocacy of extreme policies that threaten the future of Israel and run contrary to American interests, are both sufficient reasons to disqualify Friedman’s nomination. He is the wrong choice to serve as our nation’s ambassador to Israel.”

Why as a rabbi I oppose Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, Bangor Daily News

Rabbi Darah Lerner writes, “Normally, the appointment of next U.S. ambassador to Israel should be a moment of unity for the pro-Israel community. Not so with David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Hundreds of rabbis and other Jewish clergy around the nation — I am among them — are calling on their senators to vote against his confirmation, an unprecedented act. Indeed, as a rabbi, I must be exceedingly cautious about airing my political views publicly. But when I examined who Friedman is, what he represents, how he behaves and what he has said, it became clear I needed to speak out.”

Isaac Herzog Details His 10-point Plan for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Haaretz

MK Herzog outlines a multi-stage regional path to a two-state solution.

Israel defense minister: we must coordinate moves with Trump, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit’s exclusive interview with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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