News Roundup for February 27, 2019

February 27, 2019

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J Street in the News

Netanyahu Harming US Jewish Support?, i24 News

J Street’s Israel Director Yael Patir debates Vice President of Republicans Overseas Marc Zell about the destructive impact of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s alliance with the Kahanist extreme right.

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Political Map Has Shifted Rightward – and That’s Bad News for Netanyahu, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer observes, “If over a third of former Kulanu voters move to Kahol Lavan, with a smattering of Likudniks suffering from Bibi fatigue as well, it will mean Netanyahu has no coalition. It’s much too early to predict whether these trends will persist, but they are there. The center of gravity of the opposition shifting from center-left Zionist Union to centrist Kahol Lavan has made a vote for an opposition party easier for soft-right voters. Netanyahu is trying to brand Gantz as “weak left,” but it will be a much tougher sell than with Herzog and Livni four years ago. Israeli politics is now further to the right than it was in 2015. But instead of adding votes for a right-wing coalition, it is actually broadening the opposition to it.”

Israeli Extremists Are Making a Comeback—With the Help of US Tax Dollars, Nation

Mairav Zonszein reports, “In the 20-plus years since Kach was banned, Kahane’s disciples have found ways to continue pushing a racist, anti-Arab, and antidemocratic agenda—and to fund it. A new investigation carried out in coordination with the Democratic Bloc, an Israeli nonprofit organization founded in 2018 to research and monitor antidemocratic trends in Israel, reveals a web of interconnected groups, individuals, and websites in Israel and the United States—including several American nonprofit foundations that appear to have been founded for the purpose of funneling tax-exempt dollars to Kahanist causes, some of which are directly linked to Jewish terrorist groups.”

Israel’s Election Panel to Consider Barring Kahanist Party From Running, Haaretz

The Central Elections Committee will consider barring the Otzma Yehudit party from running in April’s election, after a petition urging it to do so received the last of the necessary signatures on Tuesday. A disqualification petition requires the signatures of at least 12 committee members before it can be discussed. The committee is comprised of representatives of all the parties in the outgoing Knesset.


AG said gearing up to recommend indictment for PM on Thursday, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will recommend tomorrow that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted pending a heading in the ongoing corruption investigations against him, Army Radio reports.

Netanyahu Cuts Russia Visit Short as Indictment Decision Nears, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, currently on a state visit to Moscow, will return from Russia on Wednesday, a day earlier than originally planned. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to publish his decision this week on whether to file charges against Netanyahu.

Iran’s Rouhani backs foreign minister, has not accepted resignation, Times of Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday appeared to throw his support behind ally Mohammad Javad Zarif, rejecting his resignation as Iran’s foreign minister and setting up a potential showdown with regime rivals.

‘Dangerous Left’ and Soldiers’ Graves: Likud Takes Fire Over Election Ad, Haaretz

Israel’s ruling party, Netanyahu’s Likud, drew sharp criticism over an election ad released Tuesday in which the left is labeled “dangerous” on the backdrop of a military cemetery. The party said that as soon as the ad was brought to Netanyahu’s attention, he ordered it removed. Likud added the prime minister ordered an investigation be conducted. Netanyahu dubbed the ad “an unfortunate mishap.”

PA said to nab Hamas-led cell that was readying to carry out attacks in Israel, Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority security forces recently collared a six-person Hamas-led cell in Nablus that was preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel employing explosive devices, Channel 12 news reported earlier this week, without citing a source. The PA security forces first arrested the commander of the cell, a Hamas terror group operative whose deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, transferred $50,000 through the United Arab Emirates, and then nabbed its remaining five members, the report said.

Opinion and Analysis

Wake Up, American Jews: You’ve Enabled Israel’s Racism For Years, Forward

Joshua Leifer argues, “At nearly every opportunity to confront the dangerous trends in Israeli political culture — trends that have also seeped into American Jewish communities — establishment Jewish organizations preferred to divert the conversation or accuse honest, well-meaning critics of ‘unfairly singling out Israel’ or of ‘maintaining a double standard.’ The Jewish Home — Otzmah Yehudit merger, with which Netanyahu’s Likud signed a vote-sharing agreement, did not come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of trends in Israeli politics that could have been prevented if the American Jewish establishment had been willing to look reality — with all its ugliness and violence — in the face.”

Netanyahu’s radical-right alliance rattles AIPAC’s allegiance, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “Just two weeks before Israel’s April elections, Netanyahu will mount the podium at AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, March 24-26. The reception that the lobby accords him will indicate whether its reaction to his contamination of the Israeli electoral system was indeed a “genuine alarm,” as Liberman said, or a false alarm….The thousands of pro-Israel activists on hand to greet him at AIPAC conventions are usually his most ardent supporters. They do not care about the corruption scandals in which he is embroiled. They forgave him for plotting with Congress behind the back of President Barack Obama in a bid to derail the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu need only utter the words ‘Jerusalem is ours for eternity’ to elicit a standing ovation from wildly cheering AIPAC members, who will send him back to Israel for the last leg of his election campaign and the assumed formation of a new government with Otzma Yehudit.”

The GOP Just Used Crocodile Tears About Anti-Semitism to Abet Mass Murder in Yemen, NY Magazine

Eric Levitz observes, “[A]s McConnell has just demonstrated, Republicans (and some Democrats) don’t just refuse to acknowledge any moral tension between intoning ‘never again,’ and facilitating atrocities in Yemen (or obfuscating the president’s hate speech against Native Americans, Muslims, and immigrants, or Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians); they will gladly intone the former as a means of facilitating the latter. Which is to say, they will express solidarity with the Jewish children of Nazi-occupied Poland for the sake of helping Riyadh starve the Yemeni children of Saudi-blockaded Sanaa. And then, they will ask those who oppose their efforts why they don’t take anti-Semitism more seriously.”