News Roundup for December 12, 2019

December 12, 2019

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J Street in the News

Trump signs order targeting college anti-Semitism, AP
“‘We feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right,’said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a Democratic-aligned advocacy group.”

Trump Signs Order Against Anti-Semitism At Colleges, Worrying Free Speech Advocates, NPR
“The left-leaning Jewish group J-Street said in a statement that the order ‘appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel.’”

Jewish groups praise and decry Trump’s executive order to protect Jewish college students, The Jewish News of Northern California
“J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami led the opposition: ‘This executive order, like the stalled congressional legislation it is based on, appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel.”

Fighting For A Better Israel Is An Act Of Love, Not Betrayal, New York Jewish Week
“Speaking on a panel at the J Street conference in October, I spoke with great sadness, and out of deep love for Israel and concern and hope for its future as a democratic Jewish state, about the growing distance between American Jews and Israel.”

J Street Horrified by Shooting at Kosher Market in Jersey City, J Street
“J Street is horrified by a shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, in which four victims have been killed, including a police officer, and three others injured. While police have not yet confirmed the names of the civilian victims, reports indicate that they were members of the city’s Orthodox Jewish community. Our thoughts are with all of the victims, with their families and loved ones and with the Jersey City community.”

Top News and Analysis

Suspect in Rampage at N.J. Kosher Market Wrote Anti-Semitic Posts, New York Times
After first saying that a deadly rampage at a New Jersey kosher market was random, the authorities disclosed on Wednesday that one of the two attackers had published anti-Semitic posts online and had, in fact, targeted the site. He was also a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a fringe religious group that has expressed hostility to Jews, officials said. A rambling religious manifesto was found inside the suspect’s rental van. The revelations capped a harrowing 24-hour period for residents of Jersey City, who had gone on lockdown after the two attackers went on a violent spree on Tuesday, killing a police officer and then assaulting the kosher market, where three others died.

Israel to Hold Unprecedented Third Election in a Year After Knesset Dissolves, Haaretz
The Knesset dissolved itself on Wednesday midnight, sending Israelis to the ballot boxes for the third time this year after both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have failed in their attempts to form a governing coalition. Lawmakers voted overnight on a bill to hold the election on March 2, 2020, which was passed in second and third reading with support from 94 MKs.


Sa’ar vs Netanyahu: Likud leadership primary set for December 26, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud Central Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz agreed Wednesday that the party would hold a primary for its leadership on December 26, if new elections are called, Likud said in a statement.

Shooting’s Two Jewish Victims — A Scholar And A Beloved Leader — To Be Buried Thursday, The Forward
The two Jewish victims of yesterday’s protracted shootout in Jersey City, N.J. will be buried tomorrow, according to a Hasidic community leader.

Liberman backs pardon for Netanyahu in exchange for exit from politics, Times of Israel
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman said Thursday he would back a deal in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is allowed to avoid jail in exchange for an agreement to retire from politics.

Netanyahu resigns from all ministerial roles amid indictments, i24/AFP
Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing criminal charges and a new general election, will resign from all other ministerial positions he holds but remain premier, his lawyers said Thursday.

Netanyahu loyalist maneuvers to try to cancel Likud leadership primaries, Times of Israel
Likud strongman David Bitan announced just after midnight Wednesday that he has enough signatures to call a secret vote on cancelling the party leadership vote, a major setback for MK Gideon Sa’ar who was planning to mount the first serious challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 14-year hold on the party.

Iran deal limps on as Europeans delay sanctions blow, Reuters
European powers demanded at talks on Friday that Iran stop violating their nuclear deal, but stopped short of triggering a mechanism that could renew U.N. sanctions and kill the 2015 accord, officials said.

Netanyahu to kick off campaign with visit to yeshiva run by anti-gay rabbi, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay a visit Thursday to a hardline religious men’s seminary in Jerusalem run by the head of a homophobic movement.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Democracy Is Broken, New York Times
Arye Carmon writes, “Israel faces a twin crisis: structural deadlock in our political system and a rapid descent into divisiveness within our social fabric. This is by no means a fatal course, and with the removal of a number of political obstacles, it could be reversed.”

Not a Disaster, a Sign of Hope: Israel Needs This Third Election, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “It is true that another election could have dreadful results. We could get an immunity coalition, we could have Bezalel Smotrich leading Israel into a pretty depressing future. That is on the table; that is the democratic game. Dangers abound. But there are also reasons for optimism. The Kahol Lavan task force, the not-Bibi party, has fulfilled that mission well so far (with crucial assistance from Avigdor Lieberman and his thug-fight with Netanyahu). Despite internal divisions, differences of opinion and complaints, this task force will be embarking on the third election united, and is expected to gain in strength.”

Trump’s executive order on anti-Semitism plunges into the fierce campus conflicts about Israel and Palestinian rights, Washington Post
Julie Zauzmer and Susan Svrluga  write, “President Trump added new fuel Wednesday to a long-simmering fight about how colleges should handle activism around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, signing a controversial executive order directing the federal government to penalize universities that allow anti-Semitism on campus.”

‘I’ve Cried My Eyes Out’: Victims of N.J. Shooting Are Mourned, New York Times
Sharon Otterman writes, “The deaths shocked the tight-knit Hasidic community, locally and globally. Throughout the night, people shared information about the attack and its victims via messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Additional security was deployed at Jewish sites in New York City and New Jersey. On Wednesday, in Williamsburg, a truck pulled up outside of a Satmar community girls school to deliver a security booth to be posted outside its entrance.”

There’s Only One Man Responsible for Israel’s Third, Redundant Election, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “This suicidal spiral that has gripped the political system in the past year stems from one person: Netanyahu. This election campaign, like the ones before it in April and September, is the result of his continuing to try to evade a trial that may very well land him in prison. So his motive is clear.”

With an eye on 2020, new Palestinian platform takes aim at U.S. funding to Israel, +972 Mag
Alex Kane writes, “‘Freedom is the Future,’ a new platform launched by Palestinian organizers in the U.S. and backed by diverse coalition of groups, seeks to influence the debate on Israel-Palestine in the run-up to the 2020 election.”