News Roundup for December 16, 2019

December 16, 2019

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J Street in the News

Anti-Semitism or Free Speech? College Students Cheer and Fear Trump Order, New York Times
“Abe Jellinek, president of U.C. Berkeley’s chapter of J Street U, a liberal Israel group that signed the letter, said Mr. Trump’s order enshrined a similar connection, just from the other end of the political divide. ‘It’s making Jews into the representation for Israel on campus, like we can’t exist on our own,’ said Mr. Jellinek, 20. ‘Our fate is tied up in the fate of Israel, and that’s a really uncomfortable position.’ At the same time, he said, the order frames anti-Semitism as a partisan issue, even though hatred toward Jews comes from across the political spectrum. ‘We have far-right individuals walking into synagogues killing people,’ he said.”

Top News and Analysis

Poll: Gantz-led Center-left Bloc Two Seats Away From Knesset Majority if Netanyahu Leads Likud, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is trailing behind Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan by four seats in a new online poll released by Kan on Sunday, with 31 to Kahol Lavan’s 35. Although Netanyahu is dogged by indictments, the poll shows, Likud’s seats would drop to 27 were MK Gideon Sa’ar to take over the party.

Netanyahu’s Likud challenger surging ahead of primary launch, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenger for the post of ruling Likud party leader is picking up more endorsements ahead of the official launch of his primary campaign on Monday. Saar’s leadership bid marks the first serious internal challenge to Netanyahu in his decade-plus in power. Though still a decided underdog to the embattled prime minister, Saar seems to be gaining traction ahead of the Dec. 26 vote among the party faithful as there is growing skepticism that Netanyahu can still deliver after two indecisive election results and a corruption indictment that may force him out of office.


Trump has described the same conversation about Israel four times. Each time, the name of his Jewish friend changed., Washington Post
Touting his accomplishments during a second Hanukkah reception at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump recalled a conversation he said he had with real estate developer Charles Kushner […] It was remarkably similar to a story Trump told at the first White House Hanukkah reception just four hours prior, this time recalling a conversation he said he had with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’, Times of Israel
Gideon Sa’ar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole challenger in the upcoming Likud party leadership race, said Sunday that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is an “illusion,” and attacked the PM for giving the notion credibility over the last decade.

Netanyahu Rival Gets Major Boost as Likud Bigwig Backs Him for Party Leadership, Haaretz
The chairman of the Likud Central Committee, Haim Katz, has endorsed Gideon Sa’ar in the former interior minister’s bid to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in next week’s leadership primary.

Two settlers arrested for rock attack on Palestinian vehicle, Times of Israel
Two Israelis were arrested for hurling rocks at a Palestinian vehicle in the southern West Bank, a police spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Opinion and Analysis

The Hurdles Facing Israel’s Parties Ahead of Third Election in March 2020, Haaretz
Haaretz writes, “With the dissolving of the Knesset for the third time within a year, officials at Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party are more optimistic than ever. Gantz’s ratings are solid; the fear is that one or both parties to the left won’t pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold in the March 2 vote.”

Trump/Netanyahu: Israel, America and the rise of authoritarianism-lite, The Guardian
Lloyd Green writes, “When it comes to US politics under Trump, Netanyahu is no mere bystander. Two recent and exhaustively researched biographies, Ben Caspit’s The Netanyahu Years and Anshel Pfeffer’s Bibi, shine serious light on how Israel’s standing within the US has shifted, with their subject playing no small role. Besting Barack Obama, as Netanyahu did, solidified his status with conservatives in both countries – but at a lingering cost in the US.”

The West Seeks to Put All Jews in the Pro-occupation Basket, Haaretz
Odeh Bisharat writes, “Something terrible is brewing in the West, including the United States. Last week President Donald Trump signed an executive order that adopts a broad and controversial definition of anti-Semitism that includes certain types of criticism of Israel, according to the Haaretz report. But the process of extending immunity to Israeli government policy began seven months ago in Europe, when the German parliament passed a resolution defining the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel as anti-Semitic. Then the French National Assembly a few weeks ago passed an even sharper resolution saying that anti-Zionism is a type of anti-Semitism.”

Return to the JCPOA, International Policy Digest
Bahar Ghonsul writes, “Trump’s strategy toward Iran is failing. The administration claims its maximum pressure policy against Iran is working, but current actions from Iran tell a different story. Iran has not buckled. In fact, Iran has risked starting a regional war, proving the detrimental effects of the maximum pressure policy.”

Israel’s Shameful Restrictions on Christian Gazans, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has devoted his years in power to severing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, to separating the two populations and thus continuing to control the entire Palestinian people. “

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Bleeding Israel’s Foreign Ministry to Death, Foreign Policy
Sam Sokol writes, “Deep funding cuts and the gutting of Israel’s diplomatic service is undermining the prime minister’s ambitious foreign-policy agenda.”

‘There’s Going to Be a Shooting’: As This Jewish Community Grows, So Do anti-Semitic Threats, Haaretz
Danielle Ziri writes, “When more than 100 car tires belonging to Jews were slashed in Lakewood, New Jersey, last week, no one in the community was particularly surprised. As Lakewood has grown, Orthodox Jewish families seeking more space have moved to neighboring towns like Toms River or Jackson. This expansion has created a backlash from some of their non-Orthodox neighbors, who say that it is causing overdevelopment and is a strain on local resources, like schools.”