News Roundup for February 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

J Street calls for Democratic group to take down Sanders attack ad, Times of Israel
“Liberal Mideast advocacy organization slams Democratic Majority for Israel for prioritizing ‘targeting progressives over Israel policy’ over trying to beat Trump”

J Street calls Democratic Majority for Israel to take down anti-Sanders ad, Jerusalem Post
“The progressive Jewish group J Street called on Saturday for the centrist Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) organization to take down an ad targeting Bernie Sanders.”

Pro-Israel political action committee takes heat for anti-Bernie Sanders ads, JTA
“J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, called on the group to remove the anti-Sanders ads in Nevada. ‘DMFI in reality represents a minority of pro-Israel Democrats who seem more concerned with targeting progressives over Israel policy than with confronting the destructive agenda of Donald Trump,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.”

Democratic Majority for Israel Should Take Down Polarizing, Harmful Attack Ads, J Street
“J Street calls on the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) to take down the ads the group is running against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Nevada.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel blocks West Bank exports as trade tensions rise, along with towers of unsold produce, Washington Post
“Produce is rapidly piling up in glutted West Bank markets, causing prices to plummet and pressuring already indebted growers. Economic analysts say if the barriers aren’t lifted by March, farmers will miss their chance to ship dates, the largest export crop, to Europe before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, imperiling a season’s worth of profit.”

A disaster for diplomacy and the Zionist dream, The Hill
Representatives David Price (D-NC), Andy Levin (D-MI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Debra Haaland (D-NM) write, “The plan was conceived without diplomacy; it does not lay the groundwork for future diplomacy; and it abandons three decades of American diplomacy — diplomacy that was aimed at self-determination for Palestinians and an Israel that is secure, democratic, and a homeland for the Jewish people—in favor of a wish-list of the Israeli right wing and settler movement.”

New Masa Restrictions May Prevent Students From Meeting With Palestinians in West Bank, Haaretz
“Max Antman, 27, arrived in Israel last fall to begin his rabbinical studies in a year-long program at Hebrew Union College’s Jerusalem campus, determined to take advantage of living in the city ‘to experience everything going on both in Israel and in Palestine.’ But shortly after his arrival, he said, he was ‘surprised and upset’ when Masa Israel Journey, which gave him a $3,500 grant for his studies in Jerusalem, asked him to sign a document severely restricting his ability to travel to any part of the West Bank as a condition for the funds.

AIPAC is Helping Fund Anti-Bernie Sanders Super PAC Ads in Nevada, The Intercept
“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is helping to fund a Super PAC launching attack ads against Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada on Saturday, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement. The ads are being run by a group called Democratic Majority for Israel, founded by longtime AIPAC strategist Mark Mellman.”


Two Weeks Before Israel’s Election, Parties Focus on Avoiding Yet Another Stalemate, Haaretz
“As polls continue to indicate no substantial change in the make-up of political blocs, both left and right fear that fatigued voters will simply stay home.”

Israel’s Gantz vows to form government without Netanyahu, AP
“In a series of TV interviews two weeks before national elections, Gantz looked to project confidence that the March 2 vote will provide the decisive outcome that eluded the two previous elections last year. Gantz’s Blue and White party is currently polling ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud, although neither appears to have a clear path to a parliamentary majority required to form a coalition government.”

AIPAC distances itself from group behind anti-Sanders ads, Times of Israel
“The political action arm of Democratic Majority for Israel, formed last year to bolster the party’s support for Israel as its conservative government faces growing criticism from American progressives, ran a six-figure ad campaign in Iowa last month that questioned Sanders’ health and his ability to defeat US President Donald Trump in November.”

Disillusioned and Angry, These Left-wing Israeli Jewish Voters Plan to Vote for the Arab-led Joint List, Haaretz
“The electoral alliance is also reaching out to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community with campaign ads in Yiddish.”

Israel Accuses Hamas of ‘Catfishing’ Soldiers to Plant Malware, New York Times
“The Israeli military said Sunday that it had foiled a “catfishing” attempt to gain access to soldiers’ phones, at least the third instance since 2017 in which it said Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, had tried to dupe its troops by posing as Israeli women seeking romance. Hamas, for its part, on Friday accused Israel of hacking one of its groups on the messaging app Telegram and posting doctored photos of Hamas intelligence officers in embarrassing poses.”

Opinion and Analysis

Palestinians tell Trump, Israel: We are not for sale, Al-Monitor
Yossi Beilin writes, “Three weeks after publication of the deal of the century on Jan. 28, the world understands that it is all about empty concepts — Palestinian state, territorial exchange and Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Many Israelis understand that Israel would have been better off if this deal had never seen the light of day. Even the economic aspects of the deal are revealed as a hopeless, if glittering, vision.”

Opinion polls predict continued deadlock after upcoming elections, Times of Israel
Michael Bachner writes, “A poll released Monday showed the centrist Blue and White party increasing its edge over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, while another survey showed the gap between the two largest parties closing. Both polls predicted continued deadlock, which has resulted in two failures to yield a government and three elections within a year. The Channel 13 poll, commissioned by Prof. Camil Fuchs and published two weeks before the March 2 vote, showed Blue and White winning 36 Knesset seats, while Likud would come second with 33. The Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties was shown to get 14, the left-wing Labor-Gesher-Meretz 8, while the right-wing Yamina and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties were predicted to pick up seven seats apiece.”

‘They’ve incited hate’: The Democratic congresswoman taking on AIPAC, +972 Magazine
Alex Kane writes, “McCollum’s tangle with AIPAC is an unprecedented clash between a Democrat and the Israel lobby giant. It now threatens to dog the organization as they prepare for their annual show of force, the AIPAC policy conference, typically attended by the most powerful Democrats in Congress.”

Israel aims to unite Jerusalem with better city services. Arabs want political change, Washington Post
Ruth Eglash writes, “A recent effort by Israel to improve living conditions in East Jerusalem and better integrate the Arab population reflects at least in part the strategic interest of cementing Israeli sovereignty. For Palestinians, it could be a chance to better their economic circumstances. For both, it’s an uneasy acceptance that the other side is here to stay.”