News Roundup for February 28, 2018

February 28, 2018

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

My Synagogue Turned Against Me For Supporting J Street, The Forward

Alan Elsner argues, “Yet J Street, from the moment of its inception, was subjected to a vicious and unrelenting campaign of demonization and disinformation from the political right of the American-Jewish community fueled by half-truths and outright lies…  What is the source of this hatred? After all, there are many other pro-peace groups on the political left and even far to the left of us, who do not attract such rage? I believe it is because from the start, J Street saw its mission not just to speak but to politically mobilize and organize the progressive, pro-peace forces in our community by building political influence. In that sense, we mimic AIPAC. And the results have been staggering.”

Top News and Analysis

‘Troubled and Concerned’: African-American Lawmakers Urge Israel Not to Deport Asylum Seekers, Haaretz

Judy Maltz reports, ‘Members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus have drafted a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging Israel not to deport thousands of asylum seekers and instead ‘to pursue alternative means to respond to the African migrants who seek refuge within its borders.’ The letter, obtained by Haaretz, has been signed by 15 of the 49 members of the overwhelmingly Democratic caucus. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey) is the most high-ranking member to sign the letter, which is expected to be sent in coming days. It is rare, if not unprecedented, for black U.S. lawmakers to issue such an organized appeal to the Israeli government, particularly on a matter of internal policy.”

Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage, Washington Post

Shane Harris, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey report, “Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter. Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said. It is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions, but Kushner’s contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House and are a reason he has been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance, the officials said.”


Jared Kushner’s security clearance downgraded: Sources, ABC News

The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been stripped of his temporary, high-level security clearance under new rules imposed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly designed to crack down on West Wing staff with long-pending background investigations, sources tell ABC News.

Demolition of homes in West Bank outpost delayed by 3 months, JTA

Israel’s Supreme Court delayed by three months the scheduled demolition of homes in a West Bank outpost built completely or in part on Palestinian-owned land.

Trump peace plan could recognize Palestinian state – report, Times of Israel

The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East may include US and international recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of East Jerusalem as its capital, the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.

As anti-Semitic incidents in US soar, ADL says Trump is part of the problem, Times of Israel

Hours after the Anti-Defamation League released a report Tuesday that detailed a dramatic spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017, its chief told reporters that the one man who could be making things better has instead been making them worse.

Church of Holy Sepulchre Reopens Wednesday Following Israeli Moves to Solve Crisis, Haaretz

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens Wednesday in response to Israeli steps to solve the ongoing crisis rocking relations between the Israeli government and the Christian community, three days after the church was closed in protest.

Jewish Agency urges Israel to grant asylum to 500 young African migrants, Times of Israel

The Jewish Agency on Tuesday urged the government not to deport some 500 young African migrants who came to Israel as minors and have been integrated into society.

Israeli Satellite Images Reveal: Iran Builds Military Base Near Damascus, Haaretz

Iran has established a military base outside Syria’s capital city of Damascus. Fox News published the Israeli satellite photos showing the base eight miles northwest of Damascus on Wednesday.

Church of Holy Sepulchre to reopen after city suspends church tax collections, Times of Israel

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre will reopen on Wednesday, church leaders announced, after Israel suspended a plan to tax church properties in Jerusalem.

Opinions and Analysis

How the occupation seeped into Israel’s judicial system, Al-Monitor

Mazal Maulem argues, “Police data show that the number of arrests in Israel has increased significantly over the past 20 years. In 1998, there were about 38,000 arrests made, with the number skyrocketing to 62,000 in 2015. One reason for this is the police using arrest and detention as a deterrent. What is even more disconcerting is that in two-thirds of these cases, there was no indictment, and the case was closed. In other words, a person could be taken into detention and denied his or her freedom. One could be imprisoned in the harshest conditions, with poor sanitation. In fact, the entire situation could cause emotional damage and leave a person traumatized. If coordination of detentions is systemic, then judges are automatically granting extensions of detention without first investigating whether there is just cause for arrests.”

President Trump’s Iran strategy is predictably failing, Washington Post

Jennifer Rubin writes, “So how did we get here and why is the ‘solution’ to come up with meaningless changes? This candidly is just damage control. Trump insisted on making a show — and it was only a show — of ending the deal. Decertification was not a policy, but a means of pacifying him. The State Department, which never wanted to pull the plug anyway, is now furiously trying to make certain that there is not a blow-up with our allies or an end to the JCPOA without a real alternative in place. As things stand now, the warnings of Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster look prescient; those who egged on the president, including Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) look foolish, if not reckless.”

Now the Task Is to Remove the Others, N+1 Magazine

Josh Leifer argues, “For some Israelis, there is a sense that allowing the deportations would confirm what they know is true but wish to deny: that the country’s ruling ideology is deeply racist and violent, the government ready and willing remove tens of thousands of refugees from the country by force. Resisting the deportations has garnered such popular support because, unlike the Palestinians, the asylum seekers are not widely perceived as a ‘security threat,’” nor are there enough of them to constitute a ‘demographic threat.’ The figure of the African refugee, distinct from that of the Palestinian refugee, resonates with a particular Jewish ethical commitment to ‘loving the stranger in your midst,’ albeit one that, in its Israeli articulation, often verges on a form of Jewish moral supremacism. All of this makes the cause of the refugees more palatable to the Israeli mainstream—a last-ditch attempt to keep Israeli society’s collective conscience alive.”