News Roundup for January 13, 2020

January 13, 2020

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J Street in the News

J Street, JDCA the only Jewish groups to back House vote on Iran war powers, Times of Israel
“Progressive Middle East advocacy group J Street and the Jewish Democratic Council of America were alone among major American Jewish organizations to support a House resolution this week to limit US President Donald Trump’s Iran war powers. The US House of Representatives approved a measure Thursday asserting that Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. It passed 224-194, with just three Republicans voting in support. Eight Democrats opposed the measure.”

Hundreds attend ‘No War with Iran’ protest in town, Princetonian
“Speakers in attendance were Irene Etkin Goldman from Jewish advocacy group J Street, U.S. and U.K. veteran fighter pilot Richard Moody, Democratic Party Vice Chairman Ali Mirza of Long Island’s Nassau County, Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, and former UN official Salim Lone.”

Meet Ammar Campa-Najjar, candidate for the 50th Congressional District, San Diego Union-Tribune
“Question: The previous campaign saw some of the most nasty character attacks we’ve witnessed in years in this region. Is there going to be some holdover from that and are you ready to address it? Answer: […] We had J Street with the Jewish organization, a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization endorse us last year. This body’s endorsement, the Tribune’s endorsement, those were all my coats of armor that really I think help blunt the worst of it.”

Top News and Analysis

Four Days to Deadline: Israeli Parties Scramble to Merge, Set Election Strategy, Haaretz
The parties running in the March 2 election have until Wednesday to submit their final rosters. This election season is shorter than the previous two and the political campaigns – with the exception of those of Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman and Hayamin Hehadash’s Naftali Bennett – have barely begun.

US troops knew Al-Asad air base would be attacked and sheltered in bunkers, exclusive tour reveals, CNN
United States troops at the Al-Asad air base in Iraq were aware that an Iranian attack was imminent, allowing them to take shelter two-and-a-half-hours before missiles struck on Wednesday, CNN has been told during an exclusive tour of the devastated site. Most troops were either flown out of the base or sheltering in bunkers by 11:00 p.m. local time Tuesday — shortly before the first of four volleys of missiles began at just after 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, officers said during the first tour by journalists of the air base.

European powers urge Iran to fully return to nuclear deal, AFP / Times of Israel
France, Germany and Britain on Sunday called on Iran to return to “full respect” of its commitments under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers. The three European signatories to the deal have sought to salvage the accord intended to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions after it began unraveling when US President Donald Trump pulled out the United States in 2018.


ICC prosecutor: Netanyahu’s anti-Semitism charge is ‘particularly regrettable’, Times of Israel
In far-ranging exchange, Fatou Bensouda responds to what she calls ‘character assassination’; says she ‘fondly’ remembers her 1998 trip to Israel, hopes to be able to visit again.

In Blow to Netanyahu, Knesset Panel to Commence Immunity Debate, Haaretz
The Knesset committee to discuss granting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity in the three corruption cases against him may convene as soon as Monday, following a legal opinion issued by the Knesset’s legal adviser.

Labor, Meretz close in on deal to run as joint slate in March elections, Times of Israel
With just four days remaining until they must present their final slates for the March 2 election, Labor and Meretz, the two main parties on the political left, said Sunday that they were closing in on a deal to run as a joint slate.

Protests continue into second day in Tehran after Iran admits it mistakenly shot down plane, CBS
Protesters gathered on Sunday for a second day of demonstration in Tehran despite heavy police presence. Protesters called for the ouster of senior government officials after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard admitted it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet, killing all 176 on board.

Israel’s education minister condemned for anti-gay comments — again, Washington Post
The minister, Rafi Peretz, told an interviewer that he thanked God that his children were not gay because they were raised in a “natural and healthy way.”

Jeopardy!’ is criticized for stating the Church of the Nativity is in Israel, CNN
Palestinian rights activists and advocacy groups are calling on “Jeopardy!” to apologize after stating that the Church of the Nativity is in Israel and not the Palestinian territories.

Defying the Rabbis, Tel Aviv Rolls Out Sabbath Bus Service, New York Times
Ultraconservative Orthodox groups may protest, but for many Israelis, the buses offer a new freedom to travel on the weekend.

Israel Picks Up Pace, Grants Citizenship to 1,200 East Jerusalem Palestinians, Haaretz
Increases stemmed from the fact that the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority has sped up its handling of such applications following criticism of its slow pace by the High Court of Justice.

Liberman: Netanyahu would form coalition with Hamas if it meant immunity, Times of Israel
In a broadside against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman claimed on Saturday the Israeli leader would be willing to build a coalition with the Hamas terror group if it meant he could clinch parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

Opinion and Analysis

Merge, Rejuvenate or Desist: How to Save the Israeli Left, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “Veterans of the Israeli left lay out what they believe would save it. So why does the coming March election spell trouble?”

The U.S.-Iran crisis has calmed down — but things won’t ever go back to how they were before, Washington Post
Christopher Clary and Caitlin Talmadge write, “Despite the tragic shoot-down of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 572 near Tehran, the United States and Iran appear to have avoided an all-out war in the aftermath of the high-profile U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes into Iraq did not cause any casualties, and both sides are clearly trying to find an off-ramp. However, the U.S.-Iran relationship is unlikely to go back to business as usual, and the crisis has important consequences for longer-term regional stability.”

Israel’s Top Arab Politician: Gantz’s Party Wanted to Treat Us Like a Mistress, Haaretz
Ayman Odeh tells Haaretz why his photo with Benny Gantz was historic, why his most important message is unity on the whole left, and whether he’ll ever establish a truly Jewish-Arab party.

Obsessing over ‘geopolitics’ dehumanizes Middle East freedom struggles, +972 Mag
Jehad Abusalim writes, “The debate around Soleimani’s assassination ignores months of inspiring protests against local and foreign oppressors in the region.”

With Mergers From Left and Right, This Should Be the Most Fateful Israeli Election, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “This must be one the most fateful and fascinating periods in Israeli politics. Everywhere you look on the political spectrum, groundbreaking discussions are taking place.”

What Jews can learn from the gay rights movement, The Forward
Peter Fox writes, “Something about anti-Semitic violence isn’t resonating as loudly as it should be As someone who is Jewish, this hurts me. But as someone who is part of another community that was once completely invisible and despised for years — the LGBTQ community — I think I might have some ideas about how to help.”