News Roundup for June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street in the News

Jewish groups accuse ZOA president of ‘bigotry’ for criticizing BLM, The Jerusalem Post
“A coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups have called for Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, to be expelled from Jewish umbrella groups, accusing him of ‘bigotry’ and ‘hatred’ following a number of tweets by Klein in which he accused Black Lives Matter (BLM) of antisemitism and promoting violence. The statement was jointly issued by Jewish student group J Street, the New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and T’ruah, and joined by Nancy Kaufman, past CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.”

Annexation is reckless, The Jewish News of Northern California
Eva Seligman-Kennard, J Street SF Bay executive committee member writes, “Lawmakers must make clear that annexation would be a reckless, destructive step with serious long-term ramifications for the region and US-Israel relationship. Democrats must ensure that their 2020 party platform includes Israeli security, recognition of Palestinian rights and their right to a state, and opposition to annexation, settlement expansion and indefinite occupation. For those of us who care about Israel as a democratic Jewish homeland, care about Palestinian rights and dignity, and a healthy U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in shared interests and values, now is the time to take a stand.”

Jewish and Pro-Israel Organizations Must Not Tolerate the Bigotry of Zoa’s Morton Klein, J Street
“As progressive pro-Israel organizations and members of the American Jewish community, we are appalled and outraged by the bigotry and hatred expressed and promoted by Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), at this painful and important moment of reckoning for our country. Klein’s latest outbursts and long track record of bigotry should make him unwelcome in any mainstream Jewish communal spaces and should lead to his expulsion from organizational umbrella groups such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations […] The continued presence of Klein and the ZOA in important umbrella groups is an affront to Jews of color and all people of color, and to the overwhelming majority of all American Jews. It undermines any pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy and damages the collective reputation of our community.”

Top News and Analysis

As Netanyahu moves closer to annexation, pressure builds in DC to stop him, Times of Israel
Policy makers and diplomats in Washington are increasingly warning that the Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, backed by the US, would spark a crisis and damage the possibility of a two-state solution.

Israel’s annexation would ‘upend’ improving Arab ties: UAE envoy, Al Jazeera
The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the US has warned Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, saying the move would “upend” Israel’s efforts to improve ties with Arab countries.

Over 100 international law experts sign letter against West Bank annexation, Times of Israel
In a letter sent Thursday, the signatories warned that annexation would “constitute a flagrant violation of bedrock rules of international law, and would also pose a serious threat to international stability in a volatile region.”


U.S. to Penalize War Crimes Investigators Looking Into American Troops, New York Times
Richard Dicker, the international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said the Trump administration was “putting the U.S. on the side of those who commit and cover up human rights abuses, not those who prosecute them.” — “Asset freezes and travel bans are for human rights violators, not prosecutors and judges seeking to bring justice for victims of serious abuses,” Mr. Dicker said after the new penalties were announced.

International Criminal Court condemns US sanctions order, AP
It said an attack on the Hague-based court also constitutes “an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”

Charlottesville lawsuit is hitting wealthy landowner Richard Spencer’s finances hard, The Forward
“I’m in a very difficult situation in terms of getting funds,” as a result of being booted off a number of different social platforms, Spencer said in a virtual hearing Thursday morning. He called the suit “financially crippling.”

World Council of Churches wants EU sanctions on Israel if annexation goes ahead, JTA
If Israel annexes land, the letter said, “the EU must surely suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement,” a reference to a 1995 contract that promotes trade between the bloc and the Jewish state. In addition, the EU should apply sanctions on Israel “at least commensurate with those adopted by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

In first-ever op-ed for Israeli paper, UAE diplomat warns against annexation, Times of Israel
In a first-ever op-ed for an Israeli newspaper by a Gulf diplomat, a senior ambassador from the United Arab Emirates warned Jerusalem against its plan to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank, saying such a move would destroy any hopes for further rapprochement between the Jewish state and the Arab world.

Military repeatedly commandeers teachers’ housing complex near Nablus for training, B’Tselem
For years, the military has treated the al-‘Ofoq housing complex as a training ground, as though it were its own property to be used at will. Soldiers are permitted to enter the complex, fire live ammunition and stun grenades among homes and even sleep in them whenever the military sees fit – in complete disregard for the fact that this is private property in which people invested their hard-earned money.

Opinion and Analysis

Already neglected, Jordan Valley Palestinians fear Trump plan will confine them, Times of Israel
Fasa’il is among 13 Palestinian communities, 80,000 strong in all, in the Jordan Valley that, under the proposal, will become enclaves surrounded by an expanded Israel. But contrary to the 15 Israeli settlements slated to become enclaves, which were neatly listed on the plan’s conceptual map, Trump’s “Vision for Peace” makes no mention of Fasa’il, or any of the 12 other Palestinian villages located in the middle of the Jordan Valley territory that Israel plans to annex.

Annexation Will Plunge Israel’s Relations With the EU Into Existential Crisis, Haaretz
Beth Oppenheim writes, “Timid, toothless warnings from Europe won’t stop Israel’s annexation – and a subsequent cascade of human rights abuses. It must act now.”

Israel’s annexation of the West Bank will be yet another tragedy for Palestinians, The Guardian
Ian Black writes, “Unilateral annexation will lead Israelis and Palestinians and their profoundly asymmetrical conflict into uncharted territory. But if history teaches one lesson, it is that facts on the ground, illegal or not, are unlikely to be reversed without violence. And even if annexation is delayed or does not happen, the situation will not have improved. No happy end is in sight. ”

Meet Netanyahu’s New Trump-boosting, Conspiracy-peddling Media Adviser – Once Bannon’s ‘Man in the Middle East’, Haaretz
Alexander Griffing writes, “Klein, 41, has long been a frontline figure in fringe conservative media in the U.S. and has helped mainstream far-right conspiracy theories from his time at WND onwards. The Washington Post dubbed WND ‘the granddaddy of right-wing conspiracy sites,’ and it was one of the first places to push the ‘birther’ conspiracy theory falsely alleging Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and was thus an illegitimate president.”