News Roundup for June 18, 2020

June 18, 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

Israel Hawks Are Scrambling To Save Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, Huffington Post
“Hawkish pro-Israel groups are pouring money into the reelection of Rep. Eliot Engel, a Bronx, New York, Democrat and influential Israel hawk facing a spirited challenge on his left from middle school principal Jamaal Bowman. An Engel loss in Tuesday’s primary would not only deprive the pro-Israel activist community of a staunch ally atop the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but also threaten the bipartisan support for Israeli policies on Capitol Hill that has long inoculated the Israeli government from tougher criticism and stricter conditions on U.S. aid […] The ‘pro-Israel’ groups backing Engel generally hail from the right wing of Israel’s base of support. J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that encourages U.S. leaders to pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation of Palestinian territories, has not endorsed in the race.”

J Street Supports Three New Pieces of Legislation to Confront Systemic Racism and Police Violence, J Street
“As part of our commitment to the fight for racial justice, J Street is proud to support three recently introduced pieces of congressional legislation designed to help confront and address the scourge of systemic racism and police violence in the United States.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Adviser Says Israeli Annexation Would Be a ‘Huge Mistake’, Haaretz
A foreign policy adviser for Joe Biden has warned that Israeli annexation of West Bank lands would be “a huge mistake.” Nicholas Burns told The Arena, the online magazine of the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy, that annexation “is the one issue which could most harm the U.S.-Israel relationship.” As well as serving as a foreign policy adviser to Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee in the November election, Burns is a Harvard professor, and served as secretary of state for political affairs under President George W. Bush after serving as U.S. ambassador to NATO.

Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes, New York Times
John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book that the House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine but for a variety of instances when he sought to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his political interests. Mr. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, saying that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Netanyahu privately presents 4 plans for West Bank annexation, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented four annexation scenarios in a meeting tonight with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi — from annexing 30% of the West Bank to a more symbolic annexation of a small amount of land, an Israeli official briefed on the meeting tells me.


3 former top IDF officers said to reject offer to head annexation headquarters, Times of Israel
Three former senior military officers reportedly all turned down an offer from Defense Minister Benny Gantz to lead an administrative headquarters overseeing Israel’s planned annexation of territory in the West Bank.

UAE official: Israel annexation may draw calls for one state, AP
A senior Emirati official warned Wednesday that Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank could lead Arab states to call for a single bi-national state for Israelis and Palestinians.

As Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous threat emerges from the right-wing boogaloo movement, Washington Post
A far-right extremist movement born on social media and fueled by anti-government rhetoric has emerged as a real-world threat in recent weeks, with federal authorities accusing some of its adherents of working to spark violence at largely peaceful protests roiling the nation.

Far-right ‘boogaloo boys’ linked to killing of California law officers and other violence, LA Times
In the wake of the killing of two law enforcement officers in Northern California, more attention is being directed to the “boogaloo” movement, a far-right fringe group that has been tied to violence around the country.

Jordan’s King Abdullah pushes Congress to oppose West Bank annexation, Al-Monitor
Jordan’s King Abdullah met virtually with several key lawmakers today, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reiterate his opposition to “any unilateral measure to annex lands in the West Bank” as laid out under President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Israel says it thwarted Hamas attempt to smuggle weapons from Sinai, Times of Israel
Israeli security forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons to the Hamas terror group’s naval commando unit in the Gaza Strip from the northern Sinai Peninsula through the Mediterranean Sea several weeks ago, the military said Wednesday.

Israeli Police Brace for Possible Wide-scale, Violent Protests Inspired by Scenes in U.S., Haaretz
Police have decided to beef up their forces at demonstrations in the near future out of a fear of increased violence by protesters – inspired by the protests in the United States.

In first, EU nixes grant to Palestinian NGO refusing to sign anti-terror clause, Times of Israel
The European Union last week for the first time canceled a grant to a Palestinian nonprofit for refusing to sign a clause that would obligate it to ensure no terrorist organizations benefit from the funded programs.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s support for Israeli annexation in West Bank will endanger the Jewish state, The Seattle Times
Trudy Rubin writes, “Many Israeli security experts fear that if Netanyahu moves ahead — as Friedman is urging him and his coalition partners to do — Israel will pay dearly at multiple levels: on the West Bank and Gaza, with its Arab neighbors and with the rest of the world. Without any security gains.”

American Lawmakers Have Just Weeks to Take a Stand Against Annexation, Jewish Journal
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, massive demonstrations against systemic racism in America’s criminal justice system, historic unemployment and economic hardship of millions of Americans, it is difficult to focus on important global problems. Unfortunately, reckless leaders like President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are hoping to take advantage of our distraction to enact an extreme agenda with disastrous long-term consequences for the security, democracy and Jewish character of the State of Israel.”

Labor’s 1-woman opposition: ‘No to a religious, occupying, non-democratic state’, Times of Israel
In her interview with The Times of Israel, Merav Michaeli was characteristically uncompromising. She is optimistic about Labor’s future, despite the party’s precipitous decline; rejects the unity coalition her party has joined; and insists there is still an Israeli left out there, with robust institutions and millions of voters, ready to return to national leadership if only its leaders developed a backbone.

Annexation Hasn’t Even Failed Yet and Netanyahu Is Already Playing the Blame Game, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The prime minister is preparing multiple narratives of guilt so he can accuse allies and enemies from Jerusalem to Washington and back.”

After the protests and statements of solidarity, what’s next?, Times of Israel
Stefanie Rhodes and Ruth Messinger write, “We are two white Jewish women committed to honoring diversity and striving for justice. We are also a mother and grandmother of Jews of Color.”

Across Israeli Media There’s No Microphone for Left Wingers, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “The Israeli left has no mainstream broadcast. Flick through the TV channels, listen to all the broadcasts, watch all the programs, and you won’t find a single left-wing one.”