News Roundup for March 16, 2018

March 16, 2018

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J Street in the News

Jewish groups that helped Democrat in Pennsylvania House race cheer his upset victory, JTA

“Liberal Jewish groups hailed the upset victory of a Democratic congressional candidate in a special election in a Pennsylvania district that President Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016….‘We’re still flying high from Conor Lamb’s victory on Tuesday,” said J Street PAC, the political action committee affiliated with the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, in a fundraising email for another J Street-backed candidate in Illinois, Marie Newman. J Street PAC endorsed Lamb on Jan. 31 and raised $60,000 for him from more than 225 donors.”

Top News and Analysis

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Pick for Secretary of State, Has a Problem With Islam, New York Magazine

Adam K. Raymond writes, “Pompeo’s Islamophobe credentials are without dispute. He has fought for years to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, a move that even the Trump administration has refused to make. He was once a regular guest on the radio show of Frank Gaffney, where he once agreed with the notoriously anti-Muslim host that President Obama had an ‘affinity’ for ISIS. And in 2016, he claimed that ‘people who deeply believe that Islam is the way’ are a ‘threat to America.’”

What If Pompeo Talked About Jews the Way He Talks About Muslims?, The Atlantic

Peter Beinart writes, “Try this simple experiment. Take Mike Pompeo’s statements about Muslims, and his alliances with anti-Muslim bigots. Then imagine that he had made similar statements about Jews, and forged similar ties to anti-Semites. Then imagine the reaction if he were nominated for secretary of state. If the analogy appears farfetched, it’s only because, in the President Trump era, anti-Muslim bigotry is so pervasive that many of us have trouble recognizing it as bigotry at all.”

Meet Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s Strongest Political Opponent and Maybe Israel’s Next Prime Minister, Newsweek

Jack Moore spoke with Yair Lapid about his vision for the country and his bid to end the longest single term of any prime minister in Israeli history.

Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow, Washington Post

“President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration. Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said….Several candidates have emerged as possible McMaster replacements, including John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.”


Explosive Devices Detonate on Gaza Border; IDF Suspects Anti-tank Rocket Fired, Haaretz

Two roadside bombs were detonated against Israeli soldiers patrolling near the Gaza border Thursday morning, making it the third incident in recent weeks in which the Israeli army encountered explosives at border. According to the IDF, no casualties were reported at the bomb site.

Kahlon says he would leave coalition if PM indicted, Times of Israel

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Thursday his party would not stay in a government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the premier was indicted by the attorney general.

Iran reacts to Pompeo as Trump’s secretary of State pick: ‘Cowboyish’ and ‘eager to start a war’, LA Times

Iranians braced Wednesday for further turmoil in their country’s relationship with the United States, and the possible unraveling of the 2015 nuclear agreement, following President Trump’s nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of State. “The hawks overcame the doves in the American administration,” a former diplomat, Ali Khorram, wrote in a column in Arman, a daily newspaper aligned with reformists.

Israel halts asylum seeker deportations — for now, +972

“Israeli authorities announced that they will temporarily halt, until further notice, the deportation of African asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. Israel will, however, continue to issue deportation notices, and asylum seekers who are already in prison for refusing deportation will not be released. Those processes will continue, the state told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, ‘so that the [deportation] plan’s timeline is not delayed.’ The decision to temporarily halt the deportations came in response to a petition that sought an injunction to stop it.”

Presidents Conference ‘Transparency’ Questioned After Malcolm Hoenlein Revelations, Forward

Two of America’s largest Jewish organizations are raising concerns about Malcolm Hoenlein’s leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in the wake of a Forward report about his undisclosed role on the board of an Israeli gas firm. In statements to the Forward on Wednesday, the American Jewish Committee and the Union for Reform Judaism, two of the biggest and most important members of the Presidents Conference, raised concerns about transparency at the organization and about Hoenlein’s role at Delek Drilling.

Haley: Vote With U.S. at U.N. or We’ll Cut Your Aid, Foreign Policy

Colum Lynch reports, “US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is proposing a sweeping reassessment of US foreign assistance with a view to punishing dozens of poor countries that vote against U.S. policies at the UN, according to a confidential internal memo drafted by her staff. The move to make foreign aid conditional on political support follows a US decision to cut tens of millions of dollars in assistance to Palestinian refugees, a cut made in retaliation for Palestine’s sponsorship of UN resolutions denouncing US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Haley now wants to apply a similar principle to decisions about aid to other needy countries.”

Alan Dershowitz and other prominent Israel advocates warn Netanyahu against expelling Africans, JTA

Five prominent Israel advocates, including Abraham Foxman and Alan Dershowitz, warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “incalculable damage” to Israel’s reputation should he press ahead with a plan to deport nearly 40,000 African migrants.

Opinions and Analysis

Schumer is Wrong About Settlements, Jerusalem Post

Douglas Bloomfield writes, “Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told AIPAC’s 18,000 delegates that Israeli settlements are not obstacles to peace. He’s wrong. They are and that’s what they were intended to be….Today settlements are a major obstacle, as intended. Their most ardent supporters, like Bennett and the national-religious camp, see their expansion as critical to preventing a Palestinian state….Israelis are right to point to Palestinian terrorism and incitement as obstacles to peace, and an unwillingness to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people….But Palestinians ask – not without justification – how they can make peace when Israel is gobbling up more and more of the land they need for a viable state.”

Mike Pompeo should talk to Iran. Here’s why., Washington Post

Jason Rezaian writes, “For better or worse, our problems with Iran will be solved only through dialogue. The nuclear issue is the one that gets the most attention, but it’s not the only one that needs discussing. What about our shared interest in combating Sunni extremists — the Islamic State and al-Qaeda — in Syria and Iraq? What about Tehran’s continued practice of taking American citizens hostage? There is no non-diplomatic process that will bring them home alive.”

Team of Sycophants, Atlantic

Eliot Cohen writes, “Pompeo may be more subtle, but the bonding between the president and his secretary-designate seems much more a result of his careful cultivation of Trump during his regular intelligence briefings than any record of managerial or diplomatic accomplishment. The president may like his subordinates to fight with each other—but they had better show unflagging harmony with his instincts, including his worst instincts. That is the price of admission, and these ambitious officials know and accept it.”

I’m Fighting Demolitions Because I’m a Zionist, New Voices

Hannah Radley writes, “As young people active in synagogues, youth movements, and universities, we are the generation who can really affect change. The demolitions are a blatant obstacle in the way of peace. By not settling for the status quo, not only do we improve the quality of life for Palestinians living in Area C but we also are taking a step towards a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. So please let’s stand together as young diaspora Jews and say that we will not settle for this.”