News Roundup for March 2, 2020

March 2, 2020

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J Street in the News

Biden tells AIPAC Israel’s policies undermining support among US youth, Times of Israel
“Israel’s policies are undermining support for the country in the United States among young people in both political parties, Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden warned Sunday in a prerecorded video address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, DC […]. Jeremy Ben Ami, head of the liberal Jewish J Street organization, tweeted his support for Biden’s comments. ‘Two states, peace, anti-annexation – that’s what pro-Israel looks like,’ Ben Ami tweeted.”

Top News and Analysis

‘No sense of celebration’: Israel holds election with more deadlock predicted, Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks re-election on Monday under the weight of an imminent corruption trial, with the country’s third ballot in less than a year predicted to end in another deadlock. The election follows two inconclusive votes in April and September that dimmed an aura of political invincibility enjoyed by Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who has denied any wrongdoing in the three graft cases against him. Opinion polls show neither Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud nor the centrist Blue and White party of his main challenger, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, securing enough votes on their own, or with coalition allies, for a governing majority in parliament.

An Israeli Political Aide Confided to His Rabbi. He Was Being Recorded, New York Times
A strategist for Benny Gantz denigrated the candidate while seeking pastoral advice. But the rabbi who taped him, it turns out, has close ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hours to Israel Election: D-Day for Democracy in the All-out Culture War Launched by Netanyahu, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Leaked tapes of the prime minister’s Rasputin reveal what everyone knows: Hate and incitement are Netanyahu’s nuclear weapons of choice.”


Netanyahu slams Bernie Sanders’ AIPAC ‘bigots’ jab as ‘libelous’, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu castigated Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders on Sunday for saying the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) offered a platform for bigotry, calling the charge “libelous” and “outrageous.”

Sanders defends attacks on Israel’s Netanyahu, Politico
Speaking Sunday on CBS “Face the Nation,“ Sanders said he wholeheartedly supports Israel and would do “everything I can to protect the independence and the security and the freedom of the Israeli people.” Still, he said, “what we need in this country is a foreign policy that not only protects Israel, but deals with the suffering of the Palestinian people as well.”

Israel’s UN ambassador tells AIPAC Bernie Sanders is an ‘ignorant fool’, Times of Israel
“Whoever calls the prime minister of Israel a ‘racist’ is either a liar, an ignorant fool, or both,” Danon said. “We don’t want Sanders at AIPAC. We don’t want him in Israel.”

Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar to address AIPAC by video, The Jerusalem Post
Three Democratic presidential candidates are now on the speakers’ list at this year’s AIPAC conference, after the Israel lobby group allowed Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to deliver video messages. In 2016 the group rejected an offer by Bernie sanders to message through video, explaining that they barred all video speeches that year.

Biden calls for end to humanitarian crisis in Gaza, The Hill
“We all need to work together to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, because it is a crisis,” Biden said in pre-recorded remarks played to 18,000 attendees at the annual conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

AIPAC attendees to hear from Pence, Pompeo, Bloomberg, Cleveland Jewish News
Speakers at this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference include Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

‘I have right to speak up’: Congresswoman McCollum not backing down to AIPAC, Middle East Eye
In exclusive interview with MEE, Betty McCollum says she will continue to push to protect Palestinian children despite AIPAC attack ads.

Angered by Trump’s plan, Israel’s Arabs look to oust Netanyahu, Reuters
Arab lawmakers are urging their communities to turn out in ever greater numbers on March 2 to show their opposition to the new peace plan – dubbed the “Deal of the Century” – unveiled by U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

Opinion and Analysis

As Another Election Looms, Israelis Ponder Politics, and Contagion, New York Times
Patrick Kingsley writes, “With less than a day until polls opened, Israel was in a mild frenzy this weekend, as the twin storms of the coronavirus epidemic and an increasingly vicious political campaign began to collide.”

Finally, Somebody Dares to Hit Back at AIPAC, Haaretz
Yoana Gonen writes, “Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement that he would not appear at this year’s AIPAC conference because the organization provides a platform ‘for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights,’ was entirely justified. Moreover, it is precisely the kick that politicians on the American left should have delivered to help smash the false veneer surrounding the gloating AIPAC organization.”

I’m Palestinian American, and Bernie Sanders has my vote, +972 Mag
Nooran Alhamdan writes, “The movement behind Sanders will not only bring radical change to millions of Americans, but will ensure that Palestinian rights no longer go unnoticed.”

Mood on Likud ‘Street’ Is Uncharacteristically Happy on Eve of Israel’s Election Day, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “Netanyahu is trying to impart a message – to those who are exhausted, who are revolted by the idea of a fourth election – that only a vote for him will end this circus.”

Netanyahu’s dangerous new settlement expansion could evict longtime Bedouin residents, Vox
Danna Takriti writes, “Days before the Israeli general elections, Netanyahu made a promise for new settlements that would evict Bedouin Arabs.”

Israel Election: From a Netanyahu Victory to Another Stalemate — Five Scenarios, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “As Israelis return to polling stations yet again on Monday, election polls suggest one of the following outcomes is likely…”