News Roundup for March 20, 2018

March 20, 2018

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

Illinois Democratic primary pits J Street against AIPAC, Times of Israel

“A Democratic primary for a House seat in Illinois is pitting a J Street candidate against a longtime incumbent who’s been an ally of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also known as AIPAC. The progressive upstart Marie Newman is challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois’s 3rd District. Lipinski, who’s held that seat for more than a decade, is known as a blue-dog Democrat who opposes abortion rights and who, in 2015, was one of the few members of his party to vote against the Iran nuclear deal. The liberal Mideast advocacy J Street group has pounced on the opportunity to unseat Lipinksi, who represents a generally liberal enclave including parts of Chicago and its nearby southwestern suburbs….In an email last week to its supporters titled ‘He’s with Trump on the Iran deal. She’s with us,’ J Street said of Lipinksi, ‘If we can defeat him in the primary, it will send a strong message to other members as President Trump seeks Congress’ help in gutting the greatest diplomatic achievement in a generation.’ The missive came from the group’s political action committee, which endorses candidates who support a two-state peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and the preferred use of diplomacy over force. It also allows its supporters to donate directly to the candidate through its website.”

J Street Mourns Victim of Jerusalem Stabbing Attack, J Street

“J Street is deeply saddened by Sunday’s brutal stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, in which Israeli Adiel Coleman, a father of four, was killed. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and loved ones in this time of mourning and grief. Alarmingly, this act of terror comes close on the heels of a West Bank car-ramming attack last Friday, in which two IDF soldiers were killed and another two wounded. There can be no justification for this kind of violence.”

I’m Leaving My Synagogue Of Three Decades — Over J Street, Forward

J Street’s Alan Elsner shares the presentation he gave to his synagogue about why he supports J Street and why it deserves to have respect and a seat at the table in the Jewish community — and explains why he is leaving his long-time congregation in the hopes of finding a more tolerant, inclusive and politically diverse community.

Top News and Analysis

War of words heats up between Trump administration, Palestinian leadership, LA Times

An uptick in violent incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem devolved into a sharp war of words Monday between the United States and the Palestinian Authority, culminating in a rare and undiplomatic vulgarity aimed at the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. In an angry speech in Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made two of the harshest insults in the Arabic language, calling Friedman a ‘settler’ and a ‘son of a dog.’…..Friedman, a Trump bankruptcy lawyer before he was appointed to the delicate diplomatic post, is a longtime donor to Israel’s West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. He has championed the embassy’s move to Jerusalem, part of which is claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future state….At an Israeli Foreign Ministry conference titled the ‘Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism,’ Friedman implied that Abbas’ remarks amounted to an anti-Jewish slur.”

Trump’s Policies Towards the Palestinians Are Based on Bad Faith, Ineptitude and Cruelty, Haaretz

Debra Shushan writes, “By defunding UNRWA, the United States joined the list of actors responsible for Gaza’s man-made crisis. While Jason Greenblatt argues Hamas deserves all the blame, there is plenty to go around: Egypt and Israel maintain a siege against Gaza, controlling entry and exit, air and sea, and commerce. The Palestinian Authority also bears some responsibility.  The White House’s apparent desire to help Gaza is laudable. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration shows no indication that it will do the simplest things to help, like restoring funding to UNRWA, much less facilitating an end to the prison-like conditions which immiserate Gazans’ lives.”

Mike Pompeo Is An Anti-Muslim Bigot. Shouldn’t Jewish Leaders Condemn Him, Too?

Jane Eisner writes, “[W]hereas many self-appointed leaders of the Jewish community raised holy hell when a couple of Congressmen and one of the leaders of the Women’s March refused to denounce the anti-Semitism of the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, we’ve heard precious little from those same critics about Pompeo’s well-documented anti-Muslim bigotry and his close ties with Islamophobic extremists….If Farrakhan is to be denounced, then what about Pompeo? If members of Congress are to be criticized for associating years ago with a demagogue, then shouldn’t there be an equal test for the man designated to be the leading diplomat in a world with 1.8 billion Muslims?”

Liberals demand that Dems block Pompeo, Haspel nominations, Politico

“Senate Democrats are coming under pressure from the left to tank President Donald Trump’s latest Cabinet nominees, setting up a major test of unity for the party. Trump’s choice of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency and CIA chief Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state is fueling a fierce opposition campaign among liberal and civil rights groups. Activists sense an opening to derail Haspel’s bid and at least complicate Pompeo’s confirmation, given that the White House will need some Democratic support to pull the nominees across the finish line….Pompeo has taken a highly hawkish stance on Iran and amassed a controversial record on Islam, fodder for the left’s campaign to convince 15 Senate Democratic caucus members who voted for him to be CIA director to oppose him as State Department chief.”


At Jerusalem stabbing victim’s funeral, politicians pledge more building, Times of Israel

Hundreds of people gathered Monday in the central West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar for the funeral of Adiel Kolman, who was killed in a stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City a day earlier. In addition to eulogies from family members, the 32-year-old father of four was memorialized by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. ‘Our revenge is settlement and holding tight to the land,’ said Ariel. ‘I hope we’ll continue to advance construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and make a clear decision that between the Jordan [River] and [Mediterannean] Sea there will only be one sovereign state — the State of Israel.’”

Israeli Court Rejects Ahed Tamimi’s Request for Public Trial ‘For Her Benefit’, Haaretz

The military appeals court rejected the request of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who will stand trial for striking Israeli soldiers, to hold the proceedings in open court, claiming a lack of authority. Last week the military prosecution told the court that it had no objection to a public trial. The decision to hold the trial behind closed doors, which the prosecution did not ask for, was made by a lower court, which said that it was for “the minor’s benefit,” even though all of her detention hearings prior to her being charged were public.

Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May after sentence reduction, Times of Israel

The army’s prison parole board on Monday ordered Elor Azaria, a former IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter, released from prison in May, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence. Azaria is to be released on May 10, after completing 10 months of his 14-month sentence for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2016, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israel Mulls Stripping Residency From Palestinian Lawmakers From Hamas, Haaretz

Israel is considering stripping 12 East Jerusalem Palestinians of their permanent residency because of their involvement in terrorist activity. The 12 include four Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament. A statement said Interior Minister Arye Dery began considering this step after the Knesset passed the necessary legislation two weeks ago. The new law allows the minister to strip any permanent resident of his residency rights, including East Jerusalem Palestinians, if they were involved in terrorism or otherwise acted against the State of Israel.

Israeli settlers spray racist anti-Arab graffiti, puncture tires in Palestinian town, Ma’an

Israeli settlers damaged and vandalized Palestinian vehicles in the Jerusalem-area town of Hizma in the central occupied West Bank, in what locals are calling a “price tag attack.” Samar Salah al-Din, mayor of Hizma, told Ma’an that a group of Israeli settlers attempted to raid three houses in the town belonging to the Askar family.

Opinions and Analysis

Lauder’s J’Accuse Against Netanyahu’s Israel Is Also a Mea Culpa, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Ronald Lauder should be commended for his article in Monday’s New York Times on Israel’s ‘Self Inflicted Wounds’…..There are many Israelis who have been warning about the impending demise of the two-state solution and the inevitable estrangement of American Jews, but Lauder chose to look the other way….[I]n times when both the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel are enthralled by, and beholden to, radical nationalists and religious zealots, even someone like Lauder finds himself standing shoulder to shoulder with dissenters and critics that his former BFF Netanyahu routinely describes as traitors, defeatists and Israel-haters.”

Why Palestinians say early elections in Israel would change nothing, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “The Ramallah leadership would prefer to see a change of power in Israel to the center-left, led by Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and the Zionist Camp. Still, they nourish little hope for a shift in settlement policies even if the center-left wins. They estimate that both of these candidates — Lapid and Zionist Camp’s Avi Gabbay — would ally with the right. The PLO source concluded that in Palestinian eyes, the next elections in Israel would constitute a de facto referendum on Netanyahu and the settlements. If Netanyahu is re-elected despite his criminal investigation, it would signal Israeli support for his annexation policies and objection to a two-state solution. He said that like in 1996, Fatah would prefer a center-left victory, while Hamas and Hezbollah want the Israeli right to have the upper hand.”

Nuclear Power, Qatar Crisis and Financial Investment: The Saudi Crown Prince’s D.C. Wishlist, Haaretz

Amir Tibon reports, “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s extensive cross-country tour of the United States, starting Monday, will include discussions with senior U.S. officials in Washington and business meetings in Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle….Trump and the crown prince will discuss a wide range of issues during their meeting, including the Iran nuclear deal, the wars in Yemen and Syria, the Saudi blockade of Qatar, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”