News Roundup for March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018

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J Street in the News

8 reasons why the John Bolton appointment is causing a frenzy among Jews, JTA

“‘We are horrified by his selection to be national security adviser and believe this move by the president gravely imperils our country’s national standing and the fundamental security of the United States and its allies, including Israel,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, the dovish Jewish Middle East policy lobby.”

Hawks Embrace ‘American Patriot’ Bolton, Friend Of Israel, Forward

“Dylan Williams, chief lobbyist for J Street, a group which advocates for ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,’ told The Forward that Trump’s promotion of Bolton is dangerous: ‘It’s an utterly unqualified commander-in-chief getting rid of responsible adults and replacing them with extremists who validate his own dangerous belligerence.’ Under Bolton, Williams is particularly worried about the fate of the Iran deal, which he said has the backing of ‘the majority of Jewish Americans.’ Williams said he sees it as Bolton’s ‘express goal to unwind a lot of the diplomatic achievements and multilateral progress that has been made in recent administrations,’ and warned that ‘an already embattled U.S. foreign service will face further isolation, neglect and even derision from a NSC run by John Bolton.’”

Top News and Analysis

Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war. His selection is a decision that is as alarming as any Mr. Trump has made so far. Coupled with his nomination of the hard-line C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state, Mr. Trump is indulging his worst nationalistic instincts. Mr. Bolton, in particular, believes the United States can do what it wants without regard to international law, treaties or the political commitments of previous administrations….Mr. Bolton is certain to accelerate American alienation from its allies and the rest of the world. Congress may not be able to stop his appointment, but it should speak out against it and reassert its responsibilities under the Constitution to authorize when the nation goes to war.”

John Bolton Is a National Security Threat, Foreign Policy

Colin Kahl and Jon Wolfsthal write, “Bolton’s views on Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and other issues reveal a general pattern of thought: a tendency toward worst-case thinking; a pattern of warping and misusing intelligence to build the case for war with rogue states; a disdain for allies and multilateral institutions; a blind faith in U.S. military power and the benefits of regime change; and a tendency to see the ends as justifying the means, however horrific. Bolton also has a long and documented history of stifling views that differ from his own and even punishing subordinates who disagree with him. While this style may make him a good fit with Trump, it will compound the ongoing demoralization of the intelligence community, career civil servants, and National Security Council staff, and contribute to the further dysfunction of an already broken national security process.”

Israel Gears Up for Large-scale Clashes Along Gaza Border, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “Israel’s defense establishment will be focused on the Gaza Strip this week, where mass protests backed by the Hamas government are planned for Friday along the border with Israel. The Palestinians are planning on establishing six to eight big tent camps, housing thousands of people, mostly women and children along the border but some 700 meters from the fence.”

John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him, Washington Post

Jason Rezaian writes, “Bolton’s hawkish views on Iran mirror those of Israel, Saudi Arabia and one of his key ideological partners, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK)….To those who claim that the nuclear deal isn’t working, regime change remains the only solution. For the MEK, and Bolton, if his words are to be taken at face value, the only path to that could be war. The group has long been prepared to do whatever it takes to see that happen, including presenting fake intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program.”


Despite Appointment of Hawkish Bolton, White House Says No Change in Trump’s Position on Two-state Solution, Haaretz

A White House official said Friday “the president has made it clear he will support a two-state solution if both sides agree to it,” responding to a Haaretz question on the possible impact of incoming National Security Advisor John Bolton’s positions on the administration’s impending Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Over 20,000 protest coming deportation of African asylum seekers, JTA

More than 20,000 protested against a government plan to deport African asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to a third country in Africa during a rally in Tel Aviv. The rally in Rabin Square was organized by NGOs and Sudanese and Eritrean groups, as well as the Stop the Deportation movement and the South Tel Aviv against the Deportation group, the Jerusalem Post reported. Several asylum seekers spoke at the rally, and spoke of the persecution they faced in Eritrea and Sudan.

Amona evacuees to move into first new West Bank settlement in 25 years, Times of Israel

Fourteen months after the illegal outpost of Amona was razed, its evacuees announced Sunday that they will be moving into their new homes in Amichai, the first newly constructed West Bank settlement in over 25 years.

US again threatens to leave Human Rights Council over resolutions against Israel, JTA

The United States again threatened to leave the United Nations Human Rights Council after the international body passed five resolutions against Israel. The Council in its Friday session also passed two resolutions against Syria, and one each against North Korea, Iran, South Sudan and Myanmar.

Pelosi Leads Democratic Congressional Delegation To Israel And Jordan, Forward

Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives minority leader, is leading a congressional delegation visit to Israel and Jordan.

Figures Presented by Army Show More Arabs Than Jews Live in Israel, West Bank and Gaza, Haaretz

The Israeli army presented data on Monday to a Knesset panel which show that more Arabs than Jews live between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. According to Civil Administration’s deputy commander Col. Haim Mendes, five million Palestinians live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, or the 1.8 million Israeli Arabs. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, as of September 2017 some 6.5 Jews live in Israel.

Opinions and Analysis

Israel’s War on Culture, New York Review of Books

Marisa Mazria-Katz and Mairav Zonszein write, “While Regev has not been able to make good on many of her threats, the rhetoric has created a sufficiently fraught atmosphere that much of her strategy is in effect. She has managed to revamp what was once a small, overlooked ministry into a powerful mouthpiece for the Netanyahu government, putting Israel’s cultural elite on the defensive and setting a precedent for her successors….With no political alternative from the center and left to speak of in Israel right now, any resistance against the Likud agenda from Israel’s small community of artists and intellectuals seems like a voice in the wilderness.”

When Republicans Rejected John Bolton, The New York Times

Anthony Blinken writes, “John R. Bolton, chosen by President Trump to be his new national security adviser, does not need the Senate’s endorsement to succeed H. R. McMaster in the job. But in 2005, the extraordinary refusal to confirm his nomination to be President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations by a Republican-controlled committee is worth revisiting for what it revealed about Mr. Bolton and what it may portend for our national security.”

Netanyahu investigation: What happens next?, Reuters

“Here is a guide to Netanyahu’s career, some possible candidates to succeed him, and what effect any change in leadership might have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and across a Middle East in which Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional power brokers are all watching closely.”

Saudi Crown Prince Uses Israel’s Supporters to Cement His Relationship With the U.S., Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Yes, the Saudis share an enemy in common with Israel – Iran. And while the vainglorious Trump remains in office, they will placate him – and more importantly, the pro-Israel advisers around him – with concessions like overflights. But it’s misguided to see this as an actual alliance between Israel and the Saudis. The Arab nations have always cynically held on to the Palestinian card, and MBS isn’t letting go of it quite yet. The only clear conclusion is that Saudi Arabia’s next king is doing everything he can to establish the kingdom as the region’s hegemonic power.”