News Roundup for March 28, 2018

March 28, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

On Iran and North Korea: Don’t trust, and verify, verify, verify, Boston Globe

Ernest Moniz writes, “The most robust verification measures the world has ever known are the heart of the Iran nuclear agreement, officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The unique verification regime developed to monitor Iran goes well beyond what any other nation is subject to under the nuclear safeguards system established by the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that countries don’t divert nuclear materials from peaceful energy programs to build nuclear weapons…..[I]f Trump withdraws the United States from the agreement, with Iran complying and with our allies clearly committed to its continuation, he will have compromised the most stringent nuclear verification standard ever achieved, with no credible prospect for restoring or improving it.”

How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo mainstreamed Islamophobia, Vox

Zack Beauchamp writes, “John Bolton, President Trump’s pick for his next national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of state, are well-known hawks. Less well known are their deep and extensive ties to an organized group of anti-Muslim writers and activists….There’s a shockingly low level of public outcry about allies of Islamophobic groups taking over US national security infrastructure. In fact, it didn’t even come up at Pompeo’s confirmation hearing last January to become CIA director.”

John Bolton and the Anti-Muslim Bigotry of Mainstream Conservatism, New York Magazine

Eric Levitz writes, “John Bolton is a promoter of anti-Muslim bigotry and squarely within the mainstream of conservative foreign-policy thought. There is no tension between these two facts; because the leading lights of American conservatism — from Donald Trump to Bret Stephens — all accept that Muslims have earned some degree of collective stigmatization. They may disagree about how much; and some may only endorse this premise on an unconscious level. But in their words and deeds, conservative intellectuals make it unmistakably clear that they believe anti-Muslim bigotry is excusable in a manner that anti-Semitism is not.”


Israeli Military Chief Warns: Explosive, Sensitive Situation Developing, Especially Among Palestinians, Haaretz

There’s a growing risk of a security escalation sometime this year due to developments on many fronts, but especially the Palestinian one, according to the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff. In an interview with Haaretz, Gadi Eisenkot said that in the near term, he is most worried by what is currently happening in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel hasn’t detected any signs that any of its enemies plans to start a war, but localized developments could lead to an unplanned escalation, he said.

Israel to waive construction permits for US Embassy in Jerusalem, JTA

Israel’s National Council for Planning and Construction will waive the usual rezoning approval and construction permits for the work in turning the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem into the American embassy. The council on Tuesday said it would authorize the waiver in order to allow the work to be completed before the planned May 14 move of the embassy from Tel Aviv. The move is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel’s founding.

Israeli-Palestinian ‘Freedom Seder’ in Hebron Aims to Affirm ‘Commitment to Liberation’ Amid ‘Bitterness of the Occupation’, Haaretz

A large-scale “Freedom Seder” is being planned in the West Bank city of Hebron by a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian activists, with the goal of reaffirming the “commitment to liberation” and protesting “the dispossession and violence of the occupation.” Jointly organized by All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, in partnership with the Palestinian group Youth Against Settlements, the event will take place at the YAS community center on Tel Rumeida in Hebron, during the Passover holiday.

PM partially unfreezes Western Wall pluralistic plaza plan, to some dismay, Times of Israel

A new government blueprint for construction of a permanent pluralistic prayer platform at the Western Wall was presented at a meeting on Monday at the Prime Minister’s Office, but was pilloried by some activists for failing to live up to a frozen 2016 government which would have brought it in line with the holy site’s main prayer plaza.

Hundreds of asylum seekers in Israel to spend Passover behind bars, +972

Hundreds of African asylum seekers will remain in Israeli prisons this Passover, their fate on hold after the country’s High Court gave the government an extension — for the third time — to respond to a petition challenging the mass deportation of asylum seekers originally planned to start this Friday. The court issued an injunction on March 15 against the deportations themselves, but Israeli authorities are still permitted to hand out deportation notices. The roughly 300 asylum seekers already imprisoned for refusing “voluntary deportation” to Rwanda or Uganda will remain behind bars until the justices make their final decision.

Israeli Ministry Sets Sights on Millions of ‘Potential Jews’ to Improve Country’s Image and Fight BDS, Haaretz

A committee appointed by Israel’s Diaspora Affairs minister says that there are some 60 million people around the world with an ‘affinity’ to Judaism or Israel. The committee says that among them there are communities that could be brought to Israel and converted to Judaism. The committee’s recommendations call for reaching out to these communities and introducing them to content related to Israel and Judaism.

Opinions and Analysis

Palestinian Infiltration From Gaza Reveals Cracks in Israel’s Border Defenses, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “A series of tactical mishaps on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip has made the security establishment very uncomfortable over the past few days, at the height of preparations for Friday’s anticipated challenge. This will be the Land Day march, which is expected to ratchet up tensions on the border in coming weeks.”

How Trump and Netanyahu Are Riding the Rising Tide of Neo-fascism, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Trump and Netanyahu are riding a wave of increasing nationalism, fear of foreigners and anxiety about the future. Both disdain elites, fight the media, denigrate liberal values and are waging a stubborn war, each in accordance with the crimes he is suspected of, against the rule of law. Both have formed alliances with devout believers, who advance their religious agendas in exchange for turning a blind eye to the leader’s transgressions. Both consolidate their power by virtue of their electoral ‘base,’ which compensates for being a minority with ideological fervor and blind loyalty to the leader. The ‘base’ terrorizes the party in the name of the leader, and the party runs the country according to his will.”

Will Hamas’ Gaza chief resign?, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “A rumor is going around that Gaza Strip Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is considering resigning. Is there any truth to this rumor? It all depends on who you ask.”