News Roundup for October 25, 2019

October 25, 2019

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J Street in the News

J Street president wants 2020 Dems to talk Israel, Jewish Insider
“The conference will feature five 2020 presidential candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro — and the top Democratic congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer […] ‘We are demonstrating with the presence of these candidates and also the leadership of the Democratic Party that the center of the Democratic Party is looking for a home that is both supportive of Israel and its security and the Palestinians and their rights,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami explained.”

The settlers who beat me didn’t care that I am an observant Jew, +972 Mag
“As an American Jew who is critical of Israeli government policies, I have experienced verbal attacks. In high school, because I supported J Street, some of my fellow Jews accosted me and spat out verbal epithets; they called me a kapo or a self-hating Jew, comparing me to Hitler or Mussolini. But I never imagined my fellow Jews attacking me physically — let alone during the holy days of Sukkot.”

Top News and Analysis

Tasked With Forming Israel’s Next Government, Gantz Prepares for Marathon Coalition Talks, Haaretz
Gantz is reportedly not working toward establishing a minority government with either the ultra-Orthodox or the largely Arab Joint List, and is continuing to try to bring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the table. Likud has confirmed that its negotiating team will meet with Kahol Lavan; however, Benjamin Netanyahu himself has not yet responded to Gantz on whether he will meet with him personally.

Odeh calls on Gantz to ‘show courage’ and invite Arab parties to join government, Times of Israel
The top Arab Knesset member on Thursday called on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a minority government that includes the Arab-majority parties, saying that even if it would quickly fall, such a “courageous” move would be worth it for the single purpose of ousting Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Rights group: Record number of Jerusalem home demolitions, AP
Israeli authorities have demolished at least 140 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem this year, a rights group said Thursday, the highest annual number since it began keeping records in 2004. The demolition of homes built without permits comes amid a major increase in Jewish settlement activity both in east Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank since President Donald Trump took office. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem said 238 Palestinians have lost their homes this year, including 127 minors. The second highest number of demolitions on record was in 2016, when 92 homes were demolished.


Police Tent Set Ablaze, Cars Vandalized as Tensions Rise Around West Bank Settlement, Haaretz
A Border Police tent was set on fire outside the settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank, and cars were vandalized in the nearby Palestinian village of Yatma on Thursday night. Israeli security forces are treating the two incidents as related, and suspect radical settlers to have carried them out.

State prosecutors seek to keep bribery charge in Netanyahu indictment: report, Times of Israel
State prosecutors have begun drafting a legal opinion recommending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, according to a television report on Thursday.

Fearing for Their Safety, Third of U.S. Jews Shun Stars of David and Skullcaps, Haaretz
According to the survey, most American Jews see anti-Semitism on the far right as a bigger threat than on the far left. Nearly three-quarters of respondents expressed disapproval of President Donald Trump’s handling of the threat of anti-Semitism.

Blue and White-Likud talks to address specifics of PM’s leave of absence: report, Times of Israel
The Blue and White party has done extensive research on the possible ramifications of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking a leave of absence if he is indicted in any of the three pending corruption cases against him, and the issue is likely to come up during Sunday’s meeting between the Blue and White’s and Likud’s negotiation teams, a report said Thursday.

U.S. Synagogues Prepare to Host Masses for Tree of Life Anniversary Shabbat Service, Haaretz
As the one year anniversary of the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh approaches, synagogues across the United States are preparing to host masses who will attend Shabbat services this weekend, to take a stand against anti-Semitism.

Deri vows to remain true to right-wing bloc as Gantz starts coalition efforts, Times of Israel
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Thursday that his ultra-Orthodox Shas party would not break ranks with a right-wing bloc of parties loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which have formed a united front in coalition talks with Blue and White.

Joint List Says It Won’t Negotiate With Gantz Without Faction That Didn’t Back Him, Haaretz
The chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, who represents the Hadash party within the slate, told Haaretz that the Joint List would not conduct itself according to the wishes of Kahol Lavan. “If Gantz wants to talk to the Joint List, he can talk to me,” Odeh said, “but the moment he decides to talk to the heads of the [other] parties, he can’t ignore one party or another.”

Courting Blue and White, Joint List opposes Zionism but supports ‘compromise’, Times of Israel
“Of course, we are against the Zionist movement. However, from a pragmatic perspective, we are ready for a compromise between the Zionist movement and Palestinians,” Abbas, who heads the Ra’am party, told The Times of Israel. “We believe that compromise should entail full citizenship for Palestinians in Israel including civil and national rights and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem,” he said.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Is Already Campaigning Hard. Here’s How He Hopes to Win, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Netanyahu is already in the thick of an election campaign. His narrative – I wanted to establish a Zionist unity government, Gantz wants to establish a minority government based on the support of the Arabs – is already directed at polling stations of the next round.”

Sorry, Gantz: Israel Is Heading To A Third Election. A Conversation With Ehud Olmert, The Forward
Eylon A. Levy writes, “The problem is, Gantz doesn’t have the numbers for a government. ‘The only conceivable government is a unity government: Blue & White, Likud, and maybe Lieberman,’ says Olmert. For now, the Likud is sticking loyally by its leader. That leaves one option for a minority government: Blue & White, Labour, and Yisrael Beitenu. But that requires Gantz to defy political gravity.”

U.S. Out, Russia In: Can Israel Stand Up to the New Sheriff in Town?, Haaretz
Avi Bar-Eli writes, “Russia’s growing presence in the Middle East includes economic interests like energy and arms. Israel should tread carefully as the new era evolves.”

Israeli-Arab lawmakers could bring an end to the Netanyahu era, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar writes, “Head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh and Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, respectively the chairs of the Hadash and Ta’al parties, which are the two major parties that form the Joint List alliance, understand their voters want an end to the Netanyahu era and the only option is an alternative government — despite its drawbacks. They and their constituents have not forgotten that Gantz’s campaign prior to the April elections was launched with a video clip featuring the former head of the Israel Defense Forces alongside a body count of the Palestinians killed under his command in the 2014 war with Gaza.”

Israel Is Turning an Ancient Palestinian Village Into a National Park for Settlers, Haaretz
Gideon Levy and Alex Levac write, “The unbelievable story of a village outside Jerusalem: from its destruction in 1948 to the ticket issued last week by a parks ranger to a descendant of its refugees, who had the gall to harvest the fruits of his labor on his own land.”