News Roundup for January 10, 2019

January 10, 2019

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J Street in the News

Left-wing US student groups increase pressure on Birthright for ‘balanced’ trip, Times of Israel

“[I]n September J Street U, the campus division of…J Street, began circulating a petition on campuses nationwide demanding Palestinian speakers of the organization’s choosing be included on Birthright Israel trips. So far the petition has garnered upwards of 2,000 signatures. One of the petition’s organizers, Matan Arad-Neeman, a Haverford College sophomore, explains why efforts are concentrated on revising the existing trip’s narratives, rather than the formation of a new, J Street U-approved trip. ‘We are not currently considering creating our own trip. The impact of a single J Street U trip is virtually nothing in comparison to the 40,000 students who go on Birthright annually and are forbidden from hearing about life under the occupation from Palestinians,’ said Arad-Neeman….Arad-Neeman of J Street U said their petition builds on the organization’s “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign. In a recent blog post, J Street U said traveling to Israel is important for any student hoping to strengthen ties to the country. However, it believes Birthright is remiss in not including a more nuanced and in-depth view of life in the West Bank and Gaza. ‘Palestinian narratives are essentially erased from the narrative. And when trips like Birthright omit their stories it lets Israel get away with things like demolitions and what it’s like to live under the occupation. We want more progressive voices on the trip, because if and when voices are included, they are academic. You aren’t hearing from Palestinians who wait for hours in checkpoints,’ Arad-Neeman said.”

Are Republicans trying to make the government shutdown an Israel issue?, JTA

“The American Civil Liberties Union, a key Democratic constituency, has made a priority of killing anti-BDS laws on the state and federal levels. Liberal pro-Israel groups, like Americans for Peace Now and J Street, have joined the ACLU in opposing the anti-BDS component of Rubio’s bill.”

Top News and Analysis

The controversy over laws punishing Israel boycotts, explained, Vox

“Amawi’s case, widely reported in December, and other similar ones have galvanized liberal opposition to the anti-BDS laws. While BDS itself splits left-liberals, it’s much easier to get Democrats to agree that people should have the right to participate in the BDS movement if they’d like. The fact that some of these state laws are so broadly worded as to apply to people like Amawi has turned them into a lightning rod, making enemies out of national Democrats who might otherwise be willing to vote for the Rubio bill….Congressional Democrats are currently laser-focused on their battle with Trump over border wall funding and reopening the government. Out of both principle and political expediency, Senate Democrats don’t want to consider any bills until the government is back in business. This goes double for a bill like the Combating BDS Act, which divides Democrats among themselves.”

News

Netanyahu’s Party Alone in Opposing Transparency on Online Election Propaganda, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party called on Israel’s Central Elections Committee on Wednesday to forgo an appeal to ban anonymous online propaganda, making it the only party to publicly oppose such a ban ahead of the April 9 election.

Hamas renews funding for incendiary kite units ahead of expected escalation, Times of Israel

An Egyptian security delegation is expected to arrive in Gaza in the coming days in an attempt to prevent a deterioration in the security situation along the border with Israel this weekend. On Tuesday, the “Supreme National Authority for the March of Return and Breaking of the Siege,” the body officially behind the weekly border protests that the Hamas terror group has been encouraging saince last March, called on the Palestinian public to participate extensively in marches near the fence on Friday.

Girl, 14, lightly injured in suspected stabbing in Jerusalem, Times of Israel

A 14-year-old girl was lightly injured in a suspected stabbing in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem, as she waited at a bus stop on her way to school on Wednesday morning.

Netanyahu Raised $300,000 in Legal Defense Fees Without Permission, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife received $300,000 from businessman Nathan Milikowsky to fund their legal defense in pending criminal investigations without getting permission to accept the sum from the permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office, Haaretz has learned.

Four Jewish teens accused of terrorism released to house arrest, JTA

Four of five teens being held by Israel’s security agency for allegedly causing the death of a Palestinian woman have been ordered released to house arrest. The order by the Rishon Lezion District Court came Thursday, a day after police raided the Pri Ha’aretz Yeshiva in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehalim, which all five boys attend, and summoned 80 students for questioning.

Opinion and Analysis

Analysis: Israel’s dirty election campaign kicks off, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “The ministers are all speaking to the media in one voice, and the reason is clear. Netanyahu, despite the indictments that appear to be in the offing, is still the strongest man in the country and the one who controls their fate. That suggests that the 2019 election campaign will be dirty, tough and often hard to watch. Netanyahu’s video clips, usually produced quickly, at a makeshift studio installed at his residence, will continue to surprise and lead the agenda. These elections will not be about war and peace, or the economy and the cost of living, and not even about corruption in the widest sense of the word. They will focus on only one thing: the claim by the right-wing camp that the political left, under the auspices of the legal system, is working to bring down its leader.”

New Jerusalem ‘Apartheid Road’ Opens, Separating Palestinians and Jewish Settlers, Haaretz

Nir Hasson reports, “After a delay of years, Route 4370 in the Jerusalem area has opened. This road connects the settlement of Geva Binyamin to Route 1, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, between French Hill and the Naomi Shemer Tunnel, which leads to Mount Scopus. The highway, which has been called the ‘Apartheid Road,’ is divided in the middle by a high wall. Its western side serves Palestinians, who cannot enter Jerusalem, whereas the road’s eastern side serves settlers, who can now reach French Hill and Mount Scopus more easily from Anatot, Geva Binyamin and Route 60, north of the city. The West Bank has many segregated roads, but none of them is divided along its entire length by a wall. The road was built over a decade ago but remained closed due to a dispute between the army and the police over the staffing of a new checkpoint, opened because of the road.”

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