News Roundup for January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

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J Street in the News

Note to Trump: You are not a victim of Nazi Germany, J Street Blog

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “Trump’s evocation of Nazi Germany suggests that he is the victim of truly monstrous forces – among the worst evils the world has ever seen. It suggests that he is fighting against dark, mysterious forces working secretly against him. This allows Trump to change the subject and avoid answering the serious questions being raised. But worst of all, it cheapens and devalues the memory of what Nazism really represented and of the millions of people who were its victims – Jews, gays, blacks, Roma, political opponents, the physically and mentally disabled – the list goes on and on. Trump’s evocation of Nazi Germany is particularly ill-chosen in view of the fact that his presidential campaign repeatedly used classic anti-Semitic images and tropes to promote his candidacy.”

Top News and Analysis

Kerry to attend Middle East peace conference on January 15 in Paris, Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend a Middle East peace conference organized by France and to be held in Paris on Jan. 15, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

What do Israelis think about settlements? Turns out age matters, Washington Post

Oded Haklai reports, “A recent public opinion survey provides important insights….Strikingly, among those who knew that Israel has not declared sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, practically half answered “yes” when asked whether Israel should formally declare its sovereignty over these territories. In other words, taken together, about half of the Jewish-Israeli respondents believe that Israel either has already formally declared its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria or should do so….According to the findings in this research, those born before 1967 are more likely to remember Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries. They know that Israel has not formally declared its sovereignty on Judea and Samaria. They view settlements to be outside the State of Israel’s territory. This is especially true for those who were at least 10 years old in 1967. For that generation, the Green Line is tangible. In contrast, for those born after 1967, the boundaries of the pre-1967 war are not palpable….In the Israeli case, those born after 1967 never experienced the Green Line — they regularly see Ariel on the weather forecast, they drive by Ma’ale Adomim on route to the Dead Sea and they went on school trips to parts of the Judean Desert on the East side of the Green Line.”

The Guardian view on Trump and Israel: stick to the script, The Guardian

The editorial board writes, “What has changed is that while Barack Obama stuck to the script of US foreign policy in the region, his successor, Donald Trump, says he won’t. Mr Trump has nominated as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a donor to the settlement movement, who is if anything to the right of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The family of Mr Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser Jared Kushner has donated to illegal settlements. This will suit Mr Netanyahu. He heads a coalition of rightwing radicals accused of seeing democracy as being synonymous with unchecked majority rule…. Foreign ministers meeting this weekend to discuss the peace process should remind Mr Netanyahu of where he is heading. Mr Trump’s endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving the US embassy there – a US congressional law not implemented by previous presidents– would be a disaster for peace.”

Failing To Confront Trump’s Bigotry Is a Moral Stain on Simon Wiesenthal Center — and American Jews, Forward

Peter Beinart writes, “In the decades to come, historians of American Jewry will ask how a community that keenly remembers its own experience with state bigotry produced institutions that excused the most nakedly bigoted major party presidential nominee in modern American history. They will ask why the crowd at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee gave Donald Trump a standing ovation just three months after he proposed banning Muslim immigration to the United States. They will ask why the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations criticized neither that ban nor Trump’s racist attack on a Mexican-American judge. And they will reserve a special mention for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier. Despite running what is ostensibly a human rights organization, Hier ignored or downplayed Trump’s attacks on vulnerable minorities throughout the campaign. And last week, Trump rewarded him by asking him to offer an inaugural prayer.”

Tillerson: Israel Is Most Important U.S. Ally in Mideast, UN Resolution Not Helpful, Haaretz

During the hearings, Tillerson called Israel the United States’ most important ally in the Middle East, terming UN resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements “not helpful.”  The Israeli-Palestinian matter was only raised four hours into the hearing, which primarily dealt with Tillerson’s links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He added that John Kerry’s speech was “quite troubling and undermined the Israeli government’s position” regarding future negotiations with the Palestinians. “We have to renew the commitment to Israel,” he added.


Enraged Donald Trump Compares United States to Nazi Germany, Forward

Incensed at news reports that the Russian government holds compromising information about Donald Trump, the president-elect vented his anger on Twitter on Wednesday morning, including a comparison of the United States to Nazi Germany, the fascist state led by Adolf Hitler that killed about 15 million civilians, including 6 million Jews.

Israel says Hamas hacked Facebook accounts, cellphones of army recruits, Washington Post

The Israeli military said Wednesday that its archenemy Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, used a series of fake Facebook accounts to connect with young recruits in an attempt to gain access to sensitive army information. A senior intelligence officer, who could not be identified under Israeli army rules, told journalists that over the past few months, dozens of soldiers, mostly from combat units, were enticed into chatting with people they believed were young, attractive women in Israel and abroad.

Former U.S. Defense Official: Israel’s Security at Risk Due to Religious Intolerance, Haaretz

Israel’s disregard and disrespect for non-Orthodox Jewish movements could end up costing it the longstanding support of the United States government, a former senior defense department official with close ties to Israel warned on Wednesday. Speaking at a session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Dov Zackheim, head of a new U.S. organization that advocates for Jewish pluralism, noted that the 85 percent of American Jews who do not identify as Orthodox are not accepted by Israel’s religious establishment.

Report: Israel planning to build settlement on site of Jerusalem attacker’s house, Ma’an

The Jerusalem municipality has reportedly approved plans to establish a new settlement in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, on the site of the home of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly truck attack on Saturday, according to Israel’s Channel 10.

Israel Court Suggests Women Have Right To Read Torah at Western Wall, Forward

Israel’s high court suggested in a ruling Wednesday that women have the right to read from the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The court ordered the rabbi of the Western Wall to explain within 30 days why women “should not be allowed to pray in accordance with their custom at the traditional plaza.”

Israeli Finance Minister Raps Netanyahu Over Close Ties to Media Chiefs, Haaretz

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Wednesday that ties between media figures and the government should be severed – his first public comments on the police investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kahlon is the head of the center-right Kulanu party and a former communications minister, a post Netanyahu now fills in addition to serving as prime minister.

US Jewish groups condemn Trump’s comparison to Nazi Germany, Times of Israel

Jewish groups on Wednesday condemned President-elect Donald Trump for suggesting US intelligence agencies leaked an unverified report that Russia has compromising information on him, a move he compared to Nazi Germany. “No one should cavalierly draw analogies to Nazi Germany, especially the next leader of the free world,” Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt said in a tweet. “It is not only a ridiculous comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust. The President-elect should apologize for the remark.”

Israeli Lawmakers Move to Ban Settlement-boycott Advocates From Entering Country, Haaretz

The Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday initially approved a bill that would bar the issuing of entry visas or residency permits in Israel to foreign citizens who call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements. Entry would be barred in two cases, the first being if the foreign citizen knowingly and publicly calls for such a boycott, or if the citizen represents an organization that calls for a boycott. The bill’s definition of a boycott of Israel relies on a law from 2011, which goes agaist the boycott of Israel, its institutions or territory under its control, namely the settlements. The bill also allowed a civil suit to be filed against those who advocate for a boycott.

Opinion and Analysis

Zionist Camp MK’s message to the Israeli left, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem reports, “Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Camp met with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah on Dec. 30. At this moment, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are on a collision course and far from even talking about renewing negotiations between them, a meeting between an Israeli Knesset member and a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is no trivial matter….It was clear to Svetlova that the conversation took place with the knowledge and blessing of Abbas, and she left it with the understanding that the Palestinian leadership is interested in returning to the negotiation table. According to her, despite their accomplishments on the diplomatic front, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the PA understands that the Palestinian public is worn out and eager to change the situation on the ground.”

While Coddling Illegal Outpost, Israel Demolishes Arab Construction With Glee, Haaretz

Jack Khoury reports, “The house demolitions in the Arab town of Kalansua Tuesday were accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s militant Facebook post on “equal enforcement” and the congratulations from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. All this is largely a message to the home audience: the government, the right and at their head the settlers, with a special emphasis on the Amona settlers….meanwhile, these leaders are taking a stand to find a solution for 40 families of land thieves – the settlers at the Amona outpost. The political leaders are recruiting the attorney general and top experts in order to bypass the High Court of Justice’s decision to evacuate Amona. But they’re refusing to discuss any proposal to legalize tens of thousands of Arab homes built on private land in the heart of Arab communities and lead a consensual move for efficient planning for Arab society. Neither the government nor the Arab leaders can accept this bleak situation for long.”

Israel’s Most Effective Political Lobby: Right-wing Nationalists on Social Media, Haaretz

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler concludes, “[T]he evolving nature of the politicians’ reaction to the Hebron shooter is indicative of a profound change in the balance between the public and politicians. Social media strongly influenced the way certain points of emphasis became the basis for one version of the story being told. Coverage of the Elor Azaria affair will thus be remembered as reflecting the new rules of engagement between the Israeli people, politicians and their social networks.”

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