News Roundup for January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

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J Street in the News

President Trump’s Action on Refugees an Affront to American and Jewish Values, J Street Blog

“President Trump’s decision to suspend the US refugee program is a profound affront to our values as Americans and as Jews. Especially troubling is the imposition of new rules that effectively shut America’s doors to Muslims fleeing war and other hardships. These measures go against the deepest traditions of the United States and condemn thousands of innocent people to unnecessary suffering without doing anything to enhance US security. J Street stands with the many organizations and tens of millions of citizens opposing these measures. Our conscience, our values and our own history, including the personal histories of many of our members, impel us to speak up against this grave transgression of American values, as embodied by the words engraved on the Statute of Liberty. The fact that President Trump’s order appears designed to specifically limit the entry of Muslims evokes horrible memories among American Jews of the shameful period leading up to World War Two, when the United States failed to provide a safe haven for the vast majority of Jews in Europe trying to escape Nazi persecution.”

Outcry over Trump’s Immigration Order, MSNBC

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami joins Joy Reid to discuss the shameful executive order on immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

Trump bars Syrian refugees, halts entry of citizens from some Muslim states, Politico

“Among the groups condemning Trump’s orders was J Street, the left-leaning Jewish advocacy group. It noted that the White House made the announcement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. ‘The fact that President Trump’s order appears designed to specifically limit the entry of Muslims evokes horrible memories among American Jews of the shameful period leading up to World War II, when the United States failed to provide a safe haven for the vast majority of Jews in Europe trying to escape Nazi persecution,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. ‘Most ultimately perished in the Holocaust.’”

Jewish groups add their voices to protest immigration ban, Yahoo News

“‘The fact that President Trump’s order appears designed to specifically limit the entry of Muslims evokes horrible memories among American Jews of the shameful period leading up to World War II, when the United States failed to provide a safe haven for the vast majority of Jews in Europe trying to escape Nazi persecution,’ the progressive pro-Israel group J Street said in a statement Friday. ‘President Trump’s decision to suspend the U.S. refugee program is a profound affront to our values as Americans and as Jews.”

Top News and Analysis

Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide, New York Times

“A federal judge in Brooklyn came to the aid of scores of refugees and others who were trapped at airports across the United States on Saturday after an executive order signed by President Trump, which sought to keep many foreigners from entering the country, led to chaotic scenes across the globe. The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions. The high-stakes legal case played out on Saturday amid global turmoil, as the executive order signed by the president slammed shut the borders of the United States for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Massachusetts, a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio and countless others across the world.”

Israel’s Netanyahu applauds Trump’s plan for wall; Mexico not pleased, Washington Post

On Saturday evening, Israel’s prime minister tweeted his praise of President Trump’s decision to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. ‘President Trump is right,’ Benjamin Netanyahu wrote. ‘I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.’ He accompanied the tweet with emoji flags of Israel and the United States….Mexico’s Foreign Ministry ‘expressed to the government of Israel, via its ambassador in Mexico, its profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s message on Twitter about the construction of a border wall.’….Yair Lapid called Netanyahu’s wall tweet a “grave mistake.” He said the premier stuck his “crude foot” into a divisive issue that is tearing America apart. It was, he added, an “unnecessary declaration of war on Mexico and the Hispanics, and a divorce from the Democrats (including most U.S. Jewry). It doesn’t matter what we think about the wall, don’t we have enough trouble of our own?” Lapid was hardly alone. In a remarkable tweet storm, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who served under President Barack Obama until a week ago, let loose on what he saw as Israeli meddling.”

With Trump’s Refugee Ban, Faith Leaders Have To Decide: Which America?, Forward

Jane Eisner writes, “The Trump administration’s executive order to ban refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and to give preference to Christians has now forced leaders of all faiths to declare how American they truly are….By American, I do not mean the pretended religiosity of people like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who made a big show of praying at a rebbe’s grave before the election and hosting VIPs for Shabbat dinner on the very day that their father and patron announced this despicable ban, but have uttered nary a public word of protest….The Jewish organizations that still support this anti-Muslim action — notably the Zionist Organization of America — have lost all moral standing. Period. The Jewish organizations that have so far remained silent — including the Republican Jewish Coalition and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — are fast diminishing their ability to lead unless they quickly and loudly speak out….Even the Jewish leaders who rank support for the current Israeli government first, second, third, fourth and fifth on their priority list, and therefore are embracing President Trump for his warm overtures to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ought to think again. Trump’s nonsensical ban on Muslim refugees could dramatically harm Israel’s safety because it disrupts a delicate world order that has until now protected the Jewish state.”

Israel’s Ruling Coalition Tries to Push Back Vote on Legalizing Seizure of Palestinian Land, Haaretz

Israel’s ruling coalition is seeking to postpone a vote slated for Monday on a bill that would legalize Israeli land grabs in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who initially opposed the bill, was planning to submit a revised version of the legislation for final approval. Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) said the vote will take place on Tuesday, but Likud lawmakers said the vote is taking place on Monday. The revised measure could apply to 16 West Bank settlements and outposts. Netanyahu will submit the bill to the Knesset for the final second and third readings on Monday, and, while the opposition plans to filibuster it, the bill is expected to pass into law.


Across the US, Jews Stand Up at Airport Protests, Forward

Ron Kampeas reports on the many American Jews joining protests across the country against President Trump’s executive order targeting Muslim immigration.

Several Jewish families affected by Trump’s refugee ban, says HIAS, JTA

The U.S. ban on refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries has affected several Jewish families, according to the refugee support and advocacy group HIAS. The ban, which came Friday in an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, has plunged into further uncertainty the lives of a Jewish Iranian man in his late 20s and his middle-aged mother, who for the past year have been waiting in an unnamed country for a reply on their application for asylum in the United States, HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield, told JTA Sunday.

Netanyahu: Israel’s Position Was and Is That the U.S. Embassy Should Be in Jerusalem, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel’s position remains the same: the U.S. embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. Netanyahu added that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, saying that he hopes a wave of foreign embassies will follow a U.S. move to Jerusalem. The prime minister said that he believes most embassies will eventually make the move. Netanyahu’s comments follow a Haaretz interview with Marc Zell, the co-chair of the Republicans Overseas organization in Israel, who said that the Trump Administration’s recent foot-dragging on the embassy move is happening at Israel’s request.

Israeli forces prepare to demolish newly donated homes in Umm al-Hiran, Ma’an

Israeli police forces raided the unrecognized Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region on Sunday, surrounding mobile homes that were donated the previous day to provide housing for families that were left homeless two weeks ago after Israeli authorities razed their homes to the ground. Locals in the village said Israeli forces were preparing to dismantle the newly donated homes.

Top Republican Jewish Groups Slam Trump’s Omission of Jews From Holocaust Statement, Haaretz

The White House statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which included no reference to Jews or anti-Semitism, was denounced on Sunday by two leading U.S. right-wing Jewish groups, both of which strongly supported President Donald Trump during his campaign. Their denunciations signal a growing level of anger within the American Jewish community over how the White House handled the issue in the face of public criticism.

Netanyahu Rejects Request by Minister to Apologize to Mexico Over Trump Wall Tweet, Haaretz

Interior Minister Arye Dery demanded on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologize for supporting American plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, but Netanyahu refused. Their argument took place during a meeting of the heads of all coalition parties which followed the weekly cabinet meeting, according to a source who was present at the coalition leaders’ meeting, but asked to remain anonymous.

Ex-deputy PM slams Netanyahu for silence on US’s Muslim ban, Times of Israel

Former Likud party stalwart Dan Meridor on Sunday harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to condemn the new US administration’s entry ban on citizens from certain Muslim states, arguing that the Jewish state should place Jewish values above political expediency. Now that we are the majority [in our state], we should not think of the [political] interest of the moment, or how it looks in the eyes of the US government, but we should be guided by our moral compass. Jewish history and Jewish values should guide us, in line with our tradition.”

Israel Set to Pass Law Banning pro-BDS Foreigners From Entering Country, Haaretz

The Knesset is likely to give final approval Monday evening to a bill that would forbid granting entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements. However, the interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Refugee Ban Dishonors the Memory of the Jewish Holocaust Victims He Failed to Acknowledge, Haaretz

Matt Nosanchuk writes, “When President Trump issues a statement that omits any mention of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a date – January 27 – that was chosen because it was the day on which Auschwitz, where evil and humanity conjoined to effectuate the mass murder of close to one million Jews was liberated, he dishonored the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in favor of a boilerplate pledge to do everything in his power, ‘in the name of the perished… to make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.’ So should anyone be surprised when, on the very day when the world comes together to say ‘Never Again’, President Trump twice demonstrates his ignorance of history – first by issuing a thoughtless and self-aggrandizing statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that omits mentioning the Jewish victims and second, by signing his reckless, inhumane and un-American executive order slamming the door on men, women and children who are fleeing violence and persecution, and scapegoats millions of others by preventing them from traveling here because of their religion and nationality.”

White House Stonewalls Jewish Immigration Agency, Forward

“Through both Democratic and Republican administrations, HIAS has had strong relationships with government officials, all of whom have long considered refugee resettlement a bipartisan issue. Under Trump, that has changed dramatically, Hetfield said, adding: “We have never seen anything like this before.” “It’s going to have a devastating effect on thousands of people,” he said. ‘Victims of torture and trauma who are refugees have waited for years in a hellhole and now the rug has been pulled out from under them.’….The strategy HIAS is adopting now is ‘to be as public and as aggressive as we can. The only way we can change this policy is to embarrass the president,’ Hetfield said. ‘He’s hard to embarrass but he should be ashamed of himself. He could rescind the executive order if he wanted to right now. But I’m not holding my breath.’”

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is a bad idea for everyone — except Israeli hard-liners and their American friends, Salon

Steven Cook writes, “[M]oving the embassy to Jerusalem is actually the perfect way to shatter the prevailing malaise about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict around the region. It is a move that the Iranians will happily exploit to the fullest, forcing Israel’s partners in the region on the defensive and potentially splitting apart the regional anti-Iran coalition, which needless to say would be bad for both Israel and the United States. It would also undermine Israeli efforts to strengthen ties with Jordan and Egypt as well as develop its surreptitious ties with Arab states in the Gulf. Then, of course, there is the potential for a third intifada. Observers have been predicting for some time that a new Palestinian uprising is likely. They have been wrong so far, but an embassy move might be an affront of such magnitude that widespread violence returns to the West Bank.”

Who will have upper hand in Trump’s Mideast policy?, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports “According to a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who is part of the policy team preparing Netanyahu’s visit, Israel is currently drafting a proposal for Trump and his team, pre-empting any future agreement with the Palestinians. The draft will propose that the new US administration recognize Israel’s future sovereignty in the settlement blocs without defining their scope. Israel also seeks US assurances that it will prevent any diplomatic move internationalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, such as the continuation of the Jan. 15 Paris conferences or any other UN Security Council resolution stipulating the illegality of Israeli West Bank settlements. On the other hand, the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem is not high on the Israeli agenda, out of concern for unrest in the West Bank. Such an agreement by the new administration will enable the Netanyahu government to freely continue its settlement expansion policies, especially within the settlement blocs and the Jerusalem area. Netanyahu will also ask for new sanctions on Iran.”

Trump Has No Idea What a Syrian Refugee Camp Is Like. This Is What I Saw, Haaretz

Jacob Plitman writes, “Most of the refugees now in Greece now have been trapped in limbo for months. For some, especially in the north of Greece, life is unbearable. I saw horrible things: Shirtless men warming themselves by a burning couch, people with infections that swelled their limbs to double their normal size, single mothers with children living in dangerous abandoned factories….Though most refugees are not in material danger, over the course of my time I watched their endless asylum limbo erode their minds. Some of my friends stopped sleeping or bathing. Some wouldn’t leave their tents for days on end. Others started fighting, or stealing or losing their memory.”

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