News Roundup for January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

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J Street in the News

J Street Opposes Latest Israeli West Bank Land Grab Legislation, J Street Blog

“The Israeli Knesset is poised to vote on a government-backed bill to retroactively “legalize” some 16 West Bank settlements built without government approval. Most of these outposts were built on private Palestinian land but the legislation outrageously supports the theft of this land and bans its rightful owners from accessing it or using it….The fact that this bill is being brought to a vote within days of the Trump administration taking office shows that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist allies no longer fear US opposition to their settlement drive. They clearly do not care that Israel is isolating itself from many of its friends around the world and driving the country down a path that ends with total control of the West Bank and makes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nearly impossible. J Street urges American vocal and urgent opposition not simply to any one piece of legislation, one particular settlement announcement or one particular home demolition but to the entirety of this enterprise that threatens the long-term security, democratic character and Jewish nature of the state of Israel.”

American Jews, invoking Holocaust, are not here for Trump’s Muslim ban, Policy Mic

“‘Major Jewish organizations joined in with the Anti-Defamation League, which vowed to ‘relentlessly’ combat the executive order. J Street called it ‘an affront to American values,’ and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society denounced it as ‘repulsive.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Who Defied Him, The New York Times

“President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries. In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates, who had served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Mr. Trump’s order against legal challenges. The president replaced Ms. Yates with Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, saying that he would serve as attorney general until Congress acts to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. In his first act in his new role, Mr. Boente announced that he was rescinding Ms. Yates’s order.”

The danger of Steve Bannon on the National Security Council, Washington Post

David Rothkopf writes, “Even as he pushed away professional security advice, Trump decided to make his top political advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, a permanent member of the NSC. Although the White House chief of staff is typically a participant in NSC deliberations, I do not know of another situation in which a political adviser has been a formal permanent member of the council. Further, Bannon is the precisely wrong person for this wrong role. His national security experience consists of a graduate degree and seven years in the Navy. More troubling, Bannon’s role as chairman of, with its racist, misogynist and Islamophobic perspectives, and his avowed desire to blow up our system of government, suggests this is someone who not only has no business being a permanent member of the most powerful consultative body in the world — he has no business being in a position of responsibility in any government.”

The Wrecking Ball, American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Trump’s choice of David Friedman—settlement fundraiser and frothing far-right ideologue—to serve as the next American ambassador to Israel was just one of his blatant signals that if, by chance, he understands what settlements are, he has no objection to them. Naming son-in-law Jared Kushner as his “broker a Middle East peace deal,” was another signal. Kushner’s family foundation has given cash to various West Bank settlement institutions, including Od Yosef Hai yeshivah, whose clerics have a decades-long record of condoning acts of Jewish terror against Palestinians. Besides specific gestures, there’s the wider picture: Just as Trump’s rise to power has given license and adrenaline to domestic haters, his autocratic, nationalist, piss-off-the-world-before-breakfast ascent gives carte blanche and steroids to hardline nationalists around the world. Netanyahu is just a case in point.”

Israeli Army Orders Amona Settlers Out of Illegal Outpost Within 48 Hours, Haaretz

The Israeli army has ordered the settlers of Amona to leave the illegal outpost within 48 hours, even as the High Court was set to rule on a relocation plan prepared by the state. According to a leaflet posted Tuesday morning at the outpost, after 48 hours the army will bar entry to Amona and no one will be allowed to stay in the premises. The order requires the settlers to remove their property from the outpost by midnight Wednesday, 48 hours after the order came into effect midnight Monday. However, the settlers claim that they only received the order Tuesday morning.


Netanyahu: Iran Violated UN Resolution With Missile Test, I’ll Urge Trump to Renew Sanctions, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran has violated the terms of a UN Security Council resolution and vowed to talk to U.S. President Donald Trump about renewing sanctions against Tehran. The White House said Monday that Trump and Netanyahu will meet on February 15 in Washington D.C.

Trump: Decision on Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Expected in ‘Not-too-distant Future’, Haaretz

U.S. President Donald Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this week that he will be making a decision on moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “in the not-too-distant future.” Trump said the subject “has two sides to it,” and that although it’s out of character for him, he and his staff “are doing very detailed studies” of the issue. The interview was done Friday and broadcast Sunday night.

Spicer Melts Down: Criticizing Holocaust Remembrance Statement Is ‘Pathetic’, Talking Points Memo

White House press secretary Sean Spicer went on a tear Monday about criticism of the Trump administration’s statement commemorating International Holocaust Memorial Day, saying that those “picking on” the statement’s failure to explicitly mention Jews are “pathetic” and “nitpicking.”

Swastikas at Stanford University: Second Time in a Month, Forward

Swastikas were discovered last weekend at Stanford University, less than a month after another rash of swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti was found around campus.

Israel Expands Remapping Effort in Bid to Claim More West Bank Land, Haaretz

Israel has enlarged the territories it is remapping in the West Bank with the aim of declaring them state lands, according to a survey conducted by a nonprofit that monitors Israel’s land policies in the region. Kerem Navot’s report is based on data supplied by the Civil Administration (the branch of the Israeli military that deals with civilian matters in the West Bank) through a freedom of information request. The group says that more than 62,000 dunams (15,320 acres) were remapped in 2015.

Netanyahu and Trump to meet Feb. 15, JTA

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will meet in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15. Netanyahu confirmed and welcomed the invitation.

State Rejects Delaying Demolition of Four Settler Homes Built on Private Palestinian Land, Haaretz

The state objects to delaying the scheduled demolition of four of the nine homes in the settlement of Ofra, it told the High Court of Justice on Monday, but it does not object to delaying the demolition of the other five homes, whose residents are preparing for their move. According to a previous ruling by the High Court of Justice, the nine homes – built illegally on private Palestinian land in the settlement, located in the northern part of the West Bank – are supposed to be evacuated and dismantled no later than February 8.

Israel reportedly asking: Does US travel ban include our citizens?, JTA

Israel reportedly is seeking clarification of whether the U.S. travel ban on nationals from seven Arab countries applies to Israelis born in those countries. The French news agency AFP reported that Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been seeking information on whether the ban covers tens of thousands of Israeli citizens, mostly elderly, who were born in those countries.

Opinion and Analysis

George Mitchell wrote ‘A Path to Peace’ about Israel and Palestine. Is there one?, Los Angeles Times

Zach Dorfman reviews a new book by George Mitchell. “The American attitude, embodied by Mitchell, has been to treat Palestinians and Israelis as coequals in the partition, or peace, process. They are not. One party possesses the preponderance of power in the relationship; the other lacks sovereignty — it is in fact negotiating for its sovereignty with another, sovereign entity. Even accounting for the Palestinian Authority’s deficiencies — among them its corruption and authoritarianism — this is the fundamental imbalance in the conflict. Israel has the power to withdraw, or not, from the territories. Palestinians possess, at best, a proto-state entity that is reliant on Israel for its very survival. (It is also dependent on funding from international sources, as the Obama administration’s last-minute $221-million aid disbursement to the Palestinian Authority shows).”

Full Text of Draft Dissent Channel Memo on Trump Refugee and Visa Order, Lawfare

“Numerous Foreign Service officers and other diplomats have drafted a dissent memo expressing opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States….We are hearing that literally hundreds of foreign service officers are planning to be party to the dissent memo; it’s still unclear exactly how many.”

Jews Across America Are Rising Up Against Trump’s Refugee Ban: ‘We Haven’t Forgotten Our History’, Haaretz

Debra Nussbaum Cohen describes massive Jewish resistance to the President’s Executive Order on immigration.

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