News Roundup for July 17, 2019

July 17, 2019

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J Street in the News

Morning Defense: Keeping Iran War Ban, Politico
“A coalition of 30 pro-diplomacy and progressive foreign policy groups is urging lawmakers to include a provision in the final National Defense Authorization Act barring military action against Iran unless authorized by Congress. ‘Congress needs to assert its constitutional powers to prevent decisions about the use of force being made by an administration that has acted with gross recklessness and profoundly weakened key alliances and multilateral partnerships essential to addressing threats from Iran,’ the groups warned in a letter. Organizations signing the letter include the Center for American Progress, J Street, Ploughshares Fund and VoteVets.”

Top News and Analysis

Why does President Trump keep dragging Jews into his attacks?, Washington Post
Batya Ungar-Sargon writes, “The claim that Israel feels abandoned is, of course, nonsense; the people of Israel haven’t the faintest idea who Ilhan Omar is. But roping Israel into his rant wasn’t random; it was Trump’s intended endgame from the get-go, and just the latest reminder for Jews that our concerns — and our existence — have been reduced to a rhetorical tool in a larger political battle.”

House condemns Trump ‘racist’ tweets in extraordinary rebuke, AP
In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led U.S. House voted Tuesday night to condemn President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” against four congresswomen of color, despite protestations by Trump’s Republican congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn’t “a racist bone in my body.”

Republican National Committee echoes Trump’s attacks on Democratic congresswomen, Washington Post
The RNC echoed the president’s words, saying in an email to reporters that “the squad of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley regularly use vile, hateful, anti-Israel, and anti-American rhetoric.”


Poll: Kingmaker Liberman surges to 10 seats, left and right mergers ineffective, Times of Israel
Exactly two months ahead of the September 17 elections, a poll published Tuesday showed Avigdor Liberman still holding the deciding say in coalition negotiations as his Yisrael Beytenu party surged to 10 seats after winning just five in April. The survey also revealed that mergers between smaller parties on the left and right would not increase the sizes of their respective blocs.

Israeli Election Poll Shows Joint Left-wing Slate Won’t Change Political Map, Haaretz
An alliance of Meretz, Labor and Ehud Barak’s Democratic Israel would not change the electoral balance between the center-left and the right-wing, according to a Channel 12 News poll published Tuesday.

As Hamas shows restraint, security officials discuss allowing 5,000 Gazan workers into Israel, YNet News
“In Gaza, people will choose working in Israel over digging terror tunnels,” the security official said. “Each of the 5,000 will be thoroughly checked on his way in and out of the Strip and will earn about NIS 3,500 in comparison to about NIS 1,000 he can make inside Gaza — if his lucky and has a job there.”

Minister walks back conversion therapy comments, says he opposes it ‘utterly’, Times of Israel
Walking back comments that caused an uproar over the weekend, Education Minister Rafi Peretz on Tuesday said he had “never” recommended so-called conversion therapy to homosexuals, stressing that he “utterly” opposes the “wrong and grave” practice.

Israel’s Labor Source Says It Won’t Merge With Barak’s Party, Haaretz
The Labor Party will not join a union of left-wing parties if it is headed by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a source involved in the party’s discussions with Meretz and Barak’s Democratic Israel said on Monday.

Epstein’s Ties to Former Israeli Leader Shake Up Election Campaign, New York Times
A former Israeli leader who is seeking to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing scrutiny over his financial and personal ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier charged with sex trafficking and abusing underage girls.

Spelling Trouble for Israel’s Arab Parties, Announcement of Joint Run Canceled, Haaretz
A press conference scheduled for Monday evening to announce the joint run of Israel’s four Arab-majority parties in Knesset in the September 17 election, was called off at the last moment because two of the four parties said they would boycott it.

Israel Has Almost as Many Religious Restrictions as Iran, Report Says, JTA
The report, published Monday by the Pew Research Center, tracks the rise of religious restrictions globally. Israel was one of the top 20 most religiously restrictive countries in the world, according to Pew. It also has the fifth-highest level of “social hostilities related to religious norms,” and the sixth-highest level of “interreligious tension and violence” — a worse score than Syria.

Opinion and Analysis

One of Israel’s Most Effective Politicians Just Quit, Proving Labor’s at the End of the Road, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “The fact that Shelly Yacimovich, a leader and symbol of Labor for the last decade and a half, has decided to take a break from politics is another sign of the desperate condition of the party as another election approaches. “I can’t do it anymore,” she wrote, paraphrasing Menachem Begin. But it isn’t just her. The Labor Party itself can’t do it any more, not on its own.”

We are all ‘the Squad’ now, Washington Post
Robert Kagan writes, “President Trump has forced us all to take a position on what kind of America this is going to be — in essence, to define again what American ‘nationalism’ means. Is it a white Christian nationalism (or if you’re Jewish and think you can wriggle yourself inside the Trumpian nationalist tent, you can call it Judeo-Christian), in which immigrants of color or other religions are not really Americans and can be told by the president to ‘go back’ to their ancestral lands? Or is it the universalist nationalism of the Declaration of Independence, based on the liberal Enlightenment principles of equality before the law, the inviolable rights of the individual against the state and the conviction that all citizens — regardless of religion, ethnicity or ancestral roots and the timing of their arrival — are equally American?”

‘Never Again’ means ‘Not Now!’, Times of Israel
Deborah Fripp writes, “Have we built concentration camps on our border? As a Holocaust educator, I get asked this question a lot. It’s the wrong question. Asking whether they are concentration camps pushes us into extreme language that blocks conversation. It leads us into a debate about words and away from productive discussion of the moral conundrum we face. Immigration is not simple, and as a nation, we will not easily find moral clarity. But there is clearly suffering and we must focus on finding ways to prevent it.”

Netanyahu makes history as Israel’s longest-serving leader, AP News
Aron Heller writes, “He has persevered through scandals, crises and conflicts, winning election after election even as the country grows more bitterly polarized. His supporters credit him with keeping Israel safe and prosperous, maintaining its Jewish character and boosting its standing internationally. His opponents, with equally visceral emotion, claim he has dashed hopes for peace with the Palestinians, torn society apart with vicious attacks on minority Arabs and left-wing opponents, and infused politics with a culture of corruption.”