News Roundup for July 19, 2018

July 19, 2018

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J Street in the News

Israeli parliament passes bill defining country as the nation-state of the Jewish people, Los Angeles Times

“The Israeli parliament has passed a controversial bill defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities and downgrading Arabic from an official language to one with a ‘special status’….The law “was born in sin,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the American Jewish organization J Street, said in a statement. “Its only purpose is to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens.”

What Sacha Baron Cohen taught us about Republicans and Israel, Washington Post

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “There’s a way to support Israel which doesn’t include disabling our critical and intellectual faculties. That way would declare uncompromising support for Israel’s right to exist and for its right to defend itself, but also recognize that the country’s future as a Jewish homeland and as a democracy ultimately depends on making peace with its neighbors. The way to do that is for Israel to reach an agreement with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.”

Israel Rolls out Red Carpet for Hungarian Leader, J Street Blog

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “Israel is giving a fulsome welcome to visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who used an anti-Semitic poster campaign to win his last election and has made hatred of immigrants a centerpiece of his platform. This is the same Viktor Orban who last year hailed as an “exceptional statesman” the country’s wartime leader and Nazi ally Miklos Horthy, who enacted anti-Jewish laws and under whose watch over half a million Jews were deported to Auschwitz.”


Top News and Analysis

Israel passes controversial ‘nation-state’ bill with no mention of equality or minority rights, CNN

Andrew Carey and Oren Liebermann report, “Making no mention of the values of equality and democracy, Israel has passed into law a highly controversial bill that serves to define the nature of the state of Israel, with critics slamming it as the ‘nail in the coffin’ of Israeli democracy. The nation-state bill passed in its second and third readings following an hours-long debate in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The law establishes Israel as the historic home of the Jewish people with a ‘united’ Jerusalem as its capital and declares that the Jewish people ‘have an exclusive right to national self-determination’ in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had advocated for the nation-state bill, hailed its passage and called it a ‘defining moment’ in Israel’s history.”

Netanyahu and Orbán: An Illiberal Bromance Spanning From D.C. to Jerusalem, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Netanyahu, Trump and Orbán now share a common goal in disrupting EU policy. For that, Netanyahu has been courting not only Orbán but the Visegrád Four (whose other members are Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia). To secure the support of the Visegrád governments, Netanyahu was willing last year to reject the Hungarian-Jewish community’s appeal for support in its demand that the Orbán government stop its anti-Semitic campaign against the Hungarian-born Jewish-American financier George Soros. And only three weeks ago he signed a joint statement with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, absolving Poland or the Polish nation as a whole ‘for the atrocities committed by the Nazis and their collaborators of different nations.”



EU expresses concern over Israel’s Jewish nation-state law, Reuters

The European Union on Thursday said it was concerned about a new Israeli law which declares that only Jews have the right of self determination, and said it would complicate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians say newly passed Jewish state law ‘legalizes apartheid’, Times of Israel

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat panned a new Israeli Basic Law on Thursday that enshrines Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, contending that it “legalizes apartheid.”

Israeli President to Hungarian PM: Neo-Fascism Is a Threat to the World, Haaretz

Neo-Fascism is a threat to the entire world, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday as the two met in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu greets Hungary’s Orban as ‘true friend of Israel’, Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, calling him a “true friend of Israel” despite the outcry over the visiting leader’s past remarks that have been interpreted as anti-Semitic

Palestinians protest US visa denial to experts to come to UN, Washington Post

The Palestinians are protesting the U.S. refusal to grant visas to six experts from the prime minister’s office to come to the United Nations to present a report on Palestinian implementation of U.N. goals for 2030. The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, told two reporters Wednesday that Israel “complicated the matter” by refusing to allow several of the experts to travel from Ramallah to Jerusalem where the U.S. Consulate is located to check on their visas.

Gaza startup struggles to recover after Israeli airstrike, Associated Press

A Palestinian startup company touted as a model for Gaza entrepreneurship is struggling to recover after its office was badly damaged last weekend in an Israeli airstrike. The office of Haweya for Information Technology was among dozens of buildings damaged on Saturday in a flare up violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

Iran Takes U.S. to Court Over Nuclear Deal and Reimposed Sanctions, The New York Times

Iran has sued the United States at the International Court of Justice in a new, if dubious, strategy to nullify the nuclear sanctions reimposed by President Trump, which are starting to inflict pain on Iran’s already troubled economy.


Opinion and Analysis

In West Bank, 99.7% of Public Land Grants by Israel Go to Settlers, The New York Times

Isabel Kershner reports, “Over five decades in control of the West Bank, Israel has marked out hundreds of thousands of acres as public land, and it has allocated almost half of them for use. But only 400 of those acres — 0.24 percent of the total allocated so far — have been earmarked for the use of Palestinians, according to official data obtained recently by an anti-settlement group after a freedom of information request. Palestinians make up about 88 percent of the West Bank’s population. The group, Peace Now, said the other 99.76 percent of the land went to help Israeli settlements.”

The Two-Way Street: Some Thoughts for the Upcoming 9th of Av, J Street Blog

Rabbi Arthur Green writes, “We who still love Israel, despite it all, have much to celebrate: the rebirth of Jewish life, the ingathering of Jewish tribes, the renewal of Hebrew and its culture and a great deal more. But Tish‘ah B’Av is not the time for that. It is a day to recall how much reason there is not to celebrate. Yes, we mourn for the past; we cannot yet let ourselves mourn for the future. But it is indeed a day to cry out loudly our fear for that future, and to express in full voice our distress at several of the paths that Israel — both state and society — are taking.”