News Roundup for July 30, 2019

July 30, 2019

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J Street in the News

J Street’s Israel Trip Wasn’t Alternative Birthright. It Was Better, The Jerusalem Post
“If J Street’s goal was simply to introduce a template for “Birthright Plus” – a guide for tacking the occupation onto a conventional pro-Israel framework, as if West Bank settlement is just an ailing appendage to an otherwise healthy Israeli democracy – I’m not sure it succeeded. J Street’s accomplishment is something new altogether and far more formidable: Let Our People Know challenges Birthright’s pretense of apoliticism in Jewish engagement with the State of Israel, instead providing space for young American Jews to wrestle with our moral responsibility.”

Top News and Analysis

Right-wing alliance, Arab bloc formed ahead of Israeli vote, AP
A group of religious nationalist parties in Israel announced Monday that they would run together in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the same day four Arab political parties formalized a merger of their own.

Israel’s Parties Are Contracting to Bring About Netanyahu’s Downfall, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “As things stand, the next Knesset will feature the smallest number of parties in Israel’s history. There are currently only nine parties with a realistic chance of crossing the electoral threshold on September 17. And if Labor leader Amir Peretz changes his mind before midnight on Thursday — the deadline for handing the party slates to the Central Elections Committee — and decides to join forces with Democratic Union (or if, as some now fear, Peretz’s party fails to cross the 3.25 percent threshold), we’ll only have eight parties in the 22nd Knesset.”


Rep. Rashida Tlaib defends BDS and says she would boycott Muslim countries too, JTA
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., defended her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and said she would support a boycott of Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, with whose policies she disagreed. Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, said the movement is “pushing back against racist policies in Israel” during an interview Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper. She used her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank, as an example of “someone right now under occupation (who) is feeling less than.”

Trump’s No Longer Enough: Netanyahu Selling Israelis ‘A Different League’ With Putin and Modi, Haaretz
When workers began abseiling from the roof of Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, spreading a 10-story-high poster of the party’s leader smiling alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, the immediate interpretation was that Likud would stop at nothing to attract sought-after “Russian” voters in the upcoming election. But then on another side of the building they unfurled a similar poster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with U.S. President Donald Trump, and then a third side with Bibi alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Netanyahu said pushing for pre-election Putin trip to Israel, Times of Israel
Seeking to secure a visit to Israel by Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the September 17 election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be pressuring the Jerusalem municipality and other government bodies to expedite the inauguration of a memorial in the capital to those who perished in the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II.

Far-right Parties Seal Election Merger, Commit to Backing Netanyahu-led Coalition, Haaretz
The Hayamin Hehadash and Union of Right-Wing Parties announced Monday they would run on a joint ticket in September’s election under the name United Right, following a meeting of party leaders Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich.

Iran says it’s waiting for ‘tangible’ results of talks with Europe, Al-Monitor
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said his country is ready to reduce its nuclear commitments if Europe is unable to secure the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal signed by Iran and the six world powers in 2015.

Settlement wines cannot be labeled ‘Made in Israel,’ Canadian court rules, Times of Israel
Challenging a previous decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Judge Anne L. Mactavish determined that labels describing wines made in the settlements as Israeli products are “false, misleading and deceptive.”

Synagogue shooting leaves 1 wounded, suspect sought, AP
Authorities said Monday they have yet to determine whether the weekend shooting of a member of a Miami area synagogue constituted a hate crime, adding they’re still seeking the suspect after the attack outside the temple’s front door.

Opinion and Analysis

Saudi Arabia’s Vicious Troll Army Has a New Target: Palestinians, Haaretz
Muhammad Shehada writes, “When Saudi Arabia’s most fanatical pro-Israel influencer was kicked out of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque this week, it was a propaganda gift for the kingdom’s anti-Palestinian trolls, tasked with pushing normalization with Israel at all costs.”

Does Anyone Take the BDS Movement Seriously?, New York Times
Eric Alterman writes, “Consider the way Republicans took up the issue. Republican congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, for example, apparently saw the B.D.S. debate as yet another cudgel with which to beat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats over the head with the trumped-up charge of disdain for America’s Jews.”

Israel is no exception: Apartheid has to go, +972 Mag
Amjad Iraqi writes, “When Israel’s Knesset passed the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law’ one year ago this month, it effectively declared apartheid the constitutional law of the land. Yet the responses of the international community have hardly matched those toward South Africa 35 years ago. Some like the European Union have publicly raised concerns about the Basic Law’s effect on Israel’s minority citizens and democratic values; but for the most part, they have treated it as an internal matter that they cannot interfere with, at least until the Supreme Court completes its judicial review.”

This is not the right-wing merger Netanyahu wanted, Times of Israel
Raoul Wootliff writes, “Netanyahu has been encouraging smaller right-wing parties to merge with each other ahead of the Thursday deadline for parties to register for September’s elections. But the Monday announcement that a pair of religious, right-wing parties — New Right and Union of Right-Wing Parties — had successfully closed a deal to merge into a single electoral slate, led by popular former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, was condemned by Netanyahu’s Likud as a “dangerous mistake” that risks the prime minister’s continued rule, rather than safeguarding it.”