News Roundup for July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

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J Street in the News

70 Members of Congress Call on Trump Admin to Address Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza, J Street

“An important new letter signed by 70 members of Congress calls on the Trump administration to take immediate action to help alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Following on a similar letter sent by 13 senators in May, this is the latest indication that members of Congress are deeply concerned by the disastrous situation in Gaza, and by the inadequate and counterproductive approach the Trump administration has taken to the crisis….The letter was led by Reps. Mark Pocan, Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky and John Yarmuth. Its signers challenge the administration’s dangerous and unnecessary cuts to funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and humanitarian programs assisted by USAID, and call for this funding to be fully restored. They also call for the US to encourage our allies to ease the blockade on the movement of goods, equipment and people in and out of Gaza.”

Ted Cruz bashes Beto O’Rourke for accepting funds raised by PAC, Dallas Morning News

“Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign is criticizing his challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, for accepting contributions collected by a political action committee that backs candidates based on their support of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cruz released a statement Monday deriding O’Rourke for taking $167,408 in contributions this election cycle collected by the J Street PAC. The PAC did not contribute directly to O’Rourke– it bundled donations on O’Rourke’s behalf. A spokeswoman for J Street said the PAC had gathered the donations for O’Rourke’s Senate race from 371 unique donors as of last week….The group specifically praised O’Rourke for his support of the Iran nuclear deal that President Donald Trump has since abandoned. O’Rourke traveled to Israel with the group in 2015.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump says he’d meet with Iran without preconditions ‘whenever they want’, CNN

“President Donald Trump said Monday he is willing to meet with Iran’s leadership, without preconditions, ‘whenever they want.’ ‘I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,’ Trump said during a joint news conference at the White House alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. ‘I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I’m ready to meet whenever they want to.’ ‘No preconditions,’ he added. ‘They want to meet, I’ll meet, whenever they want.’”

Thousands Attend Mega Arabic Lesson in Tel Aviv to Protest Nation-state Law, Haaretz

“It was billed the biggest Arabic lesson in the world, and on Monday evening organizers estimated that a few thousand Israelis participated in the mega-event held in one of Tel Aviv’s big city squares….Organized by a consortium of Israeli civil society organization, the event was held to protest the controversial nation-state law, passed by the Knesset this month, that downgrades Arabic as one of the country’s official languages. T-shirts sold at the event had the words “I love Arabic” (in Arabic words, but Hebrew letters) printed on them. The crowd included Jews and Arabs, including many who had traveled long distances to attend. They repeated basic words and terms in Arabic after the teachers, who delivered their lesson from a central stage, sometimes with translations into in Hebrew, but often not.”


Israeli Author Questioned by Shin Bet at Ben-Gurion Airport Over Involvement in Leftist Groups, Haaretz

Moriel Rothman-Zecher, an Israeli citizen who has lived in the United States for the past ten months was held up at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv by Shin Bet security service officials for a “cautionary conversation” because of his involvement in left-wing organizations. Officials stressed that he was not suspected of anything and that the nature of the conversation was a general warning, according to Rothman-Zecher. He said he was asked, among other things, about his involvement in the left-wing organizations Breaking the Silence, an anti-occupation veterans’ NGO, and All That’s Left, an anti-occupation collective.

Eight former police chiefs urge government to change nation-state law, Times of Israel

Numerous former Israel Police commissioners and other senior officials came out against a newly passed law defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, adding their voices to a growing chorus of opposition to the legislation.

Israeli Druze Commander Quits Army Over Nation-state Law in Open Letter to Netanyahu, Haaretz

Capt. Amir Jmall, a member of Israel’s Druze community, posted an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his Facebook page Sunday, stating that he will stop serving in the military in protest of the controversial nation-state law.

David Friedman makes rare visit by US ambassador to terror victim’s home in West Bank, JTA

David Friedman made a rare visit by a U.S. ambassador to Israel to the family of a terror victim in the West Bank. Friedman made the condolence call Monday during the weeklong shiva grieving period to Yotam Ovadia’s widow and two children, ages 2 years and 7 months, in the Adam settlement. Ovadia was stabbed to death Thursday night outside of his home in the settlement of 5,000 north of Jerusalem.

Israeli Arab Poet Dareen Tatour Gets Five-month Sentence for Incitement on Social Media, Haaretz

Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was sentenced to five months in prison Tuesday by the Nazareth District court. Tatour, an Israeli citizen, was convicted in May of incitement to violence and supporting terrorist organizations, based on her social media posts.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Iran Strategy: Regime Change on the Cheap, NY Magazine

Jonah Shepp writes, “War with Iran would be a disaster, but the administration’s apparent plan A of indirectly fomenting regime change in Iran also carries grave risks. For one thing, even if it succeeds, the collapse of a state governing over 70 million people and controlling a vast, well-funded, fanatical paramilitary force will necessarily be a chaotic and traumatic process for Iran. It’s just as likely, however, that in its effort to achieve the outcome of a war without the cost and complications, the Trump administration will stumble into an inescapable spiral of escalations and we will end up at war anyway.”

EU’s moment of truth in Khan al-Ahmar, EU Observer

Hagai El-Ad writes, “Visible, public pressure brought Khan al-Ahmar thus far. Wednesday (1 August) is the new target day, to make Israel reconsider its intentions and back off. Khan al-Ahmar’s moment of truth is our moment of truth. For decades, Israel has refused to allow Khan al-Ahmar to even have a decent access road. This month, the state finally paved one: not to serve the residents, but to make it possible to demolish their homes. Perhaps, if justice does prevail, not only will the community be allowed to stay in place, but it will also finally have a proper access road. The last stretch towards demolitions could become the first step towards construction, development and justice.”

War With Hezbollah, According to the IDF: Hundreds of Rockets, Less Interceptions and Power Outages, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “The scenarios shared with the cabinet included estimates of how many rockets would likely be fired each day, what percent of them would be intercepted, how many would strike on open land versus built-up land, and casualty estimates. If and when total war erupts up north, the Israeli army plans to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people who live within missile range, to other parts of Israel. As Haaretz reported a year and a half ago, the plan calls for a complete evacuation of towns nearest the border, with the exception of emergency personnel, which would involved evacuating 78,000 people from 50 towns up to four kilometers from the border. However, assistance would be given to people living further away who may also prefer to leave the area.”

Israel Doesn’t Want to Be My State, The New York Times

Sayed Kashua writes, “The powerful right wing in Israel wishes to annex the West Bank, or large parts of it, and some voices have been saying that Israeli law should be instated in the Occupied Territories, too. If this were to occur, how would the Nationality Law apply to the millions of Palestinians under occupation? Would there still be a prohibition against any definition other than the national-Jewish one? Does this law not aim to prevent any possibility of national Palestinian fulfillment in the State of Israel as conceived by the right wing — namely, one Jewish state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, in which only Jews are permitted self-actualization and granted a national identity?”