News Roundup for July 31, 2019

July 31, 2019

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J Street in the News

3 participants share what they learned on J Street’s first alternative to Birthright trip, JTA
“J Street called its trip a kind of ‘alternative Birthright,’ but Birthright this was not. It’s actually far better: Let Our People Know is doing the crucial work of building a progressive Judaism that is deliberate in its political stakes. The trip challenged Birthright’s pretense of being apolitical, instead providing space for young American Jews to wrestle with our moral responsibility.”

BDS Is a Political Funhouse but in Reality It’s Going Nowhere, Haaretz
“Actually, people don’t even know what BDS is. Last month, a J Street survey of Democratic voters (the kind of people who would favor the movement, if you believe Republicans) showed that nearly 64% had never even heard of BDS. Another 27% claimed to have heard “a little,” but we can put almost all of them down as people too embarrassed to admit they’re also clueless.”

In New Letter, over 300 Rabbis and Cantors Oppose Any Legislation Penalizing Supporters of the BDS Movement, J Street
“Over 300 rabbis and cantors today released a public letter calling on all federal and state legislators to defend the free speech of all Americans by opposing any efforts to pass legislation penalizing supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

US planning to roll out peace plan at meeting with Arab leaders – report, Times of Israel
The United States is reportedly planning a conference with Arab leaders at Camp David, during which US President Donald Trump will roll out his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Invitations to the conference will be extended by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, as he visits Israel and the Middle East this week to drum up support for the plan, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

Sanders endorses using Israeli military aid as political leverage, Al-Monitor
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on July 26 became the first presidential candidate to explicitly endorse using US military aid to Israel as leverage to demand better treatment of the Palestinians. He made the commitment during an interview with Pod Save America’s Jon Favreau after first floating the idea during a 2017 interview with The Intercept. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, came close to directly broaching the topic in June when he vowed that US taxpayers would not foot the bill if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved forward with annexing parts of the West Bank.

Labor ‘looks certain’ to run independently of left-wing union, party sources say, Times of Israel
Despite significant internal criticism over the decision, newly elected Democratic Union leader Amir Peretz is “set on running alone, as Labor, and not as part of Barak’s left-wing bloc,” one party source said.


Netanyahu Pledges to Secure U.S. Support Not to Evacuate Settlements, The Jerusalem Post
“No settlement or settler will ever be uprooted from here,” Netanyahu said, as he made a campaign stop in the Efrat settlement located in the Gush Etzion region just outside of Jerusalem.

Gantz doesn’t rule out coalition with New Right, Times of Israel
Blue and White Party leader MK Benny Gantz on Tuesday said that he would not rule out New Right’s Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett as coalition partners should he be tasked with forming a government after the coming elections.

Israel Approves Permits for 715 Palestinian Homes in West Bank Towns, Haaretz
Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved Tuesday construction permits for 715 housing units in Palestinians towns in Area C of the West Bank, the first such decision since 2016. However, it remains unclear whether the plans are for the construction of new units or the legalization of existing structures built without permits. however, no official decisions on the plans have been made. Sources familiar with the matter told Haaretz 6,000 housing units in Jewish settlement in the West Bank have also been approved.

Announcing Knesset slate, Liberman vows to force unity government, Times of Israel
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman announced his party’s slate for September’s Knesset elections on Tuesday evening, telling supporters that he plans to force a national unity government between Likud and the centrist Blue and White party.

In Major Shift, Israel Twice Struck Iranian Targets in Iraq ‘Using F-35’, Haaretz
According to the report, which cites anonymous Western diplomats, Israel struck Iranian warehouses storing arms and missiles at Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad, twice in the past month.

Barak urges union of all center-left parties on combined slate for elections, Times of Israel
Democratic Camp party senior member Ehud Barak on Tuesday called for a broad union of all major parties in the center and left ahead of the upcoming September 17 elections.

U.N. Agency for Palestinian Refugees Faces Accusations of Misconduct, New York Times
The United Nations agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, already struggling with funding cuts, is bracing for fallout after a highly critical internal ethics report was leaked to international news outlets this week detailing claims of serious mismanagement and misconduct.

PA premier: Without a two-state solution, Israel will suffer ‘demographic death’, Times of Israel
If a two-state solution is not achieved, Israel will suffer “demographic death” and will not be able to exist as a democratic state, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday.

Opinion and Analysis

The Real Reason So Many Republicans Love Israel? Their Own White Supremacy, The Forward
Peter Beinart writes, “They conflate love of Israel with love of America because they see Israel as a model for what they want America to be: An ethnic democracy. Israel is a Jewish state. Trump and many of his allies want America to be a white, Judeo-Christian state. Israel, despite its free elections and parliamentary institutions, structurally privileges one ethnic and religious group over others. That’s what many Republicans want here.”

How Ayelet Shaked Became the Most Powerful Woman in Israeli Politics, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “From Golda Meir to Shulamit Aloni in the last century, to Zehava Galon and Tzipi Livni more recently, every breakthrough by women heading political parties has been made on the secular left side (center-left in Livni’s case) of the political map. Ayelet Shaked’s coronation Sunday as leader of a new alliance of religious, right-wing parties overturns all assumptions regarding female leadership in Israeli political life.”

I’m A Rabbi From Baltimore. Congressman Cummings Is Our Hero, The Forward
Joshua Gruenberg writes, “To understand the unique character of Baltimore, one need look no further than our favorite son: Representative Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings has lived in Baltimore his entire life. Over a quarter century in Congress, he has dedicated his life to serving others and to making Baltimore a better place for all people. He personifies our city through heroic service, commitment, and the simple notion that even though our work is never done, we always show up and try.”

Democrats May Finally Have a Real Debate About Israel (if Moderators Ask), Slate
Joshua Keating writes, “If moderators at this week’s Democratic primary debates in Detroit want to start a conversation that will actually exposes differences in the views of the candidates, illuminate how the Democratic Party may be evolving, and get many of the candidates outside their comfort zones, there’s one obvious choice: Israel.”