News Roundup for June 12, 2019

June 12, 2019

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J Street in the News

Birthright Trips, a Rite of Passage for Many Jews, Are Now a Target of Protests, New York Times
“Activists say the new programming doesn’t go far enough. In the fall, J Street U, a liberal Jewish organization with 60 affiliates on college campuses, circulated petitions asking Birthright to include at least one Palestinian speaker on the occupation. J Street U has also rolled out its own alternative free trip to Israel this summer, which will take students into the West Bank to meet Palestinians and Israeli settlers. Organizers say it is meant to serve as a model for how Birthright could change.”

Outrage on Capitol Hill over ‘completely unacceptable’ US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate, The Independent
“‘It’s an outrage that the Trump Administration was funnelling taxpayer dollars to a smear campaign accusing US citizens of dual loyalty to a foreign regime,’ Dylan Williams, vice president of the left-leaning Jewish-American organisation J Street, told The Independent. ‘Decent people wouldn’t tolerate such state-sponsored defamation if the target was Jewish Americans and we shouldn’t when the target is Iranian-Americans.’”

Polls Make Clear: Israel Is Not A Top Issue For Voters Who Care About Israel, TPM
“Next, a J Street poll of base Democratic voters who will likely participate in the upcoming presidential primaries showed something similar: less than one in five of these voters said that they followed Israel closely. “

Top News and Analysis

Americans ‘Should Not Foot the Bill’ if Israel Were to Annex West Bank, Buttigieg Says, Haaretz
During a speech at Indiana University, Buttigieg said that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go forward with his pre-election promise to annex settlements in the West Bank, “he should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to make sure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine ‘deal’ has always been a fraud, Financial Times
David Gardner writes, “It always looked like a smokescreen to mask the burial of the two-state solution — an independent Palestinian state on the occupied West Bank, and Gaza with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital living in peace alongside Israel — and greenlight the Israeli annexation of most of the West Bank. “

Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli leader, calls Trump a ‘real rock star’ and compares him to King Cyrus, Washington Post
“I think President Trump is the best friend of Israel, and the Jewish people, [that we’ve] ever had in the White House. He will be remembered in Jewish history, for moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem, and recognizing the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said.


Netanyahu ally says voters, not judges, will decide PM’s legal fate, Times of Israel
A Likud lawmaker seen as a staunch loyalist of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said Israeli voters — not the justice system — would decide the premier’s legal fate, signaling a renewed push to protect Netanyahu from prosecution for corruption after the upcoming September 17 elections.

Trump leaves Congress in dark on Mideast deployment to counter Iran, Al-Monitor
The Donald Trump administration has yet to inform Congress on how long it will keep troops, a carrier group, bombers and missile defense batteries in the Middle East that were recently sent to the region to counter threats from Iranian-backed proxy groups, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said today.

Israel’s former justice minister Ayelet Shaked will run again for Knesset after falling short in previous vote, JTA
Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s former justice minister, said she would remain in politics and run in national elections in September after falling short for a Knesset seat in April’s balloting.

Israel Lobbies German Government to Enforce Motion Defining BDS as anti-Semitic, Haaretz
The German government is examining whether to adopt a motion by its parliament that defines the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic and bans it from use of public buildings – and how such a decision would affect German funding to groups that support the movement.

Israel says it has closed 30 fundraising accounts of boycott-backing nonprofits with links to terrorism, JTA
Thirty fundraising accounts associated with nonprofit organizations that promote boycotts of Israel have been shut down in the past two years, according to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Gaza medic succumbs to wounds inflicted by Israeli fire, AP
Gaza’s Health Ministry says that a Palestinian paramedic has succumbed to wounds inflicted by Israeli fire at a border protest a month before.

Israel Seeks 12-year Jail Term for Blogger Accused of Slandering Public Officials, Haaretz
Israel’s state prosecutor is seeking a 12-year prison sentence for blogger Lori Shem-Tov, who is accused of crimes including invasion of privacy and insulting civil servants, among them judges, in online publications.

Opinion and Analysis

David Friedman gave Netanyahu half a nod for West Bank annexation. What happens next?, JTA
Ron Kampeas writes, “Israeli settlers celebrated Friedman’s comments as a signal that the Trump administration was not interested in the two-state solution reviled by Israel’s right-wing parties. ‘It’s time Israel decided its future and it’s good that we have a friendly power like the U.S. working with us,’ Oded Revivi, who heads the Efrat Regional Council, told Arutz Sheva, the media outlet close to the settlement movement.”

Labor Party Must Learn From Gabbay’s Mistakes, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “His willingness to accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s stereotype of the left as having ‘forgotten what it means to be Jewish’ caused many to reject his leadership. Many voters were also infuriated when he dissolved Zionist Union and ousted Livni on live television. They felt that in his efforts to get rid of the leftist label, he had forgotten the left’s values.”

Pete Buttigieg clears the Commander in Chief bar, Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes, “He was restrained but critical on Israel. He reaffirmed our support for the Jewish state as an ‘essential tenet’ of U.S. foreign policy, but maintained that one can be a good friend of Israel yet disagree with the positions of its ‘right-wing government,’ as he described it. He forcefully reaffirmed a two-state solution and warned (vaguely) that if Israel annexed the West Bank, U.S. taxpayers ‘won’t foot the bill.’”