News Roundup for June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019

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J Street in the News

Jared Kushner, US peace team face credibility test in Bahrain, CNN
“‘It’s kind of like saying, you’ve got a baseball batter who’s in a slump and so — what they’ve been doing — they look at the videotape and instead of like doing a better swing, they just start hitting the umpire with the bat. Yeah, doing something different — but it has to make sense what you’re doing,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal group advocating for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Joe Sestak, who presaged rising Democratic criticism of Israel, announces presidential run, JTA
“Sestak was one of the first endorsees of the then newly established J Street, a Jewish Middle East policy group that favors a two-state solution and pressure on Israel to bring it about […] Sestak’s departures from mainstream pro-Israel orthodoxies, rare at the time, have become commonplace among Democrats, and J Street is now a force to be reckoned with among Democrats vying for Congress, endorsing more than half the party’s caucuses in Congress.”

Ten Organizations Launch New Progressive Israel Network, J Street
“Today, ten leading organizations representing Americans who are committed to pursuing democracy, equality and peace in Israel announced the launch of the Progressive Israel Network. The new coalition will provide a strong, unified voice in support of its members’ common goals: democracy and equal rights, religious freedom and pluralism, and a two-state solution that would secure a peaceful future for Israel and end the 52-year-long occupation.”

In Memorial: Rabbi Richard N. Levy, J Street
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “Richard was a once-in-a-generation rabbinic leader whose influence cut across denominational lines. His kindness is legion, his joyfulness ever-flowing, and his love for his family, friends, colleagues, the Jewish people and humankind a model for us all.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump targets Iran’s top leaders with sanctions, JTA
President Donald Trump announced new sanctions targeting the most senior leaders of the Iranian regime — the latest escalation in rising tensions between the two countries.

Can Trump put out the fire he started?, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “The showdown over Iran was just the latest instance of Trump playing both arsonist and fireman. The current state of tensions is a direct consequence of the Trump administration reneging on the terms of the Iranian nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions and enacting other measures to squeeze the regime in Tehran. All of this was done against the wishes of key U.S. allies in Europe and amid the protestations of much of the foreign policy establishment in Washington.”

Bahrain Debacle Marks Crash of Trump Team’s Campaign to Diss Palestinians Into Submission, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful ‘fruits of peace’ that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.”


US Mideast Plan Rejected By Palestinian Leaders, Panned By Former U.S. Envoys, NPR
The White House on Saturday published one-half of its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan — a multibillion-dollar proposal to upgrade the Palestinian economy. The Palestinian leadership has already rejected it, and so far, it has been widely panned by former U.S. envoys and Mideast policy experts.

Netanyahu offered Gantz rotating premiership in bid to avert elections – report, Times of Israel
On the day the 21st Knesset was dissolved last month and Israel headed to new elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered his chief rival, Benny Gantz, a rotation deal for the premiership, in a Hail Mary bid to build a majority coalition.

Charges Dropped Against Palestinian Accused of Raping 7-year-old in West Bank Settlement, Haaretz
Israel’s military prosecution announced Tuesday its decision to drop charges against a Palestinian man who was initially charged with the rape of a seven-year-old Israeli girl on a West Bank settlement, in a high-profile case riddled with uncertainties as the investigation unfolded.

Iran calls new US sanctions ‘outrageous and idiotic’, AP
Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, saying the measures spell the “permanent closure” for diplomacy between the two nations. Iran’s president described the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation.”

Israel Blocks Fuel Deliveries to Gaza Power Plant, Haaretz
The blockade will be imposed ‘until further notice’ due to the launching of incendiary balloons into Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.

In West Bank, Netanyahu tells Trump officials he’ll give peace plan a fair shake, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he would hear out the Trump administration’s peace plan “fairly” and with “openness,” as he stressed that Israel would never relinquish its security presence in the Jordan Valley.

US pushes Palestinian economic plan amid doubts, hostility, AP
Despite withering criticism, charges of hypocrisy and outright rejection from the intended beneficiaries, the Trump administration is plowing ahead with a $50 billion economic proposal to aid the Palestinians and hopes it will drive a much-anticipated but unseen Mideast peace plan.

Opinion and Analysis

Palestinians want freedom, not Trump administration bribes, Washington Post
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh writes, “Instead of attempting to bribe and bully Palestinians into submitting to permanent subjugation, the United States and the international community should be applying pressure to Israel, until it grants Palestinians their right to an independent sovereign state of Palestine.”

The Real Reason Iran Has Been Provoking Trump, Politico
Ray Takeyh writes, “Having studied the Iranian regime for decades, I believe the purpose of all this, however, is not to start a war with America. More likely, it’s to enter talks with Washington claiming to be the empowered party that has withstood America’s strategy of maximum pressure. Before negotiating with the United States, Iran needs a narrative of success.”

The Art and Politics of Desire: On “Shtisel”, LA Review of Books
Libby Lenkinski writes, “That Hareidim are voting for settler parties in addition to their own ultra-Orthodox ones is a result of good settler organizing and investment in this community. In other words, this is not a ‘natural alliance’ but — at least in part — a result of the right taking the Hareidi electorate seriously. The left should too.”

Inside UNRWA: Palestinian residents in the agency’s camps on why there is no alternative, The National
Miriam Berger writes, “Like so many Palestinians, Mr Sarour studied free of cost at an UNRWA school for free. His health care as a child was through UNRWA services. The Aida Youth Centre he now runs was started with UNRWA funds. ‘It’s not just about the services,” he said. “It’s about identity. It’s about [UNRWA being] a witness to the refugees.’”

Case of 7-year-old Who Was Raped Reverberates With Atlanta-style Racism, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “When I contacted him about his client Mahmoud Qatusa from the village of Deir Qadis, attorney Darwish Nashef said, ‘Leo Frank – look it up on Google.’ Frank was a young Jew in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1913 a jury convicted him of the murder of Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old white Christian girl who worked in his family’s pencil factory, where he was the superintendent.”

Jared Kushner’s Economic ‘Peace’ Plan Is An Embarrassment, The Forward
Joel Braunold writes, “Reading through the pitch deck, I was surprised to find faces of people I knew. Here was Robi and Bassam of the Parents Circle, a group of bereaved parents who work toward peace and reconciliation. Khaled, an olive farmer from the incredibly successful Olive Oil without Borders, was plastered over promises of empowering the Palestinian people. The reason I was surprised to see these faces was that they were all from programs that the Trump administration has cut off over the past 18 months.”