News Roundup for June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017

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J Street in the News

The Chicago Dyke March: The Ugly Intersection of Progressivism and anti-Semitism, HuffPost

“I have gone to great lengths to distinguish between anti-Semitism and opposition to the Israeli government, and have been called out on it by some old friends who’ve become quite right-wing on this issue. I have worked for years now with J Street to bring about a fair and equitable two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and consider myself pro-Palestinian as well as pro-Israeli … a member of the CDM wrote that the march “supports the struggle for a Palestinian state.” So do I, so does J Street.”

J Street founder Kohl running for Congress, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

“Dan Kohl helped to start J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby.”

Top News and Analysis

Jared Kushner’s Road to Nowhere, NY Mag

Jonah Shepp argues, “Netanyahu had already set the tone for the trip last Tuesday by announcing the start of construction on the first new Israeli settlement in the West Bank in 25 years, despite Trump’s request at a meeting in Washington earlier this year that he ‘hold back on settlements for a little bit’ … It appears Netanyahu played Kushner like a fiddle, sending him to Ramallah with a laundry list of demands that he knew Abbas would reject, further delaying the start of any ostensible peace negotiations by instigating a diplomatic crisis he could then blame on Palestinian intransigence.”

Netanyahu Against Liberal Judaism, Haaretz

David Barak-Gorodetsky analyzes, “The current move by the Knesset to freeze the Kotel deal is a defining moment in Israel-Diaspora relations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that ‘the fate of the Jewish people will be determined in Israel’ reflects the self-confidence of the State of Israel in relation to the Diaspora, and its readiness to express that publicly. … Furthermore, the election of Donald Trump as president and the political strengthening of modern Orthodox Jewry in the United States that has followed the wake of the election …  bolsters the sense in Israel that American-Jewish liberalism is waning, and one only has to wait for it to die … However,  Netanyahu is making a mistake.”

My Queer Progressive Jewish Conundrum, J Street Blog

J Street’s Josh Friedes writes, “What happened at the Dyke March is a powerful example of an increasing phenomenon in progressive spaces. First, Jewish symbols and being Jewish are being conflated with Zionism. Secondly, and equally disturbingly, Zionism is being defined in a very narrow, negative and oppositional way … The Dyke March Collective has done what the far-left often does. They have distracted American Jews from addressing the occupation itself, forcing us instead to confront what to many of us looks like anti-Semitism and to defend our right as Jews to be visible in the progressive movement.”

Netanyahu to Meet With Senior AIPAC Officials on Thursday Amid Western Wall Crisis, Haaretz

Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon report, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with the heads of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Thursday morning. The delegation, headed by AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus and CEO Howard Kohr, arrived in Israel for an emergency visit on Wednesday following the crisis that the government decision to freeze the Western Wall agreement and to legislate a conversion bill.”


Ehud Olmert, Israel’s jailed ex-PM, ‘to be released early’, BBC

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to be released early from prison, where he is serving a 27-month sentence for corruption, reports say. A parole board cut his term by a third, his lawyer Shani Illouz said. Olmert, jailed in February 2016, could go free on Sunday, she told Israeli radio.

US Rejects Reports That Trump Is Pulling Out of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts, Haaretz

The US State Department forcefully denies reports claiming that President Donald Trump was considering ending his efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The White House had already denied the reports, which originated in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat. But on Tuesday, the State Department’s spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, went a step further by calling them “just false.”

Top US Rabbi: Diaspora Jewry Won’t Back Israeli Politicians Who Lie To Them Anymore, Jerusalem Post

Diaspora Jewry will no longer support politicians who lie to them, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, a senior member of the US Conservative movement, said on Wednesday. She accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of doing only what it takes to stay in political power “for the next five minutes.”

Tillerson blows up at top White House aide, Politico

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment.

Israel’s Top Court To Hear Lawsuit To Revive Western Wall Prayer Deal, Forward

The Israeli Supreme Court will hold a hearing in July on the status of the non-Orthodox section of the Western Wall. The court will convene July 30 to discuss a petition from last year calling on the Israeli government to implement the Western Wall compromise passed in January 2016, according to Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, one of the parties to the petition.

US Professors Who Fight Boycott of Israel Slam Plans to Gag Political Speech in Academia, Haaretz

A group of American professors and scholars active in fighting boycott campaigns against Israeli academics has issued a strong condemnation of a proposed ethics code that would impose significant restraints on freedom of expression at Israeli institutes of higher education.

IDF’s two-front war in West Bank with Jews and Palestinians, Ynet

A stark rise in the number of skirmishes between Jewish teenagers and Israel’s security forces and Palestinians has become a conspicuous characteristic in the settlement of Yitzhar over the last few weeks. Attacks launched by the ideologically-driven youths have included rock throwing, vandalism to military vehicles, price tag attacks, shock grenades and even violence directly committed against an IDF officer.

Israeli authorities destroy 60 solar panels in remote Bethlehem-area village, Ma’an

Israeli forces took down and destroyed some 60 solar panels in the isolated village of Jubbet al-Dhib east of Bethlehem city in the southern West Bank on Wednesday morning.

Israel Tackles Environmental Hazards in West Bank – in Violation of Oslo Accords, Haaretz

Israel’s governing body in the West Bank has begun taking action against environmental hazards in Area B, the territory under Palestinian civil control but joint security control, in violation of the Oslo Accords.

Hamas replaces assassinated terror commander — report, Times of Israel

Hamas has replaced a top commander who was responsible for planning the terror group’s attacks in the West Bank, Israeli intelligence sources told Channel 2 on Wednesday.

Missile falls in Golan Heights, no casualties or damage, Ynet

A missile launched from Syrian territory fell in an open area in the northern Golan Heights. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

Hamas Preparing Buffer Zone Along Gaza-Egypt Border, Haaretz

The Hamas interior ministry has begun to prepare a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and its border with Egypt. Websites associated with the Hamas posted on Wednesday photographs of bulldozers clearing ground dozens of meters in width along the border.

Israeli lawmakers who vote for conversion bill not welcome in Chicago, Jewish federation head says, JTA

Israeli lawmakers who vote for a conversion bill making its way through the Knesset are not welcome in Chicago, said a top Jewish leader there. “The federation in Chicago will not be hosting any member of Knesset that votes for this bill. None. They will not be welcome in our community,” Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told The Times of Israel in an interview published Tuesday.

Crisis with world Jewry could cost Israel billions, deputy minister warns, Times of Israel

Jerusalem risks losing billions of shekels if Jewish communities across North America were to translate their anger at the government into limiting their donations to and investments in Israel, Deputy Minister Michael Oren warned Tuesday.

Palestinians wary of talk Gaza may be declared “rebel district”, Al-Monitor

Recent reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pondering drastic measures against Hamas has heightened fears in Gaza.

Reform, Conservative Movements to Protest Outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem Residence on Saturday, Haaretz

The Reform and Conservative movements in Israel are planning a big rally outside the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night. The groups will be protesting two recent government decisions seen as major setbacks to the cause of Jewish pluralism in the country.

Opinions and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Surrender to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Parties, Haaretz

The editorial board determines, “The compromise was flawed from the start. It exiled to a separate corner second-class Jews. But once the compromise was accepted by all sides, it had be to respected – not only for peace between the country called the “Jewish state” and the Jews themselves, but also to ensure that an extremist minority would not force its religious practices on the rest of Israelis.”

Israel’s center-left needs the ultra-Orthodox, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar notes, “These days, a government that suppresses freedom of expression and criticism, nurtures religious fundamentalism and encourages ignorance holds the reins of power in Israel. With all due respect for progressive Judaism, and I hold those groups in high esteem, Israeli society is currently facing far greater challenges than the issue of prayer at Judaism’s holiest site. The foremost challenge of any democracy-loving Jew should be replacing the current Israeli government with one that will restore democracy, end the occupation and advance the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Iranian missile launch shows Israeli deterrence is working, +972

Shemuel Meir argues, “Israeli deterrence is working, and Iran is not keen on entering a confrontation with Israel. This is a preferred modus operandi that has also characterized Iran since its first (and so far only) direct military contact with Israel in the Quneitra sector of the Syrian Golan Heights, in an incident where the IDF killed a general from the Revolutionary Guard two years ago. Israel’s nonverbal deterring message in that incident did send a signal. There has been no direct Iranian military presence vis-à-vis Israel in the Golan ever since.”

The Trump Effect in Gaza, LobeLog

Mitchell Plitnick asserts, “It would be a mistake to think this was part of some unified strategy between the PA and its regional allies, taking advantage of Trump’s view of the region and his apparent inability to grasp the regional complexities …  But it would also be a mistake to believe that Trump’s visit and subsequent statements have nothing to do with the decisions being made in Ramallah, as well as in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.”

Abbas looks to new Saudi crown prince for Mideast initiative, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar observes, “The Palestinians have been monitoring the ties developing between Israel and Saudi Arabia with American encouragement. They are certain that the wealthy kingdom, which Trump regards as an important ally in the Middle East, will play a central role in future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians … The Palestinians have no doubt that the prince is a rising star, and they believe he could have significant influence on future events in the Middle East.”

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