News Roundup for June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017

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J Street in the News

Beyond Anti-Semitism: The Biggest Progressive Problem At The Chicago Dyke March, Forward

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 … I am an out and proud queer, progressive and Zionist Jew. As such it is my responsibility to criticize and oppose Israeli government policies and actions that run contrary to my values and work for the establishment of a Palestinian state. My values and my work, including on Israel, are consistent with the core beliefs of the progressive movement. I will claim my space acknowledging the privileges and power I have and understanding that anti-Semitism remains a threat to myself, to Jews around the world and to Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

For US Aid to the Palestinians, Don’t Use a Sledgehammer When a Scalpel Would Do, Foreign Policy

Ilan Goldenberg and Daniel Shapiro argue, “The legislation [The Taylor Force Act] is well intended and we support its goals, but in its current form, enacting it would lead to a number of unintended consequences that would worsen things for Israel, the Palestinians, and the United States … The administration will undoubtedly hear the same thing from Israeli officials. Despite years of complaints about Palestinian incitement, the Israeli government has not cut off any of the steps it takes to ensure that the Palestinian economy remains viable … it knows the risks to Palestinian stability, and therefore to Israel’s security, are too high.”

Present at the Destruction: How Rex Tillerson Is Wrecking the State Department, Politico

Max Bergmann writes, “While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. … Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? … America is not in decline—it is choosing to decline. And Tillerson is making that choice. He is quickly becoming one of the worst and most destructive secretaries of state in the history of our country.”

Netanyahu turns his back on American Jews, Washington Post

Gershom Gorenberg notes, “Netanyahu, though, decided to treat the Western Wall as a purely domestic issue. In Israel, the ultra-Orthodox are a major constituency that vote as a bloc. The Reform and Conservative movements are small and politically weak. As for American Jews, they don’t vote here. Netanyahu treated them as kibitzers, not stakeholders. This ignores everything he should know about the nature of Jerusalem. The city exists largely because of its holy places. Whoever governs Jerusalem is responsible for keeping the peace at those sites. But the constituencies of the holy places are global.”


US Envoy to Israel Engaged Israeli Gov’t, US Jews in Bid to Resolve Kotel Crisis, US Official Says, Haaretz

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has “personally engaged” the Israeli government and American Jewish organizations to try and resolve the crisis over the Western Wall, an American official said Thursday. The official added that the Trump administration encourages “continued dialogue on this issue.” The administration is not getting involved directly in the conversations between the two sides, however, as of now.

Nikki Haley Cheers Cuts to UN Peacekeeping Budget, The Daily Beast

The United Nations has tentatively agreed to cut nearly $600 million from its peacekeeping budget after pressure from President Trump’s White House to reduce funding. Under the agreement, the UN will spend $7.3 billion on peacekeeping in the next year, down from $7.87 billion, Agence France-Press reported Wednesday. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley cheered the agreement on Twitter late Wednesday.

Israeli Army Says Person Seen Crossing Border Into Gaza, Haaretz

The Israeli army has observed a person crossing the border into Gaza. The defense establishment is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Gaza’s power crisis cripples farmers, Al-Monitor

The electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip intensified after Israel approved June 13 the Palestinian Authority’s request to gradually reduce the power supply to the enclave. As of June 19, the daily power supply dropped to less than four hours a day of electricity. The power crisis has taken its toll on all aspects of economic life in the Gaza Strip, including the agricultural sector, as farmers rely on electricity-powered wells for the irrigation of their crops.

Top AIPAC Officials Present Netanyahu With ‘Implications’ of Western Wall Crisis on US Jewish Community, Haaretz

The senior leadership of AIPAC used its meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday to present to Israel’s elected leader “analysis and assessments” regarding the implications of the Israeli government’s decision to freeze its plan to set up an egalitarian prayer space in the Western Wall, a source familiar with the discussion told Haaretz. AIPAC’s delegation did not present to Netanyahu any warnings regarding the decision’s implications on the powerful pro-Israel lobby itself, the source told Haaretz, adding that reports to the contrary, which appeared on Israeli media outlets on Thursday night, were false.

Trump’s controversial travel ban goes into effect but still faces challenge, CBS

A scaled-back version of President Trump’s travel ban took effect Thursday evening, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January yet still likely to generate a new round of court fights.

Israeli Extremists Beat Three Palestinians in Jerusalem: ‘Police Did Nothing’, Haaretz

Participants in a march organized by the right-wing extremist group Lehava attacked three Palestinians in downtown Jerusalem last Thursday, according to video footage and testimony obtained by Haaretz. One of the three was hospitalized with mild injuries.

Israeli hospitals come under cyber-attack, i24

A number of Israeli hospitals came under cyber-attack overnight on Wednesday, with some institutions sustaining minimal damage while others managed to stave off the assault. Israel’s Channel 2 reports that 50 computers were damaged at eight hospitals across the country.

Narendra Modi to become first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel, CNN

Narendra Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel, in a landmark visit scheduled for July 4. Modi will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a period of two days to discuss “matters of mutual interest,” read a press release from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinian youths in West Bank clashes, Ma’an

Israeli forces shot and injured at least three young Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets during dawn raids in two separate occupied West Bank villages on Thursday.

US lawmakers criticize Netanyahu for suspending Western Wall agreement, JTA

Four Jewish members of Congress criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suspension of an agreement to build a non-Orthodox prayer space at the Western Wall. Reps. Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey and Jerry Nadler of New York joined Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida in criticizing Netanyahu for reneging on the deal in a Sunday Cabinet vote.

Israel freezes visits to Hamas prisoners amid talks over troops’ remains, Times of Israel

Hamas on Thursday said that Israel had stopped allowing Gazan members of the terror group serving time in Israeli prisons to receive visits from family members, in a move intended to ramp up pressure amid negotiations for the return of three Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers being held in the Strip.

Trump, son-in-law work towards a win on an Israel-Palestinian deal, McClatchy DC

A negotiating team led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is working with Israeli and Palestinian officials to try to agree on a basic list of principles that could be used as the framework for future negotiations, according to U.S. and former Israeli officials familiar with the talks. Teams of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators — described as “peace warriors” — are expected to visit Washington separately in the coming weeks to continue conversations Kushner and his team kicked off last week during his visits to Israel and Ramallah in the West Bank, according to a former Israeli official familiar with the talks.

UN condemns fighting in buffer zone between Syria and Israel, Washington Post

The UN Security Council on Thursday strongly condemned fighting in the buffer zone between Syria and Israel and urged the Syrian government and opposition groups to withdraw from the area which is patrolled by UN peacekeepers.

Despite Rift With US Jews Over Kotel, Israeli Ministers Will Discuss Controversial Conversion Bill, Haaretz

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to discuss the controversial conversion bill on Sunday, despite the firestorm of protest in the American Jewish community sparked by the legislation and by last week’s decision to suspend planning an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

Palestinian with knife stopped at Hebron checkpoint, Times of Israel

A Palestinian man was arrested on Thursday at a checkpoint in Hebron after he was found to be carrying a knife, police said, in the second such incident of the day in the flashpoint West Bank city.

Israel Abuzz Over Whether Sheldon Adelson Is Ditching Netanyahu for a New Favorite, Haaretz

Israel is buzzing about a possible rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and one of his most controversial American patrons, Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire owner of Las Vegas Sands and the largest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

UN chief distances himself from Palestinian summit on 50 years of occupation, Times of Israel

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated that a summit organized by a pro-Palestinian UN group to mark five decades of Israeli control of the West Bank did not have the blessing of his office.

Ariel Will Always Remain Part of Israel, Netanyahu Vows, Jerusalem Post

Israel is building in Ariel, and it will always remain a part of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged in the settlement on Wednesday during the cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new medical center at Ariel University.

Opinions and Analysis

Justice minister’s hunt for Israeli NGO not about justice, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar analyzes, “A politician who never misses an opportunity to accuse the Palestinian neighbors of inciting against Israel is leading the incitement against Israelis who have taken a stand in the battle for Israeli democracy — the same democracy that he and his friends in the government are starving to death. What more needs to happen for civil society to start fighting back? … Freedom of expression, separation of power, equality before the law and transparency are essential to the life of Israel itself.”

It’s Only About Them: US Jews’ Outrage on the Wall, Silence on the Occupation Is Obscene, Haaretz

Simone Zimmerman writes, “Every time that a broken promise at the Western Wall is a cause for diaspora escalation, while another round of settlement expansion, or another humanitarian cut from the people of Gaza is a cause for diaspora silence, we are actively supporting the occupation and the daily violence against Palestinians that it causes.”

Israel’s controversial conversion bill, explained, Times of Israel

Ben Sales reviews what is in the conversion bill that was recently advanced to the Knesset floor.

US Jews Have Finally Realized: Netanyahu Isn’t the King of the Jews, Haaretz

Omer Benjakob determines, “American Jews of all political affiliations should act on this realization: Netanyahu is not synonymous with Israel or the Jewish people. He betrayed you, and challenging him is not betraying Zionism or your connection to the Jewish state.

It’s not just OK, but desirable and necessary, to vocally and tangibly oppose Israeli government policies you disagree with and that harm you. You’re not threatening the foundations of the Jewish state by doing so, you’re saving it.”

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