News Roundup for March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017

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J Street in the News

Israeli activist Hoffman to speak about two-state solution today in L.V., Las Vegas Sun

“Supporters of a two-state solution in Israel are bringing activists to speak on the topic at UNLV tonight. The keynote speaker will be Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. Sponsored by the local chapter of J Street, a pro-Israel lobbying organization, the event will get underway at 7 p.m. at the Richard Tam Alumni Center. The event will also include Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president and founder….Ben-Ami says the Las Vegas chapter of the Washington, D.C.,-based J Street is now among about 25 local affiliates that have formed since 2010, two years after the national group was established. ‘These groups bring constituents, real-life local citizens, in touch with people who represent them,’ Ben-Ami said. ‘This complements the work we do in Washington at the national level.’ The national group focuses on lobbying and connecting with elected officials as well as candidates to inform them about issues facing Israel, he said. J Street supported Cortez Masto in her run for office and has been sharing information with her on Israel, Ben-Ami said. ‘We are very excited to have that relationship with her and believe that she’s also been really grateful for the information that we’ve produced and the insights into some of the issues she’s now dealing with in regard to foreign policy.’”

With Friedman’s confirmation looming, US Jews range from despondent to exhilarated, Times of Israel

“At his confirmation hearing last month, however, Friedman said he felt remorse over his rhetoric….J Street was unmoved. Having already kicked off a vigorous campaign against Friedman’s appointment, the group proceeded to collect 40,000 signatures opposing his confirmation by the foreign relations panel. The organization’s president, Jeremy Ben Ami, told The Times of Israel at the time that he hoped Friedman’s words of contrition would not ‘expunge’ his problematic record.”

Top News and Analysis

Ahead of Meeting With Trump Envoy, Netanyahu Says Israel, U.S. Working on Mutually Agreed Settlement Policy, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet Thursday afternoon with Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt for the second time for talks on Israel’s settlement construction, the prime minister said at the beginning of the government’s meeting. “We are in the midst of a dialogue with the White House and our intent is to reach an agreed-upon policy regarding settlement construction. Policy that is acceptable to us, and not just to the Americans,” Netanyahu said.

Donald Netanyahu: Many Democrats See The Two Leaders As One, Forward

Peter Beinart writes, “Now, when Netanyahu speaks, Democrats hear Donald Trump. When Democrats read about Israel not allowing critics into the country, they’ll think of Trump’s travel ban. When they hear about Netanyahu’s threats to freedom of the press, they’ll think of Trump’s attacks on journalists. When Netanyahu claims his wall stopped “illegal immigration,” they’ll think of Trump’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico. Many Democrats already saw Israel as another red state. Now — unless Israel undergoes some unexpected political shift — they’ll view Netanyahu’s Israel as authoritarian, hyper-nationalist, nativist and anti-Muslim, everything they fear Trump will make the United States. Netanyahu’s failure to publicly press Trump to speak out against rising American anti-Semitism will only compound that view.”


Trump Tells Saudis: I Have Strong Desire to Reach Comprehensive, Just Israeli-Palestinian Deal, Haaretz

US President Donald Trump told the Saudi defense minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a meeting at the White House, he has a “strong desire” to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House said in a statement Wednesday.   Trump made the comments as his special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has continued to conduct talks in Israel and with officials from the Palestinian Authority in an effort to restart peace talks on the conflict.

US demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid, Times of Israel

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them. Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether. Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

AIPAC Gave $60K to Group That Inspired Trump’s Muslim Ban, Haaretz

An organization operating under AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a right-wing think tank that has been accused of promoting a racist agenda against Muslims. The funds were donated to the Center for Security Policy in 2015, as part of the fight against the nuclear deal with Iran. The contribution was revealed Wednesday by the website Lobelog. As part of its public fight against the nuclear deal, AIPAC set up in 2015 Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, an organization that invested close to $20 million in ads, publications and other initiatives meant to influence U.S. public opinion against the deal. Tax filings show that $60,000 of the group’s budget went to the controversial Center for Security Policy.

Female assailant shot during suspected car-ramming attempt, Times of Israel

A Palestinian teenager allegedly attempted to ram her car into a bus stop at the Etzion Junction in the central West Bank on Wednesday, prompting Israeli security forces to shoot and wound her, the army said. No Israelis were seriously injured in the incident, though a 28-year-old Israeli woman in “advanced stages of pregnancy” was taken to the hospital after experiencing a panic attack, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Violent Israeli raid in Duheisha refugee camp leaves 5 Palestinians injured, Ma’an

Five Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces opened live fire at locals during a predawn detention raid Wednesday in Duheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma’an that fierce clashes broke out between local youth and Israeli troops who raided the camp around dawn to detain one young Palestinian man from his home, identified as former prisoner Murad Zghari.

Palestinian man sentenced to 2 life terms for assisting in attack that killed father of 10, JTA

A Palestinian man who assisted in a terror attack that killed an Israeli rabbi and father of 10 was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Muhammad al-Amarya was sentenced Wednesday by a West Bank military court for the July 2016 drive-by shooting near Hebron that killed Rabbi Michael “Mikki” Mark, 48, the head of the Otniel Yeshiva. His wife, Chavi, was seriously injured, and two of their teenage children also were wounded.

Coalition Rift Deepens: ‘You’re Only Interested in Having Control,’ Top Israeli Minister Tells Netanyahu, Haaretz

“A growing rift between Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon deepened on Wednesday night when the prime minister publicly urged his finance minister to agree to a six-month delay of the launch of the new public broadcast corporation. Kahlon’s associates said he would not agree to a delay of even one more day, and that the corporation would begin broadcasting as planned on April 30….The rift is not an imminent threat to the stability of the governing coalition, even though Kahlon heads a key coalition party whose departure would deprive the government of its parliamentary majority. But sources in Kahlon’s office said he feels a growing ‘disgust’ over Netanyahu’s actions concerning the corporation, as well as other issues.”

Opinion and Analysis

Absurd but True: Jews Who Don’t Support BDS Must Stand Behind Those Who Do, Haaretz

Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “The vast majority of Israelis, like myself, may not be fans of the BDS movement. We may deeply dislike it, and even, on some level, feel fear when we listen to the rhetoric and hear the goals of many of its members. But if our government is determined to exploit these feeling to take us sliding down a slippery slope into authoritarian thought-policing, we must stand up and stand with them. If we care about our democracy, those of us who disapprove of what the boycotters have to say must now be prepared to defend their right to say it.”

Why former defense minister is leaving Israel’s ruling party, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “Leaving Likud and forming an independent party could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Ya’alon. He can now count himself among a respectable and rather large group of ministers who have quit Likud or Netanyahu’s office to launch independent political careers. Some of them now hold senior portfolios in the government and positions of power opposite Netanyahu. In fact, almost all the more-important and prestigious portfolios in Netanyahu’s government are not in Likud hands….Even as head of a small party, Ya’alon will have considerable bargaining power. He could be the person who breaks the balance of power between the two main blocs by joining a government headed by Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid. Whether Netanyahu survives his investigations and continues to lead Likud in the next elections or whether someone else heads the party, the cost that Ya’alon will demand to join a coalition will be very steep, even if he does only have six seats.”

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