News Roundup for March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

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J Street in the News

MoveOn asks 2020 Dems to boycott AIPAC conference, Politico

“‘Democrats have to do some serious analysis to see whether or not appearing at AIPAC in the heat of 2020 will help them with the base,’ [Jeremy Ben-Ami] said….‘Netanyahu single-handedly owns responsibility for turning Israel into an American political football through aligning himself and his government with the Republican Party.’”

Split-Screen Reaction Over Omar’s Op-Ed, The New York Jewish Week

“Jessica Smith, chief operating officer of J Street, said in an email, ‘I do think it was an important gesture that Rep. Omar underscored both her appreciation of the Jewish people’s connection to our historical homeland, and also her strong support for a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also expresses that she understands the plight of the Jewish people, as she is an immigrant and refugee herself.’”

Hillel excludes pro-Israel narratives, The Times of Israel

J Street U leader Leah Grynheim writes, “Often Jewish spaces that call themselves “apolitical” exclude progressive, pro-Israel narratives and cater to right-wing perspectives on Israel. This Jewish communal status quo remains, despite widespread Jewish support for a two-state solution.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump to host Netanyahu at White House next week, 2 weeks before election, Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week, the White House confirmed Wednesday, just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls for national elections on April 9. Netanyahu and Trump will hold a “working meeting” on Monday, followed by a dinner at the White House on Tuesday, the US administration said in a statement.

Hectored by Netanyahu, Israeli Arabs Could Have the Final Say, New York Times

David M. Halbfinger writes, “Mr. Netanyahu has been fanning the flames of anti-Arab sentiment almost daily. He has warned Israelis that his main challenger, the retired army chief Benny Gantz, would ‘hand over parts of the homeland to the Arabs’ and that he would make alliances with Arab parties that ‘want to destroy’ Israel. Mr. Netanyahu has also joined forces with a racist faction whose leaders support expelling Arab citizens and call them ‘the enemy.’ Such appeals have worked for Mr. Netanyahu in the past. This time they might backfire. […] The poll suggests that Mr. Netanyahu’s racial provocations may spur turnout among Arab voters motivated to usher him out of office.”

Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke knocks Netanyahu for ‘siding with racists’, Times of Israel

“We have a prime minister in Israel who has openly sided with racists, who, in a previous election, warned that the Arabs were coming to the polls,” he said Tuesday when asked a question about whether he had taken money from pro-Israel lobbyists during his failed Senate bid last year.

Blue and White regains edge over Likud in polls, but right-wing bloc still leads, Times of Israel

The Blue and White party regained its lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in a pair of television polls aired Wednesday, after trailing the party in recent days. However, it continues to face long odds of being able to assemble a ruling coalition following general elections on April 9. According to Channel 12, Blue and White would receive 32 Knesset seats if elections were held today, compared to 27 for Likud.


Pompeo Gives Netanyahu Boost Ahead of U.S. Visit, Israeli Vote, Bloomberg

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo praised Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint appearance in Jerusalem, a visit just three weeks ahead of national elections in which the Israeli prime minister is trying to fend off corruption allegations and a resurgent opposition. “I know that you and the president have an outstanding working relationship,” Pompeo said alongside Netanyahu on Wednesday. “He sent me here to build upon that and to represent him here.”

In first, top US diplomat to join PM at Western Wall, Times of Israel

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit the Western Wall on Thursday afternoon together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be seen as a tacit recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish holy site.The visit would mark the first time that Washington’s top diplomat visits Jerusalem’s contested Old City accompanied by a senior Israeli official.

Jewish Millennials to Netanyahu: Support for Israel is eroding, act now, Jerusalem Post

A group of Jewish American millennials delivered a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, calling on him to change his policies or risk seriously eroding support for Israel among the next generation of US Jews. The letter, signed by more than 100 young Jews between the ages of 20 and 40 and affiliated with a broad swath of American Jewish organizations, provides the PM with a list of Israeli policies that make it “increasingly challenging” for them to advocate for Israel. “Some of your government’s policies both strain our connection to the Jewish State and hamper our ability to advocate for Israel’s well-being,” the millennials wrote.

Meeting Pompeo, Netanyahu calls for recognition of Israeli Golan Heights, Times of Israel

Meeting visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to recognize Israeli sovereignty over areas of the Golan Heights. “Just last week we uncovered efforts by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, to build a military network in Syria, in the Golan Heights. All of you can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan: We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with Pompeo.

Female Medic, Teen Shot in the Head: These Are the Palestinian Deaths the Israeli Army Is Probing, Haaretz

Israel will launch an investigation into the deaths of 11 Palestinians who were killed by live fire while protesting along the coastal enclave’s border in 2018. Among the cases the Israel Defense Forces’ military police will investigate is that of 15-year-old Mohammed Ayoub, which sparked international outcry after a video emerged that showed the Gazan teen shot in the head while participating in a demonstration.

State prosecutors said mulling criminal probe of Netanyahu in submarine case, Times of Israel

State prosecutors are considering opening a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s business connections to a multi-billion shekel naval vessel procurement deal which is already at the center of a major graft investigation, Channel 12 and Channel 13 reported Wednesday. Citing sources familiar with the case, the Channel 13 report said prosecutors recently received “dramatic” new information which prompted a review of the issue.

17 Vehicles Vandalized in Suspected Hate Crime at Palestinian Town Near Jerusalem, Haaretz

Seventeen vehicles were vandalized in a suspected hate crime that targeted the Palestinian town of Battir, situated southwest of Jerusalem. The windows  of the cars were smashed, and vandals also spray-painted the Star of David symbol on some of the vehicles, along with slogans in Hebrew that read: “We do not sleep while our brothers are being slain” and “Enough with the terror attacks.” Residents reported the vandalism to the police, which in turn launched an investigation into the incident.

Opinion and Analysis

‘Endless Trip to Hell’: Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies, Haaretz

Netta Ahituv investigates, “They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13 – It was a gloomy, typically chilly late-February afternoon in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The weather didn’t deter the children of the Abu-Ayyash family from playing and frolicking outside. One of them, in a Spiderman costume, acted the part by jumping lithely from place to place. Suddenly they noticed a group of Israeli soldiers trudging along the dirt trail across the way…”

Will Israel’s Palestinian Arab citizens turn out to vote?, Washington Post

Shibley Telhami breaks down the numbers, “With Israeli elections coming up on April 9, the Palestinian Arab voter turnout will be key to watch. As Ayman Odeh, head of the Knesset’s Arab Joint List, pointed out recently, ‘There is no electoral math that leads to victory for a center-left-wing coalition without the participation of the Arab parties.’”

Covering the Conflict from DC, Peace Now (Podcast)

“For the first time, we recorded PeaceCast before a live audience in Washington DC. We partnered with one of Israel’s most popular English language podcasts, the Tel Aviv Review. We recorded it on March 7th 2019 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The event was organized in partnership with J Street. We hosted two journalists, Israeli journalist Amir Tibon of Haaretz and Palestinian journalist Said Arikat of al-Quds. Haaretz is published in Tel Aviv and al-Quds is published in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Amir and Said are the Washington correspondents of their newspapers. The idea of this conversation was to explore how Said and Amir both cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Washington.”

The Two Way Street | For Such a Moment, J Street

Rabbi Robin Podolsky writes, “‘In the story of Purim, God is glimpsed only through the acts of human beings in solidarity with one another. While the name of God is never invoked directly in the Megillah, when Esther sends word to Mordecai that she is afraid to go to her husband the king without being summoned (an act that could get her executed), Mordecai replies, “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a moment.’”