“The Senate on Thursday confirmed David M. Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel, making him the first of President Trump’s selected foreign emissaries to take his post. Friedman earned the support of only two Democrats in the 52-to-46 vote: Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.)….Meanwhile, J Street, a liberal Jewish organization that had lobbied against Friedman — and one whose members Friedman has likened to ‘kapos,’ or Jewish Holocaust collaborators — noted that ‘almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote against them.’”
“A range of liberal Jewish groups, including J Street and the Reform movement, had opposed Friedman’s nomination, and J Street led a lobbying charge against him….J Street in its statement portrayed the almost party-line vote as a victory. ‘Senators responded to the concerns of the former ambassadors to Israel, Holocaust survivors and scholars, hundreds of rabbis and tens of thousands of American Jews who rallied to oppose this nomination,’ it said.”
“J Street continued to lobby against Friedman’s nomination. In a statement after the Senate vote, the group said the divided tally on a post that usually wins unanimous confirmation ‘made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.’”
J Street responded to the final vote, saying that they were ‘heartened by the unprecedented level of opposition’ Friedman faced in the approval process. ‘The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making,’ said the group. ‘We hope, during his time in this role, the ambassador will live up to the promises of moderation that he made during his confirmation hearings, and that Congress and the administration will seek to hold him accountable to advancing longstanding bipartisan policy goals, including the two-state solution.’”
Senate Confirms David Friedman as Israel Ambassador, Jerusalem Post
“J Street put out a statement after the vote saying it was ‘heartened’ by the level of opposition Friedman faced. ‘Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them,’ the lobby said.”
“J Street is heartened by the unprecedented level of opposition David Friedman faced in being narrowly confirmed as US Ambassador to Israel. Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making. Senators responded to the concerns of the former ambassadors to Israel, Holocaust survivors and scholars, hundreds of rabbis and tens of thousands of American Jews who rallied to oppose this nomination. They raised objections about Friedman’s opposition to the two-state solution, his close ties to the settlement movement and his history of offensive and intemperate attacks on those with whom he disagrees….J Street will continue to make clear to policy makers that pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans, including the large majority of American Jews, oppose the views of David Friedman and other allies of the settlement movement.”
Hillel Must Allow Space for Vital Student Activism, J Street Blog
The J Street U National Board writes, “We were disturbed to learn that Hillel at Ohio State University – backed by Hillel International – expelled B’nai Keshet, a safe space for LGBTQ students and their allies, for working in coalition to fundraise for queer refugees with a different organization that supports BDS. B’nai Keshet was one of 15 groups collaborating in this effort. Ha’aretz reported that following their expulsion, B’nai Keshet will be denied subsidized kosher meals and access to Hillel funds and services. Hillel’s ejection of B’nai Keshet for supporting refugees as part of a broad coalition demonstrates a disturbing disregard for the critical issues underlying the fundraiser. It also sets a worrying precedent about the limits Hillel seeks to impose on Jewish students who want to take part in critical social justice projects on campus….Imposing such a radical litmus test on organizational affiliation undermines important efforts to build coalitions to advocate for common goals. Jews are a small minority in the United States. We advance our core values by partnering with a broad array of other individuals and groups — even those with whom we, sometimes strongly, disagree. Working across political and ideological lines is also part and parcel of campus and communal activism. Hillel International, which prides itself on a commitment to diversity and pluralism, should know this.”
“Two months after stepping down as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro sees some good in the initial peace efforts by the new administration of Donald Trump, even as he voices his grievances against it. ‘So far the approach on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been more cautious and more responsible than almost anything else,’ Shapiro told Reuters. ‘I can’t quite explain why on this one issue they’re closer to the norm than they’ve been on other issues.’…The former envoy praised the Republican president’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt for meeting a cross-section of Israelis and Palestinians during a visit last week that has led to U.S.-Israeli discussions on limiting settlement building. Still, Shapiro cautioned, Trump’s government is inconsistent and unpredictable.”
Barak Ravid reports, “After four days of intensive negotiations in the White House, Israel and the U.S. have yet to reach a final and comprehensive agreement on reining in settlement construction and talks will continue in the coming days to resolve remaining differences. However, a joint statement published early Friday said Israel is, in principle, willing to curb settlement construction in a way that will take into account President Trump’s intent to advance the peace process. ‘The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement,’ the statement said. ‘The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration. The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.’”
A resident of Israel in his late teens with both American and Israeli citizenship is suspected of being behind a host of fake bomb threats directed at Jewish institutions and other targets worldwide. The cyberattack unit of Israel’s fraud squad arrested the Jewish suspect, 19, on Thursday in wake of information it received from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law-enforcement authorities abroad. Police seized computers and other items that allegedly allowed him to perpetrate the threats in a manner that made it difficult for the police to locate him.
West Bank settlement construction up in 2016 — report, Times of Israel
There were 2,630 housing construction starts in West Bank settlements in 2016, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a report Wednesday, in what marks a nearly 40 percent increase over 2015.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum will bestow its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her work advancing Holocaust awareness.
Right-wing firebrand lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich has called on rabbis and teachers to delay their students enlistment into the army to protest what he labeled the “radical feminist” agenda which was leading to more mixed gender activities in the armed forces, and putting “equality above victory.”
An Israeli police officer physically assaulted and injured several Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz on Thursday morning, a video filmed by a witnessed showed.
Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, David Govrin, has criticized the way in which ties between Egypt and Israel have been handled since the two countries signed a peace agreement in 1979 and particularly in recent years. In an unusual speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Govrin said the ties between the countries were predominantly military and that if this continues, over the long term, it could erode the peace between the countries.
In his taped discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes seemingly hinted he would be willing to help the premier by tarnishing the image of his political rivals, including Naftali Bennett, Haaretz has learned. These Mozes-Netanyahu discussions are at the center of the so-called “Case 2000” police inquiry into their alleged collusion to weaken distribution of the pro-Netanyahu free newspaper Israel Hayom or shut it down. In return, Yedioth Ahronoth would slant its political coverage in favor of Netanyahu to help him retain power.
The Man Who Would Beat Bibi, Politico
Susan Glasser profiles Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Shlomi Eldar reports, “[T]he residents of Gaza are fully aware that Hamas activists benefit from aid funds by their very proximity to those in power. A resident of the Gaza town of Khan Yunis who asked to be identified as N. told Al-Monitor that preferential treatment of Hamas members over other residents of the Strip is nothing new. During the most difficult days of the siege of Gaza, he said, Hamas members and their families continued to get regular meat supplies, and now they’re getting regular charitable funds in addition to toys and other gifts for their children. N. added that those hired for vacant positions in Gaza government offices are mostly Hamas activists.”
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