News Roundup for March 26, 2019

March 26, 2019

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J Street in the News

Trump and Netanyahu keep on colluding, Washington Post

Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group in Washington, told Today’s WorldView that, from his perspective, “the single greatest tragedy of the Netanyahu era was his turning of Israel into partisan political football.” He added that both Trump and Netanyahu’s kinship with a host of illiberal, nationalist leaders elsewhere cut against the “core values” of “an overwhelming majority of American Jews.”

Show Of Bipartisanship At AIPAC Policy Conference Opening Session, Times of Israel

Shira Hanau, “MoveOn, a progressive advocacy organization, called on Democratic presidential primary candidates to boycott the conference, while J Street called on primary candidates to denounce Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the podium if they spoke.”

Why Powerful US Pro-Israel Lobby Group’s Influence is Under Threat, The Globe Post

J Street, the ZOA, and many other American Jewish groups are also much more willing than AIPAC to publicly criticize Israeli governments. In this respect, they are more in line with growing numbers of American Jews, especially younger ones, who believe they have the right, and even the responsibility, to freely voice their criticisms of Israeli policies and actions.

Far-right Trump-Netanyahu Partnership is Harming US and Israeli Interests, J Street

When they met today, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu once again made clear just how much they are dedicated to advancing their own political interests and far-right policy agenda — not the long-term interests of the US and Israel. J Street has made clear that their joint embrace of demagogic ethno-nationalism stands in direct contradiction to the shared democratic values that have long been at the heart of the US-Israel relationship.

J Street Condemns Rocket Attack on Civilians in Central Israel, J Street

J Street strongly condemns the rocket attack from Gaza today that injured seven Israelis, including three children, in the central Israeli community of Mishmeret. There is absolutely no justification for this act of terror by Palestinian militants. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and their community as we hope for their full and speedy recovery. We are grateful that, according to current reports, all of the injured are expected to recover.

Top News and Analysis

Gaza tense after Israel, Hamas exchange heavy fire overnight, AP

The Gaza border region was quiet but tense on Tuesday morning after a night of heavy fire as Israeli aircraft bombed targets across the Gaza Strip and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel in what threatened to escalate into a major conflict, just two weeks before the Israeli election. Schools in southern Israel were cancelled for the day and the military massed forces on the Gaza border and imposed restrictions on civilian public gatherings, after dozens of rockets were fired toward communities in the area, including one that struck a house in the town of Sderot.

Trump and Congress: Loving Israel to Death, New York Times

Thomas Friedman writes, “There is no U.S. strategy here — not from Trump or Congress. There is only a competition over who can love Israel to death the most — for their own reasons.

So Trump will get his campaign contributions from Adelson; Bibi will try to win re-election with Trump’s help, to avoid jail by partnering with a racist Israeli party; the Palestinians will get blamed for everything, only some of which they’ll deserve; Aipac will have a banner year raising money; Israel will keep moving toward formally or informally annexing the West Bank; and the question of whether or not to still support Israel — when it’s no longer a Jewish democracy — will tear apart every synagogue and Jewish organization across the world.”

AIPAC Is Playing The Victim, But It’s Palestinians Who Are Being Silenced, The Forward

Peter Beinart writes, “[W]hen it comes to free speech, AIPAC is not victim but victimizer. It is a major force behind the Combatting BDS Act, which in the words of the American Civil Liberties Union, would encourage states to ‘require state contractors — including teachers, lawyers, newspapers and journalists, and even students who want to judge high school debate tournaments — to certify that they are not participating in politically motivated boycotts against Israel.’ Thus, according to the ACLU, the bill ‘would encourage states to adopt unconstitutional measures intended to suppress protected political expression.’”


Senior Israeli Official: No Cease-fire Reached With Hamas, It’s Not Over Yet, Haaretz

No cease-fire agreement has been reached with Hamas, an Israeli official said Tuesday, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli army to continue striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip as he was en route to Israel from Washington.

Trump, With Netanyahu, Formally Recognizes Israel’s Authority Over Golan Heights, New York Times

Certainly, Mr. Netanyahu has never had a friendlier president during his 13 years in office. In addition to his decision on the Golan Heights, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Netanyahu had long reviled, and moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which the prime minister had long advocated.

‘Insane and Unstable’: Netanyahu’s Party Brands Gantz Mentally Unfit for Office, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has launched a new campaign push ahead of Israel’s April 9 election, aiming to brand main rival Benny Gantz as mentally unstable and therefore unfit to serve in office. Party officials decided on the move on Sunday, after a leaked recording of Gantz, arguing Netanyahu would like him dead, was aired on Channel 13 News. Likud now seeks to paint Gantz as “insane, a cuckoo, mentally unstable,” according to a party source

Gulf states reject U.S. recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli, Reuters

Four Gulf Arab states on Tuesday rejected a U.S. decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, with Riyadh warning the move would hurt the peace process and affect regional stability. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait – all regional allies of Washington that host American troops – criticized the move by President Donald Trump to recognize Israel’s 1981 annexation, and said the territory was occupied Arab land.

Syrians protest Trump’s decision on Golan Heights, Washington Post

Syria’s state news agency says thousands of Syrians have gathered in the streets of different cities to protest President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. SANA posted photographs of a march in the southern city of Sweida on Tuesday morning, in which men and women carried Syrian and Palestinian flags and banners reading “Golan is Syrian.”

Opinion and Analysis

AIPAC stands up to critics — but what it stands for is more Elusive, JTA

Ron Kampeas writes, “So 18,000 activists filling the capital’s streets and the halls of Congress will not be silenced. But what exactly are they saying? That was less than clear, and the mixed messages AIPAC sent this week were emblematic of the crisis besetting the lobby whose brand is bipartisan consensus: When it comes to Israel, there is no longer much of a consensus.”

‘Mr. Security’ Netanyahu Is Looking Very Insecure Days Before the Election, Haaretz

Yossi Verter writes, “The missile from Gaza that landed on Monday on a home in Moshav Mishmeret in the central Israel – and the Israeli military’s operation that followed – changed the 2019 election agenda for the who knows how many times. In a short period of time, we experienced a political big-bang in the center-left, the appearance of a party of generals, a draft indictment with serious allegations of bribery against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we were told Benny Gantz’s cellphone had been hacked by Iran and of a loose end to Netanyahu’s submarines affair. Every story and has a limited life expectancy, it is only relevant until the next ‘storm’ captures the headlines. And who knows what lies ahead in the coming two weeks.”

Trump Is Too Pro-Netanyahu for His Own Base, Foreign Policy

Shibley Telhami writes, “[T]he Trump administration’s reflexive and uncritical backing of the Israeli government’s right-wing policies—such as moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and condoning growing Israeli settlements—has been breathtaking, not only in its one-sidedness but also in its blatant disregard for international law and norms […] The White House’s behavior raises an important question: Is Trump’s embrace of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at least helping the president with his own base?”

This doesn’t need to happen: Another pre-election war on Gaza. +927

Haggai Matar and Oren Ziv write, “The rocket fired from Gaza that destroyed a home and wounded seven people in central Israel Monday morning, took Israelis by surprise. On the one hand, that’s totally understandable; we aren’t used to rocket fire in the Tel Aviv area, and certainly not rockets that exact such a devastating price. An attack on civilians, on a sleeping family, is a terrifying thing. On the other hand, the attack is surprising only if we disconnect it from all the stories that don’t get any airtime: unarmed protesters shot on the Israel-Gaza fence almost every week (only recently, a 14-year-old was shot dead by Israeli snipers), several deadly incidents West Bank in recent weeks, along with attacks and other steps being taken against Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.”