News Roundup for March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017

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J Street in the News

Impressions from J Street, 2017, Jewish Currents

Ron Skolnik writes, “Sanders’ tying together of resistance to both American and Israeli policies around a theme of shared progressive values was thematic of the J Street conference as a whole. Since November 8, the organization has understood that American Jews, including its supporters, would increasingly focus on the threats to democracy and social justice at home. In response, J Street has stretched the scope of its mission so that its activists won’t have to look elsewhere to oppose Trump’s domestic agenda….J Street  did not shy away from the fact that, in the wake of the Trump victory, it’s headed into the political wilderness in the near term. The conference featured several sessions that dealt with the organization’s new role ‘in the opposition.’ Asked what reasonable policy goals J Street might now have, Ben-Ami focused on playing defense: protecting the nuclear deal with Iran and, at the Congressional level, preventing the defunding of the Palestinian Authority and of the United Nations. Board chair Halperin added at the gala: preventing the Trump administration from moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and prevailing upon it to disavow a one-state arrangement for Israel/Palestine.”

Top News and Analysis

Bernie Sanders Grills David Friedman On Settlements And Aid To Palestinians, Forward

“Sen. Bernie Sanders asked David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, whether he would back using funds earmarked for assistance to Israel to help rebuild the Gaza Strip. Sanders in a letter he handed Friedman after they met Wednesday also asked whether he thinks the tax-exempt status of groups that fundraise for settlers should be reviewed. JTA obtained a copy of the letter on Thursday….His letter outlines three questions for Friedman: whether he supports a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the appropriateness of an ambassador having deep involvement in the settler movement as a fundraiser and advocate, as Friedman does; and regarding Israeli assistance.”

Gaza 2017: Israeli Watchdog Can Already Start Collecting Evidence for Next Post-war Report, Haaretz

Amos Harel argues: “The daily hardships in Gaza are like a ticking bomb that could eventually push the Hamas government into a new clash with Israel. If that happens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers won’t be able to say they didn’t know. In the comptroller’s report on the next war, there will be no shortage of references to the number of times the humanitarian situation in Gaza was brought up for discussion in the cabinet. Israel is well aware of the UN report that says Gaza could become unlivable by 2020.”

New York police: Anti-Semitic incidents have nearly doubled over last year, JTA

Anti-Semitic incidents are up 94 percent in New York City over this time last year, the New York Police Department reported. The figure is part of a 55 percent increase overall in the number of hate crimes in the city as compared to the same time last year.


David Rubinger, 92, Photographer Who Chronicled Israeli History, Dies, New York Times

For more than six decades, David Rubinger, an Austrian-born photojournalist, chronicled the birth of the modern state of Israel, its leaders, its triumphs, its tragedies and its people. He died overnight at his home in Jerusalem, his family said on Thursday. He was 92. “David eternalized history as it will be forever etched in our memories,” Reuven Rivlin, the president of Israel and a friend of Mr. Rubinger’s, said in a statement.

Headstones Toppled In Upstate New York Jewish Cemetery, Forward

A Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York is the latest to report topped headstones, after Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia reported hundreds of similar incidents. At least five headstones were toppled at Vaad Hakolel Cemetery, also called Stone Road Cemetery. Rochester has two Jewish cemeteries.

Bipartisan group in Congress demands Trump take action on anti-Semitism, Times of Israel

A bipartisan group of House members sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday demanding he take concrete actions to combat the surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes throughout the country.

Palestinian bank to open in Israeli-controlled area of West Bank, YNet

A new Palestinian bank is set to be opened on the Israeli side of the West Bank border in the Palestinian village of Al-Ram, which will offer services to Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

Israeli police raid Umm al-Hiran as residents fear more demolitions on the horizon, Ma’an

Israeli police forces raided the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region of southern Israel on Thursday afternoon, in what residents feared was preparation for the delivery of more demolition orders against homes in the village. Local sources told Ma’an that residents have been expecting Israeli police to deliver demolition orders to remaining homes in the village ever since the January demolition raid in which a Bedouin resident and a police officer were killed and 12 homes were demolished.

Israel bars Human Rights Watch worker from country — again, Times of Israel

Despite pledges to allow an American employee of Human Rights Watch into the country, Israel on Thursday again blocked his entry, this time on a tourist visa.

Opinion and Analysis

Taylor Force Act Could Trigger Israelis’ Nightmare Scenario, Haaretz

Michael Koplow writes, “Ask any Israeli security official, and they will tell you that coordination with the PASF is one of the primary reasons that terrorist attacks on Israelis now consist of lone-wolf stabbings and shootings rather than mass suicide bombings, and why there are rockets from Gaza but zero from the West Bank. Despite the rhetoric of Israeli politicians about the PA being barely a step removed from terrorism, the PA has become Israel’s most important security partner on the ground….While the Taylor Force Act does not touch the security assistance component of American aid, eliminating the far larger bucket of economic assistance puts the PA in danger of collapse, and with the end of the PA comes the end of the PASF and its partnership with the IDF. The PA is far from perfect – it is corrupt, authoritarian, unimaginative, concerned with maintaining its power above actually accomplishing anything productive, and paralyzed by indecision. But it is the best of the bad options out there, and that has to be balanced against the wholly understandable and laudable desire to punish official remuneration for terrorism.”

The Arab lawmaker vying to be prime minister of a utopian Israeli-Palestinian state, Haaretz

An interview with MK Ahmed Tibi.

Has Israel recognized link between Gaza blockade, security threat?, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “Shapira’s report does not encompass the entire period of the siege imposed in 2007, focusing only on the events and circumstances that led to Operation Protective Edge. But in retrospect it is clear that the longer the siege is in force, the bigger and bloodier the rounds of fighting. The blunt conclusions by the state comptroller are unlikely to result in any change, and the political and defense leaderships are not likely to accept that the siege is wrong and must be lifted. It is safe to assume that the subjects of his criticism prefer to clash in the political arena and to argue over who was the first to understand the threat of the tunnels, while continuing to ignore the overriding problem.”

Arab Nations Face Stark Choice: Israel or Iran, Newsweek

Mehran Haghirian argues: If the United States goes forward with plans to move the US Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or gives a carte blanche for further Israeli settlements in the West Bank, while abandoning the goal of a two-state solution, there will be no domestic support for Arab rapprochement with Israel.

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