News Roundup for May 14, 2019

May 14, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Not Interested in War With US, Iran Walks a Tightrope, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “An escalation with Washington could turn Iranian citizens against their rulers and neutralize Tehran’s diplomacy of intimidation – but the Trump administration’s lack of strategy may spark a conflict.”

White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War, New York Times
At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.

Trump Now Expects Payback From Netanyahu. It Could Blow Up the Middle East, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “Trump helped Netanyahu get re-elected. Now it’s Netanyahu’s turn to help Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign – by playing along with the Kushner ‘peace plan’ and by ramping up tension with Iran.”


US denies visa to senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi, The National
Veteran Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi revealed on Monday that she has been denied a travel visa to the US. Ms Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee who has family in the Washington area, reflected on her regular past visits to the US. “I’ve met and even negotiated with every secretary of state since [George] Shultz [1982], and every president since George H W Bush, present administration excluded,” she tweeted.

Steny Hoyer comes to Rashida Tlaib’s defense on Holocaust comments, JTA
Steny Hoyer, a pro-Israel stalwart in Congress and the House majority leader, came to the defense of fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who has come under attack because of her remarks on the Holocaust. “If you read Rep. @RashidaTlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context,” Hoyer, a longtime Maryland congressman who leads a biennial pro-Israel trip of House colleagues to the country, said on Twitter. “They must stop, and they owe her an apology.”

Pentagon Builds Deterrent Force Against Possible Iranian Attack, New York Times
The Pentagon will deploy a Patriot antimissile battery to the Middle East to shore up defenses against Iranian threats, part of a series of carefully calibrated deployments intended to deter attacks by Iranian forces or their proxies, Pentagon officials said on Friday.

Israel to Close Temple Mount for Jews on Jerusalem Day for First Time in 30 Years, Haaretz
For the first time in three decades, Israeli authorities are expected to bar Jews from entering the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War.

Synagogues Make Sacrifices To Upgrade Security After Poway, Pittsburgh, The Forward
On April 27, 6 months after Pittsburgh, there was another synagogue shooting in Poway, just outside San Diego. Now, security experts are insisting that Jewish communities invest in active shooter training, guards and surveillance technology. Most synagogues don’t run surpluses, so the new, security-related expenses are forcing difficult decisions on clergy, board members and staff.

IDF said to issue troops near Gaza strict open fire orders ahead of Eurovision, Times of Israel
The IDF has tightened the rules of engagement for troops based near the Gaza Strip as Israel seeks to maintain calm as it hosts the Eurovision song contest this week in Tel Aviv, the Haaretz daily reported Monday. According to the report, commanders were instructed to act judiciously and told that any live fire, except in the case of an immediate danger to life, needs the authorization of the senior officer in the command. The decision is no longer left up to the forces in the field.

Qatari envoy arrives in Gaza to discuss how to transfer $30 million, Haaretz
Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi arrived in the Gaza Strip Monday to transfer $30 million in aid to the coastal enclave as part of agreed upon understandings with Palestinian factions and Israel.

2 East Jerusalem men charged with planning Tel Aviv beach shooting for Hamas, Times of Israel
Two East Jerusalem residents were charged on Sunday for allegedly planning to carry out a shooting attack in Tel Aviv on behalf of the Hamas terror group.

Opinion and Analysis

The Ultimate Deal: Netanyahu’s Freedom for His Citizens’ Liberty, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Neutering the High Court of Justice would place Israel among countries such as Hungary and Turkey that are rapidly shifting from democracy to authoritarianism.”

Michael Oren Cuts Short a Conversation About Israel, The New Yorker
Isaac Chotiner writes, “On Friday, I spoke by phone with Oren, who just finished his term as a member of the Knesset and the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s office. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed Netanyahu’s victory and the state of politics in Israel. But then the conversation took a different turn, and ended abruptly.”

Netanyahu Tries to Buy Time, but Can’t Avoid the Court, Haaretz
Gidi Weitz writes, “A top defendant who would not have played a dirty game, who would have refrained from using his political power to avoid getting indicted, who would have paid his attorneys out of his own pocket, who would not have requested to postpone the presentation of evidence against him and who would have ensured that it be gathered in a timely manner after the election – such a defendant may have been entitled to have his hearing postponed.”

Republicans Call Tlaib Anti-Semitic for Saying Something Nice About Israel, NY Mag
Jonathan Chait writes, “The Republican Party, which has a hair-trigger sensitivity to left-wing anti-Semitism as censorious as any social justice warrior, has whipped itself into its latest frenzy over comments by Representative Rashida Tlaib.”

Palestinians Are Evicted From Their Homes ‘Like Weeds’ for Israeli Army Drills, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “On Sunday, when the smell of scorched meat from Israel Independence Day celebrations still loomed, again our armed boys showed up in Khirbet Humsa, a community of shepherds in the northeastern Jordan Valley. They needed to ensure that several dozen people in four compounds of the Palestinian community will obey orders to willingly expel themselves to clear room for Israel Defense Forces training exercises.”

A Palestinian in Israeli Military Court: Issa Amro, the Judge, & Me, The New York Review of Books
Batya Ungar-Sargon writes, “Two roads lead to the two separate entrances of the Ofer prison and military court in the West Bank, where Palestinians living under Israeli military rule in that territory are tried and sentenced. One road comes from the Palestinian territories. It leads to an outdoor waiting area, where Palestinian defendants and their families wait for their names to be called over a loudspeaker. The other road comes from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It leads to a guard booth, where you hand over your passport and, if you are on a list, you are waved through to a security check. This entrance is used by lawyers, dignitaries, and, early in April, me.”

Israel Should Talk to Hamas’ Leader in Gaza, Haaretz
Ronit Marzan writes, “Last week, Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn called on Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, to recognize Israel. This is an important call, but for Sinwar to move toward recognizing Israel without risking his life and military and political position, he must show significant national, political and economic achievements to persuade his people and allies in the Palestinian factions that the diplomatic route is better than the military one.”