News Roundup for May 15, 2019

May 15, 2019

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J Street in the News

Republicans amp up attacks on Tlaib’s Holocaust comments, The Hill
“House Republicans fired shots at the Michigan freshman and her party defenders, accusing Democrats of whitewashing sentiments that GOP lawmakers have portrayed as anti-Semitic. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have responded in kind, denouncing Tlaib’s critics for twisting her message in an effort to divide the party and win the favor of Jewish voters, who have long flocked to the Democrats’ side […] In the 2018 midterms, 70 percent of Jewish voters in Florida voted for Democrats, compared with the 76 percent who stuck with the party nationwide, according to a poll commissioned by the progressive Jewish group J Street.”

Why Liz Cheney Is So Determined to Marginalize Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, The Nation
“Last month, when Cheney and her fellow Republicans were attacking the Minnesotan, the advocacy group J Street observed, ‘This campaign of hate against Representative Omar is just the latest escalation in the long-running right-wing effort to scapegoat and stigmatize Muslim Americans in a transparent ploy to score political points, rally xenophobic voters and distract from the real challenges and threats facing our country. It is an attack on democracy itself and on the values of freedom and equality that our nation is meant to uphold.’”

Hatred of Jews terrifies me. So do false accusations of antisemitism, The Guardian
“Over the past decade, this obsession with anti-Zionism being antisemitism took over even ostensibly liberal outlets like the the New York Times and the Atlantic, which devoted far more column inches to pro-Palestinian college students than the budding online communities of the alt-right. The ‘new antisemitism’ gained influence at the expense of investigating – and stopping – the real antisemitism […] I was branded a ‘self-hating Jew’ at my Jewish day school for supporting the liberal Zionist group J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

US Ambassador Says Israel Is ‘on the Side of God’, New York Times
The United States ambassador to Israel, a driving force in crafting the Trump administration’s long-awaited proposal to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declared Tuesday that “Israel has one secret weapon that not too many countries have,” adding, ”Israel is on the side of God, and we don’t underestimate that.”

Trump’s election has boosted Israeli settlement construction, AP
Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press. Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction.

Skeptical US Allies Resist Trump’s New Claims of Threats From Iran, New York Times
As the Trump administration draws up war plans against Iran over what it says are threats to American troops and interests, a senior British military official told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that he saw no increased risk from Iran or allied militias in Iraq or Syria.


US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Urges Response ‘Short of War’ to Gulf Tankers Attack, Haaretz
Iran was a prime suspect in the sabotage on Sunday although Washington had no conclusive proof, a U.S. official familiar with American intelligence said on Monday.

Israeli security: Unrest, despair increasing in West Bank, Al-Monitor
What was considered until a few weeks ago an “estimate with high likelihood” by the Israeli security establishment has turned more into a certainty in the last few days. Experts say that unless necessary, immediate, and substantive steps are taken, a violent conflict with the Palestinian Authority is unavoidable.

Iran Vows to Defeat ‘American-Zionist Alliance’ as Putin Warns Against US Pressure, Haaretz
“We will defeat the American-Zionist front,” Iran’s Minister of Defense Amir Hatami said on Wednesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The official’s comments come amid spiraling US-Iranian tensions and the arrival of a major U.S. aircraft carrier group to the region, and on the heels of a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Moscow. The Kremlin said Pompeo’s visit failed to allay its concerns over the ongoing crisis.

Supreme Court president invokes Nazi era in implicit swipe at Netanyahu, Times of Israel
The chief justice of Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday made a speech in Nuremberg, Germany, that expressed implied criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial reforms and invoked the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.

Israeli Troops Fire at Gazans Protesting Nakba Day, Palestinians Report, Haaretz
Israeli security forces used live fire, tear gas and skunk spray against protesters commemorating Nakba Day along the Gaza border Wednesday, Palestinian sources reported. 

Eurovision Arrives in Tel Aviv, in Range of Rockets and the Focus of Protests, New York Times
With one of the largest television audiences in the world for a live cultural event, Eurovision is a rare opportunity for Israel to try to rebrand itself as a tourist destination rather than a country defined by its conflict with the Palestinians and perennially on the brink of the next war.

Want to Boycott Tel Aviv Eurovision? BDS Has an Alternative for You – in Bethlehem, Haaretz
Globalvision will take place at the same time as the Eurovision, featuring Palestinian, Israeli and international artists. One performer calls it a “nonviolent alternative focusing on unity and raising awareness.”

Madonna rebuffs Israel Eurovision boycott calls, AP
Pop star Madonna has rejected calls for her to boycott this year’s Eurovision song contest in Israel, saying she will “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda.”

Israeli TV Eurovision webcast hacked with fake missile alert, The Guardian
The online stream of the Eurovision semi-finals in Israel was hacked to show warnings of a missile strike and images of blasts in the host city Tel Aviv. Messages such as “Risk of Missile Attack, Please Take Shelter” and “Israel is NOT Safe. You Will See!” appeared on the KAN broadcaster’s website. Animated satellite footage showed explosions in the coastal city. “We know that at a certain stage there was an attempt, apparently by Hamas, to commandeer our digital broadcast,” Kan CEO, Eldad Koblenz, told Israel’s Army Radio.

Opinion and Analysis

Evangelicals and Empty Promises: A Year After Trump’s Embassy Move, Only One Country Has Followed U.S. to Jerusalem, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “12 months ago, President Donald Trump broke one of the international community’s greatest taboos. However, despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s best efforts to leverage the historic moment, Guatemala is the only other state to have followed suit. Here’s why…”

With the U.S. turning its back on refugees, my family’s history seems impossible to repeat, Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Before dawn, in a Ukrainian village on a day in May 100 years ago, an 18-year-old Jewish woman and a 20-year-old Jewish man had a hurried marriage ceremony. Then they fled. A gentile neighbor had warned them that there would be great trouble for the Jews of Obodovka that day. The bride’s name was Ettl. The groom was Itzik. The neighbor was right. Four of Ettl’s brothers and a young nephew were among the Jews murdered in the next hours in the village.”

Iran Threatens the Saudi-U.S. Axis Without Taking Direct Responsibility, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “[On Sunday night] there were explosions at two Saudi container ships, as well as at an Emirati and a Norwegian container ship, in the vicinity of the United Arab Emirates’ port. All of the huge ships sustained damage, but the explosions caused no casualties. The attack, which came a few days after the Americans received intelligence warnings regarding plans for terrorist attacks on the oil industry, was clearly seen as an Iranian action, despite Iran’s counterclaim that it was a provocation on the part of a third country seeking to increase tensions.”

The story of my family’s Nakba, +972 Mag
Nooran Alhamdan writes, “The air was pierced by a sudden shout; the voice was shrill and the language foreign. Three men appeared in front of the gathering. They spoke again and the foreign language revealed itself to be broken Arabic. The villagers understood who these men were, but strained to understand what words were shattering the air, until eventually the shards formed “etlaa o bara” — “get out.””

Iran Is Choosing the Time and Place to Confront America, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Repeating mistakes of Obama administration, the US is allowing itself to become distracted from other places where Iran is advancing its agenda, both in the Middle East and further afield.”