News Roundup for May 16, 2019

May 16, 2019

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J Street in the News

Democrats Shouldn’t Fear a Just Middle East Policy, Crooked Media
Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “New polling commissioned by J Street confirms that the Israeli-Palestinian issue isn’t a problem for Democratic candidates — it’s an opportunity. There’s a clear path to a balanced, principled, and forward-looking consensus position that the vast majority of Democratic voters are ready to rally behind […] For 2020 candidates, the lessons here should be clear. Voters don’t want their presidential nominee to give a free pass to the Netanyahu government for its hard-right policies, or to focus all of their blame and criticism on either side of the conflict. They want to see candidates demonstrate empathy and concern for both Israelis and Palestinians and pursue tough, proactive diplomacy that holds their leaders accountable.”

Most Democrats Support Israel, but Oppose Netanyahu, Poll Shows, Haaretz
“A poll commissioned by the left-wing Jewish group J Street shows that while most Democrats in the United States have a favorable view of Israel, only 12 percent have a favorable view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu […] with 39 percent expressing an unfavorable view of him…”

J Street’s 2020 Poll: Biden a favorite, Jewish Insider
“A plurality of Democratic primary voters — 41 percent — have a favorable view of Israel, and an overwhelming majority — 74 percent — believe that the United States should act as a ‘fair and impartial broker in order to achieve a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians,’ according to a new poll commissioned by J Street published on Wednesday. ‘Democratic voters support Israel, and hold nuanced views toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ GBAO pollster Jim Gerstein explained.”

New Poll: Democratic Primary Voters are Supportive of Israel and Simultaneously Critical of Israeli Government Policies, J Street
“At a time when the policies of the Trump administration are increasing the prospects for a dangerous new conflict with Iran, the vast majority of Democrats (72 percent) believe the US should re-enter the JCPOA nuclear agreement, including 45 percent who strongly support doing so.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump’s Iran moves trigger warnings, demands from Congress, AP
Lawmakers from both parties in Congress demanded more information on the White House’s claims of rising threats in the Middle East, warning President Donald Trump off a dangerous escalation with Iran. The top leaders in Congress — the so-called Gang of Eight— are to receive a classified briefing from the administration on Thursday. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House has resisted a wider presentation for all lawmakers, part of what Democrats say is a pattern of stonewalling. “We have to avoid any war with Iran,” she told fellow Democrats in a meeting, according to a person in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss comments from the private gathering.

One year on, America’s Jerusalem embassy remains illegitimate in the eyes of the world, The National
Twelve months on, the decision has not reaped the diplomatic benefits that the Trump administration had hoped for on the campaign trail. Only one diplomatic mission – that of Guatemala – has moved to the contested alongside the American building, and that could soon be gone.

Trump’s Iran policy is rooted in lies — the kind that got us into the Iraq War, Washington Post
Ben Rhodes writes, “The ideological agenda behind the administration’s rhetoric and policies is clear. Bolton, in particular, has long advocated regime change and called for war, writing an op-ed in 2015 for the New York Times titled, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Israel and Saudi Arabia — with governments that have cultivated close ties with Trump — favor confrontation with Iran. Based on that history, it’s hard not to conclude that Trump’s administration has pursued a clear strategy: provoke Iran into doing something that gives a pretext for war.”


Republicans launch bid to force House vote on BDS, JTA
The bill, which earlier this year passed the Senate, has been held up in part because the Democrats, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, say it poses a threat to First Amendment free speech protections.

Former Israeli Army Chief Warns of Security Crisis if Coordination With PA Deteriorates, Haaretz
Former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, a retired Lt. General who led the IDF from 2015 to 2019, said that preserving security coordination is “an Israeli interest” and that this coordination should be strengthened. “We want to allow them a better life, and to maintain the coordination between the IDF and the Palestinian forces. It’s a common interest,” he said.

Eizenkot:’Without security coordination, we would have clashes every day’, The Jerusalem Post
Gadi Eizenkot, former IDF Chief of Staff, warned Wednesday of the consequences of a possible collapse of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and said it could lead to “clashes every day.”

Over 60 Palestinians wounded in Nakba Day protests, 9 fires near border, The Jerusalem Post
Over 60 Palestinians were injured and several fires broke out in the South in protests marking Nakba Day on Wednesday afternoon along the border fence between Gaza and Israel. The IDF said around 10,000 Palestinians in several locations along the fence burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops.

Israeli forces shoot 16 Palestinian protesters at Gaza frontier, The Guardian
Israeli soldiers have shot 16 people at the Gaza frontier on a day of rallies commemorating the mass displacement of Palestinians during the war that led to Israel’s creation in 1948.

Neither talks nor war,’ Khamenei says of US-Iran tensions, Al-Monitor
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran will force the United States to retreat by “resistance,” which he described as the only option against unrelenting US pressure. During a meeting with the country’s top political elites, including President Hassan Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, Khamenei dismissed the possibility that the United States and Iran would go to war, stating that the Americans understand that any such conflict will not serve their interests.

Omar, Jewish Congresswoman Call For United Front Against White Nationalism, The Forward
Representatives Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky wrote a joint op-ed for CNN to call on Jews and Muslims to stand together against the common threat of white nationalism. Omar, a Muslim American representing Minnesota, and Schakowsky, a Jewish American representing Illinois, said that the evidence of a rise in hate crimes against religious minorities is “overwhelming” – citing the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue and the Christchurch mosque massacre, both of which were allegedly perpetrated by white nationalists.

Palestinian activists don’t understand why they can’t enter the US, JTA
In December 1992, about nine months before the first Palestinian-Israeli peace accords were signed on the White House lawn, Hanan Ashrawi met with President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office. Now, 26 years later, she can’t even enter the United States.

Saudi paper urges Palestinians to consider Trump peace plan, AP
The editor-in-chief of a Saudi newspaper is urging Palestinians to keep an open mind toward a Mideast plan being devised by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Faisal Abbas wrote in the Arab News on Wednesday that while the cards have been stacked against the Palestinians, Kushner’s plan just may reverse the situation and make peace more possible.

Opinion and Analysis

What did Rashida Tlaib say about the Holocaust? It’s probably not what you think., JTA
Andrew Silow-Carroll writes, “Republican lawmakers like Rep. Lee Zeldin were criticized, deservedly, for distorting Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments about the Holocaust by suggesting she said that she gets a “calming feeling” when she thinks about the genocide. If you read or listen to the Michigan Democrat’s comments, it is crystal clear that she said no such thing. The Republican pile-on, joined by President Donald Trump, is a further weaponization of anti-anti-Semitism, this time based on a comment that the target never made. But it’s not just Republicans who appeared to distort Tlaib’s now notorious remarks. It was the ostensibly nonpartisan Jewish commentariat and media as well, in which I will include our own site, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and take full responsibility.”

Reps. Omar and Schakowsky: We must confront threat of white nationalism — together, CNN
Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky write, “As a Muslim American and a Jewish American elected to the United States Congress, we can no longer sit silently as terror strikes our communities. We cannot allow those who seek to divide and intimidate us to succeed. Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence.”

The Art of a New Iran Deal, Foreign Affairs
Sanam Vakil writes, “The Trump administration, our respondents noted, has so far failed to take into account the likely demands of the Iranians, were they to agree to new talks. Sanctions relief is an obvious ask, but the Iranians could further call for security guarantees, a regional nuclear entente, concessions on regional ballistic missile programs, and even a further drawdown of U.S. forces in the Middle East.”