News Roundup for May 18, 2018

May 18, 2018

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J Street in the News

Jerusalem Embassy Opening Stirs Dallas Advocates on Both Sides of Israel-Palestine Divide, Dallas Observer

“‘This is a decision based on flattering some of the president’s advisers and donors and advancing their agendas,’ says Logan Bayroff, a spokesman for the liberal pro-Israel group J Street. ‘These folks clearly are having a big influence over US policy.’”

Top News and Analysis

What Is the Gaza Fence and Why Has It Set Off Protests Against Israel?, The New York Times

“A snaking metal fence that divides the Gaza Strip from Israel has become the latest focal point in a generations-long conflict between Arabs and Jews in the area….What are the fence’s origins and purpose in separating Gaza, a 25-mile-long, five-mile-wide Mediterranean coastal enclave where nearly two million Palestinians live? Is the fence recognized as an international border? And how has Israel justified deadly force to stop mostly unarmed Palestinians from breaching it?”

The Perils of Giving Israel What It Wants, The New Republic

Eric Cortellessa writes, “[I]f Trump is uncritically enabling the Likud Party agenda, he may hurt Israel in the long run. Israelis may well be grateful Trump gave them something they’ve deeply wanted for a long time, and with no ‘give and take,’ as Friedman told reporters last Friday. But the Trump administration’s incantations about peace, as split images of the ceremony on TV screens showed Gazans storming the Israel-Gaza barrier, are not the same as an actual improvement in security. Nor do they provide any real reason to believe this White House is creating the conditions for Israelis and Palestinians to have a better future. With tensions escalating in Gaza and Abbas recalling his envoy to Washington on Tuesday, all signs suggest it is doing the exact opposite.”

Israel’s Thrashing of Iran in Syria Provides for a Peaceful Summer – Maybe, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “The Israeli operations didn’t stop Iran’s moves in Syria for good. It’s more likely that they’ll make the Iranians take time to rethink and regroup. At the same time, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s threats against Israel this week are best taken with skepticism. Precisely because of the movement’s success in this month’s parliamentary elections, it’s hard to believe that Nasrallah wants to destroy Lebanon’s tourism season, the cornerstone of the country’s economy, with another summer of war.”


Israeli airstrikes target militant sites in Gaza, Guardian

The Israeli military has said it has carried out airstrikes on what it described as militant sites in Gaza in response to machine gun fire that hit a building in the Israeli city of Sderot. The army said planes bombarded a military compound and a weapons production facility in the northern Gaza Strip overnight on Thursday.

Trudeau calling for independent probe of reported use of ‘excessive force’ in Gaza shootings, CBC Two days after a bloody encounter with Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 Palestinians and wounded many more, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement to the parliamentary press gallery Wednesday demanding Israel’s leaders explain how a London, Ont. doctor tending to injured protesters was caught in the crossfire — while throwing his support behind calls for an independent investigation.

As Turkey Tensions Rise, Israeli Lawmakers Push to Recognize Armenian Genocide as Diplomatic Revenge, Haaretz Knesset members over the past couple of days have been trying to outdo each other in coming up with ways to take revenge on the Turkish government for ordering the Israeli ambassador out of the country and recalling the Turkish ambassador this week in response to the Gaza killings on Monday….One of the most prominent proposals likely to be advanced is the passage of legislation recognizing the genocide of the Armenians under the Ottomans in the early 20th century.

The Next Mayor of the Middle East’s Powder Keg?, HaaretzNow Elkin, too, is out to conquer Jerusalem. He’s already announced his intention to run for mayor in the October election, but as these lines are being written, it’s not certain that he will get his wish: It depends on the decision of the prime minister and of Likud’s municipal committee. Still, given his determination and his close ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s more than likely that Elkin will be a mayoral candidate, perhaps even a leading one.

Maersk Tankers pulls out of Iran in blow to nuclear deal, Guardian

The chances of the Iran nuclear deal surviving the impact of US sanctions have been dealt a blow after Denmark’s Maersk Tankers said it was joining an exodus of companies ceasing commercial activity in Iran. Maersk, the world’s largest oil shipping container firm, said it would honour customer agreements entered into before 8 May, but then wind them down by 4 November, as required by the reimposed US sanctions.

Israeli Minister Bars Work From Jerusalem Art Students Because They Protested Gaza Bloodshed, Haaretz

Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis has barred work from students at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design from being exhibited at an international science conference this month in Jerusalem after some students mounted a display in solidarity with the Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border.

Turkey says it’s helping Palestinians sue Israel in International Criminal Court, Times of Israel

Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday that Israel should be tried at the International Criminal Court for “massacring” Palestinians in recent clashes on the Gaza border, saying Ankara was actively helping the Palestinian Authority prepare a lawsuit against Israel. The Palestinians joined the ICC as a member and signed the Rome statute in 2014, meaning that the Palestinian Authority can sue Israel in The Hague.

Opinions and Analysis

The US-Israeli relationship faces a storm on the horizon, Guardian

Michael Fuchs writes, “One version of the US-Israel relationship is all sunshine and rainbows: deep political and military bonds between governments, extensive trade, special ties between peoples, and America’s backing for the historical justice of safeguarding a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. The other version of the relationship is one of deepening polarization in both countries: the rightwing Israeli government cozies up to US Republicans and pursues extreme policies, while American views of Israel are increasingly divided along partisan lines….There are no obvious perfect solutions. But if the United States and Israel don’t work together to confront longer-term trends, the relationship could become unrecognizable, with a hyper-partisan segment of America supporting an Israel that has lost much of its claim to democracy. And that would be devastating for both countries.”

Why So Many Israelis Won’t Condemn the Carnage in Gaza, Haaretz

Don Futterman writes, “To the victor go the spoils, but also the moral dilemmas. And Monday’s events – the U.S. embassy opening and the bloody day at the Gaza border – should pose painful and profound questions to those Jews and Israelis who still care about the morality of our actions. When Israelis consider the Gaza protests and confrontations at the border fence, we are dizzy from the political spin, and genuinely confused about what’s going on, and what we are seeing. That makes it almost impossible to ask ethical questions about our own behavior.”

A Child of Gaza Dies. A Symbol Is Born. The Arguing Begins, The New York Times

Declan Walsh reports, “Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old girl with sparkling green eyes, was in the arms of her grandmother when a cloud of tear gas engulfed them at the protest in Gaza on Monday. The child inhaled a draft of acrid gas that set off a rasping cough and watering eyes. Hours later she was dead. The story shot across the globe, providing an emotive focus for outrage at military tactics that Israel’s critics said were disproportionately violent. Yet within hours the family’s story was being questioned. Doctors said Layla had suffered from a congenital heart defect that, one suggested, might have caused her death. Then the Israeli military issued claims, unsupported by evidence, that it held information that disproved the family’s account. The controversy underscored the power of images of children in the most wrenching conflicts of the Middle East.”

Can Europe Save the Iran Deal?, Forward

Jon Greenwald argues, “If Europeans believe the Iran deal is vital, and the trans-Atlantic alliance needs to be a respectful partnership, they should consider telling Trump that unless he accords them scope to keep that deal, they will publicly suspend all but the most immediately essential elements of that alliance and bet on regime change to come to the U.S. in 2020.”